(Don't) Call Me Up, Vince Submitted by LoneLee on 11/10/2018 at 01:24 PM
Who could forget the infamous phrase airbrushed across the rear-end of Velveteen Dreamís tights at NXT Takeover Brooklyn? Such a brash (most likely worked) move from the 23-year old prodigy. Oh, but from my assessment, he should have prefixed it with the word ďDonít.Ē See, a lot of fans love Velveteen Dream and almost everything he does as a performer in NXT. Why potentially ruin that with a main roster run? Unfortunately, a lot of us faithful fans have that preconceived idea that once Vince gets ahold of diamond in the rough, he crushes it back into coal. I want to take a look a few examples that prove this theory, a few that dispute it, and some concerns looking toward the future.
Being labeled an NXT guy or girl has become sort of a stigma since becoming a developmental brand in 2012. A talent is exposed to a much wider audience that may or may not already be familiar with. The intimate setting of the Full Sail crowd can be far less critical than the watchful RAW faithful or passionate SDLive horde. With that, not all gimmicks and characters are as fashionable to the mass market. Prime examples: Adam Rose and No Way Jose.
Both had similar high energy entrances, catchy theme music, and an entourage literally dancing to the ring at their backs. Within months, Adam Rose went through several gimmick changes before being released. Creative has reportedly already given up on No Way Jose before ever really having a chance to make an impact. What went wrong? Firstly, not everyone is enthusiastic about dancing or musical gimmicks in this day and age. The days of Too Cool and even what little fame Disco Inferno had are long gone. Mainly, they were seen as one-dimensional characters with nothing to grasp onto. The most memorable association Rose had was with a bunnyÖand the bunny was more over. The poor Russell Brand knock-off was dead on arrival, long before his own personal actions did him in. As for Jose, I see him possibly being sent back to NXT in the future under a new gimmick or name, perhaps as part of a tag team.
When a gimmick is forced on someone, how can they be expected to bring that character to life in a believable light? When forced to talk, they are completely exposed as the frauds that they are. In some occasions, all they need is that chance to talk. Remember what I said about musical gimmicks? Well, that isnít the case with Elias. He isnít a gimmick or a character. Unlike guitar carrying characters before him, Elias is a certified wizard of the strings. That alone wouldnít be enough to enthrall a crowd but his quick wit and natural ability to berate a live audience helps capture lightning in a bottle every time. Even though all references to the moniker of ďDrifterĒ have been removed from his persona, itís specifically what he is. A nomad who travels from town to town with a message. Which is why a drifter didnít make too much sense being stagnant in one town like Orlando. A necessary tweak with an opportunity to shine brought out better than the best in Elias.
Now letís touch on in-ring capabilities. NXT Takeover matches are synonymous with giving the very best performances from bell to bell. Unlike main roster PPVs with convoluted or screwy finishes, NXT stars are primarily focused on connecting with the crowds by wrestling. Which is the sole reason I have my doubts in NXT as a true developmental operation. Letís face it from an office perspective if you canít talk, you wonít make in WWE. Something as trivial as a language barrier can be the ultimate glass ceiling for names like Asuka or Shinsuke Nakamura. These are two talents that flourished across the globe before even reaching NXT and brought the same kind of success to the yellow brand. For whatever reason, theyíve had a rise and drop to mediocrity on the mainstream level. I donít want to quote Gail Kim on anything or start that kind of debate, but it is something to be taken into consideration. I can guarantee that fans of these two were engaged with them because of what they could do in the ring, not their promos. Should that really prevent them from reaching the next level? Why not them just let them do what they do best instead of holding them back for something that isnít their fault? Why not accentuate their talents and mask their deficiencies like WWE tends to do with so many others? Because WWE is still primarily an English-speaking market and if you canít speak the language, then itís just a waste of their time.
Sorry, got caught up there, back on topic. Attempting to mask a deficiency can sometimes be a happy accident. Pairings of characters that are lost in the shuffle have proven to have good chemistry from time to time. Was Breezango even supposed to be a long-term deal? That was a combination of minor creative freedom from two naturally funny guys and the booming interest in overly eccentric characters. Even with Apollo Crews I feel like his alliance with Titus OíNeal could be on the cusp of something great. If Titus focused primarily on being the promoter-like manager, rather than a wrestler, of the bland toned but physically impressive Crews, it could be a world championship caliber heel act without question. A great feud can be that proponent to take him to the next level.
One thing a few of the NXT guys suffer from is a thing I like to call The Ziggler Repercussion. More than a few of the NXT call ups are immediately entered into a feud with Dolph Ziggler. While Dolph is a known workhorse and can make almost anyone look like a million bucks in the ring, heís always been just below the cusp of greatness himself. Once their feud with him is finished, where do they go from there? A feud with Dolph has never really meant anything sadly. A victory over Dolph wasnít exactly something worthy of commendation and trading victories could be just as damaging. At the same time I donít see Dolph as an entry level feud for anyone, heís too good for it and is finally being positioned higher on the card as he should be. A slow rise can be just as effective as an instant impact under believable circumstances. Kevin Owens gained instant notoriety when he pinned John Cena clean in his main roster debut. Finn Balor became the inaugural Universal champion with a few weeks by beating some of RAWís top names. The Revival took out The New Day on the heels of their record-breaking title run. Regardless of how their careers continued, this is how you introduce a talent to a new crowd.
NXT can be a breeding ground for some of the most unique talent. It can slowly introduce a new crowd to an already infamous indy sensation or a primarily internationally known star to the US crowd. NXT has become more than a developmental territory, itís a separate entity. If WWE ran an independent promotion itíd be like NXT. Rumors swirling the internet about changes coming to the brand both excite and worry me. A TV deal means adhering to network and sponsorship preferences. Expanding to a two-hour format risks over exposure of talent. Perhaps if the brand reaches an even greater height of popularity, they can remain in NXT, rather than being lost in the shuffle on RAW or SDLive. For now, if they donít get called up, itís fine. Let us enjoy them at their full potential a little bit longer.