Under his former guise of Fantasma, Santos Escobar emerged as part of the 2020 Interim Cruiserweight Champion tournament in NXT, going on to win the finals and his first title in a match against Drake Maverick. Since then, Escobar has dominated the scenes of NXT and 205 Live alongside his faction, Legado Del Fantasma. He has defended against some of the best up-and-coming Cruiserweight stars and excelled in TakeOver matches against Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, Jake Atlas and the aforementioned former 205 GM.
There’s no doubt that Santos Escobar has become one of NXT’s unsung heroes of the past year, and still with a lot to prove, is Escobar on the right road to becoming one of the brand’s biggest stars, and perhaps even the Latino hero that WWE have been desperate for?
The ongoing tale of the Cruiserweight title is who the rightful owner of the championship actually is: Escobar or NXT UK’s Jordan Devlin. ‘The Irish Ace’ has been killing it on his home turf, unable to compete overseas due to the ongoing travel ban, but once those are lifted, here’s hoping for a clash of champions over a year in the making. Even though both men are performing as dastardly heels, and there’s plenty of chance for either superstar to drop their respective Cruiserweight title before the deciding match comes, it’s a match that I personally am invested in after a year of ‘what ifs’ and subtle jabs between them across TV.
If I had to book this match right now, I’d allow the ‘rightful’ Cruiserweight champ to walk away with the win, that being Jordan Devlin. Escobar seems destined for greater things on the NXT roster, having now flirted with the main event scene in his feud with Karrion Kross.
Santos Escobar has shown us that he’s capable of breaking out of the restrictive 205 Live roster and emerging as a potential flag-bearer for the black and gold brand. His mafioso faction has slowly turned heads and helped build him as a force to be reckoned with in the Capitol Wrestling Centre. Even though Escobar is undoubtedly about to be humbled by the monstrous Kross on his own path back to championship glory, it would be a huge waste for NXT to allow Escobar’s momentum to fall to the wayside.
Do I see him as a future NXT Champion? Maybe even the first Cruiserweight to make it to that level? Yes, I do. He has the in-ring skill, the charisma and the look of a genuine superstar, one that WWE could really sink their claws into if they wanted to follow through with his success on the main roster. It has been well documented that the brass have been searching for a Latino star – one on par with the likes of Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Failed experiments have come and gone in the forms of Andrade, Humberto Carillo and Angel Garza, but now there’s a diamond in the rough ready to ascend.
The former King Cuerno has done enough to generate some buzz around his newly-maskless character and there’s a tonne of potential dream matches yet to explore on NXT before sky-rocketing him to the main roster. The issue will of course lie in how much screen time Escobar continues to get, because as we’ve seen, the Cruiserweight Champion is often left off TakeOver cards and is more of an afterthought.
It’s hard to strike a balance between the standard NXT roster and the 205 Live crew, but with the Dusty Tag Classic now involving stars of the Cruiserweight division, including Santos Escobar’s two henchmen, then there’s nothing stopping the two shows from expanding further and becoming one in the same. Perhaps 205 Live is absorbed as part of NXT’s two hour timeslot and they’re offered one match per card? At least that would be a way of building Escobar even further as a major champion, while also providing him with a wider variety of challengers to create interesting feuds with.
NXT really need to strike while the iron is hot with Santos Escobar — the potential is too great for them to let slip. We could very well be looking at a future headliner for a WrestleMania card, if WWE follow through with their plans to crown a new Hispanic hero. Time will tell, but for now, don’t take your eyes off of ‘the Emperor of Lucha Libre’.
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