Sami Zayn is one of the most popular wrestlers in the NXT brand, and his match Wednesday night against the veteran Rhyno was the perfect example of what WWE's developmental territory has become.
After missing so much time with a storyline injury, Zayn needed to return to action and make an instant impact. With Rhyno returning to WWE in order to help younger stars look strong, the matchup was ideal.
Hitting the Helluva Kick on the last true ECW champion was a major feather in Zayn's cap.
Rhyno has a similar size and style as Kevin Steen—the man who took the NXT Championship away from Zayn—so a match against the long-time bruiser was a great first step back to the main event scene.
Not only did Rhyno make Zayn look strong by taking the loss, but he also helped share lessons in the ring on WWE style. The reason everyone is in NXT is to learn, and getting into the ring with a performer like Rhyno forced Zayn to step up his game.
The key to any good match is storytelling. Zayn has become one of the best in NXT at expressing emotions and progression through his actions, and Rhyno has the same ability. Playing off each other during the match made it memorable and much more effective than a nothing match against an unknown wrestler.
Zayn needed a marquee opponent to begin his climb back into contention, and after watching Rhyno take down several jobbers in recent weeks, the matchup worked perfectly. While Zayn could step onto the main roster tomorrow and be a star, a little more polish with the help of a veteran is never a bad thing.
There was never any doubt that Rhyno would be the one taking the loss, but the matchup was so unique and different that the fans in attendance and at home couldn’t wait to see the bout. As expected, both men brought their best, and the result was yet another exciting NXT match.
When thinking about NXT, it makes fans think of two young talents going to battle, but Rhyno offers something different. Just as William Regal did in the past or even The Brian Kendrick in recent months, veterans of the business can offer advice that only experience can teach.
The steady stream of former WWE Superstars and veterans of the business returning to NXT as both trainers and enhancement talent is smart. It gives older stars a chance to continue contributing to the industry and up-and-coming wrestlers a chance to learn the business from those who have been down the same road.
Zayn vs. Rhyno exemplified what is great about NXT as a developmental territory.
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