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CHIVERTON'S NXT SCOUTING REPORT: Latest Rankings & Evaluation, including Network Era Ranking #1

Mar 13, 2014 - 10:37:49 PM
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WWE NXT Rankings & Evaluation
By George Chiverton, PWTorch NXT specialist


Hello everybody and welcome to my column now WITH RANKINGS. But where? Well they’ll be below due to some last-minute performances to take into consideration on last week’s NXT. On with the show!

3/6 WWE NXT Evaluation

- After a recap of the big and very awesome Arrival episode of NXT (including John Cena’s endorsement, which somehow passed me by) Adrian Neville was out first for a match against Camacho. In the past, NXT has protected appearances by the champion to make it seem like a big deal when they do feature. Although I understand that having Neville out first gives a big hook for people watching on the Network, promoting the champions appearances in advance will build on his prestige and the value of the title. Then again, for people new to NXT, having lots of Neville on screen will reinforce his image and name, which is certainly a good thing. Let’s just hope in a couple of months things go back to the champion rarely wrestling and always being promoted as a big deal whenever he appears.

He faced Camacho, who I am a big fan of. I don't like his gimmick (especially as he’s a Samoan being billed as a Mexican, which seems a bit racially insensitive) but he’s quick, big, and well-trained at the hands of the Dudleys. With Hunico becoming Sin Cara, he has the space to try something new and hopefully that can translate into something better. As for the match, he got in some offense, but soon enough Neville’s speed and strikes saw him get the upper hand. After a springboard dropkick, Adrian hit the Red Arrow and for the win in a quick match.

- Renee Young came into the ring to interview the champ. The early part was a tad awkward where once again Adrian and a script clearly don’t get on. There also seemed to be a bit of odd editing, which was not ideal. Overall, he reinforced that the NXT Title was important and said that it proves anything is possible. He then seemed to loosen up a bit which was where he started to deliver.

‘Take one look at me. I’m not your prototypical champion. I’m not the biggest guy and, let’s be honest, I look like some crazy elf man (which Full Sail cheered enthusiastically), I’m from a small town in the North East of England that nobody’s ever heard of (I mean Newcastle’s got a bigger population than Orlando but sure) and the accent! THE ACCENT! (more big cheers) I mean, be honest Renee, can you even understand what I’m saying? It’s a struggle, right? I’ll be honest sometimes I even struggle to understand myself.’ He then switched gears and said that the one thing you can’t fault about him is his ability in the ring before saying there being no more Bo was the really good thing of the last week. Really good promo by Neville whereby owning all of his faults, he effectively wrote them off.

Bo came out on-cue looking humbled and made his way to the ring. Bo congratulated Adrian before transitioning to smarmy heel by observing, ‘You didn’t pin me; you climbed a ladder like a dad cleaning out gutters.' He then announced he would be cashing in his rematch clause and bringing home the title for all his Bo-lievers. Simple and effective stuff to set up the re-match.

- NXT then travelled back in time to last week where Renee Young was interviewing Emma. She talked about her disappointment about not winning the title but stayed respectful towards Paige. Ric Flair came in and talked up his daughter Charlotte before the tall gymnast came into frame. She even-outsized Naitch, which really gave her a good presence. Emma switched off while Charlotte was talking, which led to them having a bit of a tussle and a match was set for next week.

Back into the time machine and Emma was making her way to the ring to cheers. Then, Charlotte came out, being accompanied to ring by Sasha Banks and a picture of Summer Rae on a stick. They really are BFFs. The commentary team really focused on Charlotte being Flair's daughter with ‘Dirtiest Diva in the Game’ being thrown around quite liberally. The match was an even-steven affair with continuing ‘Better than Batista’ chants towards Emma keeping everyone amused.

Charlotte came off the top and seemed to tweak her ankle. She sold being really injured, while Emma was distracted with Sasha and the Ref. Suddenly though, Charlotte bounced up and hit her impressive flipping finisher for the win. What a cheeky lady. It’s nice to see Charlotte get both a win and a personality as she has endless potential. Emma has an out, too, so everyone’s a winner.

- Yoshi Tatsu was in the ring before Corey Graves came to the ring looking as badass as anyone ever has. There’s really something special about him. He got on the microphone before the match and talked about being ignored for Arrival and instead having to face someone, ‘who still believes he can be a WWE Superstar.' Oof that’s harsh. He then railed on Sami Zayn asking why he’s getting opportunities and praise when he hasn’t won a match. ‘Apparently all you need is ‘heart.’' Corey said all he needs is one chance and he would beat Cesaro. Instead he was facing Yoshi who ‘hasn’t been relevant since ever.’ OOOF. Man, I’m such a massive fan of Corey.

As the match started, Corey rolled out of the ring. He said, ‘Forget this’ on the mic before walking out on the match. Well, that’s what he wanted us to think. As Yoshi rushed out to get him, Graves caught him with a strike and whipped Yoshi into the steps. Corey got into the ring and counted up with the ref until Yoshi was counted out. Once he had the win, Graves went after Yoshi and locked in his submission finisher Lucky 13 (which looks fantastic). Zayn (sans his amazing tights from last week) came out and made the save. Zayn made the challenge for later in the night.

- Then stuff got weird. And I mean really weird. NXT entered into debutant Adam Rose’s party, an odd world where people dress like big cats and gladiators and Sami Callihan is a D.J. and Samuray Del Sol is spinning a baton. I don't know what’s going on. Adam was chilling in his VIP area acting camp and ridiculous, emulating the classic reality TV type (a massive, massive move away from his old gimmick of Leo Kruger). While being interviewed, he dropped the line, ‘everything you know is about to change,' which was exactly what the Kruger character said in his final promo: A nice little link for people paying attention. Mid-interview, Rose got bored and went to party before his debut was announced as next.

Back from a break, Full Sail was filled with the party with everyone having a boogie. Rose made his way through the crowd to emerge at the front. His music is pretty outstanding and everyone was loving it. He eventually got into the ring before the party danced to the back. Weird as heck, but Full Sail responded with a ‘That was awesome’ chant, and I can’t help but agree.

Adam was against a jobber who never got a name plate unfortunately. Rose's style was odd, with random bouts of rolling and silliness eventually leading to a more aggressive style once he took a hit. The latter didn’t really fit his gimmick and had everyone a bit hushed but when he returned to the flamboyant taunts everyone was back onside. One guy in the audience tried to start a ‘We want Kruger’ chant, but was immediately booed out by pretty much everyone else. It’s a sign of how good the audience at Full Sail are that they actively try to get guys over who are trying something new.

Multiple "Adam Rose" chants, for example, both support the guy in the ring and push his name to those watching at home. Really lovely to see. Rose won with his clothesline finisher before having another dance. As he left the ring, the party re-emerged on-stage to take Adam back. A much needed re-invention by Rose/Kruger, which although isn’t perfect yet, is certainly a much more interesting direction.

- Graves vs. Zayn was the main event via approval from commissioner JBL. Regal talked up Graves getting what he wanted as the "savior of misbehavior" made his way to the ring. Zayn came out next to big approval. The match was on pretty quickly.

Graves had the better of the early stages with headlocks and chops before some of Sami’s fantastic armdrags took Graves to the outside. Sami looked set to fly, but Graves moved away. Sami faked out, though, Arabian-pressing from the top rope to land in the middle of the ring, looking like Spiderman.

Back from the break, Graves was landing from a back body drop. Graves reversed a corner charge into a delicious backbreaker. They definitely felt like they were in the finishing stages of the match which leads me to believe I’ve been robbed of 10 minutes of amazing wrestling. Blue Thunder Bombs, big strikes from Graves, and submission attempts came thick and fast before Graves went for another backbreaker, only to be wrapped and rolled up by Zayn for the win.

Zayn needed a win, but so did Graves and having the match go so short did no one any favors particularly when the two are such good wrestlers who could go 15+ minutes and keep everyone more than happy. I understand that in these early stages of NXT on the WWE Network, WWE will be keen to introduce talents and their personalities before delving into some storylines, but this match needed more time to breath as a longer win would have benefitted both Zayn and Graves’s credibility. They didn’t have the time to do a proper match, so why not have a finish where Graves wins quickly through nefarious means? It makes much more sense. Well, for what it was, I have no complaints and hopefully these guys will feud and have longer matches down the line.

- Another good episode of NXT, although as I’ve detailed, introducing and reinforcing the roster is a priority right now which isn’t doing long-term viewers or the show as a whole any favors. It’s a necessary price to pay and hopefully in a month or so we should be seeing some more careful handling of the likes of Champion appearances and big stars losing heat and credibility in quick losses.

So, let’s do some rankings shall we? For now I’ll be considering the talents who have featured more heavily in the last month or so with the likes of Oliver Grey and Enzo Amore not being considered until they make returns.

NXT Network Era Rankings #1

(1) Sami Zayn
(2) Corey Graves
(3) Adrian Neville
(4) Paige
(5) Bo Dallas
(6) Emma
(7) Tyler Breeze
(8) Charlotte
(9) Mojo Rawley
(10) Colin Cassidy
(11) The Ascension
(12) Aiden English
(13) C.J. Parker

- Zayn being up top is a no-brainer. He is one of the best wrestlers in the world and has such likability on the microphone which is uniquely natural and relatable. Put simply, he’s living up to his potential.

- The next three on the list are hard to separate and order with Neville being the most spectacular, Graves having that intangible X-Factor and Paige being totally unique and revolutionary for a WWE Diva. The title and his promo almost saw me putting Neville into second, but Graves submission heavy style is what turned me into putting him second. His matches have a little more fluidity and he has a better look than Neville. It’s just a more complete package which I can see getting further in WWE than Neville. Time will tell.

Paige is going to make a difference in the future, but small faults remain e.g. the climax of her matches never quite come to a proper crescendo due to an awkward finisher. Her new submission could resolve this, though.

- Between fourth and fifth is an absolute gulf of talent with Bo, Emma, and Breeze all being good, but not yet great. Bo had a good match with Neville last week, but his ability against less talented wrestlers has not been good enough. His heel work has been outstanding, though, and undoubtedly Adrian has benefitted from working with such a hot heel.

Emma’s goofy nature is fun and popular and her bridging Muta Lock finisher is equally impressive. The only issue is that it feels like she’s hit the peak of what is possible with such a kooky character. Although what she has is arguably better than the majority of the divas division, she stands no chance of eclipsing the likes of Paige or A.J. as things stand.

Tyler Breeze is in much the same situation and although he’s a bit of fun who has got over very well at Full Sail, the idea of a comedic character like this going anywhere near the title has me shuddering. Still if you’re looking for a mid-carder he is a solid choice.

- Eighth and ninth are Charlotte and Mojo Rawley, who have great potential but need a bit of time to develop. Charlotte will undoubtedly be challenging for the top spots soon enough with incredible athletic wrestling ability, while Mojo is a big big bag of energy with all the tools he needs. Now he just needs to learn how to wrestle.

-At tenth is Colin Cassidy, who has certainly improved while being paired with Enzo Amore, but still lacks charisma in and out of the ring. He’s a big dude, and you can’t help but feel that if he wasn’t there wouldn’t be a place for him on the roster.

- At eleventh are The Ascension, who are probably going to be moving up the rankings sooner rather than later. Their new gimmick of being generally intimidating monsters is a much better than the old Undertaker-lite package they were lumped with. My apprehension lies in both whether this new gimmick sticks and whether they can sort out their pacing. Konnor in particular has over-utilized restlocks and lost the audience for large swathes of matches which, with an attentive bunch as they are at Full Sail, is pretty much inexcusable. Better things to come? Hopefully, although they’ll need a credible tag team to face if they really want to grow.

- Rounding off the list are C.J. Parker and Aiden English, who both have dreadful gimmicks which neither are pulling off. Aiden is a sound wrestler and has tried his best with his thespian act but I just don’t have time for it. CJ is roundly disliked at Full Sail but seems to stall whenever he’s on the microphone. He hasn’t shown a huge amount in the ring, either, and I’m just not on-board yet, but I’m willing to have my mind changed.

- Still to feature is Adam Rose, who has left me flabbergasted and what can a man do with that? More time to get to know the character is definitely in order.

That’ll do for now chaps and chapettes. Feel free to tweet moi (@PWChiverton), leave a comment, or not bother entirely. It’s completely up to you as you are a good person who reads my stuff. Otherwise I’ll see you next week.


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