NXT debuted on February 23, 2010 on the SyFy Channel, replacing their ECW brand on SyFy until a few months in when it was moved to WWE.com and later Hulu+. NXT was originally a mix between reality television and a game show, and the main goal was for WWE to find the next breakout star. Each of the rookies had a WWE Superstar as a pro. For it first five season it was a straight up competition for a WWE contract, and in some cases a shot at a certain title, with only the first four seasons having a clear winner, Wade Barrett, Kaval, Kaitlyn and Johnny Curtis. During the fifth season the show slowly transformed in to something different with it becoming a like a third brand/C show for mid card and lower mid card. After the fifth season concluded it was revamped and made in to show that showcased talent from their developmental system, NXT Wrestling, renamed after the show.
Season 1 was known for seven of the eight "rookies" forming the stable The Nexus and for the other one having arguably the most well-known Catch Phrase since the Attitude Era. The winner would earn a shot at the WWE Championship at any PPV he wanted.
The winner would earn a shot for the Intercontinental Tile. Known for it's Epic Fail of a season finale, where WWE decided to copy the success of The Nexus and have all the eliminated rookies attack the winner. This became an Aborted Arc, where only two, McGillicutty and Harris became part of Nexus not long after, and Riley associated himself with The Miz. Kaval left the company at the end of the year.
Season 3 was an all Divas season. Unlike season 1 and 2, a contract was on the line, instead of a title shot. A.J. is the season's most successful alumni because of her involvement in Daniel Bryan's main-event storylines.
Was called NXT: Redemption, and all contestants was those who failed to win season 1, 2 and 4. The winner would earn the right to get a shot at being on the next season of NXT. There was no clear winner as the rookie competition gimmick was slowly phased out in favor of the show becoming in essence "Superstars with storylines", O'Neil and Young were moved to Smackdown and Derrick Bateman stayed on NXT until the revamped version started.
Season 5 was the by far the longest, with all the other seasons was between 13-15 episodes, season 5 didn't end until it's 67th.
As a Developmental
Its latest incarnation completely dropped all the "competition for WWE contracts" aspects, moved location to Full Sails University in Florida, and are no longer on the road with the rest of of the roster. It's function is to give the developmental talent a feel to be on TV. Wrestlers from the Main Roster makes occasional visits. And unlike before, where it was either live or taped a few days in advanced, it is now tapes 4 weeks of programing in advance once a month.
Currently airing since June 20th 2012.
Currently have three championships that are defended on NXT programming:
NXT Champion: Bo Dallas, since May 23rd, 2013.note Aired on tape delay on June 12th, 2013
Tag Team Champions: The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), since September 12th, 2013note Aired on tape delay on October 3, 2013.
Women's Champion: Paige, since June 20th, 2013note Aired on tape delay on July 24, 2013
Tropes associated with NXT:
Aborted Arc: All of Season 5's storylines was dropped after that season 6 had taped a couple episode, but not yet aired any. Instead, for a couple weeks until the retooled version started, they simply had wrestling matches a la Superstars.
Johnny Curtis' tag team title shot looked to have become one, after his pro R-Truth turned heel, as well as nuts, but he finally got it, nearly 21 months later, on NXT, but with Michael McGillicutty as his partner.
Arc Words: During the period when NXT was a competion: "Who will be the next breakout star?"
B Show: What it was before it was sent to WWE website.
McGillicutty: And starting this moment... from now... from this moment on... this will be the moment... starting now... of the Genesis... of McGillicutty.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Some wrestlers' gimmicks are different from that of the character they play when they get called up. Justified that NXT tape their episodes in advance, the episode they tape air about 3-4 weeks after the fact, and if WWE call one wrestler up before those episodes has aired, or do a gimmick change for another, it's very weird watching, say, Seth Rollins play a heel on Raw and a face on NXT, until they tape more episodes and the gimmick change get acknowledge. .
Epic Fail: The formation of Genesis... hell, arguably that entire second season. Nearly everyone from that season has either been released or sent back to developmental, with the exception of Titus O'Neil - and even he didn't come up to the main roster until after reappearing on NXT Season 5 and teaming with Darren Young. It is turning around for McGillicutty (Curtis Axel) and Harris (Bray Wyatt), and they're already more prominent than O'Neil is currently.
Three guys from developmental have recently made their debut in strikingly similar fashion to The Nexus. The IWC certainly liked it, but only time will tell...
SIERRA. HOTEL. INDIA. ECHO. LIMA. DELTA. SHIELD. Oh, they most certainly were a success... although the trope itself was subverted. Not only did Dean Ambrose go out of his way to smack down the Nexus comparisons, but the Shield have actually had much longer staying power, let alone in its original incarnation (whereas the Nexus went through a handful of lineup changes before effectively splitting down the middle, ending up on separate brands, and fading completely into the background in favor of their stables' nominal leaders).
Put on a Bus: During the time it was a competion, those who were eliminated from the competition and sent back to developmental. Some came back for season 5 as a second chance, then even more followed suit. As a developmental, this either means you moved up to the main roster (but makes an occasional visit), or gotten released.
Retool: Started in the middle of Season 5, when they dropped the competition part of NXT, and made in to more of a third brand with storylines. They then revamped the show, moved it to Full Sails University, to essentially becoming the show for the developmental system, which once had a separate show and branding.
Real Song Theme Tune: Season 1, 2, 4 and 5 had "Wild and Young" by American Bang, season 3 had "You Make the Rain Fall" by Kevin Rudolf, and currently uses "Welcome Home" by Coheed and Cambria.
Also used during the early days of NXT was "Get Thru This" by Art of Dying, which was previously the Survivor Series 2009 theme. It was used in the first five seasons, but was rarely used during the third season.
Season 1: Daniel Bryan became World Heavyweight Champion while Wade Barrett hasn't had anything as big as his initial world title chase during the Nexus angle. Even actual runner-up David Otunga had some success as John Laurinaitis's attorney. The only other rookie from Season 1 to have become a star on the level of Bryan and Barrett is Skip Sheffield, who as Ryback, was pushed to the moon in 2012 and solidified himself as a main-event competitor.
Season 2: Runner up Michael McGillicutty become a Tag Team champion briefly before being sent back to developmental; he was brought back to the main roster repackaged as Curtis Axel. With Paul Heyman as his manager, he won the Intercontinental Championship only a month later. Husky Harris has been repackaged as Bray Wyatt and is also being given a solid push. Winner Kaval, on the other hand was more-or-less jobbed out up until his (requested) release. Alex Riley was associated with The Miz until his clumsiness cost him two shots at John Cena's WWE Championship. After his Heel-Face Turn, he scored a victory over his former employer and had some success until an incident with Jack Swagger got him demoted into a jobber.
Season 3: While winner Kaitlyn may have had more success than runner up Naomi (now a Brodus Clay backup dancer), 2nd runner up AJ has had more wins under her belt, while Kaitlyn herself? Not so much initially... until she took aSERIOUSlevel in badass and ended up as the Divas Champion. AJ, however, has found herself in much more prominent storylines than Kaitlyn, because while she was Daniel Bryan's girlfriend, he won the World Heavyweight Championship, catapulting her into a main-event angle. She continued being involved such angles such as Daniel Bryan's feuds with Big Show, Sheamus, and CM Punk, then as the focus of a Punk/Bryan/Kane feud, then as GM of Raw, then as Dolph Ziggler's girlfriend.
Season 4: Johnny Curtis didn't even appear on the main roster until six months after the finale, (and he didn't get his guaranteed tag title shot due to R-Truth's Face-Heel Turn) in various promos and when he finally did debut, it was against Mark Henry, who was in in demolish all my opponents phase and disappeared of TV, while runner up Brodus Clay appeared on Smackdown as Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard, then disappeared from TV when Del Rio was drafted to Raw. After his debut was delayed week after week, he took a dramatic Heel-Face Turn as the Funkasaurus. Curtis returned on WWE television as Fandango, a ballroom dancer. He was being heavily pushed when all of a sudden, a hyperactive post-WrestleMania crowd started to sing his theme song. This lead to "Fandangoing," a sensation that actually sent his theme song to the top of the UK charts.
Season 5: While the contest was effectively abandoned, Titus O'Neil and Darren Young ended up getting promoted with Smack Down contracts, leaving Derrick Bateman as the lone rookie and technically, the unofficial winner. Fridge Brilliance also applies as the prize would have been for the winner to compete in Season 6, and Bateman did compete on the NXT Wrestling brand prior to his release.
Shout Out: Current NXT star Xavier Woods claims to have been trained in "Hip Hop Kido" by Zack Taylor, and will sometimes shout "IT'S MORPHIN TIME!" during matches.