Editorial Columns

Is The NXT UK Roster Too Big?

George Geal looks at the NXT UK roster and asks if it is bloated.

The smallest and newest branch of the WWE tree is starting to become a credible brand, due to the work rate of our British wrestlers, exposure via shows like Worlds Collide and the success of Pete Dunne and the Grizzled Young Veterans.

But when you watch NXT UK, you see new faces every single week, or faces you recognise from their appearance six months ago that haven’t come back. When you watch main roster WWE or even NXT, you get consistent wrestlers who you know and can easily recognise. But NXT UK is slightly different: the roster is huge and extremely diverse considering the amount of airtime that they receive. Main roster WWE has five hours of programming each week and as such would have a larger roster, RAW totals 65 superstars which includes managers, commentary team, on screen authority and inactive superstars. Three hours of programming would need maybe slightly less than 65 but when you factor in injuries, it’s needed. NXT UK receives one hour of airtime each week, with 39 superstars listed on WWE.com, all wrestlers except Sid Scala and Johnny Saint. 37 wrestlers for one hour of TV each week and two Takeovers per calendar year.

A lot of the roster for NXT UK performs for UK independent companies like Progress and ICW, which doesn’t surprise me considering how little TV time they would independently receive. Other than the current champions, WALTER and Kay Lee Ray, the only wrestlers I can associate with NXT UK is South Wales Sub-Culture, Ilja Dragunov, Gallus and the rest of Imperium. That is nine wrestlers. Nine out of a possible 37 that I can instantly tell you are UK roster members. When was the last time we saw Kenny Williams or Joseph Conners in WWE?

WWE continues to add to its roster as well, with Candy Floss, Dani Luna, Levi Muir and the tandem of Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley signing for NXT UK permanently. Surely, WWE should play with the toys they already have rather than stockpile more talent in the UK Performance Centre? You doubt the likes of Floss and Luna are going to get in ahead of Toni Storm, Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven and many others (as good as they are).

Obviously, all of these wrestlers work with independent promotions to amass not only additional revenue but additional ring time as it’s clear that WWE aren’t giving them enough time to perform and that’s what wrestlers want to do. WWE are moving in the right direction with this though as the roster is slowly decreasing. Despite being listed as WWE NXT UK roster members, Pete Dunne and the Grizzled Young Veterans have recently been predominantly on NXT in America which gives a chance for other wrestlers to shine under the UK banner. Additionally, Jordan Devlin winning the NXT Cruiserweight Championship may ship him over the NXT America more often and potentially bring some UK stars with him to compete for the title.

Looking on WWE.com, they have seven female competitors listed as NXT UK roster members, including champion Kay Lee Ray. One missing is Killer Kelly, whose status with WWE has very much been up in the air in the last few months. Other that KLR, Piper Niven and Toni Storm, when do we see the female competitors? It’s very rare that we do and if we do, it’s a one-off match and we don’t see them again. Indie stars like Lana Austin have competed on NXT UK and she’s a brilliant wrestler but why? Why not use one of the women you have on the roster already?

WWE massively need to decrease the size of the roster or extend NXT UK to two hours like NXT. That was we get more storylines, more wrestling and these competitors can get exposure to wider audiences. A lot of the superstars we don’t see are fantastic wrestlers but the wider WWE universe won’t know this unless they subscribe to On Demand services for smaller UK promotions, but that becomes ridiculously expensive.

It would make sense for NXT UK to be extended to two hours and we would see a couple more Takeovers, making NXT UK a proper competitor and equal brand to NXT. And that is what all of Brits want to see; our lads and lasses competing against the best wrestlers in the world and making the UK scene the most must see wrestling programming.

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!

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