The Aug. 7 edition of WWE NXT was a showcase of showmanship, hard strikes and comic timing as a quintet of prospects all improved their stock.
Bayley and Colin Cassady were among the wrestlers who proved themselves to be on a steady course toward the main roster. The performances on the latest NXT offered very little to criticize. That leaves this latest stock watch without a single "stock down" or "stock even" attached to anyone's name.
A former college grappler, an environmentalist and a giant with a kick like a sledgehammer all deserved tips of the hat after Thursday's NXT.
Stock Up: Colin Cassady
Big Cass was the brightest star in the first matchup in the first round of the tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the NXT tag titles.
He and Enzo Amore teamed up to face Tye Dillinger and Jason Jordan in an entertaining bout. As usual, Amore demanded the audience's attention when the mic was in his hand, but Cassady showed off some presence as well. Energy crackled off him as he delivered a pre-match line about the Kool-Aid Man.
That energy carried over to the in-ring action.
He hit a near-perfect back elbow and had an extra pop in his forearm shots. He ended the match with a boot to Jordan's face, one that appeared to be the kind that shifts teeth around.
It was perfectly timed, maximizing the dramatic impact of the blow.
After the win, Cassady and Amore delivered laughs in an interview. Big Cass took the lead here explaining to Amore, who was out cold for the match's conclusion, that Amore was the one who got the victory for them.
Amore had his usual array of memorable lines, but Cassady reminded us that he's not just a second banana—he's a charismatic member of a duo and a star in his own right.
That team is set to get another chance to entertain now that it is moving on to the tourney's second round.
Stock Up: Jason Jordan
Jordan's athletic gifts have never been in doubt. He had yet to show that he could produce in the dramatic elements required of a wrestler, though.
Asked to play the heel role against Cassady and Amore, Jordan left a lasting impression. He snarled in mid-fight, wore a face that screamed intensity and taunted his opponents throughout.
That led to him being the most compelling that he has been in the ring so far.
His trainers' lessons are clearly sinking in. Rather than just be a fine physical specimen, he's becoming a more well-rounded performer.
In addition, he was especially smooth with his mat work. Whether going for amateur-style takedowns or executing power moves, Jordan's movements were crisp and seemed natural. His elbow strikes were noticeably on target, the kind of realistic shots that elevate a match.
His partner, Dillinger, looked better than he has before as well, adding a touch of viciousness to his game, but it was Jordan who shined the most here.
Stock Up: Bayley
WWE asked Bayley to compete against one of the company's least capable ring workers in Eva Marie, and she managed to salvage a solid performance out of the situation.
She exuded that same fun aura that has become her trademark. On top of that, she managed to smoothly work some nuances into her match. Bayley tightened her headband just before going on the attack and looked to the crowd with a smile right before performing her Slip 'N Slide move.
There was an awkward takedown or two, but Bayley rolled right through those moments and didn't allow them to slow the momentum of the action.
Officials have to be impressed after this showing. If she can put something this good together against someone as raw as Eva, it points to great things in her future when she's facing superior competition.
The crowd's reaction to her will force WWE officials to take notice as well. Fans chanted "One more time!" after she executed Slip 'N Slide and "Bayley's gonna hug you" at another point in the match.
They were clearly behind her from the first moment on, responding to her as passionately as the Full Sail University faithful once did to Big E.
Stock Up: CJ Parker
Parker can place his match against Xavier Woods on Thursday's NXT atop his greatest hits collection.
This was Parker's most compelling bout to date, one where he came off as more dangerous than he has in the past.
He viciously yanked Woods' neck around and hit a thunderous version of the double axe handle. His strikes were more powerful than usual.
Pair that with how well he sold Woods' offense, and it's easy to name this Parker's best performance, even if the match slowed down some in the middle, with some fans reacting with "Boring!" chants.
When Woods chopped him across the chest, Parker looked as if he was getting struck with a whip. When Woods clocked him in the face, his head whipped back dramatically. Later, Woods bowled over him, and Parker's legs flopped over the ropes.
Selling has always been a strong point for Parker, but he looked especially Dolph Ziggler-like in that department against Woods.
The Earth-loving heel needs to produce more bouts like this. While prospects like Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville have been stockpiling standout performances, Parker has lagged behind.
He enters his next match with more momentum than he's had before, hoping to build on this strong showing.
Stock Up: Sami Zayn
Zayn is the Triple-A baseball player hitting .400, making every play in the field and wondering why he hasn't been called up yet.
The reaction the NXT fans gave him in his tag match with Adam Rose against Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel speaks to his readiness for the main roster as much as his in-ring performance does. The Full Sail University crowd chanted "We want Sami!" when he was waiting on the apron.
When he was dancing with Rose or battling his enemies, the fans were having fun right along with him.
Zayn appeared to be especially fast during this bout, whipping around the ring. He's also one of only a few wrestlers who can make something as everyday as an arm drag such a crowd-pleasing move.
He and Rose advanced to the next round of the tag team tournament, assuring him another chance next week to do what he's been doing on a regular basis—thriving.
He was one of a number of prospects who ended Thursday's NXT heading upward. Success appeared to be infectious as the scramble to the top continued.
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