We’re now just about two weeks away from SummerSlam. While it seems like it’s been taking a long time to get there, it still seems like we have a long way to go. The card is shaping up to a certain extent, but there are still a lot of holes to fill.
Along with SummerSlam, we have NXT’s latest Takeover: Brooklyn event to consider. Usually, the feeder brand is ahead of the main roster when it comes to booking, but there are still holes on the Takeover card as well.
We’ll do full previews of both shows in the week before the events. For now, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up as we head toward The Biggest Weekend of the Summer.
Even More Random Thoughts from the Professor
Not everyone on NXT will (or should) ever make it to the main roster – Like any other wrestling organization, NXT has stars and “others.” While competitors like Bobby Roode, Asuka, Aleister Black and Drew McIntyre are all going to get called up at some point, there are performers who will (deservedly) top out on the black and yellow brand. Here are five, in no particular order.
- Kassius Ohno – The days when this KO was the best indy wrestler on the planet are behind us now. What is up with the NBA jersey gimmick? Unfortunately for Kassius, the audience says “Oh, no.” when they see him come out in those too-tight hoops jerseys. He looks like five pounds of sausage in a three-pound casing.
- Oney Lorcan – Lorcan is tough, and can have a solid-to-good match with just about anyone. Unfortunately for Lorcan, WWE already has Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn to have great matches with just about anyone, while still managing to lose just about every time.
- No Way Jose – Levis Valenzuela is a good wrestler, and he has the requisite size and look to make it. This gimmick will hold him back. As WWE has (hopefully) learned with Bayley, the relentlessly happy babyface doesn’t really resonate with the main roster crowds.
- Heavy Machinery – Vince will never, ever put these guys over on the main roster. If they are called up, they’ll suffer the same fate as The Ascension and The Vaudevillians.
- Liv Morgan – If competitors like Emma and Mickie James can’t get airtime on the big stage, the baby face version of Alexa Bliss doesn’t stand a chance.
There are others I’m on the fence about like Roderick Strong (needs more personality to go with the great work rate), Hideo Itami (he needed to get to the big show before Shinsuke did, now he’ll look like a boring copy) and The Velveteen Dream (I don’t see the gimmick, but I didn’t see New Day or the Fashion Police at first, either.) Time will tell.
Whatever happened to Eric Young? – While Young’s stable, SAnitY, is in the spotlight and set up for an NXT tag team title shot at Takeover, Young has been conspicuously absent for the past few weeks. Maybe he’ll make a surprise return in Brooklyn. Without him, SAnitY is the Wyatt Family without Bray.
NXT needs a secondary belt – Normally, I’m not a fan of having too many belts in a promotion, particularly when that brand only has one hour of TV time each week. However, NXT could use a secondary belt. The United Kingdom Championship is awesome, but a special attraction. 205 Live is its own show, and the competitors are (supposedly) members of the main roster. NXT needs something akin to the Intercontinental or US Championships in order to promote stars not quite ready to challenge for the top prize. Maybe something like an NXT TV title. That would give NXT a chance to highlight guys like Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong without having to protect top dogs like Roode and McIntyre.
The Raw announcers had a tough night Monday – I never thought I’d say this, but I miss David Otunga. Booker T. was so incomprehensible on Monday’s Raw that Corey Graves asked him if he smelled burnt toast, indicating that it was possible Booker was having some sort of stroke. It was a legitimate question. There were several times during the show that Booker was so off that I had no idea what he was talking about. Even Graves, normally very smooth, was thrown off. The fact that Elias Samson is now simply known as Elias seemed to throw Booker off badly. It took him about four tries to get it right. Michael Cole, perhaps shaken by Booker’s babbling, also had a rough night, misidentifying several moves in the ring, and referring to Nia Jax as Alexa Bliss at least one time. (That’s not an easy mistake to make. If you stacked up four of Bliss, you might have one Jax.)
Lesnar Leaving? – Paul Heyman dropped the bomb that if Brock Lesnar loses the Universal Championship in a Fatal Four-Way at SummerSlam, the Beast will leave WWE. This is somewhat unlikely, though it does add some gravitas to the match. Lesnar is advertised for No Mercy, set for Los Angeles in September. He’s also believed to be under contract until after WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. It’s possible that WWE will take the belt off Brock at SummerSlam, only to have him show up in LA demanding his rematch. Heyman can say that he tried to talk Lesnar out of it, but that Brock insisted on competing. Otherwise, he can simply leave until about Royal Rumble time. In any case, the belt needs to be on Raw every week, so Lesnar should drop the strap.
Jinder Mahal may have his own endorsement deal – Lately, a lot of WWE programming has been sponsored by Cricket Wireless. Given the state of Mahal’s WWE Championship reign, it would be a natural fit. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, brought to you by Cricket(s) Wireless. It’s a fantastic plan. It guarantees that you’ll always be able to hear your calls, even in a full arena, as long as Jinder is on the stage.
Shinsuke Shocker – It looks like WWE might finally be getting the point when it comes to Shinsuke Nakamura. When the King of Strong Style first arrived on the roster, he was treated as a better-than-average NXT call-up. Fans were beginning to worry that he’d be booked into mediocrity. Things have changed over the last month or so. WWE has let Nakamura be Nakamura, complete with funny hand gestures, odd facial expressions and the ability to destroy just about anyone in the ring. The purest evidence of that came on Tuesday, when Nakamura won clean over John Cena (GASP) to become the No. 1 contender to Crickets Mahal. Here’s hoping that the creative team has the sense to put the belt on Nakamura.
That’s it for this week. We’ll keep our eyes on everything happening in WWE (and NXT) as we head for SummerSlam weekend. We’ll have full previews of both TakeOver and SummerSlam the week before they take place.