NXT has evolved from merely being a developmental show for WWE to become a legitimate third touring brand for the promotion.
As Shane McMahon noted on a recent episode of The Steve Austin Show, what NXT is now, represents what the original plan was for ECW, when his father Vince McMahon first purchased the promotion in 2001.
"That's originally what we wanted ECW to be, when we first purchased it," McMahon said. "Wrote the business plan for ECW just to be that Triple-A system. We needed guys, whether you're coming up or coming down. You can't stay at the peak forever, so as they come down, we'll take some of that knowledge and take a kid, and say all right, here he is in the ring, you can educate them."
As a follow-up, Austin asked McMahon why the WWE version of ECW failed, theorizing it stemmed from being unable to replicate the raucous feel and adult content of the original ECW because of the WWE standards of content at the time.
"That was how they distinguished themselves with some of those crazy things but people remember some of the crazy stuff but there was a lot of great matches that didn't have the crazy stuff in there," McMahon said. "We had to tone it down but the whole Attitude Era as we went through, we weren't PG. We were PG-13, if not a little higher than that. We were having a blast. I don't think ECW suffered that. Everything is kind of toned down now because of acceptance and sponsorships and advertisers and just kind of where America, the American value system sits at the moment, from an advertising standpoint of where people are putting their money."
McMahon also discussed what Austin noted as a "lack of spontaneity" in the current WWE product, especially as compared to the Attitude Era.
"Smackdown … has a lot more spontaneity than Raw," McMahon said, crediting Brian James -- better known as Road Dogg -- and the rest of the Smackdown creative team. "Everybody's working hard to create more of that spontaneity and give guys and girls more opportunities than they would never have if it was all under one brand."
McMahon currently is the on-screen Commissioner for the Smackdown brand, which holds its Backlash pay-per-view on Sunday, May 21.