The top-tier WWE NXT prospects climbed even higher this week.
Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn further bolstered their cases for making it to the main roster. Neville delivered a moving main event that topped what he did at NXT Takeover. Zayn pulled out some old tricks, making fans laugh in addition to awing them.
A surprising name improved his stock as well by virtue of backstage buzz.
Sylvester LeFort, Bayley and Sasha Banks didn't make as much progress.
In the Frenchman's case, he's just not grabbing hold of the audience. As for the talented Divas, they didn't get enough airtime to really improve their resumes.
Sami Zayn: Stock Up
Zayn once depended on his comic timing far more often. As El Generico in the independent circuit, he infused goofiness aplenty into his matches. He turned to that skill once more in a bout against Mr. NXT (Bo Dallas in a mask) on the June 12 NXT.
In mocking Dallas, he showed he could call upon some of the fun energy of El Generico in the confines of his current character.
Whether this was a one-time dip into silliness or a WWE experiment with Zayn's character, he reminded us of his impressive range. In the same match, he mimicked Dallas' thumbs-up gesture, charged up the crowd with a pre-bout dance and delivered some compelling in-ring action.
In addition to a thunderous Helluva Kick, one of the highlights of his clash with Dallas was how well he sold a running clothesline. Zayn flipped backward and landed in a bent mess that greatly elevated the move.
Zayn continues to be one of NXT's top prospects, making men like Dallas look their best. That's apparently something he can do both in a dramatic fight or in something more lighthearted.
Sylvester LeFort: Stock Down
Colin Cassady towered over LeFort in terms of both size and stage presence.
One's eyes naturally gravitated to "Big Cass" during his battle with LeFort on Thursday's NXT. The Frenchman doesn't often get a chance to compete on TV and didn't impress this time.
He oversold a hurt back, going too cartoonish with his reaction to the pain.
Cassady hit some crisp, attention-grabbing moves which included a hard elbow to LeFort's chin and a few impressive tosses of his opponent. LeFort, on the other hand, didn't have many highlights, though partially because he was mostly meant to be the victim here.
His usual spark and grating personality were hard to spot here. The bout gave WWE another reason to believe that LeFort is better suited for a managerial role.
Baron Corbin: Stock Up
Corbin didn't appear on NXT TV, but positive rumbles are increasing for the former NFL player.
According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com), the word backstage is that Corbin is "said to be one of the developmental talents to watch." That bit of good news comes weeks after Triple H listed him among NXT's future megastars.
Fans haven't seen much of him yet, but growing support like this is certainly a positive for Corbin.
When he finally starts getting sustained opportunities on camera, he will do so already armed with momentum.
Bayley/Sasha Banks: Stock Even
A six-Diva tag match crowded many of the division's top talents into a single match.
Paige, Emma and Summer Rae took a break from their main-roster duties to enter a fracas at Full Sail University. The story focused on the tension between Charlotte and Summer as they struggled for control of The BFFs.
Banks and Bayley didn't get much ring time as a result.
Most of the match featured Charlotte beating on Emma while Summer posed with fans at ringside. Banks was only in the ring for spurts. She'd hit a move or two and then tag back out. We didn't get to see her usual sassy energy, as the spotlight was pointed elsewhere.
Bayley was relegated to the apron for most of the night, but when she did come storming in she was impressive.
She charged at the heels, rolled around the ring and delivered a ring-shaking suplex. The drama between her enemies, though, overshadowed her burst of babyface fire. She'll certainly get future opportunities that offer her a bigger share of the stage, but for now the focus was on The BFFs.
Adrian Neville: Stock Up
Add one more stellar match to Neville's resume.
In his rematch with Tyson Kidd, the NXT champ hit his usual array of stunning moves, but he also displayed more of his storytelling abilities. He sold a dropkick he took from a seated position perfectly and looked like his leg was going to break when he was in the Sharpshooter. That made up for a moment when he took a kick on the apron and channeled too much of Ric Flair's face-first flopping.
This was more of a dramatic encounter than their match at NXT Takeover.
Near falls powered it, as did Neville's improving mastery of in-ring nuances. His facial expressions and selling seem to get better each week.
WWE also has to be happy with his toughness, as he wrestled most of the match with a busted nose filled with blood. That's not at all surprising, though, coming from a man who was competing shortly after Brodus Clay knocked out four of his teeth.
Neville has improved his stock throughout his time as champion, lengthening his list of standout performances. Even if officials aren't confident about his mic skills, great ring work like this will earn him a call-up before long.
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