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Which WWE Veterans Should NXT Rookies Study?

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ESPN has a great yearly article outlining which NBA veterans the current season’s rookies should study. Inspired by David Thorpe‘s great piece, we take a look at the “veterans” that some NXT rookies should study in their path to WWE greatness.

Thank you, David Thorpe, and ESPN for the inspiration and laying out the great format for the article.

Neville
Superstar to Study: Edge
As an undersized performer with an impressive move set, the artist formerly known as Adrian should look no further than the Rated R Superstar. Neville’s main roster career is only two weeks old, but you can see how it’s going to start; getting over with the crowd through his performance in the ring. Edge took a very similar path. He rarely spoke as a rookie, but soon it became clear he was the standout in The Brood. The path to stardom was made up of baby steps for Edge; Tag Team Championships, European title runs, and landing the Intercontinental Championship all on his way to the company’s top titles. Neville might have to follow a similar, methodical path, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Like Edge before him, those baby steps should be entertaining as all hell. Whether or not he has another leap to take remains to be seen, but if he needs advice, give Edge a call.

Hideo Itami
Superstar to Study: Daniel Bryan
This is awkward, since Bryan obviously watched tape of Kenta Hideo Itami, as noted by all the kicks. In regards to making a career in WWE, it should work in reverse. How do you succeed as a superstar well outside of the mold of a prototypical WWE main event star? Daniel Bryan could write a book on that (and probably will).

Kevin Owens
Superstar to Study: Batista
Body styles: not so similar. Wrestling style: meh. They do, however, share something in common: they’re different from everyone around them. Owens has a unique body type with a bruising style that isn’t matched in today’s WWE. Batista was a muscle head that could actually move around. They both have great personality and presence that lends to work as a babyface or heel. Both are “larger than life”, albeit in very different ways, but Owens could look to Batista on how to harness that. Batista: we liked him, but man could he be a dick. Owens: what a badass, but how many Daniel Bryan’s will we have to watch him cheaply destroy in the future? I’ll admit, this one was a bit of a stretch, but that should be a compliment to Kevin Owens. He’s so unique that he might have to make his own path.

Sami Zayn
Superstar to Study: Rob Van Dam
Sure, RVD is one of a kind, but Sami Zayn has a lot in common with Mr. Monday Night. It’s hard to imagine that you can see a wrestling move that you’ve never seen before in 2015, but Sami Zayn is proof of the contrary. RVD had this, too, and it was a huge part of his success. Rob Van Dam was an innovator, a show stealer (sorry, Dolph), and the cause for several holy sh** chants in his day. Zayn might not have the look of John Cena, The Rock or the prototypical WWE star, but neither did RVD. Like Rob, Sami can become a star by innovating; give us something we’ve never seen before. The Tornado DDT after diving through the second rope? That’s a great start.

Finn Balor
Superstar to Study: Jeff Hardy
It’s not just the face paint. Balor has the same type of charisma that Jeff Hardy had; the type of charisma that’s almost hard to explain. They take chances. They’re mysterious. They don’t talk much. The energy is off the charts. They look great against opponents both big and small. Neither would have been expected to hold the WWE’s top championships, but Hardy did. Finn Balor should watch a lot of Jeff Hardy matches.

Tyler Breeze
Superstar to Study: Chris Jericho
Tyler Breeze should watch footage of WCW Chris Jericho. He should watch the Chris Jericho that read “arm bar” off his list of moves to the crowd; the one that taunted Goldberg for several weeks, creating an angle all by himself. Tyler Breeze can be that type of heel in WWE. Maybe that will parlay into the Y2J character we know now, but even if it doesn’t, Breeze could do quite well in the same light as the leader of the Jerichoholics.

What about Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and the NXT Women’s Division? Quite frankly, there isn’t an easy study. Sure, Alundra Blayze, Trish Stratus, Lita, and others are role models as professional wrestlers and deserve a shout out for a variety of reasons. Legends like Moolah, and phenomenal workers like Natalya have given women’s wrestling so much. But to be transcendent, and to honor the outcry of fans to #GiveDivasAChance, these superstars need to be the first in a line of something great. The current and future collection of women in WWE/NXT has the potential to completely turn the Divas/Women’s division on its side, and that’s a great thing.

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Credits: ESPN, David Thorpe

Photo credit: WWE

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