NXT on USA Conference Call Notes: Creative Changes, Scheduling, Talent Usage, Much More

By Kelly Wells, PWTorch contributor

Triple H (artist Joel Tesch © PWTorch)

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Earlier today, Paul “Triple H” Levesque held a media conference call regarding NXT debuting on USA this Wednesday. While an internet problem ruined my audio file, I do have extensive notes from the call.

On ratings, Levesque said he hesitates to give an expectation for numbers. He doesn’t want to set an unrealistic number, and also doesn’t want to undercut NXT’s potential either. He said he’ll be happy if it does better than the one week it was live in the past.

On 205 potentially merging with NXT, Levesque gave no indication that this would come to pass, but said that instead of on PPV (pre-shows) you might eventually see the Cruiserweight Championship defended on TakeOver. He said more opportunity is better for everyone to show what they can do.

On NXT and NXT:UK, more crossover of talent is likely. It’s a great way to showcase each brand and offers opportunity for talent, as well as freshness for viewers.

Levesque was asked about scheduling coming up, and he said that it’s a big job and work is still being done. You’ll see some new things this year. He stressed that roster movement isn’t about “up-down” and should be regarded as lateral movement.

There’s a Worlds Collide event scheduled for the weekend of Royal Rumble. TakeOvers will continue, of course, but there’s a push to continue making sure that Network subscribers are offered more and more live content. Worlds Collide is ideal because fans of great wrestling get a show worth watching that doesn’t ultimately do any harm to the brands.

TakeOver will not be lengthened, Levesque said. He doesn’t like the idea of watching the clock during a show. Later in the call he expanded on this by saying that he wants talent to remain hungry for a TakeOver spot, so limiting them and keeping the shows short and strong as they are is what he wants. There’s more time for some of these feuds and big matches to play out on TV now, as well.

Levesque was asked about an NXY:UK midcard title. He said he doesn’t like the term or any that suggest that it’s a title where you go after it if you aren’t good enough for the big one. As for the idea itself, conversations are always happening and everything is being evaluated but he doesn’t see a need at present.

Levesque said he continues to think Killian Dain is a special talent and said that like the territory days, a wrestler can continue to learn from each place he visits and can continue to grow. If something doesn’t work out in one place, he can ply his trade and work on his act elsewhere.

Levesque doesn’t expect NXT to have any part in the upcoming Raw-SmackDown draft. While he expects and hopes NXT will be on the level of those shows at some point, as of now he says this draft is about Raw and SmackDown as we head to a new era for SmackDown.

Levesque said he gets a lot of calls from Raw and SmackDown talent about working with them on the brand in one way or another. He said that if a wrestler isn’t in the main mix, they can make a lateral shift and work elsewhere.

On deciding the length of time for the new show, Levesque said that the amount of time per episode is right. He said he gave no thought to being a three-hour show [a relief for your PWT Talks NXT podcast team] but a two-hour show allows him to debut talents where in the past he had no time to do so. (Kelly’s Analysis: One of the big questions about NXT on USA has been whether we should expect a wider talent base on TV, or if we would simply get more time for each of the higher-tier acts. Levesque’s answer suggests the former, which should make for an exciting first couple of months of television)

Obviously, there were conversations on where to run the live show – whether to tour, and whatnot – and Levesque said he got his preferred outcome with Full Sail. He considers it to be home, and says there’s a great education opportunity for students who help produce the show, and a portion of ticket sales go into college funds. It’s an opportunity all round. He said the Full Sail fans are as much a part of the brand as anyone and he’s glad they get to go on the journey.

Finally, the inevitable question of creative was asked. Levesque said that the team is the team. Creatively, things will not be changing, because they’re working. He said that the only “expansion” part is that now, the world will be getting their NXT content all at once. That means more work on the communications side of things, and social media readiness. (Kelly’s Analysis: That was a sigh of relief you just heard from the NXT loyalists. Certainly we’ll all still wait and see what happens, but it certainly sounds like we can expect the same approach to professional wrestling television that we’ve been getting)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This call should do a lot to quell the fears of viewers who were expecting a bigger hand from Vince in the creation of NXT content. McMahon was barely acknowledged on this call, which is a rarity. Some long-term answers were vague, which is to be expected as NXT is largely something new again, and ratings will have a bearing on what transpires. I ended the call being even more bullish on the brand than when I went in, so for all those that have yet to experience NXT for whatever reason, I would urge you to do so. This week, I’ll be recording PWT Talks NXT with Harley Pageot and first-time guest Zack Heydorn, so look for our reactions to the first (half) week of NXT on USA. Follow me on social media @spookymilk and send any NXT-related questions to our podcast at pwtorchnxt@gmail.com.

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