Many of us rely on nostalgia to get us through tough times or just to look back fondly on the “glory days,” and it appears WWE is doing just that with the NXT brand.
Now in its third week, WWE NXT 2.0 is like a millennial’s wrestling version of what Hi-C Ecto Cooler, Stick Stickly and Tamagotchis were to most people of that age. The structure may still be stilted with WWE’s rash booking style and wrestler names may be as creative as your favorite off-brand cereal, but we’re getting the “new generation” of Razor Ramons, Bret Harts and Big Daddy Cools in the form of NXT’s Tony D’Angelo (totally related from a Kayfabe standpoint), Lash Legend and yes, Bron Breakker.
Name be damned, Breakker is clearly a Steiner right down to the “dog-faced” bone. Say what you want about the former “Rex Steiner,” but everything else is there that screams “Steiner,” from the sirens signifying his entrance, to the “BITE ME” etched on his white boots, along with a mushy Michigan dialect and the Steiner Recliner finisher. He could be a Samoa Joe match away from breaking out his uncle’s arithmetic too, but all of those traits are painted with a Jackson Pollack brush to depict WWE’s next big star, just as Vince McMahon intended.
That latter point is so vital to WWE NXT 2.0’s success, a link to the past, and to some, the genesis of another boom period for WWE gimmicks. Breakker and the new influx of talent aren’t the 30-something indy darlings we’ve seen in recent years, but they are talents that McMahon has always found his comfort zone in and success with. As long as the program’s surge of (many) new stars don’t suffer the signature pitfalls of even-Stevens booking or babyfaces looking like idiots, then it will also be a brand that casts a wide net that’s not full of dads falling asleep with the third hour of RAW on.
The WWE NXT 2.0 visual aesthetic may give the mid-30s flashbacks to the days of the “Aggro Crag” and your weekly dose of FOX Kids’ X-Men, but it also has the potential to attract the younger crowd that is so desperately needed. Hit Row is as modern and relevant as a WWE act gets and with the reported “edginess” on the horizon, you have the potential to rope in that lower 18-34 demo, in addition to a teenage crowd. If Nick Khan and his “Nickelodeon” niche does happen to get the younger audience, then those bright colors can also bring in their son or daughter, kid brother and the like, too. One matter that will never change in wrestling is it’s typically family that brings you in (kind of like a Double Dare physical challenge) and keeps you in the game for the long haul.
If you’re of the collecting type, sports cards have found an immense surge during the pandemic. With uncertainty being the theme of the times, people have been yearning for the simpler days, and nothing is easier than staring at a flashy piece of cardboard with your favorite player and team of choice on it. Therefore, if you were wise enough to keep hold of your Patrick Mahomes rookie card from four years back, you could rope in a cool $700. WWE sees that same principle in their rejuvenated Tuesday nights in a market that they’ve struggled to attract.
Is NXT 2.0 AEW? No. Is it Crockett Promotions? Hell no. It’s WWF nostalgia Fun Dip for us 90’s kids and a gateway to the “Universe” for everyone younger, and that’s as intended.
Discuss. ⤵️ #WWENXT @bronbreakkerwwe pic.twitter.com/BNGqPyfoT6
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) September 23, 2021
I put the Nickelodeon GUTS theme over the new #WWENXT preview. Fits purdy good. #SmackDown pic.twitter.com/MacetKHdys
— Dominic DeAngelo: Pro Wrestling Writer (@DominicDeAngelo) August 28, 2021
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