This week’s NXT, looking at it on paper, should have been right up this Chief of Staff’s alley. It featured some of my favorite Full Sail figures, yet I found myself grumbling more than usual as I watched last night and this morning. Really, NXT featured the Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly. In the efforts to #PromotePositivity, I’ll try to get the negatives out of the way, so we can end on a high note.
NAI Hall of Famer and, in this man’s opinion, the best wrestling writer on the planet Shannon Scott has claimed to be covering this topic in greater detail in a future column, but until then, I have to ask.
What the hell was going on with Bull Dempsey last night?
Seriously, what was that? I’m all for Dempsey being given something to do, but that’s what the NXT braintrust came up with? A fat guy gimmick? This is really the best they can do?
What makes it even worse is that your ‘main event’ feud right now features Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, who are in similar, if not “worse”, shape than Dempsey is?
The only saving grace was that being the amazing talent that he is, Bull actually made such a stupid idea entertaining.
Look, this is developmental, right? You’re supposed to be grooming these guys to get to the next level? How on Earth is what I just saw going to do that? Besides showing a different side of the Dempsey personality, all that showed me was that NXT has given up on Bull, and that’s. . . Well. . . Bull!
If there’s somebody on the NXT roster who the general population likes even less than Dempsey, it’s Mojo Rawley, and Mr. “Stay Hyped” made his in-ring return last night, much to many of our collective chagrins.
Look, I don’t mind the idea of him teaming up with Ryder. I love that Zack is on NXT and I think this could be a very good thing for him. Again, though, I go back to the purpose of developmental. Rawley being the guy with 5 hour energy flowing through his veins isn’t going to work on the WWE roster. Unless he’s a Bo-liever, but I’ve taken you all down that road before.
Maybe this tandem will catch on and do some good things, and perhaps Mojo’s character will evolve over the weeks, but right now, I’m still not buying the Hype.
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable haven’t had a match together on NXT television yet. In fact, they haven’t been in the NXT arena at the same time yet, from all I’ve seen, but these two are already my #2 favorite tag team in Full Sail, trailing only the Vaudevillains. Gable is owning his ‘Angle-esque’ persona and Jordan is doing an equally solid job playing the “Steve Blackman in Head Cheese” role.
If these guys get any sort of shot, they’re going to turn a lot of heads, and sell a lot of towels.
Samoa Joe made his NXT debut, Kevin Owens was on commentary, and life was good. That may well be the only Muscle Buster we ever see on WWE television, what with Tyson Kidd’s broken neck and all. We don’t know how the injury happened - For all we know, it occurred during a completely unrelated part of the match, but I think Joe’s finisher is going to take the lion’s share of the blame here.
I don’t want to go too far down the ‘dangerous move’ rabbit hole right now, but suffice to say, the Muscle Buster qualifies. Plus, it’s almost like Ryback’s finisher, and Ryback was there first. Scoff if you must, but those things count in WWE.
Finally, and not like I watched them, but we had 2, yes 2 women’s matches on NXT! Plus, Blue Pants! How can that not be a good thing?
What do YOU think? Thoughts on Dempsey’s gimmick? Favorite part of NXT? Be Heard.
Having worked through a good chunk of the WWE roster, its time to take our eyes to Full Sail University, home of NXT. The world has been focused far more of WWE's developmental as of late, what with the ESPN piece (which was quite good and should be watched by one and all) and more importantly, with the news that we may have lost both Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami until 2016 due to injuries.
Today, we'll look at 3 NXT talents who are (for the most part) in need of new finishers. Remember, I give each talent a pair of moves to end their match, almost always from the categories of Power, Strike, Aerial, or Submission.
We begin, as you knew we would, with one of my favorite NXT talents, and most certainly a polarizing figure. .
While I have been relatively successful turning people around on the abilities of Mr. Dempsey (maybe he should join New Day, another group I was right about), we can all agree that his finisher, the diving headbutt, needs to go. Pronto. I'm all for paying homage to Bam Bam Bigelow, which is the only reason I can come up with for why he's doing that, but it doesn't fit at all with the "Throwback" character. Plus, as history has shown, its not a safe move to deliver night in and night out for a pro wrestler. So it's out of here.
Finisher 1 - Oklahoma Stampede
I consider giving him "Greetings from Asbury Park", which was Bigelow's other finishing move later in his career, and also had the benefit of being very similar to the Bulldozer, Dempsey's original finisher. However, even that isn't very "throwbacky", which is a word I may or may not have just made up.
The Stampede, however, is much more of a move from the past, shades of Dr. Death Steve Williams. It's impactful and isn't altogether difficult to use. Dempsey, as much as I love him, isn't supposed to be a technical wizard, so a move like this makes total sense.
For those who need a visual - Here it is.
Finisher 2 - Double Avalanche
While Dempsey isn't your traditional "big man", he is one of the larger competitors you see in WWE products these days, this making these types of finishers more open to him. Plus, as we've seen in his matches, he already has a particularly nasty running splash anyway, so why not incorporate it into the finishing move?
Whip the opponent into the ropes, charge at him like a house of fire, crush him into the buckle, then as he crumples to the mat, hit the ropes, leap into the air and crush him again! He could even do a falling headbutt at this point, which wouldn't be as nasty but would suffice as some sort of Bigelow tribute, if he insists on it.
In truth, up until writing this column, I had a different finisher in mind for Dempsey, but upon reflection, I think it belongs more with the next guy on our list...
Let me get this out there right now - I think End of Days is great. In fact, I'm all for him keeping it as his primary and first finisher. The problem is, that move requires a certain. . . Lack of weight. . . in order for it to truly look spectacular. We saw it when he wrestled Bull Dempsey all those times, there was a definite underwhelming quality to it when its used on a bigger guy.
Corbin will benefit, just as Dempsey did, from the lack of size in modern day WWE. With few exceptions, most of the talents Corbin will be battling will be able to take the move gracefully. Still, for those rare ones who won't, plus for variety's sake. . .
Finisher 2 - Heart Punch
This is the move I almost gave to Dempsey. I love this move so much. You pull the opponents arm over their head, rear back, and just punch them in the chest. Supposedly (if I remember the story behind it), the idea is to "stop" their heart just long enough to get the 3 count. This is the move made famous many years ago by Ox Baker, one of the few wrestlers I can say I've seen up close and in person, as he lived just down the road from a relative when I was a child.
This is also a move used by "Mean" Mark Callous, otherwise known as a very young and red-headed Undertaker. Corbin isn't the Undertaker, to be sure, but this move takes advantage of his height and his obvious physical strength.
I'm not going to come right out and say that the lack of an effective finisher is the only thing holding Breeze back from WWE stardom, but I'm running out of other ideas to explain why he's not on the main roster yet. The gimmick is there, the talent is there. . . I'm not quite sure what WWE is waiting for.
Still, a spinning heel kick is NOT a finisher in today's WWE, unless your name was Mabel/Viscera/Big Daddy V, who could have pulled it off being 500+ pounds. Breeze's finisher should be quick, not power based, and ideally something that messes up the uggo faces he has to wrestle on a daily basis.
Finisher 1 - Shining Wizard
To the best of my knowledge, which there are a lot of kick / knee variations going on in WWE right now, the Shining Wizard is not among them. This move works on all of the levels listed in the previous paragraphs, plus it just looks really good when its done right.
Finisher 2 - Boston Crab variation
Stick with me on this - I know the Boston Crab isn't the world's greatest move. In fact, its the lower body version of the Camel Clutch to me, just kind of "meh", but in this case it works.
Tyler Breeze is a model, right? Who else was a model, perhaps the original one? Rick Martel. His finisher? Boston crab. Historical relevance - Assured.
Breeze was trained by? Lance Storm, yes indeed. One of Storm's finishers? The rolling half crab. Homage to a mentor? Check!
Plus, this finisher gives Tyler every reason to focus on the legs and back of his opponent, and being that he applies a ringpost Figure 4 about as well as anyone not named Bret Hart, that's certainly not a bad thing.
I did say variation because I'm open to options here. Could he do some sort of Liontamer crab? Probably. Could he do a Texas Cloverleaf instead of a crab? I suppose so. Again, this is open to interpretation. Would love to hear your thoughts.
So, what are your thoughts? Would these moves work for these talents? Who should be next from NXT? Be Heard.