WWE has added another big man to its roster, plucking Smith "Big Game" James from the independent circuit.
Trained by Taz, James grew as a performer during his time at East Coast Professional Wrestling and as he states on his website, earned the company's Rookie of the Year award in 2006 and the Most Improved award the following year.
Word got out of his developmental deal with WWE when James tweeted the following announcement.
The next 2 months will be my last indy shows for the foreseeable future (hopefully longer) as I was offered a WWE developmental contract.— Smith Big Game James (@BigGameJames12) May 7, 2013
That means NXT gets another promising talent to cultivate. Big Game will soon be hunting NXT prey.
James' in-ring strength is in the theatrical part of the equation.
He sells every move as if the Academy Awards committee is watching. Strikes make him punch drunk; slams seem to damage his spine. This aids him in telling a story in the ring.
Watch him in his match against Carlito in 2011 and note how pained he appears when appropriate.
There is a touch of "it" factor at work here as well. That elusive quality isn't overpowering with James, but there's certainly something about him that pulls in one's attention. James seems to be passionate about the business and pours himself into his matches.
What he lacks in refinement, he makes up for in heart.
For a man his size (6'2'' and 327 lbs) he doesn't appear to be as powerful as one would expect.
In his match against Bill Carr, James didn't toss his foe around impressively like someone like Ryback or Big E. Langston would.
He isn't as quick as Langston either, missing that ability to deliver powerful bursts of offense.
There is also a lack of fluidity in transitioning from move to move. His in-ring movement looks unnatural at this point. You don't expect Ricky Steamboat-like grace from someone James' size, but it's still an area he needs to work on.
What bodes well for James is that his weaknesses are fixable and his strengths are difficult to teach.
Time in the weight room and time with NXT's trainers will improve his strength and fluidity. His understanding of ring psychology is ahead of many guys at this stage in their career.
His size and wrestling skill will factor in as well, but James will get a shot at the main roster largely on the strength of his ability to talk. His promo work is smooth, engrossing and already better than what many of his new peers at NXT can do.
It's clear that James puts work into promos, dedicating time and energy to perfecting this aspect of his game.
His promo for a match against Hurricane Helms impressed.
From this performance, we not only see James' strong grasp of emoting, of capturing our attention, but also a love and respect for the business. The names he chooses to drop here imply that he is a student of wrestling and a life-long fan.
While the promo was likely scripted and rehearsed, it doesn't feel robotic. James' delivery is powered by pulsating emotion.
James is built like NXT's Bray Wyatt and is similarly hypnotizing with a microphone in hand. Like Wyatt, his success will largely depend on the character he is given.
When Wyatt was Husky Harris, he wasn't anywhere as memorable or entertaining as he is now.
James has comparable in-ring skills to Wyatt as well and will have to rely on his charisma, theatrical skills and mic work to make it to the main roster.
WWE's newest signee offers the company plenty to work with. James is not a finished product but training and experiences, along with the right gimmick, will maximize his notable potential.