It’s rare these days that I post on NXT. Season 4, until now, has been completely uninspiring and mediocre. However, there were a couple of developments this week which could really energise the season, and the show.
The first thing was the announcement that the winner would challenge for the WWE Tag Team Championships along with their pro. This adds a whole new dynamic to the rookie-pro dynamic which makes it, simply, more interesting and more nuanced. From now on, everything that goes on between rookies and pros will be potentially important. Not only that, but it’s good for the tag team division too. If there’s a good chemistry then it adds a tag team that have history, chemistry, and a reason to be. At first I thought this made the result of the show more predictable, but i’m no longer sure that’s true. While there are still teams that have more chemistry to make a good team, any team will have enough history to make them believable. Saying that, I think the better tag teams would be Bryan & Bateman and Ziggler & Saxton – the only problem being that both pros would arguably be held back by the pairings.
The second development was the introduction of the ability for pros to trade their rookies. It was Dolph Ziggler that took that opportunity, trading the doomed Jacob Novak for Byron Saxton. Indeed, I have a feeling that this was only introduced to save face for the red hot Ziggler, not wanting his terrible rookie to drag him down in elimination. This effect was only catalysed by having Novak lose to Saxton straight after the switch. This is another unique feature for the show, which thrives on these ‘reality’ style characteristics.
Brodus Clay and Johnny Curtis had a pretty good showing. Earlier, Curtis had created some heat with Clay after punching him in the mouth during the ‘MC Challenge’ to prove a point. Later on, he showed impressive aggression against the intimidating Clay, really taking the match to him. If it wasn’t for that, it would be a pretty unspectacular affair, so in that sense, good job to them. Clay, however, being booked like a monster, went over eventually. He looks to me like WWE’s current favourite.
The final order of business was the first elimination of the series, and it was a no-brainer. Jacob Novak’s gimmick is outdated and poorly realised. As Ziggler told him earlier, something like “all you are is a white jacket.” He isn’t charismatic, he has a bad look, and isn’t a good enough wrestler. He has a long way to go.
Because I don’t know when i’ll next post on NXT, I’ll give my thoughts and rankings (in divisions) on the remaining rookies:
1) Johnny Curtis – Has really developed of late in terms of character. He’s got a good look, a good back-story, and is likable (in an age where really successful faces are few and far between).
2) Derrick Bateman – His OTT ‘manly’ gimmick seems quite contemporary to me. He can be funny, and especially with Bryan as a pro, could get over.
3) Byron Saxton – An excellent personality, and among the better wrestlers on the show. A little generic perhaps, but a good prospect.
4) Brodus Clay – My initial favourite. He’s certainly intimidating, but I don’t think he realises his character quite well enough. In the ring, he’s pretty pedestrian apart from the odd well-executed suplex. I can’t imagine him putting on compelling matches.
5) Conor O’Brian – The thing is, he seems like a decent wrestler, and someone who could probably get over. But the rat gimmick is so stupid, he shouldn’t even be considered.