While NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces, its primary goal is to make future superstars for the main roster. Each week we’ll scout each performer, and assess a percentage for how close they are to promotion. Due to the fluidity movement between shows (i.e. Tyson Kidd is on every show) – 100% = ready to be promoted, and any higher percentage reflects where their position should be throughout the company.
HIDEO ITAMI & FINN BALOR vs. TYSON KIDD & JUSTIN GABRIEL
This impromptu Teddy Long Memorial Tag Team special should be major sigh of relief for Hideo Itami fans. He wasn’t terrible his first two months in NXT, but besides his middle-of- the-ring chair taunt at Takeover II – nothing much stood out. Here he looked crisp, focused, and mean – no doubt inspired by the in-ring debut of his buddy Finn Balor. Add in all the dojo and New Japan Pro Wrestling talk from Jason Alberts on commentary, and this was by far the best Itami performance we’ve seen. I don’t think anyone was afraid he’d fail, but with language barrier and his strong style, it’s going to take a lot more effort and nuance from the whole production to present him to the WWE Universe.
No such shakiness from Balor – he was hot fire from the jump. Bicycle kicks, apron enziguris, and just a level of confidence in his total performance we haven’t seen out of any other marquee debuts on NXT. Getting your first match with such pros as Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel sure helps, but Balor was clearly the star of this match. And that bicycle kick is already my favorite transitional counter move. I can’t wait till Balor and Roman Reigns’ epic WrestleMania feud over who’s the dreamiest.
Tyson Kidd is a main event heel. That guy should get the coveted “lose to John Cena in WWE title match at a non-top four PPV” slot one day. The level of commitment Kidd has for this smarmy douche canoe wrestling purist character is incredible. When he yelled at the ref “COUNT HIM OUT” I was so happy – not many wrestlers actually remember that winning the match no matter what is the most important thing. Kidd never forgets, and it makes him a must watch every second he’s on the screen.
The easiest way to carve a slot for yourself in WWE is to bring something that no else can. Justin Gabriel seems like a great dude, but everything he does well somebody else does better. A good cat to have around for these types of matches, but his old bro Kidd has lapped him several times now. Not to mention a few future fellow cruiser-weight stars just whipped his ass.
Hideo Itami – 48%
Finn Balor – 60%
Tyson Kidd – 200%
Justin Gabriel – 100%