Three big matches, with several people you’ll see next Monday and Tuesday night!
New Raw color commentator Corey Graves describes our opener as a battle of super-heavyweights, and it starts with Rhyno trying to knock NXT champ Samoa Joe down with shoulder blocks - something it takes him three attempts to do. Joe fights back out of the corner and gets a nearfall after a series of strikes and slams. Another cover off an elbow drop leads to a nerve (rest) hold, but the Man-Beast fights out. He runs into an inverted Atomic Drop, but dodges the Senton to set-up a big belly-to-belly suplex. A couple of tries for a Gore get him a boot in the face and an S-T-Joe, and he ends up tapping to the Coquina Clutch after the latter to give the champ a non-title win in approximately six and a half minutes.
Andrea D’Marco catches up with Women’s champ Asuka to get her thoughts about facing the winner of tonight’s Nia Jax vs. Bayley showdown. The Empress of Tomorrow says she’d fight either or both of them.
With American Alpha coming up next Tom Phillips mentions yesterday’s WWE main roster draft, and we’re treated to the usual slick video on the NXT selections.
- Serviceable opener which basically just served as a reminder our champ is a bad, bad man. Using the Master of the Gore both meant he got to squash a name, and provided impressive visuals as he beat-up someone his own size.
- Weird as it is, I hope Rhyno shows up a couple times of year, demands a title match and, once defeated, marches off campus in his singlet.
- The Women’s champ is trying, bless her heart, and I probably wouldn’t be able to deliver lines in Japanese on camera either no matter how much preparation I received. How little we’ve seen of her since The End..., combined with how this segment was set-up, doesn’t make me thing they have a ton of confidence in her getting much bigger than she is now.
- Very cool that they edited in the references and video of the draft stuff. It would have been awkward to not mention it, and presenting it in this light actually framed the matches with the call-ups in a more sympathetic light than if I’d just watched them as a jaded smark thinking "of course Alpha or Nia lost, they’ve been promoted".
- Remain curious/concerned about NXT’s announce team, however, and Corey’s promotion wasn’t mentioned at all. Hopefully, he and Tom will return to Full Sail once a month for tapings.
New SmackDown Superstars Chad Gable & Jason Jordan hit the stage to enter for their match against the Authors of Pain, but the new team assaults them before they can reach the ring. Both Alphas end up thrown from the sides of the ramp, at which point Paul Ellering emerges to walk his charges in as we head to a commercial.
General Manager William Regal is checking on the former tag champs while the announce team sells them being too beat up to have a match, but the babyfaces grab an official and storm the ring. Gable & Jordan clean house and even once the referee officially starts the contest, hit the monsters with a double suplex to Full Sail’s delight. Gable bridges into a cover, but to no avail. The Authors resume control, throwing the smaller man into a bear hug to begin really working him over.
Escaping to tag his partner, Jordan comes in like the proverbial house afire. He suplexes everyone, but can’t get more than a one count. Gable gets in for another impressive show of suplexing a 300 pound opponent, but the Authors keep coming and line up their finisher. JJ prevents that and the action spills to the floor where Jason flies onto the AoP. A baseball slide by his partner ends with him being swung into the barricade, and then Jordan gets sent into the steps. With that taken care of, Ellering’s men can finally hit their leg sweep/lariat finisher on Gable and an impressive victory in just under seven minutes.
Backstage, Cathy Kelley checks in with tag champs The Revival about what’s next for them now that they won their rematch with American Alpha. Dash & Dawson say they’ve beaten everyone, which cues Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa to enter and remind them of when the cruiserweights beat them. The champs claim it was a fluke, but the indie stars will be looking for a rematch to prove it wasn’t.
After a teaser for Hideo Itami’s return to television in two weeks, Tough Enough’s Patrick Clark makes his NXT TV debut. The patriotically dressed Superstar lasts about two minutes against Austin Aries before he taps to Last Chancery.
Aries leaves the hold on for a while after Clark submits, and jaws with fans afterwards. No Way Jose runs in for retribution from A-Double’s sneak attack of a few weeks back. Jose lights him up with strikes, fighting through a team of officials to chase the veteran off into the seats.
- Also keeping my cynicism caused by knowledge of roster moves in check was the fact that both matches featuring draftees had phenomenal babyfaces in them. I miss American Alpha’s douche-y arrogance in interviews, but sacrificing that is a small price to pay for getting to see them work técnico in tag bouts.
- Other than Gable & Jordan shining by really selling their never-say-die attitude while still getting put down and making the new guys look great, this was a solid showcase for AoP. They’re convincing hosses, but they also actually wrestle.
- Ellering needs to do some talking next time. Phillips keeping kayfabe that he doesn’t even know the Authors’ names is cute, but we’ve taken it about as far as we can. Time to learn something about these guys.
- Ciampa & Gargano as contenders is a nice consolation prize for losing American Alpha. Really looking forward to what’s hopefully an extended program with the champs (clink me).
- S***head Aries is great, really liked Jose showing some fire (and even this hater will admit to smirking when he still swayed his hips when the officials were making him back away from Aries during his attack). Good stuff here.
- Clark’s ring gear is really memorable, and really weird if you don’t know anything about him or his house show gimmick.
Main event time, and Nia Jax flashes some new moves as she evades offense from Bayley. She also employs some ruthless strategy by hitting her opponent with Snake Eyes and then tossing her to the floor, aiming for a quick countout win. The Hugster beats the referee’s count, of course, but runs into more power offense from Jax. She dodges a charge to land a few strikes and try to work the arm, but the comeback is short-lived and Nia throws her back through the ropes as we take a break.
More of the same when we return, with the former champ eating slams, then being thrown out of the ring again. Bayley makes it back in at a count of nine, and is tossed from post-to-post until she counters a fourth attempt to send her crashing to the floor to put Jax through the ropes. Nia also has to scramble to avoid a countout after an attempt to put B into the steps results in her crashing into them herself. Nia finds herself on the receiving end of strikes on the apron and a couple of shoulder blocks in the corner before she manages to get her knee up to stop the barrage.
Bayley continues her efforts to put the larger woman on the mat, and when a drop kick fails, she connects with a top rope cross body and gets a two count. Nia recovers quickly and goes for a Powerbomb, but that’s countered into another nearfall on a roll-up. A Jackhammer out of nowhere leads to a really close call. Frustrated, Jax teases the leg drop but pushes the Hugster to the corner where she climbs to the second rope. The ace recovers and rushes in for a Hugplex, winning this showdown in just under fourteen minutes.
- I read the spoilers (heck, I wrote ‘em). I knew Nia was moving to Raw and therefore probably not heading to a Triple Threat at Brooklyn as Asuka’s promo teased. But I’ll be damned if I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. Because Bayley.
- Slightly different structure from their London encounter, or the one on the road to the last TakeOver, but without recreating the wheel. I don’t think I liked it quite as much as Nia’s title match against Asuka, but that’s more a case of their styles meshing really well. This was a solid television main event, though.
- Just a reminder - women getting fifteen minutes in the main event spot on NXT’s weekly show is no longer newsworthy. That’s pretty freaking cool.
- What else can I say? I’m a giant Bayley mark, and part of me is glad she’s still here, because I don’t think we’ll get to see her work matches like this except maybe once or twice a year on the main roster. And while I didn’t think she’d be drafter, nor do I think she’s Sasha mystery partner on Sunday, she’ll be on Raw or SmackDown before the end of the year, so I’m going to enjoy her here while I can.
- Covered my thoughts on Nia’s prospects elsewhere, but nothing I saw here changes that evaluation. She’s not quite ready, but she’s really close. And everything we’ve seen regarding her work ethic and teachability leads me to bet on her continuing to evolve on Raw.
- A word on the Jackhammer spot... it looked a little scary, and I think Graves’ comment that it could have been bad was half work/half shoot. But I hope they get that ironed out, because it would be an awesome finisher for her. And they could call it the "Jax-hammer".
All three shows which came out of the June 24 taping felt different, but they were all enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I’m among those who are feeling down about the brand split main roster, but I’m more excited for NXT right now than I have been in a long time.
Did the show help you find your smile, Cagesiders?