Welcome to the NXT Top Ten, edition 4. It’s been a little while since our last rankings, and a whole lot has happened. We had arguably the event of the year, Takeover: Fatal 4 Way. We’ve had some debuts, both of new NXT talents and of some top tier developmental guys on RAW. Actually, that has required some tweaking, since at the onset of this rankings, I said I wouldn’t include any NXT guys with WWE experience. Since that would mean getting rid of three rankings stalwarts, we’ll now adjust that to say I won’t include any NXT talent who has had a significant WWE run.
Which brings us to Tyson Kidd. I haven’t been including him in my rankings as of yet, and I haven’t had a big problem with that up until now. He wasn’t getting anything resembling a decent push, I thought, so why bother? Well, now he had arguably the strongest showing of the men involved in the Fatal 4 Way, and this whole “fact” thing seems like it is taking off. Should I start ranking him? Help me, #NAIborhood, you’re my only hope! If you want him ranked, then rank him I shall.
(Note: If you’re curious, he’d likely be in the top 5 somewhere this week.)
OK, let’s do some rankings.
Number 10: Hid. . . Nope, I won’t do it. His name is Kenta!
Let’s put aside the name issues for now, since it will just raise my blood pressure. Had these rankings happened right after Takeover (which, in hindsight, should have happened), ‘The Wrestler Formerly Known as Kenta’ would have been ranked higher. His debut appearance was as good as one could have hoped.
However, and maybe I’m in the minority on this, but I was not blown away by his debut match with Justin Gabriel last night. There were some definite ‘strong style’ moments, but did he actually apply a hold or do a move? I recall kicks, elbows, a springboard dropkick that barely connected, and a double stomp that also came very close to missing his target.
Again, I might be crazy, but that match didn’t fill me with excitement over Kenta’s future, nor did his post-match beatdown by The Ascension.
It’s one match, so I’m not pulling an Arnold Skaaland and throwing in the towel on young Kenta, but I’ll need to see a bit more wrestling in order for me to rank him higher in future weeks.
Number 9: Enzo Amore and Big Cass
These two had a strong showing at Takeover, getting the chance to showcase their comedic side, which up until last week, I wasn’t a huge fan of. While their little vignette last night didn’t strike a hilarious chord (maybe it was the wobbly camera-work of one Big Cass that threw me off), adding a third, female member to their gang is not a bad idea, especially if she can wrestle. Please tell me she can wrestle?
*Frantically searches Google*
Ok, ok. . . Looks like she’s a wrestler. . . Crisis averted.
Number 8: Bull Dempsey
Gotta tell ya. . . This hurts a bit. . .
I’ve never claimed (I don’t think) to have an objective rankings. Having said that, I’ll admit that my love for Dempsey has clouded my judgement a bit. He’s been ranked 6th, 4th and 5th up until this point, which is probably too high. Is he amazing? Yes, I truly think so. Does he have a bright WWE future? I really believe that he does. Should he be ranked higher than current NXT title holders? Probably not.
Still, he squashed Mojo at Takeover and looks poised to take on a new challenge in the coming weeks. Sky is still the limit for Mr. Throwback.
Number 7: The Ascension
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. . . Konnor and Viktor, who held the top spot in my rankings just a few weeks ago, have seen their stock tumble mightily. First, they lost the belts at Takeover to the Lucha (Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!) Dragons. Now, this is not a huge deal, since we all seemed to think they were WWE bound, so giving up the belts was a logical step.
Then, they got their butts kicked by a suit-clad Kenta after interrupting his debut promo. Again, on its own, not a big deal, but that was two indignities on NXT’s biggest stage. Anyone who used Takeover as a way to introduce themselves to NXT talents was not going to think The Ascension was poised for a big main roster run.
Now, they’ve taken a bit of revenge on Kenta, but that’s about it. As of this writing, they have not been called up to the main roster, save for a random match here and there. There doesn’t seem to be a set plan for them yet, which explains how they’ve dropped so far.
(Could we see them at NOC this Sunday? Interfere in the tag match? Become Rollins’ new muscle? Dare I say it, but could they attack Cena?)
Number 6: Baron Corbin
If you’ve read my Takeover piece (and if you haven’t, how dare you!), you know that Corbin, in my mind, stole the show one week ago. I mean this sincerely, but when Triple H hinted at more than one debut, the Twitter-verse freaked out, all but convinced we’d see Devitt and / or Steen in an NXT ring.
Seeing Corbin for the first time, just for a second or two, I remarked that if this was the debut Triple H alluded to, and not Prince or Kevin, people were going be all bent out of shape.
Well, it was, and we weren’t. Corbin’s dominant victory (and impressive finisher) captured our imaginations, and we got another peek at that last night on NXT. I’m still enamored with his look, his very casual air in the ring, and his finisher (now called End of Days), but I will say that I’d like to see his matches last more than 30-60 seconds.
I’m all for squash matches when they need to happen, but too many matches like that make me start to wonder what is being hidden. Back in ECW days, there was a giant wrestler named 911, who had multiple squash matches all ending with a fearsome looking chokeslam. Turns out he wasn’t a very good wrestler, so a squash was really the only way to keep him relevant. Doubt that’s the case with Corbin, but I’m just the slightest bit concerned.
Number 5: Tyler Breeze
Poor Tyler. Of the four talents in the main event at Takeover, I’d make the case that he came away looking the weakest. Tyson looked the strongest in the ring, and the Zayn - Neville storyline quickly took center stage, leaving Breeze in the background, exhibited even more by him being the only one of the four not involved in last night’s NXT.
Perhaps (and I’m being a crazy optimist here) that’s because WWE sees he is the most main-roster ready, so he’s moving on from NXT. We’ll see him make his debut on the post-NOC Monday Night RAW, and he’ll be selfie-ing (is that a word?) his way into the hearts of the national TV audience.
Or he’s about to get buried. . . You know, either one. . .
Number 4: Kalisto
I suppose you could include Sin Cara here, if you’d like to, since they are the reigning NXT Tag Team Champions. One could also make the case that since Hunico is now Sin Cara, and Hunico never got a fair shot on the WWE roster, that Sin Cara should be included in my rankings. . . But that’s confusing to read and was even more confusing to write, and I’m tired, so I’ll just stick with Kalisto.
Kalisto has certainly become an uber fan favorite in NXT, as the crowd was dying for the Lucha Dragons to make the save for Kenta last night. Kalisto is most definitely the star of the team, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Number 3: Adrian Neville
I’ll admit it - I’ve never been a big Neville fan. Go back and check my rankings; it’s true. There was even a week where the NXT champ, in my mind, didn’t make the Top Ten cut.
I will say, though, that I have been very intrigued by the ‘heel’ish tendencies Adrian has demonstrated as of late. His interplay with Zayn has been tremendous, and “stealing” Zayn’s dive by doing a Asai moonsault was easily one of the highlights of the Fatal 4 Way match for me.
If this keeps up, and there is no reason to think it won’t, then I’ll begin to take Neville more seriously as a future WWE talent. My biggest qualm has been his lack of character, and he seems to have one now. . . And I like it.
Number 2: Sami Zayn
I still hate that he’s got the “can’t win the big one” gimmick right now. Even worse, I hate that he’s the “microseconds away from breaking up the pin” guy. Did it in the tag tournament, did it at Takeover, did it last night. This is the only way he makes it to the WWE roster, I get it, but it’s not a fun thing to watch happen.
Zayn gets the #2 ranking, and an edge over Neville, based almost exclusively on mic skills alone. I got a big kick out of his interplay with Titus O’Neill last night, and he has the sense of humor and verbal banter to be a huge star.
Plus, did you see the look on his face after doing the standing moonsault? Then how he chuckled and applauded when Neville one-upped him? This feud is going to be the best thing WWE does (Not just NXT, the whole roster), besides Ambrose and Rollins, in a long, long time.
Number 1: Charlotte
She’s the best women’s wrestler on NXT. In fact, she’s the best women’s wrestler in WWE right now. In fact, she has a really good chance of being the best women’s wrestler. Ever. Yeah, she’s THAT good, and that gives her the number one spot in our rankings.
The powers-that-be made the absolute right decision to have Charlotte retain the title at Takeover. Just like Brock Lesnar, there is nobody on the roster that can touch her right now. I was almost offended at the amount of offense Emma showed last night.
(By the by, if Emma had won, would the announcers have been able to say “Emma stole a victory?” Food for thought.)
Seriously, Charlotte stands, both literally and figuratively, head and shoulders above the competition. The only way she should relinquish the title is if she voluntarily gives it up, since there is nobody worth defending it against. She’s really that good. Did you see that Neckbreaker / Natural Selection combo? Most WWE talents of any gender would love to have that fluid and effective a finishing move.
Say it with me, folks. . . “Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”