No eliminations this week, so I must rank all seven remaining rookies. But at least there was no keg carry challenge or potato sack races or hot wing eating contests, so I can rank the NXTers based on attributes that might help them succeed in WWE and not at a family reunion.
1) Alex Riley. He’ll have to royally screw this up for me not to rank him at No. 1 every week. His promo on “pigeon” was hilarious, his delivery was spot-on WWE-style, and you could tell the Miz was eating it up. He was roundly booed by the Atlanta crowd not because he was bad (see Cannon, Lucky), but because he was great.
2) Kaval. He was only given a couple of small opportunities to shine in his match against the Miz, but when he did, he did well, and the live crowd reacted strongly for him. His promo was, as Matt Striker said, a little pandering (see Morrison, John; “I think it’s so cool that the WWE Universe gets to blah blah blah”), and he doesn’t need to patronize to get himself over. Still has a unique voice that the fans love and a moveset that will excite YOU, the WWE Universe~!, every match.
3) Michael McGillicutty. Yeah, I know, I moved the miscast third-generation heel with the stupid name above Percy Watson, but McGillicutty’s excellent in-ring work has almost completely won me over. But Mikey, man, there’s a reason people booed your promo: You delivered it like a heel. “I’m a this, my grandpa was that, my dad was this, I’ll take your breath away…” You’re bragging, and babyfaces don’t brag, at least not until they’ve gone full circle from hated heel to love-to-hate heel.
4) Percy Watson. Of course his promo at the beginning of the show was great; he’s Percy Watson, baybeh! (TM East Coast Audio) His in-ring work is about a 7 out of 10 right now, though, but he’s athletic (see his effortless leapfrogs as an example) and seems like a moldable piece of clay, like he wants to be there and wants to learn how to be the best. I like his attitude, OH YEAH!
5) Husky Harris. Husky’s video package during which the pros offered their opinions of him reinforced my perception of him as a shit-kicking bully with a bad attitude and a lot of swagger. I still like that about him, and I liked how he leaned on the podium before his promo (Striker must have liked it, too, because it elicited a giggle out of the emcee). His delivery was good with room for improvement, and his in-ring shortcomings were covered by being in a tag team match with someone else to carry the load. I write a lot about this kid each week because I have high hopes for him; here’s hoping he gets more aggressive in the ring and a little more natural on the mic.
6) Eli Cottonwood. Really, I’ve only bumped him ahead of Lucky Cannon because he claimed he didn’t have a mustache, and then 10 seconds later said he had the best mustache of all of the NXT guys. The pros in Eli’s video were right: He’s awkward, and (as I said last week) he needs to learn how to take his 7-foot-1-inch frame and learn how to be intimidating and dominating. Don’t hold your breath, he’ll never learn how.
7) Lucky Cannon. This guy is not a WWE superstar (stay with me here), he’s a future “Former WWE NXT Rookie” on a poster at an independent show near you.