WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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Welcome once again to the NXT TRACKER, where I pick an NXT talent, assess their progression to this point and make bold, sure-to-look-hilarious-in-retrospect predictions about their future prospects. Let’s have a look at the still-undefeated NXT Tag Team champions, The Authors of Pain.
Unlike many of the talents I’ve featured so far, the Authors are young kids. Akam, an accomplished amateur wrestler, debuted on house shows in 2015 and Rezar followed in early 2016; his background is in mixed martial arts. As a team, as of this writing, they’ve been together for just a year.
Signature Wins in NXT
The Authors have done nothing but win on NXT TV to this point. They were already receiving a fairly serious push, though primarily beating enhancement talent, when they won the 2016 Dusty Classic by defeating ™-61 at Takeover: Toronto in a decent, though somewhat brief, tournament final. They won the NXT Tag Team Championship against #DIY, themselves having just won the titles in Toronto, at Takeover: San Antonio. In my preview of the show I posited that it wouldn’t be able to steal the show like most every recent tag title match in Takeover memory, but it ended up being a very strong match, aided by the fact that it could have gone either way for storyline purposes.
Upon their arrival to NXT TV, the Authors were a tough sell for a crowd that is typically treated to tremendous international workers known for high spots and workrate. They’re a team that’s most definitely not built to have five-star classics, but exists in what’s potentially a slow turn back to the day of honest-to-goodness heels, who cheat to win or, in the case of the Authors of Pain, simply overwhelm every opponent and pose a very legitimate threat to the babyfaces we love. It seems that the crowd is getting on board with the act of late.
If you’re going to book a monster tag team, it would be tough to do it much better than this. Nobody has beaten the Authors of Pain and few have even appeared to get close, so the Authors have become the NXT’s Ascension 2.0, though hopefully they’ll fare better when they reach the main roster down the road. The company hasn’t half-assed any of these major victories, as the win over ™-61 didn’t take particularly long, and they resisted the urge to go soft on their title chase after #DIY, which culminated in an impressive victory in their first try. The Authors will lose the titles at some point, though it’s tough to imagine who’s going to take it from them, which makes the experiment a big success so far.
There’s definitely room for a team of monsters on the main roster. The Ascension have been neutered completely, and the bulk of the division is made up of smaller, more workrate-skewing guys (though a power vs. power matchup of Authors vs. Sheamus and Cesaro could be good fun). The two of them are still fairly green and there’s no need to shoot them up to the main roster before more seasoning, but they can fill an important role when they arrive. It’ll be interesting to see if Paul Ellering joins them on Raw or SmackDown and goes back on the road full-time.
For the sake of Akam and Rezar, I really hope the WWE doesn’t go soft on their initial push. Guys like American Alpha can recover in time, but monsters lose their shine quickly, and can rarely get it back, if they aren’t booked strong out of the gate. Once they arrive on the main roster, if the company doesn’t immediately want to put them over established teams, they should be torturing jobbers and not losing to The Hype Bros or being unceremoniously eliminated third out of eight teams in a battle royal. The WWE should lift the blueprint precisely from the one used in NXT if they want to find any success with the Authors, and I’m going to predict they actually do this, because I’m in an optimistic mood. I don’t know how many great years the Authors will have before some inevitable losses rob them of their monster status, but I suspect they’ll enjoy two years or so as tag champions or real contenders.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: NXT TRACKER – EMBER MOON: A weekly assessment and predictions on the prospects of an NXT wrestler’s main roster future