Shawn Michaels is doing excellent work running WWE NXT

As the person in charge of the developmental brand, Shawn Michaels is doing excellent work running WWE NXT.
NXT Underground Jan.jpg
NXT Underground Jan.jpg /

As the Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, Shawn Michaels has a firm grip not only on the present, but especially on the future in WWE.

Much like the Minor Leagues in professional baseball, WWE NXT's number one priority is to groom future superstars in WWE. Unfortunately, that means that a plethora of superstars will come and go. Everyone's journey is different, so some tenures will be longer than others.

Over the past year or two, the overall product of WWE NXT has elevated tremendously. The wrestlers are better, the storylines are better, and the commentary has been more entertaining with the addition of Booker T alongside Vic Joseph. Fans can't wait to tune in and hear Booker's adlibs on Trick Williams' entrance theme. "Aw, yeah man!" "I like it!" The show has an entirely different vibe than the other two shows, which is exactly what you want.

Looking further on the surface, the product has improved because a new crop of superstars has graced the NXT roster. For the past couple of years, the biggest names on the brand have been Bron Breakker, Tiffany Stratton, Solo Sikoa, Carmelo Hayes, Ilja Dragunov, Roxanne Perez, and a few others. Many have moved to the main roster, and a few are coming. When this happens, in the past the average WWE fan won't recognize many names on the roster. That is no longer the case.

In a two-hour weekly show, NXT is action-packed and incredibly fast-paced. Blink and you could miss a key moment of the show. The quality of the matches is subjective to whoever is viewing the product, but nobody can argue the character development of superstars throughout the past year. Look how quickly Trick Williams became a top star, and how quickly Oba Femi went from winning the Breakout Tournament to becoming the NXT North American Champion. The recent heel turn by Roxanne Perez has been perfectly executed as well.

Those kinds of decisions behind the scenes are tough to make but in hindsight have been implemented with perfection. In addition to quick risers, look at superstars that have been on NXT a little longer like Dijak, or Tony D'Angelo. Dijak is more than likely on his way to a NXT North American title reign, and D'Angelo has his shot at the NXT Championship at Stand & Deliver. Both are veterans on the NXT roster and after paying their dues are finally getting their shot, rightfully so.

One of the most noticeable improvements in NXT has been elevating the prestige of the NXT Women's Championship. Once Becky Lynch defeated Tiffany Stratton for the belt, and Lyra Valkyra defeated her idol in Lynch to become champion, it immediately became an important title once again. Especially, after playing a game of hot potato for a brief stint after Mandy Rose lost it to Perez. There is no weekly show that books the women's division better than WWE NXT. There are so many on the roster that often some will have a match on NXT Level Up simply because there wasn't time for them on the main show.

Even with a few of their stars in the women's division being out due to injury including Cora Jade, and Nikkita Lyons, the division hasn't missed a beat. We've recently watched new up-and-coming superstars like Jaida Parker, Lola Vice (Breakout Tournament Winner), and Kelani Jordan step up and take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their abilities. Michaels has done a great job in not only booking this talent but assisting in their improvements in their character development and in-ring ability.

A very underrated move that can't go unnoticed is the addition of Ava to the NXT staff. For the past few months, Ava has stepped in as the General Manager of NXT and has done a great job early on in her role. She spends time with the superstars, she's been in the locker room, who knows them better than her? The addition of her matches the energy on both Raw and Smackdown and gives all three shows their boss.

With Stand & Deliver coming up for WrestleMania weekend, Michaels has put together another quality match card. With so much energy being put into The Bloodline's storyline, the match of the weekend may be between former friends in Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams.

For the first time in a WWE PLE since Booker T vs. The Rock (Summerslam 2001), two black superstars will main event. The build-up for this match has been monumental. You could argue The Bloodline storyline, but other than that, no storyline has a a more personal feeling to it. This feud showcases the work that Michaels has put into long-term storytelling. The anticipation for Hayes to turn on Trick grew significantly for months and months. When it finally happened, it felt like a brother betrayed his brother.

WWE NXT may not be what many people remember it to be back in the Asuka days, or the original NXT days. But Michaels has built a dynamite program that is enjoyable and entertaining every week and is building our stars of tomorrow. The beautiful part about it is it's only the beginning.