NXT Recap 6/24/2015: Balormania is Running Wild
A few weeks removed from a lackluster Money in the Bank and one week away from WWE Supercard, one would think that NXT has a prime opportunity to sit on their hands until the build for the next Takeover event. However, with the rapid ascension of the good ship Kevin Owens, more eyes than ever are likely fixated on the product.
In the past month though, NXT's creative direction has squandered that opportunity in a big way. Although the injury bug and schedule conflicts haven't helped either, NXT has gone from “must watch” to “meh” in very short order. With the two of NXT biggest draws current sidelined with shoulder problems and their current biggest star poised to move to the main roster, the federation seems to rest on the shoulders Finn Balor.
Welcome back friends to Full Sail University as we gear up for another action packed (sic) edition of NXT.
Hideo Itami addresses the NXT audience
Before the show starts proper, we are treated to a personal tribute to Dusty Rhodes. While the point has been made that WWE may be profiting off of Dusty's death, and some wrestlers have used the subject in promos as a way to get a cheap pop, this tribute was different. This was the most personal 10 bell salute I've seen in some time, maybe not since Eddie Guerrero. Much of the roster, Triple H and Kevin Owens included were in tears. Charlotte appeared particularly distraught. To the people on that stage, Dusty was wrestling. It was a moving experience to display on television, and a fitting final tribute to one of the greats.
Out of a short open, Hideo Itami returns to NXT programming to deliver a message. Fresh off of shoulder surgery, one in which will sideline him likely until the end of the year, the subject of the message was hardly surprising; Itami will be back again... eventually. Of course, this was great news to the crowd, showering the arena with cheers. As a reward for their praise, we are quickly treated to the appearance of current WWE mega star, Kevin Owens.
Owens appears solely to get more cheap heat. This is likely an attempt to push him over as a full heel as Owens is still garnering a huge amount of cheers from the crowd. Owens's tirade is pretty standard fare, a memorable spot coming by way of him tripping over his words. Owens preempts a “You fucked up,” chant by turning his own marble mouth into a dig against Itami and his accent.
Itami would eventually get his chance to dig at Owens, however this only angered the beast further. As Owens began to make his way to the ring to assault Itami, he was jumped from behind by Finn Balor. The two would brawl on the entrance ramp, eventually taking the fight to the landing in front of the mini Titantron. As Balor sized up Owens for his trademark double stomp, he was blindsided stage left from his new nemesis, Rhyno.
The execution of this exchange benefits all parties involved, save for Hideo Itami who's spotlight was effortlessly stolen from him by way of Owens. Owens solidly remains the cocky badass, while Rhyno regains some momentum by putting down a rising star. The real winner though is Balor. Although he found himself on the receiving end of a beat down yet again, his status as a bit of an underdog will make his victory at Supercard all the more special.
Jordan and Lefort vs Amore and Big Cass
After a long absence from NXT television, Sylvester Lefort returns with little fanfare. Last we saw any meaningful competition from Lefort was during Takeover: Fatal 4 Way in his losing effort against Enzo Amore in a Hair vs Hair match. His tag team long since broken, Lefort returns from his injury finding himself a very small fish in a big pond filled with bigger, far more interesting fish.
Enzo Amore and fellow big mouth billy bass Colin Cassidy have been on a tear since their defeat at the most recent Takeover event. While neither Jason Jordan or Lefort are rockstars in NXT, In a much needed change of pace, Amore and Cassidy have taken a break from their weekly fight with Westley Blake and/or Buddy Murphy.
Like the team's most recent contests, Enzo Amore is given the majority of the time to shine. After a long, cringe worthy opening tirade from the Realist Guys in the Room, Amore and Cass go on to make short work of their opponents. As stated prior, Amore is given a chance to go over in a big way. After his opening low diving crossbody press, Amore spends much of the match on offense, only briefly losing momentum to Jordan.
Amore's style is slowly starting to come together. Amore appears set to wrestle a high impact, high risk offense. While still sloppy in the ring, his dives and presses hit with a high level of intensity, namely his drop toe hold and running cross body press. Speaking of his cross body press, he connects with such a high impact, I'm surprised that Lefort didn't puke after Amore landed that press.
Jordan would eventually fall to Amore by way of a roll up pin. As Jason Jordan continues his search for the perfect tag team partner, one must wonder what happens to Sylvester Lefort from here. Post injury and with no tag team partner, does his personality have what it takes to draw a meaningful reaction from the crowd.
Dana Brooke with Emma vs Kassey
Current fan favorite and crowd pleaser, Dana Brooke returns to action following a stint competing at the most recent Arnold Classic. After defeating internet darling, Blue Pants and delivering two Tony award-winning promos regarding Charlotte casting in the current WWE Tapout ad campaign, Dana Brooke returns with a huge target on her chest.
And boy, the crowd just took it right to her didn't they? From the opening to the closing bell, the entire match was nearly drowned out by recurring and rather loud chants ranging from, “Lets go Cassie,” to “Dana Sucks.” Between the degrading chants and the loud boos, this wasn't simply heat, this is New Day-style rejection.
Kassey on the other hand seems to have the makings for a compelling and entertaining character. She has heart, spirit and most importantly, talent. Her ring work has been fluid and largely botch free. While as a jobber, she hasn't given much time to develop much of an in ring character, I can see shades of Becky Lynch in the manner in which she conducts herself.
Although Brooke scores a pinfall by way of her unnamed Michinoku Driver, she hardly exits this contest the winner. Given a bit more time, I wouldn't be surprised if we began hearing “You can't wrestle,” lobbed at Brooke in the near future. The crowd seems to really be dead set in sinking their teeth into Brooke. I certainly agree with them. Her matches and ring work have been skip worthy save for her Scott Steiner level promo work. For me, a dream match would be Dana Brooke vs WWE washout, Eva Marie. The crowd would likely pull their hair out deciding which one they hate more.
The Hype Brothers vs Fulton and Dawkins
Before our thrilling main event, we are treated to part 2 of the Lifetime Original Movie: The Finn Balor Story. Given the subject matter of the documentary, this is certainly worth watching. If you're a fan of Magic Mike, then you'll enjoy the footage of a young, shirtless Balor as he competes in ICW and New Japan.
Also worth mentioning is the continuation of the “Bull Dempsey is a Big Fat Slob,” storyline by way of a tweet sent from Zack Ryder and Corey. Ryder's tweet featured a rather candid photo of Dempsey in the locker room, clawing a delicious looking ham sandwich in one hand and a bag of crisps in the other. I'm curious as to where this this storyline is going to take Dempsey as NXT is treading on territory in which a performer saddled with this gimmick may never recover.
Through all this, I'm sure you're asking yourself, “Who the fuck are the Hype Bros? Wait... Its not Zack Ryder and that other fat moron is it?” Good guess. With Rawley returning full time and dead in the water, the inclusion of Ryder into his dimensionally positive gimmick makes for one annoying tag team.
Much of the match is dominated by Rawley and his antics. The pairs entrance featured Dane Cook level of wild and flailing movement which Rawley spilled over into the match. Rawley spent much of the clock on offense, Ryder only briefly entering the ring to deliver the Broski Boot. In fact, theres little to report in terms of actual match quality here as this isn't our weekly So You Can Dance recap. Our bright spot in the match would come from Ryder as he hit his finisher, the Rough Rider from the top rope for the victory.
Finn Balor vs Rhyno
With Kevin Owens returning to commentary yet again, Finn Balor is given a chance at repaying Rhyno for his actions over the past few weeks. Balor, of course is set to take on Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship in Japan at WWE Supercard, now since renamed, WWE Beast in the East. Rhyno enters with a bit of a chip on his shoulder as he hasn't scored a meaningful pinfall in sometime.
With Wednesday's main event it would seem that Rhyno's time may be coming soon as he basically owned this match, save for the opening mintues. Rhyno would spend much of the match in control of the match, only allowing Balor to break out of a few rest holds. Eventually, Rhyno would score a trio of shoulder tackles in the far turnbuckle, appearing to spell the end for Balor.
Balor though is able to muster a comeback by way of his Pele Kick. Seizing the opportunity would be Owens though. Taking a leave from his commentary perch and making his way to the ring to run distraction, it appeared as though we'd see a fitting tribute to Dusty Rhodes by way of a Dusty Finish. However, Owens would find himself on the receiving end of a dropkick, knocking him away from the apron and to the floor.
Balor would go on to capitalize and score the pinfall by way of the Coup de Gras. Owens would immediately return to the ring to assault Balor, Rhyno eventually taking part in the beat down. Thankfully, our NXT's newest knight in shining armor, Samoa Joe appears to save our damsel in distress. As Joe takes his time to pace around the ring, a main event of Samoa Joe vs Rhyno is appears set for our go home NXT broadcast next week.
For a change, NXT actually produced a watchable and enjoyable show. Although my usual complaint of storyline progression could be said of much of this week's broadcast, it hardly matters. The main event storyline was progressed and the job was done to make me excited for Beast in the East, while the remainder of the show hardly felt stagnant.
If you're like me though, three of the four matches featured competitors that are just simply not interesting to you. Despite that, some decent wrestling was to be had and it was also interesting to get some insight into Balor's personal life and history. I'm actually looking forward to next week's go home show as some decent booking is imminent as Owens completes his transition from NXT to the main roster.
NXT Rating: 3 out of 5 Pele Kicks