New taping! It's such a hopeful time on the NXT calendar, when the workers are fresh, the crowd's alive and (as long as you avoid spoilers) anything can happen. Actually, one of those is a mixed blessing, but I don't want to get ahead of myself...
- Triple H is here to put over his baby and announce the next two hour live special, Takedown, for May 29th.
- Bo Dallas has a new entrance and a tweaked character, but his NXT losing streak continues when Tyson Kidd beats him tonight.
- Camacho tries to convince Devin Taylor that he throws a better party than Adam Rose, and is bumped by a Rosebud in a luchador mask when The Exotic Express shows up to prove him wrong.
- The bracket for the Women's Championship tournament is revealed.
- Two things we learned from the COO's announcement: (1) that sore throat he had last week was a pain in the ass to kick and (2) the singling out of Paige in his hype job is just another indication of how much money they see in her.
- Really disappointing that he doesn't let any of his main show character bleed over to this show, though. I get wanting to keep things separate so you can be a good guy in your pet project, but we're in what you dubbed "The Reality Era" in front of hardcore live and home audiences. Would it kill you to make a joke about how you don't want to hear any "YES!" chants right now?
- Part of the strategy to get Dallas over on the main shows appears to be to position him as a little more cheesy, motivational speaker and a little less John Cena parody. Which makes sense, since being in the title hunt created that version of the character and having the longest run to date with the NXT belt is where it really found its footing. Hopefully he wins a mid-card belt quickly in WWE to give us all something tangible in which to BO-lieve. Regardless, the new trinatron and entrance music are truly inspirational.
- Oh, Full Sail Live. The fact that many of you now cheer Dallas as a heel really sums up why you annoy this grumpy, old fan. I also don't think this match deserved "Olé" or "We want bubbles" chants, but, I know that you, like Mojo Rawley, will tire yourself out by the later episodes of this taping.
- Man, I hope randomly singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" during matches (or smarkily pointing out that Bo and Bray are real-life brothers) doesn't become a thing going forward, here or anywhere else.
- The bout started slow, but ended up being another solid five-ten minute match, which isn't surprising from Kidd but is another encouraging sign for Dallas. I wasn't excited to see the return of the belly-to-belly as a signature move, but it made sense that he never got a finisher in with the story they were telling.
- If they can actually develop a character for Tyson, the rumored program between he and Adrian Neville could be this year's Cesaro/Zayn. Well, probably not that good because neither man can carry it on the mic like either of those two, but I think the match quality could be up there.
- Was Camacho trying for an effete delivery, or is that really how he talks? It was a little jarring to see a bruiser like him bragging about how great a party he throws. I like that they're letting him branch away from "Latino gang member", and taking the time to build up the program with Rose, though. That's the NXT I used to know.
- I'll mostly leave discussion of the bracket for the fan shot of it, but it's about what I expected with Alexa Bliss as the only debuting wrestler. I'd rather it have been Becky Lynch, though.
- Sasha Banks gets her win back from Bayley to advance in the tournament.
- Adam Rose defeats a recently released guy. Afterwards, Camacho takes out the super lucha Rosebud that bumped him earlier.
- Brodus Clay and Adrian Neville cut pre-tape promos about their no disqualification title match in the match event.
- Natalya defeats Layla to move on to the semis of the Women's title tourney.
- Just when I thought I couldn't love a promo more than Bayley declaring that the NXT Women's title was more important to her than "ten hugs from John Cena or five high fives from Big E", Sasha has to go and call Paige "the princess of pale" and threaten to knock B's side-pony straight.
- Another really good match between these two, even if it's a little disappointing they didn't save it for at least the second round. Bayley does everything you need a pro wrestler to do really well. Her character switches from trying to hug the inflatable fan men from her entrance to scowling when the Beautiful Fierce Females hit the stage. She's fluid in the ring with believable offense, and takes the best bump this side of AJ Lee. Please don't pair her with Khali when she gets called up.
- I also hope we're not rushing to break-up the BFFs, as I don't want to see either of them lost in the shiffle, or as faces, really. Banks is improving rapidly, though, and might be able to survive on her own. The character work is top notch and she did a lot more wrestling (love the handcuff neckbreaker and backstabber; probably need to add something to the crossface as a submission) and a lot less cat fighting tonight.
- I'm just going to have to wait and see on the Rose gimmick. He's good enough in the ring to overcome the silly gimmick if they write his feuds well. He continues to shed the moves from the Kruger character and his new finisher has a great name, The Party Foul, even if it is a little reminiscent of the Stroke/Skull Crushing Finale/Mic Check.
- Brodus Clay breathes through his nose too much, and seems to be hitting Hulk Hogan's self-tanner cabinet. Having this feud be about Neville's teeth is weird. "Slap-Bang-Dead" should be the champ's catchphrase.
- So, when do re-evaluate Natalya's standing as a ring general? Because I haven't seen her have a good match with a non-Sarah Amato trained wrestler in a long time. Her encounter with Layla started okay but quickly got sloppy with both women changing direction to run to spots and not locking up on roll-ups and reversals. Most of that's probably on the just-returning-from-hiatus and never-that-strong-a-wrestler Ms. El, but if Natty was as great as she's hyped up to be, she should be able to get more out of her than this.
Segment Three / Main Event
- Mojo Rawley squashed another recently released guy. Aiden English came out post-match to run him down and get bounced on his head.
- The champ retained in a match that he was largely in control of, winning by hitting his signature spots on the foreign object Brodus brought into their no DQ affair.
- Watching The Hype Man made me appreciate something else about Adam Rose. The latter man runs in place for, like five minutes, during his entrance and theatrically leads the crowd in singing his theme and cheering, but never appears to be winded. I'm just sayin', Mojo.
- So this is the "get your money's worth" taping for the newly departed, aka "remember when Kassius Ohno jobbed to Luke Harper, Alexander Rusev and Tyler Breeze last summer?". The announcers even take the brief minute or so they have during this match to establish Oliver Grey's new heel character. He takes the three ass-based moves of doom while jawing with the hyped crowd.
- I feel like I should be more into English than I am. He has some great lines about not suffering fools and demanding that The Artiste's canvas be cleared, but the character has stalled for me. I wonder how much of that is that I don't look forward to him being in the ring?
- Speaking of guys I don't want to watch wrestle, at least they made the "Brodus Clay: NXT Main Event Player" run brief.
- Neville and BC brawl at the start and the referee doesn't call for the bell. The announcers make a point of mentioning this. If it's no DQ, does it matter?
- So, I'm grasping for anything to say about this. No one got hurt? Neville held up his end of the bargain, and there was a minute at the start where I was really, really hoping they were just gonna have him win without Clay getting any offense in at all. But, alas, we got a middle segment where the former Funkasaurus got in his throws and splashes (where you can clearly see his knees hit the canvas well before any other body part) before his plan to finish the champ with his own belt backfired.
- I know it's his job, but Regal screaming that the Brit has just given one of the greatest performances he's ever seen was just silly.
A tale of two halves, as I loved everything up to Adam Rose/Danny Burch duel and strongly disliked everything after it. Longer-term booking is starting to show back up, which is great. The combination of squashes and main show under-carders is still a little too prevalent still, which isn't.