Since its 2012 Orlando rebadge, NXT has been the preserve of the well-told tale. A shrewd amalgamation of modern concepts booked in a traditional style, the one-hour weekly broadcast furnished by lengthy and logical tapings has generated a treadmill of creative triumphs. It can do wrong, but rarely does, and to this end won't feature in the following list.
WWE's creative staffers are charged with something far tougher. Each week, a minimum of five hours on USA Network requires wall-to-wall content that should ideally flow from last week's folly and feed into next week's feast. Challenging enough, it must then survive the inspection and interjection of the talent involved as well as the fickle filter of Vince McMahon - the lionised godfather of everything around him with a diminishing wisdom few higher-ups will question and even less would dare admit.
It's as though a high quality storyline has to sneak or fight through now, rather than playing out in grand (and planned) fashion. On his 'Something To Wrestle' podcast, Bruce Prichard fondly recalls booking meetings at Vince's house, whilst others speak similarly of McMahon and right hand man Pat Patterson pencilling in a year of television perched by his private pool.
The system remains the same, but virtually every creative mechanism is unrecognisable from that charming visage. NXT has donated world class talents to the main roster over the last five years, but a genuinely thrilling angle can't be carefully crafted at the Performance Center or lifted from the independent scene. Not most of the time, anyway...
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.