WWE: How Did Vince McMahon Really Feel About NXT?

Vince McMahon's opinion of the NXT brand has always been a mystery among wrestling fans. Many of the failed main roster call-ups and character repacking over the years led fans to believe the former WWE CEO either didn't pay attention to the brand or outright didn't like the product. But when NXT moved from the WWE Network to the USA Network in 2019 and the company tried to position it as WWE's legitimate third brand (going so far as to have it win that year's Survivor Series against Raw and SmackDown) that theory was suddenly tested. There was also plenty of speculation that McMahon wanted the brand completely overhauled in 2021, hence the NXT 2.0 reboot that September. 

McMahon is no longer with the company and hasn't given any interviews in quite some time. But Brian "Road Dogg" James, one of WWE's executive vice presidents who worked backstage alongside McMahon for years, tried to shed some light on the subject on a recent Oh... You Didn't Know? podcast episode when asked if he saw NXT as a third brand or simply WWE's developmental league.

"I don't know that I looked at it as either to be quite honest with you but I'll tell you who thought about [it], I felt like Hunter thought about it as a third brand and I think once we got that TV deal, that's a legitimate argument, you know what I mean? This is a third revenue generator. So, is it a third brand? And so that's definitely an argument to be made for that. I think Vince [McMahon] always saw it as developmental. Like oh, it's small ball and look, I think to his dismay, he did that a little bit but I think there was some professional rivalry... because NXT was young and shiny and all the internet people were talking how great it was and so, I totally understand," James said (h/t WrestlingHeadlines). 

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"For me, writing SmackDown, I used to get ticked off because they would bury my show and put over NXT and that was when it was the awesome black and gold and NXT was to be cherished at that time for a true wrestling fan and so, I don't know," he added. "It's a philosophical question and I think one guy's philosophy was totally different than the other guy's philosophy and for mine, I think it can be both. I think it can be developmental but it also can generate revenue and some of the... it made room for some of the people to come in like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Some of the people that are on top of the world now kind of came, filtered through that system, by design and hey, here's how we do things. We do things a little differently here in WWE than you did at OVW, ROH, wherever you used to wrestle, you know? And so, I thought it was a bit of both. A little developmental and revenue generator so I don't know. It's up to you to see how you like it."