Ahh, a full episode of my favorite WWE television program. Thanks
Santa Baby New Year!
- Tag champs the Lucha Dragons score a sloppy pinfall victory over Tye Dillinger & Jason Jordan.
- Kalisto & Sin Cara are attacked from behind by the #1 contenders, as The Vaudevillians hit them with a Whirling Dervish and taunt them with their own belts ahead of next week's title rematch.
- Bull Dempsey gives CJ Parker a locker room pep talk ahead of his match with Baron Corbin.
- Enzo Amore's antics lead to an upset victory for old Blue Pants over Carmella, and leads to Colin Cassady needing to intervene to keep the Princess of Staten Island from killing his friend.
- Why do they refuse to do anything with Kalisto or Sin Cara as characters? This would have been a great time to cut a quick face promo acknowledging the confusion about the legal man from R Evolution and saying they're excited to face Simon Gotch & Aiden English again to settle their issue fair & square.
- Instead, Kalisto wears a Bane mask over his regular hood. And the champs attire becomes a talking point between Alex Riley and Renee Young in an "all women love clothes, amirite?" moment. Later, she'll talk about Dillinger & Jordan's handsome grooming. I don't know that it's her fault, but it's stuff like this that makes me want Young to stop doing commentary.
- The announcers mention that Tye & Jason have had communication issues as a team, but that doesn't play into this match at all, so I don't know what they're doing with those guys. You could say that about the tag division as a whole, though. NXT may be heralding a new era of men's and especially women's singles wrestling, but it looks like more of the same old WWE booking of the pairs scene as an afterthought.
- Loved seeing the 'Villains act like...villains. Having their music play from the opening notes after a dastardly act is a great example of why I hate their current entrance theme.
- The Whirling Dervish might be my favorite tag maneuver, though. It's definitely my favorite name for a move.
- The vignette between Dempsey and Parker wasn't particularly well written - I get where they were going with "the greater good" line, but it was a clunky way to get there. Was surprised by how natural a talker Bull appeared to be.
- Things I enjoyed as much or more than Blue Pants victory: her name graphic, her quoting Charles Xavier when interviewed by Renee and that her theme music is a recording of Cass singing the Price is Right theme.
- My read on the Port Authority issues...Cass and Enzo will ditch Carm due to her being too arrogant and, more importantly, not appreciative of Amore's efforts to get her hired. If they play it right, with Colin saying that he was in her corner in rebuking his little buddy's advances, but not in disrespectfully blaming him for all of her setbacks, the Realest Guys can remain faces and the Princess can turn heel without blatant misogyny.
- The Lone Wolf makes quick work of Parker before first calling out Dempsey from his front row seat, then yanking him out of that seat for a pull apart brawl.
- General Manager William Regal tells Devin Taylor that NXT champ Sami Zayn will return to address the NXT Universe next week, and Curtis Axel's lobbying for a chance to recharge his career his career nets him a match with Hideo Itami on that same show.
- Taylor heads to the ring for an interview with Women's champ Charlotte. They're interrupted by Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, who threaten the Nature Girl but retreat when Natalya comes out to even the odds.
- Zayn reports in via cell phone video from Montreal, saying he remains unsure of his thoughts concerning everything that went on at R Evolution.
- Kevin Owens tells Renee Young that Sami got his moment at the live event, and walks off when she insists that KO "stole" it from his friend.
- Great work getting me excited for Corbin vs. Dempsey this week. Still concerned that their eventual match won't live up to the hype, but the hype is proceeding perfectly.
- Axel has acquitted himself well in these pre-tapes. I'm really biased when it comes to the Axe-man (#McGillibuddy4Life), which may account for my apologizing for his mic work. I make no apologies for being Mojo levels of hyped for his match with Itami, or his future as NXT on-screen trainer/enhancement talent however.
- Nice Rocky-esque taunting of the crowd by the over-as-a-tweener Women's champ, who has also come a long way on the stick in the past six months or so. Was really hoping Natty would turn on her, follow in her hubby & Axel's footsteps by becoming an official semi-regular at Full Sail starting a program for the belt...the tag match against Team BAE is a nice consolation prize, though.
- I still haven't fully processed my feeling about the end of the last Takeover, either, champ. Take your time. We'll be here for you when you're ready to talk.
- Owens is just taking the "sensible heel" thing that Adrian Neville was doing to another plane. The back of his next shirt should just read "committing rational acts of evil since 2014". It will sell out immediately and be on backorder until 2017.
Segment Three / Main Event
- An unpainted Finn Bálor joins Itami for the second official tag match of their long feud with The Ascension.
- The técnicos control the pace for the first act, but a European Uppercut by Viktor on a springboarding Bálor leaves the Irishman to play face-in-peril for a long while.
- Teasing (but not hitting) the GTS following a hot tag, Hideo pins Vik to score another victory for the international stars against the recent main roster call-ups.
- Oh, thank goodness that rumor about Finn being painted up for every match was bunk.
- Wonderful to see them streamlining and offering multiple variations on Bálor's entrance, too. This version came across much more natural and less choreographed, and the final pose with abrupt music stoppage was SICK.
- Thinking it was a mix of how much time I spent thinking critically about The Ascension this week, combined with the fact that there was no logical reason for this match to be booked, but I still could not muster up much enthusiasm for this match. Konnor & Viktor looked great - Vik in particular looked as good as we've ever seen him, especially the European uppercut that he used to repond to the Irishman's slick over-the-top-rope evasion before the break. Yet I was pretty much just watching for spots from the good guys. Normally that's fine, but I expect more from a NXT main event.
- Also registering on the "looked as good as we've ever seen him" scale, at least as a WWE worker, was Itami. The structure of the match helped, since he got to look vicious while his team was in control and made the hot tag for the win. But all of his kicks look sharper, and we're starting to get a sense of how creative he is with offense. I mean, holy cow that tornado DDT that sent Viktor off the top rope.
- They should hold off on hitting the GTS for winning a belt or blowing off a major feud...maybe against Bálor sometime in late Summer '15?
- Good luck on Main Event, Ascenders. Now bring on solo feuds for the foreigners.
There was nothing wrong with this episode per se, and it featured some strong beats. Without the usual tentpoles of a strong women's match or an evenly matched main event, though, it failed to really pop. Plus, my new year's resolution is to create some grading separation between average episodes and truly exemplary ones.
How did NXT start off 2015 for you, Cagesiders?