I have returned, liberal star ratings & all. My daughter is asleep and now I get to watch NXT for the first time since London. Good day.
Whoa, is that Robot WWE Announcer #432 instead of Rich Brennan? Oh well.
American Alpha vs. BAMF
-American Alpha is a DOPE name, sorry. I also dig that they’re playing up the real-life Murphy/Bliss relationship even if it does kinda make Blake look like a third-wheel. But why am I complaining, I’d love to just be a third wheel to that woman and some schmuck.
-Good commentary exchange early…Graves: “Did you see the way Alexa Bliss was staring down Jason Jordan?”…Tom Philips: “Well, it wasn’t very nice”.
-Jordan and Gable are fantastic in this match. They have the little things down to a tee. They don’t cruise through openings of matches to get to the good stuff, they make every second as entertaining as they can. That’s a lost art in this TV-heavy world of WWE. Gable especially is just a piece of work.
-After the opening clinic from AA, Murphy and Blake pull some AWESOME heelery by having Murphy play possum in the most ridiculously dramatic way possible, screaming like a child before chop-blocking Gable. Graves’ overjoyed reaction to it made it even better. It took a bit but I’m a firm fan of Blurphy.
-As a whole match, it’s pretty formulaic but both of these teams are so good at the sublt things that I really didn’t mind. Nothing worth sticking a star rating to here though.
-Alex Reyes is a suitable replacement for “short interviewer there solely for Dana Brooke to humiliate”. His hopeful grin while correcting Dana on his name was hilarious. Great interview, huge fan of both women at this stage. Can’t wait until Dana recovers from her injury.
-Does anyone else think the Edge & Christian Show looks abysmal? Maybe it’s just a victim of the edit monster but it really looks atrocious.
Nia Jax vs. Liv Morgan
-The announcers’ putting over of Nia Jax even in loss is exactly how you should treat a monster’s loss. Can’t really say I’m impressed with her effort in this match though. It’s a 3 minute squash match with two hope spots for Liv, you don’t need to spend all of your offense in a rest-hold. That’s a lazy way of going about it and if you’re trying to rehab Nia after her loss to Bayley, having her hold some rookie girl’s arm by her neck for two minutes isn’t going to do the trick.
-I did like Liv trying to put Nia in the guillotine, which is a nice touch of psychology usually not used for throwaway squashes. Otherwise, this was about as boring as a squash match can be.
-Afterwards, Enzo cuts one of his best promos ever backstage. I thought about transcribing it but it really needs to be seen to be understood. Cass’ promo was pretty corny but Enzo swoops in and completely sucks me into their plight all over again. Him talking about his shitty Christmas and almost wanting to beat the hell out of a guy at the gas station because he looked like Dawson were GREAT lines. Still baffles me how people think these guys are just entrances after this serious run they’ve been on. His promo mixed awesome intensity with the clever Enzo one-liners perfectly. Enzo was incredible here, I really can’t say that enough.
Alex Riley vs. Bull Dempsey
-You won’t catch me claiming to be the biggest Bull Dempsey supporter ever, but Alex Riley is the WORST and really shouldn’t be on any form of WWE TV. Dempsey at least has a fun gimmick.
-Riley’s apparent new gimmick is saying “is this what NXT has come to?”, which isn’t bad on a fundamental level if you work it the right way but Corey Graves buries it by saying “well NXT is like the hottest thing in wrestling right now” which instantly makes A-Ri look ridiculous.
-And don’t try to convince me he’s soooo intense when he wrestles the boring FCW-robot style that never gets over. His spinebuster is pretty spiffy to be fair, but then he follows up with some generic knee to the jaw that is almost the exact same as the Beauty Shot. The crowd didn’t care, I didn’t care, but I’d be lying if I said I preferred him on commentary over ultimately harmless three-minute squashes.
-Ya know, Riley’s promo after his match was actually pretty good. Had they come right out with this story instead of him looking like a clueless dork in his match, I’d completely have changed my tune. He actually has a good point with this promo but they went about it all wrong. Rare booking snafu from NXT.
THE DRIFTER!~! vs. Guy With A Ripoff Triple H Logo On His Tights
-This is the first time seeing Elias Sampson in action, and beforehand I’d pretty much made my mind up that I loved his gimmick due to the fact that he’s basically a walking Sons of Anarchy ending montage and it’s awesome.
-My first opinion is that this guy works a style for a guy twice his size and looks like a strung-out Damien Sandow, which would normally turn me off but he’s THE DRIFTER!~! so I’m ok with it. Beyond my irrelevant bias, it’s a pretty generic squash match that doesn’t really require viewing aside from a couple funny commentary exchanges.
-By all accounts, I should not like The Hype Bros but for some reason, they entertain me. “I WATCH YOU SLEEP MAN, YOU’RE MY TAG TEAM PARTNER BRO” made me chuckle, although Zack Ryder talking about getting chicks when he’s having sex regularly with Emma kinda makes me question his commitment to the cause. I’d rather have a taste of Tenille than some weird Long Island broad, ya feel me?
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Samoa Joe
-Hey, Mouthbelly is starting to get some cheers! Isn’t it a wonder what good booking and improvement can do?
-So nice to have Sami back too. Guy has been one of the best in the world since like 2009 and he adds so much to whatever he does. He’s honestly the best babyface in wrestling for me.
-As for this match? It’s good. It’s an adequate TV main event but nothing must-see due to the generic nature of triple threats like this, which is basically a revolving door of 1v1 matches until a hot finishing sequence.
-Samoa Joe plays the badass heel well as you can hope, and he had some good spots of heel psychology throughout like choking out Sami before trying to finish Corbin, but ironically ends up getting saved himself after Joe gets got.
-I don’t mean to undercut these guys’ efforts as this match has some great spots in the closing stretch, but like I said, it’s a TV main event. The wonky finish kinda kills it too, but it sets up JOE VS. ZAYN which is something I will take by any means necessary. I’d say the match tops out at *** but that’s still good.
Overall: This is a pretty by-the-numbers episode of NXT. It’s padded out with enhancement matches, hype packages and promos, and a good main event to cap it off. In particular, Enzo had a GREAT promo around mid-point of the show, American Alpha did their thing as usual, and the triple threat main event was a solid match. Nothing you need to go out of your way to see admittedly – especially since the squashes are largely unremarkable (but go see that Enzo promo!)- but a well-done hour of wrestling TV with no logic-defying bullshit or stupidity.