When Tyler Breeze made his WWE debut on SmackDown on October 22, there was cautious optimism that he would break the streak of NXT talents whose transitions to the main roster were less successful than they had hoped. After all, he was a cornerstone of NXT, one of its most consistent workers and a guy who had no problems putting others over for the betterment of the promotion.
Luckily for him and his fans, he has something (or someone) by his side that Bo Dallas, Neville, The Ascension and Xavier Woods did not: Summer Rae.
One cannot overstate how important the former love interest of Rusev, ballroom dancing partner of Fandango and cast member of Total Divas has been to the seamless transition Breeze has made from developmental to the main roster.
The breakout star of an otherwise putrid storyline also involving the Bulgarian Brute, Lana and Dolph Ziggler, she got over with the audience as a manipulative and yapping villainess. Determined to continue dealing pain and suffering to Ziggler, she recruited Prince Pretty to join her in her quest to make all things in WWE stylish.
Whereas WWE essentially threw Dallas, Neville, Konnor and Viktor to the wolves and left them to get over on their own, Breeze was called up and immediately given a heater in the form of Summer Rae. She introduced him to the audience and labeled him as her new man, and instantly, fans had a reason to care about the selfie-stick-carrying guru of gorgeous.
Summer Rae was the character who fans cared about. She was relevant and someone the audience had opted to invest in. Thus, they became invested in Breeze by proxy from day one.
There is a strong misconception that exists within a portion of WWE’s audience, one that suggests that every member of the WWE Universe knows about NXT and thinks it is superior to the main roster product. All one has to do is visit any given message board or comment section from his or her favorite wrestling site to see that line of thinking at work.
There is a great deal of passion and excitement around the product, but Raw and SmackDown are still the only exposure to the WWE product that the majority of fans have. They do not know who Tyler Breeze, Finn Balor or Samoa Joe are. But they do know Summer Rae, because she has received as much television time as she has over the last four months.
It was a brilliant idea on the part of WWE Creative to take a flamboyant character like Breeze, who is similar to Adam Rose in that they are over-the-top personas, and pair him with Summer in an attempt to ensure his immediate success.
She has been the reason for his push and the heel heat he was immediately greeted with, even if most fans are unlikely to give her credit for it. By getting over like he did early, by way of his relationship with his blonde bombshell of a manager, he has been allowed the time to let his character get over with audiences.
This would not have happened with someone like Rose, who was dead on arrival and was never allowed to expand upon his persona.
For those fans who recognize Breeze’s greatness and watched him progress, develop and learn in NXT, the pairing is not what one would consider a popular one.
By no means is this writer suggesting that Breeze’s achievements will be linked to Summer Rae. Rather, the success of his transition from NXT to WWE, and the heat he has enjoyed to this point, has been directly affected by his relationship with his associate.
He will have plenty of time to become a star on his own, and his in-ring work essentially guarantees him a spot on the main roster for years to come if he can handle the frustration and disappointment that come with being a midcard talent in Vince McMahon’s company. However, he could not have accomplished on his own what he already has without the hated Summer Rae character welcoming him to Raw and SmackDown with open arms.