Karrion Kross’ loss on Raw reflects poorly on the entire NXT roster

Karrion Kross, WWE (photo courtesy of WWE)
Karrion Kross, WWE (photo courtesy of WWE) /

A rope-assisted surprise roll-up pinfall. That’s all it took to undo months of time and energy the NXT creative team expended building NXT Champion Karrion Kross into a main roster-ready star.

The fuller context puts this in an even grimmer light for Kross: the former Impact Wrestling and AAA star — who had yet to taste defeat throughout his NXT run — debuted on the July 19 episode of WWE Raw to little fanfare and a mostly stripped-down ring entrance, the polar opposite of the pomp and circumstance that Jeff Hardy received when he walked down the aisle (including the return of his “No More Words” entrance music).

Still, fans had no reason to expect anything from Kross vs. Hardy outside of a showcase win for the champion. Instead, fans watched as the dominant champion succumbed to the same fate that befalls most WWE main roster midcarders (also, having Hardy score a pin with his feet on the ropes is terrible babyface booking), a decision that won’t just affect Kross.

Karrion Kross’ loss on Raw harms Kross and the NXT roster’s credibility.

For the 101 combined days (as recognized by WWE) Kross has reigned as NXT Champion, Kross has run through many of NXT’s top names: Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Finn Balor, Santos Escobar, Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, and Johnny Gargano. Most of those big wins weren’t particularly competitive either, a sign that the NXT writers viewed Kross as a major attraction, thus why they presented him as such an imposing force (even if the fans sometimes felt differently).

With this pinfall loss to Hardy, the aura that the NXT writers had started eroding fully dissipated. It was like when Geena Davis’ character ripped off Jeff Goldblum’s jaw to complete the monstrous transformation during the climax of The Fly; the deterioration has already set in and WWE’s main roster creative team made sure what was left fell completely apart.

The company sent a clear message with this decision: despite NXT’s efforts to push Kross as a world-beater, he isn’t nearly at the same level as WWE Champion Bobby Lashley or Universal Champion Roman Reigns. In a vacuum, this strategy comes across as short-sighted, but the corrosive effect of this also extends to the rest of the NXT roster.

After all, if WWE books the nigh-unstoppable champion of the brand to lose a banal match to a legacy star who hasn’t won consecutive matches since this past January, how does that make all the wrestlers who got smoked by Kross look?

In short, it makes them — and the wrestlers who haven’t done enough to even warrant a title shot — look like geeks who couldn’t do what it took less than two minutes(!!!) for Hardy to do. WWE basically rendered NXT, which is experiencing its own ratings struggles, a minor league system in the time it takes to heat up a Hot Pocket in the microwave.

And people will still defend this company’s creative process.

Now, this isn’t to say that WWE can’t pick up the pieces and fix the jigsaw that they kicked over and scrambled up, but it now requires more work than it would’ve if they had simply given Kross a showcase win as opposed to him getting rolled up as a means to “protect” him in defeat. Plus, WWE hasn’t earned any faith in their ability to repair this. If they were that astute, they wouldn’t have broken it in the first place.

WWE Raw: Positivity & questions with Nikki A.S.H.’s cash-in. dark. Next

But that’s WWE for you: always making things harder on themselves. This time, though, they have also made the NXT crew’s job of making their brand feel must-see harder.

And all it took was a rope-assisted surprise roll-up pinfall.