Different kind of show...same kind of reactions!
- A video package (on a show full of them) sets the stage for our WrestleMania Axxess-themed 'sode.
- The first round of the NXT Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament (NAtGMBRQT) gets the highlight reel treatment.
- Which means we don't see much of Jason Jordan, Kalisto, Bull Dempsey or Baron Corbin.
- Neville plays heel in a semi-final bout that is somehow the first time he's ever faced Hideo Itami, and is the first person we see taking one of the Japanese Superstar's finishers tonight.
- I would donate a lot of money to charity to get to caddy for the pairing of Tyler Breeze and R-Truth in a celebrity golf tournament.
- Itami is so visibly pumped up, it's impossible to not get excited for him - even with zero suspense about the outcome of any of his matches.
- They've done it several weeks in a row now, so I'm starting to believe that they'll just leave Corey Graves and Rich Brennan as a two-man booth for NXT. Which probably just means I'll be bummed next week when Jason Albert (who's not bad) or Renee Young (who is) is added back to the mix. But as they get more comfortable with each other, and Brennan develops into more of a Mauro Ranallo-lite while Graves works in more of his own wrestling background as a color commentator - I seriously think his referencing tagging with Neville is the first I've heard him talk about his time working with men whose matches he's now calling - the more they grow to resemble my platonic ideal of a WWE announce team.
- The wrestler formerly known as Adrian is so good as a cocky jerk. His moveset makes it a challenge, but I really think his ceiling is higher as a heel. Like RVD under Bill Alfonso, but with perfectly executed moves that look like hurt his opponent instead of barely controlled chaos that looked more painful for the inflicter than the inflicted.
- Wow, did this match look stiff. The Brit in particular connected with a couple of kicks that I was pretty sure broke Itami's face. Loved it, and I bet it was even more awesome when you didn't know who was winning.
- Hideo should work in the sleeper holds he used here more often, especially now that he's reclaimed a certain soporific finisher.
- Semi-final numero dos provides another first time match-up, and Finn Bálor mocks Prince Pretty en route a rematch with his friend Hideo.
- "Total Diva" Dana Brooke debuts next week.
- NXT San Jose was pretty cool, according to a lot of wrestling people who were there.
- Sami Zayn vs. Rhyno...that's gonna be something else.
- Tyler Breeze is such a professional - even though that uggo referee insisted on touching him, he was still polite enough to say "please" when asking him to confirm the Irishman's desire to yield to his gorgeous chin lock.
- Was Breeze vs. Bálor edited down, or did it just never have much of a chance to match up to Itami vs. Neville? What we got here was fun, but forgettable. The climax also suffered from the "out of nowhere" issue NXT matches can have that some folks have been kicking around in the comments the last few weeks.
- Ms. Brooke saying that training is what she does best is kind of the advance word knock on her, right?
- The little hype piece on the Friday night pre-Mania show was cool and all, but I'm getting a little tired of all the preaching to the choir. We're tuning in to a clip show that doesn't have a whole lot of impact on week-to-week continuity, we're already in. Show this on Raw, Smackdown or even on the Network during a Sunday night show.
- Frequent digs about these bouts being spoiled and this being a one-off show aside, Brennan & Graves did put some effort into providing context for these match-ups within our regular NXT kayfabe, which was a nice touch.
- Next Wednesday is probably the most excited I've ever been for a Rhyno match.
- We're shown more of Finn's entrance this time, as he and Hideo lock up once again in a NXT tournament and Itami evens the score at one win a piece to head to the Kick-Off show for the Granddaddy of Them All.
- The full power of the WWE production team is brought to bear on Hideo's mini-documentary.
- GO TO SLEEP!
- Really fun match between two of the best wrestlers in the world. Despite knowing the victor in advance, these guys sucked me in with their intensity. Hideo especially sold the moment with his initial hesitancy, the way he seemed to internalize the 50/50 crowd reaction, his frustration on near-falls and his euphoric reaction to winning. I won't say it conclusively, but I think I liked this one better than their first NXT encounter.
- It was still probably my second favorite bout on this episode. Itami/Neville was fire.
- You'll have to excuse me...I'm getting a little verklempt just thinking about the ten-plus minute version of the the former KENTA's journey to WrestleMania.
- Still hate the way he was booked in the AtGMBR. Still not crazy that they gave us even a quick shot of the San Jose GTS here (I'd have preferred it live on in cell phone footage and crappy Vines forever - a special treat for those blessed 5,000 in attendance - with his first televised WWE use of the move saved for a Takeover in the future). But this is the kind of stuff you can always feed me as an existing NXT watcher, and something I wouldn't hesitate to show a non-wrestling fan. Don't tell me how I'm helping NXT to take over. Show me a grown man who'll leave his wife and kids thousands of miles away for a chance at his dream. A dream that he'll call a success because he got a chance to perform for thirty seconds in front of a stadium full of fans like me.
- Crazy to think that it wasn't even a year ago that Keith Harris and I were sniping at each other about whether or not he'd sign. For those who haven't clued into my way of thinking on these things yet, I pretty much won't believe it's true until it's officially announced (KENTA, Prince Devitt) or it becomes so obvious I can't deny it (Kevin Steen's Ring of Honor farewell tour). I am currently not allowing myself to believe the Samoa Joe hype.
- It is his move. He took it back.
- As much as I loved Itami's boys using the GTS on each other, this was my favorite bit with the Kobayashi boys... Tyler & Hideo 4ever you guys (not in a slash fic way, either (not that there's anything wrong with that), just in a "somebody make a comic book and/or sit com where they bicker and fight crime so I can read and/or watch it forever" kind of a way)! The other reason that's the best part is because it means Prince Pretty and The Boss play video games together, which means there's a chance for a future stable centered around the two of them.
Ahem, sorry. Getting carried away talking about a GIF. Wow. Anyway, sorry for poo-pooing this edition in advance. It was filler, but we got a lot of phenomenal matches and a piece at the end that I will watch many times.
Grade: N/A, but if you push me...'A'
How was it for you?