Cewsh Scouts NXT 2014

Welcome back to the Cewsh Institute for Careful Observation and Contextual Knowledge. We here at COCK have made it our goal to offer detailed scouting reports on the best in brightest in WWE’s development program for the past two years, and with the internet abuzz with rumors of some imminent callups to the big leagues, it seems to be the perfect time to don our lab coats and enter the data mines once again in order to tell you everything you need to know about these talented, (and in some cases not so talented,) men and women before they come crashing through your television set to attack John Cena with a frying pan.

Hey, Man. Frying Pans Are Dangerous.

So what follows here is a detailed breakdown of the most significant figures in NXT currently, by myself, and my comrade in science, Artie. We’ll list out their strengths and weaknesses, and assign our grades for each prospective superstar based on how much potential they have, along with a firm statement on whether or not we think they are ready to be called up to the main roster. Make sense? Alright then, let’s get out our graphing calculators, try to figure out what these slide rules are for, and get right into the breakdown!

NXT Champion – Adrian Neville

 

 

Pros:
– Great look
– Tons of worldwide experience for someone in their mid 20s
– Unparalleled high flyer who can get over with his moveset alone
– Open support from his peers and agents
Cons:
– Slightly easier to understand than the Great Khali
– N/A
– N/A

 

Last Year’s Analysis:

Cewsh: Adrian Neville is an extraordinary performer. Every time I had seen him before he was signed by WWE, he immediately drew my attention and stole the show, whether it was Dragon Gate, NWE or anywhere else. Coming in, many thought that he wouldn’t be able to gracefully transition to the WWE style, but he’s shut all those people right the hell up by fountaining awesomeness all over match he’s been a part of. In terms of in ring skills and wow factor, he was ready yesterday, and is at least as good as Evan Bourne was when he debuted.

BUT, this isn’t just about in ring skills. When it comes to promos and acting, Neville is still very much still in progress. And I think it says something about how is seen by the people in charge that he has been at the top of the tag division with multiple partners since coming in the door, but has not been pushed seriously as a singles wrestler. His matches might lead you to think he’s ready, but another year would do him wonders.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeB-

Ready For Main RosterNo

Cewsh: Good news, guys! It did!

A year ago when we did this scouting report, Neville was mired in a tag team with Corey Graves that wasn’t doing anything for him, and he hadn’t gotten the chance to show much beyond his great moveset. But when Big E Langston got called up to the main roster full time, and NXT needed a new top babyface, it was Neville who got chosen, even over NXT wunderkind Sami Zayn to be that new champion. He ended the reign of Bo Dallas, stole the hearts of NXT fans, and has been having truly fantastic matches with a wide range of opponents ever since. His high flying style is unlike anything in WWE today, and his international loyalty is exactly what WWE is looking for in up and coming babyfaces to present to their global audience. If the man isn’t on the main roster by Survivor Series, i’ll be stunned.

Hearing that, you might expect his prospect grade to be through the roof, but i’m not going to go crazy here. Neville’s lack of size, thick accent, (which has gotten noticeably easier to understand this year,) and style will make it difficult him to rise above a certain point in WWE unless he shows himself to be a truly transcendent talent. Most likely, he will enjoy a great career as a babyface just below the main event, and that’s reflected in the grade. With that said, there are several people who we will cover here that I will deem ready for the main roster, but the past year has made one thing perfectly clear. Adrian Neville is the next in line.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeB+

Ready For Main RosterYes

Artie: One year ago, I was not highly impressed. PAC was one of the stars of Independent wrestling to emerge from England, with his highly impressive high-flying style, funny-looking face, and a body carved from stone. His first year or so in WWE he was stuck in tag teams, not allowed to show what he could do in a singles capacity. I feel like WWE didn’t have much faith in Neville on his own due his stature and impossible-to-understand accent, but I can assure you, they were wrong. Since breaking out on his own in 2014, Neville has never ceased to impress me. He has the ability to have a good match with someone less than stellar like Brodus Clay and have great matches someone like Tyson Kidd. Neville’s unique ring style couple with his ability to adapt to his opponents’ style makes him on the top top TOP talents in NXT today.Neville is one of those talents who should adapt and thrive beautifully on the WWE main roster. If he isn’t called up by year’s end, I’ll be shocked.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: A+

Ready For Main Roster: Yes

Potential Gifability:

 

A+

 

NXT Women’s Champion – Charlotte

 

 

Pros:
– Tremendous natural athlete
– One of the quickest learners in NXT history
– Her dad is kind of famous. That might come up.
Cons:
– Still a long way to go in terms of showing personality
– Needs to be carried in longer matches
– She’s a 28 year old rookie

 

Last Year’s Analysis:

 

CewshN/A
Cewsh’s Prospect GradeN/A

Ready For Main RosterN/A
 

Cewsh: Charlotte is Ric Flair’s daughter. We have to start there in our report of her, because at this point in her career, it is still perhaps the most significant thing about her place in the wrestling business. Obviously Ric Flair’s children have tried wrestling before, and that ended very, very poorly for both David and Reid, so when you hear that the 28 year old, volleyball playing Flair daughter is giving it a whirl, you’d be totally justified in not expecting much. That makes it all the more impressive to see how good that Chalotte has gotten so fast.

I’m prone to hyperbole I know, but Charlotte has gone from 100% green to carryable to genuinely skilled in her own right faster than anyone I can think of since Brock Lesnar. She hasn’t reached the levels that he did, or anything close to it, but thus far her learning curve hasn’t even been a curve. It’s just a gently sloping line leading directly to awesomeness. Honestly, I wish I could give her a more positive grade here, but again, this is her rookie year. She has no business on the main roster just yet, and she has a long way to go in terms of showing personality, especially compared to naturals at it like her partner Sasha. And then there’s the fact that she’s 28, when the vast majority of women in wrestling leave in their early 30s. Not all of them do, and there’s probably still a good while before that comes up. But it’s something to keep in mind.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeB-

Ready For Main RosterNo

Artie: Charlotte is another one of the lady wrestlers who came into NXT with seemingly nothing in terms of skill, but had a raw talent. One year into her NXT run and she has improved in the ring by leaps and bounds. Initially I wrote her off as another second generation wrestler who would slack off in the ring and live off daddy’s name, but man, she has really stepped up her game, particularly in the last 4-5 months. I assume a lot of this has to do with Sara Del Ray, as Charlotte’s in-ring moves and fluidity seems to mimic that of the NXT women’s trainer. Charlotte is a force to be reckoned with down in Florida and she’s doing the Flair legacy proud.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: B+

Ready For Main Roster: NOT quite yet, but soon.

 

 

Potential Gifability:

 

B

 

NXT Tag Team Champions – The Ascension

 

 

Pros:
– Look and gimmick that will immediately draw interest
– Strong chemistry as a team
– Cool entrance
Cons:
– The matches are bad. Like, really not good at all.
– Those matches are bad because of Conor
– Basically Conor is the entire con list

 

Last Year’s Analysis:

Cewsh Note: They weren’t an official team at the time. But this is what I has to say about Conor:

CewshCewsh: On his own, Connor O’Brian is basically the Boogeyman without the fun.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I know that this entry is going to sound mean, and I would like to point out that I have nothing against the man and he may very well be capable of changing my mind. It happens all the time. But here’s the book on Connor:

He has great size, and an interesting look, though he just doesn’t seem to fit his gimmick as this gothic weirdo the way that the other members of the Ascension have. In his years in wrestling, he’s always had the reputation for being someone whose look wasn’t quite there, and whose matches were a great excuse to take up a new hobby, such as self face stabbing for example. This hasn’t changed. And while he is perfectly fine in a tag team where he can just do power moves from time to time and be protected by his partner, WWE is not a tag team heavy promotion. Eventually he would have to set out on his own. And, yeah. He won’t.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeD

Ready For Main RosterNo
 

Cewsh: Well luckily he IS back in a tag team now. And even more luckily, his partner now, Rick Victor, is endlessly better at doing the leg work in matches than Kenneth Cameron ever was. So while I remain extreme dubious of any singles potential these guys might ever have, The Ascension is the best that it has ever been.

If you’ve never seen the Ascension before, the selling point for them is that they have a cool gothic look, about eight tons of intensity, (each,) and they smash through teams in a satisfying squashy way. They’ve never really been tested in a long match of any significance, and there’s really no way of knowing how well their gimmick will translate to the main roster, as they would basically be as cool as the production staff were able to make them look.

Essentially, this is a gimmick with potential, filled by wrestlers with much less. That has worked plenty of times before in WWE, but the long term value here is limited.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeB-

Ready For Main RosterYes, (in that they are unlikely to improve any further.)

Artie: Conor and Viktor of The Ascension couldn’t be any less interesting inside and outside of the ring…on their own. As a team, though, they’ve established themselves as a monstrous presence in NXT. The troubling thing is that NXT has lacked any sort of tag team division throughout the duration of their reign as champs. They’ve battled against jobber teams, Too Cool, and the newly-established team Lucha. Basically, they’ve had no real competition. No real chance to show their goods. I know what they can bring to wrestling from a character standpoint and I’ve seen their key moves, but I really have no clue how cohesively these two can put together a wrestling match. The main roster is depleted on tag teams, which could lead to these two getting called up before they’re ever actually ready.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: B-

Ready For Main Roster: No

Potential Gifability
B
Number 1 Contender – Tyler Breeze
Pros:
– The strongest character in NXT right now
– Unwavering commitment to his gimmick
– Simply does not have bad matches
Cons:
– In ring style is solid, but rarely exciting
– May not be room on the main roster for another cocky, vain heel
– Needs a new finisher
Last Year’s Analysis:
CewshN/A
Cewsh’s Prospect GradeA

Ready For Main RosterYes
 

Cewsh: Mike Dalton’s transformation into the self obsessed fashionplate that is Tyler Breeze has been nothing short of sensational. He went from a guy that I referred to as “a less interesting Shannon Moore” to the strongest character in all of NXT, and it really is quite a success story. But how does this selfie taking, tassel wearing, piece of man candy project as a main roster star? Well, that’s hard to say. Breeze’s actual promo ability is still spotty, (they’ve done a great job of masking that with pretaped interviews and promo videos,) and WWE has a glut of these kind of cocky midcard heels at the moment. It will be a challenge for Breeze to separate himself from a guy like Fandango, who could easily become his tag team partner within 3 months of joining the roster, (which would be a disaster for Breeze.)

The thing that Breeze has working for him is his faultness in ring work, which is crisp and consistantly right on target. This is a character that could be transported fully to Raw, without needing to give the fans a lot of time to process the new character and understand what it’s about, like we’ve seen recently with the more complex Bray Wyatt, Paige and Emma. I think more time in NXT could benefit Breeze, but should that call from the main office come, I believe he’ll be ready to meet the challenge.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeB

Ready For Main RosterYes

Artie: Oh, hello there Prince pretty. Cewsh once named this guy the most generic man in WWE developmental, back when he was Mike Dalton, but my oh my has he come a long way since. Not everyone is a fan of his ring work, but Breeze really does have the chops in the squared circle. His character is above and beyond everyone in NXT and he just sweats charisma. I see Breeze going FAAAAAAR in the WWE for some absurd reason.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: A-

Ready For Main Roster: YES

Potential Gifability:
B+

 

Sami Zayn

 

 

Pros:
– Everything
– Everything else
– Yes, that too
Cons:
– Is not Brock Lesnar
– Seriously, I’m grasping at straws here
– May leave the toilet seat up (unconfirmed)

 

Last Year’s Analysis:

 

Cewsh: Sami Zayn is the former El Generico, and he has made more noise since debuting on May 22nd than perhaps any other individual in NXT. His matches with Antonio Cesaro have been nothing short of breathtaking, and he’s shown an easy charm that has made him a clear audience favorite from the word go. Oddly enough, I never rated him highly during his time on the independent scene, though I saw the potential there, but he truly has blossomed in a big way since coming to WWE. A mixture of a luchadore and a classic style babyface, Zayn has every tool at his disposal to be WWE’s new underdog sensation if he plays his card right. A great look, decent size, a terrific repertoire of moves and the wherewithal to make them count.

Honestly, the question isn’t whether or not Sami Zayn is ready for the main roster, it’s whether or not the main roster is ready for Sami Zayn.

Cewsh’s Prospect GradeA

Ready For Main RosterYes
 

Cewsh: See that up there? Yeah, exact same thing this year. Except even more so, now that Triple H has particularly singled Zayn out as the standout talent of NXT. You will see this man sooner than later, and his debut will be one to remember.

Cewsh’s Prospect Grade: A

Ready For Main Roster: Yes

Artie: The crown jewel of NXT. In his first year with the company, he’s had great feuds with Bo Dallas (NXT champion at the time), Cesaro, and now with Tyler Breeze. In all of these feuds, Sami has pulled the absolute best out of his opponents, while showcasing only a margin of his talents and making everyone (and NXT itself) look better. Zayn is a guy who has received tremendous praise from EVERY top WWE performer and whom Triple H has personally endorsed. If Sami Zayn isn’t the most complete package to ever be dropped off at NXT’s doorstep then I have no clue what more anyone could want.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: A+

Ready For Main Roster: ABSOLUTELY Yes

Potential Gifability:

 

A

 

Corey Graves

 

 

Pros:
– A must-follow on Twitter for his hilarious commentary on WWE shows
– Unique look (now that CM Punk is gone)
– N/A
Cons:
– Rough promo skills
– Rougher in ring skills
– What’s the opposite of charismatic? Citamsiahc? Yeah.

 

Last Year’s Analysis:

 

Cewsh: Please don’t slap me with a fish.

The single most common complaint that we got on our scouting report last year was about Corey Graves. The man has supporters all over these fair internets, and while I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me at the time, Graves has really blossomed since the change in format to NXT. He’s a comfortable talker, his look stands out, and he clearly has the support of the office because he is one of the 5 or so most pushed people in developmental. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the main roster sooner, rather than later. But even saying that, a lot of my reservations from last time remain, if not quite so severe as before. His matches are not involving, which is worrying in a performer with so much experience under his belt, and I find that he gets overshadowed very easily around other charismatic performers. I don’t think that’s something that he’ll be able to fix in NXT, but it makes him a risky call up for the main roster. So does he belong there? Let’s say that I think that he’s as ready as he will ever get.

I’m not quite certain what the future holds for Graves. But it certainly does seem like I’m being forced to eat my words. And my fish.


Cewsh’s Prospect GradeC

Ready For Main RosterYes
 

Cewsh: The first year that we covered Corey Graves, I said that you could slap me with a fish if he was actually successful in WWE. The second year we covered him, I noted that he had improved quite a bit, and suggested that I was ready to accept my fate of fish slappery. Now, in the third year of these scouting reports, I don’t know what to do with this fucking fish, but it’s starting to stink up the house.

A year ago, Graves was a tag team champion with Neville, and really appeared to be on the cusp of debuting on the main roster. Now, having apparently suffered his second concussion, it’s not clear whether or not Graves’ career will even be able to continue. Rumors are circulating that his in ring career may well be over, and my heart goes out to the man, as it is always tragic whenever a career is cut short for reasons out of the performer’s hands. But sadly, even if he does continue wrestling, and the report is false, I just don’t know what kind of future he could even have. After losing the tag titles, Graves really fell back into his old ways, with forgettable matches and heatless angles. The man is simply overshadowed in every encounter by nearly every over significant talent in NXT, and after several years of waiting for him to break through, I don’t know how much longer we’re supposed to wait.

I want to be respectful to Corey Graves, but I always want to be truthful. I hope that he has a long, fantastic career ahead of him. I just don’t think it is inside of a WWE ring.

Cewsh’s Prospect Grade: C-

Ready For Main Roster: No

Artie: God, I never thought it would be possible for someone so shit to just get worse. As I mentioned in the 2013 scouting report, Corey Graves’ only high point is his selling ability. Well, his selling ability ain’t done shit for him in the last year. Remember how I mentioned all those great Sami Zayn feuds and how he brings out the best in his opponents? Well, there’s one blemish on Zayn’s report card and it’s named Corey Graves. Even at his best in a match with Zayn, Graves failed to deliver. Total yawnz from this guy.

Artie’s Prospect Grade: F

Ready For Main Roster: No

Potential Gifability:

 

F
Bayley

 

Pros:
– Relentlessly likable
– Easy to translate character
– Very solid in the ring
Cons:
– Still needs experience in the ring
– Still needs experience out of the ring
– You and I both know that people are going to compare her to Eugene
Cewsh: Bayley is one of the many Shimmer alums who have come together to form the next generation of the WWE Divas division. Along with Paige, Emma and Becky Lynch, Bayley represents someone who plied their trade against some of the best women’s wrestlers on Earth and then came to NXT, giving her every match a backbone of quality that simply did not exist in mainstream women’s wrestling until recently. Of those 4 women, Bayley is by far the least polished, though that’s more of a compliment to the others than it is an insult to her. Bayley’s innocent fangirl character has gotten tremendously over with the NXT crowd, and I think it’s one of the easier gimmicks to translate to mainstream audiences, so she basically has success built in right from the get go.
With that said, it would be a mistake to call Bayley up at this point. She has plenty of potential, and she’ll be a credit to the division eventually, but she isn’t a transcendent talent like Paige, or a white hot character like Emma, so there’s no reason to rush her, and more experience with her character and in the ring will do her nothing but good. I look forward to seeing the future days when Bayley is excitingly hugging WWE legends while they give her strange looks, but for now, this is a project under construction.
Cewsh’s Prospect Grade: B

Ready For Main Roster: No

Artie: Sweet, sweet Bayley, has unfortunately spent most of the last year in the shadow of Paige and the BFFs, but she really is a firecracker. With so many NXT call-ups on the diva’s side, they’ve finally started pushing Bayley and are trying to reestablish her character, which is awesome. Unfortunately, being kept in back for most of the last year has hindered what I thought would be an instant call-up a year ago. I’d say Bayley has all the necessary tools, but she could really benefit from another year of hanging out in NXT and establishing her in-ring work with the larger WWE audience through the NXT PPVs.
Artie’s Prospect Grade: B

Ready For Main Roster: No

 
Potential Gifability:
B
Kalisto

 

 

Pros:
-Mesmerizing to watch
– Cool look
– Very adaptable to other in ring styles
Cons:
– Small
– Not big
– Basically, Rey Mysterio calls him “Tiny Tim”
Cewsh: Kalisto, who indy fans might know better as Samurai Del Sol, was one of the more surprising signings in WWE’s scouring of the independent scene. The man is certainly talented, and has always had an interesting look to go along with his flashy moves, but even in this era where smaller superstars have risen to the top of the industry, a guy THIS small is still going to have some trouble. And by some trouble, I mean ALL of the trouble. Kalisto is going to have to prove that he is talented to the point where people will be able to look past his constant size disadvantage and see him as a threat to 7 foot tall monsters, and considering that the only person to successfully do it before him is one of the most incredible and unique talents in wrestling history, this is not going to be an easy road to walk.
We still haven’t seen a ton of Kalisto thus far, mostly we’ve seen him teaming up with El Locale in a glorified jobber team, so it remains to be seen whether or not he can rise to meet this challenge. But if it comes down to pure talent and nothing else, Kalisto might well be a dark horse from this generation of NXTers.
Cewsh’s Prospect Grade: B-

Ready For Main Roster: No

 

Potential Gifability:

 

A+

 

—————————————-

Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our report on what your favorite indy stars who TOTALLY SOLD OUT TO THE MAN, MAN are up to. In the next installment of our NXT scouting report series, we’ll finish things up by focusing on four talent that are homegrown WWE developed talents, (except for one,) and who are perhaps the 4 most interesting people in the entire report. We have a boss, a scoundrel, a hype man and THE hype man. Who are we talking about? You’ll just have to wait and see. So until next time, remember to keep reading, and be good to one another.

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