If there was any doubt what the top story on NXT is supposed to be right now, we open with a recap of last week's title rematch and Tyson Kidd's attempted heelishness with the steel chair. My main problem with the drawn out heel turn is it means I have to watch Natalya "act" a lot.
But I don't want to get ahead of myself.
- Natty explains away her husbands actions from last week and asks General Manager JBL to pair him with Sami Zayn in a tag team.
- Sasha Banks largely dominates her match with Alexa Bliss, but the pixie gets another win with a roll-up when The Boss is distracted by her bickering BFFs.
- The issues between Charlotte, Sasha and Summer Rae get violent after the match.
- Tyson gets pissy because his wife booked a title match for him; Natalya thinks her husband is an ingrate.
- We hear Simon Gotch speak for the first time on a WWE show during a promo for The Vaudevillains that looked like an early talkie.
- Not sure what I was more confused about in the Nat & JBL hallway scene...why we're giving the former Divas champ so much time on NXT, or why JBL cast a steely glare towards stage left after Natalya walked away.
- Everyone who has any interest in getting over as a professional wrestler should watch everything Summer Rae does whenever she's on camera. She doesn't waste a second of screen time; her every action informs you about her character. Sasha Banks is nearly as good, and Charlotte is getting there.
- What they're telling us right now is that the BFFs are exploding, so hopefully the Women's champ has absorbed what she can working with Summer - because she's about to start working against her.
- Bliss is completely adorable and, for reasons I can not explain, that includes her entrance theme. Still think she's a little too green, though. The fast-paced action that started this match was fun, but very staged and I've seen enough of Banks to know that pacing is not an issue for her.
- I'm not worried about Alexa in the slightest, though, because as along as she keeps working with Death Rey, she'll improve as much as The Boss has. I need to go back and watch an old episode with babyface Sasha from last year, just to check and make sure it's the same person. Really can't believe that the woman who was 95% slaps and 5% crossbodies just went for a bridging pin attempt when she had her opponent in a full surfboard.
- If the goal of the segments with Mr. & Mrs. Kidd is to get heat on them...mission accomplished. I really, really hate them. A lot.
- Having seen Aiden English and Simon Gotch's second segment together, I no longer have to wonder what it would be like if Chikara had access to WWE's production team, equipment and budget. They may be an NXT-only gimmick - I don't know. But, gosh darnit, I love them already.
- Mojo Rawley defeated Garrett Dylan with his ass.
- Sami gives Tyson a pep talk about how they've both had some tough losses lately but their tag title shot against The Ascension tonight is their big chance to turn it around.
- There's no end in sight to CJ Parker's protesting of Full Sail Live, but at least he provoked the line of the night from William Regal.
- The Vaudevillains entrance is everything I hoped it would be, and they win their debut in convincing fashion over a "these guys" team.
- Devin Taylor gets a few seconds with Big Cass, and he teases the return of his boy (howudoin). She also speaks to Rob Van Dam, who challenges NXT Champ Adrian Neville to a match (which he apparently accepts because they announce it as next week's main event (howudoin)).
- NXT fun facts: Garrett Dylan is Kris Kristofferson's son, and portrayed Captain Comic in the Adam Rose vs. Camacho feud. I am not sure why he has something that looks like a cross between a Thundercat and a Razorback on his trunks, though.
- I'm done talking about Mojo Rawley matches until there's something new to talk about. If you've seen one where he gets winded, takes a beating, mounts a comeback with his ass even though he's still winded and wins, you've seen 'em all.
- Is there nothing you can't redeem, Sami Zayn? Give the man 30 seconds to talk and he soothes my worries about his direction and makes me forget about the issues I have with Kidd-talya.
- "Dirty, filthy, shower-dodging git". William Regal makes everything better.
- I suppose they've given up on The Artiste as a heel, because there is no way The Vaudevillains are EVER getting booed in the NXT Zone.
- Wish I didn't think about stuff like that with their gimmick, though. It's insanely fun. Gotch's integration of the strong man character into his ring work is very clever. English's voice is much better suited to barking through a megaphone than singing musical numbers. And yet...I can't turn off the dang smark part of my brain and stop wondering what the ceiling for a gimmick like this is. It's 3MB/Los Matadores level on the main shows, right?
- Colin Cassady somehow sounds cool in spite of (because?) it sounds like he's reciting lines. When the guy whose return he was preparing us for by singing Dean Martin does come back, I am going to pop so loud I'll scare my cats and piss off my wife.
Segment Three / Main Event
- Tyler Breeze defeated Kalisto in a main event length match that took place before the main event.
- The Ascension did their "isolate one member of a tag team and murdilate him" thing, which Tyson Kidd took to mean that Sami Zayn was big-timing him. So he moved his heel turn ahead two spaces by walking out on his partner, allowing the tag champs to retain.
- Still miss Tyler's old entrance. If I had a say, he'd enter with his old theme and then celebrate wins with the new one with his vocals.
- Wasn't sure what to make of the match between the new #1 contender and the luchador at first. It seemed like a strange way to build off of Breeze's breakthrough performance at Takeover, having him grapple and more or less maintain rest holds on Kalisto. But it finally dawned on me (probably later than most - I'm not that...what's the word? Smart?) that this was about psychology on a couple of different levels: (1) Breeze limiting his more acrobatic opponent and (2) denying the crowd the opportunity to cheer the big moves of Kalisto or Prince Pretty's usual dramatics. I may not be smart, but that is.
- Not exactly clear on why the former Samuray Del Sol is still in Developmental. With Mysterio being paid to sit and do public appearances, and Sin Hunic-ara failing to set the WWE Universe ablaze, they could make some money with this cat. His big moves are thrilling without feeling spotty, he speaks English (not that we've heard him talk on NXT - maybe they want to work on that down there before calling him up)...Kalisto just seems like something they could use immediately on the main roster. Much more than Adam Rose or Xavier Woods.
- This show was full of matches with decisive finishes that didn't make the loser look weak. See, almost every other wrestling show on television, it is possible.
- I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Ascension have turned a corner for me on theme song alone. But they're also wearing me down in general. My evidence for this is that Full Sail's "hyah" chants amuse rather than annoy me.
- Again, though, it comes down to the fact that there is a need for a team like this in WWE right now. They're not master actors or technicians, but Konnor and Viktor are getting a good feel for the gimmick, how to get over with and how to use it to tell a good in-ring story.
- Not much of a match here, but it was the story, not the bout, that was getting the main event spot. Hopefully, this is the final stretch of the Tyson Kidd race to the dark side. Because I can't take much more of he and his wife emoting. And I could watch the crap out of some Zayn vs. Kidd.
Top to bottom, this show advanced storylines and built characters while also providing exciting in-ring action. When NXT is on, they make it look so easy. The run starting with and since Takeover is why I was so freaked out by the run after ArRIVAL. When you get product this good, you get concerned when you think it might be going away.
It was neck and neck with last week's episode. While it didn't have a home run on the level of Mr. NXT, it did have William Regal on commentary. That's a wash, but then Mojo takes it down one notch.
What say you, fellow revelers in the amusement of calculated conflict?