WWE NXT's Season Two Rookies and Their Season One Counterparts
Season Two of WWE NXT wrapped up earlier this week, with Kaval named the company's next breakout superstar.
With eight more men bound for the WWE's main roster, the much-needed youth movement continues to impose itself on the short- and long-term future of WWE programming.
With the remaining members of The Nexus, along with Daniel Bryan, competing on Raw, the Season Two rookies will likely head to Friday nights for their chance at the main event.
Even though they competed on different seasons of NXT and will likely remain on separate shows (at least for the short term), the most recent crop of rookies share plenty with their Season One counterparts.
This slideshow takes a look at each pairing of NXT Season One and Two competitors and touches on what may lie ahead for each duo.
Titus O'Neil-Michael Tarver
Titus O'Neil and Michael Tarver aren't long for WWE main stage.
Tarver is horrendous on the mic and has lackluster in-ring work. O'Neil never impressed on Season Two and was quickly jettisoned from the competition.
These men saw little success in the ring, combining for one win in 10 total matches. Tarver hasn't stood out since The Nexus came to Raw, and O'Neil will likely find the same fate waiting for him.
Barring an unforeseen shift in fortune, O'Neil and Tarver won't see the bright side of the midcard, and may find themselves in much-maligned jobber territory.
Percy Watson-Darren Young
The South Beach Party Boys continue to share a career path now that they have come to the main WWE roster.
In FCW, Percy Watson teamed with Darren Young to form the South Beach Party Boys. While circumstances have changed since their promotion, both men can have bright futures ahead of them.
Watson and Young didn't advance very far in their respective NXT seasons, but they showed glimpses of serious potential. One could even say both men were a bit underutilized.
The future remains uncertain for Watson and Young. Watson may be a piece in a larger picture after the angle that concluded Tuesday night's NXT season finale.
Young may be headed for a jobber role, a role on Team WWE after being dropped from The Nexus, or a trade to SmackDown! as a new member of the Straight Edge Society.
If WWE gives these men a chance, they could have two strong midcard superstars on their hands.
Eli Cottonwood-David Otunga
The sky seemed to be the limit for Eli Cottonwood and David Otunga.
Then, they received long-term exposure on WWE television, and that went out the window.
Cottonwood is an awful in-ring worker and has no ability on the mic. Though Otunga is serviceable on the microphone, his in-ring work is sloppy and plodding, much like Cottonwood's.
Fortunately for these two men, promos and in-ring work can be improved with the correct training. Time may be working against the 35-year-old Cottonwood, though.
Husky Harris-Skip Sheffield
The muscle of the first two seasons of NXT seem to be on the rise, for reasons I'm not sure I understand.
Both Husky Harris and Skip Sheffield are touted for their strength and size. Each was also sent packing fairly early in their respective NXT season.
The advantage Harris has over Sheffield is his bloodline. Harris is directly related to Blackjack Mulligan (his grandfather) and Mike Rotunda (his father, better known as I.R.S.) and is also related, though not by blood, to Barry Windham.
Sheffield's career path will undoubtedly be hampered by the broken ankle he suffered last month. Should Harris avoid an early injury like the one Sheffield suffered, he should arrive in the high midcard scene by this time next year.
Lucky Cannon-Heath Slater
I just don't know what to make of Lucky Cannon and Heath Slater.
One week, it appears Cannon and Slater have the edgy type of character that will catapult them into potential main-event success. The next week, it appears these two aren't cut out for the WWE and are operating on borrowed time.
Both superstars remind me a little bit of Edge—WWE teased such similarities in a backstage confrontation between Slater and Edge.
While it remains to be seen whether Cannon or Slater can even begin to reach the heights Edge has reached, a confident push and consistent backing can get both men near the top of the WWE.
Michael McGillicutty-Justin Gabriel
Only one thing is standing between each of these men and the main event.
As evidenced by his promo after Kaval was announced as the NXT Season Two winner, Michael McGillicutty is still green when cutting a promo.
Likewise, Justin Gabriel is rarely in front of the microphone when The Nexus is cutting a promo.
If these two men can sharpen their promo skills, the sky may be the limit for McGillicutty and Gabriel, two of the most promising superstars we've seen on NXT.
It wouldn't hurt if McGillicutty dropped his current name to honor his wrestling heritage and work under his real name, Joe Hennig.
What better way to establish credibility than to announce the youngster as the son of Hall of Famer, Mr. Perfect?
Kaval and Daniel Bryan are the little guys with big futures.
Both men come into WWE with successful runs in other organizations. Kaval found success in TNA, wrestling under the names Low Ki and Senshi, becoming a three-time NWA Tag Team Champion and a two-time TNA X-Division champion.
Bryan, working under his real name, Bryan Danielson, had reigns as Ring of Honor's Pure Champion and World Champion before arriving in WWE.
Kaval and Bryan also remained popular on NXT despite limited (or, in Bryan's case, zero) success in the ring.
It would be in WWE's best interest to give Kaval a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, no matter who the champ at the time may be. It would give Kaval some instant credibility, something Bryan has already established in his short time in WWE.
While it remains to be seen whether Kaval can reach new heights in WWE, Bryan seems destined for the world title picture.
Alex Riley-Wade Barrett
Whatever "it" is, both Alex Riley and Wade Barrett have it.
Riley didn't come out on top this season as Barrett did last season, but that doesn't mean Riley is any worse off. In fact, Riley may even be better off than Barrett is.
Barrett didn't have a ton of heat until he took over as the leader of The Nexus. As Riley said in the Season Two finale, he may have been hurt in the fan voting because he's so over as a heel.
Both of these men are on a career arc that will culminate with at least one world title reign. By the end of 2011, we may be talking about Riley and Barrett as serious main-event players.
Did you agree with the comparisons? Did you disagree?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!