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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (July 23, 2015): How does it feel?

Welcome back, champ.


  • Finn Bálor makes his triumphant return to Full Sail, cutting a dashing figure in a slimline suit and skate highs, to cut an interview with weird hair that puts over the previous NXT champ as a way of hyping his victory over him in Tokyo.
  • Reading off Dana Brooke's monitor, Eva Marie delivers a babyface-ish promo backstage before winning a passable match against recent signee Cassie.
  • Who's that lounging on the credenza in the General Manager's office? The G-D Duke of Delish, that's who. And William Regal better find him something choice to do in Brooklyn.
  • Following up on his character-building vignette last week, Baron Corbin...goes right back to winning pointless squashes over guys who don't get introductions.


  • My concern with Bálor as a main eventer has always been his promo skills, but both in the opening and closing segments tonight, I thought he showed real promise. Gone was the weird cadence and tendency to look down. In its place we got an even delivery with some bass at the right points to highlight the heights of badassery to which the otherwise mild-mannered Irishman can rise.
  • Would still love some more interesting content, but this was a big night for Finn, and I thought he nailed it.
  • On tonight's hot button topic, I didn't particularly enjoy anything Eva Marie did on this show, but I wouldn't point and laugh at her either. They're gonna give her a chance, and I'll watch and see how she does with it.
  • They do her, and Dana, and a lot of other female character from the Divas champ on down, a real disservice by sending mixed messages about their alignment. Last week's on-stage spot set us up for a heel in red; her promo and commentary's reaction to her were selling us some kind of underdog story. Tonight's match, and her (re)introductory angle, could have been a lot hotter if they encouraged the crowd to do what they wanted to do, which was boo her.
  • Seriously, the oversell on Eva (and the whole "Diva Revolution") risks driving parts of the audience away much like Jerry Lawler pimping "Fandango-ing". Show, don't tell, WWE.
  • While I'm grumpy-old-manning it for a second, spare me the "good for her" line on E.M. I hope she becomes someone who entertains the hell out of me, but I'm not gonna give her credit for trying to get better at a job she's paid very well to do, and for which she's been allowed to move to the front of the line at the hottest club in the world.
  • You know who deserves a good for her? Cassie, who's toiled in front of crowds of tens and hundreds in Australia, Canada and the U.S. for the past six years on her way here, managed to sell Eva's three-quarters speed offense and still make an impression with a Hideo Itami-like array of kicks, even while her opponent still falls more than bumps.
  • Not sure anything on this episode made me smile as much as Tyler Breeze's high kick transition from lounging to standing. I like where I think this is going for TakeOver: Brooklyn, and while there's a rub in getting tabbed for that spot, I do wish he were doing something that would build him up for an eventual title shot.


  • Joe is gonna - get a remix. And a timekilling win over Mike Rallis on his way to a showdown with Rhyno.
  • Dark Emma thinks Bayley is creepy, yet shares a creepy hug with Dana, who doesn't forget to pat Devin Taylor on the head.
  • By default the match of the night because it's the only one that was competitive, the Hugster is using her win over Emma to start her "Road to Redemption" (® Sami Zayn, 2014) - starting with Charlotte.
  • If The Nature Girl has time for her, between fomenting revolution on Raw and teaching Brooke some respect next week.


  • His new music represents a step in the right direction, but it's still a work in progress. The best themes meld with the performer's entrance - not necessarily to the extent that Bálor's does, but that's the ideal. Samoa Joe's still sounds like it's something that happens to be playing when he walks out rather than it being his song. Still, I was digging the James Bond meets Godzilla vibe.
  • For my money, what's missing for Joe on NXT (and much of his career, but that's a longer discussion) is direction. Full Sail was more into this match than his earlier ones - which may just be since it was early in the night - which helps. But another squash doesn't really.
  • And, for the life of me, I can't figure out how a match with Rhyno does, either. Will it be a fun match? Sure. It was nine years ago in TNA, anyway. How does it help either of them, or NXT, in 2015, though? Get Rhyno in a tag team with Corbin. Let The Samoan Submission Machine work some lengthy matches with Marcus Louis or Tye Dillinger where he can win a war and cut killer promos about rediscovering himself against hungry young talent. Or at least build to a showdown between them for a TakeOver - don't give it away on a Wednesday.
  • Speaking of cashing in a little too early, the bout between Bayley and Emma felt like a feud-ender, but the stuff around it felt more like a random mid-card match.
  • Like the idea of the Dark Emma/Dana Brooke team much more than the execution. They don't have a lot of chemistry together on the stick, and especially given that, they should give us an indication that each is using the other to advance their own interests. Cause I don't buy for a second that they're actually bonded together the way the BFFs were at times.
  • Really liked this match - Emma is an underrated worker in my book, and as B integrates more and more effective babyface fire into her wrestling she greatly increases her value as a draw. As with a lot of NXT matches, however, the ending was abrupt and a little less than satisfying as a result.
  • Ringside troll Dana Brooke is my favorite Dana Brooke. Still don't have much use for the Killer Barbie, but I laughed out loud when she told the referee she was checking to see if Bayley was okay when he caught her working the injured wrist over in the ropes.
  • Can Charlotte not look like she's gonna cry every time someone points a microphone in her direction? I actually thought this was a slightly above average promo, as Nature Girl ones go, but no one was helped by the story they were given here. Shades of gray works when experienced performers like Neville and Zayn are doing it, but folks still figuring things out like Brooke & Char should get to play clear cut heroes & villains.
  • Oh, and Bales? Love you, girl, but you really shouldn't talk about wanting to face the best if you're not gonna talk about the Women's champ.


  • #1 contenders to the tag titles Aiden English & Simon Gotch display offensive innovation, but still use a dopey finisher with a dope name to put away Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton.
  • Either Murphy's not that bright, or Blake's hair dye killed a bunch of brain cells. No worries, though, since Alexa Bliss will not let BAMF drop the belts to The Vaudevillains next week.
  • Kevin Owens restates his résumé for those who missed it at the top of the show, then a pro wrestling contract signing breaks out. KO attacks Finn, Regal gets caught in the middle and the champ sends the challenger running.


  • Guessing that the fast-forwarding of English & Gotch's title opportunity means we'll get back on track for The Realest Guys to at least share that spot with them in one of the five boroughs next month. But the NXT tag scene is suddenly stacked - in addition to Enzo & Cass, we also didn't see Gable & Jordan this week, and the Hype Bros seemed to be just starting to connect when they disappeared a month ago.
  • So it's great that the 'Villains are still getting chances to put it all together, but that they haven't yet doesn't bode well for their future. In addition to the Whirling Dervish just not looking like much, I question the decision to always use Simon as the face-in-peril and Aiden as the hot tag.
  • For all my praise of the depth of the pairs division, not sure I really want to see Blake & Murphy dethroned any time soon. The commitment to outrageous hair choices, willingness to play sides-of-beef dummies and all things Ms. Bliss just tickle me.
  • If Eva Marie is the topic of the night, the booking of Kevin Owens is THE topic of the week. I can't bring myself to be outraged, because I'm not surprised in the slightest. But I'm also really not worried. As long as bookers, in this company, this brand, or any other, continue to give him a microphone and let him wrestle, I and many other paying customers will be entertained. In a five minute segment tonight, he completely sold me on a rematch my jaded ass wanted no part of when I first heard about it.
  • And he turned the in-person and on-screens-around-the-world audiences who roared whenever he or Finn mentioned his having pinned John Cena against him with a couple of references to the hip(ster)est part of New York City and a punch to every smark's favorite Uncle Billy. No one else in the world can do what he does, and he'll be fine.
  • Maybe not on Raw, or even in WWE, but he'll be fine.
  • Enjoy watching Finn land drop kicks in a suit even more than in body paint. I realize I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm sure there are a few sartorialists out there who feel me.

Weird show. I enjoyed myself, and understand that much of what we got was set-up for down the road and/or giving greener talents a chance to shine. Problem is, I'm not sure they know where they're going, or giving the performers the best premise from which to grow.

Grade: C+

How did it feel to you, Cagesiders?

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