There's a lot of pro wrestling product in the world today.
That's great, because it means if WWE isn't your thing, there's fairly easily accessible alternatives just a Google search away. It can be a pain though, because even for the most devoted/obssessive fan, there are only so many hours in the day.
Triple H's NXT brand is a consistently entertaining product that delivers moments of greatness on a pretty regular basis. I love it, as evidenced by the fact I write at least a couple thousand words about it every week, and have been doing so for like four years.
But I understand not everybody watches, for a variety of reasons, none of which are "I do not want to watch a good wrestling show". Those folks may be wondering what's up with the half-dozen new faces who've shown up on WWE's main roster between April 3's WrestleMania 32 and April 7's SmackDown.
Don't worry. I, and the rest of the best dang pro wrestling community on the interwebs, have you covered. Following is part two (click here for a look at the singles wrestlers called up from earlier today) of a quick rundown on the men many of us met on Wednesday nights who will be looking to become staples of Sundays and Mondays going forward...
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
I kind of feel like everybody knows these guys, at least if you frequent our Rumor Roundup, since they've been pencilled in for promotion since last August. Plus, what you saw of them this past Monday on Raw was the reason why everyone who watches NXT has figured a call-up was imminent - they've got an entrance gimmick we haven't seen since New Age Outlaws, combined with the trash talking artistry of an in-his-prime Rock.
Come to think of it, part of the delay in their arrival was likely because New Day were working their own version of those same attributes. Waiting to bring up Zo & Cass may have allowed Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods time to get established as the mega-stars they now are, but there shouldn't be any problem co-existing with similar schticks. Like the current tag champs, The Realest Guys (who are referred to as such because of the closing line of Amore's base spiel - "Baddaboom, realest guys in the room, how you doing?") aren't clones of acts like the NAO, but successors to them, applying classic technique and principles in innovative ways.
Enzo, the smaller man with the ridiculous clothes and hair, is the motormouth who works the high spots and plays face-in-peril. Big Cass - who isn't quite seven feet tall, but is close enough that it doesn't matter - serves as the finisher, both as a powerhouse tag and by leading the crowd in in a (mis)spelling bee to end their opening routine by describing their opponents' toughness. Though he doesn't do it as much as the smacktalker skywalker, Cassady can run his mouth, too; his sneaky insults are sometimes more devastatingly funny than Zo's blatant ones.
Their extended stay in Developmental served them well in two ways. One, they're grown tremendously as workers. This time last year, an evaluation of their in-ring skill would pretty much read "well, they can talk!" While they still won't confuse anyone for Cesaro & Tyson Kidd, they've mastered babyface tag formula. Zo can fly around like a chihuahua who got into a bag of coffee beans and sell a beating. The big guy knows how to use his size and hit his various side slams on anyone at any time.
An extended feud with Dash & Dawson also allowed them to work on the serious side of their promos. They possessed the ability to make audiences laugh by taunting rivals from the jump, but they got to work on their fire after a kayfabe attack by the Revival covered a shoot injury to Cassady. It's not as good as their funny stuff, but it's a tool they have some experience with now.
Other than how long it took them to be called-up, the other remarkable thing about the Realest Guys is that they never won the NXT tag titles. At each missed opportunity, the thinking was they'd be on the main roster soon. Instead, it looks like it was just because they never needed the belts to be the most popular act in NXT.
Missing on Raw was Carmella, the Princess of Staten Island and hottest chick in the ring (how you doin?), who is really their female friend more than a manager or valet. After an angle introducing her to the roster where they lost matches because of Amore's unrequited affections for the second generation wrestler (her father is 90s enhancement guy Paul Van Dale) - thankfully ditched before it could split the team a part - she embarked on a solo career in the women's division and mostly served as motivational support and a way for heels to get an edge during their matches.
Yes, the Realest Guys are Sting-level dumb. But they're fun and charismatic and the only thing holding them back from making a lot of money in this business is the low opinion in which WWE places tag wrestling. But maybe these call-ups, the re-packaging of Primo & Epico and the arrival of Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows is a sign of a New Day-influenced change in that philosophy.
If it is, Enzo & Cass should end up considered as all-time greats.
Aiden English has been around long enough that he was in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), the promotion which became NXT. A theater student with a focus on stage combat, his initial singles gimmick was as a heelish singing thespian. The height of that character's push was a one-off match with a visiting Sheamus and a feud with Cassady while Amore was healing from a broken leg.
In the summer of 2014, he was paired with Simon Gotch, who brought his old-timey carnival strongman character to NXT from the independents. They were immediately pushed, losing a #1 contender tournament final to Lucha Dragons, who became their first big feud once Kalisto & Sin Cara won the tag titles. As heels, they tormented the Dragons with silent movie vignettes, but were eventually turned thanks to Full Sail audiences digging their act, this despite a mini-feud with the uber-over Realest Guys.
Being fan favorites lead to their biggest moment, winning the belts at TakeOver: Brooklyn with an assist from fellow crowd darling Leva "Blue Pants" Bates. Unfortunately for the Vaudevillains, Bates was more popular than they were, and once she exited the scene, their title reign ended shortly thereafter.
Recently, they used losing the championship to Dash & Dawson as impetus for a return to the dark side, and started a feud with Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley.
They're solid performers who work in the right story and are probably a blast live. Gotch in particular brings a really different style to the ring, and it's his work that usually earns cheers. In the right promotion, they could be a big success. But that promotion is probably Chikara, as even NXT often felt like a weird fit.
In a rebuilt, robust tag division, Vaudevillains could serve as main event gatekeepers as either faces or heels. If the scene remains the one WWE has cultivated for the last decade, they're probably destined for Superstars.
If you've been watching NXT, what's your scouting report on these four men? What do you think their prospects are on the main roster?
If you're someone who only watches Raw and the other main shows, what did you think of your first impression of the Realest Guys and the Real Men?