It might not seem like a great time to be optimistic about WWE’s future.
WWE is, after all, seemingly struggling with legitimate new competition in the pro wrestling space. It’s cut more than 80 Superstars from the roster since the start of 2021, a revamp of NXT has gone horribly awry and whispers of ratings struggles aren’t uncommon.
But the future remains bright.
While there are serious flaws in what WWE is doing, especially when compared to its biggest competitor, Vince McMahon’s promotion has a stacked roster and some crucial things going for it.
That’s not to say WWE will correct course on some of the problem areas immediately (looking at you, moments rather than storytelling). But the following factors suggest WWE will continue to provide a must-see product that, should it coincide with cleaning up those issues, will keep the company at the top of the food chain for a long time.
The Developmental Shift
NXT 2.0 is ugly. There’s no getting around that. Cutting and/or losing some of the best talent on the globe and then focusing on a sexualized product in the hopes that will lure eyeballs in 2021 is laughably misguided. This isn’t 1990.
But while the ratings might stink and the product is horrific to watch, the actual developmental shift is reason for encouragement.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Andrew Pollard of WhatCulture) suggested the wholesale shift in approach is real, suggesting WWE wants to develop its own in-house guys who fit its style. Not the indy style, but its bigger, versatile, can-do-a-press-tour-while-champion style.
And that’s just fine and, dare we say, encouraging. It’s heartening that WWE got spanked in a head-to-head matchup with All Elite Wrestling, admitted the fault and changed course to do its own thing. And let’s not pretend most NXT call-ups got treated right anyway—the main roster had no idea what to do with indy-style call-ups for years.
If the developmental shift can produce in-house stars who fit the WWE mold, that’s a win and is worth getting excited about, even if the program housing that talent is akin to a dumpster fire.