Hey, did everybody hear that it's free preview week for WWE Network? Tom Brennan did. He will mention to you often over the next fifty minutes or so.
- Summer Rae defeats Bayley to become the #1 contender for the NXT Women's championship.
- The main event is set-up with the NXT aftermath segment from last week that Geno didn't really like, and an interview where Justin Gabriel explained his turn - "sometimes you just have to break the rules".
- Sin Cara won a fun, clash of styles-type match against enhancement talent Wesley Blake.
- The commentariat in the open thread seemed to think that Summer was super rusty. There were a few hiccups, especially on counters and transitions, but her wrestling has never been her strongest suit. She sold well (Bayley was in charge for the bulk of the match) and got in her main leg-based spots. I know these two can do better, because they have in the past, but I enjoyed it.
- I could have sworn that the First Lady's inverted leg drop DDT was called Summer's End, but Brennan called it the Summer Crush and a YouTube clip I found of it backs that up. Summer's End is a better name. I'm just sayin'.
- Not much to say about B. I'd like to see less of the comedy stuff such as her spinning on SR's back - especially in a match with stakes like this, and against a bitter rival who has tormented her in the past. She got fierce later on though - I particularly like her counter of the spinning heel kick into a leg whip facebuster.
- Tip of the cap to Full Sail Live..."Bayley's Gonna Hug You" is officially the new greatest smark chant of all time.
- Summer vs. Charlotte is the right call and the BFF break-up story still has a lot of legs (no pun intended). I would like to see more consistent momentum for Bayley, as her and Charlotte is where the money is down the line.
- If watching from behind the curtain on the stage/ramp is "Gorilla position", can we start calling a champ watching from a monitor "Big E position"?
- As our resident attractive dentist pointed out last week, NXT is not just for the developmental roster, but is also a place where promising mid and undercard guys can stay fresh and/or retool. Maybe because Brodus Clay was the first guy who got an extended run based on that philosophy, I've resisted it. But it clearly isn't going anywhere, so I and the rest of you all who aren't on board will have to get used to it (or DEAL WITH IT, as a great man once said). We got good and not-so-good examples of it in practice this week, though.
- The not-so-good was Hunico getting more used to being Sin Cara. Actually liked the match itself quite a bit. Blake is kind of interchangable with any number of black-trunked hosses they use as jobbers, but he hit hard and took the lucha-style offense well. The faceless one hit all of the signature spots cleanly. But there was no kayfabe reason for him to be here. The crowd was kind of confused and ended up showering him with the "Lucha" chant that they were trying to attach to the suddenly AWOL Kalisto.
- Giving a guy something to do, a reason to be on Thursday nights, makes all the difference. As done as I am with Tyson Kidd on the microphone (and I am DONE...FACT), his story makes sense. And now, Gabriel's does, too. The Darewolf gave a serviceable promo that advanced his character. It was short and to the point...no problems here.
- Natalya thinks her husband threw her under the bus in his interview with Renee Young last week; Kidd says she has to decide if she's coming to the ring with him or staying in the back where it looks like a lot of fun. Tyson is a passive aggressive pre-teen girl. FACT.
- The magical duo of Summer Rae and Sasha Banks were reunited for Summer to play mind games on The Boss once again. When the First Lady is champ following the "Summer of Summer", Banks is going to want to hang with her. Sasha is like "whatever", but then really likes it when the Total Diva compliments her choice of lip color.
- CJ Parker calls out Xavier Woods to apologize for his speech last week. Woods was dressed like he was going to defend his dissertation, and aggressively accepted Parker's peace offering. CJP didn't like that, though, and cheap shotted the PhD candidate.
- A talkie with the Vaudevillians indicated they want the tag belts; a main show quality video package of The Ascension made it seem like the comedy guys are punching above their weight.
- Bull Dempsey took care of Angelo Dawkins, declaring that he's a wrecking ball who won't stop until he gets the NXT championship.
- At least the Kidd/Hart marital drama bits were shorter this week, and might be leading somewhere interesting based on the main event. They're still just not my cuppa, though, and Tyson screams out for a manager/mouthpiece like no one in recent memory.
- Need to go back and rewatch the vignettes from when Summer first corrupted Sasha into a heel turn and formed the BFFs. Those two have amazing chemistry together, and a few tapings with them as a unit again before their inevitable feud would be most welcome.
- Still in wait and see mode on heel CJ Parker. He didn't pull off the faux-apology promo as well as he did the jealousy one from last week, but it wasn't embarrassing. I really like non-singing and dancing Xavier Woods. Suit wearing Dr. Woods could be a sweet heel, and both of these characters are a refreshing change of pace from rapping R-Truth and sermonizing Big E on the main shows.
- Too bad CJ whiffed on his heel kick to X at the end of the segment, though. If you give the crowd a reason to chant "air kick" at you, you're not going to have a lot of luck getting taken seriously.
- Still digging the Vaudevillians schtick, but this wasn't their best spot. As a card carrying member of the Mighty Marvel Marching Society, I acknowledge that "Excelsior" is a dope sign-off catchphrase, but the canned laughter isn't as funny as they probably think it is. They also just don't look like a team that could take out Konnor and Viktor. I know I'm in the minority of folks who've embraced the gimmick, but will anybody take a victory by Aiden English and the guy who does push-ups mid-match over the guys who demand "something new to destroy"?
- Just don't know about Bull yet. The entrance theme is good (although begging for a well-timed "$#!+" chant), and he can go in the ring. His Emerald Flowsion - which I guess they're calling a Bull Dozer - is much better than John Cena's. But this was the first time I can recall an NXT crowd being silent for a match. Even Mojo Rawley gets pops, and The Ascension when they really weren't connecting could get a "Let's Go These Guys".
- Still hate the singlet. Maybe if he'd forego the model with the plunging neckline?
Segment Three / Main Event
- Sami Zayn proves why we like him when he takes the microphone away from Devin Taylor so that he and Neville could talk about what good buds they are.
- A solid WWE-style tag match that served as a showcase for the NXT champ was won by Tyson Kidd when he tricked Sami into checking on Natty, who had taken an 'inadvertant' elbow from her husband.
- After winning, Kidd celebrates before remembering to check on his wife...and then goes right back to celebrating.
- Zayn should consider doing some backstage interviewing, maybe even as a YouTube series. Devin has gotten better, but will always pale in comparison to the woman she's replacing.
- Speaking of Ms. Young, whether it's the promotion, the benefit of more experience at announce, a better mix of partners or that some fan criticism is getting back to her, she was much more on topic this week. She wasn't calling moves or anything, but even when she drifted into character backstory, it was mostly relevant to the action in the ring. Could have done without the "Sin Cara's mask covers his whole head, huh?" digression, but it was better than eight million wacky facts about Simon Gotch from her last outing.
- Not much to say about the main in general. Quality work in the WWE style: faces in charge at first, the heels took over to allow Zayn to be in distress and then a hot tag to the champ. Worthy of special mention, however...
- Sweet Jeebus is Adrian Neville a machine! He hit a corkscrew shooting star press (could have been a moonsault, our crack team is working the case) from his kneeling partners back, like two feet off the mat, and it looked every bit as crisp as when he does it from the top. The standing
moonsaultshooting star press later was just gravy.
- Wish the Queen of Harts' speaking could match her non-verbal acting while supporting her hubby and his partner tonight. She must have been watching tapes of Ric Flair from Takeover; she did supportive/conflicted very well and actually made me care about her for the first time in ages.
- They should have been doing more to build the Kidd turn in this fashion all along instead of last week's five minute sitdown exposé on what a dick Tyson is and if his marriage is suffering from it. Both husband and wife were great at the finish, with TK even channeling his inner Bo Dallas with his "I did it!" exclamation as we faded to black.
- Is Natalya complicit in her husband's d-baggery? They could go either way, but I sure do want to see Tyson get his decisively at some point in the not-too-distant future.
A surprisingly blah show for the big free preview push. It eatured the mix of match-types and forward storytelling momentum that the show has thrived on for the last few months, but every element lacked a little luster and nothing quite popped out as must see.
One other note, which I didn't conciously factor into my grade, but my stream was glitchy as all get out tonight. I had to refresh or jump back often because it froze, and in order to see the last two minutes I had to exit the Network all together and re-enter. I hope that hasn't been the experience of folks trying to decide if this is worth their ten dollars a month...
Time to give us your take, Cagesiders? What'd ya think of this week's NXT? Anyone catching it for the first time on the Network preview? Would what you saw tonight inspire you to pay for this show?