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Posted in: Requesting Flyby
REQUESTING FLYBY: Are We About To See An NXT Invasion Angle?
By Maverick
Sep 20, 2014 - 6:26:54 AM

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Are We About To See An NXT Invasion Angle?

Last Saturday morning, I awoke with a kind of feeling in my bones. I was mulling over the use of NXT talent on Monday Night Raw and the successful NXT special on the WWE Network, with a great deal of that talent having more than served their time down at Full Sail. For a while now, fans have been wondering when the likes of Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Tyler Breeze and The Ascension would join fellow NXT alumni Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns (Dean Ambrose worked in FCW but never appeared on NXT before his main roster debut), Big E, Adam Rose, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Bo Dallas on the main roster, and I felt that there must be a reason for holding back on the next injection of new blood. So, I ended up tweeting this: “Might just be me getting overexcited, but does anyone smell and NXT invasion angle in the air?” This was a full week ago. I had a spirited debate with my good pal from The Right Side Of The Pond, ‘Plan, who hated the idea, but then I didn’t think much more about it until yesterday, when another colleague from the Pond, Mazza, alerted me to the WWE Twitter account tweeting “You’ve waited long enough...prepare yourself for the next generation 9/22/14”. It was then that the feeling in my bones from a week before began to look like a pretty accurate feeling.

Before we get into how this might play out, let’s look at the potential motivations the company might have for booking this kind of angle. In the past twenty years, there have been three high profile “invasions” of talent into a company: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash turning up in WCW and pretending to still be under contract to WWF in 1996, the WCW/ECW InVasion in 2001 and the Nexus in 2010. All three of those instances created some incredibly memorable television. Hall and Nash single handedly turned the Monday Night Wars in WCW’s favour for almost two years after their initial penetration of Nitro, while I will personally never forget how exciting it was to see the likes of Booker T and DDP doing their thing on WWF television and how thrilling it was to witness ECW alumni Rhyno, The Dudley Boys, Tazz and Raven suddenly turn on the Federation to rejoin their ringmaster Paul Heyman in reviving their brand. I am a huge defender of the WCW/ECW InVasion and one day soon, myself and Mazza will be taking you through that whole era, but there were of course some issues with it, just as there were eventually issues with the NWO. The lack of genuine top “name” talent in the InVasion hurt it, and the booking of WWF wrestlers as “defectors”, while exciting, also kind of showed the lack of faith in the talent they had acquired in the WCW closing down sale. Only Booker T and Lance Storm came out of the whole thing with their reputations enhanced, and on the ECW acquisitions, only Rob Van Dam. It seems strange in retrospect that a guy like Mike Awesome, with his build, look and athleticism, couldn’t make an impression on Vince, but backstage politics are alleged to have finished his chances before they really began. In terms of the NWO, although I am by no means an expert having never been a WCW aficionado, it is universally acknowledged that the endless recruitment of secondary and tertiary tier members eventually turned it into a giant cluster****, as did the booking of the various splits and reunions.

However, it is probably The Nexus that is most relevant to our topic today, and I want to spend a bit of time talking about them. I was listening to Chris Jericho’s interview with Edge on Talk Is Jericho, and they both had a lot to say on the issue, particularly on the fourteen man tag that main evented Summerslam 2010. It’s almost bizarre now to remember how hot the outlaw group were at that stage, having invaded the 06/07/10 “Viewer’s Choice” edition of Raw and obliterated Cena, Punk, Gallows and the entire ringside staff before destroying the ring. Their attacks on ageing legends were compelling, their appearances on pay-per-views on which they were not booked were thrilling, and it seemed perfectly set up for Summerslam; the group’s first official match in the company was the main event of the second biggest show of the year. With them being so hot, both Jericho and Edge say that they went to management and asked for Nexus to go over, but that Cena was reluctant. Furthermore, when the match was being put together, both Canadians hated the finish and tried to talk the top guy out of the superman comeback that saw him eliminate both Gabriel and Barrett in quick succession after being DDT-d on the outside not long before. Afterwards, Cena apparently told them that he should have listened to them, but by then it was too late. The match pretty much killed the group’s heat and following that main event, a series of poor booking decisions and more refusal by the Franchise Player to look weak or put over others led to the group first expanding with Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty from NXT Season 2 and then splitting into the Corre and New Nexus factions, with poor old CM Punk having to carry that albatross around with him all the way to Wrestlemania XXVII. It was certainly indicative of WWE in the 2006 to 2011 period that they botched such a hot storyline, but over the last three years, they seem to have learnt from these mistakes...and that’s the exciting thing.

The Shield’s debut bore certain similarities with The Nexus, with them decimating Cena and putting Ryback through a table, but following that, WWE booked the group perfectly, whether they were playing rebels, mercenaries, henchmen or rampant babyfaces. The fact that there were only three of them and that all three are world class talents of course helped with that consistency, but the fact remains that The Hounds of Justice offer a lot of lessons about how to book a stable, as does, to a slightly lesser extent, The Wyatt Family. To me, there is a clear motivation for why Triple H and Stephanie may be thinking about an NXT Invasion again, and that is to put right what went wrong with The Nexus by applying what I like to call the “Shield Principle”. So how might such an invasion work? And who might be involved?

There are a few things that immediately occur to me. The old ideas are always the best ideas in pro wrestling, and one that they could use is the “held down by guys who aren’t fit to lace or boots” approach. If the invading group was composed of prime indy talent like Neville, Zayn, Devitt and Steen- plus Breeze, who worked the indies for three years before getting picked up- they could go with the 2011 CM Punk “chip on shoulder” promo style and target those they feel don’t belong in the elite. Of course, that would necessitate Devitt and Steen being fast tracked and not spending time on NXT TV, but then again, how much work would they really need down there? Plus, they could continue to work NXT tapings while doing their thing on Monday Night Raw. The unrest over the arguably stale nature of the product would be blow away by an exciting group of talents kicking ass, taking names, and emphasising that they will not wait for their future...they’re just going to take it. Of course, another thing that occurs to me is that to make things a little different, the group could be aligned as edgy babyfaces as opposed to dastardly invading heels. Punk in 2011 was lightning in a bottle because he voiced the frustrations of the audience about the way genuine talent was often held down because of the status quo. If an invading group were to emphasise fan thoughts about “same old, same old” they could gain traction very quickly as hot faces. What such a group can not, and should not be is merely a “something to do” for Cena once he has finished with Lesnar, assuming that The Beast completes his demolition of the company poster boy on Sunday. After the toxic effect he has had on Wyatt earlier this year, I think he would need keeping away from the newcomers for a while, until they get to a point of popularity where once again a multi-man tag main event could happen, and this time, John Boy would be doing the job! We can only hope. The most important thing is that they have to be booked strongly and presented compellingly...and I think that would be the case, with all WWE have learnt of late.

Although we have all been disappointed by these *INSERT RANDOM DATE HERE* viral promotions before, my inherent optimism leads me to think that if there is an NXT invasion, or series of main roster debuts, on Monday night, it could be a great thing for the company and for the talent debuting in such a high profile fashion. Calling them “The Next Generation” is an emotive label, one surely designed to work in fourth wall fashion on audience desire for change. I guess we’ll see come the 22nd…

So readers, it’s your turn. How would you book an NXT invasion? Do you think it’s a good idea? And who do you see debuting on Monday?

Until then, this is Maverick, requesting flyby!