NXT has grown to become a sort of proving ground in WWE, where wrestlers come in to establish themselves no matter how much they’ve already made a name for themselves in other promotions.
On a recent episode of E&C’s Pod of Awesomenss, Edge and Christian held a Q&A session and discussed whether they would’ve wanted to join NXT if they were already established names in the industry.
Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, both of whom were wildly popular on the independent circuit, are the top names in the most recent crop of NXT recruits. Even veteran wrestlers like Samoa Joe and Finn Balor had to cut their teeth in NXT before they could join the main roster. Christian said he wouldn’t have minded going through NXT before joining WWE.
“I guess it just depends what the landscape looks like,” Christian said. “The NXT thing is kind of the thing to do now when you come in, right? There is a few guys that pass through that like an AJ Styles, but you look at a guy like Samoa Joe, or Finn Balor, or those types of guys that went to NXT and had strong runs and got their feet wet so to speak and moved on and are doing really well. I think I would have liked to have experienced the whole NXT thing.”
Edge pointed to Styles as someone whose popularity outside of WWE allowed him to skip right to the main roster. When Styles debuted at the Royal Rumble in 2016, it generated a huge reaction because of how unexpected it was. Edge said he would prefer to go through a similar route rather than join NXT first, but he understands how the process may benefit other wrestlers.
“I think it could be a different answer on how far you got. Like, for example AJ Styles, he is very well established, very well known. He had a name that was very well known. I would think outside of WWE his might be the most outside recognized wrestling name in the world. Samoa Joe as well. He could have debuted straight to Raw or SmackDown absolutely,” Edge said. “I think because it happens less now, but when AJ Styles came out during the Royal Rumble it was an amazing reaction and that to me would be how I would want to do it because I want to hear that giant roar. They still have set it up when people make their bones in NXT, you have a guy like Tomasso Ciampa it is going to be huge, because he had to go there first. He went to NXT and made his bones.”
Both Edge and Christian praised Ciampa for how much he has grown in NXT. Whereas he might have gotten lost in the shuffle on the main roster, Ciampa has used his run in NXT to establish himself as one of the top heels in the entire business.
“Now, Ciampa had upped his stock so much doing what he has done instead of going to the main roster,” Christian said. “If it is a situation where it’s like, hey, if I go to NXT and can up my status before I move to SmackDown or Raw that is the smart way to go. Or, the thought process is using it as a springboard.”
“In Ciampa’s instance, he is trying to up his entire brand while raising himself at the same time,” Edge added. “He is trying to take all of that on.”
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