What’s going on with NXT? For the past few months, it’s been the go-to product for anyone serious about their wrestling. It’s put out stellar show after stellar show, every week, and managed to do all this without resulting in the hokey Vince McMahon Bullshit that’s poisoned RAW and SmackDown. That is, until recently. Something is creeping into the soul of NXT and it started last week with a substandard episode. So what is it that’s wrong at Full Sail University? 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: Feb 26th Edition.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Cameron Grimes
10 Count Rating: 4
I should’ve known how tonight was going to go, based on this match alone.
Here was something that was ticking over nicely, a sure-fire seven on the 10 count scale, only for Damian Priest to run out and belt Dominik Dijakovic in the back of the leg, causing him to almost get counted out, before Grimes nailed him with his finisher and picked up the 1-2-3.
I hate this kind of crap, if you want a feud to develop, then just develop it, don’t have a pretty damn good match ruined just to further your storyline.
Winner: Cameron Grimes
Finn Balor Promo
10 Count Rating: 8
Now, this was more like it.
Standing in the ring, The Prince listed off everything that he’d achieved so far in wrestling including the companies he’d help make, the titles he’d won, and the people he’d defeated, but what would be next for the man called Finn?
Well, it looks as if Walter’s what’s next as he sent out Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner to pass on his regards.
With TakeOver: Dublin now on the cards, this match has to happen, with Finn being the returning hero and Walter the unconquerable foe, it’s a license to print money.
I’m not sure how Dave Mastiff fits into all this as he has the leader of Imperium firmly in his sights, but the obvious call here is Balor/Walter for the NXT: UK title at TakeOver Dublin, and it will be glorious.
Xia Li vs. Mia Yim
10 Count Rating: 1
God, I hate this crap.
This match didn’t start great but was finally starting to pick up its flow when Dakota Kai and her muscle, Raquel Gonzalez, showed up, causing a distraction and cost Yim as Li rolled her up with the most devastating finisher in the whole of pro wrestling.
Once this was done, Raquel Gonzalez went to the ring and beat everyone up.
This is some bull-honky on a level that would make even Big Vinny’s head spin, it’s lazy writing and only serves the purpose of getting over just how much of a monster Raquel Gonzalez, while sacrificing any pretense at being nothing more than soap opera bollocks and I.f*cking.hate.it!
Winner: Xia Li
Austin Theory vs. Tommaso Ciampa
10 Count Rating: 8
Thank the f*ck for Austin Theory vs. Tommaso Ciampa.
Easily my Fight of the Night both Theory and Ciampa put in a hell of a shift, managing to drag a lackluster night into the realms of brilliance. This was everything you could want from a wrestling match, and more, as both men beat the holy hell out of each other in an attempt to pick up the win.
We saw Ciampa take brutal punishment to his surgically repaired neck, wince inducingly so, and Theory almost have his face kicked clean off on more than one occasion, but even though the end would see Tommaso pick up the victory, it’s obvious that the company have high hopes for his opponent and on this outing, it’s not hard to see why.
After the bell, Johnny Gargano would bum-rush his one-time friend to help further that plot, which proves that everything that had already happened in the previous two matches could’ve been dealt with in this fashion and it wouldn’t have hurt the product.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
Bronson Reed vs. Killian Dain
10 Count Rating: 7
Sometimes, if you put two big guys into the ring together, it just doesn’t work.
Think Yokozuna vs. Mabel or Giant Gonzales vs. Anyone and you’ll know what I mean, but fortunately, the match between Bronson Reed and Killian Dain didn’t suffer from any of the pitfalls that these kinds of bouts have, historically, done.
It was a hard-hitting affair, as you’d expect, but both men pulled out some truly “Holy Shit” moments.
Reed flying through the ropes like a cruiserweight springs to mind, as does the double crossbody they both did that sent them flying in opposite directions, and both came out of this looking a lot stronger than they did going in.
Good work, fellas.
Winner: Killian Dain
Tag-Team Match: The Forgotten Sons vs. The Grizzled Young Veterans
10 Count Rating: 7
I’ll be honest, going into this I was worried for The Grizzled Young Veterans.
I know that might sound strange considering the kind of tear they’ve been on lately, but the fact is they’d insulted America and The Forgotten Sons had decided to defend the honor of Uncle Sam, which did have me thinking we might see them lose because ‘Merica.
Luckily sense prevailed and the English Duo got the win in a pretty damn good match, which is surprising in itself as the WWE doesn’t normally pass up any chance to wave the flag.
That alone should be enough to tell you just how highly thought of they are behind the scenes.
Winners: The Grizzled Young Veterans
Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair
10 Count Rating: 5
This just didn’t work.
I’d been looking forward to this as I thought it would be a good litmus test to show just where Bianca Belair is in the rankings of the WWE Women’s Division, but sadly she looked out of her depth and still too green around the gills to be in the ring with The Queen.
Charlotte could get a good match out of a damp sponge, but she was carrying too much weight here and even though there were a couple of great moments, overall it just showed up Belair as, perhaps, being pushed to the top of the card a little too quickly.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think Belair has a bright future ahead of her, I just think she’s a ways off being PPV headliner material.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
It’s been two shows since NXT: TakeOver Portland and it seems that NXT is still suffering a hangover.
This is worrying, as I’ve been a loud advocate of the black and yellow brand for as long as I can remember, and the last thing I want to see is it to slip into RAW and SmackDown territory after putting in so much hard work to bring wrestling fans a wrestling show.
It might just be a glitch in the matrix, after all, next week promises two Steel Cage matches to get the blood pumping, but I’ll be watching how things develop closely over the next month or so to see if I can spot those tired tropes that the WWE uses all the time becoming more and more prominent.
I hope it’s just a coincidence, but there’s an awful stench of Vince McMahon Bull-Honky filling my nostrils at the moment.