A month’s worth of NXT is worth the price of the WWE Network and it’s becoming my new favorite wrestling obsession with its throwback feel and some of the best wrestling in the U.S. You’re gonna have to dig deep to find a bad NXT show as Triple H’s baby boils wrestling to its core components of Wrestler A/Team A thinking they’re better than Wrestler B/Team B and then wrestling to determine who is the better man/woman/team. That’s all wrestling ever has to be and that’s exactly what we get with NXT so if you’re a wrestling fan and aren’t watching NXT at this point, you’re just depriving yourself of the best wrestling available on a weekly basis.
Hideo Itami vs. Bull Dempsey
This should be an interesting styles clash. Dempsey is reminiscent of King Kong Bundy with hair. Dempsey’s got good intensity, but Hideo uses his speed to keep him off guard after absorbing Bull’s initial assault. Hideo gets the win with a flying drop kick off the ropes. After decisively losing his feud with Baron Corbin, Bull is on a bit of a losing streak, but the NXT commentators don’t go out of the way to point that out. And really, in a promotion with Kevin Owens, Bull doesn’t need to be portrayed as the baddest dude around.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5. Perfectly fine, but too short. Hideo is a bit aimless right now in terms of big picture. He’s been positioned as a big deal, but with Balor as No. 1 contender, doesn’t have much to do in the interim.
Charlotte gets her rematch against Sasha Banks. The Brian Kendrick is back! And he’s battling Finn Balor in the main event. Alex Riley, Tom Phillips and Corey Graves cue a highlight video to reintroduce fans to Kendrick. Smart move as TBK probably wouldn’t seem that special to folks coming in cold.
Lucia Dragons vs Tye Dillinger and Jason Jordan.
Dillinger and Jordan have a cool intro, but the match quickly goes into angle mode. Jordan unleashes some nice purposeful offense, but Dillinger wants in and keeps blowing off Jordan’s requests for a tag. The Dragons hit their tag team moves including a sweet step onto Dillinger into a wheelbarrow senton. Jordan has seen enough and when Dillinger finally comes over for the tag, he walks off. Kalisto hits his finisher and a top rope senton from Sin Cara gets the win.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5. The Dragons got a needed rebound win after consecutive losses to Blake and Murphy even if they didn’t get a lot of opposition this week.
Finn interview in the back. He’s not focused on Kevin Owen right now since he’s facing a former WWE cruiserweight champion tonight. It’s little things like not blowing off a returning vet that makes NXT so enjoyable.
Dillinger demands Jordan come back out and he won’t leave until he gets a response no matter who comes out from the back. This would be a lot more threatening if Dillinger didn’t just get beat down by the Dragons. Just like 911 in the early ECW days, Baron Corbin gets the smash a loudmouth with one move treatment. The fans really needed to get back to the counting gimmick and the commentators must have thought so too as they proclaimed End of Days wipes Dillinger out in :13. Geesh who did Dillinger piss off this week?
Charlotte is interviewed and says Sasha didn’t beat her one on one. It was a brief interview, but Charlotte has a somewhat legitimate argument since she’s defeated Sasha in their single title matches in the past. And unlike the WWE Divas title, NXT can actually generate some excitement from hyping its woman’s title match. Tyler Breeze promises he’s not done with Hideo yet.
The announcers say we’ll be hearing from Sami Zayn next week and show clips of his Abu Dhabi appearances. Really not a fan of that as it somewhat diminishes Zayn’s morale-crushing NXT title loss by showing him smiling and making media appearances. We get that WWE is international, but it would have been just as effective delaying that video package until after Zayn’s return.
Bayley vs. Becky Lynch
Bayley may have my favorite ring entrance as it’s finds the right mark of being cute without being silly. I love Becky’s hair twirling. This is a match-up of half the combatants from the women’s title four-way, which may be an all time classic and they’re determined to show from their end at least, that match wasn’t a fluke. It’s amazing how both wrestlers are still honing their skills, but would already decimate the majority of the WWE Divas roster. Becky hits some smooth moves including a bridge out of a pinfall attempt and a pump handle slam before yelling at Bayley that she cost her the title. It’s simple, but it conveys that in NXT, titles matter. Bayley tries another top rope Bayley to Belly, but Becky pushes her off and Bayley’s arm hits the ring rope giving Becky the target she needs to hone in for a submission win.
Rating: 3 out of 5. Another quality NXT Divas match. I’d be totally fine with a 30-minute Divas Iron Man (Woman?) match or 2 out of 3 falls with any combination of Becky, Bayley, Sasha and Charlotte.
Rhyno interview. He’s at NXT because the stars here have the same intensity and fire he’s had all his career. Of the two returning stars, I’d rather have heard from Kendrick to further hype his match. Jason Jordan is leaving the arena and says he’ll explain his actions when he’s ready. Don’t know what all there is to explain. Your partner sucks and you wanted to go on your own. Kevin Owens joins commentators for the main event.
Finn Balor vs. The Brian Kendrick
Typically, I’m not a fan of the commentators overshadowing the match, but Owens’ interactions especially with Riley made for an engaging segment. Owens may be the best character in NXT, Raw or Smackdown right now. His motives for being the best is so he can provide for his family who had to put up with a lot of his crap over the years while he pursued his wrestling dream. It’s a basic face storyline, but Owens makes it his own with his heelish aggression in the ring. Riley starts questioning Owens’ character particularly for being so vicious towards his childhood friend and Owens decides to leave the booth to avoid doing anything he’ll regret. That “oh man, what is he gonna do next?” feeling is something WWE hasn’t legitimately had since Steve Austin.
TBK is game, but he seems like a higher quality enhancement talent at this stage of his career and unlike Rhyno, he didn’t get to come back to NXT to face a jobber, but the No. 1 contender. TBK hits an impressive suplex that looked like it came close to screwing up Balor’s neck. Hurting one of the prized NXT roster members is not a way to ensure long-term employment there Brian. Balor recovers and hits his dropkick to the corner before getting the win with the coup de grâce.
Rating: 3 out of 5. TBK makes a surprise return, but can’t take down the No. 1 contender, who continues to look like he won’t be long for NXT.
Owens comes back out to glare at Balor, but his real purpose is to go after Riley, who he grabs and throws across the announce table. Yeah, Riley really needed to check himself on that. While I was hoping for a longer beat down, Owens just glares at Balor. Can I tell you how excited I am for that match?