Even the best wrestling shows are allowed to have an off night.This episode of NXT was the episode before the finale that sets up all the crazy things that'll keep you satisfied until the next week. This show had that feel to it minus crazy things happening.
Minus the main event, this show was lacking the usual crisp wrestling and interesting storylines that I'm accustomed to seeing. It was bound to happen sometime, and tonight was that night. I will say in NXT's defense that even the worst parts of this show beat watching Daniel Bryan being beaten to a pulp for two weeks straight. Or anything involving HHH.
Follow along with me as this show starts off dull, but ends up spectacular.
Match 1: Bailey and Charlotte vs Aksana and Alicia Fox
This match has most of what I like (Bailey!, Alicia Fox and Charlotte), and a little of what I don't like (Aksana). Aksana's act as the sultry and mysterious Lithuanian seductress can be fun, but watching her wrestle is the opposite of that. She often seems scared to get hit, and at other times she can't properly execute simple wrestling moves that her counterparts have no problem executing. There was one particular part of the match where she was doing her sexy crawl taunt to Bailey, then she kicked Bailey in the face.. She had no force behind the kick, it was noticeable, and made me violently cringe because it didn't look like it hurt but Bailey sold it anyway.
Alicia Fox has also shown some improvement in her wrestling over time, but she dropped the ball here. As the veteran wrestler, I expected her to guide this match to a smooth conclusion, but she was out of position when Charlotte was going to execute a move on her or setting up for something, and instead of fluid movement, we got clunky and jerky moves that weren't fun to watch..
All in all, it wasn't the worst women's wrestling match I've ever seen, but weaknesses were exposed or made more evident than they were before. And considering how NXT women's wrestling has rocked my world the past few weeks, I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth at what should have been a standard women's tag match.
Move of the match: The Bailey-Plex. Seriously.
Winners: Bailey and Charlotte.
Meanwhile, backstage: Sylvester LeFort and Scott Dawson are talking backstage when the camera pans to Alexander Rusev. Sylvester says that tonight's match is about getting revenge on Mason Ryan. And unlike Rusev's loss to Dolph Ziggler from a few weeks ago, LeFort assures Rusev that him and Dawson have his back. Lefort asks Rusev what exactly he's going to do to Mason Ryan during the match. Rusev responds by pulling out a large piece of wood with Mason Ryan's name on it and crushing it on his knee. Sylvester responds to that bit of aggression with "that's what I'm talking about" and reminds everyone that if Rusev wins, they can all make some MONAY. And then they'll all go to Sizzler.
Shanna says: My only wish for this match is that nothing embarrassing happens or that Colin Cassidy and Enzo Amore arrive to entertain me for a bit.
Match 2: Rick Victor (w/Conor O'Brian) vs Corey Graves (w/Adrian Neville)
Corey Graves served up a very astute reminder of why his matches make me angry. His shtick as a tough guy is worn out at the best of times, and intolerable at the worst. Him putting his hands together so we can all oohhh and ahhh over that awful stay down tattoo makes me want to do something violent to myself, and overall, I think Corey puts the M in MEH. In last week's review, I expressed excitement at the thought of The Ascension going against Neville and Graves. After watching this match, I'm begging those responsible to ABORT that plan and move on to something else.
The one highlight from this match was the complete lack of urgency shown by Corey. And Rick Victor must've taken some kind of Skyrim poison before he wrestled because he could barely hit his moves and seemed drugged. The silence from the crowd was painful, and watching those in the crowd checking their phones, talking to each other, and faintly starting chants solidifies just how bad this match was.
Some fellow members of the IWC hate Bo Dallas with a passion. I understand that sentiment because I've got a few wrestlers I can't be talked into liking. But after watching this, I'd rather be subjected to 12 hours of the same Bo Dallas match on repeat than watch this match for a 2nd time. For this first time ever, I'm awarding this match the distinction of being the worst I've ever seen on this show. Congratulations to everyone for their mediocrity.
Seriously, NXT bookers. ABORT.
Move of the match: The speed at which people started checking their cell phones for missed calls/texts/etc as this match went on.
Winner: Corey Graves
Meanwhile, backstage: Sasha Banks is doing her girly thing in the mirror when Summer Rae approaches her from behind. She (deliciously and bitchily) asks Sasha if she's thinking up with ways to be relevant. Sasha tells Summer to go away, and that she's just trying to stir up trouble before her "life changing" title match with Paige next week. Summer says she has a reason to be here and that's to remind Sasha that next week is her chance to become "relevant" and says that Paige thinks that by being an Anti Diva, she thinks she's better than Summer and Sasha. Summer says that Paige isn't superior, and that Sasha should give Paige the beat down of her life during their match next week. Summer says that she knows Sasha has an inner rage, but she asks Sasha if she knows that she has it. After telling Sasha to think about the advice Summer gives her, Summer leaves Sasha to stare at herself in the mirror.
Shanna says: Summer is at her bitchy best in this promo, being coyly manipulating and just flat out mean all at once. It gets a thumbs up from me. Thumbs down go to Sasha for her inability to change facial expressions and sounding flat and bored the entire time.
Meanwhile, backstage: Renee Young is standing by with our NXT Women's Champion, Paige. Renee states that this little match started off as friendly competition between Sasha and Paige, but has now twisted into something else since Summer is now in Sasha's head. Paige says that she doesn't care what Summer is up to, but she says that Sasha is a very good competitor. Paige reminds us all that she's the champion for a reason, and she says that Summer doesn't know what being an anti diva is. Paige reminds us that she's not in WWE to be a cover girl. She's here to cover girls in the ring and win matches. She's going to be the most dominant diva to ever grace the WWE, and she says that Sasha should run back to Summer Rae and ask her what it's like to be in the ring with Paige. She ends the interview by saying that she will give Sasha the fight of her life in their title match next week.
Match 3: Alexander Rusev (w/Sylvester LaFort and Scott Dawson) vs Mason Ryan
I don't know what is in the air at this NXT taping, but this is the 3rd match on the show and it was just as bad as the first two. It was the standard big man is HURT, popular big guy comes back, new guy's managers cause distractions, and new guy gets a SHOCKING win that we've seen millions of times before on Raw. I, meanwhile, am left stumped by just how awful the wrestling has been on this show thus far. The main event better be spectacular to pull me out of my current NXT funk!
Move of the match: Rusev's Camel Clutch to Mason Ryan.
Winner: Alexander Rusev.
Match 4: Sami Zayn vs Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
In a stark reversal from everything we've seen tonight, Sami Zayn came out and (once again) stole the show with an unbelievable performance.
Here's some of the best things about this match that I haven't seen in any other match on this show. The crowd is alive and engaged (and at certain points hysterical at what's going on in the ring). Sami Zayn is flying all over the place and being the awesome and talented guy we know he is. Jack Swagger is a great wrestler, which I've forgotten because I've only seen him in 5 minute matches on Raw and forgot that he can go the distance. Zeb Colter has an amazing beard and was the perfect instigator on the outside. FALSH FINISHES GALORE. And not the stupid false finishes, but the ones that make you clench up and bulge your eyes when they don't result in a pin.
The bottom line is that this match was the beautiful bright rainbow at the end of a rainstorm. The beer after your hard day at work. The cat that comes to cuddle you when it knows you're upset. The....okay, I know you get it by now.
The only thing better than the actual wrestling match was Bo Dallas and his awshucks face and gestures after he distracted Zayn and caused him to get tapped out.
Overall match rating? A++++, also known as tell a friend!
Move of the match: Sami Zayn attempts to leap to the outside to hit Colter and Swagger. Both men scamper, Zayn catches himself, bounces bottom first off the ropes, backflips, and lands in the NINJA POSE in the middle of the ring. TRICKED ME and HOLY SHIT. Why is this guy not on Raw yet?
Winner: Jack Swagger
And that ends this week's episode of NXT. We can only hope to recover from the less than impressive wrestling that we've seen so far, but Sami Zayn vs Jack Swagger is a match that you can't miss. Click here to go to Hulu and watch the whole show for yourself. But especially the main event.
See you all next week for another NXT!