I love NXT. In fact, I think it’s my favorite wrestling show of the week. RAW has become too long and drawn out, and while Main Event can be fun (haven’t brought myself to watch Superstars yet), NXT is fresh and new. Each week, I can count on seeing at least one thing I haven’t seen before, which is a rarity when you’re a longtime wrestling fan.
So, we’ll make the NXT Top 10 a bi-weekly segment here at Number Two Contenders. Remember, this does not take into account any stars with WWE experience; I’m only looking at the purely developmental talents.
I took the following factors into consideration when compiling my list:
- In-Ring Talent
- Current character / gimmick
- Verbal skills / mic talent
- “It” factor, the je ne sais quoi that draws attention to a superstar.
- Most people are going to think I’m crazy, but I actually have dropped NXT champion Adrian Neville out of my Top 10. Part of that is simply because he did not compete on either of the shows between this rankings and the last one. The other one is that I’m still not sold on where they go with him in the future. I don’t like his mic work, I don’t see him having a specific character, and guys who are only talented in the ring never get very far in WWE.
- Jason Jordon fell out of the Top 10 this week, though he had some great moments in his tag match against Cassady and Amore. He and Dillinger have potential, though. It’s a shame they’re not in the tag title tournament.
Alright, top 10 time. For those new members of the group, I’ll give a floor and ceiling. For everyone else, go read my last column.
#10 - Kalisto (Last time: Unranked)
I know some of you are going to give me a hard time because Kalisto didn’t appear on either of the last two NXT’s either, but consider this penance for not having him in my original rankings. I was completely blown away by his work; the no-hands rope hand-spring stands out as one of the few times I’ve stood up and cheered during a wrestling match of late. Had to rewatch it 3 or 4 times just to marvel at the seeming lack of gravity.
I hear that Kalisto and Sin Cara are going to be favorites for the NXT tag belts, but I think Kalisto could be on the WWE roster right now. He’s Juventud Guerrera if he stumbles and the next Rey Mysterio if he succeeds. Yet another reason we need a Light Heavyweight title, WWE!
#9 - CJ Parker (Last time: Unranked)
I’ll get this out of the way first and foremost: I don’t like CJ Parker. I don’t like his look, I don’t like his gimmick and I don’t like his finisher. He comes off like Bo Dallas with a social conscience, which defeats the entire purpose of being Bo Dallas, if you ask me.
His floor is easy to see - just pick any borderline enhancement level talent of the last 5-10 years. If you want specifics, he’s Adam Rose or Fandango, but without the potential. I have a hard time seeing his ceiling as being anything more than Dean Douglas; a flash in the pan talent who hits the mid-card briefly, then fizzles out.
This ranking is purely based on the amount of NXT screen time he has received as of late. Unless I see something bigger from him in the next few weeks, he’ll be out of the Top 10 for sure.
#8 - Colin Cassady and Enzo Amore (Last time: Cassady ranked 8th)
NXT seems to be the place to be if you’re a fan of tag team wrestling. The WWE tag belts are being defended on the Summer Slam pre-show this year, yet NXT will be dominated by the #1 contender tournament for the next few weeks.
Big Cass and Enzo have got the pre-match patter down, and while they were pretty much dominated by Jordon and Dillinger on this past NXT, they picked up the victory. I haven’t seen a whole lot of Enzo Amore, so I can’t really tell how much in-ring talent he has, but he’s got the “irritating talker” part down cold.
As a tag team, they’ve got New Age Outlaws potential if they can polish up their verbal skills and continue being annoying. If not, I see them being a Deuce and Domino type tag team; gone before you know it.
#7 - Mojo Rawley (Last week: 9th)
I still don’t like the “Get Hyped, Stay Hyped” schtick, though he did showcase some more in-depth mic skills in an interview with Renee. He also gets a little bit of credit for not using his finisher, though that wasn’t necessarily his doing. Mainly, Mojo gets the bump here because of his tag team partner. More on that later.
#6 - The Vaudevillains (Last week: 3rd)
Also not appearing on NXT were the Vaudevillains. Why are they in the rankings, but Neville is not? Well, for one, the tag team tournament guarantees their relevance for at least another week.
Mostly, though? I love them, and it’s my column, so they’re ranked. If you wanted objective rankings, look elsewhere.
#5 - Sami Zayn (Last week: 4th)
I don’t see him and Adam Rose making huge waves in the tag team tournament, but he at least had some mic and in-ring time. I think we might eventually see a Neville vs. Zayn feud, which will be very fun to watch.
#4 - Bull Dempsey (Last week: 7th)
Since I’ve already admitted to being completely subjective, I’ll just come right out and say it: Bull Dempsey is my favorite NXT superstar. I love the whole thing, except for the outfit, but I’m even coming to terms with that. His interplay with Mojo Rawley was hilarious (especially the “Stop it” piece), and I now have a reason to cheer for Mojo, which is not something I ever thought I’d say (at least until he becomes a Bo-liever. I still think it’s happening.)
Dempsey, like so many other talents, needs a new finisher. We Twitter wrestling fans debated on the right move for him; the Oklahoma Slam was a clear favorite. I hope we see Dempsey and Rawley last a while in the tournament, then they can feud for a while.
I fully expect Dempsey to be one of those post- Wrestlemania 31 call-ups. He’s going to be very, very good.
#3 - Charlotte (Last week: 5th)
I’ve already used her match with Becky Lynch in a previous column, but she’s really the total package. She could be on WWE right now, and actually would make a lovely addition to the AJ / Paige feud. Like the next two talents, she’s ready for the big time. She just needs her shot.
#2 - Tyler Breeze (Last week: 1st)
I still am as high on Tyler as ever. In fact, the WannaBreeze and the Era of Gorgeous only makes me more confident in his eventual WWE success. He drops slightly just because his quick squash over Angelo Dawkins wasn’t a whole lot to write home about, and he needs a different finisher.
If he doesn’t win the NXT title, it’s only because he’s going to be in WWE too quickly to bother giving him the strap.
#1 - The Ascension (Last week: 2nd)
Konnor and Viktor earned the top spot with their mic work after destroying another opponent who didn’t even make a tag. (In fact, I’m not even sure he had a partner). Letting Viktor handle the meat of it while giving Konnor the tag line was a perfect way to go for them; short and sweet is the way to go with The Ascension.
Whoever wins the tournament wins the NXT titles, only so The Ascension can be WWE bound. Truthfully, they should just vacate the titles since there isn’t any worthy competition. I’m still hoping they join Kane in a stable, but if Lesnar does win the WWE title and is only part-time, Konnor and Viktor could be two new Heyman guys to stand between any challengers and the Beast Incarnate.