NXT Recap 3/11/2015: Return To Form
NXT is likely on more radars than normal this week given the recent controversy and subsequent resignation of now former head trainer, Bill Demott. The brand hasn't seemed to suffer. WWE has done a good job of damage control, a tough task considering Demott is hardly the largest issue they face currently. Despite great public relations work, this weeks show lacked any real substance or urgency, a problem currently plaguing WWE as a whole.
Coming off of a decent (finally) Monday Night Raw, WWE programming had a bit of momentum going for it. It is rare that modern WWE programming and “momentum” are used in a sentence together. It's just as uncommon that said momentum is derailed by an NXT broadcast.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass Defeat The Lucha Dragons Tag Team Title No. 1 Contender's match.
How you doin'? Enzo Amore and Big Cass kick things off this week in their continued quest for tag team gold. Standing in their way are former tag team champs, The Lucha Dragons. Amore and Cass enter to a huge pop, one that seems to get bigger with each appearance. After feeding his standard entrance to the crowd, Amore, moonwalks to the ring and leads Cass in a rambling promo. He refers to The Lucha Dragons as the Geico Lizards and the crowd absolutely eats it up.
The Lucha Dragons enter to a few boos and a loud “How You Doin'” chant from the crowd. The match itself is pretty standard fare, albeit with a few highlights. After a missed rollup pin from Kalisto, the luchador connected with a Listo Kick to Amore into a smooth kneeling hurricanrana. Amore himself showed some actual wrestling talent here as well, although it would be the Dragons that would control the momentum for most of the match.
Sin Cara found himself in the match briefly, delivering a snapmare to Amore after a missed back to belly suplex. Big Cass saw little ring time, only tagging himself once to break up The Lucha Dragon's momentum, however it did little to sway the match. In a spot with a long set up, both Cass and Amore would find themselves outside the ring on the entrance ramp with both luchadores in the ring. The pair launched themselves in a tandum suicide dive, however Cass would shove Amore out of the way, taking the brunt of the impact himself.
As the match began to wrap up, Big Cass would execute what will hopefully go down as one of the worst finishes in NXT history. After a scolding from the referee for entering the ring to assist his partner, Cass would go on to literally drag him from one corner to the other, exit the ring, and tag himself in. All the while the ref was yelling at him for being in the ring in the first place. Eventually he tagged himself in, which our referee deemed legal because, wrestling. Big Cass would deliver the East River Crossing to Kalisto and tag Amore back in. The pair executed The Rocket Launcher to end the match.
The realist guys in the room continue to ride a huge wave of momentum, and proved again that they have a large deal of charisma that can get a crowd engaged despite not being very good wrestlers. Kalisto looked as great as ever, proving again that he is more than ready to fill the void left by the now departed Rey Mysteryo. Although, one wonders if there is gold in the future for Big Cass and Enzo, as neither seem ready for the big time quite yet, nor do they have the ability to carry a title match.
Alexa Bliss defeats Carmella via Sparkle Splash
After a pair of video packages, one for an upcoming NXT event, and another brief hype for Alex Riley's return, we are treated to a Kevin Owens video package. It recapped him winning the NXT title from Sami Zayn and his general badassedness during his brief time in NXT. It can't be denied that WWE is doing a great job booking this man as a legitimate force, although the parallel of Brock Lesnar doing the same thing on the main roster does slightly taint the situation.
We move on to our weekly Divas match featuring the return of Alexa Bliss. Carmella would enter first to an audible level of boos, the crowd likely unhappy that the producers made the mistake of giving her a microphone. Thankfully, her time speaking was cut short as Alexa Bliss entered to the lukewarm crowd. This was Bliss' first match in over three months after suffering a broken nose during a match with current NXT women's champ, Sasha Banks.
Bliss would quickly gain momentum, attempting a quick roll up pin and a nearly botched hurricanrana. Carmella, though, would just as quickly take control, slowing the match down to her pace, delivering a hard right forearm and a very sloppy single leg dropkick. She would go on to trap Bliss in a sitting bodyscissor submission.
After taking a hard dive head first into the turnbuckle, Bliss would gain momentum back, ending the bout with a knee drop into her top rope finisher, The Sparkle Splash. While not exactly a stellar showing in the the ring, Alexa Bliss' return wasn't without some level of pomp. Despite not having been in a ring in for some time, she was clearly leaps and bounds more advanced in skill than her opponent. Although there is much work to be done with the two, there has been clear improvement seen in their work, particularly in regards to Alexa Bliss.
Alex Riley defeats CJ Parker via The Blockbuster
Prior to this match, we are treated to an intense promo from Alex Riley. He speaks about being trapped in a cage, starving for two years, while he had to watch people live his life from the outside. He spoke about Kevin Owens fighting for his family, while the NXT universe was his family and he was ready to do the same.
This was a special promo that we are rarely treated to, one which we can genuinely relate to. The references to being trapped in a cage are clearly real. While the amount of time that he was behind that desk was relatively short, to him it must have been an eternity. We all know its not easy to watch someone else live your life while you have to sit idly by and wait. What made this promo so special is that it had real passion and heart behind it.
Even more special was the decision to not make this match a squash fest. While CJ Parker has been reduced to an NXT jobber with entrance music, he was actually given a chance to put on a decent match here. He would take control early with a headlock submission. Parker would hold moment for most of the match, continuing to wear Riley down.
Riley would eventually come back however, scoring a huge dropkick. Feeding on the energy from the crowd, it became clear a comeback was imminent. After scoring several clotheslines, Riley hit a corkscrew neckbreaker and would finish the match on the top rope with a gorgeous Blockbuster.
The celebration would be brief, as Kevin Owens would appear at the the entrance ramp, dubbing Riley, “The Dumbest Man in NXT”. With Mojo Rawley out injured, it was clear who Owens was talking about. Through the shower of boos, Owens explained that ending his broadcasting career to take him on was a stupid decision. He would go on to state that after ending Riley's in ring career, he would end the ascension of Finn Balor. After the match, a clearly emotional Riley shed a tear in the ring as the crowd welcomed him back with applause and chants. Welcome home, Alex Riley.
Tyler Breeze defeats Hideo Itami via Beauty Shot
Selfie stick in tow, Tyler Breeze returns to the main event scene in a rivalry match against Hideo Itami. After a pair of quick roll outs to the outside,in one of which Breeze made reference to their previous bout, the pace would quicken up as Itami attempted to take control. Breeze would again roll to the outside, only to be met with a hard clothesline. As the action returned to the ring for standard grappling, Itami would attempt to go to the top rope. However, in typical heel fashion, Breeze would grab the ropes, causing Itami to crash to the turnbuckle below.
Breeze would capitalize on his work with a flurry of boots to Itami in the corner. In an effort to entertain themselves, the crowd started a “Tyler's ratchet,” chant. After trading blows and grapples, Breeze hit Itami with a great Supermodel Kick, leading to a great false finish. Itami would gain control back and hang Breeze on the top rope, then hitting a diving knee to the back of Breeze's skull.
The crowd began to come alive, loudly chanting “GTS,”. Itami would attempt to end the match with his standard flurry of kicks. With Breeze in the corner, Itami went for a diving knee, however Breeze rolled out. Breeze would end the match with a quick Beauty Shot for the victory. Although the outcome was clean, there were still a few audible groans and boos from the crowd.
While it seemed early on that Itami's “Kenta,” style wasn't going to translate into WWE success, that fear has proven itself to be false. Itami is coming into his own and is now able to put on impressive WWE style matches. Breeze on the other hand, continues to spin his wheels. The King of Cuteville hasn't been part of the title conversation, and his performance today didn't do much to advance his position.
While by no means a bad performer, Tyler Breeze appears stagnant. Coming off of a win last week against Adam Rose in a not so great performance, this was an opportunity to redeem himself. Tonight, like most of his matches since Fatal Four-Way, appeared formulaic. Breeze has seemed either unable to step up and make himself stand out, instead relying on his tired gimmick to do it for him. At this current rate of momentum, in six months, Hideo Itami will be a contender for the NXT title, and Breeze will be battling CJ parker for the title of “NXT's top jobber.”
Tonight saw some great and welcomed returns in the way of Alex Riley and Alexa Bliss, but featured little in the way of true substance. I left tonight's show feeling as though no storylines were really advanced in a meaningful way. Sure there are new number one contenders for the tag straps, but with that as an aside, there wasn't much else that can be taken away as substantial. Perhaps the biggest storyline is the twice teased NXT show from Ohio, one that promises to be much more entertaining than this Smackdown-esque broadcast.
NXT Rating: 3 out of 5 Kenta Kicks