By Haydn Gleed, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-Did you miss me? Belated seasons greetings from me to you and I hope you had a wonderful time over the holiday period. My beloved Cardiff City had an awful Christmas period losing four consective matches, but we are still in contention heading into the second half of the season so there’s everything to play for.
-I was looking over some old photos over Christmas and realized that the NXT Takeover: London event occurred two years ago, which initially made me freak a little based on how quickly the time has flown. Aside from that, I became curious as to how many of the wrestlers from that particular WWE developmental territory show are now on the main roster. If we include the three matches that were taped for NXT TV that night along with any managers/pals at ringside, there were twenty seven people involved in the show. Of those 27:
*Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy are still in NXT.
*Three wrestlers have been released (Bull Dempsey, Simon Gotch & Emma).
*22 wrestlers are currently on the main roster (Chad Gable, Jason Jordan, Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Aiden English, Elias Samson, Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Asuka, The Revival, Enzo, Cas, Carmella, Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, Bayley, Nia Jax, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe).
That means 81 percent of the talent that night are currently on the main roster. And if we include Emma and Simon Gotch, who were called up to the main roster before being released, 88 percent of the talent from the night have been called up in the last two years.
So why am I bringing this up? Aside from the fact that I personally found it a fun fact, it also shows that WWE has been using NXT exactly as it was intended from the start by developing talent and constantly refreshing their main roster. The question remains whether they have gotten the most of the talent that they have brought up, but that’s for another blog.
-So away from the fantasy world of nostalgia and fun facts, what has been going on in the world of wrestling this week? My personal highlight was the dynamic between Jason Jordan and Shield members Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Six weeks ago, it appeared that the Jordan experiment was going to be a bust, but they’ve turned this always smiling, always happy bland babyface into a fun character that is annoying but in an entertaining way. Jordan was bland and boring in NXT before they stumbled across gold when they teamed him with Chad Gable. They’ve managed to do the same thing again via his union with Reigns and Rollins. What has impressed me the most is that they continue to keep Jordan looking strong in the ring as well as playing this character. Far too many times we have seen this type of gimmick be put on somebody like a Bo Dallas or Curtis Axel and they lose continuously, thus destroying their credibility, but that hasn’t been the case with Jordan. Okay, he may have lost some recent matches, but he’s always looked strong in defeat so I am certainly high on what they have done so far with him.
-Going into Raw this week and just like I have felt for a few months now, I was dreading the Brock Lesner segment with Paul Heyman saying the same thing as he always does, albeit in an entertaining and creative way. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate (pun intended) for Heyman. As a teenager, I would do everything and anything to get my hands on ECW tapes because I thought Heyman was and is still a genius, but the schtick had become repetitive. However this week WWE pulled out another one of their Strowman Stunts (trademark pending) and it’s certainly added a nice layer to what seemed like a formulaic title match at the Royal Rumble. OK, Brock is still going to come out on top but when you introduce any kind of doubt into the viewers minds it’s always a good thing.
-Over on Smackdown, the authority figure takeover involving Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan continues and is starting to drag the overall show down. If this leads to an eventual return to the ring for Bryan then, of course, all will be forgiven. In the moment, however, it feels like everything else on the show is secondary and inferior because nothing else is really happening in terms of storyline development. In his always excellent live review, Jake Barnett speculated that the story is moving at a snail’s pace because WWE is perhaps waiting to see whether Bryan will be cleared to return and thus they have to spin their wheels. This is certainly a theory that I can’t find a good argument against. Whatever is going to happen, I hope it plays out soon as I always feel rather flat coming out of Smackdown. As a consequence of the bickering and passive aggressive segments, it’s even pushing AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens down in importance and it’s a shame to see.
-I am still happy that the “Woken” Matt Hardy character has found its way to WWE television, but it’s starting to get to a point that I start to feel around this time with every Bray Wyatt feud. It’s hard to sum that feeling up in a few word, but I would describe it as “Okay, we get it, can we get on with this now, please?” syndrome. I’m not losing interest in the Woken character yet, but I am anxious to see it moved into the next stage because the two men laughing at each other is played out.
-This week’s ROH TV show was a very strong edition. If it’s the direction they want to continue pushing the show then I’m all for it. There was a strong main event in Marty Scurll vs. Flip Gordan, a great first in-ring promo from new ROH Champion Dalton Castle that showcased his personality perfectly, and there was plenty of character development throughout the show. Hell, they even showed The Young Bucks acting pissed off at The Additction and Scorpio Sky instead of just goofing around and not taking them seriously. It’s not the ROH of old, but it’s an evolution of the brand that is a smart given their current position and opposition. My only gripe is there still seems an unofficial rule that you must have a penis in order to wrestle on the main television show. After the announcement of the first Women Of Honor Champion being crowned in 2018, I was hoping this might have ushered in a weekly spot for the ladies on the TV show. I’m willing to give them a pass this week because there was a lot to cover, but it’s certainly something that I will be looking out for as we head deeper into the new year.
-I can’t be the only one that’s a sucker for a good odd couple tag team. The WWE Mixed Match Challenge competition has certainly thrown a lot of those types of teams together. Granted I suspect I will lose interest after a few weeks, but I will definitely be watching the first couple of shows for the laughs alone.
That’s going to do it for me this week, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, which I certainly will if Cardiff City beats Sunderland on Saturday.
As always if you want to say hi or chat about anything wrestling then by all means find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org