Respect: The attack on Adrian Neville’s core belief
In what had become the norm for their routine, Adrian Neville and Corey Graves spent the majority of the afternoon doing their own thing at Full Sail University before reconvening to discuss their strategy for the evening ahead. Though everything seemed status quo, the proverbial elephant in the room was apparent. This was the night that Neville and Graves would invoke their rematch clause to challenge The Ascension for the NXT Tag Team Championship. If the former champions regained the titles, wrongs would be made right. However, if they failed, what would the next chapter entail?
The NXT Universe wouldn’t have to wait long for an answer to that question. After coming up short against The Ascension, Graves blindsided his tag team partner, leaving him laid out in the ring. Clearly, the partnership is over, but for Neville, it’s the beginning of a road paved with feelings of frustration, anger and betrayal, and it all centers around the one core belief he believes has been violated.
“It’s a complete lack of respect to hit a man when he’s down,” Neville told WWE.com. “If Graves didn’t want to be my partner anymore, all he had to do was tell me to my face.”
Understandably, Adrian Neville is upset over the incident. But the manner in which it happened appears to have triggered something that greatly incenses the now-former two-time NXT Tag Team Champion.
“I despise cowardly, spineless people,” he said. “Growing up, I was bullied. I was always the little guy on the playground, and the bigger lads would torment me. As I grew, I would see this happen to other lads younger or smaller than me, and I’d make it a point to look out for them. Nothing infuriates me more than seeing someone take advantage of the weak or innocent.”
Neville’s distaste for disrespectful individuals was reinforced during the five years he spent competing in Japan. There, he cut his teeth inside various wrestling dojos, where the amount of knowledge one gains is determined by how much respect he has earned.
"When you get there,” he explained, “you come in as a young boy or trainee. You care for the veterans, look after them, do their laundry, clean the rings and train every day. In return, you learn the craft of wrestling.”
It’s no secret that Graves traveled a much different path than “The Savior of Misbehavior.” Up until last week, however, both men had maintained a strong mutual respect for each other. At least, that’s the way it appeared.
"Corey wasn't the kind of guy who worked hard,” Neville observed. “When I was training hard, he was hanging out somewhere else. I always felt he lacked that level of respect, and he proved it [in the tag team rematch]."
Graves has yet to provide a clear explanation for his actions, but Neville isn’t waiting for one. Truth be told, these two competitors have equally bright futures, and both will live to fight another day in WWE NXT — though Neville has some thoughts on how their falling out will shape each of them.
“I was brought up with old-fashioned values and manners,” he said. “You respect each other and treat people how you want to be treated. The burden now falls on Corey Graves. Will I trust again? Sure. Will I trust him again? Definitely not. I think once I’m finished with Mr. Graves, he’ll reconsider disrespecting anyone ever again.”