After starting life as a version of a reality TV show, NXT became a standalone developmental brand in 2012.
WWE closed down old developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling and launched NXT at Full Sail University. Over the coming years, the brand gave fans a first look i a WWE ring at would-be megastars such as Becky Lynch, Mercedes Mone, Sami Zayn, and more.
The brand became incredibly popular with “hardcore wrestling/WWE fans” with some of the TakeOver events becoming known as some of the best WWE television of the modern era.
However, this run was brought to an end with the brand undergoing a revamp. The black and gold logo among other things was replaced, and the show was given a totally different feel, operating as NXT 2.0. Although this was dropped a year later.
Many fans were vocal online about the end of what had become known as the ‘Black and Gold Era,’ losing touch with the product as a result, citing a dip in quality. Interestingly, current NXT Champion, Carmelo Hayes, also felt something was missing.
Speaking on the After The Bell podcast, Hayes said that there was something of a decline during the ThunderDome era, and he was determined to correct it.
“I knew when I first got there, I wanted to be something different. I remember black and gold era. Everybody talks about and romanticizes the black and gold era so much and it was great. It was awesome in the peak, but right after the whole thing with COVID in that ThunderDome era of WWE and NXT, it was kind of on a decline in a way.
I remember watching the show as a brand new signee and I’m thinking, man, there’s so much missing here that I feel I could bring to this show. There just needs to be something like, nobody’s doing this, nobody’s doing this, nobody’s doing this. I’m like, man, I just need the opportunity. So I worked hard for like four or five months in the Performance Center just getting ready and working the little live event shows that we had.
Finally they gave me a shot, they gave me my name, and then two days later they gave me a shot against Kushida for the Cruiserweight title in my debut. After that match, I had done really well, but I remember talking to Hunter [Triple H] after. I was like, ‘Man, I know I could do so much better.’
Then I remember talking to Shawn [Michaels] and I was telling Shawn straight up, I said, ‘Man, I really want to be a top guy. I don’t want to get like, nothing wrong with 205 Live. I know I’m undersized, but I don’t want to be a 205 Live guy.’ Shawn will even say to this day that he kind of respected that I had the balls to come up to him and tell him that, and here we are. I bet on myself at that very moment and that was something that I just believed. It was like, I know I have a lot to offer for this brand. Just give me the ball.”
NXT Title Will Be On The Line At Battleground
Carmelo Hayes won the NXT Championship by defeating Bron Breakker at Stand & Deliver. However, by no means was this match the end of their rivalry. Powered by a new, more intense, and destructive persona, Breakker will attempt to regain the gold at Battleground on May 28th.
H/t to WrestlingNews.Co