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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (September 23, 2015): What hides behind a smile

Couple of things off the top...

One, I'm going to try to mix up the format, as I got some good feedback about my smart-ass recap sections being uhhh...let's call it "not helpful" to anyone who didn't see the show.

Two, I'm super-cranky, to the point where I know it effected my experience with the show. That, along with last week's comment section, just reminds me to say that we're all just sharing our opinions about a pro wrestling show. As William S. Preston, Esquire (or was it Abraham Lincoln) said, "be excellent to each other".


Eva Marie enters to a chorus of boos. An inset interview with her and commentary from Rich Brennan reframes her controversial "kickout" in the Billie Kay match as the referees decision, and Eva thanks the official for being brave enough to call it the right way instead of giving the masses what they want.

Her match with Carmella ends after a seemingly worked botch of a kickout, but replay from a different camera angle reveals the count was stopped because Eva got her foot on the rope. All Red Everything's win streak continues when she sends Carm to the floor, she hits her head on the ramp and is unable to answer the ten count.

Another Nia Jax video hypes her arrival, and a package recapping Bayley & Sasha Banks segment from last week and TakeOver: Respect main event Iron Man match plays.

Bull Fit is over with Full Sail and keeps Bull Dempsey from gassing in his match with Tyler Breeze, but he tries to go up top one too many times and Prince Pretty has that scouted by rolling out of the ring once and pulling him down onto his back the second time. Getting his feet up on the ropes for leverage turns the second time into a pinfall win.


- Le sigh. Clever enough attempt to work Eva Marie's mistakes into the story, but the best sign for a future under an All Red Overlord was that she was presented as a heel. Her pre-recorded promo was what I like to call "not good", but at least it wasn't attempting to garner sympathy by talking about her struggle. There's more to being a good villain than yelling the hero's signature taunt back at them 16 times in a match, though.

- Regarding the promo, and the one-quarter speed at which she continues to work in the ring...any criticism leveled at her will be explained away by her defenders/supporters as (a) an example of her unique heat-drawing abilities, (b) done on purpose to garner more jeers, and/or (c) something she's in Developmental to address. So...whatever. I didn't like any of this and don't really want to see more of it, but we're going to, so I hope her defenders/supporters are right.

- The Princess of Staten Island seems okay, though it's hard to judge her progress working with someone as green as the Total Divas star. Her moonwalk and shuffle bits look to be over, but again, Cameron could probably get cheers against Eva in Full Sail.

- They're just trolling us with the Jax vignettes now, right? Honestly don't see how she debuts until after Respect, either, so I guess we can expect a few more weeks of them.

- My favorite part of this week's show was a recap and follow-up from one part of last week's show.

- Is goofy good guy Bull Dempsey a lot more fun than angry bad guy Bull Dempsey? Yes. Does that make him any good, or someone I want to see in anything other than comedy skits and three minute matches? No.

- There's a good bit of mark in my reaction to this match, and Breeze's role at the next live event, but, darnit, I want him to be more than upper mid-card gatekeeper dude. I'm gonna have to go to a house show to see him face the champ, aren't I? Can his upper mid-card programs at least be against guys who let him show off his workrate rather than employing chinlocks for a third of the bout?

- Told you...super-cranky.


Compilation video of the promotion's three-show trip through Texas last week is shown.

General Manager William Regal is in the ring for Asuka's contract signing. He puts her over as one of the biggest talent acquisitions in NXT history, and introduces her as Kana. She play to the cheering crowd and delivers a speech about how excited she is to be here & how she plans to be Women's champ. After putting her name to paper, Dana Brooke's music cuts in as she and Emma enter.

The heels explain that they run things in the locker room, and warn Asuka that if she doesn't play nice, they'll break her. Emma dismisses the newcomer, who leaves sheepishly before shooting them a menacing grin from the stage that obviously shakes Brooke & the Aussie.

Walking backstage, Breeze learns from a faceless interviewer that he's facing Apollo Crews at TakeOver. The always exuberant Crews stops him to tell him how excited he is, and to mess with him a bit by blocking his path.

Kyle Edwards brings us up to speed on the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and reveals that Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder upset the tag champs in Austin to secure a spot in the semi-finals at Respect against the winner of next week's main event between Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady and Finn Bálor & Samoa Joe.

We're treated to promos from Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder (selling their Hype Bros shirt) and Chad Gable & Jason Jordan (making fun of the Hype Bros shirt and showing off a new "Ready, Willing, Gable" towel that we can't but should be able to buy), who will face each other this weekend at a Florida house show to determine who faces Rhyno & Baron Corbin in the semis on October 7.


- Feel like Cass & Enzo passed a major test by popping crowds in Texas with their usual Noo Yahk schtick. The cowboy hat on the seven-footer was a nice touch, though.

- Put me somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of fans who thought Asuka's debut was mishandled or revelatory. I was thrown by her coming out as a smiling, fist-pumping fan favorite...but they knew she was going to be cheered and played to that. I desperately wanted to see her throw down, and withholding that is good business, I suppose, even if to see this episode, I'm already a paying subscriber of the service where I'll eventually see her kick someone in the head. The grin of death was money, but I want to see the rest of the story unfold before I dub this an unqualified success.

- So, it wasn't as exciting for me as Hideo Itami or Bálor or Kevin Owen 's debuts, but that she got this treatment, and the laudatory introduction from Regal, says that their invested in not screwing this least at this level. The expression of extermination also plays right into a heel turn after a quick introductory angle, too, so I still give the segment a thumbs up.

- She didn't even really do anything wrong, but still, all I can think when Emma & Dana are on screen is "why is this dead weight attached to my favorite internet chef?" Seriously, never play anything other than Dark Emma's theme when she enters an arena. And cut her loose as a singles' competitor again, or finally give me her and Paige as an on-screen team now that the former Women's champ is done pinky-swearing.

- Setting aside my concerns about the Duke of Delish, and a showdown with the next big thing at TakeOver makes that difficult, but...I have reservations about Apollo's character. This week, he went from annoyingly excited to kind of a jerk. At least, that was alway my experience of guys who tried to punk you in the hallway and then laughed it off with "just playin". It's a layer, though, so I want to see where it goes...just not ready to call him a surefire main eventer yet.

- Good for the Mechanics (is it canon to call them that, or is that like "Dubstep Cowboys"?). Really wish one of their tourney matches had been on the show, because they need microphone time and general exposure to build a rapport with the Network audience. Hopefully they get a promo spot on the go home show next week.

- Getting to where Chad's catchphrase is one of my least favorite parts of he & Jordan's interviews, not because it's bad, but because they're so good at naturally and creatively being condescending pricks the rest of the time.


"We want Blue Pants" chants start shortly after BAMF & The Vaudevillains appear for the tag title main event. Ole Blue Pants herself appears when Alexa Bliss trips Simon Gotch; she wails on her nemesis a bit before chasing her backstage and away from the remainder of the in-ring action.

An apron back drop gives the challengers control, and Aiden English plays face-in-peril. He eventually gets the tag with a loud strike, and Simon Gotch cleans house with his manly offense. Blake gets the knees up on a swanton attempt by English, but Murphy can't get a pin following his diving double knee strike. Another hot tag to Gotch leads to a Whirling Dervish and the champs retain.

We close with a pair of interviews with next week's main eventers. Enzo & Cass mostly play it straight, and Finn sticks with their theme of setting their friendship aside while fighting for the right to win the tournament dedicated to their mentor. Joe continues to subtly make it clear to Bálor that he's coming for the NXT title by slapping the belt on the Irishman's shoulder and somewhat dismissively calling him champ.


- Pretty big fan of Blake & Murphy's back-to-basics tag team work, and feel like the champs have improved greatly with the tweak of letting Aiden take the beating so Simon can be the hot tag. But, wow, was it a bad idea to bring the most popular person in this feud out immediately so she could disappear with the second-most popular person in this this feud.

- Maybe it's a way of letting the guys sink or swim on their own. And while I didn't like this one as much as their match in Brooklyn, I still liked it. The crowd was kind of "meh" on it for the most part, but they did get them back by the end - Full Sail really seemed to bite on the near fall after Murphy connected with the knees.

- Still, it's hard to not believe that both of these teams are the last of NXT's old guard, destined for Superstars, while the pairs still active in the Dusty Classic are the next wave, who might actually be a part of tag renaissance on Raw & SmackDown.

- Friggin' Amore is so good..."My jaw's so hard, I could blow bubbles with a Now & Later."

- Don't care, will never not mark for a Joe promo. Turning part of the Realest Guys entrance speech back on them was definitely not S-A-W-F-T.

- Joe and 'Zo working together is gonna be dope.

- Obligatory: Corey Graves is great, and he makes so I enjoy having Byron Saxton there just say he can ridicule him.

While there was nothing glaringly wrong with this episode - even on the always divisive All Red Everything (except her ring gear, apparently) front, there was progress - I also would have zero qualms with telling someone they could skip the hour in its entirety and not really miss anything.

Grade: C

Keep in mind the crankiness (which will hopefully pass by the time I've caught some Zzzs and read the first batch of comments), let us know what you think, and party on.

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