NXT WWE NXT will move to The CW in 2024.

WWE fans know by now to pay attention on Tuesdays for the NXT brand. But this week, the brand made headlines before its start time of 8 p.m. Eastern on USA Network. After what will be five years spent on the cable network, ‘WWE NXT‘ will move to The CW.

The move to The CW was made official on Tuesday evening. WWE and Nexstar both made announcements of the move.

NXT has been in the WWE lexicon since 2010. The first time fans heard of it, it was a game show, credited initially at the time for bringing the likes of Daniel Bryan – real name Bryan Danielson – into the spotlight. It later followed with a women’s season, where future Women’s Champions Kaitlyn, AJ Lee, and Naomi would all appear. Then, in 2012, the show took on a new life. It replaced Florida Championship Wrestling as the company’s developmental brand.

NXT arrived in style on the new WWE Network nearly two years later. WWE’s over-the-top streaming service carried NXT along with it. Throughout 2012 and 2013, NXT started to make a name for itself. You started to hear the occasional whispers, and then in 2014, NXT ARrIVAL, the brand’s first WWE Network event, showed off hungry superstars who played differently in their playground than how they operated on Raw and Smackdown.

The uniqueness of the brand was appealing to a lot of people. WWE’s main roster machine chugged on, but there was a staleness. Fans wanted something fresh, exciting, and different. They wanted storytelling and consistency. Continuity helped as well. NXT, a one-hour taped show that aired every Wednesday night, brought that to them. Unsurprisingly, the buzz caught on, and it became a very popular brand. Perceived competition emerged. Although, NXT held an advantage in some cases despite not doing anything outlandish.

Years later, the show found its way to cable. USA Network was happy to host them on Wednesdays and then later on Tuesdays. The show erupted recently in the ratings and has become one of the most well-rounded wrestling shows on television. The depth of characters and people genuinely interesting on the show increases by the week.

Now, the show will head to the CW. The network has made a recent run on sports television properties, so them landing NXT fits that bill. ACC basketball and football are now found on the CW, as well as LIV Golf and the weekly ‘Inside the NFL.’ NASCAR is coming too. The CW appears to be developing its own sports portfolio, so they’re making good use of its standing in the marketplace. While the network held a long reputation as a destination for teen dramas and soaps, it’s not the worst thing in the world to try and take a hack at sports and sports-adjacent television, especially professional wrestling, a famously ‘cheap’ piece of the content puzzle for networks to produce.

Suppose the CW wants to become the hub for people looking for sports, by all means. Local networks usually wait until Sundays or for the postseason to do that, but there is a spot for this. The CW’s push to become that hub is noticeable and respected now, especially if they attempt to be so diverse.

Over the last ten years, NXT has been a well-rounded success. Nearly the entire WWE roster is littered with NXT graduates. The success of NXT and its standing as a healthy brand has relied mostly on The continuity, the wrestler’s success, and finally, their women.

From 2017 through 2021, the brand slammed into a wall. While the quarterly TakeOvers were interesting, compelling, and often filled with heartstopping action, the brand stopped having a legacy. On rare occasions, people who graduated from NXT could continue to run on that success. It often felt like there was so much dissonance and misunderstanding between the two brands that you’d swear there wasn’t any communication or understanding. This is something that has both recently been addressed and repaired. There’s a slew of continuity and understanding on the shows now for the characters, their storylines, and their history. More cross-branded opportunities have allowed the young stars of NXT to appear on Raw and Smackdown, shows that double and, at times, more than triple the NXT audience. This has also allowed for more tangible and intangible success for the wrestlers.

It’s like Minor League Baseball: You watch it to keep your eyes on the prospects. You hear about them, you see them compete against comparable talents, but the hook is the hope of more—the hope of more and, eventually, the promise of more drives NXT. If you lose that, and the brand did for a bit, then you have no appeal, and everything appears drier. It’s probably not a coincidence that there’s been a significant rise in interest in NXT as the brand has seen more of its competitors appear on Monday and Friday nights in front of much bigger audiences.

The women of NXT have also driven the brand. In fact, they were one of the chief reasons the brand was so different in the first place. Women’s wrestling in the United States was purely an afterthought even through the first decade of the 21st Century. The wrestling business will never be accused of being a progressive industry. But with that being said, there was not only an opportunity for more but a desire for more. It was felt on the main roster, but it was a fruitless endeavor.

Down in NXT? To paraphrase Kevin Garnett, anything felt possible. First, Paige and Emma brought something completely different at the time at the aforementioned ARrIVAL. Then, the Four Horsewomen completely changed the complexion and perception of women’s wrestling forever. Alexa Bliss and Carmella became success stories on the main roster after being overlooked, playing off a late-round draft steal. Asuka came in and became the most dominant champion of all time.

And if that weren’t enough, a new crop arose. Dakota Kai, IYO SKY, and Kairi Sane emerged alongside Shayna Baszler and Candice LeRae. Then there were future mega-stars Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley, who rank as two of the most popular superstars on Planet Earth. And don’t worry, they’ve already got the next generation figured out with the new NXT Women’s Champion Lyra Valkyria, the prodigy Roxanne Perez, and the tremendous Tiffany Stratton. Oh, and, there’s this woman named Jade Cargill. You might have heard of her.

If NXT succeeds on The CW, it will be because they continued on the continuity train they’ve rode on this year. Their success this past summer and fall should not be overlooked. Two years ago, the brand underwent a significant facelift. It wasn’t received all that well online, and many online narratives began to sprout about them. That move was criticized heavily. But that switch allowed for Perez, Stratton, and Valkyria to emerge. It allowed for Bron Breakker and Carmelo Hayes to become two of the biggest stars of the brand. Already, we’ve seen the likes of the Creed Brothers and Grayson Waller, who debuted in the NXT 2.0 era, show up on the main roster and show out.

That’s what will also be critical to their success: Building a legacy. The 2014-16 era of NXT is golden for many reasons. One of them is that that era has a significant legacy, even amid some of the muck over the years. Many of WWE’s major players – Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Asuka, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch – played in the playground in Florida during that run. They’re all among the most successful and, in some cases, the most beloved WWE stars of their generation. And they all started out in NXT. People wax poetic to this day about that era of NXT. It had that kind of effect on fans, sort of in the same way that the Attitude Era, the Golden Era, and the Ruthless Aggression Era had on fans of previous generations.

The 2017-21 era felt dissatisfying and frustrating, which probably led to the vapidness over it in the first place. Re-aligning and ensuring the stars endure and leave an indent where they are is the most crucial aspect of the brand. And for the most part, amid a lot of bad, you can’t overlook a lot of the good either.

The pieces are now in place for the new generation to take NXT to new limits. With the move to the CW leading to more exposure, the proving ground brand may get a heck of a lot more fun going forward. As long as they stay true to themselves and don’t forget who they are, the move will undoubtedly be viewed as a success.

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022