NXT is known for producing some of the best talent currently active on the WWE main roster and seeing a brilliant insight into the future of World Wrestling Entertainment. Looking at what we are currently seeing down in developmental a stacked roster keeps us entertained every Wednesday night forever raising the bar at NXT Takeover shows. In terms of who is standing out its name including the likes of EC3, Adam Cole, and Johnny Gargano who spring to mind amongst many more, however, there is one man who week in and week out is showing improvements in the ring, developing as a character and proving to be a future asset to the company. That man is Lars Sullivan.
WWE born and bred, Sullivan unlike many of his fellow NXT roster peers didn’t come fresh from the independent scene. This isn’t a man that spent ten years travelling and competing in London and Japan and becoming an indie darling. Instead, he represents exactly what NXT is all about. Taking men and women with talent and moulding them into the future of the WWE. NXT is designed to kick-start the careers of these men and women. It’s there as a platform for these guys and girls to develop a following, improve in the ring and work on building their characters however, with names including Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens amongst those whom at some point been were a part of this roster it means the bar has risen in terms of the quality of wrestling fans want to see and it also has made things far more difficult for those who are not fresh from the Indie scene or having years’ experience able to get over and connect with fans simply because they are starting from scratch. Lars Sullivan is a prime example of that.
Kickstarting his NXT career in the tag team division, Sullivan was portrayed as a man struggling with his own mind. He would go from the contributing, team working tag team partner to completely losing his temper and brutally attacking his partner of the night. It was an entertaining angle that worked. The idea of a split personality was intriguing and best suited his build and the type of star the WWE wanted and should have wanted to build him up to be. After some time away from NXT TV Sullivan came back with a push we all should have seen coming. His image makes him a dream WWE superstar and it is evident there is some serious talent there, however, Sullivan has really struggled to get over. His picking up a rather weak reaction and unfortunately, it comes across as though fans don’t even care about Lars and what he does in the ring.
At NXT Takeover: New Orleans Sullivan turned heads. Competing in what was very easily his breakout performance Lars impressed and kept everyone entertained. Working a ladder match that involved veterans like Adam Cole and Killian Dane, and top newcomers like EC3 and Ricochet it was Sullivan who stood out the most. He was dominant, powerful, entertaining and totally captivating. He raised the bar and delivered some of the best spots and moments of not only this match but of the night. However, he still struggled to get a positive reaction from the live crowd. While everyone at home praised Lars for his performance over on social media the reaction from the fans in attendance was disappointing, to say the least.
And so, looking ahead, what exactly can the WWE do to get Lars over? He is very clearly an impressive talent with bags of potential and with the right direction he could so easily become a major name in the WWE. Personally, I do believe the first step forward for Sullivan is a look at the character. The WWE really don’t need to make any drastic changes but instead take a step back. When Sullivan first appeared on NXT TV he was getting some kind of reaction and his character work contributed to that greatly. The split personality idea was something that really did go down well. Sullivan was convincing and totally owned this role. He played that “crazy”, intense and unpredictable character so well and he came across incredibly dangerous and entertaining. This is what the WWE needs to do. Take a step back and re-introduce his split personality character. It’s not something that is very difficult to do. Have him show remorse after or before attacking a superstar. Show him talking to himself, hitting himself on the head, contemplating his decisions, and slowly fans will gain a greater interest in him.
There is, of course, the option of also involving a mouthpiece. Manager to the Authors of Pain, Paul Ellering is an excellent choice. Pairing the hall of Famer with the up and comer makes for an interesting and dangerous duo. When you think what could go down between these two with Sullivan also showing that split personality side to his character what we could get is something very entertaining and captivating. Ellering is amazing in his role and has been a key part in elevating talent especially former NXT Tag Team Champions, AOP and could so easily do the exact same and more for Lars Sullivan. We haven’t heard Sullivan talk all too much since he arrived on the scene and the WWE have the option of finally giving him the chance to talk or giving him a mouthpiece. However, regardless, they need to pick and pick soon. The more we hear from or about him the more dangerous he will come across and the more likely fans are to gain a deeper interest and connections with Sullivan. Ellering as the puppet master is a very cool direction.
And finally, another point we need to consider is whether he is a fit for NXT. In many cases, we have seen stars shine far brighter on the main roster than they did during their time in NXT proving that on occasions it’s the bigger stage where some names may have a better time getting over and finding success, just take Roman Reigns and Elias as prime examples. Sullivan is possibly a name to follow in those footsteps. He does feel rather limited down in NXT and at this point, it feels as though he has done all he can do on that roster. Moving him up to the bigger stage possibly opens more doors. An Alliance with Paul Ellering, a fresh start, a more intense and dangerous side to his character, and the chance to compete against bigger names and bigger matches.
Now, there really is no denying that Lars Sullivan has it all. He possesses a brilliant look, an intense vibe, and in-ring skill that puts him at the top of his game. What he needs is consistent booking, a deeper look into his character development and a stronger position on the roster. He is getting more exposure and he is growing on fans the more we see of him but in order to prevent him from becoming just another big guy in the WWE we need to see his character work pushed to the limits and elements added that allow him to stand out. I do believe the WWE missed out on a big opportunity to put the North American Championship on him however, the future remains bright for Sullivan but if the WWE get things wrong he could join a big list of names the company failed massively.