Anger and intensity powered the most memorable performances on the Aug. 21 edition of WWE NXT.
The second round of the tag team tournament showcased two hot prospects in Enzo Amore and Kalisto. The former showed off his range by becoming enraged, hungry for a fight. Mojo Rawley displayed similar emotion, but his ring work held him back.
In the race to become the top NXT prospect and earn a call-up to the main roster, Amore, Becky Lynch and Kalisto sprinted ahead. Rawley stayed put, and Aiden English took a step backward, albeit a small one.
The NXT champ was not in action, so there were opportunities aplenty to make an impression. No one did that better than Amore.
Stock Up: Enzo Amore
Before he and Colin Cassady took on English and Simon Gotch, Amore was especially electric. He stomped his way to the ring buzzing with energy.
Already a verbal Tasmanian devil, Amore showed he had an extra gear, delivering his catchphrases with more force than usual.
In the ring, he threw a series of theatrical punches and sold The Vaudevillains' offense well. The match was over quickly, though. Gotch and English moved onto the next round, but Cassady and Amore aren't set to fade into the background.
The Legionnaires attacked them after the bout and ran a pair of shears across Amore's beard.
He fell stunned, grasping at his facial hair. The hurt and anger he showed here made this feel significant. He convinced us that The Legionnaires had stolen something precious from him.
Amore later came out with fiery eyes and extra bass in his voice. He wasn't just the jokester he usually is—he came off as dangerous. Amore challenged Sylvester LeFort to a Hair vs. Hair match at NXT Takeover 2.
That could well be Amore's finest moment, as he will be aided by the storyline heading into his biggest match to date.
Stock Up: Becky Lynch
WWE is improving how it packages Lynch.
Gone are the bright green tights and overly bubbly attitude. Instead, she came out to her match against Charlotte headbanging in a more intimidating plaid ensemble.
She's become increasingly aggressive and that showed against the women's champ. She clobbered Charlotte with a clothesline and later came crashing down on her with an impressive leg drop.
Lynch hit hard and made the audience take notice.
One of the highlights of the match was her bridge to escape Charlotte's figure-four headlock. It's flashes of technical skill like this that have quickly made her a top Divas prospect.
Stock Even: Mojo Rawley
In order to climb the NXT prospect rankings, Rawley needs to show character depth beyond his hyped gimmick and be more versatile and entertaining in the ring. On Thursday's NXT, he succeeded with the former, but he failed to progress in terms of ring work.
After dominating Steve Cutler, Rawley cut the best promo of his career.
Furious about Bull Dempsey attacking him last week, he talked about how his smile had gone away and that he can't be stopped. He was forceful, compelling and more dynamic than he's ever been.
The trouble is that he failed to transfer his emotions into his match before that promo. He tried to be intense as he took down Cutler, but he wasn't convincing.
A part of that was that his glares weren't intimidating. Maybe that's just the aftereffect of so much time seeing him as a happy-go-lucky guy.
The bigger issue is his move set. He was supposed to be tearing Cutler apart, showing off his fury. Rawley's moves don't exude that, though.
Hitting a man with your rear end and then sitting on him aren't exactly vicious maneuvers. WWE needs to work with him to find more violent ways to let out his emotions between the ropes, be it repeated knees to the gut or something like Sheamus' Beats of the Bodhran.
Stock Down: Aiden English
English's partnership with Gotch has been fun, but he's getting less of a chance to showcase his skills as of late. On Thursday's NXT, Amore and Cassady took hold of the audience's attention while The Drama King was more of a background player.
Not singing before his matches hasn't helped him stand out.
During the bout, Cassady and Gotch provided more highlights. Aside from scoring the pinfall after a senton, it's hard to remember much of English's contributions.
It's not poor performances that are hurting him. This is a case of a lack of opportunity and getting lost on a crowded stage.
Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Tyler Breeze keep gaining new buzz. That's not as true for English, excellent new gimmick and all.
He and Gotch will, however, be battling in the finals of the tag team tournament. That will be a great chance to remind us that of what he's capable of.
Stock Up: Kalisto
Kalisto's chemistry with Sin Cara gets better each week. That has made them one of the most exciting teams in the division.
The majority of the highlights of their win over Zayn and Adam Rose came from Kalisto.
He did a handstand in mid-battle before launching Rose to the mat. He soared around the ring as he's done his whole career, inspiring the crowd to chant for him.
The high-flyer received the biggest reactions from the NXT faithful, even with fan-favorite Zayn in the mix.
Beyond the acrobatics, Kalisto also impressed with his selling ability. Every time Zayn or Rose nailed him in the back, he writhed on the mat, reaching for his spine. He was convincing in this department and elevated the match.
He'll get another high-profile chance to move his stock upward in the finals of the tag tournament. He's compelled fans to watch him work with each outing, although it's hard to keep one's eyes on him with as much of a blur as he is.
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