NXT Recap 5/6/2015: I've Seen This Somewhere Before
NXT seems to be experiencing a high level of growing pains as it goes through a very public transition from strictly WWE developmental, to a full fledged federation all its own. In similar fashion to the television show of the same name, the resulting program has been, at times, painful to watch. NXT has produced some top notch and quality wrestling during its time on the air, however, five months into the year, that programming has gone from “must watch,” to “recap worthy,” in a short period of time.
Tonights program suffers from the same issues written about here for the past few weeks. If you're looking for high octane action and suspenseful storytelling, look further back in the WWE Network NXT programming history. What you will find here instead is the same boring, predictable matches interspersed between video packages and promo work. Fire up WWE Network on the laptop kids, you'll want the TV free for Mortal Kombat as we return to Full Sail University for NXT.
Charlotte defeats Emma
After a short open, we get straight to the action as Emma's cringe inducing music fills the arena. Entering to a bit of boos and without her trademark dancing and bubbles, Emma remained decked in Bayley's headband and Kirstie Allie sized shirt. Charlotte entered to a much warmer reception as the pair took some time sizing each other after the opening bell.
Emma and Charlotte began with a standard collar and elbow tie, Charlotte taking an early lead with a standing waist lock. After taking the fight to the mat with a hiptoss, Emma quickly broke free, sending Charlotte into the turnbuckle, taunting all the while. After a second reversal in momentum, Charlotte took the fight to the far corner as she hit a wonderful improvised maneuver involving Emma being dragged across the middle rope. Unfortunately for Charlotte, her experimental attack would lead to Emma's feet connecting across her chin.
Emma displayed a bit of improvisation herself as Charlotte would ascend to the top rope with Emma in fairly close proximity. Emma struck the top turnbuckle in an odd fashion, causing Charlotte to tumble to the mat in what appeared to be a dangerous and uncontrolled fashion. After a rough landing to her neck, the ref steps in to check on Charlotte. After a subtle hand signal, Emma lurches forward to shove the ref away, continuing her assault on the former champ.
Emma would hold momentum for a long portion of the match, focusing her attacks on a kayfabe injured knee. After a single leg submission and a missed Emma Lock attempt, Emma used her foot to shove Charlotte's face into the mat, causing a rather loud and resounding slap. After a two count, Charlotte rose to her feet, a look displayed on her face that can only be described as “legitimately very pissed off.”
After reaching the rope during a half crab submission, Charlotte finally appeared to take back control of the match. Still favoring the left leg, Charlotte executed a series of hard strikes and a neckbreaker, finishing the assault with a spear. This garnered a unified, “Better than Reigns,” chant. The match hits it's finale as Charlotte sent Emma to the floor, leading to a victory via Natural Selection.
Post match, Bayley would grace the NXT universe with her unannounced presence. She stood over a battered and beaten Emma, arms open wide for a hug. The pair embraced as it appeared that their differences had been put to rest. However, Bayley didn't break the hold and instead nailed her Bayley to Belly finisher. Bayley began to assault Emma on the mat, being twice pulled off by Charlotte. Prior to her exit, Bayley would get her shirt back. Thankfully, Emma was wearing a top underneath.
The match itself was not necessarily bad, nor was the action boring. What was however, was the pretense behind the encounter, a chance for Bayley to get back at Emma through her new pal, Charlotte. The new attitude from Emma was a nice change of pace, however it does seem to get lost a bit, as many of the women on NXT are experiencing a renaissance in aggressive behavior. Hopefully this dreadful storyline ends with this match and doesn't drag into Takeover:Unstoppable.
Next we were treated to a pair of video packages. The first of which showcased Becky Lynch from her rapid character change, to her bullshit victory over Bayley and Charlotte. After that we were given an interview of NXT Champion Kevin Owens conducted by the legendary, Michael Cole.
The content of the interview was pretty standard Owens fare. He does this for his family and its nothing personal between himself and Zayn. Largely forgettable stuff. What was memorable is the giant 4x4 WWE is beating us over the head with in establishing Owens as heel and Zayn as the doe eyed babyface.
The interview took place in a dark, dank featureless room more akin to an episode of Law and Order than a real sports interview. There were obviously no windows either, as both Owens and Cole were drenched in sweat. Cole conducted the interview in an ugly button up with the top three buttons open, his breath hitting the microphone during particularly intense portions. Finally his demeanor and attitude were very out of character as he spoke to Owens in a very combative and almost condescending tone. The interview itself was certainly worth watching if for nothing else than its comedic value. The comedy factor may not yet be clear, however, trust me, it will come full circle in a few paragraphs.
Rhyno defeats Bull Dempsey
Game time. I'm going to give you, loyal Kulture Shocked reader a chance to play a game. I'll give you three guesses as to how this match goes down, but the first two guesses don't count. Got it? Okay, here it is... Collar and elbow clean break, back to tie up, Dempsey with strikes and knees. Rhyno with hard chop sent Dempsey to ropes, hard standing tackle. Belly to belly suplex. Gore. Fin.
Now, if you're anything like me, you saw the names of the two performers and got excited. While Bull Dempsey's star has somewhat faded in NXT in recent months, he remains a powerful and impressive specimen. Bull Dempsey's momentum could be salvaged quite easily, however that moment appears to not be in the cards at this time, nor likely will it be.
Much like Daniel Bryan on the main roster, any hope of a push that this man will be seeing is likely dead. I suspect, given Dempsey's large gaps in appearances that his time in NXT is coming to an end. Whether or not Dempsey was deserving of the praise and spotlight he was given during his debut period is a question that is a tad more relevant today after his status as jobber. Hopefully CJ Parker hasn't left town, as he may soon have someone to go halfsies on a fuel bill with.
This match is a great example of wasted opportunity. While by no means a dream match, Bull Dempsey and Rhyno could have been just what NXT needed to break the current routine of mediocre programming. Instead, we get treated to a squash match. Speaking of squash matches, post match Rhyno took to the mic to challenge the reigning, undisputed NXT squash match Champion, Baron Corbin at NXT Takeover:Unstoppable. With Hideo Itami reportedly injured recently, this will no doubt become the new main event.
Post match we were treated to our second pair of video packages, the first of which featured Sasha Banks calling herself better than The Faboulous Moolah (uh huh...) and talking shit to Becky Lynch. In a second video William Regal had signed a new talent. A built, clean and articulate colored gentleman. He speaks well and appears very appreciative and polite. what better way to showcase his performance montage than to the backdrop of rap music. WWE's flawless streak of portraying colored people continues. We'll likely find more about this wrestler, such as his name, as the weeks continue.
Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder vs Enzo Amore &Colin Cassidy
As Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy's music filled the arena, Corey Graves on commentary let out a very loud and dejected “Oh, no.” After a no show from the pair, the crowd erupted in a “Where is Enzo,” chant. A second attempt is made to summon the Devil of Dialog with the same result. Cut to backstage where a conspicuously placed camera captures the end of a beatdown on the pair at the hands of current Tag Team Champions, Westley Blake and Buddy Murphy.
A great throwback to antics of the Attitude Era, this backstage beatdown comes at a much needed time for this fan. I've made no secret of my dislike of the Enzo Amore character, along with Colin Cassidy and their new female companion. While not a fan of the rather vanilla current tag team champs either, this does add a bit of intensity to what seemed like a slam dunk victory for Amore and Cass.
We slide into another video, an interview of Sami Zayn conducted by Michael Cole. This interview was far different than the one seen prior. Zayn played the role of hurt family member. Cole meanwhile, took a far more sympathetic tone with Zayn than he did with Owens. Zayn spouted his usual dialog about being hurt by Owens and wanting to know why he did what he did at the prior pay per view event. He informed Owens that he will be in the ring next week and asked Owens to show up to explain himself.
Remember the comedy factor I spoke about earlier? Well this interview took place in a far different location with a far different tone. The background was quite subdued and sophisticated, adorned with flowers and an earthy, welcoming color scheme. Behind Cole was a fancy and expensive looking globe and a collection of books. Cole was dressed to the nines, sporting a nice tailored suit and flashy purple tie. If you weren't aware by now, Zayn is the babyface and Cole likes him and you should too.
Coming out of the Zayn interview, we moved on to great moment for women's professional wrestling, a contract signing for a match for the NXT championship between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. This is awesome stuff and the women at Full Sail deserve this kind of spot light, even if this contract signing ended in the way that most others do.
Becky gave her life story about rattling off jobs and her history as she told Banks she's taking her title home. Banks signed her side with a gold and jewel encrusted ink stamp, a fitting touch for a great heel champion. Banks then attacked lynch, tossing her over the table. The pair brawl as Banks tossed the table and took the fight to the mat. Becky counterd and cought Banks in her high wrenching arm bar submission. Banks tapped as the two refs on hand break the hold and inform her over loud chanting that she tapped to the challenger.
One final pair of videos before our lackluster main event. The first was a recorded message from Riley that will serve as our high point of the show. According to Riley, he will be out for some time to have knee surgery, although as of the writing of this article, it's unclear if this is kayfabe or not. Riley took the opportunity to tell the audience that they're pricks, mentioning the, “Thank you Owens,” chant that filled the arena on our prior broadcast. He mentioned that he feels that the risks aren't worth the rewards, and even took a shot at Sami Zayn.
It was a truly great and passionate moment in promo work, one that will actually make you feel kind of guilty after watching it. Kudos to Riley for putting on a great spot, one, that even if 100% genuine, should serve as required watching for any wrestler who needs work on cutting promos or acting in general. Speaking of Dana Brooke...
Dana Brooke steped in for an interview, wearing far too much make up. In what can only be described as a Scott Steiner impression in level of performance, she gave a horrific reading of her lines, among which include calling the interviewer's body, “whack.” Also deemed by Brooke to have a body best described by outdated 90's slang was Charlotte and her appearance in the Tapout clothing commercials running on the WWE Network. A person who apparently doesn't have a whack body is Brooke herself, who, according to Dana Brooke has, “Been on a roll since she's been born.” My God...
Hideo Itami defeats Tyler Breeze
With Finn Balor spectating at ringside next to the timekeeper, our main event got underway with a contest between Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami. With the pair squaring off for what felt like the hundredth time, Balor's presence is the only thing running interference between myself and the red button on the browser window.
The match got underway with a pair of collar and elbow ties, both with a clean break after Itami muscles Breeze into the ropes. A third tie up led to Itami hitting a standing wrist lock. Breeze would eventually break and take to the outside. Returning on a count of three, Breeze would take momentum with a standing waist lock into a toss to the mat. However, Itami would quickly break.
Hideo tossed breeze to the ropes and rolled to the outside avoiding what would have been a hard roundhouse kick to the face. Breeze slowly reentered and caught Itami with a hard kick to the midsection after Itami backed away to the ref's insistence. Itami would quickly rebound and bring breeze to the ground with a hard kick of his own. He finished with a hard running kick to the chest as he took a second to play to the crowd. Breeze again rolled to the outside as we went to a break. As an aside, Miz and Summer Rae in Marine 4 Moving Target looks awful.
We returned to Breeze getting wrecked after a hard kick to the chest. Itami with an Irish whip into the far side, Breeze countered with a sloppy neck breaker. Breeze would then take back control, sending Itami back to the corner hitting hard stomps to Itami's chest and finishing with an open foot choke.
Breeze hit a slow leg drop for a two count. Breeze would earn a second two count after a high standing dropkick.
Breeze would ascend to the middle rope for a diving punch, which Itami easily countered. Itami hit a sweep to cement his control in the match as he sent Breeze in the corner, hitting his running knee. He continued his assault with a tornado DDT over the top rope and a diving clothesline from the top rope for a two count. After a missed hesitation dropkick to the corner, Breeze would again roll to the outside, taking refuge in front of Balor.
Itami would quickly rise to hit a running big boot, however he connected with Balor instead, sending him into the fan guardrail. The fight would quickly return to the ring as Breeze failed to connect with the Beauty Shot, however Itami is able to connect with a standing dropkick for a pinfall. Post bell, Breeze would take the opportunity to attack the victor, causing Balor to enter the ring and pull Breeze away. After standing over the battered Itami for a moment, Breeze would return to connect with a Supermodel Kick on Balor and a Beauty Shot on Itami as we fade to black, another NXT in the books.
NXT will be back on top. There is no doubt in my mind that NXT will return to form as the must watch wrestling program being broadcast today. Matches will get better. Storylines will be exciting again. Dana Brooke, with any luck, will take acting lessons or simply quit. NXT will return. Sadly, this was not the week.