A day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes, I’m finally here with this week’s NXT review.
The past couple of weeks has seen the Black and Yellow brand fall some way short of its usual high standards and this drop off in quality has had me worried about just what’s going on behind the scenes at Full Sail University.
Is Vince McMahon now calling the shots, cramming the scripts with as much bull-honky as he can?
Has Triple H’s alleged demotion from Executive Vice President of Talent unsettled the locker room?
Will the Robert Stone Brand be one stable too far for the wrestling community or just for this jaded writer?
Well, there’s only one way to find out.
It’s time to lace up our boots and head to the ring for the NXT Review: Mar 11 Edition.
North American Championship: Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes
10 Count Rating: 8
Last week I scored the promo between these two as a big fat zero.
The reason behind this wasn’t anything to do with Lee or Grimes, but down to the antics of the crowd who booed the challenger mercilessly while he tried to set up this match, because wrestling fans.
Thankfully, those in attendance this week were far more respectful and were treated to a truly awesome match for the North American Championship and one that did more than enough to show that Grimes should be someone the fanbase takes very seriously.
Through-out this dance both wrestlers played their roles to perfection, but the stand-out moment, the jaw-dropper extraordinaire was when Grimes managed to suplex Lee as the match moved into its final stretch.
I swear, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it and even though it took him some work, having to wear the champion down with a series of kicks, he managed the unthinkable, picking his opponent up and throwing him over his head.
It really was an awesome spectacle.
It wouldn’t be enough, this wasn’t a TakeOver after all, but even though Keith Lee would retain, they should capitalize on the momentum Grimes now has going forward.
It won’t be for the North American Championship though, when the bout was over Damian Priest snuck up behind Lee and lamped him with a nightstick, only to be chased off by Dominik Dijakovic who, in return, got a Big Bang Catastrophe for his troubles, but whatever path they choose to take Cameron Grimes down now, he heads down it looking incredibly strong.
Winner And Still North American Champion: Keith Lee
#1 Contender’s Qualifying Match: Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai
10 Count Rating: 7
Well, this was a pleasant surprise.
When it was announced that Mia Yim would be facing off against Dakota Kai for a slot in the #1 Contender’s Ladder Match, I was convinced that the New Zealander would be walking out with the win, with a little help from her hench-woman, Raquel Gonzalez.
So you could’ve knocked me down with Mr. Socko when it didn’t play out like that.
It was clever booking to have Gonzalez be responsible for her BBF’s loss as well. When Kai got the roll-up from the distraction, the ref was too busy arguing with her side-kick to count the pin, allowing Yim the opportunity to hit Protect Ya Neck and get the 1-2-3, and even though she’d get a kicking for her trouble afterward, as everyone seems to do these days, she’s still in what promises to be one of the biggest matches at NXT: TakeOver Tampa.
That is, as long as this damn Coronavirus starts to behave itself.
Winner: Mia Yim
Kushida vs. Raul Mendoza
10 Count Rating: 7
Tonight was full of pretty damn good matches and this one was no different.
A debuting Raul Mendoza did his chances within NXT no harm by putting in a great shift against Kushida and I’m hoping that this isn’t the last we see of him on the Black and Yellow brand.
Kushida was he’s usual awesome self, hitting moves and spots that had me jumping for joy, almost literally at one point which nearly ended with a coffee in my lap, but I’m worried about his future within the WWE.
The companies track record when pushing anyone from the Land of the Rising Sun isn’t great. In fact, it’s shocking if you go back through their history, and I’m worried that here’s yet another top talent that’s going to get relegated to 205 Live which would be a monumental waste.
Ah well, if that’s the case then WWE‘s loss will be someone else’s gain as if he’s got any sense, he’ll see out his contract and head off to either AEW or NJPW.
Y’know, promotions who aren’t afraid to push quality wrestlers.
Rhea Ripley/Charlotte Promo
10 Count Rating: 8
And in one swift move, Charlotte reminded everyone why she’s such a fantastic wrestler.
Normally promos that degenerate into all-out brawls can seem a little bit “Been there, seen that”, but the way Charlotte lay a serious hurting on Rhea has me so hyped for their Wrestlemania face-off that it’s going to break my wrestling heart when the Show of Shows is canceled next week.
First up, that kick to the mouth that she delivered looked as painful as having a root canal without anesthetic, which might have had something to do with the heeled boots Miss Flair was wearing that seemed to plant Ripley square in the mouth.
And then there was that figure four she locked in, trapping Rhea around the ring post and dangling off the ground as she tried to destroy her opponent’s leg, it just looked brutal.
Telling the audience to kiss her ass on the way out did her no harm either.
#1 Contender’s Match Qualifying Match: Tegan Nox vs. Deonna Purrazzo
10 Count Rating: 5
Oh dear, it was all going so well too.
This was a squash match, plain and simple, and can only possibly have been made so that somewhere down the line Dakota Kai can pull the same trick as she did at War Games, or have her come out during the Ladder Match itself and cost Nox her shot at the NXT Women’s Championship.
That’s it, that’s the only reason I can think of.
So I guess that feud isn’t done yet.
Winner: Tegan Nox
Velveteen Dream Calls Out Adam Cole
10 Count Rating: 6
As the Undisputed Era came out for their shot at regaining the NXT Tag-Team Championships, the Velveteen Dream emerged on a balcony and called out Adam Cole.
I liked this, sue me.
It wasn’t a world-shattering promo, but it served it’s purpose quite handily, and it let everyone know that when Adam Cole throws his celebration next week when he becomes the longest reigning NXT Champion, Dream’s going to show up and lay a beating on him.
NXT Tag-Team Championship: The Undisputed Era vs. The BroserWeights
10 Count Rating: 8
God damn it, I like Matt Riddle.
I didn’t want to, everything about him is designed to annoy me, but over the past few weeks he’s broken my resilience down and I’m going to have to face up to the fact that I’m onboard the Bro Train.
Hi, I’m Neil Gray and I’m a Matt Riddle fan.
It seems that the Undisputed Era and the BroserWeights couldn’t put on a bad match if you paid them, and this was another in a series of battles that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
They just keep coming up with unique ways to keep this feud fresh.
Tonight’s crowning achievement, and my new favorite thing I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring, saw Pete Dunne pull an Eddie Guerrero to get the other members of the Undisputed Era sent to the back.
Cole and Strong entered the ring while the ref had his back turned, so Pete Dunne clapped his hands as loudly as he could and threw himself to the mat. It was a move that Latino Heat himself would’ve been proud of and I really can’t think of a higher compliment than that to pay it.
Yet, it wouldn’t stay two verse two for long as the Grizzled Young Veterans would rush the ring and try to help the Undisputed Era dethrone the BroserWeights, but to no avail, as Riddle and Dunne would overcome the odds to keep hold of the belts.
And long may they continue to do so.
Winners And Still NXT Tag-Team Champions: The BroserWeights
Tommaso Ciampa Murders Johnny Gargano
10 Count Rating: 9
When Johnny Gargano turned heel at NXT: TakeOver Portland, I’ve got to admit, I sighed.
“Oh goodie,” thought I “The feud that never ends is starting back up again”.
Well, I’ll just shut my mouth from here on out I think.
Wednesday night saw Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano try their upmost to kill each other with anything they could lay their hands on or throw the other person through and it was a “Holy S*it!” moment that should go down in wrestling history.
It’s now two days since I watched it and I can remember nearly every detail about what happened, from the moment Ciampa chucked Gargano into a wall, breaking it on impact, up to the point he straight-up murdered him by hitting the Fairytale Ending off of the balcony and I haven’t been able to say that about a wrestling event since the Undertaker tossed Mankind from the cell roof back in 1998.
Yeah, it was that good.
God knows where they go from here though, as I can’t think of any situation the two could be put in that would warrant such levels of violence again, but I’m about 100% more invested in this program than I was at the start of this week’s show.
Any concerns I may have had about the dip in quality that NXT‘s been going through over the past couple of weeks were washed away thanks to this week’s episode.
It was a pretty good show overall and could’ve been an even better if it wasn’t for a squash match that only serves to reignite the Kai/Nox feud, but I won’t hold that against it for too long as there was so much quality on offer that I’m willing to forgive a minor misstep.
The sad truth here though is that it might all be for naught.
With sporting events and everything else in the world being canceled due to the Coronavirus, there’s a real possibility that this year’s Wrestlemania won’t go ahead, which is a shame.
An understandable one but a shame nonetheless.
In fact, as of writing this, it seems that WWE is one of the few organizations, wrestling or otherwise, who are hoping that it all goes away before they have to make a decision, but short of a miracle it’s time they tapped out here.
People are more important than money and even if they do manage to somehow go on with the show, with the banning of flights from Europe and Americans knowing how much risk they’re at, there’s going to be no-one in Tampa for it.
So with that in mind, I’m hoping that you all look after yourselves and your loved ones until we can get through this situation and if there are any shows for me to review over the next few months then be sure that I will.
If not, then I’ll still be here sharing my thoughts and views to keep you entertained.
Stay safe, Wrestling Community.