Kevin Owens was recently a guest on the Les anti-pods de la lutte podcast to discuss a number of things relating to pro wrestling , NXT and his career. You may have seen the recent news that Owens has re-signed with the WWE, after months long speculation that he might leave the company and jump to All Elite Wrestling.
During the interview, which is in Owens’ native language of French, it was most notable, as well as quite interesting, to hear some of the Canadian’s thoughts on the current NXT 2.0 product and how it relates to the previous incarnation of NXT – which Owens, himself, was a big part of.
“Today’s NXT is very different than the NXT I was part of, to the point I believe it should have a totally different name… And I don’t think it’s better or worse, but it’s just too different. So when I’m watching NXT, I don’t see the NXT I was part of. It’s not the same thing. It’s a little bit like Ring of Honor. The ROH of old days and the ROH now, it’s just not the same thing. So to me, it’s completely two different products, so when I’m watching it, I put myself in the mindset we had when I was at NXT and the mindset there seems to have right now, it’s completely different. It’s very hard for me to compare them. I don’t even consider that to be the same show. I don’t really feel any attachment to NXT now.
Listen, there are very talented people working there, and I have watched the last TakeOver show they did and there were parts of it that I thought was really good, but it’s like a few years ago, if they had asked me to go back to NXT, I would have said yes. But if they would ask me that now, I don’t think I would be as receptive to go back, because it’s not the same thing. I don’t think I fit in the new NXT as I was fitting in the NXT I was part of, with guys like Sami (Zayn), Finn (Bálor), Samoa Joe and (Shinsuke) Nakamura. When I watch NXT now, I don’t feel the same thing I felt when I was watching NXT two years ago.”
Kevin Owens has always been an excellent, “shoot from the hip” type talker and it is no surprise that – though he has been respectful in his choice of words – he has spoken so candidly about the current NXT 2.0. Let’s be clear: NXT 2.0 is an entirely different show to the NXT, which once stood as a strictly pro wrestling show and it is no surprise to hear that Owens believes he would feel out of place there. The NXT of yesteryear stood as a sort of transitional factory for independent style pro wrestlers to come in; learn the WWE style (while still having stellar performances in NXT) and then eventually move up to the main roster and – hopefully – achieve their dreams. NXT 2.0 is different in that it is closer to an FCW or OVW than an NXT; it is strictly developmental, with a few seasoned pro wrestlers (Tommaso Ciampa, Io Shirai, Samoa Joe etc) still floating around. Taking aspiring athletes and turning them into homegrown WWE talent is the clear focus of NXT 2.0.
The question is: should NXT 2.0 be re-branded with a new name? Surely, the name “NXT” has only been kept for the value developed during the “golden age” Triple H years with the promotion and it is misleading to continue with that particular name. Additionally, the “2.0” part doesn’t necessarily make sense – Triple H’s NXT was the 2.0, as the 1.0 was the talent show incarnation of NXT which saw the likes of Wade Barrett, Bryan Danielson and Bray Wyatt make a name for themselves in the WWE. Regardless, it is clear that NXT 2.0 is a completely different beast to previous incarnations of NXT and it is refreshing to hear an NXT alumni speak of this difference. We agree with Kevin Owens that NXT 2.0 should have a different name.
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