400 episodes and going Strong (get it?) - let’s NXT!
You don’t need my pathetic attempts at play-by-play. This week, you got the Master of Movez, the Sultan of Spots, the one-and-only ReverendKain live blogging this here wrestling show for you. Head here for a description of everything that happened.
Reactions to SAnitY’s win over Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno:
- Welp, my love of Alexander Wolfe isn’t diminishing any time soon. The opener featured a compelling story between two great wrestlers in Itami and Ohno, facing off against a guy WWE clearly sees a lot in in Killian Dain, and I can’t keep my eyes off the goofy German dude.
- I’m a little less enamored with the program Hideo and Kassius are working after tonight (they also got a fallout video where Itami blames Ohno for the loss and KO says Hideo’s been pointing fingers and not taking ownership of his actions since Chicago - you can watch that here). There’s still a little gray, mostly because Ohno’s constant harping about setting an example is annoying, especially considering he still loses 99% of the time. But otherwise, it looks like we’re still headed to a feud between the two with Itami as the bad guy, which isn’t as interesting to me as the tandem turn I was hoping for... we shall see.
- Hats off to Itami for working this in the same night as both the Lorcan bouts which aired last week. You could still see the slap mark on his chest, and he probably had two nostrils full of clots, too.
- Seriously, though... how great is Wolfe? Voluntarily taking the GTS in order to secure the win for his team, and the way he sold the move, slumped in the corner with a smile on his face, is probably the best thing anyone’s done to get over what SAnitY is all about (not counting everything Nikki Cross ever does).
- Props to Nigel McGuinness for pointing out the smile while Wolfe was still on Itami’s shoulders, too. I can not give Percy Watson any props, nor much more time to prove himself a useful member of the commentary team. When you say things like, “Know why I call Ohno ‘money’? Because that rolling elbow is money”... I have to throw in the towel, Showtime.
Reactions to Bobby Roode’s win over Roderick Strong to retain the NXT title:
- Nobody can sell a match like WWE’s production team and they put together a nice combination of video package/interview/ramped up entrances for this one. My only knock is probably that, considering the feud is only a month old and basically consists of two segments, we probably didn’t need such an extensive look back. But better too much than not enough.
- They’ve gotten more out of the “Who is Roderick Strong?” build than I thought they would as well. Mostly, I’m surprised it hasn’t become overly cloying and caused cynical bastards like me to roll their eyes. But fiancee Marina Shafir, Mama Strong and most of Full Sail still had Roddy’s back, so by golly, so did I.
- Roode deserves some credit for that, too. Especially in the later stages of this one, he did some grade A heeling. Just glaring at Marina rather than saying much was very effective, especially as he methodically destroyed the Strongs’ dream after referee Drake Wuertz re-started the match because his foot was under the ropes on the post-End of Heartache three count.
- It’s something I’ve marveled at before, but the way Bobby can channel the pop his entrance gets into heat once the match starts is pretty remarkable.
- The champ’s selling is quite something, too, and probably underrated. Especially paired with someone with perfectly crisp offense like Strong, his theatrical but not overstated bumps are really effective in moving the story along, and were a big asset to Roddy’s hope spots and comeback.
- What’s up with the “teeth” spitting, though? At Chicago, I thought he had a pack of gum in his mouth, but now I think he uses something that makes his spit white. Whatever it is, he was probably doing it a bit too much in this one, as it looked like he lost two mouths full of teeth - including a few when he wasn’t even getting hit.
- Overall, a pretty good match that served Roddy quite well. I don’t know how long he can pull off hard-working family man as his main personality trait, but it’s still working.
- Probably just about time for the Glorious One to mosey on up to the main roster. He’s not getting any younger, the entrance will help him wherever he goes and we’ve done just about every variation on “conniving heel barely wins/retains”. Especially considering other segments on this show, and the company YouTube channel afterwards. were moving someone else closer to the main event...
Reactions to everything else:
- If you haven’t seen it, the above video is SAnitY attacked Drew McIntyre outside after he name-dropped Dain as someone who he’d happily go through to get the NXT title. Have I mentioned how much I adore Alexander “hop on your car so my big friend can blindside you, then plop my ass in some patio furniture to mock you after my big friend threw you into a trash can” Wolfe?
- McIntyre’s ascension feels inevitable, but I am enjoying how he’s earning his “Chosen One” status this time. It’s an interesting point of comparison for those of us who were around for his original main roster run.
- In addition to Drew’s chat with Christy St. Cloud, we got two other interviews that advanced three or four different angles. First, I love how they’re using different locations around the Performance Center for talking segments. It’s much better than always being in a hallway with a yellow backdrop. Second, maybe it’s the comic book geek in me, but the casual interaction between roster members here ruled! Having Andrade “Cien” Almas arguing with his mysterious lady friend behind the Iconic Duo in the weight room, or Ruby Riot overhearing Ember Moon in the gym, makes it feel like a cohesive universe populated by these diverse characters rather than individual stories which happen to be occurring simultaneously.
- Also, Riot vs. Moon... F*** YEAH. While I’ve been critical of Ember’s character/presentation in the past, I like how they’ve dialed back the colored contacts and the catchphrase-y promos (could still stand to lose this “warpath” line she’s worked in to recent interviews) and are just making it about her desire to be the best. Especially with a champ like Asuka, that’s a smart route to take.
- No clue what’s going on with either Peyton Royce and Billie Kay or Cien and whatever Thea Trinidad’s character’s name will be. But I enjoy watching PeyKay throw tantrums, and all forward progress for Almas is good forward progress, so thumbs up to both.
- Johnny FREAKING Wrestling is back next week!
Like the varied interview locations, every week of NXT has been structured a little bit differently of late. The padded build to the main event felt like a little much, but this week’s show was really about inching a bunch of stories and characters toward what is looking like a massive Brooklyn show (maybe the first three hour TakeOver?)... and it did a solid job at that while delivering some fun action, as well.