There are, as always, a lot of directions one could go when reflecting back on last night’s NXT. I could discuss the debut of one Solomon Crowe, which I liked a whole lot more than my compatriots Jason and Liam did. (Obviously Crowe isn’t big enough to take over the whole show, but he’s starting with Parker, just like Owens did, so that’s something.)
I could also spend my time in mourning over the way my favorite NXT tandem, the Vaudevillains, have become so much of an afterthought that they were, for all intents and purposes, squashed by Enzo and Cass, a duo I don’t like as much as many of you do.
Instead, I will choose to spend the majority of my time talking about an NXT talent who honestly is likely not going to be spending much more time at Full Sail University. I speak, of course, of Adrian Neville.
Those who know me are well aware that I’ve never been sold on “The Man that Gravity Hesitates before Remembering”. (If it forgot him altogether, he’d be unable to reach the ground. He could never be pinned, I suppose, but he’d be counted out CONSTANTLY.) I admired his work in the ring to an extent, but I really worried that the lack of character development and his “meh” promo skills wouldn’t translate to the WWE roster. And, to be honest, I still feel that way.
However, just as the Royal Rumble Triple Threat match was the moment when I fully and completely bought into Seth Rollins as a main event superstar, last night’s match between Neville and Owens was when I became completely convinced that Adrian Neville is WWE ready.
I’m not going to take the time to review the match – My NAI teammate @BaneOfWrestling did that in his NXT review, which I encourage you to check out. What I will do, however, is pinpoint the single moment when I hopped on board the “Mighty Mouse” bandwagon.
It wasn’t the 450 splash, though that was good. It wasn’t the reverse-Hurricanrana, though that made me cringe. (Honestly, I give more credit to Owens for taking that like a champ).
It was the deadlift German Suplex.
(This would be the point where I’d link to the .gif or the video, provided I had any technical expertise. Such is life – Google it, friends.)
Up until that moment, Adrian Neville, to me, was a cruiserweight. He had skills, there’s no doubt, but he was still “just a high flyer”. I enjoy aerial acrobatics, but I can list a number of guys who excel in that area and get nowhere in WWE. Justin Gabriel comes to mind, and he was so dis-satisfied with his WWE career that he quit and went skydiving.
But that suplex. . . Wow. . . Being able to lift Kevin Owens, who is no small man, completely on his own strength, slowly bring him back for the German, and then execute a picture perfect bridge?
That’s some Cesaro-level stuff right there!
That’s what sold me. If Neville can “flip, flop and fly”, to quote Old-Dust himself, AND pull off some Antonio-style feats of strength. . . I don’t know if he needs a perfectly formed gimmick: That kind of talent is going to succeed in WWE.
I don’t need him in a mask and cape, WWE, but let this guy have 10 minutes a night with talents like Ziggler and Rollins (or even Fandango and Swagger), and this guy is going to make you some SERIOUS money.
I’ll take the time here to bring up what might be my favorite stable / booking idea I’ve ever had, and I’ll give all the credit in the world to my good friend Josh Petrie ( @jpetrie18 ) for co-creating it.
The World Elite
A group of international (though it doesn’t have to be all “foreigners”), supremely gifted wrestlers – NOT sports entertainers, but WRESTLERS – who essentially can run roughshod on WWE anytime they want.
My original pairing was Cesaro and Rusev. Tyson Kidd is now a natural third member, and after last night, Adrian Neville joins the squad. All four of these guys in matching “amateur style” windbreakers (Kidd can keep his headphones) wrestling circles around their competition? To quote Shannon Scott from when I mentioned this idea last night on Twitter, shut up and take my money.
This can happen, WWE. All the pieces are in place. Now you’ve just got to put them together.
What do YOU think? What stood out from you on NXT? Is Neville ready for the next step? Be Heard.