It's a Bo Dallas homecoming! Too bad their are no parts of the word that are easily replaceable with "bo". Bo-mecoming doesn't sound right...
There was nothing not to like about this opening segment. Dallas has taken this character to a level I don't think any of us thought was possible, and I kind of hope he stays on NXT as champ forever. In addition to the balloons and streamers treatment shown above, he presents a slide show from his world tour while peppering in trivia like the fact that Canadians call his fans "Bo-nuts" or that in Cam-Bo-dia he "sports entertained" in front of 300,000 people.
The champ decides that the fans at Full Sail have been so great that they deserve cookies, so he has his minions hand out gift wrapped morsels of goodness to folks in the front row. General Manager John Bradshaw Layfield makes the scene to express his excitement that the "Face of NXT" is back, when the music of Sami Zayn hits the arena.
Bo asks if he came out for a cookie, but the man Dallas defeated a month or so back is here for another shot at the belt. After Sami says "no disrepect" before calling the champ a "delusional cheeseball", JBL fires back with a well-place Talladega Nights reference. Somewhere in the midst of this pro wrestling deliciousness, the GM announces that tonight will be a Beat the Clock challenge night, and the winner will be the #1 contender to the NXT championship.
Colin Cassady vs. Alexander Rusev in a Beat the Clock match
- Enzo is out with an injury. At first I was bummed that we wouldn't be getting an entry speech, not even a solo one from Big Cas. But once we got to the match, I was glad. Even though they're entertaining as heck, the removal of it made it easier to take Cassady seriously as a threat.
- Not too much of one, of course, as this was largely a showcase for Rusev. He was introduced by his "social ambassador" Lana, who said a bunch of stuff in Russian before finishing with "strongest Bulgarian brute".
- I'm so glad he doesn't do the thing with the board any more.
- The Bulgarian is impressive. He uses headbutts better than anyone in quite some time, even if the drop variation pretty clearly is glancing off the guys upper arm. His best spot here was probably when he carried the 6' 7" Cassady to the ropes, delivered a series of knees and then threw him like a rag doll when the referee called for a break.
- Colin manages to get in more offense than we've seen from him, and while it's nothing fancy, he looks pretty good. He plays face-in-peril well, and shows some moxie by fighting out of the Accolade once before succumbing to the hold.
Rusev defeats Cassady in exactly 5:33 via submission
Inspired by Kanenite's latest excellent Match Times entry, I was extra diligent about the timekeeping. Interestingly enough, their times seemed to be legitimate.
New backstage interviewer Devin Taylor is with Adrian Neville backstage. Apparently, Corey Graves is out - and the storyline reason is that he was concussed in the two-out-of-three-falls match against Adrian last week. Neville cuts one of the best promos we've seen from him, talking about how his speed will help him win Beat the Clock tonight. He even sells what could have been a really dopey line about his being a human roller coaster. Taylor...well, she makes you appreciate how great Renee Young. Compare the blank stare she gives the Jumpin' Geordie when he walks off to, well, anything RY has ever done.
Back from commercial (the Raw Rebound hasn't shown back up, but man, are there a lot of Survivor Series commercials within the run time of this week's episode) and Bayley is looking totes adorbs in a cat skirt as she spins despondently in a chair. Devin asks her about Charlotte's betrayal last week, and she's bummed, but promises to catch up with her later and let her fists do the talking. Not B's best work, but I'm still pumped to see her work a real feud. Also, Devin Taylor is horrible.
Tyler Breeze vs. Kassius Ohno in a Beat the Clock match
- Ah, the old, "we already released this guy but try to get excited anyway" segment. These always depress me.
- KO's strategy here is clearly focused on taking care of business quickly, which it should be. That sets up the opening spot of the match, where he steps to Breeze as he's doing his primping thing in the corner - but the model set him up, dropping the camera and sucker punching him.
- TB actually gets in most of the offense here, but is never quite able to finish off the larger man. He even manages to knock Ohno to the floor with a kick to the head, and drives William Regal insane when he doesn't take the count-out victory that would have allowed him to best Rusev's time. Some agent or producer got chewed out for that, I'd imagine.
- Speaking of the announce team, it's Regal, Byron Saxton and Alex Riley this week. They're fine, although this is the match where the three-person booth undermines Sir William. He and A-Ry get into a little bickering during this one, but luckily it's brief and therefore not too distracting.
- Breeze is frustrated by the lack of a three count from the referee, and adds a new tic where he cinches his belt before going for his finisher. The Beauty Shop misses here, though, and Kassius rolls him up to take the lead in the challenge. I wonder if he'll win?
Ohno defeats Breeze in exactly 4:48 via pinfall
Camacho & Hunico vs. These Guys
I think the jobbers names were Chris Rockwell and Tyler Hornigan, but they didn't get a graphic. This was a patented NXT "the other guy never even gets tagged in" squashes that Hunico wins with a Senton Bomb at roughly twenty seconds.
The still horrible Devin Taylor stops them on the ramp so the actual Latino guy can say stuff in Spanish and then the Tongan guy pretending to be Latino said in English that they were coming for The Ascension.
Another new backstage interviewer, a guy who looks like a middle aged Native American and whose name I didn't catch and couldn't find online (Don Ivone?), speaks with Ohno. Seems to me like he's sleepwalking through the interview, but I could just be reading that into it. Anyway, he's talking about this win starting his comeback when Lana stops by to tell him he just made a big mistake beating her man's time. He makes some Boris and Natasha jokes and...yeah.
Aiden English vs. Adrian Neville in a Beat the Clock match
- Hey! I finally recognize the basis for one of The Actor's entrance songs. I don't know the proper title, but I know it's from Rent.
- Neville starts with his usual razzle dazzle before English kicks his leg out from under him and starts to beat him down. I like what we've seen of Aiden's offense - it reminds me of Damien Sandow's. There's nothing fancy about it, but it's technically sound and looks like it would hurt.
- The Brit's comeback starts with some kicks of his own, with a nearfall leading him to head up top for his finisher. English wisely rolls away, luring the shorter man into a neckbreaker that almost ends it. He unwisely decides to follow that up with a superplex attempt, which predictably ends with him being struck down by Red Arrow as Neville takes the lead in the challenge.
Neville defeats English in exactly 4:45 via pinfall
The Ascension respond to Hunico & Camacho from some part of backstage where they have blacklights.
Leo Kruger vs. Sami Zayn in a Beat the Clock match
- The champ heads to the stage to watch the action as I kick the dirt about why they don't push my boy Kruges.
- Like fellow indy veteran Ohno, Sami looks for early pinfalls any way he can get them, including a nice maneuver where he reverses an arm drag into a backslide. There's a lot of quick-paced back and forth in this match, with periods of stiff looking strikes broken up by quick pinning combinations.
- I was commenting back and forth with someone about the Intercontinental championship match from Raw and how Regal would have made it better with commentary about tactics. He makes the point here that I thought he would make if he were calling that match, that it's wise to go for covers because kicking out takes up a lot of energy. It also reminds me how much more I got from Curtis Axel matches when Regal was calling them.
- The South African gets the most of the closing minute dodging a Yakuza Kick. He catches Zayn with the Spinebuster for two and manages to connect with The Slice. But Sami somehow reverses the cover after that clothesline, and earns the pin as the clock hits zero!
Zayn defeats Kruger in exactly 4:45 via pinfall
JBL struts out to remind us that there will be no controversy during the Wrestling God's reign. As much as he'd like to blame the tie on referee John Cone and send him back to Kansas City to work in a donut shop (Cone evidently owns own in his Missouri hometown), he's booking Neville vs. Zayn for next week, with the winner getting a shot at Dallas and his belt in two weeks!
Here's the show:
A great return to form for NXT. While it didn't have any epic encounters, the brief matches we got were sound and full of story. The men's division feels like it has a direction again. The only bad beats on this episode had to do with breaking in new support staff, lingering melancholy over seeing the ghost of Chris Hero and the void that is the tag scene.
What did you all make of it?