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Writers’ Choice Awards 2014: Best Promotion – NXT

Diva Dirt presents its fourth annual Writers’ Choice Awards, as decided by the Diva Dirt team. As we come to the end of 2014, we have picked the best of the best to be awarded our Writers’ Choice trophies.

Best Promotion: NXT

It’s no secret that 2014 has truly been the year we’ve seen WWE’s once best kept secret, NXT, blossom into the brand fans just can’t stop raving about. And rightfully so.

Back at the very beginning, in January, Triple H announced that the promotion would host its inaugural live special the following month. Titled ArRIVAL, no one really had any idea what to expect in terms of presentation… but what they did have was a ton of buzz and a ton of excitement not seen within the company in quite some time.

So on February 27th, it came to the surprise of pretty much everybody as to just what a beyond stellar gem the developmental brand had turned itself into. Women’s wrestling fans, in particular, were flabbergasted upon seeing something considered to be the minor leagues treating their one Divas match as a co-main event, giving them backstory, meaning, and insane amounts of promotion usually reserved for only top tier names like John Cena or Randy Orton.

With Stephanie McMahon brought in to handle introductions for their Women’s Championship match, Paige and Emma tore the house down.

So much so, that from then on out, every single person watching at home simply felt they had reached the peak and nothing else could hold up to the levels of excitement and shock that came with ArRIVAL. Little did they know, though, that NXT was just getting warmed up.

From there, we were treated to three different specials under the Takeover moniker. First was the original in May, then came Fatal-4-Way in September, before rounding out the year with [R]Evolution just earlier this month.

Each of those three shows continued to blaze a path for women in the WWE. Suddenly, we selfishly didn’t want to see people like Charlotte and Sasha Banks brought up to the main roster… we wanted to see names like Naomi and Alicia Fox brought “down” here so they could be given that very same chance to shine as bright.

With Charlotte vs. Natalya in May, fans had their minds utterly blown away. Natalya has said before that she comes down to NXT as often as possible because she sees what the Divas get to do there and she wants to be a part of it instead of sitting at home taking an off-day like she could be doing. She helped turn Charlotte into the star we see before us, and many will forever consider this to be the night our resident Dirtiest Diva in the Game went from simply “having potential” to being THE woman to watch out for.

Charlotte then went on to face plucky underdog, Bayley, who proved that she could hang on the big stage just as well with a phenomenal performance built upon so much emotion you could literally feel how important this was to the both of them. They entered knowing that after two showings of such strong action, fans now had expectations to be upheld. Bayley and Charlotte went on to take each of those expectations head-on and made sure to keep the impressive streak alive and well. In addition to that, this night also introduced the audience to what a star promo cutter Sasha Banks had become by not only giving her a segment to vent her frustrations on the pre-show, but the post as well.

Speaking of Sasha, [R]Evolution brought forth her chance to shine. And much like Bayley, she capitalized on every second possible. These two blew expectations away, and received a ton of admiration from fans. We pretty much knew that after stellar performances on two prior specials, Charlotte had it in her to deliver when the stakes were high. To those who weren’t already members of the Sasha Krew, though, this was the first chance for Banks to prove what a fantastic athlete and wrestler she was as well. Needless to say, we’re 100% confident it won’t be the last.

Four matches, all sure to make best of lists for years to come. While the WWE definitely stepped it up this year on the main roster in terms of utilizing the women and realizing they can have multiple matches or segments per episode, it was NXT that showed these very Divas can also be given the chance to put on matches just as strong and just as built up as anything you see throughout the world. There’s simply no denying that NXT’s mission throughout the year to both “arrive” and “take over” was a complete success, as this developmental league somehow managed to brand themselves, almost overnight, THE place to be if you want to see what female wrestling on a WWE stage can look like with someone in control that cares.

To play devil’s advocate though, there are still complaints that could be addressed heading into the new year, specifically when it comes to either debuting new talent or seeing some of the same matches being repeated on their weekly shows. The good thing about having a group of women so hungry and passionate, however, is that they may have to wrestle the same match 400 times… but they make sure each one of those stands out from the other 399.

NXT has given their Divas a platform to be taken seriously. Casual fans who might despise the main roster Divas Division… actually look forward to this one. And why? Because the Divas here are given a serious, consistent purpose, and they are given time to show what they can really do without anyone saying they need to dial it back because they’re getting too good at what they do. Here, being too good at what you do is — can you believe — a good thing. And it’s rewarded. Maybe not immediately, but in time, it’s rewarded.

So with Triple H at the helm and the introduction of their acclaimed quarterly live specials, NXT has seized every opportunity presented to them throughout the year. They have turned these “stars of tomorrow” into stars of today, all the while making themselves known as our top promotion of 2014.

Stay tuned for more Writers’ Choice Award reveals throughout the day.

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