The Bo Dallas headed for WWE's main roster is not the same one who underwhelmed a year ago.
Dallas has spent his time in NXT after his first call-up revamping his character and improving his mic skills. Dallas 2.0 is now more compelling than the generic wrestler who upset Wade Barrett last year, which will help him catch on much more with the audience this time.
NXT's imprint was all over post-WrestleMania Raw. Alexander Rusev earned his first singles victory, Paige dethroned AJ Lee and vignettes aired for both Adam Rose and Dallas.
Rose's party of an entrance will certainly afford him a wealth of attention, but Dallas is the better overall prospect.
Fans who saw him flop in 2013 will have a hard time buying that. Last year, he struggled to make fans care and got lost in the shadows of bigger stars.
It wasn't that he was a failure, but that WWE had just mistimed his promotion.
That win led nowhere.
There was no connection between him and the fans. Part of the blame for that goes to WWE for not presenting him in a more exciting fashion. The Shield debuted as sneering badasses for hire. WWE showcased Dallas's brother Bray Wyatt as a demented backwoods preacher.
In Dallas' case, he didn't have a character at all.
It didn't help that he lacked charisma as well. David Shoemaker (The Masked Man) wasn't the only one to notice that deficiency:
There should be a word for his amazing lack of appeal. Gagmetism? Fauxrisma? RT @TheRawLibrarian: I'm sorry, I don't get Bo Dallas' appeal.— David Shoemaker (@AKATheMaskedMan) May 30, 2013
A number of fans also had an obsession with punching Dallas in the face:
Celebrity you most want to punch in the face? — Bo Dallas (if he counts as a celebrity) http://t.co/IqWGQmwZY7— Saif (@SaifQuadri) May 29, 2013
Expect that feeling to subside when the audience sees how much progress Dallas has made. As NXT champ, he developed an irritating but compelling persona that was among the best things about watching the action from Full Sail University.
The new Dallas is as condescending as Damien Sandow, as irksomely phony as Stephanie McMahon.
It's still very much a a unique character, though. Wearing a sly grin, giving a thumbs-up all the time and referring to his competitors as "good kids" is likely to generate the kind of heat all heels pine for.
His banner-raising ceremony and slideshow-filled homecoming segments were some of the best NXT has seen. More recently, Dallas stepped up to Adrian Neville after losing the NXT Championship to him. His understated speech that night is the kind of performance that will win fans over on Raw and SmackDown:
He just didn't produce moments like that his last time up. He left little impression at all.
That will change on WWE's main stage just as it already has for him down in Florida.
The positive reviews have increased during his recent NXT stint. The number of Bo-lievers is growing.
There are still those shrugging their shoulders at him or insulting his appearance, but the percentage of positive Dallas-related tweets is getting higher:
That was an amazing Bo Dallas vignette. The future is now!!!— King Beekah (@JaimsVanDerBeek) April 8, 2014
Armed with a character he can develop and build upon, Dallas has become increasingly more interesting. That will help him immensely on the crowded stage that is the main roster, eventually swaying many of his biggest critics.
For Dallas, going back down to the minors resulted in the refining of his skills. His second trip to the main roster will be drastically different thanks to that trip.