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The Lowedown: WWE NXT (03/23/16) Review


The Lowedown

How was NXT?

asuka celebrates

When Elias Samson was the first one out there to start the show, I wondered why in the hell NXT would begin a show with a guy the crowd doesn’t have any reaction to, but when Johnny Gargano came out, it made sense. Gargano is really popular with the NXT Universe, he’s a great wrestler, and he makes dudes look better. What happened in this match though couldn’t help Samson look better, as the match lasted less than four minutes, and then all we saw was Samson beat up a defenseless Gargano until Apollo Crews showed up to make the save. Other than the match doing no one any favors, Samson beating down Gargano out of anger afterwards did nothing for me. Samson has been on a roll of beating enhancement talents, but he’s not done anything compelling, he’s not made me hate him, Samson hasn’t really done anything enough for me to want to pay attention to him, let alone care if he did anything loathsome. What made me practically rage though was hearing the commentary say this was the first time The Drifter had lost; if they’re going off of technicality, Samson didn’t go by the nickname when he was practically losing to Baron Corbin every week, but Samson has lost on NXT TV….a lot.

gargano samson failed spear apollo saves gargano

The NXT Takeover Dallas promo video was seriously great, where it ran through several of the Takeover’s, then just started showing clips from various NXT events, all culminating in the narrator saying, “You are the future and the world is yours for the taking, so go out there and take it.

Rich Swann coming out to super funkadelic type music was cool, along with his slick dance moves:

rich swann has moves

Swann getting a chance at Finn Bálor in Swann’s what, second match on NXT, is a monster sign of faith in this recent signing. It’s not difficult to see why NXT would believe in this guy though:

rich swann is crazy talented rich swann counter flip kick

The match began with Bálor trapping Swann in a Headlock followed by a Wrist Lock, while Swann did his best to escape, unsuccessfully mind you:

balor holds on to swann

It wasn’t enough though, and neither was Swann’s insane athleticism:

coup de grace swann balor 1916 swann

Bálor needed a good win heading into Takeover Dallas and while I would have preferred to have seen him face someone larger, if only so we see Bálor face off against someone closer to Samoa Joe‘s size; but, if it’s replaced with a guy as agile and entertaining as Swann, then I’m okay with that too. I wonder where Swann goes from here though, now that he’s had a match against the face of the brand. I’d love to see a feud started between Swann and Tommaso Ciampa or maybe that’s who Austin Aries faces once things with Corbin have concluded.

Emma was asked backstage about her mindset heading into last night’s main event against Asuka. Emma said tonight would be different than last time, because Emma has game planned with Dana Brooke. Emma did her normal shtick, but Dana talking about being injured since Takeover Respect due to Asuka, was the first time Dana has talked about being injured on NXT TV since being out. We got some story line stuff about her being hurt on Breaking Ground, but nothing at all on NXT itself. It was said to be concussion issues, but with how long she’s been out, it’s either been concussions or something worse –not to say concussions aren’t terrible.– There have been plenty of high profile athletes kept out for months and months due to concussions, with Sidney Crosby being one of the more notable. When you’re the face of an entire league, it’s a big deal when you’re out, and Sid The Kid was out for eleven months, came back for one game shortly after the new season started, and then missed several more months. If the symptoms keep coming back/linger, then you can’t be cleared, and everyone reacts to concussions differently. I hope she’s alright in the end though, that’s what is important. I felt like Dana started to get better towards the end there, but after being out for as long as she’s been, I’m not sure Dana could come back and be where she was, but one can hope.

Footage of Shinsuke Nakamura‘s signing was shown, complete with his arrival in the Performance Center, his photoshoot stuff for NXT programs and such, capped off with his challenge to Sami Zayn that aired on last week’s episode. The closer we get to Takeover Dallas, the more I’m nearing the point of imploding from excitement. Nakamura being added to the latest NXT programs makes this all the more real, and confirms that Nakamura is indeed keeping his name –rumor is that was one of the deal breakers in his contract, that if he couldn’t keep his name, he wouldn’t sign.– Unless Nakamura and Sami Zayn aren’t given much time, I have no doubt they’ll tear the house down.

Alexa Bliss took on Sarah Dobson in a match dominated by Bliss. Every time Dobson tried to get things going early on, Bliss countered it, then Dobson pay for even thinking she could steal a win from Bliss. It wasn’t until Dobson went to the top rope that things got interesting:

dobson knees bliss in the face

Bliss didn’t take kindly to getting hit in the mouth with a kneecap, nor did her partners in crime, Blake & Murphy:

bamf out think dobson

 

Dobson was thrown off after missing her Signature Move and nearly injuring herself, which allowed Bliss to lay Dobson out, finishing off Bliss’ challenger with near ease:

alexa finisher dobson

Bliss getting a win over a rarely seen Dobson is an interesting move, but it really makes me wonder what’s next for Bliss. I could see Asuka winning the Title, Bayley going to the WWE Roster, and Bliss challenging Asuka for the Title at some point in the near future. Asuka and Bliss had a really good match in Columbus at this year’s Arnold Classic, and I wouldn’t at all mind to see that get turned into a full blown feud.

Bull Dempsey entered the arena getting pumped up for his match, until Samoa Joe blasted Bull from behind, choking him out with the Coquina Clutch, then Joe got in the ring and did the same to Danny Burch:

joe attacks bull coquina clutch coquina clutch burch

After the lowly attacks, Joe called out Bálor, saying Bálor cannot and will not escape Joe, and that Joe will take his Championship at Takeover Dallas.

American AlphaChad Gable and Jason Jordan recapped their lives up until this point, telling us how they got to where they are now. This was the most we’ve learned on-screen about these two since either arrived in NXT, and it was fantastic. Being told that Jordan went undefeated in his senior year in college, only to lose in the NCAA Wrestling National Championships, followed by Gable getting to the Olympics, where Gable would also fail in his goals, it made me want them to win at Takeover that much more.

A vignette aired teasing the arrival of a new superstar:

I personally think that “No way José” will turn out to be non-other than Levis Valenzuela Jr:

levis valenzuela jr ripped

As soon as the vignette aired, my mind raced, trying to think of who it could be, and the first two names that came to mind were Levis and La Sombra –now going as Manny Andrade,– but with both guys choosing the character name Manny after coming into NXT, it only made sense that one of them made a change, and Levis definitely comes off as more the party/entertainment type. Levis’ character initially was a Dominican pride based wrestler, so I hope he got to keep some elements of that in this new iteration, if it is indeed him.

The main event as noted above was between Emma and Asuka, which was honestly the most vulnerable I think we’ve ever seen Asuka. There wasn’t a quick strike and the match was over, there wasn’t even a few minutes of them beating the snot out of each other until Asuka knocked Emma’s head off. Instead, Emma fought out of Asuka’s early submission holds, wore The Empress of Tomorrow down as much as possible, and used Dana on the outside to help her out:

emma attacks asuka in corner dana attacks asuka

Asuka looked like she might actually lose, until finally getting some offense in, and putting Emma away with the Auska Lock:

emma dropkick asuka hip attack asuka suplex emma asuka lock emma

I felt like this was no where near the level we have seen them compete at in the past, but once the hits got harder, things got far more exciting. It still wasn’t what we’ve witness Asuka and Emma give us before, but a good match nonetheless.

NXT MVP: Rich Swann

Swann got his first big time match, swung for the fences, and won over the crowd like it was nothing. Swann didn’t win, but there was no chance he was defeating the NXT Champion just a week or so away from Takeover Dallas. Swann used his athleticism to wow the audience, but his energy was infectious throughout the match, helping to make it the best of the night.

NXT LVP: Elias Samson

He’s been on our screens for a couple months or so under this latest gimmick, but so far hasn’t gotten anyone invested in him, be it positive or negative. Not only was he in the opening match, which turned out to be against a fan favorite, but Samson ended up also being in the worst booked match on NXT last night. It was quick, ended with Gargano getting a roll up pin, and then Samson went ballistic on his smaller, unsuspecting opponent. I didn’t boo when Samson lashed out, I didn’t want to see something bad happen to Samson, I just wanted him off my screen and on to the next better thing. I hope Apollo can help to elevate Samson, because the guy clearly has skill, he’s just not been able to utilize it in a way that grabs the audience.

 

We’re now a little over a week away from Takeover Dallas, and while Bálor did have a match, Samoa Joe called out the Champ, and Asuka knocked the crap out of Emma, I felt like the future was more in focus here. From Samson learning who his first legitimate opponent –in terms of feud– would be, to Swann getting his first –of many I assume– opportunity, and the vignette talking about an unknown, incoming star. When we’re this close to an event, usually all hands are on deck to promote said show, but NXT found a way to show off Takeover a little bit, and promote things to come as well. It made for an interesting episode of NXT, which is why I give it a:

nxt gold 6

Rich Swann vs Finn Bálor

+ Teases for the future, namely the vignette

– The opening match and aftermath fell flat

– Lack of matches, especially meaningful ones

 

That’s The Lowedown on NXT this week, thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!

 

The future is bright and full of suplexes!

 

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Shaun Lowe
The Lowedown

Shaun Lowe

Managing Editor at Sports Grumble
Site administrator and sports/entertainment fanatic, Shaun is a proud, stubborn and opinionated Ohioan. A life-long wrestling fan, Jaguars devotee and basketball enthusiast, but ultimately Shaun is a writer and creator at heart.
Shaun Lowe
The Lowedown

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