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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. Today I’ll cover the ever-confounding Kassius Ohno.
Ohno, still probably better known as Chris Hero, has been working since 1998. He worked in almost every well-known American indie promotion before getting the call from WWE in 2011 for his first stint. He worked FCW and then NXT before being released in late 2013, with rumors popping up that he wasn’t as committed as WWE liked to his conditioning. Ohno signed again in December 2016, now an eighteen-year veteran and 38 years old. Hero is one of the most successful indie performers of the last two years to never make a splash in WWE, and his time to do so is limited.
Signature Wins in NXT
Ohno’s first NXT ended about as you’d expect, with a long string of losses leading to his exit. Upon Ohno’s return in 2016, he picked up a bunch of wins at house shows, and finally debuted on TV with a loss – though a high-profile one – against NXT Champion Bobby Roode in February. He got his heat back a couple of weeks later by beating Elias Samson in a “Loser Gets Promoted” match. He would soon after beat Andrade Almas during Almas’s “too much partying” phase but wouldn’t win another singles match on TV until the taping in August where he got the better of Hideo Itami in their No DQ match. With a win over Fabian Aichner soon after and other enhancement wins to come on TV, it would appear that Ohno is about to get his first major push in years on NXT TV.
Ohno comes with a lot of respect from indie fans, who are probably wondering if Ohno will ever make the main roster. Ohno was a welcome sight upon his return and was heavily featured in promos for upcoming house shows, and it seemed that the machine was going to get behind him in the absence of some recent callups. He remains popular with the live crowd despite the long history of start-and-stop pushing.
The next handful of months are critical for Ohno, as I can’t imagine there are many more chances left for a guy of Ohno’s advancing years. He’s been a victim of circumstance as other hot babyfaces have leapfrogged him. I’m glad to finally see an attempt with Ohno on the horizon, and hope he can back it up in a big way. I think it’s fair to assume the WWE hasn’t been thrilled with Ohno’s figure at times, and this has to have held him back somewhat; this too, as uncomfortable as it is to bring up, will potentially be key to sustaining his push.
The Future and Predictions
Normally I use this space to be positive, but it’s somewhat difficult for me to picture Kassius having a meaningful main roster run. I know others in their mid-to-late 30s have made the jump, such as Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura, but they came off of huge pushes. Ohno’s character also lacks the universal hook of someone like Elias, who’s obviously better off on the main roster than he ever was in NXT.
I hope I’m wrong, and that this latest push is setting up a feud that will be Ohno’s last before he gets a couple years on the main roster, but even if he makes it there, it’s hard to picture where he fits in, with the roster as stacked with younger talent as it is. I don’t like to withhold a specific prediction, but the current Ohno push is going to be everything for him, and will hopefully lead to long-deserved nationwide recognition of his work.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: NXT TRACKER – ALEISTER BLACK: Assessing and predicting the prospects of an NXT wrestler’s main roster future