As we approach the one-year anniversary of NXT’s transformation into NXT 2.0, Jim Cornette has addressed why, exactly, he thinks Vince McMahon made the decision to change NXT.
NXT officially became NXT 2.0 last September, premiering on 14 September with the crowning of a new NXT Champion. Though it has divided opinion since its launch, the revamped brand has built a number of NXT Superstars, from Bron Breakker and Tony D’Angelo to Cora Jade and The Creed Brothers.
Jim Cornette has now spoken out on why, exactly, he believes Vince McMahon made the decision to switch things up. Speaking on his Jim Cornette Experience podcast, the legendary wrestling manager claimed that the decision wasn’t made due to ratings, but rather due to Vince wanting a different image for the brand:
“Vince didn’t dismantle NXT because they didn’t beat AEW in the ratings. That was just to give them some aggravation and just keep a few 100,000 people from watching AEW. Vince dismantled NXT because he went down there and saw a bunch of f*cking Johnny Garganos and said, ‘What the f*ck has my son-in-law been doing?’ Because I knew they had plenty of sh*t going on there.
That was good, for a while NXT was the best programme we liked for wrestling that wouldn’t insult anybody’s intelligence, didn’t make everything look f*cking fake, and at least had some guys that could f*cking go blah, blah, blah. Vince dismantled it because he went down there and fixated on the amount of people that would never, ever be on the main roster under him, and he was right about most of them. And that’s why he did what he did.
It wasn’t about the TV ratings, Dave [Meltzer] might tell you that because that’s what he hears from Tony Khan, and he’s far up Tony’s a** he wants to believe it too. But the real story was Vince went down there, and then turned around and said, ‘Bruce [Prichard], what do you think?’ And Bruce read Vince’s mind, but they were like, he didn’t see Damien Priest, he saw Johnny Gargano. He didn’t see f*cking, you know, this talent or that talent. He saw the fact that The Undisputed ERA was all f*cking 180 pounds.”
As Jim Cornette elaborated, he hypothesised how Vince McMahon would have perhaps been more lenient with regards to changing the face of NXT had if he believed its roster could thrive on the main roster:
“And that’s what I said, if they had had a couple of guys at that size that were really exceptional, and everybody else looked halfway like a wrestler and that they could make the main roster, Vince wouldn’t [have] had a f*cking issue. But when he sees a bunch of them running around, that’s when he doesn’t want to hear no more, and he’s got his own f*cking idea, and he’s going to revamp that thing, and that’s what happened.
And now even if they revamp it back now, you know, Jesus Christ, you built a pyramid, everybody loved it, then somebody came round and tore it down and you saw well, ‘I guess it wasn’t as sturdy as we thought it was’.”
Wrapping up, Jim Cornette linked the situation with Ohio Valley Wrestling’s impeccable 2002 graduation class, which saw the likes of Brock Lesnar and John Cena join WWE’s main roster:
“If you held a gun to Vince McMahon in the fall of 2000 and said, ‘Does Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and John Cena work for you? He said, ‘Who the f*ck are you talking about?’ He may have recognised Brock’s name, [but the] rest of them? F*ck, I don’t know that he ever watched an episode of OVW in five f*cking years, six years.
So the answer to that question is no, he didn’t know what the f*ck was going on down there and didn’t know what anybody looked like, except what he was told by the people he might ask a question to or might be tasked to give a report. And what were they going to say? ‘Oh, yeah, there’s this bunch of guys down here Triple H has signed up. They’re 5-foot-2 and 100 nothing.’ So there you go. So yes, I agree with Triple H’s comment. Congratulations, you beat developmental.”
All Elite Wrestling regularly beat NXT in the key 18-49 demographic throughout the Wednesday Night Wars. During his pre-Clash At The Castle interview with BT Sport’s Ariel Helwani, Triple H mocked AEW for beating WWE’s developmental brand, comments that garnered a notable comeback from AEW original Chris Jericho.