Yesterday was a very annoying day for this writer. When your routine is to try to work multiple jobs from wherever you happen to be, what you can't afford is connectivity or technology issues. Yesterday was all about those things.
I know most of you come to Cageside Seats to read my bitching about being inconvenienced, but for those of you who don't, I put that out there as an apology for not getting NXT coverage up at its regularly scheduled time. And to explain that in order to make up for lost time, I'll be providing running comments/live reactions to this week's edition rather than the usual recap/critique.
Let's do this.
Straight to the opening this week, which transitions directly to Bayley's entrance. Things are looking up...
Bayley & Charlotte vs. Summer Rae & Sasha Banks
Not for nothing, but if the Beautiful Fierce Females (BFFs) ever release an album, this should be the cover:
- Charlotte is now rocking an inverted version of Kaitlyn's old hair coloring. I guess it looks pretty good on her - and leads me to believe (along with everything else that 30+ years of watching pro wrestling has taught me) that's she probably turning on my beloved Bayley tonight.
- B has brought headbands as gifts for her opponent. How thoughtful! Summer tosses them to the ground and, just like that, I guess the "BFFs are trying to recruit Bayley to the dark side" plot is out the window. Sometimes the way they tape the backstage vignettes separately from the in-ring stuff really makes their storytelling seem helter skelter.
- Ric's baby girl works over Sasha to start, and shows off her bridge multiple times while working a hammerlock. This occasionally is used as a way to pin Banks' shoulders to he mat, which is a cool use of the hold. Bayley tags in and allows The Boss to make a tag of her own, but the good girl manages to work The First Lady over with strikes. She gets clocked from behind when she looks to her partner for approval, however.
- Face-in-peril time for a while, the highlight of which is Summer's leg full nelson of B. She also rolls this into pin attempts a couple of times, so I guess that's what Professor Del Rey was working on in Divas school this week. Bayley eventually lands the belly-to-bayley suplex and makes it to her corner...only for Charlotte to slap the taste out of her mouth! I knew it! She finishes off her partner with the somersault cutter and lets Sasha complete the pin. Apparently, the BFFs are now a trio, and they walk up the ramp with their arms linked and raised.
- Has Bayley never won on television? I can't think of a time. But if this is leading to her as the geeky outsider who overcomes the plastics, sign me up.
The BFFs defeat Charlotte & Bayley in approximately six and a half minutes when Sasha pins Bayley
The Actor is doing some vocal exercises as we head to commercial.
Aiden English vs. Camacho
- This is the second or third Camacho sighting on WWE programming this month, isn't it? Was he in trouble or did they just have nothing for him? For his sake, I hope HHH doesn't praise this match. We all know what that means...
- The interesting thing about English is his alignment. The crowd certainly treats him like a face, but he wrestles like a heel. The announce team (this week is the bizarro combination of Byron Saxton, William Regal and Sweet T/Tensai) seems split. Regal loves him, and he mostly plays the bad guy on commentary these days. Saxton makes a comment about Aiden not liking "people like" Camacho, which is not the kind of thing you'd say about a técnico. I'm glad that the mixed reactions haven't caused them to shy away from over the top characters like Tyler Breeze, Fandango and him, but it does present a new dilemma.
- Camacho beats English up with an impressive set of power moves. He mocks Aiden's bow at one point and has his opponent positioned on his shoulders for a finishing maneuver when The Actor slides down his back to hit the Director's Cut out of nowhere for the win.
- Encore version of the song he sung himself in with. I'm not enough of a musical theater buff to play the tunes, but he makes sure to end them all with "Double-U, Double-U, Eee". Which I guess makes that his catch phrase.
Aiden English defeats Camacho in approximately two and a half minutes via pinfall
Lana and Alexander Rusev speak Russian to one another while he flexes and she caresses his upper body.
Danny Burch vs. Mason Ryan
- Regal gives us a lovely history lesson on the Welsh and the British and the rivalry between the two peoples. It's more backstory than we are likely to get from the match.
- Burch has a convincing looking brawling style, but on the rare occasions where he's called on to do anything other than punch, it doesn't impress. There's a spot here where Ryan drops him onto the top rope from a press and he catches himself so far from the ropes that there's no doubt that they didn't make contact with his chest or neck. He sells the aftermath okay, but that only compounds the problem of how fake it looked.
- On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with anything Ryan does in this match, per se. But I just don't care about him. Based on crowd reaction, I'm not alone.
- A big boot from Mason followed by what looked like a sitout half nelson slam wraps this one up.
Mason Ryan defeats Danny Burch in approximately two and a half minutes via pinfall
Weird Emma promo spot that kind of looked like a pink-ified version of the CM Punk WWE2K13 commercial. I'm glad she's getting some hype, but this was not the most effective way to sell her gimmick to a larger audience.
The champ returns from his world tour (including Bo-livia) next week.
Corey Graves vs. Adrian Neville (Two out of Three Falls)
- I am not terribly exited about this, but I'll try to keep an open mind. Tensai tells me that this is one of the most intense rivalries he's ever seen. Uh-huh.
- Graves is back in his punky jeans outfit after the one-time appearance of Corporate Corey a few weeks ago. Adrian has a new entrance theme. I thought the old one suited him well, but I'll give this one time as it's not horrible or anything, but it feels even more generic.
- Regal does an outstanding job of color commentary early on, explaining the prevalence of "rounds" matches in Europe and the strategy of getting a pin early in a two-out-of-three falls format like this one. He points out that Graves is attempting to pace himself while the Jumpin' Geordie is going all out to win the first fall.
- Which he does after a little back and forth, when a series of kicks sets up Red Arrow.
Adrian Neville takes the first fall in approximately two and a half minutes via pinfall
- Graves rolls out, but Neville goes right after him with a dive to the floor and follows it up with strikes. He rolls him in for another corkscrew shooting star press, but Corey rolls out. When the Brit gives chase, the Savior of Misbehavior kicks the previously injured knee out from under him and Adrian takes a nasty bump off the apron.
- The submission specialist gets to working over the wounded joint in order to set up his Lucky 13 finisher. Regal informs us that Graves is working on the head and neck in addition to the knee, as he knows that he needs to beat him twice.
- Neville takes a single-leg Boston crab for a while until Graves attempts to engage the other leg, at which point Adrian corkscrews his opponent and sends him crashing to the mat. His momentum is short-lived though, and a chop block allows Corey to cinch in his finisher. With his back to the ropes and another fall to go, AN is forced to tap.
Corey Graves takes the second fall in approximately five minutes via submission
- Things get a little more intense as the last fall starts, as the Leader of the Filth Parade looks sadistically gleeful as his former tag partner struggles to adjust his knee brace to relieve some pressure to his bum leg. One of the issues with Neville is that he doesn't show a ton of emotion in the ring. I know he has some social anxiety issues, so perhaps that's holding him back in that area, but it does make it difficult to connect with him as a performer, especially in this kind of story.
- Graves lifts the one-legged man for a big what looked to be a package powerbomb, but Adrian manages to land on his feet and kick his opponent in the head. The ensuing comeback is largely out-of-character arm strikes from the high flier.
- They build nicely to a spot where Graves goes for another chop block, but the Man That Gravity Forgot cannily counters into a drop kick to the head. He heads up to to for another helping of Red Arrow, but in trying to do the move from one leg, slips and falls head first to the mat.
- The American puts Lucky 13 back on, and pulls Neville to the middle of the ring. Adrian battles through the pain, refusing to tap and gets to the bottom rope after about 30 seconds in the hold. Another smart piece of psychology sees the American resume working the bad leg, but when he goes for his signature maneuver a third time, AN uses it to roll him up and take the whole shooting match
Adrian Neville takes the third fall in approximately five minutes via pinfall
Not bad, although it took until the end to get really interesting. This also suffers from comparison to FCW/NXT's history of great long main event matches such as Kassius Ohno vs. William Regal, Sami Zayn vs Antonio Cesaro and Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins.
Check out the show for yourself...
We've survived a set of tapings without the championship players, but I'm not sure anyone other than the ladies is better positioned than when Zayn and Bo Dallas left. I'm psyched for both of the women's programs they've set-up (Bayley vs. BFFs and Emma vs. Paige), but outside of that, we've had a bunch of squashes establishing characters, but not feuds.
Even though it surpassed my expectations, I don't know where Neville or Graves goes from here.
Well, I've given you plenty of time to think about it. What did you Cagesiders make of the show?