With brand warfare now settled and NXT standing tall over their main roster compatriots, it’s safe to say that they are no longer going to be considered just a developmental brand under the WWE umbrella. WWE writers have already been open to acknowledging NXT as an official third brand, standing alongside RAW and SmackDown Live as one of WWE’s flagship shows. Although, despite the monumental victory at Survivor Series, NXT have been awfully quiet in their celebrations following the pay-per-view.
With this past week’s episode of NXT now behind us, you would have expected to have seen an almighty fanfare from Full Sail University. Usually when either RAW or SmackDown are victorious over the other, they practically host an entire festival in their own name, making the most of the temporary bragging rights until they eventually move on to building the TLC pay-per-view. Aside from a brief lap of ringside at the start of the show, NXT seem to have already put the events of brand warfare behind them, and have quickly returned to their established feuds and the fallout of TakeOver: WarGames.
This week’s episode of NXT saw The Undisputed Era’s Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly defend their tag team titles against Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic, and Finn Balor clash with Tommaso Ciampa in the show’s main event. Balor closed the show with a timely assault on the leader of Undisputed Era, NXT Champion Adam Cole. The NXT roster seem to be ready to move on from Survivor Series and return to the comfort of being the unsung developmental heroes, without the moniker of being ‘better than the main roster’.
WWE’s social media have been quick to label the NXT stars as ‘the present’ instead of the future, in certain cases claiming that they are in fact the WWE’s main roster, but this sentiment isn’t translating onto their weekly programming. There was no brand-spirit or adulation, instead just a return to form. Nothing changed, when it should have taken NXT to the next level.
Several of NXT’s roster could have used their dominance at Survivor Series to elevate them to the next step in their careers. Keith Lee, for example, absolutely shined as the last man standing in the men’s traditional Survivor Series elimination match. The world was watching ‘Limitless’ Lee and truly basking in his glory as he stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. If anyone is walking away from this past weekend with something to be proud of, it’s him. He proved he was an asset to the wider WWE roster, as well as a key player in the current landscape of NXT. This should have easily propelled him into the North American or NXT Championship pictures, but instead, he just fell back into the loser’s club.
In a similar vein, Matt Riddle has also practically been forgotten about after a pretty successful outing in the Survivor Series match, scoring a huge pinfall over ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton. Elsewhere, ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne made history by putting on a MOTN contender against Adam Cole in his first main roster pay-per-view match. Both talented competitors weren’t even included on the show. Perhaps this was to give the two titanic superstars a chance to get some well-earned R&R after a very demanding weekend, but you’d think the Full Sail faithful would have loved the chance to give the NXT warriors a royal return, like the conquerors of old who would return to their village champions.
Perhaps I’m thinking too much into this and not considering just how over some of NXT stars have become thanks to the brief feud with the main roster. There’s one particular superstar that exceeded expectations throughout the Survivor Series weekend – ‘The Nightmare’ Rhea Ripley.
Baszler’s rightful challenger to the NXT Women’s Championship not only led her team to victory in the first-ever women’s WarGames match, but she also secured a huge victory for NXT in the Women’s Survivor Series elimination match. Ripley stood tall over Sasha Banks, with a little help from her formerly injured partners, Candice LaRae & Io Shirai. This week on NXT, Ripley stood toe-to-toe with Shayna Baszler once again, this time to challenge her for the NXT Women’s Championship. It seems that the momentum rightfully earned from this weekend is paying off in a big way for the towering Aussie superstar.
We’ll see if the Survivor Series victory starts to pay off at all in the viewing figures going forward. Were any fans actually swayed into believing that NXT was indeed a third brand of the WWE, or whether they were still nothing more than a developmental roster that just happened to get the win to boost their credibility in the Wednesday Night Wars?
What are your thoughts on the fallout, or lack thereof since Survivor Series? Do you think the stars of NXT deserve to be given more of a spotlight following their victory over RAW and SmackDown Live? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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