Saturday, January 3, 2015

Five To Thrive In 2015

As a new year begins the internet is once again at no shortage for yearend retrospectives and articles looking at the year ahead. Recently ran a feature highlighting 15 stars to look out for in 2015 and to the surprise of no one, many NXT stars made the list. So to crowd the internet with one more highly subjective look at the year ahead, here are my picks for the top 5 NXT stars to look out for in 2015. I chose to limit myself to only 5, simply because as an avid NXT fan it would be too easy to get carried away and include most of the roster.

For my list I chose to omit the obvious, wrestlers like Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, and Charlotte who are obviously at the top of the NXT heap. The hot additions of 2014 such as Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens are no-brainers. Baron Corbin, Bull Dempsey, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch would all be great picks for any list. However I chose to highlight athletes that at this point are flying under the radar. I picked wrestlers who have yet to debut on the network, or have at least been minimally featured but have become staples of house shows. These are athletes the casual viewer may not even know, but are almost guaranteed to make an impact in NXT in 2015. In no particular order they are:

Solomon Crowe
It is undeniable that Solomon Crowe showed up in NXT with an already sizable fan base, but it is also safe to say he’s made many new fans as well, and he’s done this without ever showing his face on the network. It’s easy to see why, the Ohio native with a hardcore reputation comes off as dangerous and explosive in the ring, just as likely to bicycle kick you in the face as contort you into a stretch muffler. Yet to the dismay of increasingly impatient fans he has yet to be debuted which has led to rampant speculation and conspiracy theory. The only thing for sure though is when the powers that be finally pull the trigger on Crowe he’ll be a top player in NXT.

Hugo Knox
With seemingly a new lauded indie superstar coming in every week, it is an admirable feat for a relatively unknown wrestler to make such an impression with his first match. Former UK soccer player Hugo Knox made a big splash with his debut proving that he will be a face to look out for. Regardless of the Magic Mike/Male dancer gimmick, he comes out with such enthusiasm and exuberance that it is contagious. That energy translates in the ring as well. Knox is not a small guy but at times he moves like one, being just as comfortable flipping off a rope or executing a perfect enziguri as he is performing power moves. Knox has maximized his time in the spotlight making a lot of fans with a few matches.

Chad Gable
He may not be the biggest guy in NXT, but the 2012 Olympians wrestling skills may cast one of the largest shadows. At 5’8 and 185 pounds he is prone to be the underdog in about any fight, which he does well, but it is when he is on offense that he is the most fun to watch. Technically sound and fast paced Chad Gable also leads a stable of wrestlers with amateur backgrounds known as Shoot Nation, sizable backup with each member bringing much to the table in their own right. For me, the formation of Shoot Nation is one of the more intriguing developments of 2014. Given the chance Chad Gable could be a main eventer and Shoot Nation the next great faction in NXT.

Braun Stowman
At 6’8” and 370 pounds Stowman is an absolute mountain and watching him slowly making his way to the ring with an icy stare it is easy to see him as the monster he claims to be. Once in the ring the former strongman tosses his opponents around like dolls while moving about the ring with more agility than a man his size should. A sight to behold and beast in the ring it is only a matter of time before NXT has one more resident monster on the WWE Network. How long before he crosses paths with Baron Corbin? Stowman is possibly the only guy in NXT that could make Corbin look like a legitimate underdog.

The Mechanics
The mantra of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder is no flips, just fists. While that is an appropriate slogan for the two roughnecks whose offense isn’t pretty, it is effective and the two are smarter and more calculating than they care to admit. The term old school is thrown around a lot these days, but these guys are it, harkening back to the golden age of great tag team wrestling. I am often singing the praises of the NXT tag scene to anyone who will listen, but you put these two in a program for tag team gold with a team like Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake, and everyone will see it for themselves.


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