Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017 - Part 1

Submitted by Cewsh on April 19, 2017 - 12:20am
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Welcome, cats and kittens, to what has become one of our most popular and requested features on this humble wrestling site, Cewsh Scouts! Over the next week and a half, we're going to scout and review 25 different NXT stars (and hopeful stars) in sets of 5, and then at the end we're going to do something new. For the first time, Cewsh Reviews will be crowning the 2017 Best Prospect in NXT award, which will from now be handed out yearly in the month after Wrestlemania. And all of this is going to be exclusive to cewshreviews.com until the next part is posted, so if you're hungry for that sweet scouting flavor, make sure you check back every day!

Now, for those of you who are new and unsure of what Cewsh Scouts is, in the past we have done some detailed scouting on both NXT and New Japan to help people get an idea for who these up and coming characters are before they pop onto your television screen, and to sort of give you a sense of whether it's important to keep an eye on them yet or not. We've had a pretty remarkable success rate at predicting next level talent thus far, so let's see if we can do it again!

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There are a few changes to the reports this year. In addition to the Pros and Cons, the Prospect Grade and the Readiness to Be Called Up, i'll also be grading the quality of their current entrance theme and concept, the quality and translatability of their gimmick as it is currently being presented, and the effectiveness of their finishing move as a branding tool to help get them over. Alright, now let's get started.

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Bobby Roode - NXT Champion

Non-WWE Exposure: TNA, NJPW, NOAH, AAA

Entrance Grade: A+

Gimmick Grade: A

Finisher Grade:

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B

Pros:

Aura of A Star

Absolutely Solid In The Ring

Can Carry A Brand

Cons:

Not A WWE Main Event Level Promo

Matches Are Rarely GREAT

May Owe Triple H And Ric Flair Royalty Checks

Not to spoil the end of Roode's scouting report, but of course he's ready to be called up to the main roster. But with WWE shifting its focus to having NXT be a brand of it's own, the bigger question is whether or not Roode is capable of carrying it until the next top guys is ready to take his place.

In the Ring

Those who saw Roode in TNA will already know the massive strides the man has taken in the last 10 years to go from forgettable midcarder to one of the smoothest and most in control wrestlers on the planet. Frankly, he makes it look easy. He uses a style that echos the 80s NWA style of top heels, with a slowed down pace and focus on limb work that can be very hard to get over in the current WWE environment where everyone is essentially wrestling 2003 era Ring of Honor matches up and down the card. As such, his matches don't seem to stand out as much as you would expect them to, but I think over time the audience will adapt to his style more and more. He certainly has them in the palm of his hand throughout matches, and has a knack for hot finishing sequences because of it.

Outside of the Ring

The "Glorious" character has been a helluva find for Roode, as it has transformed what may have been a flat, one-note Ric Flair knockoff into an over the top, flamboyant display of arrogance that comes across perfectly. This is something that will play with every audience everywhere in some way, shape or form and it was main event caliber from the first moment he stepped on screen. However, it must be said that his promo style doesn't really line up with the Glorious character, (which may be intentional, it remains to be seen.) Roode has always been a good, but not great promo, and he's already shown a lot of improvement from his TNA days since arriving in NXT. Since this is the only small flaw in his game, and it seems to be improving, it's hard to even dwell on it too much.

Overall

I don't think that Bobby Roode is ever going to main event a Wrestlemania, or even really be a top guy on a show. The Glorious thing has the legs to prove me wrong, but talent wise, Roode tracks as an extremely good lower level main event heel, in the same sort of space that Kevin Owens occupies right now. That's not an insult. He is goddamn great. Just not transcendent.

Prospect Grade: A

Ready For Call Up: Yes

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Andrade "Cien" Almas

Non-WWE Exposure: CMLL, NJPW

Entrance Grade: B

Gimmick Grade: B+

Finisher Grade:

NXT-02-1.gif

D

Pros:

Unbelievably Great Athleticism And Look

Heel Attitude Has Revived Him

Charisma. He gots it

Cons:

Natural Issues With English Speaking Promos

Is Still Fine Tuning His New In Ring Style

WWE Does Not Know How To Book Hispanic Heels

What a difference a few months makes. 3 months ago, all of those grade would have been yucky across the board, but one heel turn later, and here we are.

In the Ring

Among the many struggles Almas had when he first arrived was figuring out how to work an effective babyface style in a WWE ring. This was compounded by the fact that he was recently demasked and suddenly had to work out how to make facial expressions a thing AND by a gimmick that was just some hot, hot garbage. Basically, his first few months in the company reflected a guy who was going nowhere fast despite all of the hype he had coming in.

Then the heel turn happened.

Since that moment, Almas has been on fire. He has such an easy confidence and the ring, and is so goddamn crisp and smooth in everything he does, that it's hard to believe it was the same guy. His heel gimmick has clearly made him very comfortable and he's showing gobs of personality and having some really phenomenal matches with just about anyone they put him in with. The only real issue for him at this point is an overly elaborate DDT finisher, which is meant to evoke the intricate holds of lucha libre, but just isn't quick or impressive enough to get over in WWE. If he sorts out something better for himself there, he'll be ready for anything.

Outside of the Ring

Almas can cut promos in English, which is always a concern with international wrestlers connecting with an American audience, but he doesn't seem comfortable with it yet, nor should we expect him to be. He'll get there. More important, he shares a spiritual connection with Tetsuya Naito in Japan, and his outrageously cocky TRANQUILO spots are a highlight of any show he's on. Plus, the man is frankly amazing looking, and if they can capitalize on the playboy aspect of the character and Almas' real life, then they really have something.

Overall

WWE truly has trouble getting it right with any heel that has even a slight ethnic flair, much less actually being from a non-European foreign country. They get fixated on the culture and the person inside of the gimmick gets lost. Thus far, only Eddie Guerrero has managed to make something out of this as a heel. But when Almas gets to the next level, I firmly believe he will as well.

Prospect Grade: A

Ready For Call Up: No

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Hideo Itami

Non-WWE Exposure: NOAH, ROH

Entrance Grade: B-

Gimmick Grade: C

Finisher Grade:

NXT-04-2.gif

A

Pros:

Great Credibility Among Indy Fans

One Of Very Few Guys In The World To Have Been A Promotion's Ace

One Of The Best Jr. Heavyweights Of All Time

Cons:

Just Flat Out Injury Prone

Not As Relevant As He Once Was

Will Always Be Overshadowed By Others Now

God dammit, Hideo Itami. At one point the most exciting prospect ever signed by WWE from Japan, Itami has dealt with an endless string of injuries that have killed his momentum.

In the Ring

If you have never seen Hideo Itami wrestle, don't worry, because yes you have. His pioneering work while in Pro Wrestling NOAH basically crafted the blueprint for what a crusierweight wrestler is in this era. Tons of strikes, constant full speed motion, and a killer finisher. In fact, the only thing holding Itami back in the ring now is the fact that so many major WWE stars have stolen his style over the years that it won't seem original in front of this audience. The high powered corner dropkicks and Running Knee Strike of Daniel Brayn? Hideo Itami's. The Go 2 Sleep and every element of MMA style in CM Punk's arsenal? Hideo Itami's. Hell, the whole damn crusierweight division right now is an exaggerated love letter to Itami, who will have to work that much harder to stand out in a sea of impersonators who got here first.

Out of the Ring

It's still a little hard to say. Itami's English is coming along, but he hasn't been given a ton of chances to express himself in promos or vignettes. He does have an obvious "hyper intensity" kind of charisma, and it must be said that he has been the top draw for a wrestling company before, which is something that no one in developmental currently can say. He has the poise that comes with it. But he just hasn't been around enough for us to get a read on him.

Overall

It shreds me up inside to say it, but I don't think Itami is going to meet with much success when he makes it to the next level. The first time he does the Go 2 Sleep in front of a live audience not made up entirely of smarks, he is going to suffocate under the weight of the CM Punk chants he receives, and now that he's in his late 30s, it's probably too late to learn new tricks. If his health holds up, I can see him being a very valuable crusierweight division guy, but considering this is goddamn KENTA we're talking about, that has to be considered a disappointment.

Prospect Grade: B-

Ready For Call Up: No

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Oney Lorcan

Non-WWE Exposure: PWG

Entrance Grade: D+

Gimmick Grade: C

Finisher Grade:

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B-

Pros:

Great potential as a scrappy underdog

Consistently good matches

Progressing quickly

Cons:

Bad look

Bad name

Rough promos

The unfortunately named Oney Lorcan has come a long way in a short time, and has become the official NXT jobber to stars in the same kind of way Tyler Breeze was in his day, (except as a good guy.)

In the Ring

Lorcan has developed a very interesting in ring style that I think is going to serve him extremely well. He's hard hitting, extremely persistant in coming at you all all times, and takes an absolute beating that looks stiff, but is perfectly safe. No matter where you wrestle, that's a recipe for success, and in the past few months it's resulted in him surprising people with really great matches with the likes of Andrade "Cien" Almas and Drew McIntyre. Truth be told, I didn't like his work on the indy scene as Biff Busick, and I didn't expect him to do much with this opportunity, but he's tapped into this scrappy underdog role now, and it's doing wonders in the ring.

Out of the Ring

A lot of this needs work. His promos, judging them on the few he's gotten to do thus far, are technically fine but have no energy or charisma to them. His music and entrance is forgettable the second the next guy comes through the curtain, his name is a mouthful and is bound to be misspelled hundreds of times, and he's on the small side, even for this era.

With all of that said, his I'M A SCRAPPER FROM BOSTON character is going to get him over if he stays on the path he's on now and keeps turning in strong matches. By making him a lovable, hard nose loser who goes the distance with top stars but never quite makes it, they're building something with the character that will pay off. He just needs work fine tuning the details of it.

Overall

I can absolutely see Lorcan becoming a valuable midcarder at the next level, if they tinker with his presentation a bit. If his work keeps coming along, he'll get there.

Prospect Grade: B-

Ready For Main Roster: No

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No Way Jose

Non-WWE Exposure: None

Entrance Grade: B+

Gimmick Grade: C

Finisher Grade:

tumblr_okqvy3LNVL1s05wxzo1_400.gif

B

 Pros:

Big Dude!

A Lot Of Fun To Watch

Enough Charisma To Actually Make This Gimmick Work

Cons:

This Fucking Gimmick, Man

Not Exceptional In The Ring

He's Has Almost No Actual Promo Time On Screen

No Way Jose is a thing that should not have worked. They gave the Dominican guy a ridiculous name, and built his entire gimmick around dancing. That has failed so many times that's hard to believe that anybody really thought it could succeed. But i'll be damned.

In the Ring

Jose has a long way to go here. He has great size and quickness in the ring, and I think at this point in his career he's extremely carry-able when he's matched up with a high level opponent, but singles matches with anyone else have a tendency to drift, as if nobody is really sure where they're going with anything. Those matches still aren't actually bad, as Jose has a solid foundation of skill to work off of, but for a guy who gets the crowd into a frenzy during his entrance, his matches are remarkably quiet, with the fans checking out and waiting for a prompt to get involved. They need to find a way to get his charisma across while not overexposing him, but that's a tough job on a show where everyone gets over on their match quality first and foremost.

Outside of the Ring

Goddamn is this guy charismatic. He has taken a token dancing gimmick and turned it into a highlight of the shows. Add that to his completely infectious music and entrance, and his promo skills which are still rudimentary but show potential, and this is the kind of guy that you can make money with. Still, the gimmick is extremely one note, and if they don't find another one for him, then he'll be 2 years on the main roster and out like everyone who has held that cursed gimmick before him.

Also, he's really big, did I mention that? Because it's important. He will get pushes.

Overall

No Way Jose is someone who i'm watching with extreme interest. He has the most learning left to do of any of the high profile NXT stars right now, but he also has some of the most potential. I want to see someone with this kind of charisma rise and grow dynamically and make it to the main event on the main roster, but I just have this nagging sense that he will never outgrow the dancing funny guy and will be in TNA 3 years from now.

Prospect Grade: B-

Ready For Main Roster: No

Well that'll do it for us this time, boys and girls. Don't be sad just because it's over! Remember that there are a whopping FOUR more installment of Cewsh Scouts NXT 2017 coming at you, so stay tuned, check back here often for updates, and i'll see you next time!




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