Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

NXT in Sacramento ROAD REPORT 10/27/16

Despite me being streets behind on my NXT watching, I was still excited when it was announced they would be doing a house show run (sort of) in my area. Shinsuke Nakamura is basically Rachel's favorite wrestler, Dylan Hales is new to town and hasn't seen live wrestling in a couple months, and Tim Livingston is obsessed with NXT. So we were going to the show. A crazy rain storm hit our area the last couple days (scheduled to run another week!) so it was pouring rain on the drive down, and with traffic and accidents and more rain the typically 105 minute drive became a 200 minute drive. Yeeeeesh. We listened to the nice new LVL UP album, then I attempted to fry my brain to distract it from the traffic by listening to White Hills. My brain did not get fried and I was forced to accept my sore car butt and endless traffic, so finally put on King Sunny Ade and tranced out to his hypnotizing needling guitar sounds. That actually did the trick. We got to the Golden Bear and I pounded happy hour whiskey gingers while Rachel pounded happy hour whiskey sours, and Tim pounded happy hour water because he has impressive will power and is the skinniest I've ever seen him. Rachel and I stumbled to the Memorial Auditorium and got through the doors literally as the show was starting. The memorial is a cool old venue with wildly inaccessible bathrooms (tons of bathrooms had you walking up and down stairs once inside), and the venue was really full on the floor, and not very full up top. We were on the floor, Tim got the nice seats, but really the balcony seats looked pretty nice when I ventured up there, especially the seats on the side (venue seating is shaped like a U, so seating was better on the sides than if you were on the curve), but a great place for a wrestling show.

So yes, I am currently in the middle of July 2014 in my NXT viewing, and I don't look ahead. So I'm not familiar with most of these wrestlers, and the ones I am familiar with are very different than they were 27 months ago, so I'll try to limit the "I'm so out of the loop" comments, but know that I will be very much out of the loop. And I'm pretty sure I was the only one, as every other person bought 100% into each wrestler's gimmick, knew what to chant, when to do it. Felt like Rocky Horror Picture Show only actually entertaining.

1. Patrick Clark vs. Buddy Murphy

I genuinely thought Clark was Shelton Benjamin as he came out. It would be easy to make a joke about my incredibly white upbringing, but I DO think they have similar facial features, and I'm like 70% sure I remember hearing about Benjamin getting resigned for the brand extension. He's working a Prince gimmick (apparently) which is somehow more topical now that Prince is recently deceased, than when Iaukea was working as Prince. In hindsight Iaukea's Prince gimmick came when Prince himself was at his most irrelevant, which is kind of a perfect WCW thing. I mean who was listening to any current Prince during 1998-2001? Clark doesn't show me a whole lot, other than an absolutely sick theme song. It's got just a looping bass groove and drum beat, sounds like something from Thundercat. Crowd was way into him, but the crowd was into almost everything tonight. I'm not totally sure if the gimmick is supposed to be controversial, or what, but there's really not much to it. He wears a ruffly shirt and a sparkly headband and walks slowly and assuredly, and I'm sure maybe more will come out explaining the why. I was one of few Buddy Murphy fans in attendance, but I liked what he brought. He had fringe on his tights which gave him instant bonus points with me, but he just worked a real solid game and played into all of Clark's spots in a great comedic way. An "unsettlingly sexually ambiguous" character isn't really interesting in 2016, but Buddy sold the moments well, acting like he didn't want to lock up, stealing the headwrap and wearing it, then an amusing moment where he threw the wrap down, stomped it, and then bodyslammed Clark onto it. Clark sold it like he was slammed onto a chair, we all laughed. The whole match was simple stuff, but it worked.

2. Aliyah & Daria vs. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce

Kay and Royce are Australians (so was Murphy, so we're at a 1:1 Australia:USA ratio so far tonight). Aliyah is small and cute (WWE bills her as 5'3" which is a flat out lie. I doubt she's even 5') and only 21, but age ain't nothing but a number! This was really back & forth, but she was really good at dusting herself off and trying again. Daria was not wearing a pleated skirt or army boots, which was wildly disappointing. She works a MMA gimmick and does a decent job with it, but it didn't really fit great into this match. Really liked the Australians though. They worked nice distraction spots, and I thought Royce especially looked good. She threw a killer knee on the apron and had an awesome "athletic heel" spot in the corner where she choked Daria with her boot, but was doing a sort of vertical splits while doing it, so her head was upside down and touching the mat while her boot was high up choking Daria. Daria had a fun comeback moment where she tore off her MMA gloves and started throwing bare fists blows, nice update on the strap removal spots I love so much. Aliyah was the hot tag and she didn't look great, but the energy was there which is half a hot tag anyway. Australians are really taking a hit to the Loss column on this show.

3. Roderick Strong vs. Oney Lorcan

This match really delivered, and was pretty much all you'd expect. Strong dominated, threw huge chops, nice knees, slick running kick; but it was Lorcan's comeback that made things really work. Once Lorcan started going off with uppercuts and his great lariat, we had business. It looked like both guys knew each other well and were able to work some pretty complicated fast sequences. I loved Lorcan going for some fast running uppercuts in the corner, and on the third Strong catches him mid move and drops him with a big backbreaker. Both guys had no problem leaning into the other's strikes, and the pace and build were great. It never really felt like Lorcan had a chance, and that's what made his comeback so much fun, suddenly he was pinballing Strong all around, launching him with a half nelson suplex, all of this was just a real fun go go go match. At one point, the inspired masses were moved to a This is Awesome chant. I wonder if, sometimes, a TIA chant starts up, and the guys in the ring let out a single syllable laugh and go, "We did it, partner. We did it."

4. Tye Dillinger vs. Wesley Blake

Blake is a favorite of mine from 2014 television, Dillinger - I was told - has a new gimmick, and that gimmick was very much over with the fans in attendance. Talking it over with Dylan, Lana and Tim, we came to the conclusion that Blake is working a gimmick as Keith Urban's slide guitar player, who facially looks like Balls Mahoney while dressing like 2007 Brian Kendrick, essentially making Wesley Blake = Jimmy Del Ray. We already had someone paying tribute to Prince on this show, and while Del Ray may be more of an obscure name, I appreciate what Blake was going for. Oh and I still think Blake is awesome. Dude stooged all over the place for Dillinger and his 10 chants, being perfectly fine with his own "1" chants. He wore tasseled kneepads. He had me at hello. This match went about 42 minutes and Blake was great at keeping things simple and light. His running punch off the ropes was a highlight of the evening. After being inundated with TEN chants throughout this match, I later got to ask Tim what time it was when it was 10:00, and then flashed the Tye 10 count. You guys, I was real happy with myself.

A long intermission allowed me to wade through one of the trech-uh-ruhsly wet bathrooms (seriously it was impossible not to kick through puddles of water and urine in these bathrooms) and really meet Lana and Dylan in person for the first time. They bought snacks. I stood with them. And it was good! Neither appeared to be weirdos, and I don't believe I did either. We talked about where my friend got me my Vader shirt (at a NOAH show! in 2001!), Papa Hales, other local indies, and I talked more about Wesley Blake.

5. Bobby Roode vs. No Way Jose

So Bobby Roode is legit. For a guy I've been watching wrestle for (sheesh) 12+ years, he wasn't really a guy I had much opinion on. He operated in the middle zone, not good enough for me to seek out more, not bad enough for him to become a running joke. My strongest opinion on him for  many years was "sometimes his torso looks too long". And sometimes it did! But I didn't have any favorite Bobby Roode matches, and he never struck me as bad. He just existed on wrestling programming, for a fed that I often skipped. But live? Man he is legit. This guy was Tracy Smothers up there. You watch what he did in this match and you realize how easily he could fit this into tons of different kinds of Memphis match. You could see him working his way through them. He starts with comedy and came back to it. His theme song - you may have heard - is way over. Fans wanted any excuse to sing it, just as they wanted any excuse to chant DELETE. It's amusing that "DELETE" is fast becoming the "You fucked up" of the 2010s. It's a trade I'm fine with. But Roode incorporated NWJ's dancing into the match about as well as possible. He stooged all over, he knew when to cut off Jose, knew when to turn things serious, planted NWJ with a great spinebuster. You could easily see Roode as Dutch or Tracy Smothers in this match. What is odd, and I don't think this is an insult, but I think Roode will remain a better house show worker. I don't know if the stuff I loved live will translate very well to TV, or be given the time to translate. Roode may remain a guy I don't get excited for on TV, but get excited for in the house show experience. Goldust is one of my favorite workers in the world, and I'd take him on a house show every time if my other chance was a TV match. And there aren't tons of guys in WWE I'd say that about.

6. Asuka vs. Mandy Rose

Crowd was chanting "Asuka's Gonna Kill You" which was amusing because the dreaded and feared Asuka ended up giving like 80% of the match to Mandy Rose. Mandy Rose I know only from being wisely talked out of forming any sort of friendly alliance with Eva Marie on Total Divas. She didn't strike me on the show as someone who "came from" wrestling. She seemed like a typical fashion model hired to sort of learn to fake fight. This was my first time seeing her wrestle, and I really liked her. She was better than half the people in the tag earlier, and she worked as a strong heel the entire match. Fans wanted to see Asuka murder her and I was tickled that Rose was working "not in the face" schtick, Asuka works some nice hip attacks, but I really dug Rose working simple heel stuff the whole match. The best parts were when Asuka was trying to lock on an armbar and a chickenwing, and they did a bunch of really cool rolling. Rose must be double jointed as she was bending every which way while Asuka held on. There were a couple unexpected reversals, and a nice build to Rose finally tapping to the chickenwing. Asuka has awesome body charisma, really captivating from the moment she started her entrance, and I have no doubt that helped Rose. But this was an unexpected and fun showing from Rose.

7. Shinsuke Nakamura/TM-61 vs. Samoa Joe/Authors of Pain

I gotta say it was pretty adorable watching Rachel scramble for her phone when Nakamura was coming out, as if there is anybody in her life (who wasn't standing right next to her) who would have anything but a single raised eyebrow if she showed them pictures of some guy named Shinsuke Nakamura. Who knows, maybe the gals in her office would get it. I've never seen either Authors of Pain or TM61, though apparently not knowing TM61 shows how little NOAH I watch these days. Authors of Pain definitely appear to be not Da Hit Squad, and I couldn't get a feel for either of those guys. This was a pretty lazy main event, as Nak was perfectly fine standing on the apron and looking only semi inspired while actually tagged in. While working an armlock sequence with one of AoP he even accidentally kicked him right in the eye while cartwheeling; felt like a classic Rayo de Jalisco Jr. move, like whipping his cape into a referee's eye while being announced. I've heard Joe getting a lot of praise for his work in NXT, but here he was just doing the same few moves in the same sequences that he was doing on indy shows 10 years ago. Jab/chop combo in the corner, walking away from an opponent's blind crossbody, chop/kick then a senton, it was the same Joe that I haven't really cared about for awhile. He has more charisma and comes across as more tough than a guy like Christopher Daniels, so he gets more out of not updating the old routine than other guys, but he didn't do a whole lot for me here. TM61 did a double team moonsault/fistdrop so I loved that, and they seemed fine overall although I'll have to see more of them to fully judge. Crowd was so crazy into Nakamura, all he really had to do was wriggle or point and the crowd would flip out. He was definitely a lot of the draw here, and I get it. The match wasn't much but it was a blast seeing him do (part of) his thing live and up close. Joe kicks one of TM61 low and gets the kokina clutch and Nak goes crazy on everyone with flying knees after the match and does a lot of goofy/great poses.

Well that was a really fun show. I'd definitely go out of my way to see NXT live again, so hopefully it becomes some kind of small venue touring commodity. If instead this was more of a test run that never takes off, well I'm glad I got to see it, and I'm glad Rachel got to see Nakamura. Tim, Dylan and Lana got to see them again the next night in San Jose, which also sounded like a fun show. And with that we drove back home in the super low visibility rain, road lines completely invisible, me blindly following the GPS as I was left completely turned around by the blurred out rain. The processed vocals of the new Bon Iver took us home.

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