Welcome to NXT Report Cards! Where the students of WWE’s NXT get mid-term updates on their work from an unqualified human on the internet. My opinions are my own and every performer I critique is a better person than I am!
Name: Shayna Baszler
Time in NXT: 11 Months
In-Ring Ability: C+
Promo Skills: C-
Superstar Factor: B-
The current NXT Women’s champion and ex-UFC fighter has risen rapidly to the top of the women’s division. Given her limited experience, she’s doing extremely well in the ring and all of her matches have a certain level of intensity to them. She’s improved so much since her WWE debut in the Mae Young Classic last summer, and proven herself as a competitor who’s here for more reasons than being friend to Ronda Rousey.
Her interviews are a little shaky when they’re live, but she does well enough in pre-recorded segments. While Ronda had the best match at WrestleMania this year, we don’t yet know how well Ronda will fair in regular singles competition. Shayna’s ability is at a place where she could be paired with Ronda on the main roster tomorrow, or go her own way and survive on Smackdown. She also has a unique look for the women’s division, which only helps her superstar status.
Name: Kassius Ohno
Time in NXT: 1 Year, 5 Months (This Run)
In-Ring Ability: A
Promo Skills: B-
Superstar Factor: C
Kassius Ohno is veteran who was brought back to NXT to work with the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow. He’s a proven in-ring technician, capable of having twenty minute classics on NXT TV whenever a star is on the rise. His placid personality sometimes lets him down in promos, but the moves he performs between the ropes more than make up for his shortcomings.
I don’t see Kassius ever making it to Raw or Smackdown on a full-time basis, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’d like to see Ohno become the “heart and soul” of NXT, the man that’s the benchmark for performers joining the yellow and black brand. It’ll be a badge of honour to defeat him, and he can still score regular TV victories over fresher, performance-centre talent.
Name: Street Profits
Time in NXT: 6 Years (Angelo Dawkins, left) 2 Years, 8 Months (Montez Ford, right)
In-Ring Ability: C+
Promo Skills: B-
Superstar Factor: C+
The happy-go-lucky babyface tag-team of NXT have enjoyed as many wins as they have losses in the year that they’ve been paired together. Every time I see this duo, it’s a tale of two performers. They gel well as a duo and have proven themselves to have great in-ring chemistry. But as far as personality goes, they couldn’t be more different.
Montez Ford oozes personality, and convinces me in every shot that he’s having a great time doing what he’s doing. Plus, he has comedy chops to boot and has showcased some excellent athleticism over the last six months. Angelo Dawkins, on the other hand, is just there. His time in NXT is telling, and he’s been through several partners and gimmicks in that time without ever switching on his personality. I see a bright future for Ford, but not necessarily for the team.
Name: Lars Sullivan
Time in NXT: 3 Years, 3 Months
In-Ring Ability: B+
Promo Skills: B
Superstar Factor: A
For a long time I’ve considered Lars to be the best kept secret of NXT. Until about four months ago he was used few and far between, but every time he was featured in a match, he brought a big-guy intensity that’s only matched by Braun Strowman. He executes his power moves perfectly and can keep the pace with much smaller and faster competitors.
Then there’s his promos. While they’re not perfect, they’re certainly unique. He speaks methodically and with purpose, as though every word was carefully chosen to convey a certain message. It’s rare for a big-guy to speak with such intelligence, but it will help him stand out on the main roster from guys like Strowman. I like to think of Lars as both Doctor Frankenstein and his monster.
Name: Kairi Sane
Time in NXT: 10 Months
In-Ring Ability: A+
Promo Skills: C
Superstar Factor: B
The pirate princess was the inaugural winner of the Mae Young Classic and deservedly so. She hasn’t had the opportunity for any singles Takeover matches yet, but she might be one of the most technically gifted performers the company has. Every single movement Kairi makes has a purpose, and that’s what separates the good storytellers from the great.
Her winning smile and contagious positivity should be enough to push beyond the language barrier, and she does seem to be picking English up faster than Asuka, but it’s difficult to rate her promo ability as of now. Hopefully Kairi is given the chance to shine at a Takeover this year, because she’s a performer who’s clearly capable of putting on MOTY candidates.
Name: Velveteen Dream
Time in NXT: 2 Years, 4 Months
In-Ring Ability: B+
Promo Skills: A+
Superstar Factor: A+++
Where do I even begin? The Dream is a once in a generation performer, with charisma levels we haven’t seen since prime Rock. The craziest part is that he’s only 22! He’s someone who completely understands the character he’s playing, the subtleties, the nuances in the delivery of his dialogue; Velveteen Dream is sports entertainment.
I expect nothing but the brightest of futures for The Dream, I’m talking face-of-the-company heights. We’ve seen him perfectly play both face, heel and everything in between. He offers a unique character and his in-ring work is only improving with every big-match he’s put in. He brings out the best in his opponents and injects a must-watch atmosphere into every segment. Keep both eyes on The Dream, he’s the face you’ll be seeing for the next twenty years of the business.
Today is Thursday, June 14th and if you’re new to wrestling, watch NXT Takeover: Chicago this Saturday to see what it’s all about.
All images belong to WWE and are used for the purposes of review only.
Do you agree with the report cards? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll bring Part 3, next week.