For WWE NXT prospects Leo Kruger and Solomon Crowe, it's time to slip one mask off and replace it with another.
Both Kruger and Crowe's journey through the WWE developmental system has them working with new gimmicks. A pair of new wrestlers will soon join them in Florida. A former goalie and Randy Orton's cousin have signed developmental deals.
An NXT Diva made her in-ring debut as a singles competitor while one of NXT's powerhouses worked a WWE show.
Change, transitions and new beginnings for those prospects, Crowe and Kruger comprise the latest NXT news.
The wrestler formerly known as Sami Callihan now has a new gimmick to go along with his new ring name.
Solomon Crowe debuted at an NXT show Dec. 5 in creepy, memorable fashion. Kalisto (formerly Samuray Del Sol) spoke to the crowd, trying to get them hyped for his match.
That's when the lights went out. Crowe soon appeared, standing over his felled foe, dressed in black.
WWE has wisely taken the Crowe character to a dark place. That's where he was at his best during his days on the independent circuit. Whether this particular version of the gimmick pans out or not, going for something far from generic and that suits Crowe well is a good way to set him up for success.
WWE has signed another model, but it's not what you think.
PWMania.com reports that Stuart Tomlinson, former goalkeeper for the Port Vale Football Club, "has signed a developmental contract with WWE."
The Englishman's impressive physique earned a spot on the cover of Men's Health. Armed with the physical skills required to be a professional athlete and the looks to be a cover model, Tomlinson is a unique addition to the WWE developmental system.
Normally, the kind of football where WWE finds future Superstars is the kind most of the world refers to as American football.
He'll enter with far less ring experience than the prospects pulled from the independent circuit, but he does already have a potential wrestling name, as he was known as "The Tank" (h/t The Sentinel) during his playing days.
Becky Lynch got her first taste of NXT action.
PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, reported on Dec. 6 that "Becky Lynch, the former Rebecca Quin, had her first singles match at last night's NXT live event in Tampa, Florida. She lost to Bayley."
Lynch is a promising prospect with a strong background in the indies. She officially joins an already talented NXT Divas division and will soon make a significant impact.
Her brawling ability and viciousness in the ring would make her a compelling ally or enemy for Paige. Whatever WWE has planned for her, NXT just got even better.
Will we soon see Jasper Orton at Full Sail?
Per Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, "WWE has reportedly signed Jasper Orton the 18 year old cousin of Randy Orton, to a developmental deal."
The newest Orton of the WWE family is currently recovering from a torn meniscus. When asked on Twitter what his ring name would be, he noted that he'd like to carry on the Orton legacy.
Even with his famous name, Orton will have a tough road ahead as the WWE Performance Center is filling up with a variety of talents. Being an Orton will open the door for him, but it won't walk him through it.
The next NXT talent to make it to the main roster may very well be Alexander Rusev.
Signs point to WWE thinking highly of the Bulgarian powerhouse. One such sign is Rusev wrestling on a WWE house show Dec. 7, per WrestlingInc.com. Rusev not only got a shot to impress outside of the NXT world, he defeated Zack Ryder.
WWE's search for size gives Rusev an edge over more polished performers like Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville. Look for him to work more house shows in the near future and be asked to tear through his opposition on NXT.
Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com, has already noted that Rusev "is said to be a lock for the main roster." It seems that WWE is now prepping him for that eventual move.
Leo Kruger fans likely hoped that his recent appearance as the scarf-wearing, colorful Adam Rose was a one-time occurrence. Per WrestlingInc.com, the change is reportedly permanent.
Marc Middleton writes, "It appears WWE NXT star Leo Kruger is now using his new Adam Rose gimmick full time."
While Solomon Crowe's new gimmick plays to his strengths, making Kruger anything other than the bruising, intense hunter that he was is an odd choice. Kruger seems a poor fit for what seems to be a blend of Tyler Breeze and CJ Parker's personas.
Perhaps Kruger nails this role, as he did his previous one, and proves doubters wrong. The safe bet, though, is on the gimmick change to be a flop.