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.
We are in Columbus Ohio! Home of the Bluejackets and type two onset diabetes! We start off with the exact same promo we saw a dozen times last week to promote the show. Good to know they care enough to go the extra mile. I can’t keep getting this angry at the show…
The first guy out is Kalisto and it really is quite funny to watch him try to get all his gestures and poses in while not having nearly enough room to do it. If you can’t picture the stage, imagine your elementary school gym, now picture that gym had a stage that was somewhat elevated from the ground, that’s the entrance. Now the ring is pushed pretty much right up against that stage. I know it may sound like I’m shitting on this but I actually like the different look of the show tonight. I feel WWE has become completely homogenized in look and feel and little things like changing the setup do a lot to make me not long for the days of Nitro by the pool.
Match #1 Tyler Breeze Vs. Kalisto
Of course Breeze handles the new configuration like a pro. Strutting to the ring like the dickhead he is, balancing in the corner until the ref screams at him to get down. I dig Breeze, I think he could be pretty huge. Like a long term IC champ or something of the sort. Not everyone needs to be a main eventer.
The match is quite good and is not a squash match which is completely refreshing as it’s all we’ve been fed for the last few weeks. Kalisto is a special talent. His moves are stiff and slick and almost every match I see something new for him. There’s a lot of fake laughter coming from Albert but at least they’re talking about the match this week. Kalisto’s headstand into a head scissors has potential to be a fantastic crowd popping spot. His hurricanrana where he smashes his opponent’s head into the mat has the potential to end someone’s career.
We take a break where they hype THE VIGILANTE vs. THE KING. I throw up and get back to the action. The story of the match is that Kalisto is all over Breeze, but then Breeze hits a big move for a near-fall. It’s a fantastic way to get both guys over. Kalisto looks dominant being on offense all the time, and Tyler looks tough for kicking out of so many big moves. Of course the commentators are not telling THAT story. Instead Albert says things like ” What’s Breeze got to do to beat Kalisto???” which is totally counterproductive to the actual story of the match. Why not work with what’s there?
I guess my one gripe about the match, aside from the clueless commentary is that these guys should not be wrestling this slowly. Here’s the formula of every match we see in WWE: Hot open, slow down the match with a chin lock or wrapping a knee around the post, guy who’s going to lose hits some offense and finally guy who’s going to win wins. The thing is NOT EVERY MATCH NEEDS TO BE LIKE THAT. Tyler Breeze and Kalisto shouldn’t need to slow things down, let them go all out, let them do what they can do and they’ll stand out and be different. And they’ll get over. I can live with the homogenization of the visual aspects of the program, but the homogenization of the matches is borderline criminal with the talent they have on their roster. Also please stop shaking the camera on people’s punches.
So like I said, Breeze barely gets any offense in but hits the big move (the beauty shot) for the win. We’re treated to Breeze’s awesome self-sung music and a love of duck face. For all my complaints this was pretty good, I just wish it was allowed to be better.
Next we’re treated to a re-cap of the Owens/Riley feud. I love the IDEA of this match. Riley isn’t so far from his in-ring career that it stretches the believability that he could hang with Owens, and Owens is a great prick. The execution has been pretty dreadful though. They need to stop showing Riley’s fourth grade school play acting of “I’m a man,” and they needed to give him a much more convincing win before they fed him to Owens. I mean he barely got three moves on CJ Parker. Regal is impressed enough by that to put him in here. Oh wait we still haven’t heard from Regal on the matter. I guess they couldn’t be bothered to film that segment.
Here’s the ad for Wrestlemania: Play button. Terrible.
We’re in the back with Alexa Bliss who wants to show everyone what she’s about tonight. I want her to succeed.
Hey did you know we’re t the Arnold Sports Festival??? No? We’ll we’re going to tell you about it and pat ourselves on the back. You know what I’d rather see than this stupid package about the “cool ” things they’re doing? Actual good wrestling matches. Instead we get to see HHH go into the international sports hall of fame, and we get to see Arnold put Hunter over as a pillar of the community. Ugh. So he’s a good guy here right? I’m so glad he gets to be everything. He gets to be the benevolent leader of the next generation, he gets to be the funny guy whenever he wants, sometimes he’s an ass kicker in jeans and a t-shirt and most of the time he’s the evil COO of WWE. Oh and he’s the King of Kings, the Game, The Cerebral Assassin and a D-Generate. Why do they even need other characters on the show? He does them all. What a great guy. Also Hogan wants to fight Owens and Flair is just happy to be there.
Oh yeah and HHH uses the word brand a million times. Yup. That’s relatable…
Riley is backstage with Fin Balor, who apparently is getting Owens next week. Riley says he’s going to humiliate the NXT champion. See, these are the kind of promos that Riley needs to be cutting and the company should be focusing on. They’re believable and he delivers them with as much conviction as anyone on the roster. Balor is equally believable in telling Riley not to overlook Owens. Quick simple segment which gets Riley more over and sets up a huge main event for next week.
Colin Cassady Vs. Blake is NEXT!!!!!
Here’s another package about how NXT is on the road now. HHH is giving everyone a pep talk. Boy he seems like a great guy. Too bad he’s ruined Daniel Bryan’s life for the past two years. That’s the same guy right? We get highlights of their tour and we get the tease of a lifetime, clips of a Cesaro/ Finn Balor match. Why the Hell don’t we get to see that match? I’d pay money for that match. Lots of money. I guess Cesaro isn’t over enough to be on the developmental show. Also HHH says brand a bunch more times. The corporate jargon clearly meshes well with the whole “wrestling” feel of the show.
Match # 2 Colin Cassady Vs. Blake
I’m immediately hospitalized from the violent seizure that Blake and Murphy’s entrance causes me to suffer. Add that to the vomit from earlier and this product might straight up kill me. I’m starting to understand the cocaine addict with each passing moment of WWE television. Here’s the Italians to a massive pop. As I say every week, Enzo can be a huge star as their pre-match bit is a license to print money. Why does the crowd hate Carmella so much? Sure her dancing and mugging are a little over the top but she’s hot as hell and you can’t teach that. See even I’m doing it!!!
Enzo hits the line of the night when he tells the “Australian boy” to “dijoree do yourself a favor and skedaddle.” I mean come on. From anyone’s else’s mouth you’re back in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. Enzo is a star. The crowd is on board as they have about thirty different chants they do for out Mediterranean heroes. Albert thinks Blake is a little soft around the midsection. Go fuck yourself Albert, you’re the worst thing on the MINOR league show.
Simple and effective match here. Cassady overpowers, Blake capitalizes on a mistake and goes after the leg. Standard big man/littler man match that has worked since the start of time. Of course the match wouldn’t be complete unless we had the segment where someone is stuck in a weak looking rest hold for a couple of minutes. Jesus! Please stop shaking the camera. You’re making me physically ill. Anyways, like I said, decent enough homogenized match where Blake rolls up Cass after he bumps into Carmella on the apron. She does have a cut on her knee which gives her all the reason in the world to act as though she’s been shanked. Here comes another seizure…
Dana Brooke is coming! Boy am I excited! She does bodybuilding competitions! And Flips! And she moves like her body is made of wood! Can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I bet HHH loves her.
Match # 3 Sasha Banks Vs. Alexa Bliss
Bliss charms her way to the ring. This will be a big test for Alexa to see if she can hang with the champ. It’s a big night for her. Her first match with the champ in the building where she had her prom. A less classy re-capper would make some lewd remark about two cherries but thankfully I have waaaaaaaay too much respect for the business to go there.
Sasha Banks carries herself like a star, the only thing that has to go is that weird shimmy pose she does with her hands. So contrived. Then again according to the Wrestlemania promo you’re not a star unless you have three poses. We’ll see if she improves. Right off the bat Bliss worries me by doing the traditional WWE DIVA hair pull ad head smash to the ground. They quickly move on from that and begin to actually wrestle. Good. Of course we immediately get a rest hold from Sasha, but she decides to teach Colin Cassady how to apply a chin lock as though she were trying to hurt her opponent. I guess Cassady was too busy being bullied by Demott to catch that lesson. Banks then further endears herself to me by modifying the chin lock, bending Bliss over her knee trying to get the submission. That’s all I want. If you’re going to apply a hold, make it look like it hurts and if you’re in it a long time keep it interesting by changing things up. That’s what you would do in an actual fight. If something wasn’t working you’ d switch it up to get the win. I know it’s crazy to imagine that winning a match matter in pro wrestling, but just suspend your disbelief long enough to stay with me.
Banks misses a RAINMAKER clothesline and the match is starting to get good. Then Banks gets counted out. Booooooo. Not for the result, it makes sense to protect your champ and sets up the next match, but this really was starting to cook. I guess this puts her in line for a title shot. Should be good.
Owens backstage is going to make Riley regret stepping down from commentary. Riley can’t compete at his level and next week he’s going to show Finn Balor that no one is going to take the title from him or his family. Great stuff from the champ.
No sooner than two minutes later William Regal sets up Alexa Bliss versus Sasha Banks for the title next week. BUT WHAT DOES HE THINK ABOUT RILEY???? IS HE IMPRESSED???
Match # 4 Kevin Owens vs. Alex Riley.
Riley is out and he is full of rage!!!! He screams at some fans to prove it. I wonder what he smells like?
I’m legit curious how far along he’d be if they hadn’t stopped pushing him for no discernible reason. Owens is out and they’re shoving each other before the bell. I love the sense of hate that’s coming off of both of them. This is pro wrestling. It’s full of emotion and I believe they want to tear each other apart. There’s a great little touch at the beginning where Kevin Owens doesn’t leave the ring and stall at the start of the match like he has in ALL of his other matches to date. He wants Riley. Now. Just as I’m typing about how awesome this is the announcers start their nonsense. “Don’t underestimate Alex Riley, He’s had his Wrestlemaina moment!” What the fuck does that even mean???? Remember when it meant something to win a title at Mania? Now it’s enough to have this vague “Wrestlemania Moment.” That’s the god damn goal in this company now. Have a moment. Jesus Christ. And let’s say that is acceptable, let’s go fucking crazy and say that made up shit actually means something: what was Riley’s moment? Seconding Miz at 27? They need a complete overhaul on commentary. YOU ARE KILLING THE SHOW.
This is a solid fight until the boring chin lock. Yay formula! Owens beats on Riley until Alex hits a desperation forearm to stun the champ. That’s great storytelling. Of course it’s ignored by the announce team. Stop shaking the fucking camera. Please! I’m begging you!!! Riley hits a couple more token moves until he’s beaten on the outside and power bombed for the win. That’s it? All that build for what…. six minutes? I’m certainly not advocating Riley should have won, but he could have been made to be a little harder to beat. Owens having trouble putting him away and Riley fighting with all the heart of a champion was RIGHT THERE. What a waste.
Owens is going to kill Riley with his apron bomb when Balor makes the save. Balor vs. Owens should be good next week. I wonder how Balor feels fighting in front of 4000 people instead of 40,000?
Best Match: Tyler Breeze Vs. Kalisto
Worst Match: Colin Cassady Vs. Blake
Best Promo/Skit: Kevin Owens is going to end Riley.
Worst Promo/Skit: Every word out of Albert Tensai’s mouth
What Worked Really Well
– Tyler Breeze and Sasha Banks look like stars of the future.
– It was great to move away from three weeks of squash matches.
– Enzo is the man.
– It was really cool to see a different look for the NXT arena.
What Sort Of Works
– I need to see a little more of Alexa Bliss to know if she’s the real deal or not. She was looking good until the match abruptly ended. Hopefully we’ll get more next week.
– I’d like to see what Riley can do in a prolonged match. He looked ok, but wasn’t out there nearly long enough to show us what he can do.
What Didn’t Work
– For all the work they did to build Owens and Riley the match was really nothing special, which is really lame considering how much time they devoted to it.
– The way everyone is wrestling the same match is inexcusable.
– The Camera work is vomit inducing.
– I say this every week but the commentary is atrocious. Here’s an example of something they all do which ruins fucking matches. You ever notice every time someone says “This is it!” or “He’s got him!” the person NEVER gets the pin. Now when the pin actually happens they never say any of that shit. So when you hear an announcer proclaim a match is over you can pretty much guarantee the guy’s kicking out. How’s that for a god damn spoiler?
So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?
Well this week was a step up from past weeks. The matches were a slight step up from squashes so there’s some work to be done. At least the characters aren’t stale. I know the scuttlebutt is that WWE is moving to sign ROH guys to be in NXT, and that they want to move in the direction of an independent promotion rather than a developmental one. I just hope they don’t get another monopoly, this time on the independents. What makes ROH great is that you can watch a whole PPV and never see the same type of match. If WWE has their way everyone will wrestle the WWE style. Not to say that some can’t thrive in that style, but it certainly doesn’t suit everyone. (see: Itami, Hideo) The WWE has already homogenized pro wrestling on a massive level. I will be left with nothing to watch if they take over the indies too.