Thursday 5 March 2015

The Land of Second Chances

Over the last two weeks former mid-carders have returned to WWE to appear on developmental show NXT. The February 18 episode saw Rhyno decisively beat Elias Sampson in his short comeback match while the February 25 show featured the return of 'The' Brian Kendrick, complete with video package to let anyone not familiar with him know exactly what he's about. Unlike 'The Manbeast' he lost his match, but it was a much more high profile deal, a main event bout with number one contender to the NXT championship Finn Bálor.

Understated red jacket on Kendrick there.
While neither Kendrick nor Rhyno have signed new contracts with WWE both have had profiles added to NXT's website roster section. Neither man wrestled more than the one match lready mentioned at the most recent set of tapings so this indicates that they're going to be involved with the show long-term. Without a contract they remain free to accept bookings elsewhere, essentially making NXT another indy on their schedule. Which benefits them as they remain free agents with their profiles being raised with the NXT appearances. It should see them get more non-WWE work. Meanwhile it benefits WWE because they get two guys who appeal to NXT's target audience of "smart" fans and gives the relatively inexperienced roster two well-travelled lads to work with and learn from.

It's a development that moves NXT a step closer to becoming its own entity. It adds two guys who can wrestle the current indy style that NXT partly takes its inspiration from, which is what helps to give it its own identity. This is important to note as expanding NXT is something Triple H (the man in charge of the group, not Vince McMahon) has mentioned he feels could be achieved in several NXT-related interviews.

Kendrick and Rhyno are two of the best guys that could have been brought in. They have very different styles, Rhyno being a big, brawling behemoth and Kendrick being a smaller, more technical guy. They even have different backgrounds in the business, with Rhyno having made his initial impact by Goring anyone and everyone through tables in ECW and Kendrick being one of the early standouts of Ring of Honor. They're both familiar with the WWE style but different enough that they can bring out different things in matches. And, as mentioned, helping the NXT roster to learn is a large part of why they've been brought back.

It will be interesting to see if other former mid-carders will return in the future. There's no shortage of wrestlers who had loads of talent and never got to showcase it on WWE television because of the way shows are timed. There are obvious guys like Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin and Carlito, along with people who'd be easy to overlook like Steve Blackman and Sean 'X-Pac' Waltman.

A guy like Paul London would be interesting, especially considering his tag team history with Kendrick, but with his well documented dislike of the WWE system that's unlikely. John Morrison would be great too, though his current deal with Lucha Underground and his pursuit of acting and comedy gigs makes an appearance from him unlikely.

An ideal female additions to NXT.
It's not just guys either. Lisa Marie 'Victoria' Varon and Mickie James are two female wrestlers currently not under contract to a wrestling promotion. One of them would be an ideal addition to NXT's already strong women's division. He signing of one of these two women (or someone similar) is actually far more likely than any of the names mentioned above. They'd be filling the role Kendrick and Rhyno are for the guys.

While the entire purpose of NXT would be negated with the signing of all of these names bringing in one or two could be interesting for the satellite league. It allows familiar faces to be seen in a new light and to have their abilities fully appreciated. That said I'm perfectly happy with the way the men's roster is right now. Rhyno and Kendrick provide a perfect balance and are the ideal long-term additions from the ranks of former mid-carders. Either of them taking on the current crop of NXT headliners is an appealing prospect. As is the thought of them facing off with the alleged-to-be-incoming Samoa Joe. Should he sign the roster will become so packed with feature-worthy talent it'll be tough to make use of everyone already there. So the last thing we need is an influx of returnees. Still, it's nice to idly think about candidates for the veteran spots.

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