With the company under the stewardship of Vince McMahon a section of WWE fans became increasingly vocal about the apparent disconnect between the main roster and NXT. A number of stars who had impressed on the third brand failed to replicate this success on SmackDown and Raw, often having their characters changed in the process.
This feeling came to a head in summer 2021 when Karrion Kross was called up to Monday Night Raw. Despite being a two-time and current NXT Champion, Kross appeared without his valet Scarlett and lost multiple times. He then underwent a change to his character and presentation before being released in November. This led to claims that Vince McMahon was out of touch and wasn’t in tune with NXT.
Vince McMahon “Didn’t Watch” NXT
Speaking on a recent episode of his podcast, Oh You Didn’t Know, Road Dogg discussed Vince McMahon’s views on NXT and how much attention he paid to the brand. Road Dogg revealed that McMahon didn’t watch NXT, only reading company emails about the show’s ratings. The former Chairman also had no idea who Gunther was the first time he met him, despite the star being the longest reigning NXT United Kingdom Champion in history.
“Well, so look, Vince didn’t watch the programme. Vince heard the social media reports about the programme, he read the emails about the ratings. He got the information, but he didn’t know who Gunther was. He didn’t know what Gunther, then Walter brought to the table. He very much was not the guy out scouting talent and independent shows in other countries. That’s not Vince McMahon. And so he didn’t know what Walter brought to the table, excuse me, Gunther, I want to say it correctly, Gunther brought to the table.
So he would feed stuff like that, thinking that the layperson may not know him either. And I don’t think that’s wrong thinking, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t think it’s wrong to think there are people watching the show who do not know who Walter was, you know what I mean? I think that makes perfect [sense]. [It’s then mentioned that people who watch Raw don’t all watch NXT] Exactly, exactly.
And then we literally have the analytics to prove that and what the percentage of the show that they do watch is so minuscule usually, that it’s hard to get a read on whether they know the talent or not. Because they may watch 70 minutes of Raw, you know what I mean? Or 62 minutes of Raw and 33 minutes of, you know what I mean, of NXT? And so, did they see superstar X? Or did they turn [the channel] before he was [on], you know what I mean? So it’s, I understand his thinking of they, they may not know who Gunther is at this point.”
Since passing through NXT Gunther has become one of the most dominant stars on Friday Night SmackDown. The giant Austrian is the current Intercontinental Champion and is yet to be pinned in singles action while on the blue brand.
If you use any of the quotes from this article please credit the original source with a h/t to Inside The Ropes.