A Wednesday night without the two-screen experience at 8PM! How will that work out for my first love on WWE Network? Let's find out...
- Last week's WWE.com exclusive of William Regal making the NXT title bout at TakeOver: Brooklyn a ladder match is this week's opening of William Regal making the NXT title bout at TakeOver: Brooklyn a ladder match.
- Finally debuting his successful house show gimmick gets Tye Dillinger a win over Solomon Crowe.
- Zack Ryder learns that hanging with someone who stays hyped can be exhausting.
- After ending the days of two more jabronis, Baron Corbin finds out that "Joe is gonna kill you" is more than just a chant.
- Find that I'm infinitely more excited for anything having to do with Finn Bálor when Regal is the one saying "Finn Bálor".
- Smartest move Dillinger made for this show was get a new haircut. This was my first time seeing The Perfect Ten gimmick, and it's a lot of fun. I especially dug the in-ring stuff like giving himself a ten after moves or a cartwheel. Wish Full Sail would learn that you can show your appreciation for a heel's performance by razzing him or her, but that dead horse is already beat.
- Usual concerns about a ceiling that apply to any "fun" gimmick are in play here, but Tye is a good wrestler, and as someone like Tyler Breeze has shown, that's key in moving what could be a goofy character up the card. As far as "will it work on the main roster?", Prince Pretty working against Jushin Liger in front of 13,000 on the 2015 equivalent of a pay-per-view (PPV) shows us that that question may not matter as much as it used to.
- Crowe looked the best he's looked since his debut, working strong style and busting out cool moves while showing some fire. Still worried about his long term prospects, though.
- This is the start of Mojo's heel turn, right? Or is just that I'm an old man so I see Ryder react to him the way I do to my twenty-something brother-in-law and can empathize? Can't see them expecting the masses to pop for a guy who talks about pulling a dozen "chicks" in the "club". If I'm booking The Hype Bros, we get about a year's worth of Hell No-esque laughes out of them before Iced Z gets fed to future mid-card heel Rawley.
- Still on the fence of "well played" versus "screw off" on the troll job that Baron Corbin's last several months have been, but I marked out for Joe's music and everything that followed, so I'll lean toward kudos.
- Best part of Samoa Joe's drastically improved entrance theme is the Soul Calibur clash of steel sound before it repeats.
- When/if his matches catch up with his mic work and presence, the Samoan Submission Machine's NXT run is going to be something. Pretty steep fall from contender to KO's belt to (presumably) putting over the Lone Wolf, though.
- Iron Sharpens Iron, and BullFit videos aren't as much fun when they aren't funny.
- Prince Pretty says "domo arigato" to the General Manager for the gift of another of Japan's finest for him to destroy.
- Raiding Kane's wardrobe doesn't help Marcus Louis defeat the NXT champ, and escaping an apron powerbomb doesn't mean Finn Bálor is escaping Kevin Owens latest cowardly heel attack without getting powerbombed.
- The Vaudevillains better find their answer to Alexa Bliss quick or they won't have any taste left in their mouths when they face Blake & Murphy for the tag straps in New York.
- If Dempsey's not going to be the one to stop Corbin's reign of terror, I really have no idea where these training montages are going.
- This angle they're taking with Breeze as the scourge of the East, and name-dropping Hideo Itami as one of his victims, doesn't give me a lot of hope for everyone's favorite fantasy booking of Demon heel Bálor.
- Fans seem to be on-board with Louis, which is great. He got in more offense here than I expected, and looked good doing it (will never not love the jawbone squeeze rest hold). But I question the use of a guy who's a clever promo as a monster. And don't monsters have to, you know, win?
- They're doing everything right with Owens vs. Bálor III. Selling New York as home field and the ladder match as his personal stip like he's Triple H and it's Hell in a Cell. His need for a title and paranoia that Regal will deny him the gold. And yet, I still don't really care. It's probably the TakeOver: Brooklyn match in which I'm least interested.
- Part of that is because I was in the camp who felt it shouldn't have been made, at least not immediately after Beast in the East. Had they waited until main roster events played out, there could have been a more intriguing, layered story to tell.
- But mostly it's that I feel very little attachment to or investment in Finn. "He's such a nice boy" isn't much of pro wrestling gimmick, and when it works - like with Daniel Bryan - it comes with a side of comedy and a chip on its shoulder. They're failing to give us that, and it's a shame.
- Sloppy interactions like the closing Pop-Up Powerbomb don't help, either.
- Still enjoying the angle with the tag titles, but didn't think tonight's segment really added anything. They should spend a little more time with the actual tag champs...there's no reason they can't build Alexa, which is the main focus of the division right now, showing her interact with them instead of having Aiden English & Simon Gotch talk about her two weeks in a row.
- That Uhaa Nation hype video has so much more P-P-P-P-Power when it's an Apollo Crews hype video.
- Sasha Banks hits commentary for the main event to ensure everyone KNOWS WHAT'S TRUE.
- Despite taking Bayley to Suplex City, Becky Lynch never can fully lock in her submission finisher, and the plucky Hugster rolls up the PCBer to earn a shot at The Boss' belt in Brooklyn.
- You know how emcees have hype men who follow them around to introduce them and generally tout whatever they're about to do? Corey Graves should follow Becky around as the opposite of that. One of the two disappointing things about the main event was that he didn't go at her as hard as he used to before her call-up.
- My other disappointment is that I wasn't moved by my favorite wrestler's guest stint. Maybe it was that I set the bar too high, especially after her killer appearance on Talk is Jericho. But she should spend some time talking to Owens about how to creatively heel in the guest commentary spot. As it is, it felt like she spent a little too much time trying to impersonate Owens in the guest commentary spot.
- Really enjoyed the match, including the finish, as I think it effectively told the story that needed to be told.
- The casualty of the "Divas Revolution" isn't so much that this tale lost its suspense, but that it lost any room it would have had to breathe. In the male version of it, Sami Zayn, Neville, Tyson Kidd, etc all got time to discuss what was going on, to present their (usually very nuanced) views on the angle and their place in it. With the ladies, it was one promo from Bayley and then...line up the matches.
- Saw the observation that Lynch carried the match several places, and I wouldn't so much argue with it as say "so what?" Becky's a ring general, so if the decision was made to let her call it in there, that was the right decision, not something to criticize. The Hugster hit her spots and played her character - and did both really well.
- Where Bayley's mic skills are a work in progress, her non-verbal work is strong. From the totes adorbs belt dance before the bell to her now-typical rising intensity throughout the contest to a mix of goofy and angry in her long distance staredown with the champ at the end, we've seen this character grow. Watching her stand atop the mountain in a week and a half is going to be sweet...even if it's not getting the best possible story it could have.
This was a show that had a lot of NXT's usual recent flaws, but I found myself entertained throughout. The women are getting the in-ring time they deserve (and got the right place on the card tonight, too!) and they're slowly introducing or building folks who are going to have to carry the brand into next year.
As far as grades go, mostly, I inflated last week's too high to compensate for Ultima Lucha bias. Probably should have been a 'C', if that helps for context with this week's...
Your turn, gang.
And look out later today for a special edition of Cageside Live, where Geno tries to tell me there's no money in Bayley, and I defend the honor of NXT against Matt Roth.