Sunday, May 10, 2015

Who Should Step Up in NXT?

Earlier this week, Sami Zayn wrestled John Cena on Raw in his hometown. Despite the really good match, Sami would injure his shoulder beforehand and now there is talk that he will have to miss a significant amount of time. The really troubling part is that Sami is currently in the midst of the top rivalry in NXT against his former best friend Kevin Owens. They are set to headline the next TakeOver special on May 20th. If Sami cannot compete there, I've heard people suggest a certain plan. They would have the winner of the Number One Contender's Triple Threat match between Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze, go on to face Owens later in the show. This sounds like a solid idea doesn't it? Well unfortunately, there's a wrench in that plan too.

In my eyes at least, Hideo Itami was the favorite to win that Triple Threat match. Finn Balor already had a shot at Kevin Owens and I doubt they would do heel/heel with Tyler Breeze and Owens. That left Itami, who has been improving by the week and seems to have really hit his stride. However, it was also recently reported that Itami has a shoulder injury and could actually miss up to eight months of action. That would certainly be a big hindrance to his momentum and future with the WWE. So, while the question remains of what to do with the upcoming TakeOver Special, there is a bigger concern of what to do with NXT going forward if two of their top guys are on the shelf. Just who fills those shoes?

The first thing to get out of the way is that Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze will be focal points. Both guys are already near the top of the brand and should stay there. Where else do we look for the next set of top level NXT guys? The first guy I'd look to is Baron Corbin. I know that a lot of people aren't sold on him since he mostly works squash matches. However, when I was at NXT live in Columbus and Cleveland back in March, Corbin stood out. He had two really good matches against Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd. While the crowd was rather anti-Corbin, he seemed to love it and played up the heel role perfectly. With his recent vignette and feud with Rhyno, it seems the heel work is coming, which seems to suit him more. While a heel/heel match against Owens may not work, it would be intriguing and fresh. Add in that Corbin is a homegrown talent and it would be a great time to showcase someone that wasn't raised through the indies. There is star potential with Corbin and I know the ring talent is in there. The other guy worth a look is Solomon Crowe. Now, I'm not fully sold on him just yet. I know he was big as Sami Callahan, but something about Crowe has yet to click. He does have a connection with the fans due to his time on the indies and has worked Owens on recent live events. With the right push, he could be another guy to step up and help out where NXT needs it. Rhyno would be a choice to step up in the short term as well.

The last point that I would like to make is regarding the Divas of NXT. For a long time now, they have been one of the best things about NXT. However, if Kevin Owens ends up short on viable challengers, the focus of the company could shift to the Women's Title for a small window. Sasha Banks and Charlotte have proven their ability to main event shows, while Bayley is one of the most popular acts they have. I'm not saying the Women's Title in total should overtake the NXT Title as the focal point of the brand but it is possible to turn the spotlight on them for a short while. Regardless of what ends up happening, I have complete faith that NXT will handle it well. So far, they have yet to let me down and I'm going to stick by that track record. The talent is there, now it's time to see if certain guys will sink or swim.