“There’s a monarchy here in NXT. And Ricochet believes that he’s the King. And that’s funny to The Dream. He he. Well, if The Dream were to pick a crown, he’d choose to be the Prince. The difference between a King and a Prince? The King was good, but that Prince… he knows that there’s a bigger crown.” – The Velveteen Dream
If you haven’t been watching NXT, which is the best wrestling product in the WWE, you may be missing what could go down as one of the best feuds of the year. Ricochet – the high flying, record breaking, Indy legend – is currently feuding with The Velveteen Dream in a perfect match of opposites in personality but equals in ability. Dream – the former Tough enough contestant turned flamboyant Prince-esque showman – has taken umbrage with Ricochet’s emergence on NXT and his Indy beginnings, wanting the spotlight only for himself. Ricochet, known as the “One and Only”, has dared The Dream to prove that he deserves it. This game of one-upmanship has captivated viewers and turned their scheduled encounter at NXT Takeover: Chicago 2 into a must see match.
This, however, is more than just two tremendous wrestlers just wanting to prove their the best. Both men have layered histories riddled with nuance and hurdles that they’ve both had to climb. And as such, both have created personas that have been built from those very hurdles and bred to exhibit not only their skills, but their true inner selves as well. That’s what makes this matchup so interesting.
The Velveteen Dream, who’s real name is Patrick Clark, first came into wrestling fame as a member of the 6th and most recent season of WWE Tough Enough. Clark was an avid and knowledgeable fan, and was quite arrogant about it, as well as his prior training. Because of his arrogance and perceived lack of humility, he was eliminated on the 5th episode. Still, due to his clear aptitude in the ring, youth, and passion for WWE, he was signed to a developmental deal. Clark went through a few different characters in NXT before he found his current one, one most notably being a politically charged version of himself seeing as he’s from Washington D.C. Fortunately for him and us, he’s landed on The Velveteen Dream. He plays the character with a real sense of flair, vibrancy, and animation. His act would surely make Prince, the basis for the character, proud.
The beauty of how he portrays the character, however, is in the subtleties. Through the bravado, there’s clearly an insecure man begging for recognition. All of Dream’s feuds revolve around some sense of respect or acknowledgment. He’s is on a constant quest for validation, only matched by his need to be unique. A man genuinely proud of his luminosity, he is always fighting to prove that he is in fact luminous. Something that Ricochet, in his own way, has fought for his whole career.
Born Trevor Mann, Ricochet has taken a much longer journey to NXT and WWE. A 15 year veteran, Mann has been everywhere and done everything. He’s wrestled in the frenetic energy of PWG in Reseda, been in the family friendly world of Chikara, went overseas with the ultra competitive Dragon Gate promotion, and been the face of the upstart Lucha Promotion. He’s even done significant time in the second biggest wrestling company in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling. There, he won the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors tournament and is a three time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. His success is almost unparalleled, but what’s most notable about him isn’t his successes. It’s his style. Ricochet has created quite possibly the most exciting style in all of professional wrestling. He’s arguably the best high flyer in the game today, maybe ever, and he matches that with a speed, precision, and attitude that makes is 5’9 frame seem twice that. Despite all that, unfortunately, it still took him 15 years to make it to NXT.
That’s not a fact that he takes lightly. The landscape of WWE as a whole is tremendously different than it was just 10 years ago. Before then, a guy like Ricochet likely wouldn’t have been signed, but now? He’s not only gotten signed, but he’s become a marquee performer in just a small time. Which directly leads him into The Velveteen Dream’s spotlight and quest for validation.
There is a certain beauty in the dichotomy between the two. Dream is a showman who is an opportunist. He takes advantage of every situation and outlasts his opponents, utilizing a bevy of awkward looking but effective moves. But when it comes down to it, he’s a high flyer at heart, utilizing his beautiful Purple Rainmaker elbow drop to finish the job.
On the other hand, Ricochet is known for his high flying – nobody does it better – but is a truly adept grappler and mat wrestler. He may fly around the ring with ease, but he is one of the most savvy wrestlers around, having seen everything and come out on top. Still, he’s utilizes the most show-stopping move in all of NXT to end his matches – the mesmerizing 630 splash. As seen in their few encounters so far, they’re a perfect match for each other because they’re essentially two sides of the same coin.
Both performers have a flair for the dramatic. They both have a sense of the moment. And they both want the spotlight. But only one can have it. At NXT Takeover: Chicago 2, the best NXT has to offer will face NXT’s future.
King VS Prince: Who will wear the crown?
Heavy is the head.
Could Finn Balor Actually Beat Brock Lesnar at the WWE Royal Rumble?
Finn Balor is on his way to the main event of The Royal Rumble on January 27. The Irish born Superstar has the chance of a lifetime against Brock Lesnar and that chance may deliver the Universal Championship. Finn has worked hard for this moment as he’s finally getting another run at the top.
That is the narrative that’s currently being written by WWE. Finn Balor’s career resurgence is a feel-good story and understandably so. It’s been nearly three years since he’s truly been in serious world title contention. He is one of the most popular Superstars on the roster and fans want to see him do well. All of this is true. But is he really going to win it all on January 27?
Balor’s rise to the top back in 2016 seemed like a perfect move. He was riding a wave of momentum from his run in NXT and he was gaining popularity with each passing week. The fans saw him as a top babyface and that’s how WWE booked him.
His debut on the main roster was met with overwhelming approval, as fans couldn’t wait to see him mix it up with Raw’s biggest names. One of those names was of course Roman Reigns, who Bálor defeated en route to beating Seth Rollins and becoming the first-ever Universal champion.
Both wins were a statement by WWE. It wasn’t often that the company moved anyone ahead of Reigns, but that’s exactly what happened with Finn. Roman wasn’t going anywhere of course and Bálor was probably not taking his place.
But WWE was giving the fans something new, something different. Balor was a breath of fresh air on a program that often grows very stale at times. However with Finn at the helm, there was little chance of that happening again.
So now that he’s finally regained momentum after three years, what are the chances that Finn Balor will once again be slowed to a dead stop? His injury the night he won the Universal title was through no fault of his own. These things happen and it could very well happen to any WWE Superstar at any time.
But there is definitely someone to blame for Finn’s booking since relinquishing the championship. WWE surely could not be expected to immediately reinsert Finn into a top spot the moment he came back from injury. But to wait this long to elevate him to the world title picture?
WWE had to change plans after Finn went down. Fans surely realize that. The company really cannot afford to sit still for anyone, especially someone that had just arrived on the main roster. But Balor’s lack of main event success in the time following his return is indeed a curiosity.
Brock Lesnar was the top titleholder for the majority of the time after Finn returned to Raw. WWE’s plans didn’t include Balor versus Lesnar. So why not move Finn to SmackDown Live and give him a run against then-WWE champion AJ Styles?
A feud between the two could have led to a WrestleMania 35 showdown for the WWE Championship. The founder of The Bullet Club versus the man who took his place. Two veteran stars that made their names outside of WWE now waging war on the WrestleMania stage. It’s a story that really could have written itself.
But even as fans contemplate what could have been, there’s no denying that Finn is once again in a great place in his WWE career. Maybe it did take too long for him to return to this elite level. But he’s back nonetheless and now he indeed has a chance of achieving greatness. All he has to do is get past Brock Lesnar.
Facing Lesnar right now is a somewhat odd prospect for Finn Balor. On one hand, Finn has to look good and he most likely will. The contrast between the two men is apparent and that contrast should make for an intriguing matchup.
Balor will stick and move, he will weather the storm and he will continue to come out swinging despite how long the match lasts. But what happens when crowd fatigue sets in, as is often the case, during Lesnar’s matches?
The fact is that may bode well for Finn, because once he starts his comeback, the crowd will go along for the ride. The real drama in Brock Lesnar’s matches typically does not come until the end. That’s when the real test begins, as fans hold their collective breath to see if Brock’s opponent will actually pull out the win. The problem is, that win rarely ever happens.
But this is actually in Finn’s favor as well. Even if Finn loses to Brock, it probably won’t affect Balor that much at all. No one expects Lesnar to really ever lose and when it does happen, it’s a complete shock to the system. So, Balor would be just another star that tried and failed. How could anyone hold that against him?
However will the notion that Finn is destined to be nothing more than a top mid-card star once again become the prevailing opinion? Fans have always debated Balor’s worth and WWE’s apparent refusal to use him as a main event star. Will a loss at The Royal Rumble once again put Balor right back in the middle of that situation?
The truth is that for fans desperately wanting to see the Universal Championship back on Raw full-time again, nothing would be sweeter than a Lesnar loss. Roman is still out action and it’s clear that Braun Strowman is not the answer to Brock. So now may be the perfect opportunity to take a different path and reinsert Finn Bálor as the new top titleholder on Monday Night Raw. WWE did it before. Whether or not it will happen again is anyone’s guess.
WWE NXT: Whose The Babyface?
Bianca Belair gets her NXT Women’s Championship match with Shayna Baszler at WWE NXT Takeover: Phoenix, but Scott Mcleod wonders who the babyface is?
A few weeks ago Bianca Belair earned the right to face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship a week from on Saturday at NXT Takeover: Phoenix.
While I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Belair, I don’t object to her having a title shot. Given that she has been heavily featured and as they like to say is undefeated it was only a matter of time.
The thing is I didn’t think she would be going up against Baszler for one reason: I don’t know who is supposed to be the face?
Judging by a confrontation between champion and challenger on this week’s NXT they both have their fans but their gimmicks are more effective when they are positioned as the heel. Maybe they see Belair as more of a tweener at this point
Now in this modern age of wrestling just because you position someone a certain way doesn’t guarantee the fans will react to them the way you want them to. Faces and heels aren’t what they use to be.
I think it shows how high the likes of Triple H are on Belair that she is getting this title opportunity. I don’t see her winning it here however as I think there is still time for her.
Shes approaching that point that a lot of people who have a undefeated streak get to in that people worry what they’re going to once they’ve suffered their first loss. Have her lose then spend a couple of months telling the story of her having to start from the bottom again.
If she dose lose it should be thanks to Horsewomen interference to help Shayna get the upper hand. Following this is where she has to prove shes more than a catchphrase because she can’t call herself undefeated. The fact the lose wasn’t clean always gives her a reason to challenge again.
I would have thought Shayna would have defended against either Io Shari or Dakota Kai since they’ve had their issues since War Games. As they have Kairi Sane in their corner it would even up the odds. This means Shayna doesn’t have the advantage which would make her losing believable.
You could still do that after this match with Belair at Phoenix perhaps at the Mania weekend Takeover. Coming out of that Belair having been winning enhancement matches on TV to rebuild her and telling the stoey of her wanting another shot challenges whoever took the title from Shayna.
By this point she could have even transitioned from tweener to full blown face.
Then I would by her winning the title. I think she could be a big part of the NXT Women’s Championship picture in 2019 and beyond she just needs more of a story behind her getting the title.
One think I would like to see at Takeover is Shayna to get the choke on Belair while wrapping the braid around the throat. I look that would be a good image for people to have looking back on this match