Greeting TJR Faithful and Happy Thursday. I want to make a quick apology for not posting a piece last week, but a minor emergency came up. Nothing bad, in fact quite the opposite, but I won’t get into all that, because I’m here to talk WWE! It’s been a pretty great couple of wrestling weeks for me. I attended Raw in Toronto, Night Of Champions in Detroit, and the product at the top has been pretty riveting to watch.
It’s the middle of the card that is lacking if you ask me. There is nothing to really grab hold of. I like the Usos, but the WWE needs to give me something more than their awesome entrance to make them compelling. The same can be said of everybody on the mid-card. The roster is top heavy, and mid-card wrestlers haven’t been shining like they can. The Main Event sells a show, but the undercard keeps me entertained, and that just hasn’t quite been the case recently for the WWE. The WWE could use an infusion of new talent to freshen up the mid-card, and bring some excitement to segments that don’t involve The Administration, The Shield, Daniel Bryan, or CM Punk. That is I’m going to present my WWE NXT Prospects Mock Draft 2.0.
There have been some changes in the last few months. Some superstars have leaped up the big board while others have fallen. Enough lollygagging, Let’s Rock and/or Roll!
1. Sami Zayn
Last time I did this mock draft, I had Sami Zayn at the tail end of the Top 5. What a difference a couple of months make for NXT’s fastest rising star. The former El Generico tore the house down in recent weeks having great matches with Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, and basically anybody you put in front of him. He also had the chance to put his charming personality on display during interview segments with Renee Young, developing an innocent and adorable rapport with her akin to that of The Rock and Lillian Garcia, all be it much cuter and G rated. Needless to say Sami Zayn found his footing and is proving to be the most talented and exciting body on the entire NXT Roster.
If it were up to me, he’d be on the main roster last week (or earlier). He’d be a perfect target for this power hungry, image obsessed Administration. He doesn’t have the build they want, his promos are subdued, and he is a genuinely nice guy, which I would assume wouldn’t make the best impression on Hunter. He’s very much like Daniel Bryan in that sense and I could see him feeling the ire of the Administration. Hell, if for no other reason, call him up to the main roster to wrestle Cesaro every week on one show or another. The point is, he belongs on TV, and I’m sure he’ll catch fire with the WWE Universe.
Was sad to move Paige down a spot to number two, but Zayn has had such an amazing couple of months, it was hard to deny that if I were drafting from the pool of NXT talent, he’d be my number one overall pick. All that said, Paige is still my favorite Diva under the employ of World Wrestling Entertainment (AJ is am extremely close second), and is the closest thing to a sure fire star on NXT. To put things in perspective, she just turned 21 last month. Her age to talent ratio is staggering, as she is absurdly talented and will make an immediate impression the day that she debuts on the main roster.
She’s a beautiful girl, that can wrestle, and completely stands apart in a crowd. I said this last time I did this mock draft, but barring a freak injury, I don’t foresee a scenario where Paige fails to live up to her potential. If you could simulate her career somehow, 99.9 % of the time, she will end up being one of the most entertaining and influential WWE Divas of all time. I don’t want to jinx it, but I am so very high on this ultra talented young woman and can’t wait to see her on Raw. AJ has breathed some new life into the Divas Division, but I still have my money on Paige to save it.
3. Xavier Woods
I might take some heat for continuing to rate Xavier Woods so highly, but I can’t help it. The guy is just so dynamic, entertaining, and memorable. Every episode of NXT that he isn’t on, I wish he was, and every episode he is on, I want him to get more time to shine. Yes the guy has a very limited ceiling on the main roster, and yeah he’ll likely never be a WWE Champion, but the guy brings energy and a sense of fun to everything he does that Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown are severely lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I like this whole Daniel Bryan vs. The Administration story, but between that and Punk’s Vendetta against Paul Heyman, everything is just so heavy, and Xavier would provide more levity to my weekly WWE viewing, while also bringing the goods as far as in-ring content.
Xavier Woods for all intents and purposes is a younger, more fun, more talented, and more energetic version of Santino. His ability in the ring is refined and in my opinion top notch, and his charisma is off the charts. Add to that that I think he has found an undeniably funny and entertaining character that rings true because it is an exaggerated extension of himself, and you have a superstar that doesn’t need to spend another second developing. Let him showcase his goofy, nerdy and fun personality to the WWE Universe!
4. Adrian Neville
Adrian Neville has jumped up a couple of spots since the last time I wrote out these rankings, and with good reason. I still love Neville’s physicality above anything else he has in his arsenal. I don’t think there is anybody on the roster that can perform some of the acrobatics that he can as flawlessly as he does, time after time. The guy is a physical marvel.
Despite not showing any sharp improvement in the departments he lacks (most notably promo ability) I still moved him up on the NXT Big Board because now more than ever, the WWE’s Main Roster could use the excitement his aerial gifts can provide. When I really think about it, there is nobody on the main roster that has a move as exciting as Adrian Neville’s Red Arrow. As a member of the WWE Universe, I’d very much like to feel the excitement of someone going to the top rope to deliver an acrobatic maneuver that is borderline unfathomable, on a regular basis. Based on that alone, he is definitely a Top 5 NXT talent.
5. Tyler Breeze
Making the biggest jump from the tail end of the top 10, into the top 5, Tyler Breeze may be my favorite NXT character. I know some people may think I’m overhyping him a bit, but honestly I don’t care, I love this gimmick. The selfies, the selfishness, the effeminate voice, the fact that his seasonal residence in Milan, Italy is part of his billing, and the overall Derek Zoolander-ness of the character are absolutely incredible to me. I just can’t get enough of this character (or the fact that he’s bringing boot tassels back!).
Breeze is committed to the character and is playing it very well. He is funny and so easily detestable which is everything you want out of the character. He hasn’t had the chance to show it yet under the new moniker, but the guy can wrestle, and the only thing he was lacking before was personality and character (during his days as Mike Dalton). He now showcases that in spades, which is a testament to what the right character can do for a performer. I would give him a little more time in developmental, working on all the nuances of the character, but I certainly like what I’ve been seeing and hope to see him on the main roster sooner rather than later.
6. Kassius Ohno
Kassius has had a tough few months. He didn’t appear on several episodes on NXT in a row (boo!), was removed from the title sequence, and was apparently told to get himself in better shape because officials were not pleased with his commitment to his physique. While I think what he has reportedly gone through recently is obscenely stupid given that he is undoubtedly one of the more gifted performers under their employ, I can understand that the WWE wants him to be in better shape. Being in the doghouse and not being featured on NXT forced Ohno out of the top three, and down to number six.
That being said, things seem to be looking up for Kassius. He appeared during the most recent NXT Tapings and is said to have been in much better physical condition. I hope that he can claw his way out of the doghouse and back into the top 5. The fact is that even though I have him at six because of the circumstances, he is a top 5 talent.
7. Bo Dallas
I am really fishing for heat on this one, but I am loving Bo Dallas right now. He has found the perfect character for his shortcomings as a performer. My problem with him for a long time was the fact that his promos felt forced and disingenuous. Now that insincerity is the basis behind the whole character, Bo Dallas is clicking on all cylinders. He is trying so hard to be a good guy that he is coming across as a huge goober, all the while branding himself with catchphrases like “Don’t Stop Bo-Lieving”.
It’s all so disingenuous and the entire audience knows that he’s just a D-Bag, but he keeps playing up the good guy façade (either oblivious to our hate or intentionally trying to get a rise out of us), which makes him all the more infuriating. I love it! The WWE bottled everything that people dislike about Justin Bieber, turned it up to 11, and told Bo Dallas to run with it. Well, he’s found his stride.
8. Corey Graves
Here’s a guy that has fallen a bit in my opinion. Ever since he started teaming with Adrian Neville, I feel like the guy lost everything that I thought made him special. He was that loner bad boy that made out with the cheerleader while her boyfriend was at football practice. He was mysterious and intriguing, with a quiet intensity that nobody could quite get a read on. Now he’s just the less exciting half of a makeshift tag team.
I think the guy can be a star on the next level with his brooding bad boy shtick. Ladies will like him because he’s a good looking dude that’s hard to get a read on, and guys will like him if he acts like a bad ass. He can wrestle fine, but the character is what will make or break the guy. Get him back on his own, and back to acting like badass that doesn’t give a **** about anything. Then you can call him up and start printing the “Chicks Dig Graves” T-Shirts in bulk.
9. Leo Kruger
Another character they’re currently fumbling with if you ask me. I think they’ve gone too far with the whole he’s crazy part of the character. I like the whole Kraven The Hunter vibe of the character, but they don’t spend enough time putting over how smart he is, which should be a big part of the character. Yes Kruger can be a bit mentally unbalanced (the guy wants to hunt wrestlers as he would hunt big game in South Africa) but he should also be incredibly intelligent when it comes to strategy, psychology, and even anatomy.
He needs to cut a promo to say he cut his teeth hunting some of the World’s most dangerous animals in South Africa, that he’s snared beasts such as lions, elephants, rhinos, etc. Now he’s come to the WWE to hunt the planet’s most dangerous game, man. Have him hog tie his opponents after incapacitating them and pose for a picture with their nearly lifeless carcasses as a trophy of his hunts. That character is fun, and interesting, far more interesting than a crazy guy that says Ta Ta and laughs maniacally.
10. Aiden English
Last time I embarked on this NXT Prospect Mock Draft, I ended my list with a Superstar who hadn’t yet made his grand entrance to the NXT Landscape (Tyler Breeze). This time I will do the same, because Aiden English (who debuts on this week’s episode of NXT) is my 10th favorite NXT Prospect. The guy is a classically trained stage actor, singer and a true thespian. I think this character has legs, and is something unique and fun. If you haven’t watched this week’s NXT yet, go watch it, if only to see what I hope is the first of many appearances for this guy. He’s got something, and hopefully he refines and perfects what that something is.
There you have it, but I want to know what you think! Do you agree with my second pass at these rankings? Who do you think is too high or too low on the list? Who’s missing (besides Enzo who got edged out by Aiden English)?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying I’m happy Survivor is back, and right as the Challenge is ending. I need that reality competition fix! Have a great week everybody!