THE SPECIALISTS CHIVERTON'S WEEKLY NXT RANKINGS & EVALUATION 7/18 - First ranking of new Rookies
Jul 26, 2012 - 9:11:03 AM
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WWE NXT Weekly Rankings & Evaluation
By George Chiverton, PWTorch specialist
July 18 - Week 5
I suppose it's time to rank these new wrestlers. These are at the moment highly subject to change, as I'm basing the rankings off three matches maximum and often just one match (as with Bray Wyatt). However, as it stands, these are the rankings as I see it in simple numerical order.
One other thing: I'll insert previous NXT alumni and current WWE roster members in time. However, debutants take priority at the moment.
(1) Bray Wyatt. What a prospect Bray proves with fantastic character, microphone skills, and in-ring ability. I haven't seen a possible star such as this on any season of NXT. Brace yourselves for his main roster debut.
(2) Seth Rollins. The former ROH stand-out was always going to score highly in my rankings and he seems the most ready of all the independent stars for his call-up. As I wrote last week, constant comparisons to C.M. Punk can only be a good thing at this stage in his WWE career and he appears to be positioned as favorite for the first NXT champion. A solid choice in my eyes.
(3) Sofia Cortez. I was immensely impressed by Cortez on her debut, particularly as I'd never seen her before NXT. She’s certainly the stand-out Diva of the moment showing quickness, stamina, and intensity in her debut match with Paige alongside in-ring abilities that only come from years of training. Although a gimmick is yet to emerge, I’m one of many who would argue the former Tough Enough competitor doesn’t really need one beyond her own personality given her superior in-ring skill (especially when compared to the majority of the current WWE Divas roster). She could prove the real winner of Tough Enough Season 6, so keep your eyes peeled. Oh, and if you see "Big" Andy, please try to have the following conversation: "Hi, Andy Leavine! Do you have any scissors?" "Sure thing. Why’s that?" "Well, why didn’t you cut it then? ZING," and then run. Or, get an autograph and sell it on eBay like a normal human, either way.
(4) Kassius Ohno. Without a doubt, the wrestler formerly known as Chris Hero could be where Seth Rollins currently is with a bit more exposure. However, the single match he’s had lands him at fourth. His promos have been great, but beyond his discus elbow, there wasn’t a huge amount to his initial match. Hence, he grabs fourth mostly on his pre-WWE work (look up Kenta vs. Chris Hero if you’re unaware of his abilities) as well as FCW showings with his new character.
(5) Paige. The British women's wrestler is superb and, despite being effectively a jobber for both Sofia Cortez and Raquel Diaz (who I shall talk about later), she has had two excellent showings. Tall, strong, and well-trained, Paige will likely be enhancer for the first couple of months while NXT builds towards Cortez vs. Diaz, but when she has her chance, Paige is more than ready to shine.
(6) Jake Carter & Corey Graves. Carter and Graves are currently the most impressive tag team on NXT with a classy edgy heel persona and two solid matches. When compared to their main rivals, The Ascension, they came across as far more relatable, believable, and talented. I want to see more microphone time in the coming weeks from both to build their tag team and justify me putting them quite high on the list. Comparing them to WWE tag teams is pretty pointless, as they’re all jobbers for each other at the moment.
(7) Richie Steamboat. Richie has been around WWE for a while now training hard at FCW trying out heel and face personas before taking the next step up to NXT. Compared to the Top 5/6 of my list, I believe he is missing that inexplicable "X" factor that separates the ready-for-the-big-time top stars from those who need one more year at FCW. Richie is getting trained by the best and has come leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. I reckon in a few years he could be a champion, but for now a few more leaps will serve him well. Still, he is a top-quality competitor who is brightening up NXT.
(8) Bo Dallas. High energy, high fun, but still a little green. With training, time, and some guidance from his brother, perhaps this super-face with the super-spear can break through the rookies to the Top 5.
(9) Raquel Diaz. Debuting this week, the daughter of Eddie and Vickie Guerrero is yet to impress me. I have no doubt that she can wrestle, but she was out-shined in her match against Paige. As for her gimmick, despite being invested in her "exfoliating ugliness" tour, it does smell a little like Beautiful People mark two. We’ll see where the "Ultra Diva" goes from here, which I think will be up.
(10) The Ascension. Just a bit too silly and camp to be taken seriously, which is the total opposite of what they’re going for. In the ring, I’m also yet to be sold, but I reckon a few tweaks to the gimmick could solve a lot of issues.
(11) Leo Kruger. I just don’t get him. The gimmick is confused, his matches aren’t great (although this week was much better than his debut), and, in general, I don’t get the appeal. I want to like him, but nope. I don’t.
As I said, there is more to come due to the deep roster as well as more debutants who are yet to be revealed including the massive Big E. Langston and Xavier Woods (formerly Consequences Creed in TNA). It seems unfair to rank the jobbers who have established these stars, but Mike Dalton is the most notable of the pack alongside Rick Victor, who are both technically strong and have enhanced their respective opponents well.
This week’s NXT opened with a decent match between Tamina Snuka and Kaitlyn, although it did little to build on their past matches. Tamina won, which I wasn’t a fan of either as I feel Kaitlyn is a better talent. Percy Watson then faced Jinder Mahal. It was again nothing special.
Leo Kruger then faced Richie Steamboat, which was probably the highlight of the night. Kruger had better offense than he did in his debut, including using a schoolboy-style pin to slam Richie into the bottom turnbuckle. Richie was well over with the crowd, which initiated a lot of chants and cheers for "The Lizard" (you thought I’d forgot didn’t you). Leo still came across as confusing though stopping for long periods of the match to taunt Richie but it looked as if he was waiting to be attacked and nothing came. He was just a bit awkward. The finish was Kruger pinning Richie with feet on the ropes. Shrug.
Raquel Diaz’s debut was next and, as I wrote, Paige was the real star of the match. I get the opinion Paige may have done some pre-show work with the crowd, as she was thoroughly over. I’d like to see Raquel as a face to see what in-ring talents she has, as her gimmick at the moment is to avoid all fighting before hitting her finisher of a Gory Bomb (you mad, Chavo?). More to come I hope.
The main event was Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel in a match called by Jim Ross. Together, they tried to push the match as the most important of each man’s career which on first watching had me more invested than I would otherwise have been. On reflection it was a bit silly given they main-evented Summerslam last year. Anyways, the match was good in a Superstars kind of way. Both men were capable of more, but they did enough to have the crowd excited.
That’s it for NXT, which after Monday, seems a bit irrelevant. What a Monday Night Raw it was. For me, there were zero complaints apart from the lack of Stone Cold, which couldn’t really be helped, and the length of the main event. Allow me some quick thoughts: DX was great fun, Sandow was hilarious, Jim Ross was on Raw, the ridiculous product placement made me giggle, Daniel Bryan was insane on the mic, Rock was Rock, the IC Title match was decent, Heyman was very very good (as per), JBL hit a wicked clothesline, Lita’s return was an unexpected treat, Taker returning was a nice surprise, and then that moment: Punk turning heel. That "shoot" on that ramp in that Stone Cold t-shirt will live with me forever as the defining moment of the past ten years. What’s most exciting is that over the next couple of weeks, WWE could have that all over again and, dare I say it, the WWE Title thrust back into the center of the picture. Raw, in general, could be outstanding again next week; I just hope that WWE can keep this up.
That's all you young whippersnappers get for this week. Hit me up a follow at @PWChiverton if you want to. Otherwise I'll see you next week.
[Torch art credit Marco D'Alfonso (c) PWTorch.com]
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