Just a quick recap for those reading this on Place to Be Nation for the first time and who might be wondering who’s who in the wacky world of NXT:
– Your champion is Bo Dallas, real life son of Mike Rotundo, currently playing a Honky Tonk Man role where he’s the hated heel champion who thinks he’s an inspirational babyface. His current challenger is Adrian Neville, the former Pac, who was half of the tag champions until his partner turned on him and forced him into singles again.
– The tag champions are the Ascension, a pair of goth bruisers in a throwback to the 80s. They really have no viable challengers at this point.
– Top stars include Sami Zayn (the unmasked El Generico doing the world’s best fighting babyface gimmick), Aiden English (a former Broadway singer who in fact sings his own entrance music and is awesome), Tyler Breeze (paying tribute to Zoolander as a clueless selfie-taking model), and Alexander Rusev (Bulgarian strongman and probably the next guy to get the callup). Antonio Cesaro has also been hanging around, building to a match with William Regal that will likely be fantastic.
– The women’s portion is also much better than the one on the main roster, featuring leather-clad champion Paige as a girl-next-door badass. Her current rival is Emma, a bubble-blowing Australian and general cutie. On the heel side are Summer Rae and Sasha Banks as the “BFFs”, aka Mean Girls. And you also have Bayley, playing a markish wrestling fan who is starstruck by everyone around her.
In general, I love this show because it’s booked and not written, by which I mean there’s no PPVs so it’s crafted in a more week-to-week style, where something happens in one show and then the followup is on the show the next week, and so on. It feels very serialized, like the old World Championship Wrestling shows on TBS, and the crowd knows all the guys and knows how to react to them. Basically if you miss the 80s syndicated era, this is the show for you.
Taped from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Tom Phillips, William Regal & Alex Riley. There’s no set announcing crew, they cycle through combinations of these guys and various guest commentators like Tensai or Renee Young.
NXT Tag Team titles: The Ascension v. Hunico & Camacho
Camacho pounds on Victor, but misses a charge, which allows Victor to forearm him into the other corner. Camacho slugs back and it’s over to Hunico. He looks so FAMILIAR. Like I’ve just seen him somewhere else recently. Can’t put my finger on it. Victor takes more of a beating , but blocks a leg lariat and gets two as we take a break. Back with the champs controlling via chinlock, and Victor gets a backbreaker on Hunico for two. And…back to the chinlock. Hunico fights out of the heel corner with a rollup into a cool one-armed powerbomb, and it’s hot tag Haku Jr. Corner splash and backdrop suplex for Conor, but he comes back with a full nelson slam. Victor pulls Hunico off the apron to prevent another tag, and the Ascension finishes Camacho at 12:00 to retain. **1/2
Alexander Rusev v. Kassius Ohno
So this would be the swan song for Ohno, no? Apparently Rusev was on the most recent RAW in a dark match, so hopefully he’ll get the call pretty soon. Rusev pounds the hell out of Ohno’s ribs and gets a backbreaker for two. He keeps destroying the back, but Ohno hits the rolling elbow into a small package for two. And yet again Rusev blasts him down and finishes with the camel clutch at 3:05 to end the WWE career of Chris Hero. *1/2
Meanwhile, Natalya gives Bayley a much-needed pep talk.
Bayley & Natalya v. Summer Rae & Sasha Banks
The babyfaces dominate the BFFs in the corner with suplexes, but Bayley misses a charge and gets worked over in the heel corner. Bayley fights back with a faceplant on Sasha and makes the hot tag to Nattie, who puts Sasha down with a clothesline and goes for the Sharpshooter. Summer breaks that up, so Bayley comes in and Banks quickly finishes her with a neckbreaker at 4:00. Summer’s bitchy post-match celebration is tremendous. *1/2
Mojo Rawley v. Scott Dawson
Dawson pounds away in the corner and elbows him down, and we hit the chinlock. And then just like that, Mojo fights out and puts him down for the butt splash to finish at 2:50. Mojo’s been selling way too much and they need to go more Goldberg-ian with him. ½*
Sami Zayn v. Leo Kruger
Slugfest on the mat to start and Kruger hits a spinebuster for two. He goes to the back and tosses Sami, and back in for two. Kruger pounds the back, but Sami dropkicks him for two and they brawl to the floor again. Back in with a Zayn bodypress for two, but he goes up again and Kruger crotches him and finishes with a lariat at 4:14. Rough taping for Zayn. *1/2 Kruger wants further attacks, so Sami tosses him and hits a dive as they continue to brawl. So obviously this feud MUST CONTINUE.
Next week: The 200th episode (obviously counting all the previous incarnations of the show) sees Bo Dallas defending against Adrian Neville again, and the Ascension have an open challenge against ANYONE. It could even be a boat!