Author’s Note: This column was written and intended to be posted Thursday, but with the passing of Dusty Rhodes, I decided to save it.

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.

The Ugly

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!

The Bad

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.

The Good

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?

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What do YOU think?  Thoughts on Dempsey’s gimmick?  Favorite part of NXT?  Be Heard.

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By name and by definition, NXT is THE place to go if a WWE fan wants to see the next generation of professional wrestling talent.  As we close out 2014, we few fans of NXT (a topic I’ll cover in a future column) are abuzz with the names Balor, Neville and Zayn.  We are on pins and needles waiting for the debut of one Kevin Owens and adore counting the seconds of Baron Corbin’s matches.  We fully expect that by this name next year, a good portion of these stars will have been “called up” to RAW and Smackdown.

Which begs the question… Who’s “NXT”?   Who will the breakout stars of 2015 be down at Full Sail University.   As always, I have some thoughts.

Note:  My use of the word “breakout star” implies talents that have not had a huge amount of success in NXT at this point.  In fact, with one exception, I’m pretty sure all of these talents have yet to appear in an NXT Takeover event.  So, you won’t be seeing Baron Corbin on this list - while I’m still iffy on his wrestling skills, there’s no doubt he’s broken out already.

Got it? Good.  On with the list.

Alexa Bliss

While she seems to be a Disney princess come to life, what with all the sparkling and way too much smiling, Bliss is poised to be a cornerstone of the NXT women’s division heading into the new year.  Part of this is not any of her doing, however, as it’s entirely possible that by summer ‘15, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and even Bayley will be WWE bound.  Once those three are gone, it’s Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Mia Yim (once she stops getting squashed) and a female talent known as Blue Pants.

Regardless, I’m high on Bliss’ future.  She’s obviously got some athletic ability and did a fine job in matches against Lynch and Banks in the last few months.  Once the obviously superior talents have moved on, Alexa will have a chance to. . .well. . . sparkle.

Marcus Louis

6 months ago, Louis was the “other” guy in Les Legionnaires, the quiet muscle behind Sylvester LeFort’s big mouth.  When Marcus lost his hair at Fatal 4 Way thanks to Enzo and Big Cass, I really thought that was going to be the end of him, at least for a while.

Oddly enough, they seem to be running with the “bald monster” angle, and it has actually been really compelling.  I haven’t seen a whole lot of Marcus Louis’ in ring work, so I can’t say for sure whether or not he has the talent to succeed in WWE, but he’s giving his all to his “French Angel” type character, and so far, its working alright.   We could see relatively big things from Marcus Louis in 2015, as crazy as that sounds.

Jason Jordon and Tye Dillinger

Much like Alexa Bliss, Jordon and Dillinger should be able to take advantage of the soon-to-be departures of The Ascension, Lucha Dragons and The Vaudevillains, all of whom should be WWE bound by mid-to-late 2015.  While I still can’t tell if these two are going to wind up as faces or heels, there’s certainly potential here.

To be honest, I have a much higher opinion of Jordon than I do Dillinger.  Jordon could have a very successful singles run if NXT decides to go that way with him.  He’s got a “Shelton Benjamin” feel about him - amateur background, great physical presence, obvious in-ring skill.  Dillinger isn’t as impressive, but then again, Charlie Haas wasn’t either when compared to his WGTT partner.

Speaking of the World’s Greatest Tag Team…

Shoot Nation

“But DC”, I hear you scoff, “This team hasn’t even made their NXT debuts yet?  How can you be so sure they’ll be successful?”   Well. . . Um. . . I can’t, I guess.  Consider this my “Reach” pick.

For those who are unaware, Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton, two talents who have been on the losing end of squashes for much of their NXT careers, are being repackaged along with as-yet-unseen Chad Gable.  All three talents have extensive amateur wrestling backgrounds and will be booked as, from the sounds of it, a new-generation Varsity Club.

Now, I’m obviously a fan purely based on that gimmick alone - my love for any legitimate or “old-school” wrestling is well known by this point.  I’m mainly optimistic on this trio, however, because they will offer something entirely different to the NXT fanbase.  We are awash with very “gimmicky” wrestlers right now - guys like Tyler Breeze and The Vaudevillains, while amazing, are quite the outlandish characters.  Shoot Nation, ideally, will be a nice contrast to that… Serious, capable grapplers who will let their performance in the ring speak for itself.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Shoot Nation does in 2015.

 

Buddy Murphy

This is it, folks.  My meal ticket.  The entire reason this column came into existence.  I’ve been watching Buddy Murphy (along with his tag team partner Wesley Blake) for the last few weeks, and each time I do, I get more and more impressed with this young Australian.

We’re talking, as Jim Ross might say, “serious corn-fed farm power” here.  (Do they even grow corn in Australia?. . .  Dingo-fed power?  Did I just alienate an entire continent?)  Murphy has some serious strength matched with agility and presence, all the things one is looking for in a pro-wrestling prospect.

Plus, I’ve just got a feeling about Murphy.  He reminds me of the days I used to watch TNA and saw Team Canada, and kept coming away from seeing them thinking that this Bobby Roode guy was going to be a serious star.  Turns out, he was, and whenever I see Buddy Murphy, Roode is who pops into my head each time.

I’m not sure if the name “Buddy Murphy” is really going to take off, so we might see some sort of adjustment to the character.  WWE would be wise to take advantage of the fact that he’s Australian - no, I don’t want him to become Captain Boomerang or anything, but he would add another level of international flair to the NXT (or main) roster.

Mark it down, folks.  I’m calling it here and now - Buddy Murphy will be contending for the NXT championship by the end of 2015.

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