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Paige, Adam Rose and Bo Dallas lead NXT invasion of post-WrestleMania just who are they?

WWE decided to use the post-WrestleMania Raw to roll out a LOT of talent from their developmental flagship show, NXT, last night. For the fans who haven't been watching that show, here's a primer on who these new players are and what you can expect from them.

If you were watching WWE Monday Night Raw last night, you noticed quite a few new faces making their way onto your screen, both in the ring and via video packages. None made a bigger splash than new Divas champ Paige, of course, but many of these rookies have the potential to make just as large an impact on WWE. And while last night was featured a large injection of new talent all at once, these performers have been gradually being introduced over the last few months.

So what better time than now to take a moment to introduce you to the men and women who've been tearing up Full Sail Live and Hulu Plus for the past year and a half, and who have recently taken the first steps toward following in the footsteps of fellow NXT alums like WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and his new buddies The Shield!


The new WWE Divas champion is also the only woman to ever hold the NXT Womens championship. And if you noticed that they call the top prize for females something else down in developmental - good catch. NXT is popular with fans of women's grappling (and has created some, too) with a focus on attractive female athletes who use in-ring competition to tell stories about something other than chasing men. The average women's match feature recognizable pro wrestling spots and psychology, and runs around five to ten minutes. Bouts that blow off feuds (yes, women have those on NXT) get ten to fifteen minutes and are often the best match on that show.

So, that's the scene that the 21 year old, second generation wrestler from the United Kingdom has ruled over since winning a tournament to determine the first ever NXT Women's titleholder last summer. She defeated her sometimes partner/sometimes rival Emma in the finals, and has since battled frequent foil Summer Rae and main roster Diva Natalya. At the first episode on WWE Network, the live special ArRIVAL, she again defeated Emma in a great match that really highlighted how much she's grown as a worker in the past year.

Her character has always come off tweener-ish to me, but she's treated like a Stone Cold Steve Austin face by NXT crowds. The cross between Daffney and Kharma that is "The Anti-Diva" really wasn't on display last night at all - and her last promo on the Network talked about how she never cries, so they'll have to massage this into kayfabe.

Whatever they do with her character, hopefully her appearance and entry into a straight wrestling angle is a sign of good things to come for the women.


The Australian Lance Storm-trainee has been on the main shows for a while now, but seeing her rival from developmental show up brings up a chance to contrast their introductions and examine how WWE can get Emma back on track in a re-focused Divas' division.

The 25 year old was a staple of indies in North America and her home country for two or three years before signing her developmental contract in 2011. WWE tried to debut her as a heel, but her goofy dance and earnest, awkward attempts to skin the cat during her entrance quickly endeared her to the crowd. Like all female faces on NXT, most of her feuds have been against Summer Rae's Beautiful Fierce Females (BFFs) stable. In those matches and her pair of epic battles with Paige, she mixes her comedic stylings with really strong ringwork to become more of a Daniel Bryan everywoman bad-ass than the delusional dancing queen she is when not being pushed by competition.

Her ongoing romantic comedy angle with Santino has kept her from being able to show that other gear on Raw to date, but a feud with the new Divas champ would be a great way to showcase it on the main shows.

Oh, and if you like inspirational true life stories about dreams coming true - watch this.

Alexander Rusev and Lana

Like Emma, these two have been running around since The Bulgarian Brute was a surprise entry in the 2014 Royal Rumble. Unlike the dancing Aussie, they never did a whole lot more on NXT than what we've seen of them on Raw and Smackdown to date.

Rusev is a 28 year old former rower and powerlifter from Bulgaria who has been signed with WWE since 2010. He's a hoss in the physical mode of Big E, with a similar mix of power moves and deceptive agility - the difference is that the "super athlete" hasn't really had a chance to show more than brief squashes and glorified squashes.

Since acquiring Lana as his "social ambassador", the gimmick has become straight-up Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. Rusev doesn't speak, and seems to follow his blonde manager's instructions to the letter, as when he emotionlessly slaps on and releases his finisher, a version of the Camel Clutch they call The Accolade.

Lana is a former dancer and professional pretty person (mostly modeling in commercials) who signed with WWE last year. This is the only character she has worked for the promotion, and she she seems to have a Summer Rae-esque handle on it. Again, we don't have much of a body of work to judge, but based on her reactions last night, she seems like a safer bet to get over than her client, who could get lost as an Ezekial Jackson or Vladimir Kozol even with her help.

Adam Rose

Speaking of "not a lot to go on", Rose just debuted on NXT a few weeks ago, so his rapid ascent to Raw is a bit of a surprise. The gimmick is easy to explain, though (he's Russell Brand from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to The Greek) and the man behind the act is a 34 year old who has been with the company since 2010, so they are trying to see if they have something in the character before it's too late.

Last year, he was Leo Kruger, a psychotic South African paramilitary who stalked his opponents like prey. It was the kind of role where he could have just showed up in the big leagues and started following someone to begin a feud, but I suppose it didn't stand out enough for the powers-that-be.

Rose will make an impression; "The Express" is a rolling party full of colorful characters that accompanies him to the ring, and the performer is fully committed to the role in a way that almost got Fandango over. But in the two matches we have to judge by, the wrestling is a weird blend of comedy that you used to get from WWE's effeminate heel characters that turns into the same offense he did as Kruger without much explanation beyond "he got mad".

The hope would be that they learned from their mistakes with the former Johnny Curtis and Brodus Clay, and will let him form an attachment with crowds naturally as they move him into more serious angles. The risk is that he's another Fandango or Funkasaurus.

Bo Dallas

If you remember Bo from his aborted mini-program opposite Wade Barrett...don't. The way his generic babyface character died following last year's Rumble served as the impetus to re-tool the character and embrace the fact that "smark" audiences like the ones that attend NXT tapings love nothing more than to crap all over the "say your prayers, eat your vitamins" good guys of days gone by.

To cut and paste from one of my NXT Primers from before ArRIVAL:

The gimmick is hard to explain in words, and it takes some getting used to. It seems that every NXT watcher went through a process of "this is dumb", to "oh, I see what he's doing" to "this is greatness" as he basically parodied a Cena-esque WWE (dick)face who was oblivious to the crowd's enmity towards him.

Like a lot of stuff from the Performance Center, I don't how it will translate to larger crowds, or if WWE Creative will allow him the time needed to even let audiences catch on, but it's impressive stuff from the 23 year old.

He's a third generation star who despite being only 23 years old has been with the company for five years, and held every title the developmental system has (he was the longest reigning champion in NXT history - there's a banner to prove it!). Dallas' ring work is not his strong suit, but he just had the best match I've ever seen him put on when he failed in his rematch against Adrian Neville for the belt on NXT two weeks ago, so his genetics and his youth should serve him well if he keeps listening to to the talented trainers and agents around him.


That's my take on the fresh faces we'll be seeing more of in WWE this summer. Who are you excited about? NXT watchers, what I did leave out, or get wrong? Let's hear from you!

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