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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (May 4, 2016): Now and then

We're back at Full Sail! Is that a good thing? Let's find out...


Your new NXT champion is a man who keeps his word. Samoa Joe is like death and taxes... inevitable. If anyone has a problem with the new era which began when he defeated Finn Bálor in Lowell, Joe invites them to step up so he can beat them down and choke them out.

Cue some unfamiliar music, and a wild-eyed bearded man walks out on stage... it's Eric Young! Tom Phillips and Corey Graves inform us this is the hottest free agent in the world as the Florida crowd chants "Holy $#!+".

Young says they know each other well, and that things have changed for Joe since he came to NXT. EY is here for a change himself, and he collects championships. After a brief face-off, the champ leaves the ring and says Young doesn't beling in the same one with him. He says next time they find each other there, he'll kick his ass.

Despite getting a full entrance, Tessa Blanchard barely lasts more than a minute with Nia Jax. The smaller woman dodges a splash and lands a couple strikes, but mostly takes Jax's Samoan & Leg drop combo and a loss.

Our promised Austin Aries in action is up next, as he faces Tye Dillinger. Both guys get love from Full Sail to start, but the crowd is on the side of the Perfect 10 before too long. Dillinger gets in a lot of offense, including a beautiful backbreaker, but A-Double wins a striking battle mid-match which sets up a plancha and neckbreaker on the second rope. Tye gets a nearfall on a TKO, but gets caught with the rolling elbow after taking too long to expose his knee and takes a pin following a 450 splash to end a four and a half minute match.

  • You don't need to hear me ooh and ahh about a Joe promo, but this was fantastic. The new champ raised the bar throughout this whole segment, from "death and taxes" to promising to beat down and choke out pretenders to his throne to and especially actually leaving the ring to tell EY he doesn't belong in the same one as him. Great stuff.
  • This is also now the second best response to someone interupting you, after any time Kevin Owens reacts to Sami Zayn's music (thanks Tape Machines!): 
  • Young held up his end here, even if "crazy EY" is in the middle of the pack on my personal ranking of his gimmicks (seriously, dude is like Cody Rhodes or Damien Sandow in terms of finding something that works in every character he's ever been given). But much of my frustration with this episode and NXT as a brand right now was evidenced in his arrival. Having a guy show up while the announcers freak out is not a build. Just because it worked for AJ Styles at the Rumble doesn't mean it's foolproof. This felt like filler, and I'm an EY fan who knows about his history with Joe. I can't imagine this moved the needle with folks who can't say the same.
  • Where was William Regal? This "guy shows up, makes his own match" stuff gets mocked on the main roster, and it should be mocked here. NXT used to provide rationale and build for Brodus friggin' Clay matches. Now, having TNA on your résumé (which commentary won't address in any meaningful way) takes its place.
  • Is this Joe-centric episode a sign we'll be seeing more of the NXT champ on Wednesday now? Or is this a one-off due to the title change happening off television and Full Sail not having seen him with the belt? Considering Asuka and American Alpha are showing signs of succumbing to "disappearing titleist syndrome", I'm thinking this is a special occassion.
  • The "Nia's getting a title shot" squash was fine. My kingdom for some character development. Or, remember that scene where Eva Marie was mocking Jax for being injured and unable to compete in the battle royal? Maybe something could come of that, someday ever.
  • Aries/Dillinger was probably the match I most enjoyed on the show, but mostly because I went along with Full Sail and pretended Tye was the técnico and Aries the rudo. Hopefully, the interview he gave later is a sign A-Double is headed to villainy, because it suits him better, and I have no idea what he's doing in NXT. I don't think it's too much to ask that we have a clue about that four-and-a-half months after his live debut and two months after his televised one.
  • Really well executed nearfall on the TKO/neckbreaker thing Tye does. I thought he might win it there, which was the only moment of suspense I've experienced watching non-TakeOver NXT in a couple of months.


Replay package for Dash & Dawson's attack of Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley last week leads us into Revival vs. Hype Bros. Wilder starts with Ryder, and the former Intercontinental champ is immediately muscled into the heels' corner. From there, they do their thing and work him over for the better part of the match's four minute runtime. Iced Z slips free for a tag and Rawley runs through his repertoire, ending with a tackle of Dash. The Hype man doesn't see a tag to Dawson, however, and turns into a Shatter Machine.

New interviewer Andrea D’Marco gets the unenviable task of talking to Alex Riley about his match next week against Shinsuke Nakamura. A-Ry says he doesn't know what Strong Style is, and will dominate the Japanese Superstar thanks to his size, athleticism and RAGE.

Dancing time, as No Way Jose makes his Full Sail debut against Noah Kekoa (who either went by a different last name or just his first name). Basic squash, with the exception of a punch from Noah landing, which lights a fire under Jose. He wins in a couple minutes with his baseball right hand and a full-nelson slam.

Pausing before eating a banana, Aries chats with Cathy Kelley. After complimenting her on her looks, he observes that he's flying under the radar in NXT despite a successful couple months. But he's willing to use his initiative and is confident he'll get noticed, like he has in every company for whom he's worked.

  • Second straight week with a fun Revival squash, but not as good as last week. Which I guess means 3.0 > Hype Bros?
  • Could wax on about Dash & Dawson's ringwork like I do Joe promos, so I'll just point out how much I dug Wilder putting his knee up for his partner to bounce Zack's head off of during one of their corner quick tags.
  • For those wondering, the new interviewer has worked the smaller Florida house shows as a part-timer. Her full-time gig was as the "host" of Florida Panthers' home home hockey games. Her real last name is Ocampo, so D'Marco is her WWE name.
  • She seems alright. Not terribly polished, but more comfortable than some other folks they've had in the role (still miss you, Devin). Riley, on the other hand, does not seem alright. I sure do hope he gets kneed a lot next week.
  • Noah... whatever his surname is... is taller than I pictured him.
  • Call me the fun police, but I'm still not excited by Jose. Lots of folks are, and that's great. It looks like it would be something I'd easily get into live. As it is, "he's Dominican so he dances and likes baseball" isn't a character, and it's a gimmick many of us would blast if Vince McMahon was rolling it out instead of Triple H. Put stuff like this on the show between his matches instead of that same techno hype video... it would make a world of difference.
  • Don't know if it was or not, but I can't be the only one who was thinking about Aries incident with Christy Hemme when he's waving a banana around and congratulating Kelley on looking good, right? Either way, that has to be the start of a heel turn, right?


A video hyping the return of former NXT champ Bálor chronicles his feud with Joe, and teases that we'll see more of his demonic dark side.

The two veterans start our main event slowly, before Young gets the upper hand and an early pin attempt after a neckbreaker. It doesn't last long as the champ just grabs him and throws him outside, following that with a suicide elbow to take us to commercial.

Middle section is mostly Joe destroying EY, with a rest spot for a nerve hold. Young hangs in there, eventually leaping to the apron when he's whipped into the corner and sliding between his opponent's legs to launch an attack that ends with a nearfall after a flying elbow.

Joe fights off a piledriver, and charges at Young in the corner. Eric dodges, but gets caught by the STJoe. The champ takes him to slap city, puts him up top for the Muscle Buster and then locks in the Coquina Clutch to this non-title match by submission in eleven minutes.

The Samoan Submission Machine holds Young in the choke until the referee counts five, and then holds the title up as the show closes.

  • Getting excited about character development for Finn is like getting your hopes up for Women's wrestling on the main roster. This was a cool video, but I'm gonna need some proof before I get fired up about "embracing the demon".
  • Tonight's main event felt like someone was trying to reclaim the feel of the "golden era of NXT" (Fall of 2014) where we routinely got great ten minute final bouts, but forgot that those weren't just indy supercard contests, but the result of having numerous characters with unique personalities and motivations to want to wrestle and defeat one another.
  • The match was fine, and I liked both men's work, but it was very "take it or leave it" until the final couple minutes. Some of that's the action, some of it's the non-title-but-if-he-wins-he-jumps-to-the-front-of-the-line stakes, and some of it's that I don't really know who this version of Young is.
  • Wrote more about it last week (here), but I don't have a problem with their bringing in TNA guys. I understand why they're doing it, and think it makes good business sense. But A-Double and EY are not Nakamura, and Joe vs. Young with little build isn't Swagsuke/Zayn. The problem I do have is they've gotten away from establishing characters and using them to build angles. Those issues are not caused by people who used to work for Dixie Carter, but they are exacerbated when using Impact veterans in lieu of stories.
  • Joe, however, remains on fire. The finish and his post-match dickery were choice.

If, like me, you hoped Full Sail would shift us out of neutral and signal a return to greatness, I imagine you were disappointed. There's good wrestling and fun to be had here, but it still feels like we're spinning our wheels.

Grade: C-

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