Welcome to another NXT review! Last week we built up to this week’s main event, a triple threat match to determine the Number One Contender for the NXT Championship. All three Superstars involved have valid claims to challenge champion Finn Bálor, but which one will prove himself superior? We will find out later.
Also on this episode, tag team action, the return of a Superstar on the injured list, storyline progression and much more.
Let’s get to it.
Segment 1: Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy w.Alexa Bliss vs. American Alpha
In a match that showcased the best of both teams, American Alpha started with the advantage, with Jordan besting Murphy in an intense chain wrestling sequence ending with a giant slam. Murphy played heel to perfection, convincingly faking a serious knee injury that allowed Blake to take Gable’s own knee out from under him when his guard dropped.
The rest of the match focused on the former Tag Team champs targeting Gable’s injury, Alexa even getting in on the action herself. When an exhausted Gable tagged in Jordan, the match was over in short order, ending with their signature suplex/bridge combo.
Technically sound, with characters and in ring story conveyed well, I really don’t have many complaints.
TL;DR: Another good match in the Tag Division. Not much more to add. Rating: 3.25/5.
Segment 2: Emma and Dana Brooke Backstage Promo
Emma has a match with Women’s Division Number One Contender Carmella next week, but she and bestie Brooke are dismissive of the Staten Island Princess. Saying that Carmella hasn’t done a thing to her, Emma claims that any of her success is attributed to luck, as she couldn’t beat Bayley or Emma herself, even losing to Blue Pants.
Brooke doesn’t have much to add, but gets Tom Phillips’ name wrong twice, and contemptuously pats him on the head as they sweep off. Characters firmly in place, they deliver an effective promo that moves the storylines forward.
TL;DR: Carmella set up as underdog very well by Mean Girl heels, very believable. Grade: B+ for both.
Next, a video recaps Asuka’s journey in NXT so far, doing quite a good job of building hype for her and selling her as the monster of the Women’s Division. While Carmella may be Number One Contender, let’s not forget that she’s still out there.
Segment 3: Liv Morgan vs. Nia Jax w. Eva Marie
Newcomer Jax gets to show off her prowess in a squash match against fellow newcomer Morgan. Marie accompanies her to the ring, and does what I think everyone knows she can do best: stand there and look pretty. The booking does a good job showing Morgan’s absolute lack of chance against Jax, with her biggest attempt at offense, a Triangle Choke, laughed off. One Sidewalk Slam and Leg Drop later, Morgan is dispatched, and the BFFs head on back. Truly, when both performers are pretty green, you can’t really expect perfection, but even so I was bored.
TL;DR: Jobber squashed, exposure for Eva (the future of the Women’s Davison? Oh, please, Corey), but not much excitement. Rating: 2.75/5.
Segment 4: Carmella, Colin Cassady and Enzo Amore Backstage Promo
Team SAWFT responds to both Emma and Brooke and Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson, with Carmella starting off by asserting that she’ll prove the doubters wrong and that the “Emmalution is a joke”. Cass jumps in, calling the Mechanics fat, and all that makes them a credible tag team in this division are the championship belts. Enzo finishes by growling into the camera that the NXT Universe are looking at stars and commands Wilder and Dawson to “punch yourself, or we will”.
TL;DR: Probably my favorite promo of the night, these guys prove why they’re some of the most charismatic Superstars in the business. Grade: A.
A couple of vignettes are shown for Baron Corbin and the Vaudevillains, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Moving along.
Segment 5: Bull Dempsey vs. Alex Riley
I wasn’t watching NXT when Alex Riley hurt his knee last spring, and apparently he used to be part of the announce team at one time, so I didn’t have expectations of this match at first. Was I wrong. The crowd loved him, until it became evident that Riley had a bug in his ear about something.
Snarling “This is what NXT’s come to, huh?”, he laid a vicious beatdown on the Master of BullFit, including a beautiful spinebuster and putting him away with a knee to the jaw. The announce team make sure to say that Riley didn’t have much ring rust to shake off, and honestly, I’d have to agree. For a squash, this was pretty good.
TL;DR: An impressive introduction to Alex Riley for me, an enjoyable match for everyone. I wouldn’t rate it higher than the opening match, though. Rating: 3/5 stars.
Segment 6: Alex Riley Backstage Promo
In what appears to be the locker room, a victorious Riley bitterly recounts his time injured; updating Stamford however he could and never receiving a response. Meanwhile, Sami seemed to have a vignette on the show every other week, and we know what Apollo Crews had for breakfast this morning. So, he’s been forgotten. Eight years with the company, and this is what he gets. Hmm. I’m liking the intensity, and intrigued to see where this goes.
TL;DR: Alex Riley’s back, baby, did you miss him? You probably didn’t. Short, sweet, well-acted, and sets up future storylines. Grade: B+.
Segment 7: John Skyler vs. Elias Samson
The Drifter has blown back into town…and the crowd’s not liking it very well. The ladies at least cheered when his shirt came off. In his match with Skyler, the intended effect, I think, is that Samson is an enigma who turns into something of a maniac in the ring. I wasn’t seeing it, unfortunately. He comes off as creepy in the ring, true, but when a somewhat plodding match ends with a flying knee and a neckbreaker, good ideas can get lost. I really hope this gets turned around. I see potential here.
TL;DR: The Drifter gimmick isn’t working. Make his ring work more exciting, and the crowd might buy the concept. Rating: 2.25/5.
Segment 8: Hype Bros Backstage Promo
Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder comment on the Vaudevillians vignettes, saying that they’re “not really [our] style”. They launch from there into Ryder complaining that Rawley calls himself a chick magnet, acting like the lovable, hyper, but somewhat dimwitted frat boys we’ve all come to enjoy. It takes a turn, however, when Rawley unashamedly admits to watching Ryder sleep, “watching my bro’s back”. A slightly creeped out Ryder orders him to stop it, perhaps teasing a bro breakup? Regardless, we will see what happens next week, when the Hype Bros face the Vaudevillians. Well done, boys.
TL;DR: An interesting angle may be beginning, and these two sell it like mad. Grade: A-.
Before the main event, a Samoa Joe package is shown, along with a recap of the Number One Contender story thus far.
Segment 9: NXT Championship Number One Contender Triple Threat : Baron Corbin vs. Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn
So, here we are. The Main Event. The crowd is buzzing as Corbin stalks out, then Joe. They explode as Zayn emerges, and sing his theme to him, to the displeasure of his opponents. The match is frenetic and fun, with men thrown in and out of the ring regularly, offense traded with the force of car crashes, and spectacular spots.
My favorites included Zayn somersaulting over the top rope onto both of them, a top rope maneuver by Corbin reversed into the Blue Thunder Bomb, Joe’s running enzugiri reversed into the End of Days, and the ending sequence, which was as controversial as it was interesting. Zayn locks Corbin into the Sharpshooter, and right as he is about to tap, Joe slides back in, locks Corbin into the Crossface, and THEN Corbin gives up. As Joe and Zayn argue with the ref, General Manager William Regal comes out to mediate.
When it is determined that the ref doesn’t know who won (Did Zayn, because he locked in his hold first, or did Joe, because Corbin tapped after he locked his on?), Regal says he wants to review the tape, satisfying no one, fans and Superstars alike. As the crowd voices their displeasure, we are no closer to a Number One Contender as the show goes off the air. Truthfully, I’m excited to see where this goes, if it gives me matches like this one.
TL;DR: In a match that might qualify as a Match of the Year-so-Far, the storyline takes a big turn, performances were high across the board, and I want to watch this again. Great work, guys. Rating: 4.25/5.
And with that, I bow out for the week. Catch you again with the next episode.