Triple H has been praised by fans and wrestlers alike for his work in finally creating a developmental system for the WWE that is as exciting (and more often more so) than its main roster in NXT. With this year’s launch of NXT UK, it’s become apparent that Triple H is eyeing beyond the confines of Full Sail University in Florida and is looking to take NXT to a global level. Earlier this spring, at the WWE’s 2018 Business Partner Summit, Triple H addressed the initial outline for his plans for what he calls “global localization” of WWE’s NXT system, that he “envision(s) NXT style promotions, not just for fans in Europe, or the Middle East, but also India, South America, and more. It’s the same grassroots territory feeder system that existed before – except now, not on a national level but on a global level. And all under the WWE banner.” Triple H also went on to state that ‘global localization’ will lead to “going into individual markets around the world, we will create scaled versions of the template we’ve created: organizing tryouts, recruiting talent, establishing Performance Centers and building, on the ground, NXT-style brands. You can already see this template starting to take shape in the UK. We have the talent, we have a UK Championship, and now, we’re ready to give those fans more.”
During his media conference call for NXT for NXT TakeOver: War Games II, he divulged more on the ‘global localization’ of NXT. “We’re making progress on it every day,” he stated. “The ability to build a pipeline around the world and a pathway to get to WWE, to get to a point in your career where you can be successful and lucrative without the risk, without the hustle, without the inherent issues that go along — and I don’t mean this as a knock — but with the independent side of it where am I going to get paid? If I show up, is the ring there or is it broken? If I get hurt, is there a doctor or a paramedic there?”
“Trying to create systems around the globe with the promotions that do things the right way that are cultivating talent, that are helping them grow and become something more,” Triple H said. “Long term, my goal would be to have this around the globe.” And while no timelines were given for any of these next NXT territories around the world, Triple H did finish that “I think within the early part of next year we’ll be making some big announcements on different movement and markets that I think will be very impressive to people.”
As Triple H mentioned, these new territories will first start off with holding more regular tryouts (or starting to get tryouts), in order to better scout the regional talents. And this year, the WWE has already expanded its tryouts to Germany and increased coverage in South America, with another tryout this week in Chile. With that in mind, and looking at Triple H’s map from the Business Summit (see top photo), here’s a look at the WWE’s current (and potential) NXT regions around the world.
NXT North America
Although just called “NXT”, the original NXT would most likely remain the home unit for wrestlers from the United States and Canada. There doesn’t seem to be any plans to create an NXT Canada. Although the NXT name began in 2010 as a reality show within their main roster featuring developmental wrestlers, the NXT brand was launched in 2012. A year later, they opened the WWE Performance Center, it’s own in-house wrestling school and training center. The long-term plan would be to open a Performance Center in each NXT brand’s home center.
NXT United Kingdom
The WWE held its first WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament in 2017 and this year’s kicked off the launch of NXT UK, the first NXT spin-off into the ‘global localization’ of the NXT brand. Originally, the WWE allied with UK indie leaders PROGRESS Wrestling out of England, Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) from Scotland, and Ireland’s Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling (which was founded by former WWE developmental wrestler Luther Ward) – although OTT’s recent appearances from NJPW wrestlers have many wondering if they’ve joined the IWGP Conception instead. On-screen NXT UK General Manager Johnny Saint is a British wrestling legend and a world-class trainer – he spent six months in Orlando working alongside the trainers at the WWE Performance Center. It’s assumed that once the UK’s Performance Center is opened, Saint would assume a similar role as William Regal – the brand’s overseer. He may also be the PC’s head trainer.
A few months back, the WWE held its first ever WWE Tryouts in Germany and did so at the wXw Academy, the training school for Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw). During those tryouts, it was also announced that wXw had entered into a similar alliance with the WWE as PROGRESS and ICW (and to what EVOLVE has in the United States). With an industry leader in alliance in the area, and a wrestling school attached to said agreement until a Performance Center in Germany could be built, it would appear that Germany would be the likely candidate for the mainland Europe NXT brand. The Germany tryouts also featured top prospects from France, Russia and the Netherlands. The WWE recently invited their first ever Spanish wrestler to a tryout in the UK in Alex Ace. Former WCW Superstar and New European Championship Wrestling (NEW) founder/trainer Alex Wright was spotted backstage during their recent tour in Germany, so a potential training position isn’t out of the question – he was a guest trainer at the WWE PC this spring. Recent reported signee WALTER, one of this year’s breakout international indie stars, is also the head trainer with wXw, so could assume a role with the European NXT brand as well as being one of its main focal points on-screen.
— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) November 7, 2018
NXT Middle East
As seen in the map from Triple H, the Middle East appears to be a market the WWE is still focused on, and Saudi Arabia would seem it’s likeliest home base with the partnership with the Middle East nation for a 10-year event deal. They’ve held several tryouts in the Middle East over the past year or so, so they’ve been scouting for a while.
Despite the failure of the Jinder Mahal Experiment, India is still a demographic nation the WWE is eager to expand into. And while the WWE has been signing Indian wrestlers for the past year or so, including NXT/Mae Young Classic participant Kavita Devi, until they’ve secured a stronger talent base, India is still a ways away. “If there are five athletes coming from India, we will bring them here (to the US),” Triple H said in a June conference call. “But, once the number goes up to around 50 or 60, we will be looking to train them there.” WWE has strong ties to India’s premier promotion, former WWE World Champion The Great Khali‘s Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE), that also runs the country’s top wrestling school. Expect Khali/CWE to be involved.
There’s no denying that Asia – primarily Japan – is a hot wrestling market. Japan is full of major promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), All Japan, Pro Wrestling NOAH, DDT Pro, Michinoku Pro and Big Japan. Not to mention women’s promotions, or joshi, like Stardom, Sendai Girls, OZ Academy and Ice Ribbon. By the looks of the map, WWE’s NXT brand would be centralized in China, where the WWE has been building a working relationship since 2016. They’ve signed multiple Chinese talents, but so far only women’s star Xia Li (who has appeared in the past two Mae Young Classics and works the NXT Live Event circuit) and Cruiserweight Classic competitor Ho Ho Lun have achieved any sort of success. Even the Chinese wunderkind Tian Bing, the first Chinese wrestler to be signed by the WWE, has quietly been released from the company, this past October. Ho Ho Lun returned to his native Hong Kong in 2017 shortly after 205 Live debuted to attend to his ailing mother, but his WWE journey may not have ended there. He is a trainer and promoter there for Hong Kong Pro-Wrestling Federation and could help WWE establish an indie presence in China. They also recently had meetings with Pro Wrestling NOAH, that resulted in former NOAH star Hideo Itami (then known as KENTA) to face his rival Naomichi Marufuji at NOAH Homecoming in September, while Sendai Girls founder Meiko Satomura was a standout in this year’s Mae Young Classic and according to Meiko herself has an open contract with the WWE. Those two could be the starting pipelines into the Japanese scene. NJPW founder Antonio Inoki is also a WWE ally, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010. Another NJPW/Japan legend, Tatsumi Fujinami, was also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (in 2015) and has since been working as a WWE Ambassador in Japan. Both could be counted on to help to assist an NXT Asia brand. The Asia brand could also encompass Australia and New Zealand.
NXT Latin America
Which leads to the latest development. The WWE is currently in Chile for the first ever Latin America tryout, and the WWE has long spoken of its desire to get a foothold in the increasing indie scene in Chile, Brazil and Peru, as well as encompass Mexico and Puerto Rico. The WWE is forming a solid alliance with Campeonato Nacional de Lucha Libre (CNL), based out of Santiago de Chile in Chile (where the tryouts are being held), and they’ve already been signing stars like Mae Young Classic and NXT’s Taynara Conti and NXT wrestlers Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude. While Chile seems the logical location, the WWE may look to Brazil as more of a central location for the continent (and judging by the NXT logo on the map being in Brazil) and may utilize the Brazilian Wrestling Federation (BWF).