Thursday, 12 January 2017

Opinion: NXT Class of 2016 - Part 2 - Carmella, Corey Graves, Dana Brooke and Enzo & Cass

Part 1 - Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin and Bayley

Carmella – Debuted 26th July

Probably the most surprising of all the draft call ups this year was Carmella, especially since she was bought up as a solo act and didn’t reunite with Enzo and Cass. People were worried she was too green, too inexperienced, and too new to make an impact. But in reality, she’s been so much more than many could have ever anticipated and has shone a lot brighter on the main roster than she did in NXT.

Debuting as an attractive but ultimately bland babyface didn’t really suit her but after attacking Nikka Bella and battling with her she has become a much more interesting member of the Smackdown women’s division. She’s made herself so easy to hate and has made enemies of everyone around her, plus, her new storyline with James Ellsworth could be absolutely golden, I can’t wait to see how they run with those two.

So I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Carmella on the main roster, she’s not been a diamond but she’s been far more than I previously anticipated; if she keeps improving at her current rate she will likely have a place in WWE for some time. Oh, and her triangle head scissors finisher, that’s boss, I love it.

Rating: B-

Corey Graves – Debuted 25th July

Throwing in a curveball here! I couldn’t go through the NXT call-ups for the year without giving a nod to the always-excellent Corey Graves. Poor guy had to retire due to a series of concussion issues but overcame that to become one of the finest commentators in the sport today. 

Since moving to Raw he has been brilliant. Rather than spouting nonsense as many colour commentators are guilty of, he adds so much to the product, and perhaps most of all, his insults to Byron Saxton are continually brutal, following in the vein of JBL before him. Furthermore, anyone who can make Michael Cole less insufferable is a friend of mine.
Hopefully WWE go all in with their commentary team and make a super commentator stable of Corey and Mauro, they could be just like JR and Lawler way back when. Don’t deprive me of this heavenly mixture Vince!

Rating: A

Dana Brooke – Debuted 9th May

Ah Dana Brooke, you promised so much; in 2015 you were my most improved wrestler as you reduced you overacting, got smoother in the ring and showed a real understanding of exactly what makes your character great. So what happened? Why did the wheel fall off when your partnership with Emma came to a disappointing and abrupt end?

Pairing Dana with Charlotte felt like something that could have benefitted both parties but neither has gained much from the partnership as Dana has looked like a mug taking pinfalls for Charlotte and Charlotte has proven time and time again that she can do it on her own, so why does she need Dana by her side? It just doesn’t make sense to me and I wish they would reunite Brooke with Emma whenever the time comes for the Australian star’s much-teased return. 

Also, I have to mention the series of horrendous errors she makes in succession. There was the foot on the ropes incident against Bayley, her being sloppy when delivering moves and sometimes just screwing up spots completely, to the point where she looks a shadow of the wrestler she was looking to become in NXT. I would imagine she might have a second stint in NXT next year in order to get her back on the road to success.

Rating: D

Enzo Amore and Big Cass – Debuted 4th April 

The night after WrestleMania, Enzo and Cass made a huge statement on Raw and were quickly hailed as one of the must-see acts on the roster, as fans around the world screamed their schtick along with them in a crescendo of sound and joy. They’ve kept it up too, in Enzo’s time injury Cass stepped up to the plate and even though they’ve had some odd feuds to navigate they have made the best of everything and certainly produced some memorable moments.

Feuds with the Dudley Boyz, New Day, The Club, Rusev and even JeriKO have moulded a very strong first year for the pair, with their highlights certainly being Enzo’s creative promos rather than the actual matches themselves. Unfortunately, whilst they’re still a great pair, their popularity has wavered as they have begun to suffer from the old saying ‘too much of a good thing,’ it happened to New Day somewhat and will probably become more prominent for them, I’m still a huge fan though.

Prediction time: Enzo and Cass will amicably split in 2017, with Cass balancing on the fringes of the main event whilst Enzo enters largely comedy against lower midcarders, or perhaps even transitions to a managerial role given his 10/10 mic skills but 4/10 ring work. All in all, I can’t see them managing a much better year than this one as they transitioned smoothly to the red brand.

Rating: B+

The concluding part of our look at the NXT Class of 2016 will be released tomorrow at 6.30 GMT, and will highlight the exploits of Finn Balor, Mojo Rawley, Nia Jax, Sami Zayn and The Vaudevillains.

Words - Thomas Brady
Images - Thomas Brady
Editor - James Marston

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