We begin with a quick history of the NXT tag team championship, which is also a history of the feud between the Wyatt Family and Adrian Neville. Given how many run-ins Bo Dallas has had with the family and it's partriarch, Bray, it makes sense that he is the man chosen to replace the injured Oliver Gray for our main event.
But first...the Duke of Decency!
Damien Sandow defeats Baron Corbin
in approximately three minutes via pinfall
- Corbin is a new one on me. He actually does get his own entrance - nothing too memorable, but it's better than standing in the ring waiting to get squashed. Tony Dawson mentions that he was an offensive lineman with the Colts and Cardinals. Some quick googling turns up nothing on that, so I don't know if he was a practice squad guy, or this isn't his real name, or what. He doesn't look that big. He's majorly tattooed, is rocking a tight mohawk fade and his ring gear looks like spandex gray skinny jeans, complete with belt.
- Damien mocks him early on, holding the ropes for him after a lock-up and asking him if he wants to leave. The smart crowd at Full Sail Live breaks into a "Thank you, Sandow" chant.
- They execute a nice string where each takes the other down via snapmare and reverses with a head scissor. Back on their feet, the Lord of Literacy starts beating Corbin down with elbows. A brief flurry by the rookie allows him to act intense, run the ropes and hit a few shoulder blocks. But it's not long before he gets caught for a side Russian leg sweep and cubito aequet followed by a Silencer for the three count.
- After the bell, Sandow takes a microphone and challenges Big E Langston to a NXT championship match. "You're welcome".
I'm not sure how I feel about the influx of main show mid-carders or their alleged pursuit of NXT titles that started when Seth Rollins and The Shield did it a few weeks ago. I mean, I see the benefit in getting a lot of work against a variety of opponents for these younger talents, but there are house shows for NXT and the big league brands where you can be doing that, too. It's too early to be against it, but it concerns me.
Fly on the wall scene of Neville and Dallas talking in a hallway. Bo isn't the most charismatic talent to begin with, and he doesn't help himself by trying to be funny (I think?) by saying that he has "tiger eyes" and that he's going to give the match 80% because his 90% is like everyone else's 110%. Neville is fine, but he's also only playing the audience surrogate when he asks what the hell BD is talking about.
Paige defeats Bayley
in approximately five minutes via pinfall
- Maybe it's just because we haven't seen Audrey Marie in a while, but I'm considering switching allegiances and bestowing "mai gurl" status on B. That's probably the kiss of death; she already gets the jobber entrance here against everyone else's favorite.
- We start off slowly as the women shove each other and trade armbars. Paige does a nifty standing somersault out of one of those and nails Bayley with a head butt to take charge. It's a good example of why I'm not sure the Anti-Diva is ready for prime time, though. She's very deliberate about it and you can almost see her pausing and considering each action through the move. She has a ton of talent, but at 20 years old, understandably has a lot of learning to do as an athlete.
- Bayley takes over when she dodges a charge in the corner and rewards Hell in Boots for transitioning over the ropes by slamming her onto the apron by her hair. She then gets to show off some of the polish that she possesses from her time on the independent circuit with a sweet elbow drop from the second rope, an exploder suplex and running knee drop, each of which nets a near fall.
- The Brit counters a slam into a fisherman's suplex to signal the finish. She beats Bayley down with knees while she's hung up in the ropes and boots to the upper chest when she's collapsed in a corner. A kick to the mid-section leads to a Paige turner and the win.
Summer Rae slips into the ring and attacks the victor from behind while she's celebrating with her fans. For all of you continuity buffs, Dawson mentions that she is Fandango's new dance partner.
Some dude (seriously, Tony kicks it to him by calling him "our colleague") has a mic on the NXT champ. This segment really worked for me because they blended the goofy Langston of @BigELangston, which I love, with the hyper intense master of the five count gimmick, which I don't love but most others do. Sandow interrupts what he calls a "dissertation on ignorance" to issue his challenge face to face. E will grant him his match if he can answer one simple question (which is really a math problem, but work with the champ here):
Pick any number. Add it to the number that follows it. Add nine to that. Divide by two, then subtract your original number from that.
Like magic, you will always get five. And Big E will be happy to chant five in your face until you become bewildered and leave, like the Emperor of Enlightenment does here.
Sakamoto and Briley Pierce ends in a no contest
after approximately one minute when Conor O'Brian murderates the both of them
- There's not a whole lot to add to that heading. The announcers do explicitly refer to Pierce as the World Heavyweight Champion's younger brother, and he does Ziggler's headlock hand stand on Tensai's former whipping boy (they don't mention that connection).
- The Ascension's dismantling of them was quick and looked pretty brutal. He suplexed Sakamoto from the top rope onto an already prone Briley to wrap it up.
The lovely and talented Renee Young is backstage with the lovely and talented Natalya. They get ready to schill for the E! Divas show, when Summer Rae busts in to talk about how everyone is jealous of her appearing on Raw and that she doesn't understand why since she is just doing her thing and representing them as the first lady of NXT (and this was delivered as breathlessly as I expect you to read that run-on sentence). Natty challenges her to a match next week.
Pierce and Sakamoto, with tissues stuck up one nostril to sell the O'Brian assault, talk with Renee next. Attempted comedy where the Japanese speaks in his native tongue and then Briley says, "what he said". On the next episode, they'll face Conor in a handicap match.
Kassius Ohno defeats Camacho
in approximately six and a half minutes via submission
- It's old home week up in this camp, as I don't think we've seen Camacho since he was looking to collect Vickie Guerrero's bounty on Langston. He's changed his look up considerably, growing his hair out and ditching the khakis and colors for an all black jeans and wife-beater outfit. He's jacked, too - he kind of resembles a smaller David Otunga in street clothes.
- Kassius gives William Regal a pensive glance at the announce table during his entrance. Dawson keeps trying to get Regal to talk about Ohno throughout the match but he mostly doesn't bite, other than to admire his handiwork on one of KO's gnarled fingers at one point. TD also keeps bringing up that the former King of Wrestling is all about fighting spirit - that he will take whatever an opponent dishes out because it makes him stronger and he knows he can overcome. A very babyface characteristic...
- Solid, back and forth contest. It's surprising how much offense Camacho gets in; he controls most of the action with a good-looking array of power moves and holds. I don't know if he's in line for more TV time or if this is just to sell Ohno's fighting spirit gimmick.
- After escaping a nerve pinch, Kassius catches the Latino with a kick as they criss-crossed on a rope run. He lands his flying wing attack to Camacho in the corner, enters into the set-up for the loaded elbow but finishes it with a head butt. A painful looking Kassius Clutch (double arm trap inverted cravate chinlock) later and KO is victorious.
He calls for a microphone, leading the smarks in the crowd to start an "Ohno Promo" chant that makes me laugh. Cementing my face turn suspicions, he apologizes to Regal, saying he can barely remember the past two months. Interesting that the feud redeemed him AND sunk Regal to his level. Before he can explain any further, the Wyatt Family music hits. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan march past him on the ramp. Kassius turns to glare at them, and when he turns back, this happens:
If you're not excited about that feud, we will probably never agree about anything in pro wrestling.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan defeat Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas
in approximately thirteen minutes via pinfall to become the NXT Tag Team Champions
- Both babyfaces enter to their own music. Like all things Bo Dallas, his is pretty meh. But Neville's has grown on me. It's upbeat but with an edge that fits his ringwork.
- Dallas and Rowan start off, and after the initial stalemate, Bo takes charge with elbows and the champs isolate the redbeard in their corner for a series of rapid tags. Neville targets the legs with kicks and hits a crossbody mid-ring before Erick can get a tag.
- Bray watches from the ramp in his rocker. Regal uses a lot of breathe to get across that Harper is the second in command and does most of the thinking when the Family is in a tag match, all while maintaining the mystery about the group. Luke has also either added or is playing up a tic of saying "yeah, yeah, yeah" in a maundering drawl that is hard to explain but works.
- The man that gravity forgot hits a sweet hurricanrana off the top rope onto Harper, and follows it up with a standing shooting star press for a two count. On the transition to Bo, the heels catch him for a tandem suplex and then Luke nails him with a nasty looking backbreaker. Nice character work here as the big man drags Dallas to the corner and steps on his foot to keep him from leaving while he tags in Rowan.
- Bo slides through Luke's legs to reach Adrian for a tag. Some quick strikes stun Harper, and Neville flies for a tope con giro (and lands on his feet!) to Erick on the outside. He catches the legal man with a head kick on the apron and then connects with a corkscrew shooting star press. It looks like that might but it, but Rowan manages to break up the count with forearms to the jumpin' Geordie.
- ER makes a legal tag and proceeds to hit Neville with a series of slams. There's a cool shot of Bray leaning in from his rocker and getting more interested in the action as we near the end. Adrian manages to counter into a unique roll-up on one slam attempt, but is almost pinned following an elbow drop and gets pummeled by both Family members after being strung up in their corner. Harper takes a tremendous spill to the floor after the champ dodges a big boot, allowing him to reach Dallas for the tag.
- Bo is the proverbial house of fire, but Rowan outsmarts him by holding onto the ropes when Dallas whips him to set up his belly-to-belly finisher and the champ lands with an empty thud. Erick hits a pump handle slam that leads to a two count, but his second try at the maneuver is countered into a spear that Dallas uses for a pin attempt.
- A whip to the corner results in Neville being thrown face first into the barricade. Dallas bounces from that right into a boot from Rowan. After one last tag, Bo gets the spinning lariat from Harper and, with no one to make the save, eats the pin. Bray celebrates his family's first gold in the ring with his boys.
I think these are my favorite episodes of NXT - ones that work in lots of appearances by wrestlers we don't see all the time, take the time to update a bunch of different plots and still work in a couple of good-to-great matches. It's also why the influx of "big league" stars and the rumors of a television deal make me so anxious. I really don't want outside pressures and increased screen time for more established workers to mess with the formula that produces my favorite hour of wrestling every week.
Hell, sometimes I think I hope that guys don't get called up because I like their work on this show so much and I'm concerned they'll either be forced to change or get lost in the shuffle on Raw and Smackdown. I'm selfish like that sometimes.
Anyway, this was an easy A. And I am freaking psyched for Ohno - Wyatt!
What do you think of the new tag champs? How 'bout that Bayley? Should NXT be used as a way to get main show mid-carders more work, or should it remain a side-project for those who haven't received the call yet?
Let's hear what you all thought.