Though I'm not doing the regular NXT blogs for Season 2, I am ranking them, I think. The original NXT group, I would have kept six of the eight regardless...with Slater being given a shot as a heel (and he's working out nicely as one right now, though I would have gone less serious with him if I weren't doing the Nexus angle) and Otunga probably just canned. That said, Otunga does sound more believable on the mic to me than he ever did on NXT...if he's working on his ring work, he might be fine.
Anyway...after three weeks...here's my Rankings.
#8: Eli Cottonwood
Pro: John Morrison
- Eli Cottonwood is the biggest wrestler in NXT to date...and that's just about it. He has an awful name, an awkward look, no mic skills and he's ugly as crap in the ring. His first match consisted entirely of kicking Titus O'Neil in the gut. He is like The Great Khali, without the name, charisma and presence. After three weeks, I believe he got in entirely on his height. I see more upside to David Otunga, and I hate Otunga. As much as I like Morrison, he's doing his rookie no favors, either.
#7: Husky Harris
Pro: Cody Rhodes
- I'm not hating on Harris' look...if it was good enough for Dusty Rhodes, it's good enough for Husky Harris. However, Dusty had a natural charisma that Harris doesn't have. Harris, in fact, comes across like he's trying way too hard. Actually, Cody comes across that way, too. Good combination. Cody has already completely outshined Harris, though they tried to give him a boost by having him attack Matt Striker this week.
#6: Titus O'Neil
Pro: Zack Ryder
- An odd, heel-face combo. I really like Ryder, and I wrote O'Neil off during the first two weeks (as well as the preview from the Season 1 finale). The guy looks great, but he's bland, monotone and awkward in the ring. He finally gave me some hope this week with his impassioned plea about how he's worked for everything he's ever gotten (and his harkening back to John Locke's "Don't tell me what I can't do" doesn't hurt in my eyes). If he can step it up in the ring, I'd see ranking him higher.
#5: Michael McGillicutty
Pro: Kofi Kingston
- McGillicutty has a great look, and generally crisp in the ring (jury is out as to who F-ed up this week, him or O'Neil), but I kinda get a vibe from McGillicutty that he doesn't NEED NXT...like he's already been told (or decided) that he's a shoe-in because of his family legacy. Honestly, WWE will likely rank him higher, as he has the generic look they love (see Legacy), but to me he comes across incredibly...entitled. WWE's had a few of those guys, and it ended badly.
#4: Lucky Cannon
Pro: Mark Henry
- Cannon has a great look and adequate mic skills. He's not a terribly dynamic individual, but he seems to say the right things for WWE's PG atmosphere. In the Attitude Era, I'd say "Complete repackage" or "jobber". However, he could appeal nicely to kids and be a great role model. To top it off, Mark Henry goes out of his way to put the guy over, which is also a great thing. If WWE keeps him in the competition for a while, they could easily foster the growth of his character as a classic babyface (which they don't have a ton of right now). In fact, I'd say a smart Final Three would be Lucky Cannon for the kids, Alex Riley as the foil, and Kaval to appeal to the hardcore fans.
- Kaval is incredibly solid on the mic, and looks completely believable at basically everything he does in the ring (I'm lookin' at you, Rey Misterio). His systematic dismantling of Eli Cottonwood this week should have looked ridiculous, but Kaval works his moveset very well. I'm not a long-time fan of Kaval/Low-Ki/Senshi, either...he didn't really stand out to me in TNA...but he's been GREAT so far in NXT, from his in-ring stuff right on through to his interactions with LayCool (which I never thought I would say).
#2: Alex Riley
Pro: The Miz
- Riley has a great look, a great gimmick, the best mic skills among the NXT rookies yet, and he looked great in the ring in both his matches. His pairing with Miz is a natural born combo that would easily be a team, a mentor-student combo, or turn into a rivalry. In fact, with all that, why do I have him at #2...?
#1: Percy Watson
- Two things: I have never liked MVP, face or heel, and I think Percy Watson has a ridiculous gimmick. Unless the dude really has some kinda facial tick, his expressions are ridiculous and his glasses are absurd. Why is he number one? On Week 1 of NXT, first match on the show, he managed to get a bigger crowd reaction for pinning Husky Harris than any NXT rookie got for weeks in Season 1. That trend continued this week, getting the crowd on his side right off in his tag match against Alex Riley and The Miz. He sells great, and his offense is fine...and his character is a goofy fit for the kids. The fact that he plays the gimmick to the hilt is just one more reason to vote for the guy.
Am I saying Watson should win? No. What I am saying is that he has shown me more in three weeks than anyone else. It helps that, even though he's been in tag matches, MVP hasn't been a "ball hog", letting Watson have time to shine. One thing I will say is that with Season 1, I probably would have hired 6 of the 8 guys (maybe even 7)...so far, I would be fine cutting it off at 4 and moving on.