Last show from a set of tapings I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. Can they close out strong?
Both Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger get full entrances for the premiere of Glorious 10. There’s also a bit of one upmanship, as Roode strikes his pose on last time in the ring so Full Sail can scream GLORIOUS, then Tye shake his ass (he has “10” on the back of his trunks) and gets the crowd to yell TEN when flashes his fingers at his tag partner.
The fun and games come to an abrupt stop when the lights go out, the fog machine kicks in, a bass riff hits the speakers and four masked individuals hit the stage. As they enter, the larger two reveal themselves to be Alexander Wolfe & Sawyer Fulton, the men who are entered in the Dusty Classic. Wolfe starts with Dillinger, and employs an unhinged style, getting the best of him and tagging in Fulton. Roode considers entering to help his partner, but decides against it, putting his robe back on and backing up the ramp while Dillinger looks on in angry shock. SAnitY hits a suplex-into-a-slam tandem maneuver for the pin.
Afterwards, the masked duo enter the ring, and the smallest one lays into Dillinger with punches. She’s pulled off by Wolfe, and removes her jacket and mask. It’s Nikki Cross! She attackes Tye again, and the other hooded figure pulls her off this time. He unmasks, and it’s Eric Young! The lights go back out and they all stare and smile wildly at the cameras when a spotlight hits them.
Backstage, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce are interviewed about Billie’s match with Liv Morgan tonight. They mock the Jersey girl, and Kay points out that though Asuka beat Liv in under a minute, she’s gonna drag their match out so she can enjoy it.
Catching up with Roode, he deflects all criticism about abandoning Dillinger. He says he’s not even a tag wrestler, and he only entered the Dusty because Tye begged him to. The fault belongs to the Perfect Ten, who is a loser.
- Well, this opening couldn’t have gone any better, I don’t think.
- Seeing him live this past weekend raised my appreciation for Dillinger considerably, and I was already a giant fan of the It Factor. I’m sad to see their oddball pairing end before it really begins, but I’m stoked for the feud to come. These Canadian boys might blow the roof off the joint in Toronto.
- In one sense, they didn’t give us much to go on with the new group. In another, they gave us everything we need. EY gives them credibility, Cross is immediately something different from any female character we’ve had in NXT, and Wolfe & Fulton are manic muscle - which is all they need to be right now. Their theme is another perfect fit from CFO$, the fog and spotlights make you feel like you’re watching an escape from a mental hospital... everything about their debut worked.
- If you’re new to Eric Young, this is a great role for him. Aside from a brief period where TNA cast him as their Daniel Bryan (and he was good playing that character, too), he’s spent a lot of his career playing “crazy” and leading stables. The World Elite were gonna be the shit until Hogan & Bischoff came along, but I digress...
- Reports from house shows - something Young hasn’t been doing yet - indicate Cross is a frequent and physical presence in Wolfe & Fulton’s matches. It’s probably not gonna lead to Lucha Underground-style inter-gender matches, but it’s as close as we’ll get from WWE. And it’s a great spot for a wrestler who’s basically a terrier who thinks she’s a doberman.
- Impressive how Kay & Royce’s promos have managed to feel fresh, even though on paper they’re doing the stereotypical mean girls act we’ve seen a bunch of times this century.
- Roode’s revising of recent history to explain his cowardice is... wait for it... splendorous! (You were expecting perhaps some other superlative)
Accompanied to the ring by Peyton Royce, Billie Kay gets caught early in her match against Liv Morgan. An early small package and a backslide after a basement dropkick both result in nearfalls. Knees and a rib breaker allow the taller Kay to take control, and eventually leads to a painful-looking torture rack submission hold. Liv survives that and brings Billie down with an STO. A clothesline and another dropkick look like they might signal the end, but Peyton trips Morgan up when she goes to run the ropes, and allows the Femme Fatale to win with a big boot in about three and a half minutes.
Replay of Andrade “Cien” Almas’ turn on Cedric Alexander is followed by the Andrea D’Marco’s fallout interview where he speaks mostly in Spanish but express his anger about the crowd cheering for Alexander rather than him. Pre-taped promos from Riddick Moss & Tino Sabatelli establish the two Performance Center talents as cocky athletes who decided to stop competing against each other in order to compete against everyone else.
Their match against TM-61 is next. Shane Thorn & Nick Miller employ quick tags while working with Moss to start while the crowd chants “We want Tino”/”No we don’t” (Sabatelli is from Florida, was featured on Breaking Ground and has been in developmental for a couple years). He tries to run in, but gets caught by a dropkick. The heel newcomers finally get something going when Tino pulls the ropes down on Thorne as he was prepping for a dive.
Returning from commercial, Moss & Thorne tag in and out to hit double-team maneuvers on Thorne. Shane struggles to get to his corner, but comes up short several times - including once on a nifty spot where Sabatelli catches him off a springboard and transitions fluidly into scoop slam. Eventually, Nick gets tagged in and clears house. The big spot here is a delayed suplex on Riddick. Tino breaks up the pin and knocks Thorne from the apron, but both teams get to their corner and Sabatelli quickly falls to a running kick. A trip to Thunder Valley moves the Aussies on to round two after eight and a half minutes.
- This middle act of tonight’s episode was a bit of a drag. It’s necessary, so they’re not solely focused on performers who don’t need to be in developmental, but I didn’t feel like anyone in these two matches hit a home run.
- Morgan & Kay never really got into a rhythym, and was fairly sloppy. Both women can do better, so probably best to chalk it up to an off night and see what they do next. It established the heel duo as a possible threat to the Empress of Tomorrow, and built Liv’s rep as a plucky babyface - and those are the important things.
- ACA’s promo was fine, but I’d like to see more cavalier roguishness instead of jealousy. But this is the first thing they filmed after the turn, so we should be patient. Kind of surprised they didn’t squeeze an interview with Alexander into the show, but this show was designed to careen into its big finish - and not having a lot of backstage stuff helped that.
- Unlike the Aussie girls in their talking segment, Sabatelli & Moss didn’t break out from theirs as anything other than generic arrogant dudes.
- Feel like a bit of a broken record on the former TMDK, but despite pretty much flawlessly executing the tecnico tag team playbook, they’re still not clicking. Do they need to work with a team who can keep up with them? Most of their bouts have been with relatively green guys like Authors of Pain and now these two former football players.
- Not sure having them sell for that long for two guys who aren’t established on television really helps Miller & Thorne’s cause either.
- Itami’s injury may be changing all kinds of plans for their half of the bracket - if not the whole tournament - but Nick & Shane should get Austin Aries & another guy who’s real good at wrestling in round 2. If they still leave me flat after that, I’ll probably start to panic about TM-61.
We learn that next week’s episode will include Rich Swann & No Way Jose debuting as a team against Raw’s Tony Nese & Drew Gulak, then it’s time for the next phase of the longest tag team break-up in history.
Still entering to BAMF’s old theme music, Buddy Murphy is out before “Beautiful Blonde” Wesley Blake and his new slow jam. After a standoff of headlocks, Blake launches a flurry of strikes while loudly declaring himself the better man. Murphy knocks him to the floor with an elbow, and follows that up with a topé con hilo. But just as he’s rolling him back in... here comes Samoa Joe.
While he’s taking down Buddy, Blake tries to stop Joe, but the Beautiful One gets leveled, as well. A uranage on the apron finishes that, and the former champ gets on the stick to issue his now weekly ultimatum to General Manager William Regal - give me Nakamura, or give me my championship.
He’s still in the ring when we get back from a quick commercial, but as soon as he reiterates his demands, Shinsuke Nakamura’s music hits. The champ steps out onto the stage wearing a neckbrace and Joe smiles. But when he takes it off and charges the ring, that look changes.
The brawl for a few seconds until “security” shows up to separate them. Nakamura breaks through the blockade a few times, but they’re eventually separated long enough for Joe to slink away. A still-furious Shinsuke takes out his frustration on the officials, including flattening Niko Bogojevic with his finisher. While that’s going on, Joe returns to charge up the ramp and reignite the brawl.
After battling back to the ring, Nak gets the upperhand. He connects with Kinshasa, and leaves Joe laying in the ring as he exits to close the show.
- Chalk the kiss-blowing Blake up as someone else whose stock rose for me after seeing him live. He’s a super-fun lower-to-mid-card heel. But, I may be the only NXT recapper alive who digs the ongoing BAMF story, so...
- Murphy was starting to flash some impressive offense right before he and his ex got got, too. While I don’t see gold in their future, they’re solid hands who have a built-in story due to their issues with one another (and Corey Graves - on fire as usual all episode - running down Buddy’s tough luck tales). Those are valuable pieces to have - especially in “Developmental”.
- Like the opening angle, the closing one sucked me in completely. There’s basically nothing about it I would change.
- NXT loves to go to these brawls in order to ramp up tension on rematches we weren’t sure we wanted, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work every time.
- As big a fan as I am for Joe’s verbal stylings (and I don’t think I’m alone considering how Full Sail was amped for the first “REEEEGGGGAAAL”), the last ten minutes could of been a silent movie and you still would have known everything you need to know about this feud.
- The most amazing trick they pulled off here was making Nakamura even more of a bad ass. The free-wheelin’, nose-stealin’ prankster was gone, and in his place was a ruthless man who didn’t care if the innocent got hurt in his quest for vengeance. All while looking like Japanese Prince. I love this show.
If NXT is losing viewers, and I believe it probably is, based on our traffic and anecdotal observations about “buzz”, I think it has to be due to over-saturation of wrestling product more than anything else.
The four episodes from this taping proved its still a solid, entertaining product, with a good mix of hot acts and new faces in matches that are usually at least decent used as part of characters behaving logically.
This may have been my favorite of the bunch. While uneven, the highs were so high - and the lows coming from talent I don’t expect to be knocking my socks off just yet - that its an episode I’ll revisit in the future when I’m looking for catch a great hour of one of my favorite shows.
Tell me, do you think that’s inSAne, Cagesiders?