The WWE is now reaching a point where it doesn’t need to worry about its entire program being thrown under the bus the moment a wrestler becomes injured.
The WWE roster is stacked with talent now — even moreso since the brand split — and adding to the manpower on both shows is only going to dilute the exposure that a lot of neglected wrestlers are currently getting. But over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the sort of quick thinking, off the cuff that has been a testament to the success of NXT.
At SummerSlam, we saw Sasha Banks lose the Women’s Championship to Charlotte, moments before we learned that she had suffered a severe back injury requiring extensive surgery and a few months of rest.
In any other scenario, losing a top babyface would have been an absolute disaster for WWE, although thankfully, the company had taken the wise decision not to immediately elevate Bayley to Monday Night Raw. She is over with the fans, had enough trajectory from her ongoing peak in NXT to immediately be a main card player on the main roster. And what do you know? The moment Sasha Banks had to relinquish her spot, there was someone who evenly matched her both in the ring and with the fans ready to take that spot.
If Bayley had been drafted in the first week of the New Era, what exactly would she have been doing while Sasha Banks was the main card player in the women’s division? That spot has to go to somebody. Better to preserve one of them while they’re at their peak to make their ascension as explosive as possible than to stall either Banks or Bayley on the mid card when fans are so used to seeing them as prime time players.
Keeping a developmental territory so close to home, with its matches readily accessible to the entire WWE fanbase, is proving to pay dividends for the company. In any other era, if a top card wrestler was gravely injured and had to take time of television, WWE would have to go through the rigmarole of finding a mid-card guy, throwing him at the wall, praying that he sticks and not having a whole lot of options if he doesn’t.
With NXT, that problem doesn’t exist anymore. There is a whole, accessible run of programming where stars can be built up and familiarized with WWE fans before taking their place in the wings ready to be unleashed.
Just imagine if Finn Bálor hadn’t been given the playing field of NXT to build himself up in. There is no way that he could have been immediately deployed as the main event star that Monday Night Raw desperately needed if he hadn’t been in NXT. Even AJ Styles had to spend some time climbing the ladder with Chris Jericho before it was acceptable to give him the sort of status that he now has, and the WWE simply hadn’t the time to build Bálor up in the same way on Raw given its plans for the Universal Championship.
The WWE is wise to keep some of its most popular talents on NXT for the time being. It keeps the NXT product itself compelling, and leaves WWE with a whole treasure chest of talent to play around when it needs a spot to be filled.