THE SPECIALISTS CHIVERTON'S NXT RANKINGS & EVALUATION: Latest Network Era Rankings, plus Prince Devitt preview, more
Aug 7, 2014 - 10:23:07 PM
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NXT Rankings & Evaluation
By George Chiverton, PWTorch NXT specialist
Network Rankings #13
(1) Sami Zayn
(2) Charlotte (NXT Women’s champion)
(3) Adrian Neville (NXT champion)
(4) Tyler Breeze
(5) The Vaudevillians
(6) The Ascension (NXT Tag champions)
(7) Enzo Amore
(9) Alexa Bliss
(10) Sasha Banks
(11) Colin Cassady
(13) The Legionnaires
(14) Mojo Rawley
Let’s have a look into the future. The recent marvelous news is that after months of rumors Fergal Devitt a/k/a Prince Devitt has signed with WWE. The Irishman, who made a name for himself on the world stage with New Japan Pro Wrestling, is an incredibly skilled mat technician and high-flyer who over the past three years has really stepped up his out of ring work and general presentation to complete the package and become WWE ready.
I linked his recent entrance at Progess Wrestling’s Chapter 13 show where he came out with full Joker (the Heath Ledger interpretation) get-up and blew the crowd away with his presence. There are countless other examples in Japan and the U.K. where he’s donned body paint or a costume to amp up his entrance usually with a marvel theme. His Venom body paint is perhaps best known and here’s to hoping that in WWE he is given the resources and the freedom to add everything he wants to compliment his in ring work.
As for potential matches, where do we start? Matches against Ziggler, for example, could be amazing and I have one eye on a potential U.K. collision between Devitt and Wade Barrett. These two would pull no punches while Barrett is also big enough to be a base for some high-risk moves by Devitt. The same could equally go for fellow Irish wrestler Sheamus.
In the short term, luckily for someone who writes about NXT, there are some real dream matches on the cards at Full Sail. While on the indies as El Generico, Sami Zayn didn’t spend a lot of time in Japan meaning he has yet to have a match (at least that I’m aware of) with Devitt. As two incredibly talented and athletic wrestlers it could be a classic which we haven’t seen before. On the flip side, Devitt has already had a number of matches with Adrian Neville. However, no one will complain at the prospect of another match between the two. Just look up some highlights on YouTube if you want to know why.
When all is said and done the match I most eagerly anticipate for Devitt at NXT is from a man who hasn’t even debuted yet: Solomon Crowe a/k/a Sami Callihan. Crowe is a stocky, grounded, and intense brawler whose style would both clash with and complement Devitt’s style and, in this Specialist’s humble opinion, would make for a cracking match. Either way, when Zayn and Neville make their way to the main roster, it’ll be the likes of Devitt and Callihan who replace them at the top of NXT, and that’s a very exciting future indeed.
July 24 Evaluation
- This week’s NXT started with a recap of events leading up to the women’s title match between Charlotte and Summer Rae taking place tonight. The package included some build that I hadn’t seen (due to watching outside the U.S.) but even with this it still wasn’t clear who the face was out of the two wrestlers; it's my main complaint of the build so far. Summer definitely came out as the less favorable of the two but that’s not enough to define Charlotte as the face.
If Charlotte is now a babyface she should have had a big promo/moment where she turned rather than just becoming so by default. It’s both a missed opportunity for Charlotte’s character to have a stand-out moment and damaging to the match which is without a clear good gal to root for. It’s a wrestling fundamental that every match needs at least one person for the audience to support and in this case it’s been lost in the shuffle.
- Out first out of the credits was The Ascension for their first appearance in a while. Who wants to bet it’s a squash match? Yeah, it’s a squash match and the jobbers didn’t even get names this time round. I don’t mind a jobber match here and there but they struggle to take meaningful offense without coming off as goofy, especially Konnor. Having said that they are hot as hell at Full Sail, so let’s see what’s on the horizon.
- Tyler Breeze was out with an injured hand which was heavily taped. This explains the faffing about with no one challenging for the title in recent months. He would be facing Mojo Rawley who has a lot to prove to me. This should be interesting, even if Tyler looked less than impressed with Mojo. Breeze feigned his hand really hurting causing Mojo to back off. Beauty Shot rolling heel kick and that was it. Well that’s a way to re-introduce your number one contender.
- Then, not in the main even, was the Women’s Title match. NXT has done a great job up to now of really exhibiting women’s wrestling and putting it on equal footing with men’s competition. To put this match lower down the card than the main event sends out all the wrong messages about the importance of both the title and the division.
The match started with some catty slaps before some cat fighting which closed with both ladies going face first onto the mat. Charlotte took control after a clothesline and settled into a figure-four headlock. Out from the break, Summer Rae sent Charlotte to the outside by pulling down the second rope. It allowed the old switcheroo to occur and Summer was in control being very shouty and screamy while applying offense. The odd move later the two settled into body scissors.
A bit slow this match so far, and the crowd, with no one to root for decided to entertain themselves with a wave. Summer hit a big spinning heel kick and no one cared despite that apparently being a big opportunity for Summer Rae to win the match. A couple of seconds later and Charlotte hit her finisher for the win. Bad match which totally lost the audience, bad booking which ensured they wouldn’t be invested in the first place, and bad placement meaning the women looked very unimportant. Poor all round.
- The Vaudevillains (and not the Vaudevillians) were out to get me reinvested. They were to face Sin Cara and Kalisto. This should be fun.
Kalisto started with Aiden English while Renee Young was informative as Steven Fry on commentary talking up Kalisto’s ambitions and love for the U.S. Way to make a face. Kalisto and Cara hit some unique tag lucha offense before Sin Cara went for one springboard too many only to be dropkicked by Aiden. Aiden hurriedly tagged in Simon Gotch. Renee told stories of Gotch attempting to catch the Lochness Monster, but only finding Giant Haystacks. There’s a British wrestling reference for you.
Gotch kept control and brought in English who continued to keep Sin Cara grounded until Sin Cara rolled him up with a schoolboy. Instead of attempting to pin Aiden, though, Sin Cara/Hunico dead-lifted him (he isn’t a small dude) and powerbombed him. That was seriously impressive. Kalisto came in off the hot tag and went crazy with flips and kicks and just, insane. An Asai DDT sealed the win for the luchadores. Big win for those two and a first loss for the Vaudevillains. I wonder where things will go from here.
- Up next was the main event where NXT champion Adrian Neville (who was not promoted at all) faced Rusev. That’s the kind of match that should be a big deal and promoted from the start of the show. ‘But George, the Women’s Title match was promoted at the start of the show.’ Yes, these two matches shouldn’t be on a normal episode of NXT. Pick one, do it right, and profit as much as possible from your matches.
By the time the bell rang, there was less than five minutes of the show remaining. Rusev overpowered Neville to start the match and went straight on the offense. There were no restholds here: Rusev was all business dissecting Neville in the corner. When Adrian got an opening he tried to kick his way out of trouble only to get lifted by the throat by Rusev. This guy is a freak.
Lana provided a distraction while suddenly Tyler popped up on the apron. Neville managed to survive the distraction and caught Rusev with a big kick to the head by the turnbuckle. He seemed to be ready for the red arrow but Tyler popped up again to push him off the top. This drew the DQ but the real loser was Neville who was beaten down by Rusev after the match. Neville comes off as a sympathetic figure, Rusev stays dominant while Tyler is cowardly heel all over. Solid stuff all over.
- Rankings? Well no changes to be made just yet, but Charlotte lost some shine tonight. Was it her fault? Well the booking wasn’t but the match’s lack of pace was due to the face both ladies were wrestling heel. Charlotte should have taken the initiative and the fact she didn’t perhaps is the strongest indication she’s not there just yet.
July 31 Evaluation
- Tyler Breeze was entrant number one into Full Sail after his quick dispatch of Mojo Rawley. He was still pretty much favoured by the fans, despite also wrecking Adrian Neville’s match last week. He would be facing future prospect Angelo Dawkins. Breeze was looking focused and pissed off, beating down Dawkins before the beauty shot sealed things. Dawkins was then thrown out the ring for good measure. This was a no nonsense performance worthy of a number one contender. Good stuff from Breeze once again.
Breeze got the microphone and said, ‘Well, that was annoying,’ before saying he had only come out to show the audience a video. His part in Rusev vs. Neville then rolled. He called it hilarious, before promising to show what he actually meant to show - his music video which had been submitted for Oscar consideration. The vocal males were all about it chanting ‘Thank you, Tyler,’ embracing the heel (which even it was ironic is still not the best for Breeze) before Adrian Neville’s music interrupted to bring out the champ in a suit.
Neville asked why Tyler was delaying his title match and his loss to the champ. Tyler sarcastically said he was getting a call from Peter Jackson as Neville was needed back on the set of the Hobbit. The crowd loved it, but Neville fought back saying he’d got a snapchat from Tyler’s mum and ‘it turns out you’re not the only member of the Breeze family who likes sending selfies.' A little bit schoolyard but hey it’s at least culturally relevant and pretty good fun. The fight was on until Breeze bailed out. This feud is hot, hot, hot, even in this early stage.
- Renee, Byron, and Tom were on-cam breaking stuff down (where Young reliably enforced all the right messages) before announcing a tag team tournament starting next week. Sounds top.
- Charlotte was out after a successful defense last week to face off against Becky Lynch who, thank God, had been allowed to drop her horrendously stereotypical and clichéd Irish shtick. She came out high energy to some banging rock jam which the audience responded well to. The first response to a star’s entrance at Full Sail is a really good litmus test to indicate whether the music and presentation has staying power. Just look at Paige: she got over due to her presentation way before she even stepped into a ring.
The match was really solid, and Lynch was well over against the champ. She hung in there and put in a good performance but Charlotte eventually won out to establish herself as number one. The right decision for now but a couple of months down the line Lynch will be a contender and a popular one at that.
- The Ascension was out for a squash against Steve Cutler and Mack Miles. Having recapped some of NXT Series 4 it really is amazing to see how far Konnor (Conor O’Brian at the time) has come. At the time he was a cringe-inducing machine whereas now he’s just a beast. On the other hand some of the work that Daniel Bryan and Derrick Bateman (now EC3 in TNA) did in that series was funny enough to be worth reviewing if you have a couple of minutes. Back in the ring, this squash was fun, too.
Hello… Viktor has a microphone. His voice is weirdly smooth and deep, a bit like Scott Hall almost. The Ascension promised to annihilate whoever won the tag team tournament and the crowd responded well. These two should keep speaking to a minimum but this was a fine way to set up the tag tournament.
- C.J. Parker had a little video package asking why people don’t care about the planet, etc. It transitioned into recapping the C.J. Parker vs. Xavier Woods feud in a promo for next week.
- Mojo Rawley was out for tag team action alongside Bull Dempsey. It’s an interesting team and seeing how far they get put through the tag tournament will either make a new team or a new feud between the two. I do find it funny how close Bull Dempsey and Bill Demott’s names are all things considered, but anyway. They would be facing off against ‘The Mechanics’ made up of a returning Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder.
The Mechanics’s credentials were discussed by the announcing team. In the ring, Bull and Mojo weren’t on the same page while The Mechanics very much were, going after the arm of Mojo. That was until Mojo powered Dash into the corner, hit some splashes and tagged in Bull. Bull then abruptly hit the Bulldozer for the win. Renee saved some face for the Mechanics while the odd couple goes through. Not an ideal debut but hey this seemed to be suffering from a lack of time so all is fair.
- Bayley was backstage saying she was happy about the breakup of the BFFs before noting she beat Charlotte once. Charlotte came in and patronized the naïve Bayley. Is there a feud down the line here? I think so.
- Adam Rose was back in NXT once again and would be against Tyson Kidd, who was joined by Natalya. Rose messed about in the early stages giving Natalya a lollipop which she was cheekily accepted and sucked on. I tried to rephrase that several times but the innuendo is unavoidable I’m afraid. This annoyed Kidd who bailed and snatched the sweet before throwing it away. Rose got aggressive as a result which was jarring for everyone. His gimmick is just a bit broken at the moment. He had control going into the break.
Out of it Kidd was slamming Rose over and over into the ringpost, which looked a bit vicious. Some moves and a resthold later Rose tried to lock in a sleeper reversal, but Kidd sat out into a jaw breaker. He hung the South African in the corner before getting some punches and kicks in. Kidd stayed in control until Rose backdropped out of trouble and began getting all over the ring with Kidd. This included the choo choo clothesline in the corner and a rather large spinebuster.
Kidd reversed out of trouble and went for a Sharpshooter, but Rose got to the ropes. The ever resourceful Kidd slingshotted Rose and seemed to be building to the win. When he rolled Rose back into the ring, Kidd stopped to jibber jabber with Natalya about her early lollipop consumption. You guessed it folks: a roll-up and Rose had the win. More tension between Kidd and Natalya is essentially the outcome here, although where it’s going is the question. Unless Kidd is going to wrestle her, I don’t know what the overall plan is. We’ll see.
- Overall another servicing episode of NXT, but NXT is finally o- track with all the titles. With about a month-and-a-half until the next NXT special, WWE has plenty of time for both Charlotte vs. Bayley and Neville vs. Breeze to build on the already solid starts to the feuds. The tag team tournament will mix things up for the next couple of weeks too so all is well. The only question that remains is what will Zayn’s role be at the special as he is the biggest star at NXT.
A number one contender's match must be somewhere down the line, perhaps including Kidd and Natalya, although for me why not send out the likes of Devitt, KENTA, or Sami Callihan in a big debut match. Maybe even Kevin Steen could make an appearance. Who knows? A man can dream. Actually, one name I have forgotten there is Corey Graves who I assume has been injured. Perhaps a return could be on the cards for ‘the saviour of misbehaviour.' That’s a lot of good options.
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