WWE NXT Scouting Report: Ranking the 10 Best Prospects in Developmental
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WWE's developmental promotion, NXT, is bursting with rising talent.
Powerhouses and acrobats await to be called up, but who would fit in with WWE best, whose ring ability, charisma or character make them main-roster material?
WWE has done well in plucking from its minor league in recent months. Bo Dallas came up in January and quickly earned an upset win over Wade Barrett. Big E Langston, former NXT champ, now prowls outside the ring during Dolph Ziggler's matches.
The Shield's members, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are all FCW and NXT alums and represent a bright future for WWE.
Who should be next to join them? Who has the most potential?
The following 10 wrestlers are NXT's best, the most likely candidates to soon be on WWE's big stage.
10. Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan vs. Bo Dallas
Erick Rowan is a large, intimidating man (6'8'' and 318 lbs) who looks like a Viking warrior out of a movie.
He brims with power and intensity and moves well for his size. He strikes down his opponents with convincing, clubbing forearms.
Rowan is powerful enough to toss a man about with ease. There is little beyond his strength that makes him stand out, however.
WWE can certainly use a tank of a man on their roster at some point, but right now it's overloaded with guys with his skills. Roman Reigns is more a well-rounded, more compelling and more athletic version of Rowan.
When Mark Henry or Kane retire, perhaps it'll be time to take a look at bringing Rowan up to the main roster.
Sakamoto in a tag match in Japan.
Once Tensai's follower, Sakamoto is now working in NXT, his ponytail flopping as he delivers lariats and throat thrusts.
Sakamoto has an aggressive, demonstrative style that stands out right away.
He's a good athlete, but an even better storyteller. Whether he is dramatically responding to his foe's offense or roaring after a big move, Sakamoto elevates the excitement of his matches.
His striking is stiff, which is no surprise considering the bulk of his experience is in Japan. It's this Japanese style that has one wonder how well he'll fit in with his WWE brethren.
His ring work has the feel of the Japanese promotions or some American indies.
His success, should he be called up, will depend heavily on the character and stories WWE gives him. Should WWE find a way to use him, Sakamoto is a performer with flair who can deliver in the ring.
8. Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods (Consequences Creed) vs. Eric Young
As "Consequences" Creed, Xavier Woods worked for TNA, mainly competing for the tag titles and X Division Championship. That experience is clear right away when one watches how fluid and controlled Woods' ring work is.
He's a springy athlete with excellent footwork.
His matches are fun, high-energy affairs and Woods is a dynamo waiting to be unleashed.
He comes off as likable with an infectious energy, but doesn't have elite-level charisma. He could be a good fit as a WWE tag team competitor.
7. Richie Steamboat
Richie Steamboat vs. Antonio Cesaro
Richie Steamboat is one of the more well-rounded performers in NXT.
It's clear that he inherited his legendary dad's quickness and natural athleticism. He performs a spectacular springboard arm drag as well as a crisp diving cross-body.
Richie is quick, nimble and already a proficient technical wrestler.
Throw in his handsome features and the prominence of his last name, and you almost have the complete package.
What holds Richie back, however, is that his showmanship is just about average right now and his charisma isn't off the charts. These are elements he can improve with experience and with a Hall-of-Fame father in his ear.
6. Adrian Neville
Adrian Neville vs. Sakamoto-highlights
The recipe that created Adrian Neville likely included several bolts of lightning, the essence of a Tasmanian devil and a supernova.
Neville is a thrill to watch bounce around the ring.
His build is compact, muscles packed tightly in. This should provide him durability in spite of his small stature.
The question is how much of his high-risk repertoire will WWE allow him to do? Set free, Neville could electrify WWE crowds on a nightly basis. His moves are highly dangerous, something WWE may ask him to tone down.
5. El Generico
El Generico tribute video
El Generico's outlandish gimmick and the passion with which he plays it, make him a WWE commodity. Simply put, he's a comedy guy who can wrestle.
His fake Mexican luchador routine will fit in perfectly with WWE's more lighthearted side.
The fun won't stop at his silliness and fake Spanish, though. El Generico is sheer fun to watch in the ring.
The lanky, agile star performs great versions of the split-legged moonsault and the no-hands space-flying tigersault. His matches are marked with an infectious energy, a spot-heavy style that plays to the crowd.
El Generico is by no means a better wrestler than Richie Steamboat or Adrian Neville, but he is the kind of entertaining act WWE will eat up.
4. Corey Graves
Corey Graves highlight package
There's something immediately striking about Corey Graves.
Whether he is just walking to the ring or talking himself up, there is an X factor about him that draws in one's attention.
His size, along with his tattoos, have him inevitably draw comparisons to CM Punk. Graves is about two inches shorter than Punk and about 10 pounds lighter. He makes every pound count, though, with his intense, compelling ring performances.
Paige video package
Intense, beautiful, unique; Paige is among NXT's best assets.
Should she be called up, she'd ascend several rungs of the Divas ladder right away. Natayla is a better technical wrestler. Kaitlyn is more powerful. Paige though, is the ideal combination of those traits and more.
Her viciousness is enthralling. Her distinct look is hard to forget.
The only reason Paige isn't at the top of this list is that WWE hasn't had the greatest track record of promoting and utilizing great female talent. Gail Kim was underused. Beth Phoenix struggled to get quality opponents and air time. Natalya has been mishandled, to say the least.
Paige has the talent to revitalize the division, but it's hard to bet on WWE properly harnessing her skills.
2. Kassius Ohno
Kassius Ohno vs. CJ Parker
Kassuis Ohno is the best overall wrestler on the NXT roster.
As Chris Hero, he's won titles in Chikara, Ring of Honor, CZW and Pro Wrestling Guerilla. He's made a name for himself through his impressive fusion of power, fluidity and agility.
His move set is a varied, plentiful toolbox.
His matches feel realistic and are exciting. It's clear he feels comfortable in the ring, that he has the talent to tell great stories between the ropes as well.
It will take a strong character that suits him well to make him NXT's top prospect. That's what will separate him from being another talented indie guy and a WWE star. Ohno is one clever idea from becoming WWE's next big thing.
1. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt vs. Benicio Salazar
Several men (and Paige) below him are better in the ring, but Bray Wyatt's enthralling character puts him above them all as a WWE prospect.
He has transformed from the forgettable Husky Harris into a Southern madman whose ramblings have a poetic flair.
Wyatt's ring work is fine, but not as good as his NXT peers. His strikes are often sloppy. Beyond his power moves, he lacks variety in his repertoire.
Those deficiencies, however, are covered up by the intriguing nature of his character, by the sinister theater Wyatt brings to the ring.
His character bleeds into his wrestling. Wyatt dances with stunned opponents. He creepily kisses them on the head.
Put Wyatt on WWE TV and it'll be hard to look away.