The NXT brand is firing on all cylinders right now. Fans, wrestlers, and analysts alike are eating up the product. It’s been called the home of the greatest wrestling in the world. It’s drawn chants in city after city. It’s produced some of the finest matches and stories in the last several years.
Quite simply, they’re doing things right.
What WWE refers to as its’ developmental brand has become a global phenomenon among wrestling fans. When you place that into perspective, it’s pretty amazing. These are supposed to be men and women who are learning the WWE way, and yet, it’s far more compelling than Raw or SmackDown. NXT has even sold out the Barclays Center in New York City.
It’s the result of great vision and smart planning. The WWE has created an effective farm system to prepare talent for the rigors of the main roster – a system that is designed to allow talent to mature and hone their craft. The obvious benefit is a more well-rounded, prepared individual upon WWE programming debut.
Triple H and a crew of talented industry minds have done a masterful job of creating NXT stars. But, what goes into the decision of when the right time is to call a performer up to the main roster?
Regardless, that decision should have been made a long time ago in the case of Tyler Breeze, and it should’ve been an easy call up.
Breeze has wrestled in NXT Championship matches against Adrian Neville, and had classics against the likes of Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, and Finn Balor. He’s been in WWE developmental since 2010, and found the character that sticks for him when he debuted “Tyler Breeze” in July of 2013.
There is an importance in having a “face of NXT.” For a while, it was Neville, then Zayn, and now it is unquestionably Balor. While Balor is probably ready himself – NXT still needs its’ face of the franchise to draw in viewers, and sell tickets at live shows.
But, Breeze has never been that guy. He’s quietly put together a nice career among the NXT main eventers, but titles don’t matter in the minor leagues. He’s been the quiet conscience of NXT for a year now, aimlessly drifting from superstar face to superstar face.
It’s time that ends. It’s times he joins the likes of the elite NXT graduates.
The Guy Can Go
I watched Breeze wrestle Balor live in Nashville last Friday, and the two put on a 20-minute match that would be hailed as a classic, top 10 of 2015-caliber match if aired on television. He showcases all of the nuances of playing the pretty boy heel, while adding his own unique flair to it.
He’s a solid seller who employs a wide array of maneuvers. Most importantly, he elevates the talent around him and possesses a nice ability to tell a story during a match without having a pre-existing story to work with. For example, look at his pointless match against Jushin “Thunder” Liger at TakeOver: Brooklyn.
The match had no bearing on the landscape of NXT. There was little, if any, build to the match other than the “holy crap – we’re going to see Jushin “Thunder” Liger in a WWE ring” factor. Still, Breeze performed to a phenomenal level and delivered one of the best matches of the night.
The Character is Relevant
We’re apart of an era where the Millennial attitude is taking center stage. Breeze acts entitled, brash, and bold as well as anyone. He takes selfies before, during, and after matches. He has “seasonal residences” throughout the world, and a very Kardashian-esque aura about him.
Strike while the iron’s hot, WWE.
WWE is Short on Midcard Heels
Seth Rollins and The Wyatt Family seem to have alternated opponents between John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns over the past year or two. After that, options are thin for new, fresh programs.
Outside of Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens and Rusev, the WWE roster isn’t exactly stocked to the brim with midcard heels with the potential to elevate to main event status. The Miz, King Barrett, and Stardust have all faded back into low-card obscurity.
Breeze could fill that void, and provide new programs for guys like Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, and Cesaro.
The River Runs Dry
There’s simply nothing left for Breeze to accomplish in NXT. No, he’s never held the NXT Championship, but that’s unimportant considering the primary goal of the program is to develop stars for the future.
As long as he’s competing at Full Sail, he’ll be putting on great matches, but his career has reached a point where he’s almost used primarily as a stepping-stone. He served that purpose for Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, and appears to be in position to do the same for Apollo Crews.
That’s no longer gearing his career up for a main roster run, and seems to have taken focus off of the main goal of the program.
Perhaps the most important point is made when we consider that we’re supposedly in the midst of a “divas revolution.” Well, no one will find a greater diva in pro wrestling right now than Breeze.
Breeze surfaced two years ago. It seems as though we’re approaching the “now or never” moment for him, but if he isn’t given the appropriate chance to excel, it’ll be one of the biggest botches WWE has ever committed. This is a supremely talented wrestler with a classic character. It’s time he gets his shot.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, and is the Tennessee Titans Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.