In the wake of this week’s excellent TakeOver special on the WWE Network, I have been thinking about the role of WWE’s developmental territory, and how I believe that we as wrestling fans might be thinking about it in the wrong way.
Who is WWE Developmental Developing?
After Rival, and each of the TakeOver shows, a common refrain from fans is that guys like Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, and Kevin Owens are beyond ready to be called up to the main WWE roster. From a talent point of view, I agree. This is developmental, and their talent has already been close to fully developed.
For that reason, I don’t think any of those guys will ever be given a chance to be The Man. My belief is that those guys are still in Orlando just to work with the guys that will be given that chance.
Vince McMahon’s unwillingness to push indie darlings is well-documented. Yes, Triple H always has positive things to say about the likes of Zayn, Owens, and Adrian Neville on Twitter and conference calls. But until he has the last word on creative on the main roster, we don’t know whether or not he would ever push them as top guys in WWE.
Think of the WWE mindset. Think of the way that for a second consecutive year, it took having his live television events hijacked by angry audiences to convince McMahon to put Daniel Bryan in the WrestleMania main event. Think of how reluctant WWE was to go all the way with CM Punk a half-decade ago.
My theory is that Triple H legitimately sees talent in Owens, Zayn, Itami, and Neville. But he, or the company as a whole, have no intention of using them in main events on the main roster. I think that those guys are in developmental to help, and eventually work with, guys that the company actually will use in those spots, like Tyler Breeze.
What else makes sense? How could you conclude otherwise given the spectacular work of Zayn and Neville on NXT television for the last year, and the track record of Owens and Itami? Why else are four of the best wrestlers on earth wrestling in Florida in front of a couple of hundred people when Raw is held in 18,000-seat buildings most weeks?
Do you find that depressing, internet wrestling fan? Fear not. Even if you take my theory as fact, I see an exception.
Finn Balor. Finn Balor can be The Man.
Everything about Balor screams “superstar”, from his entrance, to his work, to his look. His charisma is so unique, his in-ring so good, that not even Vince McMahon can pass on him.
But when you think of NXT, think of who the developmental territory is actually developing. It is not the guys whose physical talent is already realized.