Recap of Bo Dallas' winning the NXT Championship last week kicks us off on HuluPlus. Interesting to note that they are still playing it as a babyface win - they highlight the role the exposed turnbuckle played in the finish, but don't blame Dallas for it - and there are lots of shots of cheering fans, pro-Bo signs, he and audience members high-fiving post-match, etc.
They're working a long con. And I love it.
Also worth mentioning - they've retooled the intro graphics to now feature Sami Zayn and Dallas with the strap.
Adrian Neville versus Bray Wyatt
ends after approximately one and a half minutes in a No Contest
- In between their entrances, they flash us back to the #1 contender battle royal from last month to amp up the back story. Neville eliminated Bray after he had eliminated Kassius Ohno and Corey Graves.
- Speaking of those two, the vignette last week made it sound like they would be accompanying Adrian to the ring for this match-up, but I guess they are just monitoring the situation from gorilla position.
- No speech from Mssr. Wyatt, but we're treated to his usual creepy pre-match rituals. The family have accompanied him out and are proudly displaying their tag team belts at ringside.
- They brawl at the outset. The eater of worlds gets the better of it, which allows him to taunt the Brit and play to the crowd (many of whom are clearly wanting to be taught to walk upright - there's some revival-style swaying to their music going on, and the crew who do Luke Harper's "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" chant are still at Full Sail Live).
- Bray thinks he's sent the high flier to the floor, but Neville grabs the ropes and hits the big man with a head kick. He heads up top early to try for his finisher, but Harper interferes by pushing him down. There's a bell, but no official decision is announced. The family swarms Adrian, but Ohno and Graves race in for the save - which prompts NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes to do his best Teddy Long impersonation and make tonight's main event a six-man tag!
This news goes over well with all involved, myself included.
Sami Zayn defeats Angelo Dawkins
in approximately three minutes via pinfall
- Dawkins is a big, African-American guy in a unitard that he raided from Golddust's wardrobe. He gets the jobber entrance, but we do hear a few bars of his tasty, funk-sounding music. Tom Phillips, who is announcing this episode along with beautiful Brad Maddox, tells us that he was a three-sport (football, wrestling and track) national champion in college.
- Sami seems more determined tonight than his usual fun-loving entrance indicates. They lock-up, and Zayn gets in a little acrobatic grappling, but for the most part, Dawkins dominated the early going with power. He looks just fine doing it, too. We don't get to see much, but he's not horrible.
- The whole thing comes to its quick and inevitable conclusion when the likeable French Canadian uses a whip into the corner to dodge a charge, grab an arm and run up the ropes to hit his springboard tornado DDT for a three count. He angrily celebrates with fans on his way out.
Three weeks in a row for this Leo Kruger video...are we doing slow-builds to NXT returns now, too? I can't find any news about his being injured or anything, but we haven't seen him since his series with Justin Gabriel a few months back. The footage used in this promo looks to have been shot at the same time as this one from last fall, so the whole thing feels like killing time. It's a nice promo, but...
Summer Rae defeats Sasha Banks
in approximately three and a half minutes via pinfall
- Yay - a Summer Rae match.
- The good news for Banks is there is now a precedent for someone even more petite than her winning the Divas title. She doesn't get a chance to do much more here than play generic babyface.
- All of the blonde's moves are based on the length of her legs. It makes sense, and is good general sports psychology, but it comes across as covering for her not being able to do anything other than lift her legs really high. Which it is. That's probably not completely fair...she does a lot of hair pulling, too.
- There's a spot near the end where Summer catches Sasha while they're running the ropes and looks to hit a pretty nice DDT, but it comes off as accidental since Banks doesn't sell it and Summer doesn't follow-up on it.
- Snoop Lion's cousin gets a moment where she responds to some hair pulling by "taking it to the streets" and getting an attitude before landing some chops of her own. She also manages a springboard arm drag take down that she goes for a cover off of, but that comes across as weak and disorganized, too, since she doesn't even get a one count out of it.
- The end comes pretty abruptly when Summer hits her finisher. Summer's End does look like it would finish someone, and is a decent enough bulldog-variant that doesn't entirely focus on her legs. Plus, she's great at her character, and I really like her screaming, "bye-bye Sasha" before executing the maneuver.
So here's where we stand:
This is totally leading to another gawd-awful Summer - Paige match, isn't it?
Xavier Woods with a pre-tape that is slightly less annoying than his previous bits with Tony Dawson, but still really not for me. I like his introduction where he says, "you might remember me from such episodes as NXT 155, NXT 157...", but I can't do the digital watch and the "it's morphin' time!" catch phrase. I just can't.
Xavier Woods defeats Jake Carter
in approximately three minutes via pinfall
- Carter looks a little trimmer and more cut than when we last saw him. He's waiting in the ring when we come back from commercial, though, so I don't think his push starts here.
- Xavier sings along with theme song as he dances down to the ring - not quite R-Truth but not quite not R-Truth, either. He's very much in that feel good babyface mold, though. It is a positive sign that he's a person of color whose character isn't "from the hood", or otherwise defined by white America's stereotypical ideas about black culture.
- Jeez, that got heavy for a second. And while talking about a male version of AJ Lee's geek character! Woods does have an infectious energy, and I could see him being a big hit with the Saturday Morning Slam audience, if that show still existed. As it is, though, I see him peaking at Superstars without developing some kind of an edge.
- He gets in occasional technical, agility-based moves (similar to some of Zayn's offense, actually, but it doesn't look like it does as much damage) amidst Carter's punches and slams.
- XW counters an axe-handle from the top with a punch to the mid-section. Than he screams "It's Morphin' Time!" again, does a somersault and hits a lariat. Phillips tells us that sequence is called Honor Roll. It sets up Lost in the Woods, an inverted facebreaker, for the win.
Whew! I was starting to get cranky because I thought the whole episode was going to be Renee Young-free! She's here to interview Sami Zayn. And I was right before, Zayn is pissed. His match tonight was a message - a message to Antonio Cesaro. He can take losing, but he can't take the insult of being slapped around after the match. He's ready for round three - the next move is Cesaro's.
Great stuff. I continue to be amazed at how well Sami is getting over a maskless version of El Generico. But I probably shouldn't be, because if you can become famous with a silent character, you're talented enough to do the same thing when you're free to talk and use the rest of your face.
Sylvester Lefort is seen trying discussing the tag title scene with his charges, Scott Dawson and Garrett Dylan. Dusty enters, says he likes French wine and makes a #1 contenders match between D² and Graves & Ohno for next week. I remain unmoved by this oddball faction, but I do like how Lefort pronounces his first name "Silver-star".
Okay, so I have been as bored by Bo Dallas as the next guy since I started watching NXT. But he is winning me over with his new schtick. The next segment is a Tout-like video of him in his car, apologizing to the "Bo-lievers" for being too busy with interviews and press to be on tonight's show. But to prove he's a man of his word, he shows us a picture from his promised championship celebration trip to Disney World:
Then he hits us with a little Journey, as he sings us a message to "Don't Stop Bo-lieving".
Deluded Justin Bieber heel Dallas is a Dallas I want to see more of. Now get a new finisher.
The man he defeated for the title, Big E Langston, will be on the show next week to address the NXT Universe.
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) defeats Corey Graves, Adrian Neville & Kassius Ohno
in approximately twelve minutes via pinfall when Wyatt pins Neville
- In a very Raw move, we open with a recap of "earlier on NXT". The show's only 50 minutes long, and I pay for the service just to watch it. I'm pretty sure we all saw it.
- Disappointingly, we again get no speech from the abbadon. But I do dig the clear, non-verbal hierarchy between Harper and Erick Rowan. As usual, Luke steers his partner out of the ring with a stare, a shove and a nod before starting the match against Corey Graves.
- Everybody brawls while they're in...things I like from the first act of the match: Graves yanking Harper around by his beard, Ohno's strikes - which just seem so much more real than anyone else's, Neville being obviously incensed when he squared off with Bray but getting squashed anyway, Graves' rope-assisted triangle choke to Harper.
- Corey goes to chase off Wyatt from interfering while he's not the legal man, and turns back into a big boot from Luke. That sets up the faces-in-peril part of the contest. Graves takes most of the beating during rapid tags from all three family members. While Rowan is working a rest-hold bear hug, he makes sure he faces the corner so he can take instruction from his tag partner. There's a near fall following an European uppercut and shoulder block combo by Harper, and Graves gets a tag when Wyatt misses a seated senton.
- Ohno manages to get in some offence, but Erick drops him to the outside where his bearded brother puts the boots to him. KO then gets worked over by the Family. I love that Graves continues to sell the beating he took while standing on the apron reaching for a tag. There's another glimpse of big red's presumptive finisher when he hits the pumphandle backbreaker and gets two. When Wyatt comes in, he knocks Corey down to the floor, but that allows Kassius to make the tag to Neville.
- House of fire time culminates in a standing shooting star press to Bray and a dropkick that sends Harper to the concrete. The jumpin' Geordie looks to follow that up with a dive, but Rowan gets in his way. Ohno kicks him out of the ring and slides out after him, meaning there are four guys on the floor to catch Adrian when he jumps (this was a little too "we need to set-up for the spot" for my tastes).
- I'm a little concerned about the former PAC's WWE career. They seemed high on him initially, with a splashy (no pun intended) debut and quick tag title win, but he seems to lose all of his big matches and really only gets used in tag situations where he can hit his finisher. I'll be patient, but I'm wondering if he's not headed for Justin Gabriel/Evan Bourne territory.
- Case in point, following his floor spot, he bicycle kicks Bray in the noggin when he tries to re-enter the ring. They are the legal men, so Neville heads up top but doesn't notice when Harper pulls Wyatt out of the way. The corkscrew shooting star press (now called Red Arrow, per Phillips) misses and the patriarch covers for the win.
That was a weird episode, and definitely a come down from last week. Fairly middle of the road, but I think the Zayn and, amazingly enough, Bo Dallas promos push it toward the positive end of the scale. I'll give it a B-, but I'm getting tired of these squash heavy shows.
And I really need Summer to stay a valet.
What did y'all think? Am I wrong for wanting to Bo-lieve? Am I just too old to get Xavier Woods? Tell us all about it in the comments!