Sami Zayn returns! Aiden English debuts the greatest gimmick in the history of the world! Is that enough to return NXT to it's former heights? Read on to find out what we think.
Alex Riley and Tom Phillips are our hosts, as the rotation between these two and Tony Dawson and William Regal has settled into a pattern.
Sami Zayn defeats Curt Hawkins
in approximately twelve minutes via pinfall
The crowd doesn't seem quite as nuclear for Zayn as they have been of late, but it's hard to tell where this fits into the tapings. He gets a decent pop for this re-match of his big debut from a few months back, though.
Oh, Curt Hawkins. Can we please reunite him with Zack Ryder for a New York-gimmicked tag team? Oh, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady already have that market cornered? Always bridesmaids, those Edgeheads.
Sami starts off with his traditional armdrag medley. This takes a long time to get into a rhythm.and really seems like a letdown following recent matches by the Syrian-Canadian - probably because it felt early on like it was going to be a squash. It switched gears with Hawkins gaining the upperhand by slamming the face's face off of a turnbuckle on the apron as we head to a break.
Curt's in control for the middle portion of the contest, highlighted by a spot where he slides past Sami, grabbing a foot and tripping him to the mat on his way out of the ring. The good guy gets a bit of a comeback going when the two connect with with clothesline/neckbreakers at the same time and then trade punches after answering a ten count.
Zayn gets a two count off of a crossbody, but the Queens native answers with a Pelé kick that makes me realize how much he looks like AJ Styles with short hair and long tights. That move and a nice Impaler DDT get him two counts. When even a cool looking spinning leg-hook belly-to-back suplex doesn't finish off a woozy Sami, Curt gets heated.
He takes off and throws his elbow pads and gloves at his kneeling opponent, but when he slaps him, Hawkins has gone too far. Sami comes back with a flurry of punches, a big boot to the face and the Tornado DDT for a comeback victory.
I'm not a big fan of the theme they're using for SZ right now. It sounds like Eminem muzak or something.
Aiden English defeats Michael Q. Laurey (?)
in approximately one and a half minutes minutes via pinfall
No shit - English not only has the look of a turn of the 20th century "sport", but he is now doing a musical theater gimmick. He demands a spotlight and sings himself in to a piano accompaniment. A brief highlight: "I know all of the fancypants and technical maneuvers; and I know what to sing and say to all the shakers and the movers".
I agree 100% with Alex Riley - if this guy can wrestle at all, he's my new favorite.
Hard to tell if he can or not from here. I apologize if I got his opponent's name wrong, but he got such a jobber entrance that he just appeared in the ring, like from the crowd (and not in a Shield way) following Aiden's song. No graphic, just Phillips mumbling his name a couple of times.
A clothesline, some punches, a standing leg drop and then a sit-out reverse STO that he lead into by yelling "Take a Bow!" are what we get here. He then demands the spotlight again and gives us a brief encore.
NXT champ Bo Dallas is telling someone to not stop Bo-lieveing when he's approached by Renee Young. Turns out it's his new fan hotline (I hope he didn't hire these guys to man it). Renee asks him if Zayn's victory in the show-opener was enough to earn him a title shot, and Dallas makes a good point about Hawkins not having any wins lately. He has a plan for determining a new #1 contender, and he'll let us know about it next week.
Also next week, the COO will be here with a big announcement. Maybe he'll be delivering ten minutes monologues to open this show now, too? There will also be a tag team turmoil match to determine the next challengers for the NXT tag belts. Sounds like we may be coming out of our holding pattern on the 25th.
Corey Graves, Adrian Neville, CJ Parker & Xavier Woods defeat The Ascension, Tyler Breeze & Leo Kruger
in approximately twelve minutes via pinfall when Neville pins Breeze
Everybody gets a full entrance, and those take four minutes. Not a good way to earn a high grade from me, NXT.
CJ Parker has stolen Zack Ryder's old one-legged tights. And tie-dyed them.
All of the faces rotate through tags while they work over Rick Victor's arm. The Ascensioner gets a tag to Kruger, and then all of the good guys take turns working over his arm. Graves has a nifty takedown from the reversal of an arm drag, but other than that, this is another wasted couple of minutes.
Conor O'Brian makes it in, just as the crowd breaks out into the first of several "We want Breeze" chants. The NXT crowds are great, but WWE has to walk a fine line of turning everybody these smarks like (Enzo) or dislike (Dallas). Breeze has to be a heel and they need to stick with it.
Following a brief interlude where the heels get to take turns stomping Graves, Xavier gets a tag and connects against his recent South African nemesis with a drop kick and Morphin' Time/Honor Roll. Kruger rolls out, and Neville and CJP fake sliding out into the assembled baddies on the floor. It's a trick, though, as Woods and then Neville do dive over the top onto them.
When we return from commercial, Victor is working over Woods in the ring. A replay informs us that we missed the best spinebuster in the business while Hulu was hawking me car insurance. Strike two, NXT main event.
The supermodel isn't tagged in until more than halfway through the match. And the first two times he gets in are when Woods is reeling. As soon as the PhD shows signs of life, Tyler runs over and quickly tags in a partner. It's pretty hilarious, and the crowd eats it up.
The hippie eventually gets the hot tag after a lot of selling by Xavier. Running knees and a high kick on O'Brian earn a nearfall, but the pin is broken up by Conor's partner, who is then taken out by Graves. The big man takes that opportunity to hit a sit-out side slam, but that cover is interrupted by Neville. He looks to close again after a flapjack, but Breeze tags himself in and looks to steal the glory.
The proves to be too much, even for a trio of baddies like The Ascension and Kruger. They bounce when Tyler comes looking for help when Parker rallies. All of the técnicos hit their finishers, capped off by a Red Arrow from the Brit.
There are a couple of minutes of replays and shots of the winners celebrating to end a short show. Having the quartet pose over TB's unconscious body (just like he would) was a nice touch, but everything about this main event felt like filler.
Which was fitting, because most of this show had the same vibe. Good action and a great debut from English keep it in the black, so to speak, but we're not out of troubled waters with NXT yet.
Grade: C+, and if the main shows keep rolling, I don't know how much longer the streaming gem will be able to call itself the best show WWE produces week-to-week.
Check it out:
...and then let's talk about what you thought in the comments below!