The New Sensation Neville. The Man That Gravity Forgot has one of the most breath-taking wrestling styles we’ve seen in a WWE ring. And yet, you probably wonder why I’m writing about him right now. He’s not in the spotlight, is he? Rollins, Lesnar, Sheamus, Reigns or Wyatt, even Paige and the Bellas would have been acceptable article subjects this week but Neville? He’s only helping balance out the numbers in the Prime Time Players vs. The New Day feud. He has absolutely nothing to do with the tag team titles, the tag team division or any of the men involved in this rivalry but no one cares, since he’s just a filler. The insulting position Neville is in and the fact that no one talks about him is exactly why I want to direct my attention to him.
In his debut match on the main roster Neville left the audience in awe. There’s no one in the entire company that moves the way he does. Every single motion he executes defies gravity and that is more than a catch phrase. Neville is a technical worker with stunning speed and agility. His aerial arsenal is unmatched. When he faced Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship the entire audience stood on their feet out of pure respect. It was a spontaneous reaction that resulted from a masterpiece of a match between two men, who breathe wrestling. Nonetheless, I was worried about Neville’s future before he was called up and I’m even more concerned now, once he’s on the main roster.
Neville once said that NXT is the wrestling show of the company. He disapproved of the fact that on the main roster the entertainment often replaces the actual wrestling. His words couldn’t be truer but they were worrying at the same time. In a way, he predicted the cause of his own misfortune. A man with his attitude was always going to struggle in the WWE. Initially, Neville caught the attention of the fans because of his unique wrestling style. The crowd would give him a huge pop every time his music hit. I was excited. I thought that maybe Neville would be given the opportunity to show what he’s capable of and then even the non-believers would have no choice but to give him the respect he deserves. The WWE Universe is thirsty for beautiful, high-quality wrestling and Neville can provide an inexhaustible supply of it. Not more than a couple of months after his RAW debut, Neville inserted himself in between Owens and Cena in an attempt to win the NXT title. Unfortunately, the crowd barely had the patience to wait for him to finish talking. There was no reaction to his words. No one cared what he had to say and the promo hung awkwardly in the air. I was begging for the start of this match that Neville was never going to win. A loss after an impressive fight is to be preferred over the heavy silence of an unresponsive crowd. The bad reception of Neville’s mic work could be blamed on his accent but Sheamus has a strong accent too and it works for him. Same could be said for Drew McIntyre and Wade Barrett. Why would Neville be any different?
The problem with Neville is that he lacks character. He’s always relied solely on his wrestling to win the fans over. On paper, this should be enough, since we’re watching a wrestling show but it’s not. The more popular a wrestler’s character is, the more he’ll sell and the more the company will invest in him. The Man that Gravity Forgot is just a nickname. It’s not a functioning gimmick. It doesn’t say who Neville is, only what he does, but we can already see that. His inclination to put skills over talk is being vitiated by the company. Neville is rapidly turning into a one-trick pony. The WWE seems to have decided to exploit Neville for cheap pops only. He can give you a spectacle in the ring but he needs to be given the time to do so. It is true that a few flips in the air instantly make the crowd happy but when these flips are only added to other people’s feuds to inject color into them, Neville gains no momentum. He’s only there to make a match exciting and then leave empty-handed. As amazing as the Red Arrow is, I’m starting to apprehend the moment when I see it. Neville has much more to offer than this one move but the way he’s being sold to us, it seems like it’s about the only thing he can do. The crowd’s reaction is getting weaker. The excessive exploitation of this one technique is going to lead to the fans building a resistance to it. Neville’s best – the Red Arrow, will cease to draw a reaction, if the audience is overexposed to it. It should be a cherry on the top, a well-deserved treat at the end of an exhilarating match, not a candy aimlessly thrown at our mouths every time Neville’s in the ring. The WWE is draining the value of the Red Arrow by turning it from the crown jewel in Neville’s rich arsenal to an end in its self.
This issue of mishandling NXT recruits on the main roster is not limited to Neville. Many struggle for different reasons. Bo Dallas and Adam Rose, despite both being very picturesque characters, who had a good connection with the NXT crowd, failed to make an impact on the main roster because they were presented as nothing but a joke. In a way, I’m not upset that Tyler Breeze isn’t getting a push because once he’s called up, he’ll find himself jobbing, right next to Fandnago and Rose. I even worry that Sami Zayn won’t make it. The crowd knows him and he’s well–loved. However, if the WWE doesn’t see “The Guy” in him, he’ll quickly line up next to Neville, filling in on other people’s feuds or just making others look good. Probably, the best Zayn will get is a Dolph Ziggler status, which means sitting at the top of the midcard, constantly looking at others jump over him to enter the WWE World Heavyweight title picture.
The NXT characters that have had a very successful launch of their main roster experience are Rusev and Kevin Owens. What sets them apart? They are both monster heels, who seem unbeatable. They have agility that’s astonishing for their size. They are the perfect formula – not only big and strong the way WWE wants them, but also technical and fast like most fans prefer them. Neville and Zayn are too small to fit that standard frame, the existence of which is being so vigorously denied. What will happen once the Red Arrow has been turned into a routine that excites no one, if the WWE has given Neville nothing but his finisher to connect to the audience with? Neville desperately needs a good feud to develop his character. He needs it soon because each the time the Red Arrow falls without a purpose, a part of Neville’s future crumbles.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.