When WWE NXT was first conceived in 2012, it was little more than an isolated developmental system in Florida. Now, a few years on, NXT has morphed into WWE’s third global touring brand alongside television juggernauts Raw and SmackDown.
Before the end of 2016, NXT will hold events in Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque refers to NXT as “my baby” and is largely responsible for its growth.
The Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative has fond memories of his own visits to Australia and New Zealand. He hopes December’s tour could be the first of many annual excursions for WWE NXT.
“I’m excited to bring the brand and everything that it represents and everything that it does,” he told a media line-up including NZPWI last week.
Based in Orlando, Florida, NXT is where several of today’s most popular WWE Superstars got their start. Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins all began their WWE careers at Full Sail University. Eighteen Superstars have made the move from NXT to Raw or SmackDown this year.
Unlike Raw and SmackDown, NXT isn’t bound by a strict television schedule. That leaves the brand with more freedom for worldwide touring.
“One of the things that I’m excited about with NXT is having a little bit more flexibility to be able to tour and maybe being able to go to some of the places over the years that the main roster doesn’t always get to go to as much,” Triple H said.
“It comes down to, a lot of times for WWE—with the main roster especially—where can we get to within the allotted period of time it takes to go from TV to TV, so to speak.”
A disproportionate number of NXT Superstars come from Australia and Japan, but it’s far from a conscious effort to pander to local audiences.
“I’m a big believer in talent are talent wherever they come from,” Triple H said. “I have a team of recruiting agents and people that work for me—one of which is William Regal—who kind of scour the globe and they look for talent whether that’s in Japan or Australia or New Zealand or England or any place else. And I want the best.”
He added: “If I’m a fan of sports entertainment I just want to see talent and I don’t care where that talent comes from. I don’t care if they speak my language, I don’t care if they look like me or don’t look like me, I just care that they’re talented.”
December’s tour of Australia and New Zealand will be the first major overseas tour for many NXT Superstars.
“I cannot tell you the buzz that was created in that locker-room … when I announced to the locker-room that I would be announcing that we were doing an Australia and New Zealand tour, and that it would probably be about two weeks in duration,” Triple H said.
“The excitement level was unbelievable. For them, it’s an exciting adventure. Most of them have probably never been to Australia before. It’s an exciting time for them. They will be as excited as the fans are there to see them.”
Triple H describes seeing NXT live as an “immersive experience”, like seeing a favourite band in a club setting.
“For whatever reason NXT gives you that up-close-and-personal that’s harder to get in the big arenas when you go in with the main WWE product and you’re in a 15-20,000 seat venue,” he said.
“It’s hard-edged, hard-hitting action that NXT brings like nobody else. And I’m really excited to bring that to New Zealand and Australia and show the world that, even in Australia, we are NXT.”
WWE NXT comes to Auckland at The Trusts Arena on Monday, December 5, and Wellington at TSB Bank Arena on Tuesday, December 6. Tickets available from Ticketek.