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ZAH Thoughts – Who Are The New Debuts?

My weekly column is now up over at Canadian Bulldog’s World. The post-WrestleMania episodes of RAW and Smackdown saw the debuts of a number of NXT talents. Not familiar with them? I’ve got the rundown on these new talents and whether or not they end up like Roman Reigns or Adam Rose.

04-11-16 ZAH Thoughts - 04-11-16

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NXT TakeOver: Dallas Fallout – The NXT Tag Team Division

Last night NXT put on yet another spectacular show. When all was said and done, NXT TakeOver: Dallas gave us two title changes, a Match of the Year frontrunner, two in-ring debuts, and ringside appearances by two international (currently non-NXT) superstars. So at the end of the day, what does NXT look like going forward?

NXT Tag Team Division

American Alpha 1It’s hard to believe that American Alpha has captured the overwhelming approval of the NXT fans as much as they have in such a short amount of time. I mean, let’s face it…when they were initially put together in a program it was kind of a joke as Jason Jordan couldn’t find a tag team partner that helped him win and Chad Gable was a nerd who didn’t look like he could win anything. Fast forward a bit and you’ve got a team so technically proficient, so full of charisma and energy, and so cohesive as a unit that you’d think they’d been tagging for years.

NXT fans absolutely LOVE technical wrestling and it’s really what has set NXT apart from the main WWE roster. Seeing Jordan come out of his shell thanks to the incredible talents of Gable has led to fans going absolutely ape-shit for their in-ring appearances. Fans know that at the end of the match, they’re going to get some fast-paced in-ring technical tag team greatness.

The Revival 2And let’s not take anything away from The Revival, either. Comparisons to the Brain Busters and the Midnight Express are 100% spot-on. Their in-ring performances are VERY reminiscent of tag teams contests from the 80’s (when tag team wrestling was at it’s peak, for the record). The old school “draw heat on the heel” tactics that they use haven’t been done correctly in so long that everything old is new again. In spite of their relatively short size, they could make a splash on the main roster post-Mania simply because they’re so different and technically sound.

So now that they’ve lost their titles, I expect to see them battle American Alpha in some rematches over the coming weeks…maybe even a rematch at the next NXT TakeOver event in the summer. Having a babyface tag team will help the Vaudvillains get back into the mix, as well as Blake & Murphy (a very talented team that has pretty much been forgotten about since Dawson & Wilder won the titles).

Enzo, Big Cass, & Carmella 2I’m hoping to see Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady get promoted to the main roster soon after WrestleMania, with The Revival probably not too far behind them. The main roster NEEDS tag teams with The Ascension not clicking with anybody and the Lucha Dragons not teaming up as much, so it only makes sense to take a couple of talented tag teams from NXT and get them into the mix.

A team to look out for (very shortly) is The Mighty Don’t Kneel, two Australians who have been working for Pro Wrestling NOAH for a few years now. They are an accomplished team with a great look, so don’t expect Michael Nicholls & Shane Veryzer to be in NXT for very long. The Mighty Don't Kneel

NXT Performance CenterWhat this means for NXT is that there will definitely be spots available for newer talent to break out and get noticed. I just hope that there are some superstars currently at the Performance Center who are working hard to actually become a legitimate team (as opposed to just a make-shift tag team thrown together). There are opportunities available for those in Orlando who don’t mind setting aside their singles aspirations.

But until we start seeing new teams garner some success, we’ll continue to have American Alpha showcased with a small but pretty solid tag team division including Blake & Murphy, the Hype Bros, and the Vaudvillains.

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This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

 

The World According to ZAH

The World According to ZAH 2It’s been a wild and crazy week in the world…

– The new trailer for Captain America: Civil War came out last week and the internet is STILL buzzing over the debut of Marvel’s version of Spider-Man. I’m intrigued by the new Spider-Man, so I’m not on the “hate it” side at all. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it’s played out.

Jim Ross Josh Barnett AXS TV– After watching the initial episode of Jim Ross doing commentary for NJPW on AXSTV, I gotta say I’m sold. I mean, I was a big fan of the show to begin with because the program has been providing fans with some of the best wrestling that New Japan has to offer anyway (I just finished watching an amazing Hirooki Goto vs Shinsuke Nakamura match), but to hear Good Ol’ JR do the commentary makes it all the more fun to watch. I find that even Josh Barnett’s commentary has picked up a little bit, too. If you want a legit alternative to WWE with some great wrestling, I can’t recommend New Japan any more than I already do. Just solid, fantastic stuff.

Lucha Underground– Speaking of alternatives, Lucha Underground has continued to provide me with the type of entertainment that I’ve never received from any other form of wrestling before. It really comes off like a movie with wrestling as the centerpoint. The direction of the segments are fantastic, the storylines are intricate but still believable, and the little bit of “supernatural” thrown in makes the whole show a lot of fun to watch. While I’m still not a massive fan of the lucha style of wrestling, it’s certainly not the worst product available out there by a long shot. Gotta thank Big Red NY for turning me on to Lucha Underground…I really don’t think I’ll stop watching it any time soon.

Steven Spielberg & Harrison FordIt was announced this week that Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg will join-up one more time to deliver a fifth Indiana Jones movie. I was a kid when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released and, combined with his role as Han Solo, this made Ford my favourite actor of all time. The last movie (Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) actually came out eleven years ago (!!!), and even then he was looking to be too old for the role. I Possible Indiana Jones replacementslove Ford, but I really hope that this is a “passing the torch” to another Indiana Jones character…perhaps Bradley Cooper or the rumoured Chris Pratt). Obviously, nobody wants Shia Lebouf to return so let’s hope and pray THAT isn’t in the works. And thankfully, George Lucas is NOT involved this time around, so maybe we’ll actually get back to what Indiana Jones is truly about…searching for real, historical articfacts instead of chasing after the supernatural glowing skulls of alien beings. Ugh…

There were three things that really caught my eye during this past week’s NXT show.

  1. Chad Gable 1Chad Gable is a future superstar, without question. Not only does he have a ton of charisma and personality, his in-ring skills have developed at such a quick pace that you can’t help but compare him to Kurt Angle. I truly believe he’s the total package and that will help him overcome his relatively smaller size. In the meantime, he’s helped bring out the best in Jason Jordan and I think it’s safe to say that they’re going to be future NXT tag team champions.
  2. The Vaudvillains 1The Vaudvillains will never be an “over” act on the main roster in their current incarnation. No offense to either Aiden English or Simon Gotch as both men are extremely talented, but they simply don’t have the “it factor” that resonates with the general public. And yes, their gimmick is silly fun…but it’s highly unlikely to pop a RAW crowd for more than a second or two (similar to Ryback’s babyface pops). If they were to be called up, they’d fade away faster than The Ascension.
  3. Austin Aries 1I was really impressed with Austin Aries. First, I was blown away by how awesome Aries was during his beatdown by Baron Corbin. When shown the replay, it looked absolutely devastating and I was surprised that Aries wasn’t dead (lol). During his promo, “The Greatest Man in the World” was eloquent and delivered a great catchphrase: “It’s gonna be a great day to be great; a bad day to be you.” I’ve followed the career of Aries since he was a member of Generation Next in ROH with Roderick Strong, Alex Shelley, and Jack Evans. He’s gone from a person who couldn’t deliver a complete sentence to being a charismatic champion who looks like he could defeat Corbin in spite of his smaller size. I’m really looking forward to seeing him on display at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

– Ummm…Season 6 of Game of Thrones, anyone?? I mean, if you weren’t that excited for the show to return (as was the case with me), then this trailer should shake you back into reality so you can remember just how incredibly awesome this show truly is!

UFC 2– I’m not the biggest gamer in the world, but having seen in-game action from the new UFC 2 game has blown me away. I don’t think I’ve seen graphics this good in a fighting game EVER. Watching YouTubers like Big Red NY do a career mode with “Big Train” Martinez or Denk Ops doing a career mode with CM Punk has made me a fan in a MAJOR way. I realize that the relatively few players BigRedNY & Denk Opsand costumes in the game allows for more work on the graphics themselves, but holy shit…the bruising and the blood and the hair and every little detail seems to be above and beyond anything 2K can do with WWE games. Maybe I’m wrong (and I hope I am), but I don’t see WWE games ever coming as close to what UFC has got with their game any time soon. I mean, just check this online play of Holly Holms vs Miesha Tate out for yourselves!

Drew Galloway– Congrats to Drew Galloway on becoming the new TNA champion this past week. Ever since his release from WWE, Galloway has gone out of his way to reinvent himself and become one of the best wrestlers in the world. He has won championships all over the world from Evolve, Insane Championship Wrestling, Dansk Pro Wrestling, OCW, Scottish Wrestling Alliance, and the Union of European Wrestling Alliances. He has main-evented cards for other promotions all over the globe and now has the biggest singles title of his post-WWE career. His idea of becoming the “first traveling world champion since Ric Flair” is one that will not only benefit him, but will greatly benefit TNA, as well.

XMen Apocalypse– With the plethora of superhero movies being released in 2016, this one just screams out “MEH” to me. I mean, the entire X-Men franchise doesn’t seem that awesome and the last two movies weren’t really that great. This one doesn’t look much better and I think, at the end of the year, it’ll be lost in the shuffle and end up near the bottom of the super hero box office.

Neville injured– It’s a damn shame that Neville will be missing this year’s WrestleMania due to injury. This guy was about to make his Mania debut at the biggest WrestleMania in history, but a fluke slide has resulted in a broken ankle and a broken shinbone and robbed him of that opportunity. Let it be known that WWE hasn’t pushed Neville nearly as hard as they should have since his debut, so his presence won’t really be missed on the card overall (unfortunately). Watching the video when he realizes that the ankle is probably broken and he’s out of Mania is heartbreaking to see, but I can only hope that he comes back better than ever in a few months’ time.

– Song of the Week comes from Disturbed, a band who (along with the Foo Fighters) refuses to let rock’n’roll music die or change. This song is one of those “arena rock anthems” that I can crank up in the car and not have a damn care in the entire world.

The World According to ZAH

Sheamus 3– Why all the hate for Sheamus? I mean, I get that he’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Hell…up until his most recent run, I wasn’t really much of a fan, either. But I really enjoy the guy’s look with the mohawk and beard “thing”. He’s unique and different and unlike anything else right now in wrestling. That’s a GOOD thing. The other thing is that his matches have been SOLID since his return. Maybe it’s his opponents, maybe not…but Sheamus has been giving us quality performances every time out. He doesn’t phone it in and is out to change the minds of his haters. I can respect that. Oh…and there was this interesting piece of information that he tweeted this week:

PUDDING– TMZ confirmed something most people thought anyway but didn’t have any proof of: Bill Cosby ADMITTED that he bought Quaaludes and used Benadryl to knock out at least one woman. Apparently, during a deposition for the sexual assault lawsuit a Temple University employee filed against him back in 2005, he admitted this information and the documents were released this week to prove it. He eventually settled the case for an undisclosed amount of money. I mean…holy shit, what a douchebag. I can’t believe I used to look up to this guy back in my youth. He’s a fuckin’ loser. I hope he gets blacklisted from Hollywood and rots in hell.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass– So the Vaudvillains are the # 1 contenders to the NXT tag team championships. I don’t quite understand this one. Was the feud between the champions (Blake & Murphy) and the tag combination of Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady over? I mean, they proved they could beat the champions and only interference cost them the titles, yet the Vaudvillains have been given the next chance to be in the tag team spotlight. No offense to them, but unless the plan is to either (a) break the team of Enzo & Colin up or (b) promote the “Realest Guys in the Room” to the main roster, it makes no sense at all. They’re the most over team in the promotion and the storyline hasn’t concluded yet…so why pull the rug out?

– I’ll admit, I don’t know much about Goosebumps. Having said that, the movie trailer looks like a lot of fun.

Baron Corbin– I’m glad that Baron Corbin‘s matches are so short right now. I mean, the guy is big and strong and tatted up, but he really doesn’t carry much charisma at this point and, seemingly, can’t wrestle his way out of a paper bag. It’s just another example of someone being given the ball who hasn’t quite learned how to catch yet. He may get there, but not for awhile. Size doesn’t mean everything.

Han Solo– One of the new Star Wars Anthology movies will apparently be one about a young Han Solo. I dunno…I’m not really feeling this. I mean, I grew up with Han Solo…he was my hero when I was a kid. Now we’re going to get a “prequel” of sorts featuring some young actor in his role? Listen…I can go with the rumours of Chris Pratt in the running for a new Indiana Jones because that seems like a great match. I just don’t know if I can picture anybody else portraying Han Solo with the same personality and swagger. I love the idea of Anthology movies expanding upon the Star Wars universe…I’m just not a fan of this particular idea.

– So recently wrestling fanboy fantasies came true and this happened in Los Angeles…AJ Lee & PaigeJason Pierre-Paul fireworks– If you’re going to play with fireworks, be careful. If you’re a professional sports player who gets paid millions and is hoping to sign a new big-time contract, don’t fucking play with fireworks AT ALL. Apparently NY Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had to have his right index finger AMPUTATED on Wednesday because of injuries sustained during a July 4th celebration at his home in Florida. NFL.com reported that the Giants revoked their $60 million long-term contract offer earlier in the week. Dude…thanks for being a dumb-ass and making the rest of us feel normal for a day.

Sasha Banks &  Charlotte– The “word on the street” is that both Charlotte and Sasha Banks are expected to make their debuts helping Paige against Team Bella at Survivor Series. From what I’ve read in numerous reports, Bayley was expected to help Charlotte but because of her broken hand, the spot is going to Banks. I’m not sure how I feel about this because I have yet to see Banks play her character as a babyface. She’s an incredible heel and I’m concerned that WWE will mess up her debut. On the plus side, both Charlotte and Banks deserve to be on the main roster and I can’t wait to see them both tear things up and give the Divas division a shot in the arm.

– It’s been a helluva crazy week. I mean…FFS. Sometimes life just sucks the energy right out of you. I’m sick of everybody at this point. I just want to hang out with my son all weekend, eat junk food, play video games, watch wrestling, and catch a movie or two. So my Song of the Week comes from GWAR and it exactly how I’m feeling today.