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By Mike Johnson on 2014-03-07 09:30:00

This week's WWE NXT was the start of a new chapter for the developmental league, as it should have been. They had a new champion in Adrian Neville and were coming off NXT ArRival, which was their coming out party. The talents and staff of NXT had a lot to celebrate but also a big springboard to leap off of. How did they do? Let's review!

What Worked:

*The ArRival video recap and the new NXT opening. They each looked very slick. The ArRival event didn’t need a lot of hype to make it better than it actually was, since the show was great, but they made it seem like an even bigger deal than it actually was. The new opening is great, and as talents get called up, we’ll see the opening change, but that’s a good thing. I especially liked the post-show interviews from ArRival, which allowed a nice bridge between the show and this weeks’ episode, making it feel like something major went down last week.

*Adrian Neville’s first appearance as champion. Neville vs. Camacho was a solid match and the announcers did a good job of not just showcasing the new champ but also giving fans a viable reason to want to see Camacho face him with the idea that Camacho was upset he wasn’t featured on ArRival. Neville had one of his better promos afterward, taking all the things that someone may see as potential weaknesses (his access, his elf-like ears, etc) and turning them into talking points to show how far he’s come as a wrestler. Bo Dallas coming out and congratulating Neville but warning him he would cash in his rematch clause when the time was right was good as well.

*The Adam Rose debut!!! WWE is about spectacle as much as it’s about wrestling and well, this was an instant, star-making spectacle for this character. The short but fun vignette to introduce the former Leo Kruger under his new persona celebrating celebrity excess was pitch-perfect. I can see purists hating the character, but Rose, obviously patterned after comedian Russell Brand, came off well, like someone he was, not someone he was playing on camera, which makes all the difference in the world. He immediately stood out as a personality in a way that he never did as Leo Kruger. I also got a big kick out of all the developmental talents who have yet to be assigned TV characters playing wacky party-goers. It looked like a real over the top celebrity party with all the outrageous, obnoxious characters. For a second, I thought I was back with my buddy Craigrona in the Limelight VIP room, but those adventures are stories for another day. Now, when Rose came out to wrestle, the entrance with his entire entourage was well, FUN, especially with the usage of Above Envy's "World Gone Wild" as his theme song.  There’s not a lot in wrestling today that just grabs you as FUN. This instantly got over with the audience live and Rose immediately stood out with some unique body language that reminded me, of all people, of Adrian Street, at times. I don’t know what the future holds for the character or how it will hold up in the weeks ahead but this was a great first impression.  I loved the hell out of this!

*Charlotte’s promo with Paige and new direction. That was easily the best mic work Charlotte has done to date in NXT. I guess having her father, Ric Flair around, rubbed off on her. Her new direction as the “Dirtiest Diva in the Game” also came off well in week one. She obviously carries the legacy of Flair name, so it makes sense to connect her on-screen persona with it. I think athletically, she’s great but she’s still working to put it all together. The match with Emma was OK and more of a springboard to build Charlotte and it was fine.  This might be the week where she begins to really blossom.

*The chip on Corey Graves’ shoulder. There was some good character development on this week’s show. Graves has really grown from a guy who was just sort of there in NXT into a truly pissed off villain who’s out to get what he thinks he deserves from a world that has wronged him. Having him attack and destroy Yoshi Tatsu allows for whatever credibility Tatsu still carries from the new ECW to enhance Graves’ standing. His body language when he comes to the ring is great and you can see he’s got tons of potential to fill the role that CM Punk exited in terms of being a counter-culture personality.

*Sami Zayn vs. Corey Graves. This was a good main event to close the show. Graves’ submission work was good and benefitted by William Regal’s call as an announcer. This was your old school villain with an axe to grind vs. the hard-fighting upstart hero. Graves was able to showcase himself with some good wrestling and submissions on the mat (especially after The Lucky 13 hurt Tatsu) playing off Zayn’s knee injuries. A well wrestled main event and Graves’ loss should lead to even more of a pissed off attitude. …

What Didn't:

*Emma’s backstage promo with Charlotte. This was really the only weak part of the show. Charlotte came off far better in her back and forth with Paige. Her promo towards Emma was eh.

What We Learned:

*Sami Zayn got what he wanted. WWE NXT closed out the Zayn vs. Cesaro storyline with the Zayn promo where he turned down the chance to say what Cesaro told him after beating him. Zayn said that he “got what he wanted” out of the match, which appears to have been Cesaro’s respect. I thought this was an interesting way to segue him into his new storyline with Corey Graves especially since they can always go back to Cesaro vs. Zayn down the line if they choose.

*Charlotte is getting pushed. Two promos and a win? Ric Flair with in multiple segments? Yeah, she’s going to be facing Paige sooner than later for the NXT Women’s title.

*See you Leo Kruger. I really liked the crazed Kruger character but there’s no argument it was missing something in presentation. Hopefully Adam Rose can bridge the gap between developmental and the main roster for the South African star.

*Adam Rose is awesome. That was a hell of a debut, especially for someone I was worried about being in the WWE system for too long. This fresh coat of paint made me feel like there was something special to him right off the bat and not since Aaron Idol morphed into Damien Sandow have I seen such a drastic change that worked so well. Plus, his theme music is awesome!

Mike Johnson can be reached at and can be followed @MikePWInsider. He will gladly accept an invitation to an Adam Rose party.

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