How was NXT?
The Vaudevillains vs Hugo Knox and Tucker Knight was the opening match, and the first thought that went through my head was my displeasure in seeing Knox being in the ring to start things, rather than getting an entrance during his debut. When you look as good as Knox does, work as smoothly as he does, and has a clear sense of charisma like he does, one would think he’d be made a bigger deal. There’s a reason why every time you see people training in the Performance Center, whether it was on Tough Enough or otherwise, that whomever is in the ring, they’re squared up against Knox. He’s caught on to the business quickly, understands facial expressions and selling are important, makes people look great, and as Corey Graves pointed out, Knox looks like an action figure.
Knox was manhandled by The Vaudevillains after Knox delivered a beautiful dropkick, but once he managed to fight his way out of a big time move to tag Knight, Tucker went off on The Vaudevillains:
It looked like Knight might find a way to turn things around, but once The Vaudevillains got their footing back, the 300lb Knight was brought down by the Whirling Dervish:
I understand building The Vaudevillains back up after losing the Titles and subsequent rematches, but if you’re going to do so, and have them be heels, at least tell us a story of how their opponents should be loudly cheered, and we should hate The Vaudevillains for defeating them. I’m not sure where The Vaudevillains go from here, because I can’t imagine them becoming Champions again anytime soon, and if they do, who would they face? Is a Vaudevillains vs American Alpha feud in the works, and would it be as interesting as NXT might hope? Their styles are completely different, but the chemistry could be very interesting.
Dana Brooke and Emma were asked about Deonna Purrazzo facing Asuka last week, along with Emma’s thoughts on her match later in the night against Santana Garrett. Dana and Emma brushed off Deonna, saying the finish to that match wasn’t surprising, and went on to say they run things in NXT, and that Emma planned to prove that against Santana.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass cut a promo on how they’re going to pay back Dash and Dawson –now referring to themselves as The Revival— for The Revival’s attack on Enzo last week, ending it by saying Enzo and Cass will become the new NXT Tag Team Champions. Right as their promo came to a close, The Revival responded to Enzo and Cass, saying that Enzo and Cass aren’t “Real G’s” and that Enzo and Cass are cowards for attacking The Revival, leaving Dash in a sling. Their match is set for WWE Roadblock, a WWE Network exclusive event from Toronto. It’s been debated heavily since the March to Mania event was announced –renamed Roadblock this week– whether or not Enzo and Cass’ match against The Revival would be on the actual card or if it’d be one of the dark matches.
Emma and Santana had a very physical match, but Emma only allowing Santana about 45 seconds to appear as a potential winner caused them both to fail in captivating the audience. If this was going to be a straight up squash match, it needed to be that, but instead it came off as something in-between, and for at least me, that brought the whole thing down. If these two would have made it so it looked like Emma might actually lose, it would have gone a very long way for the match, but instead, Emma only took a handful of shots on the chin, and easily won.
Nia Jax and Eva Marie were backstage with William Regal, with Regal saying Jax and Eva deserved to be treated as stars, booking a match between Jax/Eva and Bayley/Asuka. Just like your typical heels, once the match was made, they looked disgusted rather than excited. They have practically been begging for a match against those two, but once it was made, it seemed like they wanted nothing to do with it. I liked that choice in facial expressions, because it fit the situation, and the characters.
Regal then appeared in the ring, introducing the big NXT signing:
Austin Aries made his official NXT debut, but it felt so awkward as we waited for the reveal, and then what happened once he showed up –and his name shot up on the screen.– Aries walked around asking, “what’s my name?!?” and people clapped and cheered. I did not know how to feel about it, from the visual presentation to the commentary, who attempted to make a big deal out of it, but rehashed generic phrases like, “he’s one of the hottest free agents on the planet“, but overall, it felt like commentary flat out didn’t know what to say. Then this happened:
Baron Corbin blasting Aries from behind, attacking the man that took Regal’s focus away from Corbin when Corbin was trying to get back into the Title picture. Once Corbin had flat out destroyed Aries, Corbin chucked Aries’ shirt at Regal’s face, and screamed, “an eye for an eye!.” Corbin threatened Regal that Corbin was going to do something Regal wouldn’t like, that Corbin would get a measure of revenge, and he did exactly that. I read about Corbin being Aries’ opponent at NXT Takeover Dallas, but I wondered how they would set up the match, and have it make sense. This made the match an obvious choice, one that fans could easily see justification for Aries wanting to take on Corbin. The final two things of note, for me anyway, is how great Aries sold the End of Days finisher, tucking his legs in as much as possible so that the impact looked all the more vicious –and by default makes me all the more excited to see it hit in Dallas,– and the fact that Aries acted like a man who practically deserved that attack. If WWE brought in a new superstar who acted as arrogantly as Aries did during that entrance, wouldn’t most fans be calling for a run-in? That leaves one curious question: who’s the real heel here? Aries is a big time name, one that many fans recognize and will cheer because of that, but is a recognizable name and face enough to keep fans from reacting naturally to the attitude of a wrestler? Fans cheered Samoa Joe like crazy when he came in, but we saw how quickly that changed once Joe turned, and all that took was attacking a particular guy. If someone acts like a douchebag enough, it’ll have the same effect, even if it’s done against a guy the crowd loves to boo.
Elias Samson faced Steve Cutler in a match that wouldn’t end. By the time Samson put Cutler away, the audience was begging for it to happen. I think Samson and NXT thought they had finally found a character that works for him, but thus far, no crowd responds, Samson comes off uninteresting, and there’s nothing for fans to get attached to. If Elias finds something to boost up his in-ring persona then it’ll change, but for now, I’m not sure why I should buy into him, when it seems like absolutely no one else is:
The Hype Bros cut a promo on how they were going to put away The Vaudevillains, once the Hype Bros finally get their hands on them. Mojo Rawley suggested roughing up Aiden English and Simon Gotch so bad that The Vaudevillains stay gone forever. This was followed by The Vaudevillains creepily walking out from the shadows right after Mojo and Zack Ryder walked off set:
The main event was between Finn Bálor and Neville, seeing Neville be the dominant force until Bálor chucked Neville over the top rope to the outside:
Neville had things in hand up until the point, but even with Neville’s face slamming into the steel steps on the way down, Neville still fought to regain control:
When Neville set Bálor up for the Red Arrow, Bálor quickly rose to his feet, tried to knock Neville off his perch, but Neville hopped off, and dropped Bálor again, putting Bálor back in place for another Red Arrow attempt. I felt the energy of the crowd as Neville climbed to the top for a second time, seemingly about to win the match, and I couldn’t believe what I was possibly about to see, and as the entire audience rose to their feet, Neville stood straight up, was about to take flight, and then Bálor jumped back up, hitting Neville with an Enziguri that sent the former NXT Champion to the floor on the outside:
Neville didn’t have time to catch his breath though, as Bálor went airborne to try and take Neville out as quickly as Bálor could:
The two men were relentless after this, hitting their opponent with every haymaker, signature, and finisher –attempt– possible:
Ultimately Bálor felt the rush of the crowd, had his adrenaline skyrocket, and used that to put away Neville:
When I watched this live, I liked what I saw, but the beginning parts of it left a lot to be desired. It was a normal match to begin, they built the story up as they progressed, which is what should happen, but sometimes that pacing can be irksome, just in that we know what they’re capable of, and they’re delaying things to build up interest. Once the flood gates opened though, even after re-watching this several times, I was captivated. This was one hell of a main event, something that could have easily been put on a PPV card, and it would have succeeded. My hat is off to these two for helping to make a so-so NXT episode one that I’ll remember.
The show closed out with Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe standing next to each other, talking about their match next week that determines who will be the Number One Contender. Joe called Zayn the most ungrateful man in the world, and Zayn said Joe’s cakewalk he’s been on thus far, ends next week.
A pointless opening match that squandered the debut of a guy who could become a future star, followed by a confusing Women’s match where it wasn’t a squash, but basically was, had a cool debut, and a great main event follow. While NXT opened weak, played weak for a while, things turned around in a bright way once Aries got blindsided by Corbin, and the main event gave us a classic between current and former NXT Champion. The latter half definitely made up for the former, so I give NXT a:
+ While it had a slow build, the main event was outstanding
+ Emma vs Santana Garrett was a good showing for both wrestlers
+ Baron Corbin‘s assault on Austin Aries brought reason and purpose to Aries’ signing in NXT, and their match in Dallas
– The opening match fell flat
– Hugo Knox‘s debut being handled like a local wrestler, instead of a potential star was disappointing
– Elias Samson still hasn’t been able to get anyone to care about his character
That’s The Lowedown on NXT this week, thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!
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The future is bright and full of suplexes!
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