NXT Review 7/1/15: Prelude to the Beast
We've reached the final NXT before the WWE Network's live special from Tokyo, “The Beast in the East”, I'm expecting NXT to offer up all of the drama and excitement of a typical go home Raw or SmackDown, after all their title is being contested in one of the headlining matches for the event. As the show opens I see that we're being treated to a video package, which I immediately assume is for this Saturday's event. To my surprise the segment is actually hyping tonight's NXT main event, where we will see Finn Balor and Samoa Joe team up to face the team of Rhyno and Kevin Owens. My immediate reaction is confusion at what appears to be some very odd pairings, however I soon realize that this actually makes sense given the recent events surrounding these four competitors. I'm not a huge fan of this type of booking, I understand that these four men have the potential to put a fantastic match, but since this match is here to whet our appetites for the Balor/Owens showdown in Tokyo and continue to tease a future feud between Owens and Joe, but I digress. The NXT title sequence being to roll and we finally get he show underway.
The Vaudevillains vs. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder
The show opens and we jump right into the action as The Vaudevillains are making their way to the ring, followed by their opponents Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. What proceeds is a very physical match, but it ultimately ends with Simon Gotch getting the pin after Aiden English hits a running neck breaker. This match was a pleasant surprise and it really highlights just how strong the NXT tag division truly is. Each of these men put on a fantastic show and both of these teams deserve to eventually have their time on top of the tag division in NXT and eventually move on to the main roster. This is a great way to kick off the show and I can only hope that this trend continues for the rest of the night.
After the match we get a quick plug for the event in Tokyo and a reminder of what tonight's main event will be, you know, in case you've forgotten in the last seven minutes. This takes us into our next segment, we have Devin Taylor interviewing Becky Lynch to discuss a recent injury. Lynch explains that she sprained her hip flexor during her match with Sasha Banks at Takeover. She says she tried to work through it and that she will be sidelined for a few weeks while she takes time to recover. She closes the segment by saying she'll be back to claim the NXT Women's title upon her return and that we've only just seen the beginning of N-Becks-T. I hope Lynch sees a speedy recovery as she has become one of the brightest stars in NXT's women's division and her absence will leave a huge hole in the women's roster.
Baron Corbin vs. Tucker Knight
We return to the NXT arena to see NXT's resident badass, Baron Corbin making his way to the ring. While we see that he's getting fed his usual jobber, there is something different about his ring entrance tonight. It would appear that his time in the NXT limelight has finally run its course. As the match begins we hear no counting, and in its place we hear a chorus of boos each time that Corbin would land a move, not that this gives them much opportunity. Corbin quickly wins the match after an End of Days. Seeing the crowd turn on Corbin is actually very refreshing to see. I understand that Corbin is being booked as a monster, but these squash matches against whoever happens to walk by the curtain that night is just getting old. I understand that he had a match against Rhyno at the last Takeover event, but one match that was longer than a minute in the entirety of his career just seems like they're attempting at building a new Goldberg, but thankfully that appears to be failing. Well all in all, Corbin wasted another minute of our time and we keep moving on with the rest of the show.
After a brief commercial break, we see Commissioner Regal in his office with The Vaudevillains and Enzo and Big Cass. He informs them that he has brought them all here is to let them know that they will be facing each other next week to determine a new number one contenders for the NXT Tag Team title. Enzo starts to say that he doesn't feel they should have to beat English and Gotch to be the new number one contenders, but he was quickly quieted by Regal. He says that they'll take it and leaves with Big Cass for Carmella's match, which is up next. Oh joy.
Even though we were just threatened with a Carmella match, we are actually treated to the next part of the documentary on Finn Balor. It is an interesting segment and it fascinating to learn more about Finn Balor, but since they let us know after the fact that the documentary in its entirety will be aired on the WWE Network, this made me change my mind on the segment. If they were just going to air this as its own special on the Network, then why use up time during NXT that could have been used to utilized some of the lesser talent on the card? I appreciate the documentary, but its something I would have preferred to watch separate from NXT, so I am torn on how I feel about the segment as a whole.
We come back from commercial and they continue to delay Carmella's match, but to our misfourtune, we return to footage of Eva Marie trying out for a position on the NXT roster. If this is their idea of drama, then I'm afraid they're going to have to try a lot harder to make me want to come back next week. The crowd made it very clear when Eva Marie returned to NXT a couple of weeks ago that they don't care about her, and I've never been a fan of Eva Marie. Her recent appearances on NXT haven't changed that fact, so we'll have to wait and see if she's actually improved in anyway, and if not then maybe it's time to put her career out to pasture.
Carmella vs. Emma w/Dana Brooke
We return to the NXT Arena once again to see the competitors for our next match, the woman who lost her personality followed by her friend, the woman with no personality. As Emma makes her way to the ring, we get to hear that she has change her music for the second time since returning to NXT. Next out is Carmella, who surprisingly is not with her pals Enzo and Big Cass. This leads Carmella to do her own version of Enzo's typical promo during their entrance.
Carmella does okay on the stick, but I think she should leave the entrance to Enzo and work on improving her in-ring ability. The match is nothing special and is fairly weak in terms of a NXT women's division match. Emma gets the win over Carmella with the Emmalock. I am pleasantly surprised to see that Carmella does seem to have improved since the last time I saw her in action, but the shocking thing about the match was the lack of interference on the part of Brooke. It's rare to see a match where a manager doesn't get involved, so I'll take a small victory where I can get it.
We transition to the next segment and we see what may be the worst part of the night thus far, the continued downward spiral of Bull Dempsey. We see Dempsey in the back beating on a candy machine. After being told to calm down by one of the referees, Bull attempts to smash the machine open with a chair. As he swings the chair backward he is stopped by William Regal, who grabs a hold of the leg of the chair. Regal sits Dempsey down and warns him that if he doesn't straighten up that Dempsey will not like the outcome of their next meeting. We leave on a concerned looking Dempsey and this brings me to my problem with this storyline.
When Dempsey was first brought into NXT he was booked as a powerhouse monster heel, but ever since he lost to Corbin back in January he's been on a downward slide . After a few months of being on a losing streak, he returned as a stereotypical fat character. His recent matches has all shown him getting out of breath and any segments with him he's been eating junk food.
I have a problem with this type of drastic character change in such a short amount of time. This is a character that, just a few months ago, was billed as one of the biggest threats in NXT, but now he can't even run a lap around the ring. I can understand needing to change the character to move him from being a heel to a babyface, but it seems like there are any number of different direction that the character could have gone. It also isn't very believable that Dempsey would be so out of shape despite no change in his physical appearance, and the fact that he's roughly the same size as the current NXT Champion. I'm interested to see where Dempsey's character ends up going, but I can only hope that he bounces back from this, because this sort of gimmick seems more like a death sentence.
Tyler Breeze vs. Tye Dillinger
Back to action, we see Tyler Breeze making his way to the ring with his cell phone and selfie stick in tow. Breeze feels like someone who the WWE just isn't sure what to do with. He has been consistently floating around the top of the card in NXT since last year, but he has failed to capitalize on any of the opportunities that he has recieved. His character also feels like its getting stale and they haven't tried to breath any new life into the character in months. I like Breeze, I really do, but he needs to be repackaged, because if he's having trouble reaching the top in NXT then he's going to flounder on the main roster if he ever makes the jump.
We see that Breeze's opponent tonight is Tye Dillinger. The match begins and we get some very rough looking moves from Dillinger and I have to say I am impressed with how far he's come since he was with Jason Jordan last yet. We get a great back and forth match between the two before Breeze hits the Beauty Shot and walks away with the win. Dillinger really impressed tonight and I hope that he was able to impress the powers that be at NXT as well, because this young man deserves to be pushed. I hope that someday I will get to see him work his way up the ladder, because he seems like he has all the talent to succeed in WWE and I hope to follow his journey on his way to the top.
As Breeze grabs his selfie stick so that he can check on his hair, we cut to a clip of Devin Taylor interviewing Jason Jordan from the week before about his loss to Enzo and Big Cass. Once again he is interrupted by Chad Gable, who offers to team up with him. The pairing of this two seems inevitable, but I am actually enjoying this storyline quite a lot. I keep seeing Chad Gable on the show and it makes me want to see him get in the ring. I already know that Jason Jordan is a capable athlete, but really looking forward to seeing how these two will ultimately come together and just where the team up will take the two of them. This is the kind of storyline I'd like to see more of from NXT, because it's one that actually has me wanting to come back for more.
After another commercial break, we see Dana Brooke and Emma are looking at the NXT Women's Title. Emma reaches out to grab it, just as Devin Taylor walks into the shot and questions what they're doing. Sasha Banks then enters and takes the belt and questions why Brooke and Emma are in her locker room. Emma states that she was wanting to try on the Women's Title and Brooke tells her that they're taking over the “NXT Division” so Sasha and her title are their targets. Sasha reminds them that she's the boss and she runs this division. Brook and Emma perceive this as a challenge and says they'll face Banks next week. Brook then makes fun of Banks, saying that she won't be able to find a partner because no one likes her. Banks assures them that she will have a partner and walks away as the two continue to mock her.
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs. Kevin Owens and Rhyno
We've finally come to the main event and its time to see the match that they've been hyping since the beginning of the show. The competitors make their way to the ring and the match begins with Joe and Rhyno as the legal men. The two of them go at it, and its not long before we see Balor get into it with Rhyno. This keeps Joe sidelined for much of the match, while Balor torn apart by Rhyno and Owens. Balor and Owens give us a great preview of what we can expect in Tokyo, but once our babyface team starts to rally we know the end of the match is coming. After a miscommunication by Rhyno causes Owens to get Gored, we see Balor hit the Coup de Grace and claim the win over Owens and Rhyno.
Now, I would like to take a moment to think about the gravity of the end of this match. While some may look at this and think that it isn't a problem that Balor pinned Owens because it is a tag match, but I would have to disagree. Kevin Owens has been unbeaten on NXT programming and this is due to him being booked as a monster heel. With a character like Owens, he shouldn't have been have been beaten until he either drops the title or until he ends a feud with someone like Samoa Joe. I've always felt that having a champion lose in a non-title match, whether its a singles match or a tag match, it damages the champ's credibility and devalues the title. I don't need to get off on a tangent here, but Balor could have easily scored the pinfall on Rhyno to close the show and let Owens continue his undefeated streak. Despite the competitors putting on a good match, I just don't like the ending and I have to knock it because of that.
I wasn't really surprised to see the number of promos in this episode since the NXT Championship is being contested in just a few days, but the middle of the show really felt like it was bogged down the worst. Honestly this episode was a little bit better than I was expecting, and NXT continues to produce a better quality roster than either Raw or SmackDown, I just hope that we can get some of the injured workers back soon and see the show return to where it was at about a year ago. The NXT is packed with talent right now, so let's hope that the booking team gets their act together and lets this talent packed roster get out there and let these athletes shine.
Final Rating: 3 Squash Matches out of 5