After the previous show focused on Bray Wyatt's issues with Bo Dallas, the March 20th episode of the HuluPlus offering opened with a reminder about the Wyatt Family's history with the NXT tag champs, Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey. Following their loss to the Brits in the tag tournament finals, the group attacked and "injured" Grey.
Last week, Neville swore revenge and said that he would take on the pair of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan with a partner of NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes choosing. There was apparently some miscommunication between Neville and the booking team, as this week's main event is announced as Adrian versus Harper one-on-one.
A business-like Justin Gabriel makes his way to the ring for our first bout.
Leo Kruger defeats Justin Gabriel
in approximately ten minutes via submission
- The story here is that Gabriel is matching Kruger's level of viciousness. His entrance kept the fan interaction and leaping around to a minimum, and he answers every strike and hair pull from the bigger man with one of his own. The high flier convincingly throws the hunter around, impressing with a power style we don't often get to see him work.
- The announce team is playing up their history together in their homeland. William Regal notes that they were trained by the same man. I swear he says "Donnie Brooks" - which is a fantastic name for a pro wrestler. The only thing I can confirm on the interwebs is that they were both trained by JG's father, Paul Lloyd, Senior.
- Neither man takes control of the match, as we get a steady stream of dueling strikes punctuated with occasional kicks from the Capetown werewolf (who really stays on the ground for this one) and rest holds (focused on Gabriel's left arm) by Kruger. Leo does have a nice spinebuster, and we get to see one mid-match and that leads to a submission attempt via an inverted key lock on the left arm. Justin makes it to the ropes to break the hold.
- The former Nexus member looks to have the upperhand following a leg hook reverse STO when he heads to the top rope for his finisher, but his opponent rolls out of the ring. When Gabriel chases, Kruger gives him the old thumb to the eye and slingshots his damaged wing off the top rope. He then cinches in the arm lock again, this time mid-ring, for the tap out victory.
Renee Young is backstage with (mai gurl) Audrey Marie. AM sells menace well in a brief interview concerning her beef with Sasha Banks. Last time she got to Banks because she didn't know Audrey was coming for her; this time she knows, and there's still nothing she can do about it.
Even NXT is not above showing us that damn Rock-Cena video package. You know the one I'm talking about. Because it airs on EVERY WWE PROGRAM.
Sorry. Sometimes I get annoyed. I watch NXT to stay away from that stuff, you know?
It's okay, though. A real man's man is in the ring to save us (and there are a few of us in the crowd who do a short chant of Regal's old entrance theme, which was totally sweet). William tells us that he is sorry for his unprofessional behavior last week, and calls out Kassius Ohno so he can apologize to him personally.
KO is leery as he makes his way ringside, and Regal tells him that he regrets hitting him last week but that he intervened in order to keep Kassius from being like him - someone who is kept awake at night thinking through the evil deeds of a long career.
Ohno refuses Regal's offered hand and talks about how he grew up idolizing the ruthless viciousness that he demonstrated in his prime. He name drops the Best in the World when he speaks of he and CM Punk making a trip cross country to discuss tactics and learn from the former Sir Steven, and then travel the world to follow the path that he did.
But now he doesn't want the commentator's advice and he certainly doesn't want his career. Kassius says that Regal has no legacy; that he's a joke who will only be remembered by fans for kissing Vince McMahon's ass. That last bit gets him punched right in his mug.
End scene with Ohno backing up the ramp looking shocked as Regal hangs his head in regret. Good stuff.
Paige defeats Bayley
in approximately two and a half minutes via submission
- Bayley is the ring name of Shimmer alumna Davina Rose. She's a young, natural looking brunette who is given the jobber entrance here. For you Diva marks, pics and profile are on the roster page here. As is usually the case, I preferred her non-glamour shot-ified indy look.
- Both women work well in this brief match that's just here to establish the Anti-Divas return from injury. Bayley's time against Canadian NINJAs and other indy vets has served her well as she convincingly attacks and applies painful looking holds to Paige's injured shoulder.
- Nifty sequence for the finish where Hell in Boots charges the corner but ducks under a kick attempt by the newcomer and catches the leg. She flips Bayley over, applies a cloverleaf and earns the submission win.
Post-match, Summer Rae attempts to sneak attack Paige, but the Englishwoman is ready for her. The blonde bails and returns to the back while the victor shrieks to the delight of her fans at Full Sail Live.
More Wrestlemania hype via a video for Undertaker - Punk. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen this one forty times already, but it didn't bother me nearly as much.
Next week's episode is the "NXT Wrestlemania Special". Le sigh.
Luke Harper defeats Adrian Neville
in approximately eight minutes via pinfall
- Standard, no frills entrances for both men. The family accompanies Harper and sets up Bray's rocker, but no speechifying this week.
- Also standard is the opening sequence - typical big man versus quick guy affair. Neville works the legs and attempts to avoid the big hillbilly. Harper slams and strikes the UK native every time he catches him.
- Harper has never really clicked for me, going back to when he was Brodie Lee. He moves great for a guy his size, so it's probably the character-type that turns me off. Regardless, he plays it to the hilt. He could be a henchman in a Rob Zombie movie. My favorite bit in this match has him groaning while he nudges Neville up from a prone position using his forehead. Luke then locks in a chinlock that he holds while he rolls Adrian through a series of slams, all while keeping his weight on the smaller man.
- Initially Harper doesn't seem interested in the pinfall, just wanting to inflict pain. But after Adrian launches a small comeback, Bray's acolyte lands a devastating backbreaker followed by a big boot and repeatedly attempts to cover only to net two counts each time. Frustrated, he looks to his leader for guidance, but gets no reaction (Wyatt is all about tough love).
- This gives the Man that Gravity Forgot an opening, and he uses it to attack the head and go up top for a drop kick. That's too close for comfort for the Family, and Bray dispatches Rowan down to help out. He dodges attacks from both men and everyone ends up on the floor, where Neville and Wyatt engage in a stare down.
- Back in the ring, Adrian hits a vicious-looking spinning DDT, but instead of going for a cover, he heads to the ropes for his finisher. Wyatt jumps on the apron and draws the referee's attention while Erick closes in on Neville. The jumpin' Geordie is able to fend off the red beard, but doesn't see Harper's clothesline coming. Three slaps of the mat later, Luke is getting his hand raised.
That's not enough for Bray though, as he instructs his charges to inflict some more punishment on the tag champ. A bandaged up Grey runs in to make the save, but falls to the Family's numbers as well.
But here comes Bo Dallas! Oliver is back up! So is his partner! We've got a street fight on our hands!
The faces clear the ring and stand tall. The bad guys glare at them from the stage as the show comes to a close.
I figured the Family's two feuds would come together. I just thought that, based on Neville's interview last week and reports of Grey being legitimately injured, it would start with Adrian and Bo tagging. Either way, this should be fun.
A better show than last week, and while there weren't many matches, the ones we got delivered a satisfying amount of action and story. The drama in all of these conflicts feels real, but isn't quite amped up enough yet to be really great. We'll call this one a B. And hope that next week isn't a clip show of Mania hype...
Thanks for waiting this one out Cagesiders; we should be back to our usual Thursday publishing date next week.
Let us know what you thought about this week's show or our reaction to it in the comments!