The NXT Review: 20/03/2014 – Off Broadway
Mar 21, 2014 - 2:10:00 PM
NXTians! Hello! Spring has finally sprung into action this week, sunshine and blossom and all of that stuff, but one thing remains the same – NXT is still the best darned wrestling show produced under the WWE banner. Yes, even after the weak episode last week, I’m still trotting that out. Although Raw was pretty ace this week, in truth. More on that story on another day – we came for Zayn! And Breeze! And Rose! And Bayley! They’re all on this show, believe it or not – pretty much all of my favourites in one 50 minute program. It’s like watching The Wire. Except without drugs. Let’s do this!
The NXT Review: 20/03/2014 – Off Broadway
Can I just say how much I love the new style intro video and graphics for NXT, the ones they’ve used since ArRIVAL? They’re really nice.
Here’s Mojo and his butt, charging down to the ring and around at ringside, slapping hands with his fans and being super hyped. There’s someone from the New England Patriots in the crowd who clearly knows Mojo – he’s one of the people in Mojo shirts who sit on their hands for everyone but Mojo then go wild when he appears. They are my least favourite people in the NXT Arena, and have been for some weeks. By proxy, I guess I hate the New England Patriots? They play that American Rugby thing, right? Anyway, Mojo tonight is taking on Bull Dempsey, who is essentially the jobber version of Bray Wyatt. Husky Harris, if you like. This won’t take long.
Mojo and Bull stare each other down to start, Rawley constantly moving, but it’s Dempsey who connects with the first blow, sending the Hype Man to the corner and driving a shoulder into his gut, before pounding him down to the mat with fists and dropping and elbow and a knee drop for a one count. Bull locks in a rear chinlock then lands some blows onto his opponents chest, and he manages to stop Rawley from firing up and keep him on the mat. Mojo eventually powers out with a back suplex. He cuts Dempsey off with his football style stance and rolling thingy, before charging in and then whipping him across the ring and connecting with a pair of body avalanches. The Rear View follows, and then he hits the Earthquake Splash for the win.
Mojo’s friends and family go wild in the aisles as Mojo slaps his flabby belly about in celebration. He even goes up to them in the crowd to celebrate his win. Crikey, what would he do if he won the NXT Championship. I really, really want to love Mojo, I do, but his matches are such a bore for me. You know, I can tell you exactly what’s going to happen in them before he hits the ring, and as someone pointed out in the comments previously he’s supposed to be this big powerhouse so why not just let him crush guys instead of having to fire up or whatever for his finishing sequence? I mean, Langston got over doing just that, really, and it didn’t hurt him at all. I think there are better ways to use a guy of his stature than this. And please, for the love of God, stop using your butt Mojo.
Oh great, here’s CJ Parker, who this week is cosplaying The Miz circa 2011 in a shirt, tie and waistcoat. He’s pretty sickened by Mojo Rawley’s life choices, apparently he’s the type of guy who rocks up to McDonalds, buys a bunch of double cheeseburgers to eat then burps whilst throwing the rubbish out of his car window. In one week, he’s going to humanely dispose of him. He ends his promo by dropping some scrunched up paper in a recycling bin – I hope that becomes part of character, just recycling things at the end of his promos. Like, he’s there, going all ‘Adrian Neville, you think you’re the NXT Champion but you’re not the champion of anything because your constant flights back and forth to England are destroying the Earth so next week I will beat you for that title and give the NXT Universe, and the planet, a champion they deserve. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put these bottles in a bottle bank’. He’s still The Worst, capitalised, but I think I might sort of like this Parker character now a bit? It’s confusing.
That Breeze entrance still gets me right in the funny bone, I can’t help but love it. Watching it five times during ArRIVAL hasn’t hurt it at all – it’s still incredible. Might well be the best entrance on NXT right now, although…I don’t know, Adam Rose is a thing now isn’t he? Imagine a match between those two. Breeze reclines across the ropes in the corner of the ring as Sami Zayn makes his approach…and gets struck from behind by Corey Graves! The man with the worst jeans collection in the world drives him headfirst into the ringpost and Sami is left groggy, doctors checking his pupil response as he is slumped at ringside. Looks lik this match is off and Sami can’t continue, as doctors and officials help him to the back.
Here’s Sheamus, cutting a promo…oh no, Aiden English is saving us from it! He is single handedly using NXT as a stepping stone to the brighter lights of Broadway. Sheamus makes a joke about testicles and then says he’s going to ask JBL for a match against English later tonight! Terrific!
Adam Rose! Adam Rose is the best! Here he comes, party in tow – man, I love this so much. I love that everyone in his party is dressed differently, from businessmen to Roman gladiators to women in catsuits. I love the crowdsurfing around the ring bit. I think they’ve changed his music slightly. Regal, Saxton, Phillips and Young are getting down in the commentary booth as Rose dances around the ring and the crowd dances alongside them. Camacho looks bemused opposite his opponent as he prances around the ring while the crowd sing his theme tune, and this one is on!
Camacho wins the opening lock up and gets a wristlock on his opponent, but Rose rolls out of it and then keeps rolling like Limp Bizkit around the ring before relaxing in the corner and prancing his way into another lock up. This one is won by Rose, but Camacho just pounds him on the back to break it and Rose wins up in the ropes, bicycle kicking his man with the help of the ring and taking enough control to lock in a side headlock. The Tongan powers out of it with a back suplex and then just starts stamping on his opponent, before laying chops into him in the corner to a big ‘party pooper’ chant from the crowd. Camacho covers his opponent for a two count and then locks in a rear chinlock to keep his opponent down, wrenching the hold by putting his weight on top of him, and Rose kicks out of another two count in the end, before taking another pounding from Camacho. Hunico’s mate whips his opponent into the corner and hits a clothesline before mocking Rose with a prance of his own – and now Rose just snaps, flying in with a bunch of right hands and a running clothesline in the corner. He hits a Bronco Buster in the corner, without all the riding histrionics X-Pac used to do, and then levels his opponent with a spinebuster. He backs off and winds up for The Slice, blowing an imaginary train whistle before decapitating Camacho and taking the win.
Outstanding. Adam Rose has got over in two appearances, and I love the additional character bits in this, from the snapping at being mocked to the train whistle before hitting The Slice. I will accept The Slice as a finisher if he precedes it with a train whistle every time. Rose parties with his Rosebuds at the top of the ramp and takes the party backstage. I think they might have nailed it now, with all the additional in ring theatrics it really, really worked as a gimmick. Camacho deserves better than this, in a way – I think he could be a serious contender if they treated him as just a tough Tongan bastard who took no prisoners, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen unfortunately.
Here’s Sasha again! For the second week in a row, The Boss of NXT gets to strut her stuff, with Charlotte and Summer Rae’s face on a stick at her side. She sashays down to the ring in her coat and glasses – one thing I hadn’t noticed until now is that her coat has a buckle with her initials in it. Banks’ ring gear and accoutrements are outstanding. Here’s Bayley and her friend Natalya though, looking overawes and excited as ever. Man, I love you Bayley. Never change, always be amazing. One thing that has been great with Natalya siding with her is that Bayley has gradually gained some confidence in her own abilities – there’s a little bit of subtle storytelling going on with it, where Bayley gets more forceful in her interactions and her matches and also starts regularly winning alongside it, all since she has teamed up with Natalya. It’s a great little touch.
Sasha tries to put the ‘Bayley’ chants down before the opening lock up which she gains the best of, but the fangirl skirts out of the corner and causes Sasha to duck out of the ring screaming when she goes for a punch.; Bayley looks surprised that she could be considered a threat, and blows the smoke off of her fists as she backs away. Is there anybody who understands their character as well as Bayley right now? Every little intricacy is right on the money. Sasha runs in, but gets caught in a waistlock and then a full nelson, before being sent to the mat via a headlock takeover. Bayley follows that up with a shoulderblock, but Banks then strikes with a knee to the midsection. Bayley isn’t fazed, though, and locks in a full nelson again which Sasha climbs the ropes to break, resulting in Bayley just dropping her on her back out of the hold. And then this all gets AMAZING. Bayley grabs Sasha’s sunglasses and imitates her, strutting around the ring and acting all bossy. Oh God, Bayley, I love you.
Sasha gets cross and charges in, but Bayley takes her down and sits on her back, mocking Sasha some more. Banks eventually gets up and charges, but Bayley drops her face first into the turnbuckle and goes for a big splash in the corner – but Banks dodges it! She slaps at the back of Bayley and then dropkicks her down the the mat, slamming her head on the ground using her hair. Sasha even mimics Bayley, taking her headband off and putting it on herself. Banks is on top now, grinding her opponent down by stamping on her fingers and choking her against the ropes with her leg, before tossing her across the ring and getting a two count. The Boss stands tall over her opponent, jumping on her back, and gets another two count before locking in a rear chinlock. Bayley whips Banks over to break the hold, but hasn’t got the breath in her to capitalise and gets stomped on by her rival, before missing an attempt at a dropkick and getting thrown to the outside. I smell shenanigans! Charlotte comes round to where the excitable one lies on the outside of the ring, but Natalya cuts her off and lets Bayley get back into the ring – but then the Nature Girl levels Natalya! Bayley tries to check on her friend, but Sasha rolls her up…no, Bayley rolls through…1…2…3! Bayley wins! Yes!
The BFFs scowl on from the ring as Bayley rolls out to check on her friend at ringside. She stands in front of Natalya, ready for the BFFs should they choose to exact any vengeance on her and her buddy after taking the loss, but they just retreat up the ramp. This is far from over, but it feels pretty important that Bayley got this win. As I said, I love the character development they’re doing with Bayley through having Natalya at her side – it’s a real pupil/mentor relationship, but they’re also managing to put it over in the ring which is great to see. The match was pretty good, although the finish kind of came out of nowhere – the main thing with these two is that it is so character driven. Everything is about who they are as characters, rather than wrestlers, and they make it work so darned well.
As ever, Aiden demands his spotlight and sings his way down to the ring in his beautiful dulcet tones – he’s going to become the greatest performer in WWE. Regal is overcome in the commentary booth, but Sheamus soon knocks him out of it and he makes his way down to the ring with a fire in his eyes. That child who dressed as Sheamus last time is in the crowd again, and still dressed as Sheamus. Maybe that’s just his standard wardrobe? Before they begin, Adrien has something else to say – while ‘a few’ of the people here know him, this is the theatre that The Artiste built, and he’s going to use it to catapult himself to Broadway. Sheamus looks at him thoughtfully before grabbing the mike and asking the crowd if they think English could make it – they respond with a hearty ‘no!’. Oh, Sheamus is going to give us a little old Irish song and encourages the crowd to clap along as he belts out his little tune, but English grabs it back from him and starts singing again. Sheamus copies this, but English attacks from behind and Sheamus goes out of the ring.
English bails on the ring as Sheamus runs after him, and on re-entry he takes the upper hand, pounding on Sheamus on the mat and in the corner, but when the ref breaks them up Sheamus comes flying back with a kick to the gut and multiple punches in the corner. English tries to escape but gets tied up in the ropes and bludgeoned by the Celtic Warrior, who throws him back into the ring and looks for the Brogue Kick, but The Artiste uses his head and bails on the ring to avoid it. On the outside, Sheamus sends his foe flying into the barrier and high fives a couple of youngsters, before tossing Aiden into the ring. English rolls all the way across the ring and out the other side, and when Sheamus follows him out the momentum shifts, with English throwing the flame haired one into the ring post and then pulling his feet out from under him, driving him headfirst into the steel steps. A big clothesline takes Sheamus down, and this is become a bit of a war now, with English tossing his opponent back in the ring and getting a two count. The Artiste drops a knee on his opponent with the assistance of the ropes and then locks in a tight rear chinlock to wear his opponent down.
A big ‘let’s go Sheamus’ spurs the Irishman back to his feet, but English cuts off any hope of a recovery by pounding him down to the mat and then choking him across the ropes. English pulls Sheamus up in the corner and punches him in the head, but the Celtic Warrior fires back and creates a bit of separation, only to get cut off by English with an Irish whip followed by a knee to the gut for a one count. Sheamus fires out of the corner with a boot to the knee, though, and then pulls himself up to the top rope – but English counters that with a neckbreaker from up high! 1…2…no! Sheamus kicks out! English goes back to the rear chinlock, and that wears Sheamus down to the mat. The Celtic Warrior fires up, and the crowd are divided as they two men go toe to toe. English skips around the back though and locks in a sleeper that again takes Sheamus down to the mat – the Broadway Bastard is looking really impressive here, and hits a back elbow after being thrown to the corner by his opponent. But Sheamus fires back with double axehandles to the chest and a hard running knee! English ducks a clothesline but gets caught in a tilt-a-whirl body slam! Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick – and levels his opponent! 1…2…3! Sheamus wins a hard fought match!
That was excellent. Sheamus always seems to be at his best when he gets an opponent who will go blow for blow with him – which is why his matches with Cesaro are so darned good - and, surprisingly, English did it here in spades. The neckbreaker off the top rope, especially, looked really, really good, and I think he showed that he can do well battling the best in WWE. An excellent main event, then, to top off a good show.
This is the week in which Adam Rose became a vital cog in the NXT machine. I know it’s only his second appearance, but he was so damned good and added some little touches to his in ring performance that were much needed. I wrote before that The Slice needed replacing, but doing it with some serious commitment to the pre-move theatrics has made me rethink that.
20/03/2014 – Adam Rose
13/03/2014 – Paige
19/02/2014 – Tyler Breeze
12/02/2014 – BFFs
05/02/2014 – Aiden English
29/01/2014 – Renee Young
22/01/2014 – Realest Guys In The Room
NXT gets back on track this week with an absolutely outstanding episode. The matches might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but they were right up my street. The only thing that didn’t work for me was Mojo vs Bull Dempsey, but it was mercifully short. I think they’re just going a bit too quickly with pushing Rawley, and should either cover up how ropey he is in the ring by having him just crush people or not have him be as active as he is. He’s got potential, it’s just a case of how they put it together. Otherwise, this was a hugely enjoyable episode, notably the main event and Sasha vs Bayley, but with Adam Rose in there too and the continuation of Graves vs Zayn there was a lot to take away from the episode.
Next week – NXT get vengeful! Vengeance will be had! Charlotte will do battle with Natalya, Tyler Breeze squares off with Xavier Woods, Mojo Rawley faces CJ Parker (welp!) and, in the main event, Adrian Neville will defend his NXT Championship for the first time against Bo Dallas. We’ve got a week to wait, NXTians, but it’s a card that looks pretty strong on paper, for the most part, and I’m looking forward to it. Stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! See ya!