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It has been 7 weeks since the fantastic TakeOver Dallas show and NXT has been at Full Sail for the past three weeks now with shows following TakeOver being tapings from WrestleMania Axxess. Among the Axxess tapings we had great matches such as Crewes vs Joe and Nakamura making his debut on normal NXT television facing Alex Riley. The Axxess shows are always good to fill the story point from TakeOver to when NXT returns to Full Sail University. However the biggest moment since Axxess was the shocking title change at a house show where Samoa Joe finally defeated Finn Balor to become the new NXT champion. So with Joe now champion, Enzo, Cas, and The Vaudevillans now all on the main roster, how exactly will NXT shape on its return to Full Sail and how can the momentum from the thrilling TakeOver show keep going?

NXT Review: 4/05/16

  1. Tessa Blanchard v. Nia Jax

Nia Jax’s situation is a strange one. If I never had to watch her have another squash match again, I’d be more than happy, but I want to see more of her in a meaningful role. Her match with Bayley in London is the only match of hers I can recall enjoying, but I’m curious to see what her and Asuka can do. Really, they should have built on that Bayley match but Asuka’s momentum derailed any hope of that. The match was par for the course. Samoan drop, leg drop, Tessa dropped.

  1. Tye Dillinger v. Austin Aries

Show those two entrances to a non-wrestling fan and ask them to pick which one is the big star. I guarantee they’d pick Tye Dillinger. That’s the entrance of a main eventer. The countdown, the lights, the camerawork, Dillinger’s charisma. Aries looked like a nobody coming out after that. It’s taken him a little while to get there, but it’s falling into place for Dillinger. He’s so over right now, they’re going to have no choice but to push him. Guys like Tye are a testament to the Performance Center, and while it’s nice to have Austin Aries on the show, it’s important to turn people like Dillinger into stars. Even though Aries connected with a crisp rolling elbow and a 450 splash to retain his Revolution Championship, I was too busy laughing at the guy who shouted “Austin’s a midget” just as he was climbing the ropes. It’s good to know Baron Corbin still takes in NXT despite being called up.

  1. The Hype Bros v. The Revival

We’re given a show featuring people like Austin Aries and Eric Young, and yet I’m coming away from it thinking “Wow, Tye Dillinger and The Revival are the business.” The Revival are doing better work now than they ever did as champions. That’s not a slight on their run, they simply got in the way of the American Alpha juggernaut, but since losing at Dallas they’ve fully embraced the role of being brutal thugs. It’s amazing. 90% of this match features Dash & Dawson taking turns to decimate Zack Ryder, just beating seven shades of shite out of him. Just when it seemed like the match was going to go off the rails as Mojo tagged in, The Revival polished him off in a minute with a Shatter Machine. Great stuff.

  1. No Way Jose v. Noah Kekoa

First things first, I would pay to watch you whip and nae nae in the middle of a match, Corey Graves. I’m still not feeling it with No Way Jose. I remember getting excited by a party boy with a great entrance theme once upon a time. His name was Adam Rose. He’s since lost his entourage, became a sex pest, then a gossip columnist and is currently suspended for violating the wellness policy. Jose won’t necessarily follow that career path, but I’ll reserve my right to get excited about him. He faced Noah Kekoa, who looks like a mix between Baron Corbin, an Uso and Tito Santana. The Big Breakfast Matador Roman’s cousin had no answer to Jose’s bad dancing and baseball things. I’m glad he dropped that home run punch as his finisher, even if it allowed me to make a Bear Jew reference two weeks ago, but yikes his new finisher is worse. Dress it up how you want mate, it’s still a full nelson slam and not a particularly good one.

  1. Eric Young v. Samoa Joe

A very Lucha Underground style debut for EY. Here’s Eric Young, here’s his first match, here’s his first defeat. While I haven’t quite liked what LU has done with some of it’s new additions, their formula worked well here. It did well to establish Eric Young as one of the guys. I don’t really want to see him spending his first month winning quick matches against the likes of Angelo Dawkins. Facing the NXT Champion in a main event is a great way to introduce him and it means we’re not going to put him on a pedestal as we wait for the first loss. Meanwhile, goddamn Samoa Joe. He’s on another level currently. He’s so casual in the way he batters people. At one point, he clattered Young then strolled off like it was nothing. Young out on the floor? No problem, suicide forearm smash. Young showed his ability with a fine elbow drop, but Joe hit back with a vicious STO. How does he get his opponent to bounce like that? Muscle Buster & a Coquina Clutch to wrap it up and assert himself as the new overlord of NXT.

Is it too soon to dream of Samoa Joe v. Nakamura?

Are you ready for the next episode?

NXT Review: 11/05/16

This week’s episode of NXT features the usual team of Tom Phillips and Corey Graves on commentary. Finally, after losing the title we finally get Finn Balor but before he can say anything Elias Samson comes out and interrupts him. This leads to Balor attacking, sending Samson bailing. Decent and effective booking for the main event.

  1. American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) vs. Corey Hollis and John Skyler

 This was what you’d expect. Ninety percent of the match was American Alpha enhancement with them just having fun. And that isn’t a bad thing at all. Still, these shows lately have been a lot of the same, and too many enhancement matches on one show without much interesting going on makes this less fun. American Alpha are still awesome though. Jason Jordan has big star written all over him and Chad Gable should as well, although I wouldn’t expect it on the main roster as a solo guy. And their match with the Revival at Takeover should be another great match, but after that, where do they go from there? That’s what I’m interested in.

  1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Alex Riley

Here it is, the last televised match for Alex Riley. I don’t like to make light of releases. This means somebody is losing their job and their livelihood. In many cases, dreams are crushed. But I can honestly say I won’t miss Alex Riley at all. I just could never get behind him once he stopped being The Miz’s sidekick. And this was fine. It was ultimately just a showcase for Nakamura, which means it was fun. The crowd went absolutely wild for him, and I believe this was Nakamura’s first Full Sail appearance, so it is easy to see why. More Shinsuke Nakamura is a good thing. A very good thing.

  1. Rachel Ellering vs. Alexa Bliss

Well, this was a match. We can’t be too critical of Rachel here. Or really critical at all. She is new, and because she’s new she can only expected to be so good. I’m not sure if she’s had twenty matches yet. So naturally, her being lost and Bliss very clearly carrying her can’t be held against her. But as far as a televised match goes, it was a little awkward and not particularly good, but nothing too terrible. Still, if an Eva got lost like Rachel did the internet would destroy her even though by the time she showed up on NXT I’d be shocked of Eva had more than ten singles matches. Bliss wins, as you’d expect. Looking forward to see how Rachel develops.

  1. Elias Samson vs. Finn Balor

This was what it was. Elias Samson doesn’t interest me in the least, although I thought he worked in the opening segment. And Balor hasn’t had my interest in awhile. Combined, and I just don’t care much. Obviously, this was about giving Balor a win before telling us where he’s going from here. And can that place please be RAW? It has done a wonder for other stale acts like the Vaudevillains and to a lesser extent, Apollo Crews. The scenery change could be great for Finn and it would be very entertaining if he debuts how many of us expect. In the meantime, I can’t pretend to have much interest in yet another Takeover match between Joe and Finn. Balor wins, as you’d expect.

This week’s episode of NXT wasn’t that great. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t hold my attention much. The enhancement matches were all fine I suppose, but there just wasn’t anything that really captured my attention. And as much as I love a lot of the guys on the show like Joe, American Alpha, etc., nothing they were apart of really caught my attention. And Takeover, while I’m sure it’ll be good, isn’t looking very exciting. Next week looks more interesting though, so I’m looking forward to that.

NXT Review: 18/05/16

  1. Blake & Murphy v. Austin Aries & Shinsuke Nakamura

So, William Regal told AA to find a tag partner last week. Short of turning up with Brock Lesnar, I don’t think he could have found anyone better. It’s a pleasant surprise for someone to use the mystery partner stipulation to full effect. Usually, it ends in “well, Ryback wasn’t busy, I guess.” Aries went and got one of the best in the world to face a team that hasn’t won in about a year. If anything, it’s overkill. Blake & Murphy looked like men who knew they were about to die, but Murphy still tagged himself in right away for some reason. As a result, he bore the full brunt of the attack until Nakamura administered the mercy killing with Kinshasa. Therefore, Aries retains the Revolution Championship. There was so much going on post-match. First of all, Aries was not happy at being overshadowed by Nakamura. Probably the wrong partner to pick if that was your concern, mate. Secondly, we may have witnessed the implosion of The BAMs. Alexa looks to have finally had enough of her dopey servants, she almost looked sad about it, then Blakey walked away from Murphy. There’s only one thing for it, Blake. Get your Stetson and lasso out of the cupboard, bring back the real-life cowboy.

  1. Carmella v. Peyton Royce

Carmella is staying behind in NXT despite Enzo & Cass moving up to Raw so she can win the NXT Women’s Championship. An admirable goal, though she might rethink it if she ends up in the ring with Asuka. Her first obstacle was the lesser-spotted Peyton Royce, who is still sniffing that flower. There’s nothing wrong with her in-ring work as her take on the Three Amigos showed, but I’ve no idea what her character is meant to be. She started off doing this slinky walk and dropped it soon after the bell rung. I’m probably just spoiled from watching Sasha Banks live her character so well. Back to Carmella, she needs to drop those Thesz Presses or at least work on her punches because they look horrible. That superkick she’s added looks sharp though, even if she’s the 37th member of the current roster using a superkick. Triangle submission for the win and defense of her Women’s Revolution Championship.

Samoa Joe and Finn Balor just can’t stop fighting. Even the whole roster couldn’t separate them in Oregon. So, Regal’s solution to contain them at Takeover is to put them in a steel cage. NXT’s first cage match, then. I’ll be honest, I kind of hate cage matches. They sound good on paper, but it’s ridiculous to build up the brutality of a match that can be won by walking out of the door. If they got rid of that door, the match would improve tenfold. Regardless, I like that they’re trying something new. Headlining three Takeovers in a row with the same one-on-one match would have been too much unless they added a stipulation.

  1. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa v. Danny Burch & Rob Ryzin

Gargano & Ciampa won with a nasty double superkick/knee strike combo. I assume their continued presence on NXT is to build towards the Cruiserweight Classic. I expect both to go quite far given their prominence on NXT. I’m going territorial and hoping for a British winner. Zack Sabre Jr is probably our best hope, though I’d love to see Noam Dar have a good run.

  1. Bayley vs. Nia Jax

This was a solid enough match, although I saw a lot of high praise that I can’t really agree with. Bayley worked really hard and Nia has improved, but to me, this still wasn’t some amazing match. It was solid for what it was and told a nice story. The real talking point here is Nia winning, which likely means she takes on Asuka at Takeover. I’m not entirely sure how that match goes, and I’m curious as to if they pull the Nia as champion trigger or not. You don’t want a big-man style wrestler losing all the time or they lose their value, but it would seem early to dethrone Asuka. Either way, Nia won and it’ll be interesting to see both where she and Bayley go from here.

NXT was good this week. I really liked both tag matches and the story surrounding the first is quite interesting. The women’s matches weren’t anything great, but I won’t complain about seeing Carmella or Bayley either way. Overall, the episode was a good one.

Looking ahead, we have a few shows to go and Takeover isn’t too far away. Hopefully once Takeover passes, the direction of the brand is shaken up with more fresh feuds and less retreads of what we’ve seen. Either way, I expect NXT will deliver.