So I am almost 100% unfamiliar with the NXT goings on. 207 episodes!? How the hell is that even possible?? Have I literally missed 4 years of NXT? Or does it work like weird TV season numbers and this is just the 7th episode of season 2. But yeah, I have haven't seen much of NXT, is what I'm getting at. I've seen the occasional Hero or Ambrose match and that's about it. Never watched a full episode, but I like the fact that exists in its own little bubble, in the same way that Saturday Night or WorldWide used to exist. So in a way this is like WWE B-Sides. I still wish there was a show like Velocity, but this is probably the next best version of that. So, what the hell, let's start reviewing NXT weekly shows!
1. Sin Cara vs. Alexander Rusev
First time seeing Rusev here. I dig the guy's old school powerlifter build. He....doesn't seem that good. But I'm not shocked that he's getting brought up to the main roster. He's not very good at hitting his marks. Cara had to shove him into position at one point when he was taking too long, and he backed too far away from a Cara moonsault press so it ended up hitting him like a backflip dropkick instead. His offense is pretty dry, with mostly power stuff and some random kicks peppered in. He did do a running dropkick at one point that looked really great, really felt like a John Tenta style dropkick. He works this match too evenly, and at one point holds Cara in an armlock for far too long. I get that most short WWE matches need to have that pointless moment where the heel holds a face in some sort of a rest hold to build for the comeback, but it felt more pointless than usual here. Needs more impressive power spots. Plus his average height will be exposed when on the main roster.
2. Alicia Fox vs. Emma
Fox has been the best Diva for some time now, does all "between moves" stuff a lot better than most Divas (and plenty of male workers). Nice stomach kicks, actually makes restholds look like she's working a hold, really nasty wristlocks that looks like she's manipulating joints, cool reckless forearms from the mount. Emma does not seem very good, and I'm already starting to turn on her as she's getting mostly tepid responses but announcers on the main brand and now NXT are putting her over as somebody the crowd just goes batty for and pretending more than 30 people in the crowd are doing her dance. Here she takes a year to do a reverse rolling cradle and just as long to try and set up the Tarantula. I do like her doing the Emma dance into her finisher submission, but most everything else she does doesn't look good.
3. Sylvester Lefort vs. Mason Ryan
Oh hey it's Mason Ryan. Forgot about him. This goes about 45 seconds but is done the way a squash match should be done. Dug Ryan's hotshot into a running big boot. Good follow through on the boot. Would have liked to see some more from Lefort as I dug his hiked-high tights and beard. His strikes didn't look very good though.
4. Aiden English vs. Tyson Kidd
English looks like tall muscular Screech, and when he's wearing that beret he looks like Screech from that Saved By the Bell episode where Screech was in a chess tournament, and Zack and Slater make a bunch of money by running a gambling ring to capitalize on Bayside's sudden and never-again-mentioned chess fever!! Kidd looks really good in this, missing a crossbody in the ropes, throwing nice kicks and doing a cool rana that sends English face first into the turnbuckles. Kidd gets the Blockbuster for the win after English is distracted by some guy named Big Cass who threatens to steal Screech's lucky beret. Couldn't get a great read on English but he threw some great Bret Hart style falling elbows.
5. Adrian Neville vs. Corey Graves
Neville used to be PAC (they still use his moniker The Man Gravity That Gravity Forgot) and Graves is the former Sterling James Keenan. Boy WWE developmental names leave a lot to be desired. Graves has a real good look, like an indie rock Chris Isaak. PAC's flying is always impressively effortless. I cannot imagine having that much knowing control of my body. I mean I have alright balance and don't trip over my own legs when I go running, but seeing PAC hitting a running tope/moonsault press (picture what starts as a dive over the ropes but adds a twist in the middle to land like a moonsault press) is pretty stunning Most of this match is Graves working over Neville's leg, which he does well. I always like the DDT done to the leg, and he gets a real high cradle on roll ups. The guy looks like he has to actually kick out of pins, not just get let out. Neville is really great at selling the leg, too, which makes the leg work better. Crowd doesn't seem to give much of a shit though. Neville is still good at selling while doing his moves, which is not something you see often. He eventually makes his comeback and hits his killer twisting shooting star off the rope. I liked what happened in the match fine, everything looked solid. It wasn't terribly compelling, and it should have been. The story of "guy gets weapon taken away by wily opponent" usually gets people into it, but they certainly were not here. Now I know nothing of the history, or how the crowd normally responds to these two, but I would have expected them to be a little more receptive to this.
Labels: Adrian Neville, Aiden English, Alexander Rusev, Alicia Fox, Corey Graves, Emma, Mason Ryan, NXT, Sin Cara, Sylvester Lefort, Tyson Kidd