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WWE NXT: Updated Prospect Rankings and Analysis, Predictions for Week of Feb. 18

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 18 Feb 2016

It was the in-ring hunters who ruled, as Asuka and Samoa Joe most impressed on the latest WWE NXT.Asuka clobbered Deonna Purrazzo. A seething Samoa Joe battled Sami Zayn to a draw. In each case, the aggressive, strike-happy wrestlers left a lasting impression on Wednesday's NXT.Officials had to be giddy watching the destruction unfold.Asuka and Joe weren't the only prospects to stand out, though.Scott Dawson used his trademark smashmouth style to make sure he got noticed in a crowded tag team match.The following is a look at how those wrestlers and their peers progressed in the race to be NXT's best. Rankings reflect who is most ready to thrive on the main roster. A glimpse at the prospects' look, gimmick, charisma, mic work and ring skills determine the order of that ever-changing list.Male WrestlersProspects just outside the top 20: Elias Samson, Mojo Rawley, Riddick Moss.Samoa Joe, King of IntensityBackstage before his match, Joe sat on a bench and glared at nothing in particular. The cameras caught him looking like he was about to explode, like he would soon start barking at the camera, frothing at the mouth.Few wrestlers could have made so much from such a brief moment. Joe's intensity, however, is off the charts.He continued to display that in his matchup againstZayn. During the well-paced, engaging clash, Joe looked overcome with anger and zeroed in on dishing out punishment. The Samoan Submission Machine plays aperfect predator.Yet again, he delivered an entertaining match. He's been doing that since he arrived at NXT, whether he's facing Baron Corbin, Finn Balor or Tommaso Ciampa.WWE would be foolish not to call him up soon. Joe keeps showing that he's ready to tear it up on a bigger stage.Scott Dawson Stands OutAn eight-man tag team match isn't the ideal showcase for any one particular wrestler. Dawson, though, managed to turn the bout into an exhibition of his rugged artistry.Dawson expertly played the role of partcowardly heel, part devouring beast.He scampered away from Enzo Amore and company early on. But as soon as the babyfaces were down, he grew more cocky. He pounced on them with convincing aggression.The nuances of villainy remain Dawson's strength. He pulled on his foe's hair. He mocked his opponents when they were hurt.In addition, his strikes echoed throughout the arena. Everything from a back elbow to a clubbing blow to the back become eye-catching.If Dawson can continue to improve his mic work as he has done in the past year, he will continue to climb the rankings. His verbal game just needs to catch up with what he does with his fists.What's Next for Tye Dillinger' Wednesday's NXT marked the second straight show airing from the University of Central Florida's CFE Arena. The crowd there wasn't as kind to Dillinger as the Full Sail University audience has been.Some fans were chanting "10!" along with him, but not with nearly as much vigor and volume as we're used to seeing.That's something to keep an eye on in the future. Remember that Adam Rose was white-hot at NXT's home base, only to fall flat once he went to Raw.Dillinger took on Alex Riley, scoring his first win in recent memory. It was clear throughout the clash that Dillinger is trying hard to maximize his gimmick and keep working his way up the NXT ladder.There was snap to his offense much of the time. He puts maximum energy into each moment.The finish was awkward, though. When Dillinger rolled up Riley, it didn't look nearly as crisp as it should have.This win may have been more of a way to keep Riley's angry shtick going, but if it's a sign of a push of any size for The Perfect 10, he's set to get more opportunities to show off his skills. He has mostly been relegated to short bouts. Going up against NXT's best for longer stretches of time will give WWE a better idea of what it has in Dillinger.Female WrestlersAsuka on the RiseIn a match that was barely over two minutes, Asuka still left the audience blown away.As she walloped Purrazzo, she drew one's eyes in. Her evil grin and hammering strikes make for such an unsettling and fascinating combo. She looked every bit like a future champion and centerpiece of the women's division.As Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net wrote, "Asuka is just so damn impressive in everything she does in the ring."Vaughn Johnson of Philly.com compared her show of destruction to something The Beast Incarnate might inflict:That kind of high praise is commonplace for her already.Her impending showdown with Bayley will be the ultimate litmus test. Just how good is she' Facing NXT's best storyteller will surely help answer that.PredictionsThis year's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is going to be the ultimate showcase for Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. The duo has been steadily improving for months now. Their momentum continues to build as they mix mat wrestling with high-impact moves in fun showing after fun showing.That tournament will be their coming-out party, a display of just how much they have grown since the last one.Asuka vs. Bayley is certainly on its way. WWE has teased it with Asuka staring down the champ. Pitting those two top talents against each other on a big stage will result in something special.Expect them to craft a Match of the Year candidate that will rival Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
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