WWE needs to clear airspace for Adrian Neville, the next great high-flyer.
In the tradition of Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam, Neville is a thrill ride to watch in the ring. His exciting move set, quickness, leaping ability and the skill to form all of that into great matches make him next in the line of WWE's great aerialists.
The NXT champ has shown that he's ready for a call-up. He just awaits an opportunity on the big stage.
He's never going to be Jake Roberts on the mic. He doesn't have the unmistakable presence that Steve Austin and The Rock rode to Hall of Fame careers.
That just means he'll struggle to be the centerpiece of the franchise. Instead, he'll be an invaluable asset as an acrobat, a sparrow in wrestling boots.
His strength is soaring around the ring. He does that better than anyone else in NXT right now and will ascend to the top of the main roster's high-flyers once his chance comes.
WWE may wish to hone his interview skills down at Full Sail University a bit longer, but following that, fans will watch as a human jet takes off toward the clouds.
A Thrilling Toolbox
A great high-flyer is a magician who can pull surprises out of his hat. More than just diving from the top rope, he finds new ways to contort his body, to stun crowds via acrobatic moves.
Neville's arsenal achieves that.
He showed that off during his battle against Tyson Kidd on June 12. In just the short clip below, Neville performs a cartwheel across the ring, a twisting dive over the top ropes and his famous Red Arrow:
These are not moves fans see often. The Shooting Star Press is already an insane move, requiring the wrestler to curl up and rotate in the air like an Olympic diver.
Neville ups the difficulty by adding a corkscrew element, performing two different rotations at the same time.
Fans of his work on the independent circuit know that he still has weapons that he has yet to unsheathe at NXT. Watching Neville's time as PAC assures one a dropped jaw and wide eyes.
He employed a slingshot Frankensteiner, a standing moonsault senton and the incredible Dragonrana, which sees the attacker flip off the top rope before hitting a hurricanrana.
The list of men who can pull these off is short. Neville does them seemingly with ease.
Bringing in thrilling moves like these is going to win over fans quickly. Innovation and novelty entice, and so does the uncanny ability to be able to execute these without breaking one's neck.
Physical Gifts Abound
Neville sometimes appears to be plucked out of a cartoon, a blur whizzing across the screen.
His speed, agility and body control are all first rate. Turn on any of his matches for proof aplenty.
Take his clash with Bo Dallas on March 27, for example. His kicks are fluid, fast and precise. The quickness he shows off when he runs the ropes has one wondering if even the original Sin Cara could beat him in a footrace.
Neville lands on his feet when Dallas counters a tornado DDT, and The Man Gravity Forgot throws in a reverse 450 splash for good measure.
While Kofi Kingston has been WWE's leaping king, Neville's arrival would likely unseat him. The NXT titleholder appears to have the same springs in his legs that Kingston does.
Watch him hit a moonsault during his match with Van Dam on June 26. He gets impressively high even though he's only jumping from the second turnbuckle.
In addition to the dexterity and quickness that powers a high-flyer, Neville is built far more powerfully than his gravity-defying peers. His muscular build is not typical of wrestling's acrobats.
Indy star Ricochet, for example, is the same height (5'10'') as Neville, but he weighs just 163 pounds, as listed by Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's roster page. Neville, meanwhile, is 194 pounds, per WWE.com.
That 31-pound difference doesn't come from a beer gut, either. Neville has stacked muscles atop muscles, making him a more durable wrestler and giving him the cut look WWE prefers.
A Growing Resume of Excellence
Watching indy wrestling matches sometimes feels like more of a showcase of athleticism than a theatrical fight. Some high-flyers haven't been able to meld their great physical ability with in-ring storytelling skills.
That's something Neville has improved dramatically during his time at NXT.
He's not just out there performing tricks; he's telling a story. When WWE asks him to step into the ring against big men like Rusev or Brodus Clay, an athletic marvel like Gabriel or more of a throwback talent like Dallas, Neville thrives.
His showmanship skills were a big part of the success of his NXT title match against Dallas at NXT Arrival.
His passion and rage were clear as he tagged his foe with right hands. His pain looked genuine as he tumbled to the ground dazed following a powerbomb into a ladder.
WWE gave him the opportunity to headline the next NXT live special as well. His performance opposite Kidd garnered a number of rave reviews.
Eric Martinez of Wrestle Enigma rated it an A+ match and wrote that "both men told a story through their emotion and frustration." On PWMania.com, Julian Radbourne called the match one of the best he'd seen all year.
Praise like that will continue to come Neville's way.
He has helped separate himself from the proverbial pack with an ability to flourish against a variety of opponents and produce great matches, not just great highlights.
With Mysterio past his prime, Hardy working for TNA and the original Sin Cara having flopped in WWE, the company has needed to fill the void for the next top-tier high-flyer. It need only turn to Neville, the man taking flight each week down in Florida.