Dusty Rhodes: WWE NXT trio ready to "knock down doors"

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November 21, 2012

He portrays all three as having similar agendas: to be the toughest and most respected men in the locker room. They’re scrappy and unrelenting, and they don’t back down from fights. Rather, they look for them.

In the hulking Reigns, an all-time great defensive tackle at Georgia Tech, Rhodes sees an “intelligent athlete” with a great heritage. (Reigns is a member of the legendary Anoaʻi dynasty.) Yet, the chiseled Samoan also has a banefully proud demeanor, in which “he believes he’s the man, and he’s intent on proving it,” Rhodes said, adding, "at all costs."

Ambrose is a different figure altogether. Whatever he lacks in a sports-entertainment bloodline or Division I athletic background, he more than makes up for in a blatant and reckless disregard for others. Rhodes described him as “unpredictable” and “a true rebel.”

“Ambrose just doesn’t care how he gets to the main event or who he has to step on to get there,” he said. “As long as he gets there.”

Before being signed by WWE's developmental system, Ambrose spent six years building his reputation in independent promotions across the U.S. That's not dissimilar to former Ring of Honor champion Seth Rollins, who won an eight-man tournament in July to become the first NXT Champion. Easily recognized for his black-and-blond mane, Rollins first logged countless hours on the independent circuit and is widely considered one of the best pure grapplers under WWE contract, developmental or otherwise.

“Here’s a guy who was wrestling in bowling alleys and parking lots to learn his trade,” Rhodes explained. “He’s come up the hard way, and he’s not going to let an opportunity pass him by.”

Rhodes resisted speculating about the possible relationship between the NXT standouts and the Punk-Heyman camp. The WWE Champion and his agent have repeatedly denied any culpability in Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns’ back-to-back assaults on Ryback. Still, Rhodes sees a natural comparison between Punk and at least one of Ryback’s assailants.

“Knowing Rollins, I had no idea this was the impact he wanted to make,” he admitted. “But he’s kind of from the CM Punk school of thinking, where he knows there are rules and regulations and he knows there’s a line there. But he also knows that if he crosses the line, there will be an impact felt.”

Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are aggressive hell-raisers — that much is clear. So far, they’ve heeded the advice of their NXT trainers. Now it’s time to see if they can live up to the mighty hype.

“As a coach and a teacher and mentor, as well as the GM of  NXT , I know that all of these kids are told to step up to the plate and hit a home run,” Rhodes said. “Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns just got tired of seeing the other guys out there, making money that could be theirs. They want those WWE roster spots, and they’re ready to knock down doors.”

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