Submerged in blue light and wearing glares that pierce the screen, it's clear The Ascension's dominance at NXT is just a precursor to success on a bigger stage.
Viktor and Konnor have immersed themselves into their distinct, dark gimmick. Their look, size and athletic skill promise tag team greatness and the ability to leave a lasting mark on the audience.
Kenneth Cameron was Konnor's original partner, but the WWE was forced to shift its plans. According to PWInsider, Cameron was "released from the company after being charged with battery of a law enforcement officer and disorderly intoxication."
When The Ascension reformed, Viktor took Cameron's spot and the team pushed ahead with slicker, more captivating performances.
They won the NXT tag titles last September and haven't come close to relinquishing them since with their reign now approaching 200 days. They sit atop the division, no legit threat headed their way.
In the more competitive tag team division on the main roster, The Ascension will flourish as well. Power and mat skills benefit Viktor and Konnor, but it's their visage and presentation that make them special.
Success in the WWE is so often about the right packaging.
Konnor and Viktor will excel in that facet. All the details about them work from their ring gear to their poses.
The Ascension exude menace as they prowl toward the ring. Their look is an enticing blend of styles, making both men look like they stepped out of a science fiction movie.
The gimmick translates to the ring as well.
Earlier incarnations of it had the team relying too much on grunting and barking during matches. Now they simply plow through their foes. Their body language and intense glare add to their aura of danger.
Konnor's size (6'4'', 265 lbs) and power are his best assets.
He looks the part of the bruiser of the group. In a match against The American Pitbulls, Konnor showed off his striking ability, rattling off convincing right hands.
That outing also displayed his explosiveness. Although he doesn't have as impressive acceleration as someone like Roman Reigns, he's a solid athlete as well as an overpowering beast.
Viktor is the better all-around wrestler. He's quick, strong and a quality mat wrestler. He combines grappling with viciousness in a way that will lead to him producing a number of standout matches.
When he was known as Rick Victor, he infused headlocks with nasty brawling rather effectively against CJ Parker.
One can see from this performance and others that Viktor is comfortable in the ring and moves fluidly between the ropes. He can thrive on the mat or with more acrobatic moves like a flying uppercut.
He serves as the wrestling foundation for The Ascension while Konnor's look is more imposing.
Outside of the ring, Konnor has the edge.
Of the two, he is the most magnetic, although neither exhibits top-level charisma. That's partly why their gimmick is so brilliant, as it asks very little from them on the mic. They can brood and snarl and not have to make long speeches.
Briley Pierce interviewed Viktor at FCW and The Ascension's grappler was solid. He delivered his lines well and had good timing, but no one is going to mistake him for Bray Wyatt.
Konnor gets a slightly higher grade as a talker. He hasn't shown it much with his current gimmick, but he can be charming and funny as he showed in his NXT profile video.
In that clip, he mentions that Ted DiBiase was his favorite wrestler growing up. It's not surprising then, that he has seemed to have worked so hard on his evil laugh.
Though it's not a performance at the level of WWE's best, Konnor does well to creep out the audience in the following promo:
He's far more on Luke Harper's level here than he is Wyatt's. The Ascension could certainly benefit from a mouthpiece. A stellar talker would allow WWE to put the team into more complex stories.
Neither man is a wow-inspiring athlete either.
That's likely a part of why so many of their matches are short. That allows The Ascension to excel in bursts, but they haven't yet shown they can pull off longer, main event-worthy matches.
With more opportunities and experience, they could well prove that they can do that. The appeal of the gimmick will afford them chances other prospects won't get.
The NXT tag titles look good in The Ascension's hands and one can count on them hoisting the WWE versions as well.
They are two solid athletes who complement each other well and have the benefit of one of the better looks and gimmicks in recent memory. Neither Ax or Smash of Demolition were headliners on their own, but as a team, dressed up in their leather garb and face paint, they became the tag division's kingpins for quite a while.
The Ascension can do that as well.
They aren't as physically dominating as The Road Warriors and don't have an elite talker like The Wyatt Family does, but their strengths are numerous. Their mic skills aren't bad either—certainly not inferior enough to hold them back from championship glory.
The team is destined for a top spot thanks to how marketable and memorable they are.
A plus for the team and bad news for Viktor and Konnor is that The Ascension's parts are interchangeable to a degree. Ask Cameron, who watched as the team welcomed a new member and moved forward as if he was never there.
Should one member get injured or leave the company, WWE can slide another big man in Konnor's place or another ring general in Viktor's place.
As is, though, this duo is the right blend of haunting and exciting, a two-man demolition crew sure to carry on its habit of wrecking foes to the top of the WWE tag division.
Be sure to check out previous installments in this ongoing series:
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!