The Booking Sheet

This past Sunday my store slowed down a bit for about an
hour, and myself and a few of the more hardcore wrestling fans there started
talking about NXT.

Okay, that’s a total lie. We were talking about football.
But we have talked about NXT before, and….
Okay, fine. That first part is also a lie. We were talking
about why we can’t get a coherent DC Universe on the big screen, but the small
screen stuff was working out pretty well, and then we started talking about
looking forward to Gotham, etc.
But we were also all professional wrestling fans, and we had
taken the time to discuss NXT in the past. It strikes me that we’d discussed
both of the NXT ‘network-per-views’ before they happened, but there didn’t seem
to be much to discuss this time out. I wonder if that was because of lack of
interest, their desire to return to their Mechwarrior game, or just because
there didn’t seem to be much in the way of buildup for this one in the same way
that the other two had had, you know? It just didn’t seem as important in some
way. I can’t totally put my finger on it.
But nonetheless, there’s a pretty big NXT event this week,
and I thought I’d use it as a springboard to talk a little about NXT as whole,
who we should expect to see up soon, whether or not they should even BE up
soon, and who will flame out spectacularly. We’ll only be talking about NXT
since it became the current version, so we’ll leave out it’s time in FCW….
Alright, fine! We were gossiping like little girls about
whether or not Oliver was finally going to bang Felicity on ‘Arrow’! Happy?
Emily Rickards is smoking, especially with the glasses! Olicity 
Obviously, the measuring stick of anyone who comes up from
NXT is the following 3 gentlemen:
I would actually argue that the booking of The Shield is the
single best booking that WWE has done with new characters. Ever. Ambrose,
Rollins, and Reigns were brought in and given a badass gimmick that clearly had
more thought process than people give credit for, in that the roles were
clearly defined for each wrestler and they got over through those roles.
Indeed, looking at Roman Reigns trying to get his timing down for singles
matches is a testament to the well-oiled machine that was The Shield; with both
Rollins and Ambrose seeing significant pushes as well generating from the roles
that The Shield gave them (Ambrose as the charismatic maniac, while Rollins has
had his heel turn explained as just him being the smartest guy in the faction),
we can clearly see that The Shield was a complete success. It’s rare that WWE
brings guys in and puts them over this strong, but they did everything right
and the result was the creation of at least 3 new talents that will sniff the
upper-card at various points for a LONG time.
Is there another Shield somewhere on Takeover 2? Well, to
find out, let’s break it down.
We’re just covering the title matches, not the undercard; I
don’t think any of the undercard guys are even close to being ready yet.

WHO MAKES IT TO THE BIG LEAGUES?: Everyone. Why The Ascension
isn’t there yet is beyond me, but we’ll get to that. I fully expect Sin
Cara/Kalisto to go over for the belts here to free up the former champs for a
ticket to the traveling circus.

WHY IS THAT, SIR?: Well, because for all their lip service to
rebuild the tag division, they’ve quietly done a decent job of doing just that,
with the Usos, the Rhodes, and the Wyatts making a good start to the rebuilt
tag ranks. Once the Usos dispatch of the Rhodes at NOC, it only makes sense to
bring up the Ascension as the next challengers before they KO the division with
Big Show/Henry. They’ve been beyond ready, the Usos need fresh meat, and it
keeps the tons of fun away from the tag belts that have become desirable again.
Kalisto is due to be the next failure  attempt to
recreate the success of Rey Mysterio. WWE isn’t going to give up that
sweet, sweet, mask money anytime soon, and Kalisto looks capable enough to carry
the ball when they need to. Sin Cara can always come back to do the job when he
needs to.
WHEN DO WE SEE THEM ON RAW?: The Ascension could happen any
day now; I would think that the Raw after NOC is the best place assuming that
The Usos retain against Cody and Dustin (Although I wouldn’t mind seeing the
brotherhood win; if that happens, expect the debut to happen after the next
PPV.) Kalisto should take his time, build up in NXT against the incoming
Steen/Devitt/Kenta holy trinity, as they could teach him quite a bit if he’s
willing to listen, and he’s not likely to get that type of attention up in the
main fed. I’d expect Kalisto by the end of the year, though. Sin Cara will
bounce back and forth to do a few jobs, make a little love, and pretty much get
down tonight.

WHO MAKES IT TO THE BIG LEAGUES?: Charlotte for sure. I like
Bayley as well, but I have concerns.

WHY IS THAT, SIR?: Charlotte has two things going for her –
her last name and her talent. I think we all know that HHH still has a veiny,
throbbing Flair boner, and I suspect that it will extend to the heiress to the
throne. (Hee, extend) Besides that, Charlotte can wrestle. That having been
said, she could use a ton more time if they’re willing to give it. I was
rewatching her match with Nattie, and Nat carried the match in more than a few
spots, which is completely understandable; Charlotte is less than a year into
this thing. She has potential, but it gets mistaken for ‘she’s better than half
the divas on Raw’ as a good thing. Yes, she is better than half the divas on
Raw. But what does she get if she comes up? Inserted into the Bellas mess, or
the AJ/Paige mess of a feud? There’s nowhere for her to go, because in the
women’s division, the line is very clearly drawn – you’re either on Total
Divas, you’re Paige or AJ, or you’re just not really there at all. It’s a
classic case of there being no place to put Charlotte at this point. I’d rather
see her honing her craft to a fine edge and letting either Total Divas get
cancelled, AJ or Paige quit, or just let the Bellas thing run the course and
then come up to help rebuild the division.
Bayley has a great character, and would be over in a
second if she came up to the Fed with the wacky wobbling inflatables thing. I don’t
get into her matwork as much, and she REALLY needs at least another year down
in NXT before they bring her up. I would hold off.

WHEN DO WE SEE THEM ON RAW?: While I wish it weren’t so, I suspect
they’ll rush Charlotte up faster than she needs to be, and we see her on Raw
sometime in the next few months. Bayley is perfectly safe for another year in
NXT, and that’s where she should be.
And finally,

WHY IS THAT, SIR?: First things first – I have no idea why
Zayn wore that damn mask all those years, because his facial expressions have
become one of my favorite parts of his character and wrestling style. I have to
give them credit for finding his wonderfully expressive face and properly using
Now then: Zayn is the best wrestler and makes it because of
that. Period. Zayn only needs to make sure that he becomes the next Daniel
Bryan and not the next Evan Bourne; that’s going to be his biggest obstacle. I
can totally see him relegated into opening matches in the midcard for the rest
of his life, but if that results in multiple ****+ matches, it’s a sacrifice I
guess I’ll have to live with. Zayn has the most pure in-ring talent when it
comes to selling, when it comes to smoothly hitting moves, and when it comes to
telling a story in the squared circle. His only obstacle will be convincing
creative that his size is not a hindrance. I think he will. Whether or not he
ends up as Jeff Hardy or Kofi Kingston’s tag team partner is going to be his
white whale.
Neville is going to get a shot, but I don’t know if he makes
it. He has a great finisher, he can fly, yes, but he’s not great on the stick
and I’ve seen nothing that suggests that will improve. He’s green as s---, he
needs more time. I don’t know if they’re going to give it to him, but we’ll
see. Either way, he’s a great 5th or 6th dude in a MITB
match, and I think unlike Sami, he will reach that ceiling of Kofi’s tag
partner and go no higher. We’ll see.
Kidd probably gets one more shot, if only because of Nattie
and Total Divas. Yes, I think he should use that as a storyline on the show to
get him back on Raw. Why not? They’re booking the Bellas angle to appease the
Total Divas producers, why not use some Kidd/Nattie drama to spice things up as
well? I honestly think that Kidd gets that shot one more time, but that’s
probably it.
I don’t think Tyler Breeze ever sees the light of day on Raw
outside of last Monday. I remain completely unimpressed with his ringwork (He
chinlocks people in a way that makes Randy Orton nod his head like the Emperor
at the end of Return of the Jedi), and I also think that the arrogant douchebag
works on a smaller scale but not a larger one these days; to put it simply, the
character may get over, but I have a lot of doubts about the guy playing the
character connecting with an audience through his ringwork.
WHEN DO WE SEE THEM ON RAW?: I hope not for a little while
yet. Yes, Zayn is better than most of the guys on the roster now, but where
does he go? I just don’t see it yet. Same with Neville. Kidd can come back any
old time, especially if they need someone to put a guy over strongly. I would
probably turn Neville or Zayn at Takeover; either have Zayn win the belt and
have Neville snap, or have Neville escape with the win and have Zayn snap. I’d like
to see either of them work heel for a little while to see what they would do
with it; I think we see both come up about Royal Rumble time, similar to what
Rusev did last year, and lead up to a Wrestlemania match of some type to prep
at least one of them for MITB.
And so it goes. I would think that, based on the last two
NXT events, we’re in for a nice night of pretend fisticuffs this evening. Let’s
hope that WWE uses the results to carefully analyze when and if they should be
bringing these dudes up; I don’t want another Adam Rose. Or Emma. Or Bo Dallas.
(Eh, I still have some hope for Bo.)
It’s said that those who ignore the lessons of the past are
condemned to repeat them.
If the result is more booking along the lines that created
the Shield, let me say this:
Ignorance is bliss.

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter