The last couple of shows have left me worried about what NXT is going to be going forward. Let’s hope this week will be an improvement.
So last week’s show from Columbus was very hit and miss and this week’s seem to be built entirely around Kevin Owens Vs. Finn Balor for the NXT title. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have serious trepidation about these guys being forced to work a boring WWE style. That’s the thing that’s so iffy about NXT. There are guys I really want to see go at it, but they always seem to have restraining bolts stuck to them. Not the fun restraining bolts that you can break away from and fight sand people, but the scary ones that will fire your ass and try to stop you from working anywhere for the next decade.
We are back at Full Sail University this week and immediately I feel I’ve been gifted something that I can cherish for the next hour. Not since Helen of Troy was gifted to Menelaus has a man been as content and satisfied with life as I am right now. Was there a large financial windfall thrown through my open window? Did Dalton Castle and his sex slaves show up at my house and beat up my downstairs neighbor’s dog? No my friends I am a man of simpler tastes than that. For tonight it appears that Jason Albert Tensai has been given the night off. Allow me a moment to wipe the tears of joy from my eyes before I get on with the show.
We start off with a re-cap of last week’s show in Columbus. It’s a tight package that gives us the scope of the entire show in three minutes. I really like the fact that they gave equal time to all the segments, it makes every part of the show feel important.
Tonight we have a night of title matches. Are we getting a tag title match too? No idea but we’re starting off with the NXT Women’s Championship. With all the work they have done to build up the NXT women’s divison as something special, they still manage to do a world of hurt by adding a pixie sound to the NXT women’s title graphic. Why do that? You go out of your way to treat them as athletes but then undermine the whole thing by saying: “Remember they’re still girls!!!”
Match #1 Sasha Banks Vs Alexa Bliss
Bliss prances out looking much less tanned than she did last week. In fact last week she looked positively orange compared to the normal human skin tone she has tonight. I like Bliss but is she actually playing a human being on this show or some sort of fairy straight out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” For those of you who are turned off at the mere mention of Shakespeare in a wrestling re-cap keep in mind that that play features a woman banging a donkey. Now that I see that last sentence on a page I’m unsure if it helps my case or not.
Speaking of banging here’s Sasha Banks with some of the best looks of contempt in the business today. She has none of the fake toughness of the Bella twins and none of the horrible wrestling moves every diva has had since Jazz left the promotion. If only she were dating say… Roman Reigns she would literally be pushed to the moon. We get the big match intros and the heel Banks clearly out pops Tinkerbliss. Corey Graves rationalizes Bliss getting a title shot because she beat the champ by countout last week. I like that little explanations it goes a long way to establishing that wins and losses matter.
Alexa Bliss tries every which way to pin Banks early in the match. Again this is great because it looks like she’s trying to win the match instead of entertain. I know the priorities of the company have changed over the years but it’s refreshing to see someone put over what they’re doing as competition. This is your typical NXT women’s match which means it’s pretty much as good as any match on the main roster television week to week. Banks hits her crazy double knee stomp in the corner, which I love, but I’m starting to see the setup waddling over in Rey Mysterio 619 territory where the victim constantly is able to find a way to get themselves into an incredibly awkward position in the ring. Banks takes her to the mat and stretches her in such a vicious way that Stu Hart would get up and scream “discipline” until he was forcefully removed from the building.
I like how since the title change to Banks they’ve kept Charlotte off TV. Not that I don’t want her around, but her absence has not only made the heart grow fonder, but has also really given the spotlight to all the other women on the show. Bliss tosses Banks to the outside and Graves re-enforces the fact that you can’t win the title on a countout, which is immediately undermined by Alexa counting joyfully along with the ref. While it’s not as egregious as Lex Luger acting like he beat the speeder level in Battletoads after flooring Yokozuna, it’s a tad inconsistent that the commentators and the wresters are not on the same page. Alexa tosses her back in and hits her spots. The Bliss flip is great, and the flipping sunset flip looks absolutely sick. Bliss goes up to the top rope but is quickly tossed by Banks, put in the Banks statement and forced to tap out. I love that the finish of the match came off of a mistake. Bliss took a chance by climbing to the top ad Banks made her pay for the win. It’s how matches in WCW used to end and it’s super refreshing to see competitors telling a story in a match instead of just hitting moves. Good match.
Kevin Owens is in the back talking about Finn Balor. I love condescending Owens. He says you can make an impact by dressing up like some demon or you can go out and win the NXT title like he did. Kind of hard to argue with him… “To each his own” he dismissively nods before telling us that no one is taking the title from his or his family. Great stuff in the short promo. We get all we need to know about Owens without ever needing him to talk in the ring for twenty minutes. He’s an asshole, and he’s doing this for his family. We get his character and his motivation. When those two things come together you have the recipe for a special wrestler.
We’re back from break and we’re in the back with Bayley who’s getting ready. For what I have no idea, but she’s there. Emma joins her and begins her subtle bullying of the hugger. It’s strange because I’ve never seen an Australian be unhappy, let alone bully someone. Paul Hogan was positively gleeful when he was held up and got to show the ruffian what a knife was. Emma doesn’t want to have to say she told her so, but Bayley needs to be more aggressive and stop listening to the NXT universe. I’m unsure why they bothered to move Emma back to NXT since her demotion as all she’s done is bully Bayley like a kangaroo pummeling a small child. Bayley loves the fans, but Emma slaps her with all the might of a chuzzwuzzer before storming off. Hey, if nothing else they’re bothering to build a secondary women’s feud on this show. That’s something we haven’t seen since Macho Man was seconded by Sherri and Sapphire was banging Dusty.
ANOTHER backstage segment now as Tyler Breeze has had it with “Barbara Walters.” He beat Hideous Itami and now he wants a title shot. Itami shows up and wants Breeze next week. Since they’ve both won a fall over the other he suggests a two out of three falls match. At least I think that’s what he said… Breeze agrees and both men leave with their eyes full of bile and inquisition. Again if that doesn’t mean anything to you it’s probably because I’m making it up.
DANA BROOKE IS COMING! We need to care about her because she’s a bodybuilder. Look if I didn’t care about Gary Strydom I’m probably not going to care about someone who didn’t win the greatest physical contest in the history of mankind. In fact, had Gary Strydom only been sent to Thermopylae we’d be making movies about the millions of proud, overmatched Persians who died on the fateful day.
There’s a big NXT special show on Friday before Wrestlemania. Weird that it’s the same night as the big ROH show. That has to be a coincidence right? Also fuck you WWE. Now we get a five minute package about Wrestlemania which is the fifth segment in a row that isn’t in the ring. They describe the Reigns/Lesnar match as the most controversial and anticipated match in years. I really feel they have a poor grasp of the word controversial. It’s not controversy when you choose to push someone no one likes. It’s just poor decision making and bad business. I’ll say this though, although they’re going over the entire Mania card, and it’s putting me to sleep, at least they’re bothering to tie it in to NXT by reminding us of all the guys who passed through the promotion.
Hey! Another ad!!!! The war of the vigilante vs. the king! Did you know Sting was the franchise of a promotion that died 14 years ago? Did you know HHH was the cornerstone of the WWE? Did you know this is possibly the worst way they could be marketing this match??????
BACKSTAGE AGAIN!!! Segment number six! Balor is going to let his talking be done in the ring. That is if we ever get back to the ring…
Here’s segment seven! A re-cap of Owens beating Alex Riley in a squash last week. Never has a squash been so promoted as such a big deal. Boy am I glad I got to see this again. It’s been an agonizing 26 minutes since I got to see it at the top of the show. HOW DID I LIVE WITHOUT SEEING THIS AGAIN??? THIS SHOW HAS GONE OFF THE RAILS FO ME!!!
Seriously fuck you. We’re still in the back. Segment eight. EIGHT!!!! And I didn’t even count all the commercials!!!! I like Enzo and Cass as much as the next guy but right now I could care less about their stupid story, the gift that Blake and Murphy give Carmella or Carmella’s brat character. JUST GET BACK TO THE RING!!!!
Finally Finn Balor is making his way to the ring. He still had the best music going today and the crowd raising their arms in unison with him is pretty epic. Owens makes his way out and Rich Brenann remarks: “When I look in the eyes of Owens I see someone with no remorse.” Sure it’s a cliché, but the main problem is that he’s so detached from how he feels about the lack of remorse. Vince or Gorilla would be FURIOUS at Owens’ remorse instead of just mentioning that it exists.
Match #2 (after 30 minutes of nothing) Kevin Owens Vs. Finn Balor
This is Balor’s shot from winning the number one contender tournament last month. Brenann asks Graves if it really matters to be champion which is as stupid a question as a commentator can ask. OF COURSE IT’S IMPORTANT!!! Graves, always the pro, explains the financial advantages of being champ that come along with the prestige. THERE! That’s how they need to be promoting their champions.
The match starts with Owens stalling. Man he really didn’t respect Riley at all… Right away we get a REST HOLD which gets us off to a slow start. Balor fights his way out, and in a nice touch pushes Owens into the ropes before he throws his dropkick. It’s a cool way to get a little more damage and momentum off a simple move. AAAAAAAAAAAAND just as we’re starting to cook we have to take a break. Why I don’t know.
We’re back and we’re already in REST HOLD NUMBER TWO. Why is this match so slow? They move around a bit before they go right into REST HOLD NUMBER THREE!!! They had a whole tournament for this match and so far it’s absolutely nothing special. Here’s REST HOLD NUMBER FOUR!!!! Jesus Christ. I’m fine with going back to the same hold but at least make it look like it hurts and make it a move that is interesting and you can shift around to apply variations on said hold.
Here’s another commercial. That’s number two to take me even further out of the match.
REST HOLD NUMBER FIVE. Just so we all get the picture it’s a rear chin lock. It’s always a rear chin lock. Finally the match starts to pick up and these guys start moving around the ring. They do a couple of cool spots which culminate with a pretty stiff senton from Owens on Balor’s prone body. Obviously we don’t want the match to be too exciting so it’s REST HOLD NUMBER SIX!!! Again the chin lock. At least this time Balor fights out a little quicker and we move into a suplex segment. Of course that won’t do will it boys? Nope, we need REST HOLD NUMBER SEVEN!!!! Can you guess what the hold is??? And we go to break again.
Why??? Why do we need to have ANY commercials during this show??? Especially when it’s all for stuff you’ve already purchased if you’re watching this show on the network. It makes no sense to cut up your show for something you’re NOT EVEN FUCKING SELLING!!!! What is the point? If I’m a hardcore enough fan to be watching NXT I’m pretty sure I’m tuning in to Wrestlemania. I just don’t get it. What am I missing here?
We’re back and Balor hits his knee and now the injury is the focal point of the match. Owens punishes the knee, Balor fights back. I’m completely burned out on this show. Balor almost wins but is too hurt to pin. Owens finishes with the power bomb. Decent stuff from the leg injury on but that was only one third of the match. Between the seven rest holds and the three commercial breaks this match was a huge disappointment. How do you have these guys with this build and produce that match? I don’t get this company.
Best Match: Sasha Banks Vs. Alexa Bliss
Worst Match: Kevin Owens Vs. Finn Balor
Best Promo/Skit: Kevin Owens backstage.
Worst Promo/Skit: The entire marathon of segments between match 1 and 2.
MVP: Corey Graves
What Worked Really Well
The Commentary was waaaaaaaaaaaay better without Tensai. Like listening to an entirely different (listenable) product.
The women’s match was very good.
What Sort Of Works
Balor and Owens have all the talent in the world, but we don’t get to see it.
What Didn’t Work
What can I say here? The pacing and production of the show are fucking atrocious. We get two matches (which is fine) with eight segments and commercials between them.(which is not) There was no other match they could have thrown on there? Just amateur bullshit here. It killed the feel of the show and made me actively hope for my feed to cut out so I didn’t have to sit through the rest of the show.
The WWE style of match with all the rest holds is killing my interest in the sport. Everyone has to work the same regardless of talent level.
So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?
I wouldn’t. It was weak this week and a chore to sit through.
Thanks for reading! See you next week where I’ll be pushed one more fateful step towards suicide.