Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017 – Part 2

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Welcome, cats and kittens, to PART TWO of Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017! We have one scouting report down and four to go, and it’s time to go even further down the NXT rabbit hole to get you acquainted with the stars of tomorrow.

Now, for those of you who are new and unsure of what Cewsh Scouts is, in the past we have done some detailed scouting on both NXT and New Japan to help people get an idea for who these up and coming characters are before they pop onto your television screen, and to sort of give you a sense of whether it’s important to keep an eye on them yet or not. We’ve had a pretty remarkable success rate at predicting next level talent thus far, so let’s see if we can do it again!

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There are a few changes to the reports this year. In addition to the Pros and Cons, the Prospect Grade and the Readiness to Be Called Up, i’ll also be grading the quality of their current entrance theme and concept, the quality and translatability of their gimmick as it is currently being presented, and the effectiveness of their finishing move as a branding tool to help get them over. Alright, now let’s get started.

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Asuka – NXT Women’s Champion

Non-WWE Exposure: Shimmer, Every Joshi Company

Entrance Grade: A

Gimmick Grade: A

Finisher Grade:

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A

Pros:

The Best Female In Ring Performer WWE Has Ever Had

Incredibly Interesting and Original Look

Promos Are Getting Very Good

Cons:

Um…

Er….

A Lot Of People Are Going To Pronounce Her Name Wrong?

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I should probably leave this for the “Overall” section, but i’ll just put it here to cut to the chase. Asuka is the most talented, interesting and credible woman that WWE has ever employed. If they manage to ruin a surefire Hall of Famer then it will be a bigger indictment of WWE booking than anything else that has transpired since the Invasion. Now let’s talk about why.

In the Ring

Joshi, as a concept and as a wrestling style, all but died out at the end of the 90s. The demand wasn’t there and the marketable stars either quit to start families or splintered off into small individual companies. Several of those companies kept going for awhile, but Joshi wasn’t something on the radar of even the most ardent Japanese wrestling fans for years. Until the new generation of Joshi arrived. Including names like Syuri, Ayumi Kurihara and, now elder stateswomen, Ayako Hamada and Meiko Satomura, these woman put Joshi back on the map in a big way. But of all of them, the star that emerged burning the brightest was Kana. She was so savvy and talented that she made the wrestling world fall in love with her and was elevated above Joshi itself to another level. Over the next few years she had every feud there was to have, and then traveled to America to become a top star in Shimmer overnight.

I’m telling you this, not only because it’s super interesting, but moreso to explain what he in ring style is. She is descended from those glory Joshi days of the 90s, with the off the charts fire and intensity, as well as a striking style that is literally unmatched among women competing in this country. But her American experience has also given her a great skill for adaptability, and gave her the smallest learning curve for all of the Japanese talent, with the exception of perhaps Nakamura himself.

Asuka attacks with strikes and submissions, and has probably 4 or 5 finishers that she uses interchangeably and gets reactions for all of them. It’s ridiculously difficult to get half of your moveset over as credible finishers, but she has managed it. She’s lightning fast, owns the crowd, and can play both face and heel equally effectively.  Her matches are a highlight of any show she’s on, and frankly, she’s getting better.

Can I make this any clearer? WWE has never seen a talent like this. Her only flaw is making others look shabby by comparison.

Outside of the Ring

Asuka’s character is transitioning a bit at the moment. Fir most of her NXT run, she was a babyface with a great deal of mystique, who crushed people Goldberg style. Recently, in her feud with Ember Moon, she’s shown off some great cocky heel work that fits great with how unbeatable they have portrayed her. Her promos are coming along wonderfully, she has a great sense for timing and comedy, and the entire Asuka presentation is just incredibly eye catching, from her Japanese Noh style mask, to the vibrant colors she wears everywhere. It’s impossible to miss.

Now, with that said, it’s relatively easy for her at the moment, because when you’re the person who always destroys everyone, it’s more about the look of the thing than it is trying to carry programs based on your skill and personality. I believe she can do it, but they’ve been cautious about overexposing her in this way. That’s wise, but it makes it difficult to tell what her ceiling as an out of ring performer really is.

Overall

Main roster, shmame mobster. She’s the empress of tomorrow, of today, and of any other damn time you’d like to name. When you hear her music hit during Raw or Smackdown, text your friends. You won’t want to miss it.

Prospect Grade: A+

Ready For Call Up: Yes

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DIY

Non-WWE Exposure: ROH

Entrance Grade: B-

Gimmick Grade: B

Finisher Grade:

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B

Pros:

Tons Of Cred With Smark Audience

Good Teamwork and Chemistry

Johnny Gargano Is An Incredible Babyface

Cons:

Fun At Small Scale Promos, But Not Setting The World On Fire

They Need Great Opponents To Shine

Presentation Is Pretty Generic

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Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa started their life in NXT as a supremely random team who had little in common in terms of character or ring style, and who have somehow become arguably the top good guy tag team in NXT history. Life is weird.

In the Ring

Between the two of these guys, they sum up and represent the indy scene as a whole. Johnny Gargano gets you the best of that stream-opf consciousness style that links up spot after spot in quick succession, and combines it with thoughtful and inventive moves that are a joy to watch. Ciampa, who was kind of a monster on the indy scene but is barely average sized in WWE, is all about hard hitting strikes and devastating, high velocity offense. You wouldn’t think these two styles would mesh together super well, but somehow this conglomeration of all of the indy wrestling styles has resulted in something smooth and joyful to watch.

With that said, the best thing about this team is Gargano, and the tremendous work he does selling as an underdog babyface. He’s the heart of this team, and he’ll make some money as an undersized, big heart kind of good guy.

Outside of the Ring

Sort of what you’d expect from career indy guys. Their promos aren’t great, but are certainly solid, and they have a great sense of humor when they get a chance to show it. Their entrance, their look and their promos as a package aren’t all that interesting, so they’re a team that is going to need to let their work in the ring do the talking. Luckily for them, it does.

Overall

This isn’t a transcendent team, and I would be willing to bet that if they made it to the main roster, they would wind up getting split up within their first year up there. It’s just too easy to see them as two singles wrestlers stuck together instead of a team, no matter how good their chemistry is. They are ready for the main roster, and it would be a delight to see the matches they could produce, but temper your expectations. They’ll win the titles, but they’ll never be THE team.

Prospect Grade: B

Ready For Call Up: Yes

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Liv Morgan

Non-WWE Exposure: None

Entrance Grade: C-

Gimmick Grade: C-

Finisher Grade:

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C-

Pros:

Boundless Energy

Is Clearly Improving

Gets A Reaction, Which Is Impressive This Early On

Cons:

Gimmick Is Wayyyyy Too Close To Carmella’s

Doesn’t Have A Clear Identity As A Performer

Isn’t Ready For The Spot They Want Her In

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At one point the face of the New Generation of WWE women who had to follow in the footsteps of the Four Horsewomen, she’s fallen off the map a bit, but is someone who you can tell they badly want to find a push for. It’s a matter of time.

In the Ring

There’s in issue in NXT right now, where about half of the roster is veterans and high talent upside men and women, and the other half is green as grass newbies trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Liv had the misfortune of being the first babyface they tried to push after Bayley left and it just didn’t work. Primarily because she just wasn’t ready in the ring in a few ways.

What I love about Liv is her energy, which is infectious and great, and the flashes she shows of real sustainable talent. Unfortunately, those flashes are not the norm, and she has yet to have a match that was better than “fine, I guess.” She isn’t sloppy, as a lot of people in her situation are, but her matches lack identity, and don’t go anywhere. The crowd is usually into the start of them and then is entirely dead by the halfway point. These are the struggles that only time and practice can solve. A lack of veterans to work with is only going to make this harder for her, and i’m not sure anything but a lot of time is going to do anything to improve the situation.

Out of the Ring

It’s hard not to draw a line between the all-Jersey everything character Liv plays and the Long Island Princess that Carmella played in NXT, (which is a little different than the one she portrays on the main roster.) Right now the only thing we really know about Liv is that she really, REALLY likes New Jersey, and likes to stand up for other babyfaces when they’re being bullied. It’s a start, but it’s not anything you could call a character.

She’s a remarkably attractive woman, with an easy charisma to her and I think there’s something interesting to the whole thing if she can put the pieces together. We just haven’t seen it yet.

Overall

If she gets called up in the next 6 months, it will ruin her career. Here’s hoping that somebody upstairs has learned what restraint is.

Prospect Grade: C+

Ready For Call Up: No

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Roderick Strong

Non-WWE Exposure: ROH, PWG, AAA, TNA, NOAH, Dragon Gate

Entrance Grade: D

Gimmick Grade: D

Finisher Grade:

Well, here’s the finisher he was doing before Drew McIntyre showed up using the exact same thing but better:

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C+

So in interest of fairness, here’s a grade for his indy finisher, which is much better:

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B+

Pros:

Worldwide Veteran

Amazingly Adept At Creating Exciting Moves

Doesn’t Really Have Bad Matches

Cons:

Doesn’t Really Have Good Matches

The Word “Boring” Sticks To Him Like Glue

Probably Can’t Use Half Of His Moveset On The Main Roster

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In the Ring

Roderick Strong has Roderick Strong matches. If you never saw him on the indy scene during the past 14 years or so, then I can tell you that the first time you see a Roderick Strong match you will be blown away. The second time you see a Roderick Strong match you will enjoy it. The 400th time you see a Roderick Strong match, you will spend the entire time wondering how a man can be so completely talented without being interesting to watch. Strong has incredible timing in the ring, which helps him pull off his moveset of crazy awesome moves, reversals and variants. He’s always where he needs to be, and I don’t think i’ve ever seen him perform a move poorly in all the time i’ve been watching him. But here in NXT, his matches have been a exposed a little bit as lifeless compared to those around him.

Out of the Ring

It may be weird to say that one of the longest tenured veterans in the company needs training, but if he can just manage to discover some inner wellspring of charisma, or that character that finally clicks for him, he might have a real shot. But it has been 14 years, and he’s shown personality maybe 4 times in that span. I don’t have a lot of hope.

Added to his issue, is some of the worst music in all of WWE, and the generic indy look to end all generic indy looks. I would love to see what Roddy could do with a gimmick of some kind that helps him get away from playing himself.

Overall

If Roderick makes it to the main roster the way he is now, he’ll be Curtis Axel by the end of the year.

Prospect Grade: C

Ready For Main Roster: No

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Patrick Clark

Non-WWE Exposure: None

Entrance Grade: B

Gimmick Grade: F or A, I Can’t Decide

Finisher Grade:

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B

 Pros:

Big Dude!

A Lot Of Fun To Watch

Enough Charisma To Actually Make This Gimmick Work

Cons:

This Fucking Gimmick, Man

Not Exceptional In The Ring

He’s Has Almost No Actual Promo Time On Screen

(Note: Yes, these are exactly the same pros and cons as No Way Jose)

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Honestly, there are times when the wrestling industry still manages to surprise me. After a few months of doing occasional appearances as an enhancement talent who was an athletic blue chipper, one fine Wendesday night, Patrick Clark emerged from behind the curtain as a Prince impersonator to complete bafflement from everyone. And now i’m left to try to make sense of whether that is a great or horrible idea.

In the Ring

Look, the guy is green. He’s as green as the greenest grass in the most well tended shire in Ireland. He’s as green as the very heart of the world’s largest emerald. He’s as green as the other members of the Cewshcast when confronted with my outrageous handsomeness. What i’m saying is dude needs some work.

There are some good building blocks here. Clark has great size and athleticism, and is one of the rare big guys who doesn’t seem super tentative about moving around the ring when they’re starting. He’s already grasped the idea of crowd work, and he conveys his character all the way through his matches, never losing the premise to do basic wrestling school stuff. That’s a very strong step.

Outside of the Ring

Patrick Clark is portraying Prince. Did I not mention that? Yeah, he’s Prince.

The music is great. The outfit is great. He’s been on Tough Enough, so he has some exposure, and he is showing far more personality with this character than I ever believed he had at his disposal. But considering we only have 3 or 4 segments to grade him on, it’s real, real hard to see what kind of legs this may have. That promo he cut on Nakamura up there showed potential, and more importantly, showed a level of comfort that Clark had with the character, but he was still very clunky. I need to see more, but I WANT to see more, which means he’s on the right track.

Overall

Velveteen Dream is an A+ nickname ready for prime time. Nothing else about this is, but i’m hopeful. Gonna keep my eye on this one.

Prospect Grade: B

Ready For Main Roster: No

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Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. Don’t be sad just because it’s over! Remember that there are a whopping THREE more installment of Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017 coming at you, so stay tuned, check back here often for updates, and i’ll see you next time!

One thought on “Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017 – Part 2

  1. Somehow it’s just hitting me now that the Patrick Clark/Nakamura segment was Prince vs Michael Jackson. Two 80s pop star impersonators going at it. In 2016!

    Liv is absolutely miles from being ready. As you say, I hope they show restraint, but it’s hard to see her not getting the fast-track treatment that every other NXT woman not named Bayley has got.

    Like

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