There are many types of wrestling fans in the world, but I think it breaks down into two main types. Those who only watch WWE programing and those who follow other promotions whether or not they watch WWE. When WCW and ECW were bought out by Vince McMahon most people didnt know that there were still other alternatives to WWE, besides the guys who wrestled at your high school every couple months. Just like in the 80s and early 90s vcr tape trading was the main way you got to see wrestling you couldn’t get on tv or old matches, in the early 200s the internet became a godsend to us wrestling fans who wanted soemthing different. Not only did we learn about classic rivalries from different territories and even the treasure trove of Japanese classics, we also learned that there was something out there for everybody, there was sports entertainment, bloody death matches, lucha, joshi and so much more. There were 2 major independent promotions in the U.S. that started making a name for themselves when WWE bought out their major competition. Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and then there were a couple other promotions like CZW, CHIKARA, and even IWA-MS that developed cult followings for featuring what most of us considered the next generation of talent. We loved watching the guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Tyler Black, Jon Moxley and Brodie Lee break into the business and most of us were excited when they hit the big time in WWE as CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Luke Harper. A lot of the IWC bitched about how their favorite indy guys were changed into the WWE mold, or they weren’t used properly. Some of us were just happy to see our favorite wrestlers on TV without having to watch a crappy ippv feed or buy dvds every month. Of course there was also all the potentional match ups we’ve played out in our heads or in video games with created characters. Most people know there are steps between wrestling for these smaller promotions and WWE. Vince isn’t going to take someone from wrestling in front of 200 people in a gym and throw him in front of an audience of 15,000 and millions watching on tv with out a little prep work to show them how things are done in the big time.


Up until the early 90s most of the guys who showed up in WWF/E had been through the territories. Starting in the early 90s WWF started  teaming up with smaller wrestling groups bringing them under their wing as a developmental promotion. What this meant is if they were looking to hire a wrestler but he needed to work on a few things, or learn the difference between their style and the WWF/E style they would send them there as sort of a finishing school. In exchange WWE would lend this promotion wrestlers they weren’t currently using. This helped in two ways, the WWF/E stars would sell extra tickets for the promotions shows, but at the same time the WWE wrestlers would show the developmental wrestlers what exactly Vince was looking for. Some of the well known developmental groups were USWA, SMW, OVW, DSW, and even at one time ECW. Guys like Batista, Randy Orton, and even John Cena spent time in development before moving to the big leagues. A few years ago WWE decided to take more control over their developmetnal talent opening their own developmetal promotion seperate from WWE called FCW. FCW was the first stop for guys like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins after they were hired by WWE. FCW evolved into what we now know as NXT. More people are familair with NXT now that WWE has put a focus on it over the past two years. It also has become one of the stars of the WWE network. Just like we watched all those guys I mentioned a few moments ago become big WWE characters, now on NXT we actually get to watch the evolution. Those of us who a few years ago were watching DVDs of El Generico, Pac, Sami Calahan, KENTA, Prince Devitt, and Kevin Steen actually get to watch them develop their new characters of Sami Zayn, Adrain Neville, Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, and the rumored name for Steen of Kevin Owens.


We know these wrestlers are talented. They have hall of famer Dusty Rhodes booking NXT, names like Billy Gunn, Terry Taylor, Skinner/Steve Kerin, Sara Del Ray, Norman Smiley and Hugh Morrus training these guys. Not to mention guest trainers and vistors every week by pretty much every WWE star and legend. NXT tapes shows at Full Sail University and now has quartly live specials on the WWE network. These trainers aren’t geting into the ring at live shows, so no matter how much they show them in training someone needs to show them how to put all those tools to work in front of a crowd. Just like when WWE had farm leagues and sent some wrestlers down to help out, we have seen guys like Bray Wyatt, Rusev, Cesaro and Titus O’Neil wrestle a couple times in NXT since moving up to the main roster. We have also seen guys like Ric Flair, HHH, and John Cena make non-wrestling appearances to get these guys over. The one guy who I think deserves a ton of credit on getting these guys ready for Raw and Smackdown might come as a surprise to most reading this. That guy is Tyson Kidd.


Tyson Kidd might not be a huge star to some, but he is a very talented athlete. He has been with WWE since 2006, spending 3 years in developmental before going to the main roster in 2009. He is a two time tag champion, and while he has never really been used as a main eventer he has worked with just about everyone on the main roster. For more than a year Tyson Kidd has been in NXT feuding with guys like Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn. The difference bettween Kidd and the other main roster guys who have made an appearnce for one set of tapings or a big event is Tyson Kidd is not there as a guest star he is part of the roster. He is working long term storylines and feuds, giving the rest of the NXT roster hands on experience on how things are done on the main roster. Kidd has had a good run in NXT, but I think its time to move him back to the main roster mid card and rotate someone else down for the next year. I think there are quite a few wrestlers on the main roster who aren’t doing much at the moment that could not only benefit from a change of pace, but also would help the NXT to roster in different ways. One of them would be stepping down from active duty on the main roster permeanently. Another has unofficially retired from ring work, but could still be a big help outside the ring in NXT. The other 3 could benefit greatly from a change of pace and scenery to freshen up their character when they eventually return to the main roster.


My first choice for NXT in ring mentor is someone who I’d move shortly after Wrestlemania 31. The main reason he’s the only one on the list with anything going on right now on the main shows. Goldust is currently one half of the tag team champions with brother Stardust/Cody Rhodes. Goldust has been wrestling for almost 30 years and over the past year has proven he can still go in the ring. His brother Cody adopted the paint and followed in his footsteps and their feud with the Usos lead them to tag team gold. While the brothers work well together I’m not sure what’s left for them as a team after they drop the titles. Cody has shown he can evolve  and has many great gimmicks, but has been just short of the main event scene. I’m predicting after they drop the tag titles Cody drops the Stardust gimmick and feuds with his brother giving them the big Mania match they’ve always wanted. I see Cody getting the win and with a crowded main event scene he’ll probably go back to feuding over the mid-card titles. Though honestly I hope he gets a chance at a Main Event run. Goldust on the other hand after a Mania rematch doesn’t have much left to do storyline wise, but can still go in the ring. He’s perfect for NXT. A ring vetern who has over two deceades of experience perfecting and evolving his gimick, and almost 3 decades ofring work. There are a lot of former big indy names in NXT right now that all have great ring skills, but could really benefit from someone like Goldust helping them evolve their characters and gimmicks.


My second choice is the only one I don’t see competing in the ring, or if so not regularly. Christian has had a run of bad luck with injuries recently, and the rumor is WWE staff thinks he’s too big of an injury risk to build a long term or major storyline around. He’s been doing random appearances hosting the Peep Show on Smackdown and PPV pre-shows. It was recently announced he will be guest starring in a couple episodes of the TV show Haven this season which features his former tag partner Edge. I’m not sure how long Christian has on his contract or if WWE would renew his contract in a non -wrestling role, but if he sticks around I think NXT could be a good spot for Captain Charisma. There’s a couple options for Christian and NXT but they all revovle around his promo skills. I think he would be good in helping mentor guys on the mic. I would have him work as a manager/mouth peice for a rising star who might not be good on the mic yet, someone he could treat as a protege. The other option I’d like to see is someone on the NXT roster trying to get Regal removed as GM and maybe even succedes for a certain amount of time and Christian gets named the new NXT GM. I love Regal so I’d hate to see him lose TV time unless they put him back in the announce booth, but I’m sure they could figure something out.


The remaining 3 people on my list are all people I think have a lot of talent but are constantly on the losing end of things, and rarely have a long term storyline lately. They all have unique characteristics and not only would a run in NXT give them a chance to mentor the rising stars, it could give them a chance to evolve and possible get another chance at a big break on the main roster. Heath Slater was a member of Nexus, multiple time tag champion, and the guy that was picked to work with numerous legends leading into Raw’s 1000th episode. Like one of the guys I’ll mention later he has developed a small support group amongst the fans, though not as big as the other guys. He may have spent a good portion of his WWE carreer on his back, but he seems to be loving just being able to do what he loves. He’s a pretty solid performer and I think he could teach the NXT roster a little about work ethics. I would have him fill right into the position Tyson Kidd has been in for the past year working with the top NXT talent. I think working with these guys would rejuvenate Slater and would also give him a chance to tweak or completely evolve his character. It’s going to take a lot for people to see Slater as more than a jobber or comedy character on the main roster, but I think if they keep him off Raw and Smackdown for a year and have him spend that time in NXT he could be reintroduced as a viable threat to the mid-card titles.


Next is a wrestler that I’m not sure if WWE just didn’t know what to do with or they were upset that he got himself over with out their help. Zack Ryder used social media to build a huge following and still spent most of his time losing matches though he did get a brief run with the U.S. title, and got to play Jimmy Olsen to Cena’s Superman for a little while. Long Island Iced Z and the internet championship  was over with the fans and kids. I see no reason why they didnt use the Internet Championship for a little while even if they only used it similiar to the Million Dollar Belt. In the past few months Ryder has stopped carrying the internet title and started moving away from the Jersey Shore gimmick. Unfortunately Ryder also posted on twitter this weekend that not only will he be missing the current European tour but he suffered an injury and could be out 6-8 months. Now this could work two ways, since Ryder is going to be out past Wrestlemania that’s plenty of time for him to revamp his character and return to the main roster mid-card. They could still go the NXT route for his return though and let him shake off some ring rust, and try out some new things with his character. Zack Ryder”s mission as a mentor to the NXT roster beyond them working with a familair face from the main roster is his social networking skills. NXT as a whole has been marketed pretty well, but the wrestlers themselves could probably use some help in marketing themselves and their gimmicks via social media. Facebook and Twitter are a great way for these new guys to establish a fanbase and some of them already use it, but Zack could probably give some pointers. One more thing Zack could use upon his return that could help make an impact is his Internet Championship except I would re-brand it. It would now be known as the Network Championship, similiar to WCW’s old TV title. It could be just the NXT mid-card title or WWE could take it a step further and have it defended as a special Network exclusive match before Raw or Smackdown airs. It could even be given a showcase match on PPVs since they air on the Network. Give them a 10-15 minute time limit. Holding that title guarentees you get a spot on the PPV or at least the ppv pre-show. The downside here is it might de-value the main NXT title. Of course with these things added Ryder wouldn’t hold it long, but he’d get the initial run and give it a little credability. It would aslo be a good way to showcase NXT talent on PPV once a month before they get called up, even if it was kept to the pre-show. Familiarity is usualy a good thing.


Last but not least is a wrestler that I’ve followed ever since I read online many years ago that he was going to Harley Race’s training school. Now this is a really interesting case, Curtis Axel is a talented athlete but he will never be his father. Honestly from what I’ve seen sometimes I see more of his grandfather in him than his dad, but that’s not a bad thing. First off they messed up when they brought him in as Michael McGuilicutty, but then told everybody he was Mr. Perfect’s kidd. If they started him as Curtis Axel and explained it that would of been ok, but they could of easily kept his real name.  There is a reason Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas aren’t mentioned as brothers, or sons of Mike Rotunda/IRS it would mess up their gimmick. Axel has potential and WWE knows it. Like Cesaro they gave him the Heyman guy boost, but he took a back seat to Punk just like Ceasro did to Lesnar. People might think I’m crazy, but if done right Axel could of been a legitimate contender for Brock Lesnar. It’s also one of the same reasons I think he could be a good fit in NXT. See there is an interesting fact that WWE doesn’t mention often and there is a reason Michael McGuillicuty/Curtis Axel was off tv for long stretches of time multiple times. Axel along with the recently future endevored Curt Hawkins was sent to help The Rock remove his ring rust and get ready for his return to the ring. Axel was also the guy picked to help Brock Lesnar get ready for his return. First this tells us WWE has some faith in him as they trusted him not to hurt two of their most valuable stars. Secondly Axel himself said that when he was training with the Rock, Rocky would give him lessons on things like working the crowd. I say tweak the Curtis Axel character a bit send him down to NXT and let him use this training to his advantage. Maybe have him take a rookie under his wing and brag about how he was responsible for both Rock and Brock’s succesful returns, and that he could make whoever the next bigger thing. The only downside here would be eventually Axel would come face to face with Rock or Brock and unless WWE actually let him stand his ground with them it would ruin the build of the character. This is just one of many ideas of what they could do with him though.


Probably the most import thing though for Axel, Ryder, and Slater if they put them in NXT for an extended run is to keep them off of the main roster shows and this includes Main Event and Superstars. If they want to rebuild them they can’t have them losing every week on the B show or even Raw. Also what does it say about the NXT roster if someone like Slater or Axel put on a 4 or 5 star match with an NXT guy then lose in under a minute on Raw to a mid carder. It really does the NXT roster no favors. I’m also not saying to put all 5 of these guys in NXT at the same time, pick 1 or 2 max. NXT has plenty of talent right now, we don’t want guys like Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami and Finn Balor getting lost in the shuffle of WWE mid carders. We definitely don’t want a great show like NXT to start looking like Superstars, but I think one of theses guys could definitely help NXT especially if Kidd is removed from NXT as he has done about all he can do there. Who knows next year we might see a NXT show headlined by Kevin Owens (Steen) vs. Curtis Axel and that might not be a bad thing.