NXT, as an entity, is not fit for purpose, no matter how phenomenal its major events are.
The business model makes sense, in theory. To draw “hardcore” punters and drive interest, NXT ritually hires the cool, über-talented starlets of the Independent scene to act as talismans of the brand, in turn making touring, and TakeOver specials, viable. Meanwhile, the homegrown prospects of the Performance Center wrestle underneath on a never-ending—but limited in scope—statewide tour of Florida. The idea here is to season those with exhibition-level training and provide them with a test of their mettle in front of live crowds. Really, it isn’t too far removed from the old, hopeless FCW model, only with more shows in front of the same people. It must feel for the Dan Mathas and the Tian Bings like pushing a bigger rock up a taller mountain. This is the bare minimum of what it takes to become a player in professional wrestling.
Achieving the bare minimum isn’t much of an achievement, and this approach, objectively, does not work.
Consider the typical, celebrated TakeOver card in 2018. Of the 12 performers who made up the big time TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 stage, only two were primarily developed in the Performance Center. The Velveteen Dream and Shayna Baszler wrestled elsewhere before they were recruited to WWE, too.
This was the case also at TakeOver: Chicago II, with the key exception of Lars Sullivan. Lars entered a passable if error-strewn performance on the night in a match for which, via agent nous and much practise on the myopic live circuit, he was prepared. The test he passed, however, brought the ‘Performance Center Class’ model into disrepute.
In execution, the failure of a business model cynically infiltrates the creative fabric of the now less-celebrated NXT weekly TV show. Since the last set of tapings have yet to be broadcast in their entirety—another problem, incidentally—let’s instead analyse the previous set, in particular the episode broadcast on September 19, 2018.