A Just Different Enough Alternative: NXT 5-27-15

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I want to like this show. I want to like this show. I want to like this show.

NXT 5-27-2015

It’s been a while since I’ve caught NXT, but I did manage to get through the very solid Takeover Unstoppable before sinking my teeth into this one. Here’s to hoping they can keep riding the momentum.

We start off with a recap from last week, tons of people are praising the show, and rightfully so but I can’t help but think it would come off a thousand times more genuine without all of Stephanie McMahon’s corporate speak. I wonder if perhaps they gave away a bit too much of the show with this package. They seriously showed all the best parts of every match, had I not watched it I’m curious if I’d bother to go back and throw it on. Anyways the show was great and I’m being a dick pointing out the most minute of my perceived flaws. I think that’s my gimmick for theses NXT shows though so on with the dickery…

Thanks for the Reminder...
Thanks for the reminder…

Ugh a “New Day Socks,” sign, what were they thinking…

I swear I’m trying to turn a new leaf with this product. I’ve been off WWE for about two months now and I’m far less angry and aggressive than I was before. That’s not to say a few ill-timed “vintages” won’t set me off on a homicidal rage but I’m going to do my best to enjoy this show. It helps that Sami Zayn is making his way out. He’s cool, and he’s from Montreal. Actually it’s just a tease and we get smilin’ Kevin Owens instead. The juxtaposition of seeing Owens walk down to Zayn’s peppy music is wonderful. Almost as wonderful as Owens wearing a John Cena shirt to the ring. How many feuds is this guy involved in???

We get some clips from Raw this week and I must say that Owens is almost single handedly making me want to watch Raw again. Almost. I can’t commit to that kind of insanity yet, I am excited for Elimination Chamber though. I do find it interesting that Owens seems to have somewhat different gear when he appears on the main roster. They’re really branding the “Fight Owens Fight,” stuff, even writing it on his shorts. I thought they weren’t allowed to say the word fight on TV but I guess times change and so does history. Side note: whenever I hear times change and so does history I imagine it said the exact same way as in a video from my childhood. That video is “Wayne Gretzky: Above and Beyond.” I lent this video to my “friend” Phil Forget (there’s a Quebecer name) and he never gave it back to me. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this other than I feel we should understand each other better if we’re going on this NXT journey together. Also Phil’s parents had a statue in their house with two people having sex. It was weird. Weirder than including this in a wrestling re-cap? Nope!

Taste the childhood sadness!
Taste the childhood sadness!

Kevin Owens was going to issue an open challenge for the NXT title but he isn’t an insecure person who feels the need to defend against everyone. He feels that people need to earn their chances and I couldn’t agree more. (I do love the Cena open challenges, but as a general rule I dig what he’s saying.) The crowd responds by singing about how John Cena sucks which cause Owens to wonder why they don’t sing that song about Zayn since he sucks too. The crowd doesn’t like that one. And before you get all on my case for siding with the heel against the crowd you could totally fit the Sami Zayn syllables into that song with a little effort. An effort that Full Sail clearly doesn’t want to provide. Lazy. Just like Phil’s brother Kevin.

Owens is a little taken back that he’s been called a bad person which is completely untrue. He’s a good person. He’s the guy who guaranteed that we’d never hear Sami Zayn’s crappy music again. Why are people surprised that Zayn is injured? He told us all that that was going to happen. Owens better watch out with all these truth bombs he’s going to turn himself face. He says “I told Sami Zayn that if he showed up I was going to take him out. He showed up, I took him out.” Just great awesome stuff. He did it to keep his title and provide for his family which is the essence of what a good man is. He was even magnanimous enough to let the audience have the happy memory of Joe after the beating he laid on Zayn. What a humanitarian! He didn’t back down from Joe. That statement is as ridiculous as the colors of John Cena’s merchandise. That’s it he’s a face now. He could have dropped Joe and speaking of dropping people at Elimination Chamber he’s going to show everyone that the REAL champ is here! Just masterful stuff from Owens here. Believable, badass but with just the right tinge of arrogance and hypocrisy to keep him barely in the heel column.

I'm a good man!
I’m a good man!

This bragging draws out Regal who took a sweet head butt at the hands (head?) of our fearless champion last week. Regal lists all the people Owens has stretched out and it pretty much amounts to the entire roster. Regal even throws in Itami for good measure which Owens quickly denies. How dare the Englishman make such a careless accusation. Owens once again excuses his actions by stating he was just trying to win matches. He’s just doing what he has to.

This draws out Solomon Crowe of all people. He thinks Owens is scared and that he’s garbage. That’s totally unfair, garbage is when you borrow something from a friend and refuse to give it back, then you move to fucking Calgary. Crow insults Owens until Kevin decides to show everyone what a nice guy he is and grants Crowe a match with him. Regal is happy to make it the main even for later and Owens is happy to list off all the guys he’s stretched again (including Zayn 3 times!) before warning Crowe that he’s next.

This was a tremendous segment for many reasons. Owens is a phenomenal promo and everything he says is true to a degree. Sure he’s fighting for his family, and that’s noble, but that shouldn’t drive him to blatantly try and injure people after the matches. The fact that he glosses over that part of his victories is the hint of hypocrisy that will keep him a heel. That’s the small brilliance of the character. A character that is feuding simultaneously with four guys across two rosters and still has time to threaten and presumably maim Solomon Crowe later. I want to see Owens fight, Zayn, Balor, Cena and Regal. Hell I’d preemptively buy the network for the next five years if he legitimately beat the shit out of Cole, JBL and Lawler. Fuck that I’d pay much more for that privilege.

We’re thrown t the WWE trained announcers who are contractually obligated to speak with their hands as though their giving a tour of Venice. Byron Saxton looks like a lump of clay.

Please keep that hose away from me.
Please keep that hose away from me.

Hideo Itami is now sitting on the edge of a bed trying desperately to remember his name. He doesn’t know who did this to him but when he comes back there will be no stopping him. Until he smashes head first into that glass ceiling.

We now get a clip of relevant Zack Ryder from last week. he gushes about the show and his new friend Mojo Rawley. Mojo jumps into the interview and expends enough energy to feed all of Africa for a year. The hype levels are off the charts. Africans are starving Mojo, do your part.

Match #1 – Bayley Vs. Emma

I really like that Bayley is over. While she’s not unattractive she’s clearly not the mold they’re used to pushing. I think it’s such a great sign for the division that people are popping for someone based on their character and skill instead of their looks. Emma’s new music with the tease at the start is quite good. Imagine if she’d just been pushed as the good wrestler that she is? Imagine they hadn’t counted on some stupid dance to get her over instead of her ability? Imagine the people who run this company had human feelings? I’m getting off track again. I told myself I wouldn’t do this. I should focus my anger on someone who truly deserves it. Phil Forget. You know his parents bought his Kid Icarus for the NES and wouldn’t buy him another game until he finished that one. Do you know how fucking cruel that is!!!!

Remember this asshole?
Remember this asshole?

There’s some decent chain wrestling off the top followed by a stiff dropkick from Emma. Emma tries a couple of pins. It’s great to see someone trying to win a match instead of “entertaining.” There’s been a pretty common theme so far of people mocking other people’s poses, which is ridiculous until you watch a WWE intro and learn that poses are the most important thing they do out there. Emma uses Bayley’s stupid hair cut to throw her around the ring which is as obvious a thing to do as grab I.R.S. by his tongue. Emma hits a weak looking dragon screw followed by an extremely painful looking Indian death lock for the tap out. That’s the best I’ve seen that move applied in years. Solid match but nothing to write home about.

Dana Brooke now hits the ring and holds Bayley for Emma to slap the taste out of or around her mouth. This draws out Charlotte for the save who would probably be a better friend if she didn’t wait for her music to play and walk to the ring. The “Numbers Game,” catches up with Charlotte as they slap her too, and while I understand that that expression makes sense in context here, these commentary catchphrases need to go the way of Rasputin. They need to die slowly of Pneumonia lying in a creek.

Then they could be immortalized by Boney M.
Then they could be immortalized by Boney M.

Dana nails Charlotte with a Dana Driver (or whatever it’s called) while Emma hugs a downed Bayley. I’m always a fan of more than one story going on in any given division so this totally works for me.

The announcers want to take us back to Takeover again, this time for the most inconsequential match. They want to talk about Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin. Clay Saxton just shakes his head and smiles. WHAT ARE YOU FEELING YOU MONSTER??? Corbin is backstage taking about he’s the only unstoppable force. He rambles a bit before Rhyno in the most gentlemanly of fashions tells him that he enjoyed their match and wants to do it again. Yay.

The announcers hype the main event for tonight. They tell us that Kevin Owens issued an open challenge. Are they even listening anymore?

We get a pretty cool package on Becky Lynch. There’s some cool shots of her wrestling all over the world and really stresses how important the match last week was to her. It’s just a heartfelt promo that tells us a little more about her. Good stuff, though I do agree with Graves from Takeover. She does look like she just walked out of an H.G.Wells novel. That’s not a bad thing at all. Had she walked out of a Victor Hugo novel we’d get a much more annoying singing version of her Irish dancer.

Do you hear the people sing!!!
Do you hear the people sing!!!

Match #2 – Blake/Murphy Vs. Elias Samson/ Mike Rollins

Seizure time! I honestly can’t watch their entrance, and I don’t even suffer from a debilitating disease other than depression. I really like this new pairing with Alexa Bliss especially the fact that we were given a great red herring for a turn in Carmella. Blake and Murphy are getting dangerously close to having the same tights as Chris Benoit. I’m not sure if that’ a bad thing or not since you never know if the company is going to punish you for something or make you the heavyweight champion of the world. You know this is going to be a squash match since the announcers are talking way more about Enzo and Cass than anything that’s going on in the ring. That’s no way to treat the WWE Champion’s cousin. Talk about him! Byron Saxton does “extend the olive branch,” to Corey Graves on the success of his network show. Thanks guys, now we’ll have a generation of kids who have no clue what that expression means. I guess it’s no worse than thinking the expression is “Intensive Purposes,” but Gorilla had many, many more positives to hang my hat on.

Samson gets the hot tag but the champs finish him off quick with a Brainbuster/Frog Splash combo. They should call that one the frogbuster. Or brain frog. Or can you tell me when these guys are off TV so I can watch safely again. Bliss comes in and nails the “Sparkle Splash,” on the jobber for good measure. I like that Bliss has kept some aspects of her old fairy character while blending in all the new “hot as hell” aspects of her jezebel (Kang!) character.

Yup, this works.
Yup, this works.

Finn Balor is your new number one contender. Did you know he won that last week??? Did you know there was a big show last week??? I’m curious what they do here. Can they keep beating Balor? It seems silly for anyone other than Zayn to eventually get the win over Owens. That’s the end game we’ve all agreed on right?

Blake, Murphy and my second wife are in the back. She’s a winner so she hangs with winners. Carmella has been around trash her whole life so it’s no surprise she likes Enzo. Jesus what a bitch fairy.

Match #3 – Finn Balor Vs. Tye Dillinger

Balor of course comes out to the best current music in wrestling. They’ve now started making Finn Balor masks which is the biggest no-brainer move since the Industrial Revolution. I love that Balor’s gimmick really appears to be all his doing. You hear stories about him having to convince them of the paint and such, and I don’t fault them for doubting it would work, I actually commend them for giving this kind of performer the freedom to do his own thing. He could be a huge deal if they just let him be. He already has the coolest entrance, shirt and music in the company there’s no way that doesn’t get over on the main stage. He’s just different and it’s great.

Dillinger gets some stiff offence on Balor but it’s job city (as it should be) as Balor pummels him with kicks and chops before kicking him into the corner and stomping his chest into oblivion. Good squash for the number one contender. I do worry that his finish sequence is a little too choreographed , I liked the dropkick into the corner a lot better when it came out of nowhere rather than being just another spot. That being said though Balor’s offence looks freaking amazing in slow motion. Why aren’t we talking about the guys the Demon has sent to the hospital?

I'm the only one who can legally do this.
I’m the only one who can legally do this.

Jason Jordan has a plan. Chad Gable’s been to the Olympics. Jason Jordan know what the Olympics are. That’s what I took from this one.

Match #4 – Kevin Owens Vs. Solomon Crowe.

As Kevin Owens enters my wife and I discuss how Quebecois he looks. The consensus: very. I really hate Bam Bam Crowe’s gimmick. What exactly is he hacking? Why didn’t he marry Pebbles? So many Questions!!!!! Owens stalls as per usual of the start and then greets Rubble with stiff punches to the face. Crowe gets some token offence but it’s all Owens. The Big Show makes his NXT debut pimping “Culture Shock” on the bottom of the screen. My television now has a crack in the bottom right corner.

Owens is just tossing this guy around screaming, “Show me you belong here!” It’s fun enough, but the fun ends after Bam Bam hits a legitimate knee to Owens’ face only to be beaten and power bombed for the pin. I’ve ragged a bit on Crowe here but his crumpled sell of the power bomb was fantastic. Post match sees Owens attempt to kill him with the apron bomb, only to be stopped by Joe. I’m not sure yet where I land on Joe’s music. I’ll say this, it’s different than what I was expecting for a guy the audience thinks is going to kill everyone. Kevin Owens flees but makes sure to tell Joe that he’s giving him a chance and that next time it’s going to be him stretched out. We end with the same stare down from the week before.

BAM! BAM!
BAM! BAM!

Best Match: Kevin Owens Vs. Solomon Crowe.
Worst Match: Team Seizure Vs. Jobbers
Best Promo/Skit: Kevin Owens: The essence of a good man.
Worst Promo/Skit: Rhyno and Corbin’s erotic adventure.
MVP: Kevin Owens

What Worked Really Well

– Phenomenal stuff from Kevin Owens all around. I totally get why they call him Mr. Wrestling. It had nothing to do with that plane crash.

– The show moved quickly and nothing overstayed it’s welcome.

– The commentary is getting better every week. Sure they veer off a bit, but they at least seem interested in the matches.

What Sort Of Works

– Everyone who needed to be put over strong was. It did give the show a very “Superstars 1989” feel though.

What Didn’t Work

– I’m kind of surprised there was no follow up to Enzo getting fucked over by Bliss. You’d think they would address it as they addressed EVERYTHING from takeover.

– I want my tape back Phil It’s enough.

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

It was a quick watch and it’s great to see the evolution of Kevin Owens. He’s the best thing going in WWE today and this is his biggest platform.

Thanks for reading! See ya next week!

Author: Aaron George

Aaron is a classically trained Shakespearean actor by day who fulfils his culture quotient by watching wrestling by night. He has two sons a great wife and once explored the sewers in his hometown.