A day late (and a few hundred dollars short), I finally finished this week’s WWE NXT, and while my rankings haven’t changed much, I’ve seen new things out of almost everyone.
1) Alex Riley. It’ll take an act of God to knock Riley out of this top spot. He proved again this week that he has the look, the in-ring work, the timing and the personality to be a WWE superstar. Jeremy and I talked about this over IM at one point, but I could see Riley in a faction similar to the old Varsity Club with Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler (and maybe master’s degree holder Michelle McCool). But he can stand on his own, too.
2) Kaval. He took two weird bumps this week — one after going face-first into the turnbuckles, hesitating, then taking a flat-back bump, and the other after absorbing Eli Cottonwood’s finisher on his stomach, selling it with a big facial, then flopping onto his back like a fish, suddenly unconscious enough to be pinned. But he still has more character than most of the rest, and he can go in the ring.
3) Husky Harris. I like this kid. His attack on Matt Striker was short but vicious — great forearm to the back, great senton, great smirk on his way up the ramp, with his vest off his shoulders. He’s a cocky redneck, a unique combination in today’s WWE. It could totally work, as could a tag team with Cody Rhodes when this season ends. Let’s see him on the main roster.
4) Percy Watson. I liked his in-ring work for the most part; his dropkicks are better than Kofi Kingston’s but not quite Randy Orton-level, and his flippity splash had some serious air underneath it. He works the crowd like a champ, and while it’s silly, it works perfectly for him (or should I say, he works it perfectly). Keep Urkel around, guys!
5) Michael McGillicutty. I still stumble over a few things about Mr. Perfect’s kid (a label I hope he sheds, but one that puts a high benchmark on his expectations). I hate his 360-degree turn followed by his arm extension that he calls an entrance; I don’t like how his promos sound sooo scripted, and I don’t like that he looks like a mini-Matt Morgan, kinda like a douchey roommate of the guys whose parties you went to in college. McGillicutty just strikes me as a natural heel. He still bumps like a champ, and his finisher kicks ass. Keep working on it.
6) Lucky Cannon. Lucky still looks like a TNA tag team champion, but his work in the ring is OK. His mic work is generic, and his backstory is weak, but he’s serviceable for now. I know, he’s this season’s Heath Slater, a white-bread babyface in a world where the audience would prefer more flavor.
7) Titus O’Neil. Now that I know his backstory, I like him a little more, but something about the fact that he’s such a natural athlete but such a tentative wrestler bugs me. I know it can happen to lots of guys, but he runs the ropes like a weinie and gives and takes moves like he’s just starting wrestling school. It’s OK to be a little more aggressive when executing a bodyslam, Titus.
8 ) Eli Cottonwood. Yuck.