This edition concentrates on the latest editions to the WWE Roster, The Ascension. The pairing of Konnor and Viktor cemented their reputation as the most dominant tandem in NXT history when they held firm grasp of the brand's Tag Team Championships for 364 days. This year-long feat was lined with numerous squashes of any team that stood opposite them, as they showed little weakness in their time at the top. Now, after debuting on the final RAW of 2014, they are now looking to make the various teams on the main roster bow down to their rise.
Value at end of previous year (12/31/2014)
The Ascension were the biggest team in NXT for the vast majority of 2014. Their mixture of power, quick strikes and seamless teamwork saw them decimate most teams that stood in their way. Although in previous examples of superstars running through jobbers can become stale, their unique looks, entrance and manner of gaining victory earned them a cult following down in Florida. The crowd would chant along with every hit they connected, every tag they made, every victim they
inflicted the Fall of Man to.
When it became glaringly obvious that they were soon to be called up to the main roster, their form unsurprisingly suffered a downturn as they were employed to get over new talent. They lost their titles at NXT Takeover: Fatal Four-Way to the lightning quick pairing of the Lucha Dragons, and spent the rest of 2014 feuding with new recruits Hideo Itami and Finn Balor. Itami was primarily the victim of numerous 2-on-1 assaults, but once Balor entered the mix, the Ascension were on the back foot, eventually suffering defeat to their rivals at R Evolution.
Win-loss record (since 01/01/2014) - NXT
Wins – 14
Losses – 4
Draw/No Contest – 0
Live Special appearances
Win (vs. Too Cool)
Win (vs. Kalisto & El Local)
NXT Takeover: Fatal Four-Way
Loss (vs. The Lucha Dragons)
NXT Takeover: R Evolution
Loss (vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor)
However, the creative team sought to slightly alter this gimmick with the move to the main roster. They are still being promoted as a dominant, assertive team that are looking to stomp all over their opposition. But, now they have face paint and armor plating. The dark, brooding elements of their entrance and the unique lighting are still there, but now they are overshadowed by the face paint. Are you serious WWE? Are you just assuming that they will get chants of LOD aimed towards them and just going with it? Their distinctiveness has now been replaced by becoming carbon copies of one of the most memorable teams in history. This can either serve them well in getting recognition, or could result in them falling under the burden of the comparison. Judging by the reaction to their debut, the latter may appear more likely.
Signature Moves and Ringwork
This is a tricky section to consider for the Ascension, as the vast majority of their matches last less than a few minutes. Credit where it is due, they are adept at being the dominant force in a match. Both competitors' pacing is strong, making sure not to rush their offense and give off the impression that they are the generals in that ring. They're in control, they are the best. Their tandem offense is very strong, and they seamlessly tag in and out without any shift or issues. They appear almost one in the same, and in a tag team like the Ascension that is a tremendous quality.
The issue comes to their singles competition and when asked to perform in extended matches. It is one thing to look good against a team of nobodies, but it is an entirely different proposition to have strong matches with the likes of the Usos and Gold/Stardust. They aren't the most versatile or exciting competitors – they are never going to reinvent the wheel. Both Konnor and Viktor are competent professionals with plenty of experience, but their ringwork is somewhat limited. Don't expect either to go far if they were to split up in future.
Their tandem signature maneuvers are actually pretty impressive. The Fall of Man is a simple but effective move that has both aesthetic quality and the feel of a true finisher. Other moves that they employ such as the double shoulder blocks, flapjacks and even the occasional elbow drop/backbreaker are all simple but all are fitting for a team that focus on their power and intensity.
Let's face facts here; The Ascension will be WWE Tag Team Champions by the end of this year. No doubt. The Usos carry the belts for a reason, and that is to pass them onto Konnor and Viktor at the earliest possible opportunity. They will be given a couple of months of squash matches, and then be handed the titles in their first meaningfully long match. The Ascension will hold the titles for the majority of the year to get them over as these powerful wrecking balls. If the gimmick takes hold with the WWE Universe they will wear the titles numerous times, but at least one reign is almost guaranteed.
Peaks and Valleys
|Defeating Adrian Neville and Corey Graves |
to win the NXT Tag Team Championship
|Losing NXT Tag Team Championship to the Lucha Dragons and the rematch|
|Defeating Too Cool at NXT Arrival||Being consistently out-matched by Hideo Itami and Finn Balor|
|Unbeaten on NXT for over a year||Lack of reaction to their debut on RAW|
|Defeating Kalisto & El Local at NXT Takeover||Number of monotonous squash matches|
|Holding NXT Tag Team Championship 364 |
|Debut on RAW, defeating former WWE Tag Team Champions The Miz & Damien Mizdow|
Highest Peak – October 2nd 2013 (NXT)
*Video shows another peak moment, their performance against Hideo Itami and Finn Balor from NXT Takeover: R Evolution
This was the catalyst for the impact the Ascension was about to have on NXT for the foreseeable future. On this night they defeated Adrian Neville and Corey Graves for the tag team titles, titles that they would adorn for the next year. They just fit the NXT Tag Team Championship belts so well, as it almost was a vindication for every fan that they were a project. Unlike the previous holders of the belt, both Konnor and Viktor look like they can only compete alongside each other, like they are one in the same entity. This was their confirmation, and a signal that the future was coming.
Lowest Valley – December 29th 2014 (RAW)
This really pains me to write, but anybody who saw their debut on RAW after watching their career and carnage they left on NXT, this was a disappointing start to their time on the main roster. They were charged with taking on the Miz & Damien Mizdow, two superstars that had earlier lost their tag team titles, and squashed them with relative ease. But the issue wasn't so much that, but it was the look, the stunted assault, the lack of reaction… it was slightly painful to watch how little the crowd seemed to care about them. The only time they piped up was to chant "LOD" in their direction, which could prove a difficult omen for their immediate future.
• Both very powerful and physical
• Good look
• Seamless teamwork and ability to pace matches
• Able to assert their dominance and allow crowd to join in their assault
• Untested in extended matches for the majority of their time in NXT
• Constant squash matches could get boring
• Not having the most unique in-ring style
• New look/gimmick will draw unhelpful comparisons to the Road Warriors
• Has been difficult for NXT stars to make an impact on the main roster
Stock Advisement – BUY for now, but be ready to possibly SELL in 2016
I'm slightly worried for The Ascension given the reaction they received on their debut on RAW. This is an affliction that is damaging quite a number of superstars making the transition from NXT to the main shows, which makes me wonder what the underlying cause is. Is the audience for the main shows very different to a more wrestling-centric NXT crowd? Was the pre-taped nature and confined space of the Full Sail University arena a comfort blanket that only the best stars are able to move on from? Or, is the creative and booking team for the main roster simply out of touch and making the move difficult on stars like The Ascension?
Personally, I'm not a fan of the face paint or the armor, as the combination just screams Road Warriors. The Ascension with that change have not been given the opportunity to be individuals, as the creative team have clearly marketed them as the 21st century version of that legendary team. This is a mistake, as they can only hope to match the success and popularity of the Road Warriors, and not potentially surpass it as their own team. This could leave them chewed up by the crowd and spat out unless they fire on all cylinders from the outset to make them take notice.
There is the major saving grace in that they are practically certain to become WWE Tag Team Champions, and with the Usos now holding the belts this could have happened by the time WrestleMania 31 rolls around. Maybe they can hold the titles and that will improve both their relevance and their relationship with the crowd as monster heels. Eventually, they will likely be hired as hitmen for hire for the Authority or Paul Heyman. So, at the time of this writing I am still on the fence about their potential, but one first impressions The Ascension face a difficult rise on the main roster.