By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
So, I’ve been watching Level Up the last few weeks and it’s a decent half hour show that’s out of the way while also offering a peak as to what WWE truly has cooking up in developmental. I actually hope that WWE streamlines their NXT 2.0 show by filtering some of the more experimental acts in NXT and having them experiment on Level Up, keeping the not-ready-for-tv acts away from floundering on cable TV.
Props to Dot Net Contributor John O’Connor for picking up the coverage of the show. I love checking out his coverage and I utilize it as a window as to what I should expect to see soon in NXT’s main show…
I’m offering this quick thoughts article as my way to throw in my two cents as to what NXT is cooking up, offering thoughts on what is working, what needs to be tweaked, what makes sense, and what doesn’t…
NXT Level Up Quick Thoughts
Broadcast Team: Since this is my first edition of this article I’ll just drop some thoughts on the announce team. Sudu Shah isn’t bad. He in-fact sounds like a Vic Joseph clone. That works in his favor because Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness worked well off one another. Speaking of McGuinness, Nigel is criminally underutilized on the Level Up show. I wasn’t a huge fan of his ROH commentary work when he sounded very drab and depressed. Ever since he moved to WWE, he’s been stellar and I’m a huge fan of how detailed and technical he is with his move analysis. I think WWE should move Wade Barrett to Raw, and then move Nigel back to the main NXT show.
Javier Bernal vs. Dante Chen: First of all, why is Javier Bernal’s new gimmick “Big Body Javi”? In this match he’s both thinner and shorter than both Dante Chen and Hank. Chen looks good as a wrestler, but he’s missing something in his presentation. There’s still that local-wrestler/happy-to-be-here look to him when he performs. The finisher he performed looked a bit weak too. It was supposed to be some sort of “charged up” chop, but it looked like it barely hit, was a bit hammy, and fairly unimpressive. When you are in the same company as wrestlers like Gunther and Sheamus, your finishing chop must be way better than that. Note on Hank. So far, I like Hank. He seems like a nice dude. I think he might have been the douchebag in the diner that Apollo Crews may or may not have killed when they introduced Crews’s new precognition powers. The petulant customer gets reborn as “Good guy Hank”. He exudes normal-guy charisma, which might work. Similar to Sanga.
Axiom Interview: Ugh. This made me cringe. The guy has a great speaking voice, but he’s mumbling due to the full face mask. What really made me cringe was once he started to integrate the mathematical and physics formulas in his promos. The guy was talking about using Xyon’s force and momentum against him, and I was like “nah”. He also crash and burned when he said that he wishes schools taught comic books as a subject. Ugh. What was a plus from this interview was the interviewer, Quinn McKay, now known as Kelly Kincaid. She was really good in Ring of Honor and if presented right, WWE might have another Renee Paquette on their hands. She was good at keeping Axiom on track and I chuckled when she was cringing at the end of the promo at Axiom’s mathematical formulas.
Ivy Nile vs. Ariana Grace: Rough match, but not horrible. Ivy Nile continues to look like a beast, though I think she needs to be dispatching lesser opponents quicker. I am not sold on Santino Marella’s daughter yet, but she just needs time to develop. Her gimmick is a bit too similar to Tiffany Stratton, and less impressive. Maybe, she can tweak it a bit. She should be less “beauty queen” and maybe try to channel Sharpay, from High School Musical, who exudes over-entitlement.
Axiom vs. Xyon Quinn: Decent showing, and I liked Axiom here compared to his debut match against Dante Chen. Quinn is still a bit rough, but he gets better every time we see him. I like that they have him on the right track with his douchey bully character. Axiom needs to find a way to not overdo the superhero poses and hand motions. He seems to be shoehorning those in a bit much. Maybe he should look at Lucha Underground (or maybe chat with LU alum Santos Escobar) and take some of the in-ring mannerisms that Ricochet, Fenix, and Rey Horus utilized when they had white-meat superhero gimmicks. Why did they give him the uphill battle of having to be a “mathematical superhero.” The only mathematical superhero I know is Kamen Rider Build. Maybe A-Kid needs to watch that for some mathematical-superhero inspiration. What I did like was Axiom’s finisher, the leaping uperkick, which he did use as A-Kid. I wonder if he’ll still use his Moonsault DDT, which was eye catching.