NXT Recap 7/8/15: Return to Form
One show removed from the WWE Network Special, “Beast in the East”, and we're entering a brand new era with a new NXT Champion. The show opens with a video package with highlights from “Beast in the East”, but surprisingly we see no mention of the NXT Championship match during this promo. This has me confused, this is NXT right? Wouldn't it make sense to just show highlights for that match and celebrate the crowning of a new NXT Champion? However, instead of doing that, it appears that we're going to be treated to an encore presentation of the NXT Championship match from this special. I understand that not everyone watches NXT on the WWE Network, but it's a little disappointing to air one of your marquee matches on Hulu and other services less than a week after it aired as a Network “exclusive”. It certainly makes me question why I pay for the Network if I could have just waited a few days and watched this match on Hulu.
We open the show with Dana Brooke and Emma making their way to the ring for their tag match against Sasha Banks and a partner of her choice. Sasha is out next, but she's on her own. She enters the ring and is taunted by Brooke, because she was unable to find a partner. Sasha acknowledges that she wasn't able to find a partner, but she's not afraid of these two and she'll take them both on by herself. The ref gets ready to begin the match, and despite the crowd's chanting for Blue Pants, we hear Charlotte's music fill the arena. Charlotte makes her way to the ring and gets a mic, she tells Sasha that she'll team up with her, but she'll owe her one. Sasha shakes Charlotte's hand and this surprising team begins their match.
Dana Brooke & Emma vs. Sasha Banks & Charlotte
Sasha and Brooke start off the match, but Charlotte quickly gets tagged into the match and we're treated to a little Stylin' and Profilin' before Brooke tags in Emma. The team of Brooke and Emma use some typical cowardly heel tactics to gain the upper hand. Eventually though, Charlotte gets the hot tag, and Sasha comes back into it to win after reversing Brooke's Samoan Driver into the Bank Statement. This match was surprisingly solid, Dana Brooke has certainly shown some improvement since her last televised match, and I feel she could have the potential to become a solid in-ring performer with the right coaching. It was great to see Sasha and Charlotte back in the ring together, as the BFFs were always a favorite team of mine. Sasha was great in the ring, and I'm glad to see her back in action once again.
After being declared the winners, Charlotte gives Sasha a hug, but stops her from leaving the ring. She asks Sasha for a title shot next week as thanks for being her partner. Sasha agrees, and the stage is set for their rematch. Sasha and Charlotte will undoubtedly be a great match up, and one worthy of being the main event of next week's show. Unfortunately, given the history between these two and their current storyline with Dana Brooke and Emma, I just can't see this match ending cleanly.
We come back to a video of Bayley that was taken backstage at an NXT live show. She explains that her hand was broken in a match against Emma, but when she gets back from this injury, her number one goal is to become NXT Women's Champion. She says that Triple H and Stone Cold became champions after coming back from injuries, and that's what she's going to do. She then calls out Emma, and warns her that she'll be coming when she gets back, and that Emma is going to get more than a hug.
Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship
Now we're treated to a replay of this past Saturday's NXT title match, and since I already gave my thoughts on replaying this match at the start of the article, I'll cut straight to the match. After the video package plays to hype the match, we jump to our competitors making their way to the ring. Since the match is taking place in Japan, it is treated with respect, and it beings with each competitor being given a bouquet of flowers. Owens throws his away, which gets the crowd to turn against him, since it's tremendously disrespectful. Then the competitors are introduced and showered with streamers. I loved this opening, while I've never seen much Japanese wrestling, the streamers at the start of the match reminded me of watching a match in Ring of Honor, which gave this match a distinct style all its own. The bout itself is easily the highlight of the evening. It was a very physical match, with lots of back and forth. Both competitors really gave it their all, and its easily a candidate for match of the year in my book. If you weren't able to watch the fight on the network, I highly recommend you take the time to check it out. Balor eared his victory in a hard fought match and was even honored by WWE Hall of Famer, Tatsumi Fijunami afterward. Balor has a great future ahead of him in WWE, and I can't wait for him to make his main roster debut.
Once the match has finished, we see an attempted post match interview with Owens. He is asked about his thoughts on losing the NXT title. He looks up at the camera and then lunges at the camera before it goes black. This is a great way to cap off Owens' title run, after his run as a monster heel in NXT, it makes sense that he would lash out at anyone who tried to come close to him after losing the title. This is also a great way to end Owens' run on NXT, since this will allow him to go onto his match with Cena at Battleground, where he will (hopefully) take the United States Championship off to Cena and move on to bigger and better things.
Moving on, we're treated to another promo about the latest chapter of the Chad Gable and Jason Jordan storyline. Gable is asked how he feels about being turned down by Jordan yet again. He explains that he has been rejected week after week, when suddenly Jordan walks on screen. He offers Gable the opportunity to team up with him in a match next week and, of course, Gable accepts. As I mentioned in the last review, I am very happy with how this storyline has played out. I am really looking forward to next week's show so that I can see these two in action together. I don't doubt that they'll win their first match, but I do look forward to seen Gable in action. I was a huge fan of a certain former olympian that was in WWE some years ago, and I really hope that Gable can be pushed to become the next Kurt Angle.
Yet another promo starts as we see Solomon Crowe sitting alone in a room. He refers to it as the Crowe's Nest, and says that everything outside these four walls are the NXT Universe. He's happy to be back, and can't wait to show that he's meaner, badder, and nastier than ever before, and that he's going to show us all why he's the resident little monster. This was really a strange promo. It didn't seem very genuine and just felt forced. Crowe is another guy I have my eye on for the future, but right now he jut seems like a lot of wasted potential. The crowd loves him, so let's hope he can turn his fortunes around and build himself some momentum.
Marcus Louis vs Solomon Crowe
Well, I guess we're jumping right into a match between Crowe and Marcus Louie. Louis is out first and , oddly, to no music. I just can't wrap my head around what they're doing with this guy. His disposition and character seems oddly similar to Kane just after he was unmasked in 2003, but all Louis seems to do is job to other NXT wrestlers. It's a very strange thing, and I really don't know what to think of Louis. I haven't seen enough of him to really make any kind of assessment, but my guess is that he won't have much of a future with the company.
Back to the match, Crowe makes his way out and despite exploding out of the gate, he quickly loses control of the match to Louis. After being dominated for much of the match, Crowe made a come back and was able to get Louis to tap out after locking in the Crowe Bar. This was a fairly run of the mill match. I hesitate to call it a squash match since Crowe didn't dominate it outright, but the match benefited him much more than Louis either way you look at it.
Finn Balor's celebration after winning the title is shown next as we see him backstage with Cesaro and Neville. The three of them talk and shake hands before John Cena walks to Balor and extends his hand to the new champion. This is another of WWE's standards. You have the face of the company meet with a young new champion and give them their stamp of approval. You typically only see it with babyfaces, but it's good to see this, because it means that WWE has given Balor their approval. After all, John Cena is the face of WWE, and his approval is essentially Vince's approval, so it'll be interesting to see just how far Balor can go. He doesn't have the typical build that WWE seems to look for, but he has so much raw talent that it'll be one hell of a ride to watch his career going forward.
The Vaudevillains vs Cassady & Amore w/ Carmella
Tonight's main event looks like it's going to be a real treat, with two of the top teams in NXT squaring off to become the number one contender for the NXT Tag Team Championship. We start off with Enzo and Simon Gotch in the ring, and while early on it looks like Enzo and Cass are going to get the upper hand, the Vaudevillains do a great job of keeping Enzo out of his corner for much of the match. Ultimately the Vaudevillains are able to claim the victory over Enzo and Cass, after they were able to prevent them from pulling off the Rocket Launcher. This match was pretty lackluster for a main event, and, while I'm sure this wasn't the case, the booking in this match made Enzo and Cass look really weak. Enzo was kept away from Cass for a majority of the match, and Cass ended up with very limited envolvement outside of the standard hot tag. I have no love for Enzo and Cass, but even I don't like the way they were handled in this match.
I have to give this week's show a lot of credit, it was really promo heavy again, but I was expecting that when I came in. While I expected the promos, I hoped to see more of Balor and Owens and the fallout from their match in Tokyo. Even though those two weren't featured outside of footage from last week, I'm still very happy with this episode. We saw some solid action this week and had one of the best matches we've seen in 2015 featured in the middle of the show. A solid women's match, some good promos, and some new title matches have been set for the coming weeks. This won't be one that goes down as one of the greatest shows in NXT history, but its a step in the right direction, and it has me looking forward to next week's show for more than one reason.
Final Rating: 4 Blue Pants Chants out of 5