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Monday, November 7, 2016

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EOTR Retrospective: Adrian Neville In NXT

By @MeenHendrix 

When you think of how NXT got to be where it is today, there are no shortage of Superstars who have helped build up this incredible brand of entertainment. I remember Kevin Owens having an interview Owens claimed that Balor staying on the NXT was necessary for the NXT brand to become what it is today. What Owens said isn't wrong because under Finn Bálor's run as the NXT Champion, NXT continued to soar in popularity and more superstars from around the world wanted to be apart of this special experience. However I truly believe that Adrian Neville (Now just Neville) was the key to opening up the door for NXT.

When Neville came to in NXT in January of 2013, he was instantly a hit with the crowd at Full Sail. He was a fresh new face who could jump so high he would become dubbed "The Man That Gravity Forgot". His Red Arrow finisher wowed the crowds and he would soon have his first taste of success with fellow British Countryman Oliver Grey, as they became the first ever NXT Tag Team Champions defeating the Wyatt Family in the Tournament Finals. The Wyatt's would later injure Grey and Neville would choose Bo Dallas to be his new tag team partner. They dropped the titles to the Wyatt's in their first defense of the titles. The two would later go on to become rivals that helped launch the brand as a must see event.

When the WWE Network was launched, the first thing being promoted was Adrian Neville vs Bo Dallas for the NXT Championship in the brand's first ever Ladder Match. The two would go on to deliver the brand's first defining moment. With his win, Neville would go on to become the longest reigning NXT Champion in history, passing Bo Dallas for the lead (Has since been broken by Finn Bálor). As champion, he would go on to participate in the best matches the brand had ever seen at that point in battles with Tyson Kidd, Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze. When he finally dropped the title to Sami Zayn, it felt like Neville had fufilled his duty of helping the NXT brand expand.

While he wasn't as popular worldwide as Finn Bálor had become, Adrian Neville was one of the guys who laid down the foundation for the current incarnation of NXT. He was the star of the first 4 NXT TakeOver events. He was the first ever NXT Tag Team Champion. He is also the first ever 2 Time NXT Tag Team Champion, which doesn't get talked about because WWE wanted to push the Narrative that no TEAM had ever won the Tag Titles twice until The Revival defeated American Alpha. With the success of each TakeOver event that he has been apart of, Neville has been the headliner and arguably gave the best performances on those nights.

Each successful TakeOver Event helped the brand grow more popular before the mantle was passed on from Neville to Zayn and Owens and then to Finn Bálor, who took the work the guys before him put in and pushed it to a new height. Without Neville, I doubt there was anyone ready to lead the brand as he was when Bo Dallas left to join the main roster. You could make a case for Sami Zayn, but I question his readiness at the time to be the guy at that time and felt like when he did win the title, the timing was perfect. The contributions of Neville in NXT is truly slept on, and we should recognize what he brought to the brand.



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