Wild and Young: The oral history of WWE NXT

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March 19, 2014

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What do the letters “NXT” mean to you? Lately, you’re probably conjuring images of the powerhouse stopgap down at Full Sail University that transforms virtual unknowns into WWE Superstars, a place where Bulgarian Brutes, Anti-Divas and Men That Gravity Forgot run wild. But a few years ago, those three letters meant something very, very different.

In February 2010, WWE launched NXT — a competition show that put “Rookies” through unusual and often absurd “Challenges” designed to test their grace under fire, all with the intention of crowning a winner to carry the torch for WWE’s next generation. For four seasons, this left-field trial-by-fire churned out Superstars at a rapid clip, providing a flawed yet fascinating entry point for WWE’s future cornerstones. That is, until the rails came off and it became the most gloriously preposterous show in sports-entertainment history (and we mean that as a compliment).

The alumni of WWE’s biggest cult-classic show since Sunday Night Heat have, between them, held every title in WWE. The veterans who guided them through have main-evented WrestleManias. And yes, that is what Daniel Bryan looked like without a beard. Four years after NXT first went live, WWE.com presents the weird, wacky history of the wild and young, told by the Superstars who lived (survived?) it and the Pros who helped them along the way. And remember: #YellowRopesForever.

(Note: Quotes with an asterisk were taken from earlier interviews.)

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