By Haydn Gleed
About 18 months ago, I wrote a blog looking at how I was starting to worry about Neville and the way he was being used just months after being promoted to the main roster. If you want to have a quick read of that blog and come back to me you can find it here. It’s okay, I won’ go anywhere…..you read it? Good stuff. As well as a dig at Big E’s preacher gimmick from the time (oh how things have changed there), I also said that at least Neville wasn’t being treated like Bo Dallas. Ironically, it was a loss to this individual that has moved me from having a small worry to being full on worried about him and where WWE have pegged hm. I also actually said at least he’s not losing in two minute matches like Bo did back then, ouch!
Having made you go away and read a 18 month old blog, I’m not going to repeat everything that I consider to be his upside. You are already a smart enough cookie to know that Neville brings major talent to the main roster. I’m also not going to sit here and insult your intelligence by even suggesting that Neville has what it takes to be a long term consistent main event player that will change the industry, but he is certainly someone that you place in the middle portion of a PPV card and he will give you something that will be pleasing for the crowd.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this story in written form before, but last November I attended the Smackdown tapings. I was seated next to a group of lads who from overhearing their conversation were part of a company who had done local promotion for the event but it was quite clear that they weren’t wrestling fans. Through most of the evening they were laughing at the “ridiculousness of this fake rubbish” (in all fairness they did have a Ryback/Kalisto match to sit through and ironically a Braun Strowman squash match against Fandango), but when Neville came out for his match they went quiet as he put on what my trained eye would say was 60 percent of what he can do kind of performance against King Barrett. Halfway through the match I heard one turn to the other and with more colorful language describe the action as some of the most athletic and exciting stuff he had seen for a while, and at the end of the match this person said I didn’t expect to enjoy any of the show tonight but that was f’ing brilliant.
That’s my point summed up in a rather long winded anecdote. Neville is someone who will pick crowds up for the second half of a show, getting them ready for whatever the big showcase match of the month happens to be. That is the best use of Neville in the long run and if they are not going to do it on Raw, then they need to move him over to Smackdown where he will make a huge difference to a talented but small roster.
I’ll give WWE a slight out in the fact that he has been injured and all the momentum that he had started to build up once again, including the match he had at that particular Smackdown taping was all gone. Are they punishing him for getting injured in such a fluky manner? It wouldn’t be the first time for WWE, or do they simply not see potential in him? I’ll agree that his looks are unique if I want to put a positive spin on them, and despite being from the UK I struggle badly to understand a Geordie (Newcastle) accent so heaven knows what Vince McMahon thought when he saw this strange looking fella talking in a manner which requires someone walking around with live subtitles to put in front of him (I love you Northern folk honestly). I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when/if that ever happened just to see Vince’s face. That said, if you are worried by his looks go with your original plan with him, put him in a mask. If you are worried by the way he talks, give him a mouthpiece. As Paul Heyman always says, hide the negatives accentuate the positives. In this case, promote his wrestling ability and the excitement that he brings and hide whatever quirks you think are an issue.
In a week where there has been a lot of big headline news coming out of TNA and Goldberg’s return to WWE, you can understand why a just over minute loss for some underutilized undercard guy (based on the way he’s being promoted) wouldn’t be the big topic of the week. However, the fact that it hasn’t even been more than a small sidebar mention or a blip on the news radar is concerning. People have been conditioned by WWE to accept that this is Neville and this is what he does. This is why I’m very worried about this incredibly gifted wrestler.
As always feel free to comment on this blog, or anything else that you want wrestling related or otherwise via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org