Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Ultimate WWE NXT Fantasy Draft Review

With Smackdown moving to a live show on Tuesdays, it appears we are going to have a good old-fashioned brand split for the WWE. Instead of waiting for the WWE to pull off a disappointing draft routine, the ultimate tag team, Lukewarm Jonah and Hott Joe, came together this past week to have an old fashioned WWE Fantasy Draft. Our goal is to create the best possible roster to create a successful, moneymaking product.

We knocked out the main roster in parts onetwo, and three, with a review added at the end. But this week, we focus on NXT. With 73 superstars, we had to break it into two parts, with part one earlier this week and part two yesterday. Today is the conclusion where we discuss our thoughts more in-depth and wrap this thing up.

Jonah: So let's get this started, if you were in my position, how would you have handled the first few picks?

Joe: I think you have to go Balor with the first pick. Since he's been around for a while, people have gotten less impressed since he's not the hot new thing anymore, but he's great in the ring, and The Demon gimmick is about as unstoppable as Goldberg. As for the next two, my preference was American Alpha over Joe and Asuka. I'm not a big Samoa Joe fan. Joe's style is based on him being physically dominant, and I just don't know if he can do that when he gets to the main roster and looks small next to guys like Randy Orton. I would have been really bummed if I would not have gotten Alpha. After that Itami makes total sense, but I'm not an Aries guy at all. Did you have any thoughts on how the first nine picks went down?

Also, as I stated last week, the depth of the main roster shocked me, and this week, the lack of depth in NXT shocked me as well. The draft got really interesting for me at 10, what are your thoughts about those 10-20 picks?

Jonah: NXT is very talent heavy at the top.  I decided to go with Finn Balor.  He's got it all.  The look, the gimmick, the in ring talent.  He's a guaranteed star.  10 is definitely where things got interesting.  The picks up until that point are almost all guaranteed stars.  Outside of the top 10, you realize that there's not a lot of people left.  Alexa Bliss is great, and I love Tye Dillinger and have for years.  I wanted a push for him and Jason Jordan back when they were a tag team.  The Revival is still strong tag team, and they should be a tag team for life.  I see them being successful in the future.  I think No Way Jose needs a serious gimmick change, but he's got a good look and is good enough in the ring.  Nobody likes Mojo, and I think you took him too high.  If he comes with Gronk he may be worth that selection.  Carmella was a good pick and I'm a big fan of Gargano and Ciampa and think they'll be the next wrestlers pushed, especially when you look at the terrible depth in NXT.  I think you did great at building your women's division, but I think I got the better overall talent and my tag team division is extremely strong with my two teams.  What are your thoughts on the 10-20 picks?

Joe: Asked for his comments on Jonah, Mojo Rawley repeatedly screamed, "HE AIN'T HYPE," so tough break for you, Jonah. Because I can reunite the Hype Bros with my roster. I obviously acquired a ton of women's talent, so I'll have plenty of people to squash Rosa Mendes and Eva Marie on the main roster. I'm not totally sure what I think about No Way Jose, but there is something there. He's got likability, and that's a valuable commodity. As for your side, Ciampa's solid, but I feel like Gargano gets a lot of credit just because he came from the indy wrestling scene. It's not like he was really a star in any way, it was kind of a random signing, and somebody they care so little about that he can still wrestle on other cards. Having a couple workers like The Revival is good to have around, but I don't think you got your second tag team until later in this draft. So talk about your favorite pick in the 20s, and if it's not TM 61, talk about them instead.

Jonah: I may not be hype, but I'm still a more talented wrestler than Mojo.  Of course my favorite pick in the 20's is TM 61.  Big time tag team that fell way too far.  In a couple of months they'll probably be challenging American Alpha for the NXT tag team titles.  The Revival can't fight American Alpha every month.  That match they had with Gargano and Ciampa was great and announced their arrival.  Who was your favorite pick in the 20s?  For your picks, I like Andrande Almas, I knew you'd take him, but I thought I might be able to steal him away.  Guy has had a lot of success and will be over pretty quickly.  I also maintain that your pick, Tino Sabatelli, has butt implants.

Joe: I never watched TMDK (now TM 61) in their matches overseas, but they are a ton of fun in the ring. Nick Miller (can we change his name so he doesn't share it with a character on New Girl?) and Shane Thorne both have an overwhelming amount of in-ring charisma. Saying all that, I'm still happy with my decision to take Andrade Almas. He is the hottest of fire in the ring, and if this draft would have happened in a two months, he'd be a top-10 pick. Adrienne Reese has the coolest finisher in wrestling and further strengthens my stranglehold on women's wrestling. And considering that Tino has muscles in places that I don't, yeah, those have to be implants. Are there any other wrestlers that have been on television that stand out to you, good or bad? The next 20 picks were filled with wrestlers we have seen for brief periods in one way or another. Is there anybody that stands out to you, good or bad?

Jonah: I relate Nick Miller with the Nick Miller from New Girl.  I hope that's his entire character.  I like my picks of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay.  They've shown plenty of potential to be the next group of women in NXT.  I also put Liv Morgan in there as well.  I think Blake and Murphy were a great steal for you, but Rich Swann will be a big deal in no more than a few months.  Sawyer Fulton has all the potential in the world if they actually decide to use him.  I also like what I've seen out of Chris Gerard, and I've read great things about him.  Alexander Wolfe has looked good in his TV appearances and I've read some great reviews about him.  Tucker Knight is the one guy I don't really like.  I don't like his look and his in ring skills aren't impressive.  I got to see him win a match and was very underwhelmed by him.

Joe: Jonah, I think what this has taught me more than anything is how damn impressive your optimism is. You typed that, "Sawyer Fulton has all the potential in the world." Were you high when you wrote that? Like, he's fine, but the last time I saw him at a house show, he was in a Heavy Metal tag team with Alexander Wolfe. They were basically The Ascension adjacent. And Rich Swann is fine, but I don't think he's destined to be a big deal, unless Ricochet is secretly wearing Rich Swann's skin all of a sudden. Oh man, now I'm being a negative nancy. Liv Morgan and Mandy Rose are both really hot, and Rose does seem to be finding her character. And Tucker Knight used to wear a duck tape diaper, so mad respect for that. Oh, and I almost forgot Hugo Knox. Not sure if you've seen him, but you will love him, as he is a British bodybuilding club dancer, and it is AMAZING. Do you have thoughts on those final 20 picks? There are some super obscure names in there, although there may be some potential as well.

Jonah: Can I find optimism in the last 20 picks?  Of course I can.  Lots of amateur wrestling accomplishments in both our sides.  Some great foreigners, lots of fun stuff.  Now if you want to know who the greatest of the bunch is going to be it's Babatunde Aiyegbusi.  He's a physical marvel that took the same road to the WWE as Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, through the Minnesota Vikings.  Jerome Turner is big and has the support of The Rock so he's a guy to watch out for.  Terrance Jean Jaques was an Iowa wrestler and I know that's important, but it's something I feel is teachable.  When you talk about guys who are very impressive based on their appearance I'm going with Dylan Miley.  He looks like a more muscular Rusev.  

Joe: Well, I'll let you be optimistic for both of us, as the only thing I can really add is people are excited about Nikki Storm, but I have only seen her once and couldn't judge a lot off of it.

After 191 picks (118 for main roster), this experiment is finally over. I have to say this has been one of the more fun projects for the blog. I honestly think drug rehab should involve fantasy drafts to replace the highs, because hot damn do I get excited for these things. For NXT, I think it's pretty clear that there will never be a brand split, because I think six months into it, I'd be putting on best-of-7 series with Nakamura and Tucker Knight (it would be a sweep). It seems that 22-25 are the picks we're most excited about. For you, it's TM 61, and for me, I'm already all-in on Andrade "Cien" Almas and Adrienne Reese. Ultimately, I think this one is fairly close, you geared more towards the Indy darlings, and I geared more towards charisma and the ladies. I'm obviously more excited about my roster, but of course I am, I wouldn't have drafted these people if I wasn't.

I don't think we'll ever agree on who had the better main roster, but it's pretty clear that we focused on different things. I focused on mainstream appeal, as I feel that my roster will dominate the second half of the WrestleMania card. With Big Match John, Triple H, Taker, and Brock, the only big match I'm not guaranteed is the World Title match. The downside with my roster is the latter three are part-timers, but I think that could be a benefit as it gives me time to build up guys like Neville and Apollo Crews instead of getting stuck in a rut of main event guys are main event guys and midcard guys are midcard guys.

What are your closing thoughts?

Jonah: Whew 191 picks.  That was fun, I'm glad I found someone as into it as I am.  You have the star power for right now, but as you said your guys are part time.  They're also old as hell.  Undertaker might have one or two more matches in him at most.  Triple H will only wrestle a couple more matches as well, I think at least.  Brock can leave at any time and decide to be President of the United States or whatever his next goal will be.  Cena should be around for another few years, and he's the one I really do feel bad about missing out on, but I missed out on him by taking guys who can main event Wrestlemania for at least the next 10 years.  Don't forget when Cena made his big return this Monday the response was very meh until Styles came out, then the crowd got excited to see the two of them face off.  Owens is just so good at everything.  He's not musclebound, but once he turns face again and is doing planchas to the outside, he'll be hugely over.  Orton is still a huge name, and as you said, Rusev should already be a main eventer and will be around for a long, long time.  The first 16 people that I took are either already main eventing, or are already in the upper midcard.  After that I added lots of talent that has been underused.  My roster is strong top to bottom, from the men's division, to the women's division, to the tag division.  I added to the depth through the NXT draft, but yes we definitely have to keep our rosters together in NXT.  I'd say your draft looks more appealing on paper, but like I said, my first 16 picks are super over and talented.  That's 8 feuds plus an undercard with talented wrestlers.  We are both very strong, and if the draft actually went down this way and had two talented bookers in charge of the roster, the WWE would know what it's like to feel successful again. 

Joe: Can't wait to see how they screw it up.

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