NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces. But its primary goal is to make future superstars who will one day grace our televisions on Raw. Each week we’ll scout the “minor league” talent in each segment and decide if they’re ready for the big leagues. This week: Can Kassius Ohno get some sweet Wyatt Family revenge?
Alexander Rusev vs. Sylvester LeFort
A quick squash match to end Alexander Rusev and Sylvester LeFort’s tenuous business relationships. They’ve decided that a hot Russian(?) blonde is a better choice for Rusev’s ascent to the top of NXT, but I’m not sure if that’s the best choice. Aligning the Bulgarian bruiser with a Eastern Bloc accent in high heels fits his surface0level character, but I quite enjoy the sheer goofiness of LeFort’s performance. Him trying to buy off both the ref and Rusev highlight his clear monetary pro wrestling intentions, which works for me. Sometimes the simple story is the best, and LeFort backing Rusev because he’s a beast and will make him cash money works despite the oddness of the character pairing.
Now, as I said last week, an attractive blonde woman never hurt anyone’s standing, but I have a feeling it’s to play up the Bulgarian angle and cater to the more xenophobic wresting fans. If it moves Rusev’s character emphasis from shoot-fighter with an unorthodox style to a cliche ’80’s foreigner then it’s a missed opportunity. It’s hampered Del Rio on the main roster, and the E should avoid making the same mistake again. Rusev’s skill and athleticism will get him far, but I’d love to see a neat, nuanced character develop to go with it. We shall see.
Bayley/Charlotte & Summer Rae/Sasha Banks Segment
The Mean Girls successfully drove a wedge between Paige and Emma, and now they’re going after Bailey and Charlotte. Nobody’s winning an Academy Award for this segment, but NXT’s dedication to putting the time in for these feuds makes the subsequent matches a lot richer, and they’re doing it in only one hour! Later in the show we got a quick backstage confrontation between Emma and Paige, so all six of our main female wrestlers got air time on tonight’s show. A combined Raw + Smackdown is five entire hours per week, but only about 10 minutes are dedicated to women’s action, and rarely any of it story. When these ladies all find their way up, that has to change.