Ha, Takeover is gonna be the 300th episode of NXT. That’s kinda cool. Maybe they can get Chief Keef to do a concert. Can’t get any lower than Kid Rock at Wrestlemania, right?
Right out of the Gate with Enzo/Cass vs. Joe/Balor.
-I think Enzo and Cass are either a) getting called up or b) splitting soon. Neither is really all that beneficial – even if they have improved a lot – but they’ve been treading water since the stop/start push right before Brooklyn. They’re going to toil away in the main roster because WWE is a shit wrestling promotion, and neither guy has the legs to go solo. I like The Vaudevillains, but I don’t really get why they didn’t at least give Enzo and Cass a short term run with the belts. They’re probably the most over act on NXT, and they can be carried by a good team, which it seems NXT is starting to slowly churn out. A feud with them and Jordan/Gable would be AWESOME, for instance. Maybe it’s coming? Who knows.
-Joe’s new music kicks all of the ass by the way. Hell, we have improvements on all fronts here as Balor is starting to get a little bit of personality with the jacket entrance. He kinda has that same cocky charisma that Angelico (of LU fame of course) has, and I hope that starts to shine more soon. He doesn’t have to be a heel for it, and when Joe murders him at Takeover, they can kind of bounce off each other’s different characters. Balor is the good looking golden boy champ with a slightly cocky – but charming and Irish – demanor, Joe is a big Samoan guy who’s going to headbutt his face into soup. Seems simple, right?
-The matches are going to be awesome either way. I liked this match, too. The commercial break kind of neutered it, but it was still good stuff. Enzo and Cass are getting there, and Joe and Balor have good, subtle chemistry as partners. The question is where Enzo and Cass go from here, but I suppose we’ll see sooner rather than later. Call the match **1/2.
-Oh hey, more Gargano and Ciampa! Apparently Johnny Wrestling is facing Apollo Crews, which is awesome in all the correct ways. Breeze vs. Ciampa isn’t quite as exciting, but I’m glad to see these guys are at least getting more than the “plucky rookie” treatment. Also, Asuka scares the piss out of me. Her music is beyond badass as well. Looking forward to the snuff film her match with Dana Brooke is going to be.
Johnny Gargano vs. Apollo Crews
-Kind of a nothing match, if we’re being honest. Johnny got some decent offense but it didn’t feel very urgent.
-Apollo is great and charismatic, but they really need to tweak his finisher. The standing moonsault – as impressively built as he is – looks like a transition move you’d use for a pop moreso than an end-all be-all.
-I wasn’t expecting the MOTYC these guys could pull out on like a DGUSA show, but I was still underwhelmed. Apollo needs a storyline soon, or at least something that he and Breeze can sink their teeth into. I think their chemistry could be expanded upon. Match was ** or so.
-Man, I get the intent of William Regal showing Dana the clips of Asuka killing people (which actually turned out to be a punching bag), but it was SO uncomfortable hearing that loud grunting with no visual context. I’d have rather fed some NXT rookie to her and let Dana watch it on the monitor or whatever and get scared that way, but that’s nitpicking. The draw of their match is seeing Asuka debut, so you can’t do much about that. Dana’s reaction was awesome, and Regal’s smirk got a good laugh as Emma non-challantly walked away.
-Corey Graves wishing bodily harm on Byron Saxton should be a Network show; “Byron, her name is Asuka, not Aksa. I hope she hears that and kicks you in the head too for good measure.” I hate Byron Saxton almost as much as I love Chad Gable.
Emma/Dana vs. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce
-I have an itching feeling that Dana is going to be awesome in a year or two. She’s a good athlete and plays a damn good heel for how long she’s been in the company. SHE CALLED BILLIE KAY A FUCKING BILLYGOAT. That’s some 2000-era Jericho type shit.
-I can’t wait to see Kay and Royce start to break out either. I’ve heard good things about both and I’m glad NXT sured up their women’s division after the Diva’s Revolution purge.
-The match kinda sucked if I’m honest, as they pretty much just killed time while the crowd did their best vacuum impression. *3/4
-The Jordan and Gable promo was just as awesome as you’d think, and probably even better than that. I’m more than likely going to be obnoxious in my fandom of Chad Gable as the months roll on, so you guys are going to have to bear with me. His correction of the interviewer girl was hilarious, and “Hey, what are you guys doing, he was about to say my name!” was even better. A STAR, I tell you. Dash & Dawson did really well on the promo front as they barged in, and I’m looking forward to seeing them in a larger role as I’ve heard glowing reviews. They have an old school aura about them and I hope they can back it up in the ring as such. I feel like that’s going to be our finals match, and I can’t complain if that’s the case.
Ciampa vs. Breeze
-Tyler being introduced from “his seasonal residence in Cairo, Egypt” was tremendous. Ciampa unleashed a chop in the first couple minutes that accidentally made me bite the inside of my lip, and I’m not completely happy about it. Upon further examination, it isn’t bleeding, so we’re all good.
-This match did a lot more for me than the Gargano/Crews match did. Everything Ciampa did felt pronounced and urgent, and Breeze complemented him tremendously. The crowd actually managed to get off their ass for this one, and it showed. Breeze finishing with the Unprettier (which is a fucking hilarious name when you realize who’s doing it) was a surprise and hopefully he gets rid of the spinning wheel kick. Still annoyed me that none of the commentators called it, but I’m used to it. Best match of the night. ***
-If Mouth Belly pins Chad Gable, I’m going to lose it. That’s all I have to say about that godawful promo.
-NXT has done an incredible job building up Bayley, it must be said. She’s just so damn likable and it seems NXT is the only branch of this godforsaken company that portrays its babyfaces as – GASP – human beings with feelings and vulnerabilities! What a novel concept! I like the sports presentation of this feud, too. Bayley talking about working out harder, changing her diet, getting focused, and etc. It’s small touches like these that go a long way towards establishing credibility and making you feel like what you’re watching is worth something. After all, you’re suspending your disbelief that wrestling is an athletic competition, so it’s nice to see this one get back to basics. Sasha is awesome as usual. I like the way she tiptoes between being a heel (telling Bayley she was only great for one night) and still being a reputable worker and someone who knows the challenge ahead. She’s confident – arrogant almost – but knows she has one hell of a night in front of her. It’s so simple but it works every time if you put some effort into the character and humanity of the wrestlers working. They didn’t do some contract signing where one of them went through a table… they didn’t end the go-home show in a brawl where one girl wins, thus telegraphing the result. They just hyped it up by telling us that these girls are hard workers, and they’re doing everything they can to be on their best form come Takeover. That’s all I need.
-Another good episode of NXT. Nothing that you absolutely, positively need to see, but it’s a reliably easy watch that sells you fairly hard on the Takeover show. The Tag Team Classic was built well, Brooke/Asuka was built well, and the video package chronicling Sasha/Bayley at the end was fantastic. They could have done a better job of getting me to care about Breeze vs. Crews, but overall, this week’s NXT touched all bases in some way and left me eager to see Takeover. Thumbs up.