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NXT 2.0 Winners and Losers So Far

nxt 2.0 winners and losers

Two weeks of NXT 2.0 are in the books. Aside from the new set and color scheme, the change in philosophy regarding NXT’s mission within the WWE Universe has been stark. The brand has gone from the WWE’s version of a high-level indie – an in-house Ring of Honor or Pro Wrestling Guerilla – to a true developmental territory. Accomplishing this means putting new people at the forefront while leaving others behind. Who is coming out ahead and who is falling behind?

The days of long, high-workrate matches appear to be over. With Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, Bruce Prichard and Kevin Dunn reported to be more heavily involved, they are said to be looking for young (as in mid-20s), big dudes who they think can one day headline WrestleMania. The first two weeks of the new branding have provided some clues as to who they think are early candidates.

WINNERS

Bron Breakker: The first one on the list is the most obvious. Breakker was put over in the first match of the NXT 2.0 era, beating LA Knight and showing athleticism and charisma in the process.

On week two, he teamed with the new NXT champion, Tommaso Ciampa against Ridge Holland and Pete Dunne, again getting the pinfall victory for his team. He is far from a finished product, but the potential is there. Breakker is strong, explosive and is already beginning to connect with the fans. Both weeks of NXT 2.0 have ended with him eyeing the NXT title, so the signal is clear. Breakker will be a major player going forward.

Von Wagner: If those in charge are looking for size, Wagner has size. He was put in the championship four-way on the September 15 episode, replacing Kyle O’Reilly. He did not wrestle on week two, but they showed us a video putting over his training methods and desire. Wagner seems to be another who fits the mold of what the new NXT is looking for and should benefit from its new direction.

Odyssey Jones: Another big man with a lot of personality, Jones was featured with a squash handicap match victory on the September 22 episode. Winning handicap matches has been a classic method to get big men over for decades, so it’s always a good sign for anyone booked in them. After a strong run in the Breakout tournament, it appears they still see a lot of upside in Jones.

Diamond Mine: This faction has picked up a lot of steam the last few weeks. Manager Malcolm Bivens is a solid talker, the Creed Brothers have been steamrolling the competition in squash matches, Roderick Strong won the Cruiserweight title this week and Ivy Nile was was introduced last week. The group is likely to become a factor in several divisions.

LOSERS

There are a few people who are likely to be moving away from the spotlight as WWE looks for people they consider future RAW and Smackdown stars.

KUSHIDA: His fall was startling. He lost the Cruiserweight title to Roderick Strong. The Diamond Mine is getting a strong push, so that’s not a shock, but the way it was presented does not bode well for KUSHIDA. He lost the title, was not shown on screen again after the pinfall and dismissed with a “Time’s up,” from announcer Vic Joseph. After that, rather than mention a potential rematch, they transitioned Strong directly into a challenge from Grayson Waller. KUSHIDA seems to have gone from champion to out of the title picture in one night.

Kyle O’Reilly: After finishing his feud with Adam Cole, O’Reilly was pushed out of the NXT title four-way on the 15th with a rushed backstage-attack angle in favor of Von Wagner. Rather than compete for the title, he seems headed toward a clash with Ridge Holland, the man pinned in the main event tonight. O’Reilly is a great worker, but is he what the current brand is looking for?

Johnny Gargano: His name was barely mentioned on the September 22nd episode. He might have some part in the Indi Hartwell-Dexter Loomis Honeymoon comedy skit next week, but he is not figured in any title pictures or feuds. His size and age are working against him and his contract is up soon. This could make the company hesitant in building anything around him. The new philosophy of NXT is likely to be a factor when he is weighing offers.

JURY’S OUT

B-Fab and Elektra Lopez: These two have a No-DQ match set for next week. B-Fab showed some charisma and talking ability but looked very green in the ring on September 15. The No-DQ match with Lopez should give us an idea of where the company thinks these two are in the pecking order.

Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs: They lost to Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel on September 15 but were featured in a video package on the September 22 show. The company seems to be putting some effort into this duo with a bro country gimmick, but it is too early to tell if they are set to be real factors or mid-carders.

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