NXT’s big 200

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December 18, 2013

As a developmental prospect myself at the time of NXT’s emergence, the show’s buzz really created a renewed drive for aspiring Superstars. We trained every day for the opportunity to make it to WWE, but NXT opened up the gates of opportunity, making the light at the end of the tunnel that much brighter. When I finally made it onto seasons four and five of the show, there was a nervous excitement involved. The other NXT Rookies and I were excited to be competing in front of WWE crowds, but we were never quite sure what kind of curve was going to be thrown our way. One week could be a jousting competition while the next was wrestling trivia.

“I remember we had a kissing contest with Michelle McCool and we’re thinking about it the whole day,” recalled season two competitor Alex Riley. “When we were in the ring, they brought out a totally different woman for us to kiss. Honestly, I enjoyed not having things planned out; it felt like a true competition.”

Speaking of true competition, the show’s ever-changing nature invited another new concept to the mix. NXT season three was not contested by male Rookies, but impassioned young Divas. It’s amazing to think that the third season of NXT produced current WWE Divas Aksana, WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee, eventual winner Kaitlyn and Naomi. While the competitors might have changed, the unpredictability of the show remained the same.

“I remember breaking it down with Michael Cole, getting real funky and winning the dance off challenge,” Naomi recalled. Fast-forward to today where she has since become one-half of The Funkadactyls and a certified reality television star as part of the cast of E!’s “Total Divas.”

 “I met my tag team partner on NXT,” said one-half of The Prime Time Players, Darren Young. "Having the opportunity to be a part of the first season of NXT was such a fun experience. I developed great relationships with my peers and I learned how to be a better performer week after week. Later on, I had the opportunity to get ‘Redemption’ on season five of NXT. This time around, Titus O’Neil and I were initially enemies on the show who would eventually become close allies.

Watch NXT's 200th episode on Hulu Plus.

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