WWE NXT saw four men battle for the Number One Contender spot for Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT Championship. Bobby Roode, Ty Dillinger, Cien Andrade Almas, and Roderick Strong battled in a pretty decent match that saw Bobby Roode pin Ty Dillinger for the win.
I like seeing Roode finally challenge for the title. Among the four, Bobby Roode has the most immediate upside. Roderick Strong’s resume speaks for itself. Yet I think some work needs to be done to more fully introduce him to the casual fan. To me, NXT is the show that bridges the gap between the type of fan that attends any and all independent wrestling shows and the fan who’s only contact with the wrestling business is what the WWE has to offer on a weekly basis. Being that Bobby Roode was TNA Champion while TNA still had a major network still airing their show, he simply has more name value and can be more of an immediate asset to the WWE. Look at the Royal Rumble last year and the reaction AJ Styles got? I think the WWE underestimates just how well known TNA was, at least as of a few years ago.
As far as Roderick Strong, he’s got plenty of time to season in NXT. I have no doubt he will make it to the big stage. The guy is just too damn talented not to. Yet he needs more time to get his work over with that casual fan. Ring of Honor and other companies of that caliber showcase some of the most amazing young wrestling talent on the planet today. That doesn’t necessarily mean a large portion of the American viewing audience takes the time to find out about these smaller companies. Ring of Honor is available on regular television but only at night on stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, the company that owns them. While there are other ways to watch their shows like the Fite TV app, they’re not in enough homes to make the talent on the show more well known to the casual wrestling fan.
He needs at least a year in the NXT system. Roderick Strong is not another Adam Rose or Bo Dallas. When he makes his debut on Raw or Smackdown, he’s going to amaze a lot of people at what he can do in the ring.
The odd couple in the match were Cien Andrade Almas and Ty Dillinger. Almas is simply not at a point where I feel he should be challenging for the title. He’s recently turned heel. He needs time to establish himself as a bad guy before people start to see him in the title picture. One thing I’d have him do from the start is stop doing some of the crowd pleasing moves he does. Last week he faced No Way Jose in a qualifying match for the Fatal Four Way and apart from a grim face, acted like a cocky hero. He needs to focus on moves that won’t get the audience to cheer.
Ty Dillinger is someone I don’t get. I’m not knocking his work as an athlete. I just don’t understand or care for his character. The NXT audience that attends the live shows at Full Sail University are a unique bunch. For the most part, they cheer the right people and boo the rest. Yet sometimes they latch on to a character and support them to heights they shouldn’t be. As I mentioned before, Adam Rose and Bo Dallas were big stars in NXT at one point and look what happened to them? I am more than willing to change my tune on the guy if he becomes more consistent in the ring but I just don’t like his character.
The Authors of Pain had a great squash match. They looked absolutely dominant out there. I especially loved the fact the match was stopped by the referee. It made the team look like an unstoppable force. Having the legendary Paul Ellering as their manager was a stroke of genius. Long time wrestling fans know Paul thanks to his many years managing The Legion of Doom. To see him take these rookies under his wing means something. And frankly, it makes them stars by association. They’d have to work much harder to get to this point if they didn’t have Paul.
Overall, for my money the best WWE wrestling on television today is on NXT. The format is simple yet effective. It doesn’t try and overwhelm you with too much nonsense. The show works by basically being a throwback to how wrestling used to be. The WWE could do well to take some of the things that have worked for NXT and apply them to their main shows.