Lately, my life has only been slightly less chaotic than a Discovery Communications' programming meeting (HEY NOW). The good and less good stuff causing that should be in the rearview soon, but tonight was not the night things settled down. As such, I'm settling in to watch NXT at about 11:30PM Eastern, and we're going to try something a little different...
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Unstoppable was pretty cool. I appreciate that they spent more time in the opening video package on what a great wrestling show it was as opposed to how great it was for "the brand".
Oh, you son of a bitch, Owens. I hate you so much (you're freaking awesome, but I really do hate your guts).
Raw recap on NXT...kind of annoying, and the cynic in me can't shake the tiny "this week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us" vibe I get from it, but it's very smart marketing. In fact, I think they should have Cena show up on a Wednesday night to advance this feud and give the masses who may not be convinced that NXT is a good reason to spend $9.99 per month a reason to seek out a 'sode or two.
I am also much more interested in the black & gray "Fight" shorts than I am either of KO's shirts.
Owens isn't insecure, but he will take some time telling us that he's a good man. I don't know if this kind of "Reality" can translate to less talented actors than Owens & Sami Zayn, or to five hours of programming a week, or to a Vince McMahon-written show, but I'd love to see them try.
I can't wait for Raw to open with twenty minute promos every week.
Regal/Owens promos are a gift from the Universe. Don't know how much I need Solomon Crowe to interupt them. Ever. And just as I was trying to figure out who Crowe's promo voice reminded me of, Kev mocked him for it.
Hopefully the "who took out Itami?" intrigue can be stretched out and handled in a Lucha Underground-like fashion. Also hope that Solomon shows us something in a big spot for him here, and that he doesn't join Riley, Neville, Zayn, Zayn and Zayn on the list of guys KO's had stretchered out of Full Sail. Hideo's English sounds pretty good, and working on it while he rehabs that shoulder may be a blessing in disguise for his main roster hopes.
Watched the Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley promo on YouTube already...wasn't excited to see it again.
Bayley vs. Emma
Dark Emma's music is a better idea than it is a theme, but I remain a HUGE fan of the tweeks in her character. I hope it starts with the old theme forever.
Would like to see a little more character-based motivation for the pairing with Dana Brooke. I like them as a team, but so far they're together because they're heels and The Total Diva is green. A reason would be cool.
Byron Saxton isn't great, but his presence doesn't change the fact that Rich Brennan & Corey Graves are. Pointing out how Bayley passed on "the Whirlybird" to lay into Emma with forearms is exactly the kind of thing a commentator should be emphasizing, and it makes both Brennan and this feud look better as a result. Graves brining up that Dark Emma's evolution may have been a result of watching the Hugster get more aggressive in the ring is yet another layer.
Things got a little sloppy at the end, and during Charlotte's rescue attempt. But with their program obviously continuing, I've got no issue with the finish.
Emma defeats Bayley via submission following the Muta Lock
Also already say the Corbin/Rhyno promo. Not crazy about seeing it again, but I don't hate it.
Is this the same Becky Lynch package with a new name? I LOVE that the ridiculous Riverdance debut is part of her kayfabe arc now. It seems the push is on for BEX, and it's well deserved. One of the main reasons I wasn't primed for a title change last week was because her face turn was so recent. Give it a few more months, and even this Sasha mark will be on board with a championship run.
Elias Sampson & Mike Rawlis vs. Blake & Murphy (with Alexa Bliss)
Someone needs to keep a spreadsheet of Blake's ridiculous heat-seeking hair-dos.
Rawlis looks like the kind of guy Vince would like. He reminds me of the last Tough Enough winner, Silent But Deadly or whatever that dude's gimmick was.
Not sure that getting pushed by jobbers is a great way to build the champs, but Murphy's comeback of death sure is impressive.
Blake & Murphy defeat Rawlis & Sampson via pinfall following a Vertical Suplex/Frog Splash
Bliss hitting her finisher on the vanquished is interesting. I don't necessarily see it as an entry to intergender matches, but it's a nice heel move, and it lets Alexa show off some of her impressive looking spots without highlighting her weakness in transitioning between said spots.
I am also very much in favor of AB's new ring attire.
It'd be cool if her in-ring work made the big leap forward that her promo skills displayed tonight. Put her on the list of fresh talent that's a better talker as a heel than as a face. And put that down as one of those minute long promos that NXT does so well that sets things up and advances promos.
You know who could use more of those types of segments?
Finn Bálor vs. Tye Dillinger
Brennan tries by exlaining how the Eye of Bálor works, and I like the little in-match wrinkle where Finn tries to throw the referee out of the way to get at the annoying Dillinger.
This struck me as a more appropriate amount of offense from a semi-established name like Tye, but the Irishman feels stuck in a holding pattern. Which I guess he is since all indications were that the #1 contender spot was Itami's, but even if Hideo was healthy, what would Bálor be doing now.
Finn Bálor defeats Tye Dillinger via pinfall following a Coup de Grâce
Fresh blood is always cool, and Jason Jordan did okay with his quick promo (and they dealt with his continuity with Dillinger!). I'm a little confused why they're teasing putting him in another tag team when the point of his mini-feud with Tye seemed to be the start of his singles career, and when there seemed to be a good base to work with in that team if you were just gonna pair him up anyway. Really, I feel like I like heel Dubstep Cowboys more than most, but I wouldn't bat an eye if it had been Jordan & Dillinger in the exact same spot.
Digging the Kurt Angle-lite bits of Chad Gable's intro, but again, it'll all depend on what comes next. It also bums me out little that we're getting debuts and re-pushes without so much as a mention of acts like Marcus Louis or The Vaudevillains that started and disappeared. Rotating the talent that gets airtime is fantastic, but explain it in-story.
Kevin Owens vs. Solomon Crowe
Seriously, can we not get Crowe some new ring gear?
Didn't see much from the challenger that made me change my mind about his future. He sells well, but - aside from that superb running knee right before the end - I didn't buy much of his offense as a real threat to Owens.
It's a marked contrast to the guy who comes out to prevent him from getting MDK.
Kevin Owens defeats Solomon Crowe via pinfall following a Pop-Up Powerbomb
The champ's usual sublime heeling (demonstrated in his essentially inviting The Samoan Submission Machine to the ring by holding up his title, bailing as soon as he accepted said invitation and then telling him he "should have stayed in oblivion" before running through his Cena taunts and walking off) aside, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed in the ending.
What we got was basically a rehash of last week, without the surprise. It's still cool. I don't think seeing that guy playing that character on a WWE show will ever not be. But they should have added something...heck, while they were replaying all of last week's Unstoppable post-show interviews, run Joe's.
We should also probably talk about Joe's music. It's weird, and sounds way to much like something a guy should dance out to rather than slowly stalk his way to the ring. Joe don't dance, so as much as it may be a cool Caribbean-influence hip-hop beat, it's not right for him, IMO.
This show, however, was all right. Didn't love it, and it lacked any match that I'd praise as much more than "fun", but it did the grunt work that a weekly episode has to do from time to time. It relies on KO A LOT, which makes for a very entertaining hour, but might not be the best thing for the show as either a fledgling "brand" or a Developmental vehicle.
Problems for another day, however.
Back to normal next week, format-wise. But now's your chance to sound off on what you thought of this week's NXT.