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Welcome once again to the NXT TRACKER, where I pick an NXT wrestler, assess their progression to this point, and make bold, sure-to-look-hilarious-in-retrospect predictions about their future prospects. Today we’ll cover the perplexing monster that is Lars Sullivan.
Lars Sullivan, though 29 already, doesn’t have a long wrestling history, and it has seemingly been entirely spent at the WWE Performance Center. He was signed all the way back in 2013 (for perspective, Bo Dallas was NXT Champion at the time), but was not used on TV until 2017. He wrestled once on NXT under his real name, Dylan Miley, before adopting his current moniker and beginning his gimmick of being forced into tag matches that his partner would end up losing. Lars’s current NXT record is 11 wins, 6 losses, and 1 draw. Most of the losses are either from the early tag gimmick or multi-man matches; he has just one one-on-one loss to date.
Signature Wins in NXT
While Sullivan hasn’t been hampered by many losses, he also doesn’t have a long string of big wins to point back to, either. Like most rising heels, he has a Takeover win against Kassius Ohno, at WarGames last November. He took some time off TV as rumors swirled that an injury had derailed a planned match at Takeover: New Orleans for the NXT Championship against Andrade Cien Almas, which made me skeptical at the time since both were heels. Still, Sullivan did get a title shot at the very next Takeover after defeating Ricochet and Velveteen Dream in a handicap match which was retroactively treated as a no. 1 Contender’s match. NXT Champion Aleister Black became the first to defeat Sullivan at Takeover: Chicago II in a match I called on the “PWT Talks NXT” podcast “the best case scenario,” given that literally every other match was arguably more anticipated than the NXT Championship match.
Sullivan gets the proper reaction for a heel monster and has been getting the proper reaction for a while now. His music is some of the best in the business; I buy into the horror movie piano and was hooked by it from the first time I heard it. Sullivan is something of an enigma on the mic; he’s erudite, it seems, but like many “genius” characters before him, he seems to fall back on the same ten-dollar words a lot, suggesting that said words are less an organic part of his parlance than insinuated. The lisp also can’t be ignored, as it does detract, for me, from the seriousness of his character. Maybe this is my own hang-up, but I know I’m not alone.
NXT has done a pretty good job with Lars, I think. He was kept off TV the first four years of his time in the company, which I’m sure had to be frustrating for him, but rushing big projects before they’re ready, rarely yields positive results. Any potential lack of ability to work a long match was buried from view with the initial concept of dropping him into tag team matches, followed by months of squashes over no-names and not-yets. The match with Ohno only went 5:11 and the Championship match with Black went a mere 14:07, on the very short side for a title match at TakeOver.
The Future and Predictions
As with all prospects today, the big question in the end is about how well can any NXT talent be treated on the main roster. Elias has done well despite having no star in NXT, but he had a readymade gimmick that Vince McMahon has used and loved in the past. Lars Sullivan has what every NXT prospect should ideally have, though: a gimmick that doesn’t require explanation. The main roster won’t have to tell a drawn-out story about Sullivan before presenting him on television; the music and his look will do that upon his first entrance as he stares down a terrified local wrestler while slowly striding to the ring.
Sullivan isn’t going to work any five-star classics (he was certainly in a great six-man ladder match, but I’m less optimistic about his one-on-one pedigree), but I think he can be an effective heel on the main roster if the writers keep it simple and resist the urge to have him lose a singles match too early. His ceiling is probably no higher than to be a legitimate pest for Braun Strowman for six months or so, but a guy could do a lot worse than to spend some time in the main event scene for a cup of coffee before settling into a Kane role, which looks to me like it’s Sullivan’s destiny.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIEW COLUMN: NXT TRACKER – Adam Cole: Assessing and predicting the prospects of NXT wrestlers’ main roster future