*Slight change from here on out. I should have listed tag teams as separate prospects since I looked at #DIY and The Authors of Pain together but looked at SAnitY separately. From here on out everyone will be looked at individually, though their work as a tag team will be noted.
#DIY (JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMMASO CIAMPA) vs. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN (AKAM & REZAR) w/PAUL ELLERING
Johnny Gargano – There’s no doubt that Gargano will electrify the WWE universe when he makes the jump to the main roster. He is one of those few people that can thrive as a singles star and tag-team specialist. The way he executes moves is so smooth and fluid. And his presence is magnetic. The crowd absolutely loves him. He has the potential to be a great face going into the main roster. But more importantly, he has the potential to be the true face of the cruiserweight division down the line.
Tommaso Ciampa – Aside from Gargano’s smooth in-ring style, Ciampa showing off his brawling nature and his strength was a great sight to see. That German suplex is more impressive considering he is classified as a cruiserweight. What makes Ciampa so valuable is his ability to let his in-ring work talk for him. This is where he shines the brightest. And he has a way of maintaining his intensity at all times; that’s a plus if they decided to book him as a heel. It is inevitable that Gargano will be the face of the cruiserweights, Ciampa could and should rightfully be his opposite should he turn heel.
Akam – What we needed to see out of these two was more depth. They are being booked as monsters so there’s not much in particular that should be wanted. But it’s clear that Akam hasn’t really shown anything impressive since his debut. His in-ring work has been the same each time; he’s just clobbering his opponents and maintaining his intensity until its Rezar’s turn. At this point, he’s coasting and that’s fine since it’s clear that his foreseeable future is being in a tag-team with Paul Ellering handling the talking. But sooner rather than later, he’s going to need to deliver more.
Rezar – Rezar is the better prospect of the two. Plain and simple. His acceleration is great. His feats of strength are even greater. That Samoan drop/Fallaway slam was a nice spot. Even when in peril, he’s able to maintain the illusion that he’s a monster. He still needs a lot of polishing in the ring which is normal at this stage. But it’s clear that he is making strides each time he wrestles. His biggest concern is being able keep up with the pacing of the match. He tends to drag and it shows as some of his moves don’t seem to have as much energy as they should.
Scott Dawson – He didn’t have a lot of TV time. And he didn’t need to. His role was to cost #DIY there chance at winning the tournament. And with his injury seemingly gone, it’s going to allow him to brag about how he came back from his “severe injury” earlier than expected because he’s that much tougher. That narrative works so well for him.
Dash Wilder – He didn’t have a lot of TV time. And he didn’t need to. His role was to cost #DIY there chance at winning the tournament. With The Revival heading towards a 2-out-of-3 falls match against #DIY, it’s a clear indication that whoever loses will most likely be heading to the main roster.
TYE DILLINGER INTERVIEW
Tye Dillinger – A short interview/promo that allowed Dillinger a little screen time. He made the most of that time. He spoke with enough intensity to sell his frustration with Bobby Roode. Using Dusty Rhodes’ memory to solidify his face value was a nice touch as well. If he’s able to turn in a quality match with Roode, it will significantly boost his stock.
TM-61 (SHANE THORNE & NICK MILLER) vs. SAnitY (ALEXANDER WOLFE & SAWYER FULTON) w/ERIC YOUNG & NIKKI CROSS
Shane Thorne – Having Thorne be the face-in-peril was an interesting way to go about this match. But it seemed like somehow, someway the wrestling gods heard me when I said that their gimmick should be along the lines of their former team name. Despite taking a nasty looking bump before the match and being dominated all match, Thorne was able to play the gutsy, resilient warrior effectively and became the major factor in TM-61’s victory. But if there’s one thing that needs to change, it’s may be his booking. Sure let them be the resilient warriors, but they can’t always be the underdog.
Nick Miller – Sitting out last week, Miller needed to deliver in this performance. He needed to show that he is capable of turning the tide when it matter. When he got the hot tag, he delivered. Though the transition to the high-angle back suplex was awkward, Miller maintained his intensity throughout. Miller getting the pinfall win was also a nice surprise as well. Though this aired as an exclusive interview, Miller’s charisma and mic work was noticeably better when compared to their “rocket to the sun” promo. He spoke more confidently and with purpose and that’s a great sign.
Alexander Wolfe – Alexander Wolfe continued to add more insanity to his persona. That mosh-pit dance move he pulled was a weird thing to see but it fit so well. His in-ring work was wild and he came off as even more ravenous as he has in the past. His holds and strikes were more vicious than his partner’s as well. Wolfe taking the pinfall loss seemed a bit out of place, but with this gimmick it could potentially make him even crazier to have been pinned.
Sawyer Fulton – Fulton’s performance here was miles better than his last two matches. But don’t get me wrong, he still has many miles more to go. His tendency to overact in order to appear intimidating makes him seem underwhelming. But this week, he showed flashes of improvement and potential. His pacing back-and-forth and his surprising agility were akin to a rabid dog. It’s clear that he is trying to fit the part of this unorthodox group and it’s clear that he really is trying to improve.
Status: Slowly Progressing
Nikki Cross – As a manager for the match, Nikki Cross was able to make the most of her position. She came off as unhinged and sadistic during her pre-match assault on Shane Thorne. When Thorne couldn’t tag in Miller, she ran over to where Thorne was and taunted and laughed in his face. If there is one person who is making the most of the opportunity that this stable presents, it’s Nikki Cross. Her fearlessness to mix it up with the male wrestlers makes her a threat at all times.
Eric Young – His role was brief with directing SAnitY to attack TM-61 and throwing Nick Miller into the steel steps and rabidly attempting to attack Miller after the surprise pinfall. That’s about it. But there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t already know, Young is a veteran of the game who may be one of the most versatile performers in the ring and is a top notch story-teller. It’s clear that his main role is to help the “New Era” talent improve.
BOBBY ROODE INTERVIEW
Bobby Roode – Like Dillinger, Roode also made the most of the brief time he was given. As opposed to Dillinger, who came off as genuine, Roode came off as narcissistic as ever and chose to belittle Dillinger. Though Roode has been in the game for a long time, like Dillinger he needs a standout performance here as well to keep increasing his stock.
EMBER MOON vs. RACHAEL EVERS
Ember Moon – Charlotte and Naomi may be the two most athletic women in their division. At the moment. Ember Moon may arguably be more athletic. She is truly a unique wrestler and harbors an enigmatic aura and charisma. Her strikes are especially vicious. But her finisher is what is really impressive. For her to have that much control from the top rope to transition into a stunner safely is harder than it really looks. It’s clear that she’s going to be in title contention. But the only thing that feels [is] incomplete about her is her background; her story. If we want to be invested in her as a believable candidate to dethrone Asuka, we need to know if she can captivate the audience through other means other than her in-ring work.
Rachael Evers – Enhancement talent. Not much can be said. She’s been on WWE programming for a few weeks and hasn’t really had anything stand out yet. She’s the daughter of Paul Ellering so that’s always a plus.
Status: Too early to tell
SAMOA JOE & (c) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA: CONTRACT SIGNING
Samoa Joe – Samoa Joe was the star of this segment. No doubt about it. His mic work was superb. He was condescending. He was disrespectful. And he was intimidating. What makes Joe’s mic work so great is the fact that what he says walks a fine line between entertainment and reality. He is conceivably one of the toughest men in that company and in reality, would probably legitimately tear through most of the men on the roster.
Shinsuke Nakamura – This one is tough as the WWE universe wants to see Shinsuke Nakamura on the main roster as soon as possible. The only thing holding him back is his limited language skills. Sure he’s ahead of Hideo Itami and Asuka in terms of English skills, but I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE brass aren’t satisfied with what he has so far. Nakamura being kept off the mic this week doesn’t help his case either. Though tearing through six security guards seemed to be the right thing to do to send Samoa Joe a message. Like I said, this is a tough one.
You be the judge:
Status: Ready, but debatable