A short episode this week, featuring advances in the champ's delivery, the woman's division and...not much else that makes a great impression. Check out the show and read our reactions - both right here!
So, it occurs to me that everybody can watch the show now, so this doesn't need to be quite so recap-y. And certainly not to the point of calling play-by-play like I often do. So bear with us as CSS' weekly NXT post transitions along with the show.
Enzo Amore & Colin "Big Cas" Cassady defeat Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev
in approximately three and a half minutes via disqualification
I love Enzo's commitment to the gimmick - the seamless combination of leopard print tights and boots is phenomenal, and that's before we even get to the pattern being shaved into half of his skull - but something's still not clicking for he and Cas as a babyface duo. He's a funny mofo in small doses (working in the basketball cliche' about not being able to teach height is a particular highlight of their intro this time) and SAWFT is too much fun to say, so they're going to have to be good guys. I'm just not sure they've figured out how to portray their characters as something other than overconfident dirtbags.
There are now two things I like about Sylvester Lefort. (1) That he pronounces his first name "Silver Star" and (2) that he calls his boys his "fighting Legionnaires". That's it.
Amore's a little chihuahua who strikes with fingers to the throat, then when the opposition steps to him, he backs up and let's the big guy take over. They're working as a team, but that would work better for heels. Or if Cassady seemed like more of a threat in the ring.
Enzo takes a super bump when Dawson turns his inside out with a lariat. There's nothing wrong with the Legionnaires, and they show real signs of working well together. So, I don't know if it's the odd couple clash of character types or what, but they do next to nothing for me.
It's a shame, too, as Rusev especially gets it. He's always doing something interesting, like trying to stretch for a tag when his partner's being worked over, or keeping his foot on Enzo while making one to bring Scott in to the action.
If you didn't watch, the finish is a Doomsday Device-ish set-up for the Bulagrian's spinning heel kick and it looked great. But the referee called for the DQ because both of Lefort's men were in the ring past his five count. Which is a dumb way to try and protect the faces. They still looked outclassed, and, like Mike Chioda's instant replay usage in the big leagues, is a rule we now need to go back to forgetting or suspension of disbelief of the "staged athletic contest" structure the whole genre is constructed on falls apart.
NXT champ Bo Dallas addresses his "fans"
- I hope his in-ring ability catches up to his recent character work. It's not just a satire of the John Cena-esque face of the company, it's that mixed with Reese Witherspoon's character from Election - the annoying kid from high school who thinks everybody loves him because his mom told him they should.
- As much as I liked the promo, I wish Sami Zayn had showed up to thank his "friend and mentor" for offering him a non-title match.
- The crowd - who gets a little too into themselves a few times during this set of tapings - gives him a nice "fix your pants" chant. I really hope the fact that his pant cuff was stuck in his boot was on purpose, because it would be a great touch for his doofy personality to be unaware of wardrobe malfunctions a la having toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
Renee Young interviews CJ Parker
- CJP earned somes kudos from me for this speech, comparing his hippie approach to things with Tyler Breeze self-centered one and how they were bound to clash. I'm not convinced that the gimmick will work without a tailor-made antagonist like Breeze, but this segment showed some promise.
- The best part about this is Young's reactions. Seriously, she (and all the NXT announce team) deserve a ton of credit. The audience takes cues from them about how to react to the new characters, and her progression from bemused to perplexed to concerned in this segment is spot on.
- The model's attack and series of selfies was exactly the right touch. Looking forward to watching these guys develop through this feud.
Paige defeats Sasha Banks
in approximately seven and a half minutes via pinfall
Banks still comes out as a generic babyface. And the Florida crowd is as in love with the woman's champ as ever.
They work a nice, acrobatics-centered back and forth to open. The story of Sasha slowly earning more of Paige's respect is nice. It gave me some hope that we could have a long story about the Bostonian being torn between working to rise in the division by following the Anti-Diva and "letting her rage out" and taking a spot by following Summer Rae.
A woman's match with a commercial break? What is this, a Shine DVD?
You know, in a men's match, I might complain about several minutes of rest holds that included body scissors. But for some reason, it didn't bother me here. It must be because SB really looked to be applying technique, and Paige's escapes focused on releasing pressure. Yeah, that must be it.
Completely unrelated - both women's ring gear fits them really well.
Paige's ringwork is coming along. There are still times, like the back elbows she does in most matches, where she needs to work on making it look more like she's actually making contact. But the pace and flow is much better than it was a couple of months ago. Sasha seems to be able to fit right in to the pack with Bayley and Emma of already being better than the main roster ladies.
Still wish we didn't end half of all women's matches with roll-ups. I also kind of wish they hadn't already had Banks snap and destroy the Anti-Diva after the loss. But the handcuff neckbreaker was SICK.
The remainder of my hopes for a slow burn, "will Sasha join the dark side?" storyline are crushed when Summer congratulates Banks backstage and the very-calm-looking-for-someone-who-just-unleashed-her-rage young woman hugs her and thanks her for inspiring her to take action. The First Lady's eye roll during the hug was money, though.
Xavier Woods defeats Leo Kruger
in approximately eleven and a half minutes via pinfall
Charles Robinson's presence throws me off, as I'm thinking if lil Naitch is here, this must be a big deal. Alas and alack, not so much.
I'm still trying to figure out why Woods doesn't excite me. I've considered that it might be because I'm a little too old to feel nostalgic for the 90s childhood he's repping, but even if he screamed "THUNDERCATS HO!" before the Honor Roll, I'd still think it was dumb. Maybe it's my dislike for faces who dance to the ring. I really don't know - it's a puzzler.
Kruger as the Christian of NXT makes me a little sad, too. He obviously has it all together, but he's also 34 years old. I kind of think that's he's not getting called up, and will instead be a teaching gatekeeper for the younger guys. No shame in that, but as a fan of his from the FCW days, it's kind of a bummer.
The match itself is fine. The majority of its run time deals with the South African working over the PhD's left arm. Woods gives good peril and Leo's psychology is excellent as always. But the match didn't feel like it had much of a point. And William Regal talking about how many great NXT main events we've had this year didn't help this one look like much in comparison.
LK's catching XW mid-Honor Roll for DAT SPINEBUSTER almost made the whole thing worthwhile, though.
It doesn't help my rating of Woods that he works a match the same way Corey Graves does - selling, selling, selling...comeback. Graves' comebacks are more logical and painful looking too. I hate Rolling Thunder by any name. The new Lost in the Woods looks pretty good, but Eat De-Feet doesn't seem like it should be a dude's finisher.
This whole episode felt...slight. It was really short (less than 45 minutes) and released really early on Hulu. Only three matches and none of them particularly noteworthy. The women's contest was the best one by a good margin for me. The Dallas segment was good if one sided, and that left Breeze-Parker as the best build on this edition.
I can't go higher than a C. But watch it below, if you haven't already, and then tell me how I'm wrong.