NXT Recap 4/15/2015: Let's Get Aggressive
After two weeks of subpar and gutted programming, its back to business as usual as our vacation away from Full Sail comes to a close. While the overall quality in WWE programming as a whole is experiencing a bit of a resurgence, the weak link post-Mania seems to be NXT. With back to back yawners, could this finally be the week that NXT returns back to the quality that has become a trademark for the series in recent years?
Solomon Crowe defeats CJ Parker
Parker begins the match with a bit more aggression than we've seen from him in recent weeks. The pair trade blows in the corner before Crowe takes control and knocks Parker to the outside. Parker makes his way back to the apron, which Crowe capitalizes with an enziguri, knocking Parker back to the floor. Crowe continues his assault with a well-executed suicide dive.
After making his way back to the ring, Parker would seek refuge in the corner with Crowe giving chase. Parker answers with a hard big boot, Crowe giving a near perfect sell of the maneuver. Parker keeps momentum with a hard Senton leading a short two count. Parker would then take the opportunity to slow the pace with a very loose reverse chin lock.
Crowe finds the strength to fight his way back to his feet as the two trade hard strikes. After an irish whip to the near side Parker hits the Third Eye for a long two. Frustrated, Parker attempts a second senton, which Crowe counters in interesting fashion. After a splash from the top rope to Parker's leg, setting Parker up for what used to be a rarely seen submission, the Stretch Muffler, (an over the shoulder single leg boston crab).
Weeks ago, CJ Parker and WWE announced that they had come to terms on the former's contract and Parker left the company on good terms, making this likely his last appearance on WWE programming. Its a shame that he was reduced to the role of jobber and given a gimmick that was essentially dead on arrival.. Its easy to see why he made the decision to leave and gain some experience in the indies.
The match itself was largely forgettable, although Crowe's style seems to have adapted to the more choreographed nature of WWE's ring work. Gone is the flailing and erratic strikes last seen a month ago. For this match at least, Crowe looked more like a wrestler than a meth addict. I wish I could say that Parker likely left on a high note, but the loss here benefited Crowe far more than any victory could have done for Parker even if he had stayed.
What this match proves more than anything is that there is a glaring problem with NXT as a whole and that is the absence of an undercard belt. Every male wrestler on the roster, either via promos or proclamations from the announce team is in the chase for the NXT Championship. However, we all know that not everyone is destined for the big league. Much in the same way that The Godfather, Val Venis and Jeff Jarrett were never destined for the WWE big belt, they were some of the most memorable Intercontinental Champions of the Attitude Era.
A mid card belt would have allowed Parker a chase that he could have won, or at least would have been believable that he could have won. Many who are chasing the NXT Championship clearly are not yet destined for the big time. Without an undercard belt, someone is going to take Parker's place in the roster and they too will eventually become disillusioned with the big time and join him back in the indies.
Baron Corbin defeats Steve Cutler
This was a thing that happened.
Every wrestling fan has that one thing about the sport that drives them up the wall and makes them swear to their creator that they'll never watch this stupid fucking shit again in their fucking lives. For myself, there happens to be many: distraction pins, twenty five minute promos, non-sports celebrities, and squash matches. Squash matches like this one. Holy shit, I hate Baron Corbin.
Somehow, I've missed the instances in which Baron Corbin has actually wrestled on NXT television. My only experience with him are matches like this. I find it quite interesting that John Cena was chastised and lynched on the internet for his “five moves of doom,” however, somehow this is acceptable in NXT. Bull Dempsey, Rusev and this moron do it, and the crowd goes crazy.
Corbin has been a part of NXT for some time now, and this schtick is getting quite old. Whether this is still an attempt to build an enigma of power around Corbin or if he simply isn't ready to perform at the level of others around him this nonsense needs to stop. A few squash matches are a minor irritant, a simple chance to re-mix your drink or refill the pipe, however in Corbin's case, we are treading towards Goldberg territory.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy defeat Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton
After Enzo Amore's typical pre-match proclamations before the match, we get underway with Amore squaring off with Sawyer Fulton. Amore opens with a great running drop toe hold, however his momentum would be cut short as Fulton hits back with a kneeling fireman's carry. Amore scrambles to the ropes for a quick tag giving Colin Cassidy his first chance in the ring. Cass would simply stand in his corner, enjoying the showering of “how you doin?” chants from the audience.
As quick as he left, Amore tags himself back in and ascends to the top rope. Fulton would shake the top rope, sending Amore crashing back to the mat. Suddenly, boos would erupt from the crowd as Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake approached the ring.
After the two present Carmella a half dozen cheap roses, likely an apology for knocking her to the floor weeks earlier, we return to the ring. Amore escapes, leading to a hot tag, much to the cheers of the crowd. Cass hits a quick sidewalk slam, followed by a trio of take downs. After whipping Dawkins in the corner, Big Cass would hit a splash, seting up for their finisher, the Rocket Launcher for the pin.
I've made no secret of my dislike of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, and it sickens me to think they have a chance at the tag team titles in their current incarnation. Amore spent much of the time in the limelight, however much of that time involved little in the way of actual wrestling. In fact, the closest thing to actual wrestling that Amore did was the initial drop toe hold, which in his defense was executed quite well.
Amore needs more time in the ring to develop a more diverse move pool. His in-ring antics may please the crowd at Full Sail, however I find it hard to believe that the pair would receive treatment any different than the Ascension has seen in their time in the main roster. I find it quite interesting in fact that there are several parallels between the two teams. Both were wildly popular in NXT and both lack substance, the Ascension in the ring, and Cass and Amore in the ring, and on the stick.
Dana Brooke defeats Blue Pants
Fan favorite Blue Pants returns to NXT to a huge ovation from both the crowd and yours truly. After the crowd subsided we got our first glimpse of Dana Brooke, the latest female body builder to join the WWE. As predicted, Brooke enters NXT as the typical bitchy heel. Brooke starts the match in aggressive fashion, straddling Blue Pants as she connects with a flurry of punches.
Culminating in a quick two count, Brooke sends her opponent against the middle rope, choking her with he shin. Blue Pants would mount somewhat of a comeback, bursting out of the corner for a few strikes, however her momentum is cut short as Brooke set her up over the shoulder, gaining the pin with a Michinoku Driver. As a reward for defeating a fan favorite, Brooke receives a cascade of boos as her debut hits with a bit of a thud.
Its always a treat to see Blue Pants in action, even if its in roles such as this. Perhaps the only positive thing to come from Enzo Amore's employ with WWE, her appearance is always a fun treat. Dana Brooke however, enters as more of the same. An attractive, white narcissist with a decent body is exactly the stigma that WWE needs to shake from it's womens division and I don't feel that Dana Brooke is the person to begin to buck that trend.
Sami Zayn defeats Rhyno
We enter our main event with Sami Zayn's in-ring return in a bout against ring vet, Rhyno. Zayn takes control in the opening collar and elbow tie. Rhyno breaks and sends Zayn into the near side rope and finishes with a hard shoulder tackle. Zayn quickly makes his way to his feet, nailing a head scissor takedown after a springboard leapfrog.
Rhyno responds with a flurry of hard strikes in the corner. After a hard irish whip, Zayn would take back control, nailing Rhyno with a hard standing dropkick. Rhyno quickly rebounds and hits a hard clothesline as we go to break. Upon return, Rhyno has the NXT special, the reverse chin lock cinched in. Zayn fights and sends Rhyno to the corner, nailing a diving cross body upon Rhyno's rebound for a two count.
The two trade strikes as Rhyno hits a hard spinebuster, the momemum coming solely from Zayn . After a short two count, the pace remains subdued as Rhyno sends Zayn in the corner, Zayn overselling each strike along the way. After a shoulder tackle to the corner Rhyno sets up for a second tackle to the mid section, hitting that one and a third for a short two count
Zayn eventually fights back, landing Solomon Crowe-style punches, nailing the often kicked out of Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. After catching Zayn in a diving cross body, Rhyno would nail a hard modified neckbreaker for a long two count. After being knocked to the outside, Zayn would take back momentum, hitting his signature suicide dive over the top rope. After being sent back into the ring, Rhyno would hit a great belly to belly suplex as a set up for the Gore. Zayn, however would exit stage right, sending Rhyno face first into the second turnbuckle. Zayn would then capitalize, hitting the Heluva Kick for the victory.
Zayn returns to NXT with a bit less momentum than he had when he left, his underdog gimmick wearing a bit thin. Speaking of wearing thin, In his time away, Zayn looks to have put on a bit of weight in his time away. The match up was a bit interesting, considering in kayfabe land, Zayn never got to exercise his rematch clause. This is yet another example as to why an undercard belt would help NXT, as Rhyno is also naming himself in the chase for the belt.
The match here however, like much of the show suffered from poor pacing. Much of the middle and end of the of the match was a bit of a snooze fest, with alot of the action coming by way of Zayn overselling the simplist of strikes. Impressive though was Zayn able to hit the Blue Thunder Bomb on Rhyno. Being able to do that manuever with a man of Rhyno's carriage is no small feat.
While by no means a throw away broadcast, this week's NXT gives little reason to watch. Dana Brooke's debut left a lot to be desired, and our main event wasn't much to write home about. The hangover from Wrestlemania appears to still be a factor. Here's hoping that next weeks triple threat next week between Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch can break the streak of mediocrity.
NXT Rating: 2/5 Gores