WWE NXT UK’s women’s division has some of the most talented female competitors in Europe. So why aren’t they getting more time to compete?
The WWE NXT UK’s women’s division is small but mighty. It consists of nine very different, very distinctive wrestlers who have proven themselves in rings around the world. Wrestlers such as Jinny, Nina Samuels, Toni Storm, Killer Kelly and Charlie Morgan have held titles at multiple promotions, main-evented sold-out shows, and established themselves as standard-bearers for a new generation of women’s wrestling. Up-and-coming fan favorites like Isla Dawn, Millie McKenzie and Xia Brookside bring innovative techniques, fun character work, and the hunger to prove themselves that make a division worth watching.
This is an awesome roster of beloved wrestlers who all bring something unique and exciting to NXT UK. If you’ve followed their careers, you know what they can do, and you’ve probably been excited to see them get the chance to prove themselves in a WWE ring.
So how long are we going to have to wait?
If you’ve been feeling like you haven’t seen a lot of these women in action, there’s a reason for that. NXT UK episodes have an average of seven minutes of women’s wrestling per hour long episode, and four of the twenty episodes released so far do not feature women’s wrestling at all. Some of those matches have been excellent, but far too many have been too short to make and impression. Even the most grueling women’s championship matches have topped out at 10 minutes so far.
To be fair, it isn’t that WWE has completely neglected the female talent at NXT UK, as NXT UK roster members were a huge part of this year’s exemplary Mae Young Classic. Competitors like Jinny and Isla Dawn got to introduce themselves to the WWE universe with quick but compelling matches, and Rhea Ripley’s matches at the Classic did a lot to build her transition to a bonafide, badass heel.
Having the MYC finals take place at Evolution was another great way to draw women’s wrestling fans into NXT UK’s orbit. Casual viewers who tuned in to see their main roster faves got a literal crash course on the joys of Toni Storm, one of the most charismatic and fun babyfaces in the division.
NXT “US” favorites like Dakota Kai and indie darling Deonna Purazzo have also appeared on NXT UK, urging fans to tune in and check out the talent on the new product. NXT UK has also created some awesome video packages for the female competitors and put a lot of promo time into creating buzz around the United Kingdom Women’s Championship.
Unfortunately, getting eyes on a women’s product is only half the battle. If the in-ring action doesn’t deliver, even the most ardent women’s wrestling fans are going to bail. When it comes to what happens in the ring, we’ve seen NXT UK fail it’s women’s division time and time again.
There was one women’s match on the premiere of NXT UK: a solid showing for both Nina Samuels and Toni Storm. Unfortunately, it was only six minutes long, and that was the only women’s content on the episode.
The rest of the episodes have followed suit, and it’s left me less and less inclined to tune in every week.
I’m seeing some of the most talented women in the world wrestle inconsequential three minute matches– and that’s if episodes feature the women’s division at all. Fans who are drawn in from the Mae Young Classic or Evolution will probably find themselves confused, bored, and disappointed by the way that talent is used on NXT UK.
Fans who followed these talents from indie promotions are even more likely to be disappointed than the new ones. WWE often seems to forget that women’s talent comes with fanbases, too, and those of us who are already familiar with these wrestlers from following them at other promotions don’t need to be enticed to watch them. I know Charlie Morgan and Nina Samuels as Pro Wrestling EVE champions, not NXT UK roster members. I know Toni Storm from her work with Stardom, and I know Jinny as the women’s champion of PROGRESS.
I know they can main event, I know they can put on barnburner matches, and I know they can tell incredible stories if given the room to do so. What I need to know at this point is not that they’re on NXT UK, but how they’re going to be used, and if it’s worth my time to watch them here.
In the cases of both of these wrestlers – and the other women’s wrestlers I love who have been recruited by this promotion – it’s been a resounding no so far. I am just not going to commit to watching a sixty-minute show every week just to see my favorite wrestlers in short squash matches. I’m worried about what the future holds for this women’s division, especially since we know that NXT UK has been pushing talent to sign exclusive contracts and limit their work with other promotions. Charlie Morgan is one of my favorite wrestlers working today. Am I going to have to follow her career three minutes at a time from now on?
I don’t want to be overly negative or write off NXT UK entirely when it comes to women’s talent, but I do think that they need to pay attention to the pitfalls that other promotions have met when they try to create a women’s division. Assembling talent doesn’t mean much if that talent isn’t given the chance to shine.
If NXT UK is serious about retaining women’s talent, it needs to give them something to do. Let’s hope Toni Storm’s quest for the women’s title sets a new tone for the promotion at NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool in 2019.