A recap of the triple-threat match to determine the number one contender for the NXT championship starts us off. Which is a good thing, since it's been about a month since it happened.
The alliance of Corey Graves and Conor O'Brian to beat down the champ, Big E Langston, from a couple of weeks ago isn't brought up at all. Does that mean they're pulling him out of the story for a call-up, or did they just forget?
While we ponder that one, the announce table has a few surprises of its own. Kassius Ohno is where William Regal normally is, and he promises to talk about "Reee-gal", as he says it. Also, Brad Maddox is here to scout talent for Team Brickie.
This should be interesting.
Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas defeat Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
in approximately eight and a half minutes via pinfall when Dallas pins Harper
- This is the babyface pairing I've been expecting for a few weeks. Tony Dawson says that Neville's partner and holder of one half of the NXT tag team championship Oliver Gray is out for six months. Kind of surprising based on how involved he was in the brawl a couple of shows back. No word on if that means Adrian will officially get a new partner, or if the belts have to be vacated.
- Bray Wyatt sermonizes about snakes and mice and what happens when they're put in cages together. When the family hits the ring, Harper clearly takes charge. The darker-haired man seems to reassure his partner as he guides him to the corner so that he can start. Ohno mentions later that Bray leads the family, but that it seems Luke is in charge in the ring. It's a good wrinkle for the group to add at this point.
- Bo charges in as evidence of the more intense side of himself that's he been using in this feud with the Wyatts. It doesn't work out for him, though, as he gets isolated in the corner early. He does eventually make a tag, and the man that gravity forgot delivers a nice variety of kicks to down the former Brodie Lee before hitting a standing shooting star press for two. You'd almost think those two had worked together before...
- A word on this commentary team. They're a train wreck. Dawson isn't strong enough to direct traffic. Kassius tries to do his best CM Punk impersonation, but he's drowned out by inane questions and one-off answers. Maddox does make me (and Ohno) laugh a few times, but he's like a precocious middle school kid - some of the jokes and observations hit, but he doesn't know when to stop. Maybe that's part of the schtick and it just doesn't appeal to me. Regardless, these guys don't help this match, which is supposed to be part of a blood feud.
- The heels distract the referee and give Harper an opening for a big boot. Neville kicks out, but is now in for a beating as they work frequent tags until he can elbow and kick out of some corner charges by Luke. My favorite bit is when the big man misses a kick and gets his leg caught in the ropes, but still manages to grab the Brit's ankle to halt his crawling to the corner for a tag.
- Dallas eventually gets in for a series of forearms and a tornado bulldog that almost ends it until the red beard breaks up the pin. Bo dodges a charge from Rowan and then clocks Wyatt when he jumps onto the apron to get involved. Neville occupies both men with a corkscrew crossbody to the floor, while Dallas hits his belly-to-belly suplex-slam for the win. Maybe it's because Harper is so big, or that he just sells the move better than anyone else, but it looks okay here. Still a dumb finisher, but it looked okay.
No post-match shenanigans from the losers. Not sure where this story goes from here. I don't know if I'm reading too much into it, but a lot of the booking seems to be stalling - maybe because the post-Mania call-up rumors are true?
O'Brian with a quick and uneventful blue-lit promo for the main event championship match tonight.
Aargh. It's the Cena - Rock video, long form. At least they use it as a callback to last week when Dawson asks Ohno about the matchup and Regal runs in to blindside his bespectacled rival. Tony actually helps this one with a nice "Oh My God" exclamation as Sir William attacks. The older man really digs into a face gauge that leaves Kassius shrieking like Paige.
His villainous smirk before walking off is what it's all about.
Paige and Sasha Banks defeat Audrey Marie and Summer Rae
in approximately four and a half minutes via pinfall when Paige pins Audrey
- Well, well, well. Four female wrestlers, each with discernible characters and with two distinct storylines between them. What company produces this show again?
- Each woman gets an entrance, with the Anti-Diva stalking in last. She makes a beeline for Summer, even once the bell rings when she tries to get around the legal wrestler, (mai gurl) Audrey, to get at Rae in the corner. I liked this, but it was kind of annoying later when she was willing to stand in her corner and wait for a tag rather than go after the blonde.
- Audrey gets in some strikes, a clothesline and slam or two. Sasha flies around, walking the ropes to reverse an armbar and hitting AM with a hurricanrana for a two count. Summer...doesn't really seem to have any moves. She ignores setups on tags from her partner (once, the Texan has Snoop Lion's cousin in an abdominal stretch when she makes the tag and Rae grabs Banks by the hair upon entering), but does manage to execute a series of pinfall attempts with the smallest Diva in the match to set-up her showdown with Hell in Boots.
- The former lingerie footballer bails and heads to the back after slyly tagging her partner. A confused Audrey takes a staged looking kick to the midsection and slowly setup Paige-Turner. The raven-haired lass then chases her nemesis to the back while Sasha has her hand raised.
- We were talking in a recent open thread about whether or not the NXT Divas were ready for call-up. Based on this performance, I'd say no. The drama was okay, but the action was pretty weak.
F-Yeah! Regal vs. Ohno is next week!
F-You, WWE! They show the Rock - Cena video, short form, during the break before the main event. That's, like, four minutes of a forty-minute show on different cuts of the same promo package.
Big E Langston defeats Conor O'Brian
in approximately seven minutes via pinfall to retain the NXT Championship
- Hey all you HOSS FIGHT aficionados. We got one here. Early tests of strength seem to indicate a draw until the champ shoulder blocks the challenger through the ropes.
- Langston gets in his gut punches and a lariat before O'Brian catches him for a full nelson slam and a two count. He puts the boots to him and drops an elbow for another near fall before transitioning to the rest hold portion of our big man match.
- There are a couple of breaks for more punches and a diving clothesline from The Ascension, but we're mostly sitting and breathing. A "five" chant from the crowd encourages Big E to hulk up and land his knees to the mid-section. He charges off the ropes into a big boot. When that doesn't keep the champ down, Conor flips out and taunts the former power-lifter before attempting the Big Finish.
- Bad move, dude. The challenger can't get Langston up for the maneuver, and that gives the champ an opening for an E Train and a successful Big Finish to remain the top dog at Full Sail.
AJ's BFF isn't satisfied, though. To the delight of those in attendance, he hits his finisher again and slaps the mat five times himself.
Clean as a sheet, and the post-match ritual? I'd say Conor's time in the main event is done for now. I was waiting for Graves to run-in and set-up the next championship feud, but...
Like I said, I got a bit of a treading water while we wait to see who's still on the roster in April vibe from this one. That, weird commentary and two disappointing matches in a brief runtime earn it a flat C grade.
I'm still waiting for the NXT I know and love to come back. Ohno vs Regal should do that just fine, I think.
What about you guys and gals? Did this show break itself and you out of a WrestleMania funk? Just want to tell me I'm wrong for not "getting" Maddox? Debate about who's ready for the main shows?
The comments section is below -- you know what to do.
BONUS (Video will stay up as long as it can):