A demon rides along the WWE horizon, and it now has a name—Solomon Crowe.
The man formerly known as Sami Callihan signed a WWE developmental deal in May, and fresh off getting a new moniker, he is set to bring his unique brand of dark energy to NXT. With wild, dark hair jutting off his head and a scowl across his mouth, it's hard not to take notice of Crowe right away.
He joins a NXT roster already stocked with dark characters like Leo Kruger and Corey Graves.
Expect him not to be lost among the other prospects but to make an impact quickly. Fans who watched his work in Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Combat Zone Wrestling know that he is a disturbing, magnetic star despite his less-than-traditional build.
What will become of the wrestler dubbed "The New Horror" once his journey slides into NXT? How soon can we expect to see him on WWE's main roster and smacking his arm against foes like it was a baseball bat?
Projecting based on his talent, WWE's needs and NXT's patterns, let's get to answering those questions.
Finding a Pack for the Wolf
While WWE works to figure out how to utilize Crowe's immense talent inside his awkward frame, expect him to find a home in the tag team section of NXT.
Smaller guys seem destined to be partnered up. Adrian Neville has spent the majority of his NXT experience teaming with the likes of Graves and Oliver Grey. Enzo Amore has found himself aligned with the larger Colin Cassady.
Placing prospects in tag teams is a good way to cram multiple men into a match for evaluation purposes.
It also offers NXT a chance to slide a gimmick on a few guys and see how it works. Conor O'Brian has thrived as a member of The Ascension. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan likely wouldn't have made it to the main roster without taking on their backwoods cult gimmick.
Crowe has the tools to be the leader of a team or stable.
Have him play the Bray Wyatt role, and he'll not only make himself a star but elevate the folks chosen to be in his flock. Check out his enthralling work in this video tribute. This sure looks like a man ready to lead a dark army.
Dulling His Tools
Just like with his name, Crowe is going to have to adjust his move set in his new environment.
His more dangerous moves like the wrist-clutch exploder suplex and the running turnbuckle assault driver are not only sure to make Vince McMahon and company nervous, but it will be hard to deliver those moves against the larger opponents in NXT and WWE.
Expect the company to ask him to tone things down but also to select a new finisher.
He has previously used the headlock driver and the Stretch Muffler to finish off his foes. Dean Ambrose already uses the former as his finishing move, and the latter looks a lot like the Brock Lock, so we may see the creative Crowe come up with a new weapon as his match ender.
He also has a fun stunner variation followed up by a kick to the head. There's little chance that anyone not named Steve Austin will ever use the stunner as a regular move or as a finisher.
The spear may be passed out like candy at Halloween, but some finishers don't get reused.
After the adjustments to his in-ring repertoire, Crowe will still have a number of submissions holds to use as well his exciting kicks and thunderous chops.
Crowe is a complete wrestler, save for size.
He is strong enough to lift a foe larger than himself and equal parts speedy and aggressive. His explosiveness is exciting to watch as are his unsettling promos.
Many NXT prospects flounder because they lack charisma, a connection with the audience or the ability to slip into a character. He is adept at all those elements of the business, and the quality of his in-ring work shows off his extensive experience on the independent circuit.
He comes into NXT, much like Sami Zayn, as an already all-but-finished product.
While more raw wrestlers need to hone their skills, Crowe is more in search of a direction to fling his electric energy. Once the folks in charge decide on his character, expect him to take off and quickly become one of the most talked-about members of the NXT roster.
He's sure to be asked to bulk up and improve his physique, but no amount of gym work will turn him into Mason Ryan. How much time he spends in NXT will depend on how he works in the gym and how much WWE expects his body to change.
WWE Main Roster Projections
Even if Crowe rockets up the NXT power rankings, fans salivating at the thought of him stepping into a WWE ring need to temper their expectations. It will still be over a year before he makes the transition to the main roster.
Ambrose had a similar resume to Crowe's when he first signed with WWE. They both exhibited a moving, dark charm and mic skills that had fans buzzing. Ambrose spent from July 2011 to September 2012 at Florida Championship Wrestling/NXT.
One can't expect Crowe to get to the main roster any faster than that.
Plus, we'll also have to wait for the Wyatt Family's novelty to wear off. Wyatt and his brothers debuted eight months after The Shield. The next heel stable won't debut until 2014, but Crowe has an excellent chance of leading it.
Aside from Big E. Langston, the last six NXT wrestlers to come to WWE came by way of trio.
Should Crowe impress the NXT trainers and develop a following in WWE developmental, we're likely to see him ride into the main roster with men like Graves, O'Brian or Kruger at his back.