THE SPECIALISTS CHIVERTON'S NXT SCOUTING REPORT: Latest Rankings & Evaluations of WWE's top prospects, plus a look at other prospects not yet in WWE
Jul 10, 2014 - 11:01:51 PM
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WWE NXT Rankings & Evaluation
By George Chiverton, PWTorch NXT specialist
You want rankings? I got rankings, but first let’s have some NXT.
7/3 Episode Evaluation
- The Legionnaires were out first to address Big Cass and Enzo Amore, who were in the ring unannounced. I can’t help but feel I missed some preamble here which has become the frustrating norm for those of us outside of the U.S. without the WWE Network. Anyways, Sylvester railed on New Jersey before getting into the ring apparently to go one-on-one with Cass.
The match went like this. Sylvester acted like a big tough guy before the real big tough guy, Cass, smashed him with his spinning sideslam finisher, ‘The East River Crossing,’ before punctuating this with ‘The Empire Elbow’ for the win. Well, so much for adding a credible team to the division. Maybe I’m being too cynical, at least Enzo and Cass got some shine.
- Charlotte was out next with the title and Sasha Banks. They’d have a tag match. I think we all know where this one’s going. They would be facing Bayley and Becky Lynch, who made an entrance accompanied by wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tubemen. Thank goodness for Family Guy giving those a name we can all remember. Becky and Bayley had a little backstage segment explaining they were chums and we had a wrestling match.
It was a good match in all with Lynch looking a little off the pace wrestling wise but plenty keen enough. The story of the match was the peppy team of Bayley and Lynch getting the best of the BFFs until eventually Charlotte got serious, hit her finisher on Lynch, and got the pin. Once again Banks was abandoned by her BFF after the match, which led to Bayley tossing her out of the ring.
The right individual won for sure and the faces came out looking all right if a little naïve. Although, this does leave the top of the division a bit desolate: Bayley has yet to be elevated above her status as a lower-card talent while the next clear opponent for Charlotte is probably Sasha Banks and this has its own issues. Banks has been beaten on telly more than any other NXT roster member and it’s also unclear whether fans are supposed to be sympathetic to her due to her smaller stature and the fact she gets deserted by her mates or disliking her for the, well, everything else. She fills the heel role well, but so does Charlotte and neither seem to be going on a face run any time soon. Someone needs to get this whole BFF storyline on-track and heading towards a title match with one heel and one face.
- Backstage, Justin Gabriel was looking like a man who doesn’t quite know what to do with his look. Remember his old hair? Man, that was so nice. Anyways, he was having a chat about his up and coming match against Sami Zayn before Tyson Kidd came in and spoiled the fun by saying Gabriel may be a star on the main roster now (he is?), but Gabriel promised to prove him wrong by beating Zayn. Gosh, I hope not.
- C.J. Parker was out for his first match in a while. William Regal was hilariously cross about him. He was against a dashing debutant Steve Cutler. If you painted the American dream it’d have Cutler’s jawline. Unfortunately, that jaw got jacked by Parker with a standing heel kick. It’s an impressive finisher and a nice variation on the superkick. Parker called out Xavier Woods after the match to set up a new undercard feud. I’m down with that.
- Renee Young had Tyson Kidd for a sit-down interview. Tyson was in a suit defending his heelish actions over the past month or so with video clips to remind the viewers of all his deviousness. He acted as if his bad behaviour (e.g. not being there for Zayn in a tag match, going for a chair in his title match, etc.) was only due to his head being in the wrong place, mainly because of his wife having issues. Renee steered the interview into saying that Kidd was living in Natalya’s shadow, which irked him, before Renee asked about their potential marital problems. Kidd had heard enough and walked out looking miffed to say the least.
- Main event time with Justin Gabriel taking on Sami Zayn. Kidd accompanied Gabriel down to the ring to provide an extra dimension at ringside. They went for a chain wrestling start which all went hunky dory until they seemed to get tangled and lost momentum. This lack of polish has been a feature of Gabriel’s matches throughout his career and one of the factors which his limited his success. No such thing can be said for Zayn, who recovered the situation well.
Someway down the line, Gabriel hit a really nasty-looking neckbreaker which looked even more uncomfortable on the replay but only got a two. A top-rope springboard moonsault was another really close two, but when Gabriel went to the top rope to try to finish Zayn with his 450 splash, Sami met him on the second turnbuckle. I then lost my breath for a moment as it appeared that Zayn was setting up for the move that made him famous on the indies: the turnbuckle brainbuster. It’s a move that is exceptionally dangerous, utterly devastating to look at and generally one that, for the health of wrestling as a whole as well as the safety of wrestlers, I shouldn’t see again. That doesn’t stop me looking it up on YouTube, though, if you catch my drift.
Fortunately, Gabriel knocked Zayn off the top rope, but missed with the diving attack. He then got slammed down into a full shot DDT by Zayn, who then floated over and locked on a Koji Clutch. Gabriel tapped almost immediately, giving a lot of credibility to Zayn’s new submission finisher. This was the right move for sure: Zayn needed the win, who cares about Gabriel on NXT, and really this was all about furthering Zayn vs. Kidd. With these boxes to tick a post-match attack was due.
There was then a post-match attack (hooray) with Kidd laying a beating on Zayn. Gabriel shrugged, took Kidd’s earlier words to heart, and joined in; a nice way of bringing him out of irrelevancy. No points for guessing who made the save but at least we can look forward to Kidd & Gabriel vs. Zayn & Neville next week (yes, Neville made the save).
The best part of all this? The amount of back-story that a future Zayn vs. Neville encounter is accumulating. Creating a slow build to the best match-up that WWE could possibly make is a great way to ensure that when that match up does roll around you get the most out of it possible. For NXT, Zayn vs. Neville is some real money and could even be a match that gets on to a full WWE PPV as a showcase for NXT. Even if people have never seen either man before, the story that could be told in a five-minute video package would be more than enough to catch people’s interest and given the talent of each man that’s all they’d need before they tore it up and captured their hearts. If only there was a PPV in Florida coming up.
That was about in for NXT last week, so let’s do some rankings shall we, chaps?
Network Rankings #11
(1) Sami Zayn
(3) NXT champ Adrian Neville
(4) Tyler Breeze
(5) The Vaudevillians
(6) The Ascension
(7) Enzo Amore
(9) Alexa Bliss
(10) Sasha Banks
(11) Colin Cassidy
(12) The Legionnaires
(14) Mojo Rawley
Some explanations are in order. Positions 1-4 write themselves pretty much, with Charlotte’s star quality just seeing her pip Neville to second place. Breeze’s character has gone in the right direction week after week and who knows where he’ll be in a couple more months. The key is whether he can keep the fun while also being a credible competitor.
Up next is a risk on my part with a lot of personal preference seeing the recently debuted Vaudevillians pipping the Ascension to the fifth spot. Undoubtedly, the Ascension are proven… but only when they’re winning. The way they sold and came across in their loss to the Usos was so damaging in my opinion and although others will have swept it under the carpet, I worry they will face the Ryback syndrome of crumbling after taking a single loss (not a perfect metaphor but you know what I mean). And which tag team goes a whole career without a loss? Exactly. As for the Vaudevillians, it’s a fun gimmick with two great wrestlers which I’m hoping to see every week. Simon Gotch is one to watch, too, so I’m happy to stick my neck out on the line and back the Vaudevillians.
Next are the exceptionally talented Kalisto and the great colour of Enzo Amore. Enzo is at current the full package of entertainment with wrestling, mic skills, and an unmatched investment in his character. Although Kalisto is one of the most talented wrestlers about, he won’t challenge further up until there’s more to him than just lucha action. That’s not to say he isn’t great, there’s just a limit to his appeal to me without a fully fleshed out character to accompany the in ring genius.
Alexa Bliss comes in at ninth as, although a newbie, she has something which induces curiosity in me. There is still much to prove, though. As for tenth, Sasha Banks has simply lost too much to seem credible at this point and although she has talents, she’s not that memorable having been out-shined by both Summer Rae and Charlotte. That feels really harsh, but it’s a fact I can’t overlook.
Colin Cassidy rounds out the Top 11, with the big man getting steadily better at letting lose in the ring with his character and embracing his stature. He is limited in his abilities, but is making the most of his opportunities and works well with Enzo.
At #12, The Legionnaires at this point aren’t exactly setting the world on fire with Sylvester Lefort in particular on a losing streak of kingdoms. I’m fine with a lower card tag team being about to try and get some momentum behind someone other than The Ascension. However, they’re not going anywhere on my list without some respect from creative.
Bayley comes in at a lowly #13, as her character does not work well enough in a simulated sports setting. The premise has to exist that she wants to win matches and her naïve ‘just happy to be here’ gimmick is not conducive to this mentality. Until she gets a serious ring contesting side to her game she’s not going to be getting up on my list. Having said that I feel really mean for bullying a sweet lil lady like Bayley, so I’ve definitely invested in the character.
Finally, Mojo: good fun but can’t wrestle a match which goes more than four minutes. Moving on…
There’s one last name to mention: C.J. Parker. He had a brief run before but just hasn’t been about that much as of late and hence I won’t rate him just yet. I want to see more of his ring work after his re-introduction of sorts this week and I’m also keen to see if creative are a bit kinder with his win/loss record.
Okie doke that’ll do for NXT present, but let’s have a little glimpse into the past and the future of WWE Development.
On a recent episode of Wrestle Talk TV, a wrestling chat show on very late in the U.K., Danny Burch (now Martin Stone) discussed his recent release and although he was generally positive, there was a sense that he wasn’t given an opportunity to prove himself. He also talked about being disillusioned with the other releases citing both Drew McIntyre and Camacho (who he mentioned was the son of Haku), as big surprises to him from his inside perspective. Best of luck to the guy and hopefully he’ll hit the big time again after I’ve had a chance to see him in the U.K.
Looking into the future of NXT, the British independent scene seems to be going through a bit of a renaissance. One company at the helm of this have been the folks at Progress Wrestling, who have some of the best names in British wrestling putting on great matches on a monthly basis. After some internal discontent over the video quality they captured at their recent ‘Chapter 13’ show, they decided to make it freely available on YouTube, and it’s well worth a watch.
The event, which took place in London, featured national and international stars including an insane match between Prince Devitt and Zack Sabre, Jr. Even if you don’t have time to watch the whole show, you have to see Devitt’s entrance at about the 1:33 mark. I went mental for 52 seconds before just sitting back and admiring the man’s presence. Anyway, I digress; it was a great event and if you haven’t seen any British wrestling recently/ever, this is well worth your time. I’d even go as far to say as it’s a chance to see some future WWE stars before they get famous. Imagine how cool that would make you sound…
I mean I’m cool, right? Sigh. All right. Well anyway, I hope you’ll still join me next week where more NXT will happen and I’ll write about it. Can’t wait to see you there.
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