So I am listening to the most recent (and possibly last) Wrestlenomics podcast. I was turned on to this show by John and Wai and it hits so many elements of the business I enjoy following. This episode covers the impact of OTT/Streaming Networks in the business over the past 5 years and there are some fascinating quotes from HHH sprinkled throughout about the use of Indy talent and how he wants to build NXT on the Network pulled from past conference calls he hosted.
Starts with HHH against Indy talent, saying things such as the talent coming in are not ready and they need to build their own guys. He sounds like somebody who doesn’t seen independent wrestlers as important enough for WWE to go hire. Unbelievable knowing what we know now and how NXT would grow.
Fast-forward and he is now “looking everywhere” for talent. Not specifically wrestling world but anywhere (athletes, indies, etc.)
Conclude that NXT can’t build all the talent and he needs places like Evolve (among others) to help.
We credit HHH a lot with being forward looking and knowing what the more hardcore fan wants but I never hear anyone speak about the turnabout he had on how WWE acquires and builds its next crop of stars.It served as a glimmer of hope that one day HHH will surpass Vince in decision making for the company and we may see a much more progressive company. I think what makes an innovative leader is their ability to turnabout on decisions or positions when they see clear evidence to the contrary. I can’t recall the last time Vince has done such and I think that allowed for a huge void that ironically may be filled by Indy stars in 2019. But imagine if NXT never embraced the Indy scene. We’d be with more Baron Corbin, Elias, and Dana Brooke and less AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Asuka. Interesting (scary) alternative time-line.
2014 Hunter on a conference call: “The Indy scene becomes less and less of a factor all the time…it’s just the way it is…[We] have to create the talent, they aren’t just out there”
Whatever you want to say about the scouting of Indy talent, it is incredible he’s on record saying this in 2014 and in 2018 they have partnerships with Evolve, Progress, etc.
Now in fairness he is also talking about getting guys from other places but the need to teach them the WWE playbook. He says how it is easier to start them from scratch in many ways. Not saying the plan all along wasn’t to scout Indies but there was definitely not the heavy emphasis we see today, or even a year later, where basically any draw on the Indy scene is getting offers and they are bringing in legit stars of places they previously discarded as “not important”
Not going to claim to know if/how WWE’s thinking changed over the last few years, but I think we have to separate the PR-approved phrases from the actual way of operating things. Can still pretty much count on one hand the amount of indy/international talent that has “skipped” NXT entirely and use the other hand to count the amount of true “homegrown” main roster contributors of any real consequence.
HHH is learning from the best businessman in the business. You look at his mentality for how he’S hiring for NXT, it’s how Vince was doing business in the early 80’s. Vince knew that if he wanted to take wrestling to the next level, So he would go out and hired all the big names he could get from other territories. Now move to 2018 and HHH is doing the same thing with NXT. He goes out and try to signs as many big names from the indy world and international markets he can because he know that right now, he need to please the hardcore based as much as you need to cater to the next gen of fans. So that’S why they go out and hired as much peoples as they can. The problem is WWE as so many guys already and when they do a rotation on the NXT roster, they don’T do that on the main roster so they add new guys on the main roster but don’T release guys so it’s just another guy on the roster doing nothing because they don’T have a place for that wrestler.
I feel like that’s the next lesson HHH needs to learn if he’s going to take over the wrestling operation of WWE. He need to be more ruthless and not being scared of losing guys especially lower card guys that won’t be a big deal on the indy scene. Let’s face it, you release Zack ryder, Curt hawkins, titus o’neil, heath slater and tye dillinger, they won’T be a huge deal on the indy circuit and that’s nothing against them because i like all of them but they just there to fill a place on the roster and they have a really big number of wrestlers that are just holding a spot on the roster because the head of talent relation is to scared to release them
Also, i wouldn’t be surprise to see Vince just go out a sell the whole company to a Fox or Disney when he finally decided to call it quits. IT’s not a guarantee that HHH will take over when vince is gone. If the money is right, it’S not above the realm of possiblity that Vince will just take the offer and let whoever buy the company if they want to keep stephanie and HHH in charge or not. But that’S for another thread.
Counter to this is that releasing them turns them into potential bigger/more important names on the Indy Scene.
Ryder I think will have tremendous success when he leaves (which it looks like that’s eventually going to happen).
There’s also a level of familiarity these guys have with current viewers who may not try anything else because they don’t know the guys. Well now if you know the guys and there’s buzz, you may try it.
I think the WWE has tripped over their own success with NXT and roster building in the sense that they created a log jam where guys will undoubtedly be looked over and may opt to leave at some point t. There are only so many important spots on the main roster and If guys can parlay NXT success into bigger success and bigger roles with other promotions that’s going to be interesting.