WWE NXT has been one of the avenues used by the company to introduce new stars to the rosters. Making its debut in February 2010, the show has gone two seasons and is currently in its third, with Diva rookies being afforded a shot at professional wrestling.
NXT is helpful for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives WWE a fresh group to choose from fairly regularly. Secondly, fans get to vote for their favourite rookies.
This means that WWE does not have to take a gamble when it comes to fan appreciation like they would normally have to if a new superstar were to be introduced without the benefit of a show like NXT or even Tough Enough.
So far, all the participants of season one have found places on Raw in the form of the stable Nexus, who have been terrorising WWE under their leader and Season 1 victor, Wade Barrett.
These members came out strong at the end of the season and had their time in the spotlight even if they were eliminated by the fans and pros during the running of NXT.
Of course, WWE used the opportunity to do some further trimming and eventually there were three of the contestants who were originally eliminated from NXT, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, remaining with Nexus and Darren Young and Daniel Bryant as individual competitors on Raw.
The most recent addition to the list of winners is Kaval, who climbed to the top on NXT season two.
Other eliminated contestants coming out of this season include Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris, who have been included in the Nexus, and Alex Riley, who has remained with his pro, the Miz, as his personal assistant.
This means WWE has seen the potential of some of these men and feels that they should have an opportunity in the big league.
It can also mean that they see an opportunity to use these men to further the career of others. No one really expected Michael Tarver to make it further than Nexus, but it was important to the story line that the Nexus had an intimidating number of wrestlers to torture the Raw locker room.
He was included, helped or was used to give Wade Barrett the momentum that seems to be pushing him in line for a title very soon.
The fan appreciation for Kaval has been high. This is because his style is not only new to the fans, but exciting.
His skills are different to what we see on a weekly basis from the other superstars and since he is a newcomer, we are more amazed by his talents and athleticism than we would be for other superstars who we have grown accustomed to seeing.
With that being said, it seems that Kaval has not lived up to the hype generated at NXT.
Unlike Barrett and the members of NXT Season 1 who came out strong at the end of the rookie program (of course there is the fact that each personality is different and Barrett’s potential with the mic and as a heel is undeniable), Kaval has been beaten in all matches except one against the Big Show where he lasted five minutes without submitting or being pinned.
Although he won this match, there was the feeling that the Big Show was just toying with him and allowed the win.
Although he was impressive in this match, his success was immediately overshadowed by a quick match against Tyler Reks.
In this case, he showed that his ego was a bit big for such a little man and it eventually cost him his spot on the Smackdown team for Bragging Rights.
I cannot help feeling that Kaval is not making the impact that we thought he would. These sentiments are shared by others such as Bleacher Report author Renee Gerber, who notes that Kaval’s talent is being wasted.
I agree with this. It is important that the ‘newness’ of his style is capitalized upon before we all get used to seeing it and then lose interest in it. In fact, Bragging Rights would have been a great opportunity for him, but this did not happen.
Where is all the hype generated from NXT? Although he is not the top dog, he is certainly not a weak link. It makes the NXT program seem flawed when the winner is being afforded less opportunities as compared to those who had been eliminated.
In fact, we hear and see more of Alex Riley than Kaval. The difference is that Riley has not been involved in any matches as Kaval has been, but at the same time, I have a suspicion that Riley is making a bigger impact.
I make this point without taking anything away from Riley. He is entertaining and seems to have better all-around skills than Kaval does when it comes to speaking ability.
He is making great use of the opportunities afforded to him so far. If he continues this, there is no doubt that he has a bright future ahead of him, as does Barrett.
This current season featuring the female rookies is underway and as expected, there are a lot of competitions which involve very little wrestling. However, this deserves an entire other article.
In closing, I wish Wade Barrett and Alex Riley all the best since they are the two ‘most likely to succeed’ from the two seasons so far. I also hope that there are some big plans for Kaval’s future. If used correctly, he can do wonders for the company.