It looks as though 2013 is going to be a year of fresh faces in the WWE. Most expect that along with The Shield and Big E Langston, there will be plenty of new faces from NXT showing up on WWE TV over the course of the next calendar year. It seems as though they have started laying the groundwork for Richie Steamboat to debut and face off with Wade Barrett (I’m speculating), and guys like Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger are likely on the horizon. Another guy I’m looking forward to seeing debut on the main roster is Corey Graves.

Who is Corey Graves? He’s young FCW/NXT standout who is very skilled in the ring, and has an even better look to go along with his talent. He’s a professional piercer, and likes to call himself the “Savior of Misbehavior”. Oh, and apparently Chicks Dig Graves.

If you haven’t worked it out, this week’s edition of A Matter of Character is focusing on NXT’s resident bad boy, Corey Graves. I will analyze his character and point out his strengths and flaws, as I perceive them, while making suggestions for improvement where I can. So enough wasting time, Let’s Do This!

PHYSICAL

Corey Graves (formerly known as Sterling James Keenan) is an accomplished in ring performer. He isn’t flashy and his outings in the squared circle are far from spot-fests, but as his look implies, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty during a match. He employs a ground and pound/submission-wrestling style in his matches, and in a lot of ways reminds me of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (though not as polished as they are) as far as his in-ring philosophy goes. Here’s a match he had with Seth Rollins on a recent episode of NXT if you feel like checking out how he handles himself in the ring.

While he isn’t quite as good as Bryan or Punk in the ring, he does have looks that they can’t match. Graves is a pretty good looking fella, which makes me think that he’ll definitely get over with a female demographic a la Jeff Hardy. According to my sister, he has a “handsome bad boy” quality to him that by many accounts very desirable. Whether it’s the plethora of tattoos, his choice of attire (ripped jean) or his good looks, aesthetically Corey Graves stands out and makes a lasting impression on those that see him. His look also throws you off, because when you see tattooed former professional piercer, you don’t expect him to be as technically proficient with submission based wrestling as he is. An element of surprise can go a long way in getting a character over (see Brodus Clay’s return and popularity in early 2012, all due to the element of surprise in my opinion).

PERSONALITY

Graves likes to refer to himself as the Savior of Misbehavior and he’s the quintessential bad boy. He’s covered in tattoos, he’s rude, he’s in your face, and he certainly doesn’t respect authority. Graves thrives on chaos and confusion, and is thrilled by the idea of anarchy. He’s indulgent and lives without fear of consequences. Corey Graves is the good-looking, charismatic and clever rebel, who’s so hard to ignore.

This guy and his personality, whether heel or babyface will get over with a lot of people in the WWE Universe. He is captivating and has a lot of charisma. The WWE can use him to push the envelope a little; similar to the way they used “The Rated R Superstar” Edge to push the boundaries. In a lot of ways Edge and Graves’ personalities are similar, and Graves can fill the role of “Indulgent Antagonist” well. Graves is also very marketable, especially to the elusive female demographic. I’m a pretty sure a shirt that says “Chicks Dig Graves” with a design depicting just that, would sell better than most would expect.

WORDS AND ACTIONS

Graves is an above average talker. He has charisma and looks comfortable cutting a promo backstage or in the middle of the ring in front of a live crowd. He won’t command a crowd like Rock or Punk, but he’s still pretty young at 28 years old, and can only improve as he progresses in his career. For now, he’s better than most people on the WWE’s Main Roster, and could hold his own verbally with just about any and every WWE Superstar.

As I said before, his style in the ring is a submission based, ground and pound style. Outside the ring he is a no consequences, indulgent, anarchist. The two words tattooed across his knuckles say everything you need to know about his attitude towards others, “Stay Down”. He views himself as above everybody else in his own way, and he aims to put his opponents down during his matches. The tattoo is a suggestion his enemies ought to follow, because he will not hesitate to make sure that you do stay down, even if it means crippling you with one of his submission holds.

MOTIVATION

What motivates Corey Graves is simple. He’s a guy who lives on the edge, a guy that fondly speaks of chaos and confusion, and is indulgent to the point of excess. Danger motivates him. He lives for the rush of being in the ring with somebody that wants to tear his head off. He goes out of his way to make sure that every match against every opponent is personal, because fighting is personal for him. If it isn’t, he can’t get amped up for it. He wants to be the master of bedlam and pandemonium. He wants to orchestrate and conquer anarchy. He wrestles for the thrill of poking the rabid dog and defeating it when it attacks. He’s willing to die chasing these thrills, and can’t help but indulge his vices.

Needless to say that Corey Graves with this motivation will make for compelling TV. Its almost as if he has a death wish, and watching him flirt with disaster weekly basis would be interesting, especially as he develops relationships and forges his place in the landscape of the WWE. We’ll see if he can create enough mischief to live up to the moniker “The Savior of Misbehavior”.

CONFLICT

Corey Graves’ primary personally conflict is his own indulgence. He has so many vices, none of which he even tries to avoid. He embraces things he shouldn’t and isn’t able to prioritize and control his own desires. This impulsive and self destructive behavior will need to be addressed at some point for his character, but not before it hurts the people close to him and nearly tears him down.

GOING FORWARD

With the recent debuts of The Shield and Big E Langston, I certainly expect to see a few more NXT standouts debut on the main roster this year, Corey Graves among them. The question is what do you do with him? As much as I’d love to see him brought in as a heel, I’m thinking that the WWE needs to introduce some of these NXT guys as babyfaces. Nexus, The Shield, Big E, all burst onto the scene as heels, and it’s getting a bit old. So how does the WWE introduce Corey Graves to the WWE Universe as a babyface? I have a couple ideas.

My first idea would be to bring him up as a part of a tag team. Graves is a drummer, so I’d pair him with Mike Dalton (known as the Blonde Stallion) and debut them as two former members of a Rock Band. Have vignettes of them partying, playing shows, and riding in a tour bus with gaggles of groupies. Eventually bring them in and have them feud with “Posers” 3MB. During their matches, give Graves a gimmick where he pulls out a pair of drumsticks and claps them together to get the crowd into the match and will his partner to make the “hot tag”. They could be a fun pairing and take the Tag Team Division by storm.

Another thought would be to have 3MB audition drummers to be a part of their band. That’s when we meet Graves whom they are impressed with, but upon seeing what the 3MB are about, Graves declines becoming a part of their band. They try to attack him but he takes them out and puts them each in a different submission hold, instantaneously surprising the WWE Universe with his submission repertoire. You can then have him engage is a feud with 3MB for a month or two before he moves on to bigger feuds.

Finally, my last idea (which is also the simplest) pair him with NXT’s Paige, and debut them as best friends who have finally achieved their dream and made it into the WWE. The two have similar stories, having begun wrestling very young (Graves at 16 and Paige at 14) and are similar in the sense that they have “different” looks. It’s not a stretch that they’d be friends and watching their friendship slowly develop into a relationship, while simple, could be fun to watch.

There you have it, but I want to know what you think! Does Corey Graves have a bright future ahead of him? Would you be interested in watching him on the main roster? How would you debut him? Will he as big a hit with the ladies as I anticipate he can be?

Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying Go Seahawks and Broncos! Have a great week everybody!