Corey Graves’ After The Bell podcast may not quite be the pull-no-punches affair he hyped it as before launch, but the Savior of Misbehavior does offer constructive criticism on the WWE product on occasion when something’s not clicking for him.
For example, on his latest episode Graves brought up something that bugs him about the character-driven NXT reboot. He makes a lot of sense:
“Almost to a person, everyone that came to the ring or had a video package... is unique. I love the off-site shoots NXT has been churning out. It’s cool. This isn’t a cinematic masterpiece. It’s not Oscar-level performance, but it’s an opportunity for everyone to get their chops about them, get comfortable in different environments, in front of more cameras and really complete themselves and figure this out.
“I noticed this problem. Once the bell rings, everybody wrestles the same way. The example I’m going to give you is the first one I noticed and that was Giovanni Vinci. I love the presentation of Giovanni Vinci. I think it’s cool. I get it, from the vignettes hyping his return, the music hits, he comes out with the snapshots, the photography, the Gucci-inspired wrestling gear. Ten seconds in, if I’ve never seen him before, I know who Giovanni Vinci is.
“Once the bell rang, Giovanni Vinci was no different to me than the guy in Imperium [Fabian Aichner, Vinci’s former persona]. Later on in the show, Roxanne Perez, who I think is going to be a big star. Very capable, very talented. I love her personality, her fire, her energy. She doesn’t wrestle much different than Jacy Jayne or ‘insert superstar here.’
“It’s a concern of mine that, to make a truly great WWE Superstar, character has to permeate every step of the match. You have to wrestle with your own skillset... Everybody in NXT, in my opinion, from my perspective, is a better wrestler than I ever was. They are all better athletes than I am. They are better athletes than some of the guys and girls on the main roster. The potential is all there. It’s just a matter of maintaining the persona and personality from bell to bell.
“You should be able to turn on a match and get into the match and understand who is who and what they’re about, what they bring to the table, and why they are different than their opponent.”
Further illustrating his point, Graves mentioned certain acts where character extends to ring work and helps people stand out. His podcast partner Vic Joseph mentions Bron Breakker & The Creed Brothers, with Corey specifically mentioning the current tag champs:
“From bell to bell, they are different. They don’t work like anybody in NXT. They are their own skillset. Their movements from opening bell to the end are unique to the Creed Brothers. I want more of that.
“If you don’t watch NXT or WWE and you show fans Giovanni Vinci vs. Apollo Crews, good match, nothing wrong with it. I’m not picking it apart or crapping on anything, but what makes Giovanni Vinci different from Apollo Crews, from Grayson Waller, from anybody? Great characters, that’s the most important part. I’m trying to offer the next step for these talents. Incorporate who you are into how you work.
“There’s a disconnect to me when I see Tony D’Angelo, mob boss, who should be a street fighter, I know he has legit credentials. I don’t want to see him wrestle the same way Giovanni Vinci wrestles. I don’t want to see Giovanni Vinci wrestle the same way Apollo Crews wrestles.”
It’s something you see beyond just NXT. At least in this case, WWE has a chance to coach performers to do something about it.
Will they? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and listen to the latest After The Bell here.