Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NXT and the Land of Forgotten Toys

NXT is the hottest thing in pro wrestling. It's great, as it gives you a glimpse into the WWE's future, and the future is clearly bright. That's what everybody talks about, but there is another, admittedly smaller, aspect of NXT, and that is the wrestlers who have had success before who are trying to build back up to main roster relevancy. These are the forgotten toys of the WWE. They're not bad; it's just that fans haven't really thought about why they loved them so much before, and NXT is giving them that chance to bust out of the toy chest and back into the main rotation.

Zack Ryder
Let's start with the most insane example. Zack Ryder was a huge deal. Z! True Long Island Story changed how WWE treated the internet. Honestly, I'm not sure if the WWE Network exists without Zack Ryder getting the ball rolling. That show sparked WWE getting a YouTube channel, so yeah, he was way ahead of the curve when it came to pro wrestling and technology.

He used that to create a huge following and even a US Title run. Unfortunately, the WWE never really knew what to do with him; they just knew that fans really liked him. They didn't understand that fans related to him, and although he was big on the internet, it never really translated to WWE TV.

Even saying that, this is now a guy who isn't just doing NXT Tapings, he's doing the house shows as well. In fact, he even walked around and took pictures with fans before the show. He's now in a tag team with Mojo Rawley, and that is the best thing that could have happened to Mojo, as they have done a good job of hiding his weaknesses in the ring, while exploiting his main attribute, which is energy (also known as staying hyped). It was really cool to get to see Zack Ryder, but he's a guy who can still make an impact on Raw.

One more thing: Zack Ryder is a true professional where there is no job he won't do. He proved that by taking the pin to Dash and Dawson at an NXT House show.

I feel like the entire world has forgotten that Emma was the shit. Before the "Divas Revolution" took form with the Four Horsewomen, Emma was on Paige's level, and they were tearing it up on NXT. They were the two dominant women wrestlers, making it to the finals of the inaugural Women's Title Tournament when Sasha Banks and Bayley were too green to make an impact.

Emma came in as this Australian lady that people were kind of indifferent towards, and she became beloved due to some awkward dancing and some damn fine wrestling. Unfortunately, the WWE could only focus on the former when they brought her up to the main roster and made her a comedy act with Santino. It did not go well, as they just aimlessly had her wander around until Santino retired. There was also a day where she was fired from stealing from Wal-Mart, but seriously, people should steal from Wal-Mart. She was hired back the next day, but they never really put her into anything meaningful on Raw.

Now, she has paired with Dana Brooke, and she's back to putting on good matches on NXT. She seems to be more of the sidekick in that team, which is insane, but it's at least leading to something positive. But it was a little shocking to see her at an NXT house show surrounded by up-and-comers as opposed to someone who has already shown she belongs. It's great for a fan who lives in Florida, but I'm still hoping she gets the chance to rejoin the Raw roster soon.

Tyler Breeze
The last person I want to talk about is Tyler Breeze. He doesn't fit into the same mold as the previous two people, as he has only had one match on Raw. But Tyler Breeze seems like he is, at best, getting passed by, and at worst, he's being forgotten. Sure, he's always around, but he's more there to make others feel important than actually being important. Back to that Raw match; the reason he was there was to promote the main event for NXT Takeover. This is a guy that was in the main event of the second Takeover, where he wrestled in a Fatal 4-Way with Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, and Tyson Kidd. And it would not have been all that surprising if Breeze won that match.

And now, he's just there. Don't get me wrong; he's still putting on great matches, and his entrances at Takeover events are always a highlight, but there doesn't seem to be any direction to where he's going. I know wins and losses don't matter in the long run, but the guys who have gotten pushes onto the main roster have been NXT Champions, cultist hillbillies, and Xavier Woods. Tyler Breeze doesn't fit into any of those categories (although when you think about it, he's not too far from the Xavier Woods category). Next up, he's got Apollo Crews, and it should be another great match from Breeze, because it was pretty great when I saw it at a house show in Largo. But let's be real: Breeze ain't winning that match, and I don't know where he goes from there.

The goal is that WWE is just giving Tyler Breeze the beginning of his own "Chris Jericho: Conspiracy Theorist" angle, and Breeze turns into the most fun wrestling character on the planet. That would be ideal, but I would settle for John Cena restarting the US Title Open Challenge and immediately be defeated by Tyler Breeze. Is that too much to ask?

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