Rich Brennan, Jason Albert and Renee Young welcome us to the show. We're later told that Renee and Jason are "permament" members of the announce team, but there's no detail offered on what that means. The Canadian provides color commentary throughout the whole show rather than just during the women's matches, which is a change from her usual role.
Enough background on commentary...on with the show.
- Charlotte defeats Emma when sock puppetry goes awry.
- We meet a couple of new tag teams, as Sylvester Lefort has re-formed his Legionnaires with himself and his "childhood friend" Marcus Louis. Kalisto finally debuts, and he's paired with El Local as the other new team.
- Local plays face in peril for a long time, and Kalisto comes in with impressive lucha stylings to win the match.
- I'm not even sure I can talk about the first women's match of the night. I knew The Nature Girl was going to win, and I think it was the right call to have her do so. Otherwise, go $#(& yourself, WWE.
- From the time that the announcers were speculating if the friend that Emma had brought was Santino, I was cranky. The hope is that her fighting goofiness would eventually transfer to the main shows, not that her comedic jobbing would transfer to NXT. That this got less than five minutes and ended after she screamed Cobra with a pink sock on her hand has me on the edge of despair.
- I need to go back and re-watch ArRIVAL to see her powerbomb Paige in a real wrestling match.
- Charlotte looked good, but I was a little bummed to see the gymnastics stuff show back in her entrance and I hope Charlotte's Web remains a situational finisher. It challenges the suspension of disbelief too much and her other offense is coming along nicely.
- Exciting to see more new tag teams, and even the disappointment that one of them features Sylvester Lefort was short-lived, largely because he acquitted himself pretty well in the first non-squash in which we've seen him involved. His partner looks like a smaller version of TNA's Jessie Godderz, and also seemed fine in this role. I doubt they're much more than mid-card stepping stones, but this show needs someone to fill that role.
- Kalisto is as advertised (or as expected for those familar with Samray del Sol), and made for a thrilling hot tag after Ricardo Rodriguez played face-in-peril. The standing shiranui is something we don't see in WWE, and the finishing sequence was dope, too.
- I'm not sold on the techno-ish theme song, but it will be easy to get crowds to do the "lucha" chant along with the "YES"-like hand movements.
- Adam Rose gave one of his Rosebuds a pep talk, and sent him out to fight Camacho.
- Camacho squashed said Rosebud, but Adam saved him from a post-match beatdown.
- Alexa Bliss and Alicia Fox delivered pre-tape promos prior to the first round tournament match-up, which the rookie won with a small package for the upset.
- Adrian Neville talked with Devin Taylor about championship business.
- I guess Geno's bearish outlook on the Rose gimmick is getting to me, because most of the optimism I had talked myself into is gone. It could work, but it will need better material than "Party time...all the time" and calling his opponent's "party poopers".
- The squash was actually great, because they are building the Camacho vs. Rose issue the way they used to construct feuds on NXT and that makes me very happy. Beyond that, it is what it is. The Tongan who for some reason still plays a Mexican looked dominant, and his beating up a non-wrestler should get heat on him.
- Captain Comic was announced as being from "the Rose party", which makes him sound like he has dinner reservations or will be getting stranded in the mountains before eating his traveling companions. They should stick to billing the entourage as The Exotic Express to avoid confusion.
- Fox and Bliss' pre-tapes were about on the same, okay level. Which bodes well for Alexa since she should be a great promo by the time she has Alicia's years under her belt.
- This is my first real exposure to The Adorable One as anything other than a backstage extra, and I'm impressed. One of the first things you notice (and that has to give you pause when considering how she'll be booked in her career) is that she is SMALL. Like, makes AJ Lee look like Kharma small. She's not listed as being that much shorter than the former Divas champ, but something about her build just really makes her seem tiny. It's cool that they have integrated that into her character by having her basically play a pixie.
- Her ring style fits that as well. We don't get to see a ton of stuff here, since the story was pretty much that she was getting her ass kicked and outsmarted the overconfident veteran, but stuff like that backflip knee drop makes sense that she would use it and looks like it hurts her opponent.
- If I could be a mark for a second, though, I'm still bummed she's moving on. Foxy is deserving of a push right now. She's on fire in the ring, even with the little things (love, love, loved the disdainful way she shoved AB off her knee following the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker). And I do think that, presuming that Charlotte will be the next Women's champ, it would have looked better for her to defeat a couple of former WWE Divas titleholders on her way to it instead of getting an underdog in the semis.
- Neville continues to deliver promos that hit all the key points, and feel like he is conscientiously hitting all of the key points - if you know what I mean.
Segment Three / Main Event
- A battle royal featuring Bo Dallas, Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley, Brodus Clay, El Local, Kalisto, Jason Jordan, Tyson Kidd, Aiden English, Curt Hawkins, Yoshi Tatsu, Colin Cassady, Baron Corbin, Mason Ryan, Oliver Grey, Tyler Breeze, Danny Burch, Marcus Louis, Sylvester Lefort and Camacho was held to determine who would face the champ at Takeover.
- Triple H booked a triple threat for next week after Breeze, Zayn and Kidd all hit the floor during the same spot and the referees were unable to determine who won (even though Prince Pretty's feet pretty clearly hit last).
- I tried to keep up with the order of eliminations, but then a few happened during commericial and I gave up. I can tell you that the recently released Oliver Grey went first, which makes sense, and the previous #1 contender went out third, whichmakes you wonder why we were ever supposed to buy him as a legitimate threat to Neville's strap.
- Kind of weird that Jason Jordan got some work in here but his tag partner didn't. Many of us had Jordan and Tye Dillinger pegged as the next contenders for The Ascension, but we haven't seen anything since their one match to build them up. Jordan continued to impress with a few spotlight moments here, and showed that The Hype Train for Mojo Rawley may be slightly off track when he got "thank you Jason" chants for eliminating the ass man.
- It was just a tiny ripple compared to the roar when Tyson Kidd eliminated Bo Dallas, though. I so hope the WWE Universe learns how much fun it is to hate on the head of the Bo Movement. Dallas consolation prize for just missing out on being in the final three was a big string of eliminations on Corbin, Yoshi, Ryan and Cas. He is really adrift on this show currently, though.
- Breeze was booked to look really capable, and there was a moment where I forgot the spoilers from the rumor round-up and thought he might pull it out - especially after the Beauty Shot that Kidd sold like death.
- Quite a bit of animosity shown between Sami and Tyson, before and after the match, too. A summer of Kidd vs Neville and Zayn will be sweet. Looking forward to a full-blown heel turn for the last graduate of The Hart Dungeon, too. His best character work was as a rudo in The Hart Dynasty, and it just makes sense for him to play an arrogant dude in this setting.
- I thought the finish was really smartly booked, but they were smart to ignore replay and they'll be wise to move on before this sets any kind of precedent, since Sami and Tyson hit feet first and Breeze's shoulder landed before his feet came down - making any explanation of tie look like bullshit.
- Can we do we away with JBL as NXT General Manager? He can't even remember he's supposed to be in that role when someone from developmental debuts on Raw, and Hunter is clearly in charge. They don't need to officially transfer power to the COO, but let's stop mentioning Layfield as a character on this show.
While it wasn't full of technical masterpieces, the outcomes of the Women's tournament matches are pretty much the exact opposite of what I think they should do, and watching this version of Emma makes me want to cry...everything on this episode felt like it was building to something.
And in the end, that's what I love about NXT. Match quality can waver, interviews can be off - I and most of those criticizing the show of late understand that this is the developmental system. But after months of treading water, it feels like that system's flagship show is going somewhere again.
And that is wonderful.