NXT to WWE Brief: The Ascension
By Darren Gutteridge
From Grand Rapids, Michigan
6ft 5in / 265lbs
In ring debut: 2001
NXT Debut: June 2012
Finisher: Fall of Man (Flapjack followed by a running leg drop)
From Calgary, Alberta
6ft 1in / 217lbs
In ring debut: 1999
NXT Debut: June 2012
Finisher: Flying European Uppercut
To say it's taken a while to end up with this iteration of The Ascension is an understatement. Konnor first signed with WWE in 2005. He worked in the Deep South developmental system until 2007, never making the jump to the main roster. He was apparently scheduled to be part of the ECW roster when it re-debuted on Sci-Fi, but got a wellness policy suspension shortly before the show started. He was granted his release, and took some time off from wrestling, returning in 2009, and eventually resigning for the WWE in 2010.
He finally made a jump to the main roster in December 2010, albeit on the 4th season of NXT, in its original, pre-developmental form. His pro "mentor" was Alberto Del Rio, and he worked under the gimmick that he looked like a rat. Inexplicably, this didn't get over, and he was the second contestant eliminated. He appeared on the following season, NXT Redemption, but was again eliminated.
When Florida Championship Wrestling was re-branded as NXT Wrestling, Konnor, wrestling as Conor O'Brian, was part of Ricardo Rodriguez's Ascension stable, which included Kenneth Cameron, Tito Colon (Epico) and Raquel Diaz (Shaul Guerrero). The stable was eventually whittled down to just O'Brian and Cameron, who started to take on modern gothic characteristics, in particular emulating the style of the Underworld movies.
The team appeared on the first ever episode of the new NXT TV in June 2012, defeating Mike Dalton (Tyler Breeze) and CJ Parker. Viktor, who had signed for NXT in 2010 after bumping around the indies for 10 years, also appeared on this episode, wrestling under the name Rick Victor in a losing effort to Bo Dallas. Victor engaged in a brief feud with NXT Champion Seth Rollins before disappearing from TV for almost a year.
The Ascension tag team also had a less than smooth year. They were pushed as a dominant team, facing off and defeating the likes of The Usos, and Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel. But things came off the rails when Cameron was released in November 2012, following an arrest for allegedly attacking a police officer while intoxicated. Cameron has since resurfaced in TNA as Bram. O'Brian, meanwhile, continued as a singles act, and feuded with NXT Champion Big E.
In June 2013, Victor started to appear at the end of O'Brian's matches, watching on impressed. The two reformed the Ascension tag team, and in October 2013, they won the NXT Tag Team Titles from Adrian Neville and Corey Graves. They held the titles for 11 months, but rarely defended them, instead squashing jobber teams. They defeated the returning Too Cool at the first NXT Live Special, Arrival, and defeated the team of Kalisto and El Local at the first Takeover show. By this point, the gothic elements had been phased out, with the team instead being defined by their intensity, and they changed their names to simply Konnor and Viktor.
Kalisto formed a new team with Sin Cara, and they managed to capture the titles at Takeover II. Konnor and Viktor appeared later in the show to attack the debuting Hideo Itami, starting a feud. After weeks of beating down Itami, the Japanese star called in "a friend", the debuting Finn Bálor, and they formed a team that took down The Ascension at Takeover III.
1. Unique: There is no denying that there aren't any tag teams around right now that look or act like the Ascension. Be it as gothic acolytes, intense battering rams, or whatever they are going to be on the main roster, they stick out.
1. Poor In-Ring Quality: Throughout their NXT tenure, The Ascension's biggest problem was there poor run of matches. They had a terrible run of squash matches, with maybe a handful of competitive matches in their entire 11 month run as champions. Sloppy spots, interchangeable finishers, and bad incorporation of their gimmick were all factors that hampered their career.
2. Equally Poor Characters: The two gimmick changes should tell you that characterisation hasn't been strong for the Ascension. Seemingly straight out of the 80s, most of their promos consisted of shouting and tortured scripting. Their catchphrase "Total Anni-yah-lation" (based on Konnor's tendency to shout "YAH!" when he hits moves) is particularly grating.
As with the Emma brief earlier this year, I will find it hard to be objective here. I have made it no secret that this is my least favourite act in all of NXT history, and at one point I flat out refused to analyse their never ending squash matches because they were so worthless. I'd love them to turn it around on the main roster, but their "Legion of Doom 2014" looks every part as bad as their original gothic gimmick. At least they will be away from NXT soon?
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