As reported on several wrestling news outlets, NXT Wrestling standouts Corey Graves and Paige have been on the road with the main WWE roster as of late.
Recently, Graves faced Zack Ryder in a losing effort at the Nov. 30 SmackDown live event. On the other hand, Paige teamed up with Layla to defeat Aksana and WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres. Along with that, it is also rumored that Graves and Paige are among the names that WWE is looking to call up to the main roster post-WrestleMania 29.
Formerly known as Sterling James Keenan on the independent wrestling circuit, Corey Graves was signed to a WWE developmental contract in August of 2011. Almost immediately, Graves was thrust into a tag team with second generation wrestler Jake Carter. The provocative tandem quickly gained FCW tag team gold and embarked on 93-day reign before dropping it to the makeshift team of Leakee (a/k/a Roman Reigns) and Storm Wrestling Academy graduate Mike Dalton at a non-televised live event.
Once FCW was rebranded as NXT Wrestling in August, Graves and Carter debuted as a tag team on NXT's third episode, dispatching of CJ Parker and Nick Rogers in quick manner. This would be the tag team's last appearance on NXT, as they broke up at a live event a few weeks later. On the Nov. 14 edition of NXT, Graves re-debuted under the same gimmick, making Oliver Grey submit with the Fuller Leglock.
To begin, the 12-year veteran certainly has a unique look, with dozens of tattoos all over his body and ring gear that basically consists of torn up skinny jeans with knee pads below and suspenders attached to the back. The self-proclaimed "savior of misbehavior" is definitely a hit with the women, which is something that he has going for him with recent reports that WWE wants to cater more towards its female audience.
Another positive for the former Ring of Honor wrestler is his diverse style in the ring. Although not as skilled inside the squared circle as them, think of Daniel Bryan and an early WWECW CM Punk. Graves' unorthodox in-ring style can best be described as ground-and-pound submission-based, viciously assaulting his opponents to set up his patented Fuller Leglock. As brought on NXT by Tony Dawson and Jim Ross, Graves has a background in jiu-jitsu and boxing, which should only help him.
Although I don't believe that Graves will become a future WWE champion, he will certainly be able to become a staple for the midcard in the future, possibly becoming a multi-time Intercontinental or United States champion. He's a good tag team wrestler, a good singles wrestler and is unique both in and outside the ropes. His catchy theme song doesn't hurt him either.
"Wrestling isn't just a passion; it's my future." — Paige, July 2012
The "enchanting raven-haired lady," as William Regal likes to refer to her, is definitely the most "ready" Diva down in developmental.
Paige, daughter of world-renowned women's wrestler Saraya Knight, made her debut at age 14 and quickly earned a name for herself in the British wresting circuit. She made her debut in the United States for SHIMMER in March 2011 eventually getting into a feud with her own mother and defeating her in her last pre-FCW match.
Paige made her FCW television debut in late February and formed an alliance with former WWE Tough Enough contestant Sofia Cortez a few weeks later. As Paige and Sofia's partnership dwindled down, the malicious Brit would find herself in a feud against Audrey Marie.
Once FCW became NXT Wrestling, Paige made her debut in the third edition of NXT, decisively losing against Sofia Cortez. Paige got back on track a couple of weeks later, though, defeating former rival Audrey Marie and Alicia Fox (twice, might I add) and then teaming with Marie to gain a victory over Fox and NXT season three winner Kaitlyn.
To say that Paige will have a good future is an understatement. She has that natural "it" factor to her, where she gets big reactions regardless of her status as a heel or a face. You could say that she is the face Devon to the NXT Arena's Impact Zone. Her skills inside the squared circle are far from shabby. To watch some of her work in WWE, click here, here, here and finally here.
Her gimmick is similar to Beth Phoenix's last year. At least before WWE screwed it up by having her sport more makeup than most of the other Divas outside of the ring and with her "we're just girls, Hunter" promo during the infamous WWE walkout.
Had she been born during another time in the wrestling industry, she would have been right up there with the Trish Stratuses and Litas of the old Divas division, but that time has passed. Hopefully with rumors that WWE wants to focus on re-energizing the division in the years to come, Paige will be the figurehead of that revival.
To me, at least, it is quite evident that both of these blue-chippers have a bright future in WWE or perhaps just wrestling overall. Hopefully WWE doesn't drop the ball on them like they have with several other promising stars, but only time will tell. However, it would be wise for WWE to use them to their full potential, as they can both become big stars.