The WWE Performance Center is succeeding in building superstars of the future

NXT Heatwave was yet another example of the WWE Performance Center building stars for the future of wrestling.
Kelani Jordan Dec 2.jpg
Kelani Jordan Dec 2.jpg /

There was a lot of professional wrestling action to celebrate last week. From Forbidden Door III kicking things off, through a fun NXT Heatwave. The WWE NXT PLE flew under the radar leading into things, but it closed out as a show that was well-received for several different reasons. One thing that was clear was that the NXT Performance Center is doing an excellent job building the type of superstars that can do exactly what WWE demands of them each time out.

NXT Heatwave was a five-match card with every championship from the brand on the line. There was also a preshow tag team match within the women’s division. When diving into who participated in these matches, it is interesting to see how inexperienced many of the performers were on this card. Several of the men and women put in prominent positions have less than three years in the ring. Oba Femi, Kelani Jordan, Sol Ruca, Lola Vice, and Trick Willams all fit into that group. That number further expands to include Karmen Petrovic and Jazmyn Nyx. Five of the 14 performers on the main card.

This is an amazing stat when listening to the reaction to the show. There’s a lot of praise for each of these performers, especially Jordan and Ruca who went out to have a near 12-minute title match that potentially stole the show. As the stars themselves get hit with praise, it is important to note that the WWE Performance Center is playing a key part in developing wrestling stars of the future.

A few years back there was a narrative developing that the PC wasn’t a good place to learn wrestling. This idea developed as Tay Melo came into her own in All Elite Wrestling. While it started as an interesting dialogue, the topic festered into yet another entry into AEW vs WWE online nonsense. Since then, the PC has gone through several changes thanks to creative control fluctuations, but this latest iteration is creating some great talent for the future of wrestling.

NXT was originally built around top names from the independent scene getting a shot in the WWE. While this created some excellent matches for hardcore fans, WWE didn’t necessarily craft performers that fit their model long-term. The 2024 version of the PC takes athletes mostly signed via WWE’s NIL program, and pairs them with veterans, trainers, and agents that help them craft excellent matches that fit their development.

Take Jordan vs Ruca for example. They were given the space to have an 11:36 match with spots they could work through and pull off. There were a couple of small issues, but they even made them work as part of a scripted fight. When everything was over, they were both praised for their performance and fans were interested in seeing what they would do next. If they were asked to go out and have a 25-minute, five-star classic then that would have been much more difficult to pull off at this stage of their career. This is how long-term development should work.

The online joke is that Shawn Michaels is cooking each week with WWE NXT. Yes, Michaels is doing a fantastic job, but the Performance Center overall is doing great work in developing the future of sports entertainment and professional wrestling.