Each week, the wrestlers in NXT aim to do more than entertain the live audience. They seek to impress WWE brass and show that they are perfect for the roles that are projected of them. Or at least they are progressing towards that role. Each week I’ll be looking solely at the prospective talents that are showcased on WWE programming and whether or not that are indeed becoming closer to what has been envisioned of them.
SHANE THORNE (TM-61) w/ NICK MILLER vs. RODERICK STRONG w/ AUSTIN ARIES
Shane Thorne – It’s clear that WWE brass sees more in Thorne than they do with Miller with having him fight Roderick Strong in order to move their team to the semifinals. And it’s easy to see that as well. Between the two, Thorne’s eccentric and charismatic attitude is only heightened by Miller’s lack of presence. From what we’ve seen, Thorne is gradually getting more comfortable in the WWE atmosphere. His next obstacles is to be able to expand his character’s depth and emotionality.
Nick Miller – Playing the straight man to Thorne’s light-heartedness works well for them as a team. But individually, Miller’s lack of ring presence is what pushes him below his partner. He is a solid worker in the ring and his charisma as of late is beginning to grow. What he needs to focus on is that same was what his partner also needs to focus on; expanding his depth of his character. He just needs to do a little more work.
Roderick Strong – It is tough having to book Roderick Strong losing in his second match in NXT, but it had to happen. With Aries out until 2017, there was no way that Strong and Aries should move on. But Strong made the most of this booking. The best part about Roderick Strong is that his in-ring arsenal looks painful but is safe as well. This has only been his second match, so we’re not sure or whether or not he can truly deliver on the mic. Only time will tell.
Status: Too early to tell
Austin Aries – Aries, though he is inactive now due to injury, did well here in his role as a manager. With his injury, if WWE creative decides to keep him on TV programs, he could do wonders for his stock by showing off what he is potentially capable of on the mic. He has already proven to be a reliable in-ring worker, but this is his chance to boost his stock and make himself a huge villain upon return.
#DIY vs. The Revival
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa – I paired them together as it seems like they are slated to either win the tag team titles or be moving into the main roster. They were originally supposed to be a part of the cruiserweight division but that might be nixed in favor of continuing them as a tag team. Whatever creative decides to do with them, they are ready for the main roster. Ciampa might be weaker on the mic, but his ring work more than makes up for it.
The Revival – Where Roderick Strong and Shane Thorne were okay with fighting to move their team to the next round, The Revival took another route and forfeited the match. This allowed Dash and Dawson the time to showcase their mic skills. And from the looks of it, I’d say that they are ready to make the jump to the main roster. Dash and Dawson are fantastic tag team specialists who have both improved the in-ring work, psychology, and mic skills vastly.
NO WAY JOSE & RICH SWANN vs. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN
No Way Jose – When No Way Jose first burst onto the scene, there were doubts about whether or not he could pull off another dancing, party gimmick. After solid performances against Austin Aries and Bobby Roode, there was a glimmer of hope. Since then, Jose has been stuck in neutral on a flat road. His recent work shows that although he is capable of being a great worker, he is still largely a prospect with much to improve on. The first step in making progress would be to either tone down his gimmick or find the perfect balance between comedy and seriousness.
The Authors of Pain – There’s not much The Authors of Pain can do at this point. We know that they’re two big men that are brutal and vicious. But they are still lacking a story. Paul Ellering needs to be allowed to be more vocal with the group as it’s likely that neither Akam nor Rezar are anywhere close to being a mic worker. Until then, The Authors of Pain may be gaining momentum on paper, but they’re running in place in reality.
KOTA IBUSHI & TJ PERKINS vs. SAnitY
Alexander Wolfe – SAnitY is predicted to do wonders for everyone involved. And it’s starting to show in Alexander Wolfe. He comes off as intimidating and unhinged as the rest of the group. And the group’s energy matches his brawling wrestling style. It’s clear that after a few weeks, Eric Young is positively influencing Alexander Wolfe as there are shades of a psychotic Eric Young in some of the facial expressions that Wolfe conveys.
Sawyer Fulton – While SAnitY is already starting to show its wonders on Alexander Wolfe, the same can’t be said for Sawyer Fulton. He’s been struggling to find his place in the company. His role is simple; the big, intimidating powerhouse. Given his size he should be the one to stand out easily. But he’s having trouble with even the smallest things like facial expressions. It’s still early to tell and he has a great mentor in Eric Young so there’s hope that things will start to progress soon.
Status: Too early to tell, but floundering