NXT, WWE’s developmental territory, has been seen in multiple incarnations, but according to Shane McMahon, the idea of WWE having a developmental territory was supposed to go to ECW.
McMahon recently appeared on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast and said that when WWE first bought ECW, it was supposed to be a minor leagues of sorts for up-and-coming superstars to have a chance to work with established veterans within the company.
“That’s really what NXT is supposed to be,” McMahon said. “Triple H has done a great job with a whole cast of guys and are building that territory, Dusty Rhodes prior to him and Paul (Triple H) has taken it to a whole new level. Part of that was originally what we wanted ECW to be when we first purchased it. We wrote the business plan for ECW just to be that that Triple-A system because we needed guys, whether it is coming up or coming down. You’ll have certain guys that are going to peak, but can’t stay at the peak forever. So as they are coming down, they start taking some of that knowledge, take a kid and educate them.”
When WWE relaunched ECW, it did become a developmental brand of sorts. Many superstars and champions who signed with WWE, such as Sheamus, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger, initially started out at ECW.
The original ECW was bought out by WWE in 2001 and was relaunched as WWE’s third brand in 2006 until it folded in 2010. McMahon’s comments on ECW almost becoming the first incarnation of NXT can be seen in the video above.
McMahon currently serves as the commissioner for SmackDown Live.