Before we head off into this week’s NXT review, a little housekeeping is in order.
If you’re a regular reader of my thoughts on the world of pro-wrestling here at 25YL, then you may have noticed that neither RAW or SmackDown is getting covered by your friendly neighborhood wrestling writer at the moment.
Well, there’s a good reason for this and you have Super Blood Money to thank.
Yup, I was that annoyed that Goldberg buried The Fiend that I swore off of anything outside of NXT.
And I also swore, a lot.
So until we can find a WWE fan to join the team and cover those shows specifically, then you’re those shows will be missing going forward.
Anyway, with that all sorted out, let’s get to it, shall we.
Time to lace up our boots and head to the ring for the NXT Review: Mar 4 Edition.
Steel Cage Match: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox
10 Count Rating: 6
Look, I really don’t want to sound like Jim Cornette here, but what’s happened to the art of “selling”?
On three different occasions here, Dakota Kai was on the wrong end of an ass-whupping and shook it off 30 seconds later like it was nothing.
The first time, she was smashed in the corner repeatedly by Nox only to bounce back up like it wasn’t anything to worry about, then she took a cross-body off of the top of the steel and it didn’t slow her down any longer than a chop would’ve, and finally she had the goddamn cage door bounced off her leg but still managed to hop out for the victory as if she’d just been inconvenienced by a fly.
Now, I get it. She was going to get the win here, ending the feud (I think), but it would’ve had more gravitas if she’d at least seemed to have been phased by what was happening to her, instead of popping back up like a video game character.
I don’t know if this was down to Kai herself or, more than likely, if it was how the match was planned out backstage, but it just left the whole thing feeling hollow and it could’ve been fixed if they’d let her sell the fact that she was in pain, even just a little bit.
Winner: Dakota Kai
#1 Contender’s Qualifier Ladder Match: Shotzi Blackheart vs. Chelsea Green
10 Count Rating: 6
Well, this match raised more questions than it answered.
Does this mean that Shotzi Blackheart’s push is over? After all, the past few outings have seen NXT seemingly get behind her and start to give her the kind of run that would’ve, justifiably, put her in the picture for the NXT Women’s Championship, but here she lost to Chelsea Green in a pretty swift and clean fashion.
No shenanigans, no outside interference from Robert Stone, just one “I’m Prettier” and the three count.
Also, if the plan was to have Green climb the NXT Women’s Division, then what the hell was the point in having her lose her first match in the company?
Why not just book her from the off to go on a winning run?
This whole situation makes zero sense to me and has such a strong whiff of Vince McMahon Bull-Honky about it that I found it hard to breathe after this was over.
Winner: Chelsea Green
Keith Lee/Cameron Grimes Promo
10 Count Rating: 1
This crappy score has nothing to do with the two wrestlers involved but has everything to do with those in attendance.
It started out well enough, Keith Lee came to the ring and everyone chanted along like always, but as soon as Cameron Grimes came out, they booed and heckled him mercilessly and wouldn’t shut up.
Even when Lee said that he wanted to hear what Grimes had to say, the fans carried on and it was about as funny as syphilis.
Here’s a tip for you if you ever go to a wrestling show, the people there and those watching at home didn’t actually come to see you.
So know your role and shut your damn mouth.
Tag-Team Match: Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
10 Count Rating: 7
If I’m too be honest here, the actual match between Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch was a good, solid bout but nothing more than a 6 on the 10 Count scale.
It did its job, had a few interesting moments, but was largely forgettable moments after the bell had rung and the Undisputed Era had picked up the win, but what happened next was very interesting indeed and the sole reason it gets bumped an extra point.
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish got on the mic and called out the Broserweights, who came out from the back to accept their re-match for the NXT Tag-Team Championship. Pretty standard fare so far.
Then out of nowhere, The Grizzled Young Veterans bum-rushed Riddle and Dunne, laying them out before putting the world on notice that they were coming for the titles themselves and god help anyone who got in their way.
I like this idea, I like this idea a lot.
The Grizzled Young Veterans are getting a huge push at the moment and that can only be a good thing as they have proven time and again that they’re a brilliant team, both in and out of the ring, and if the WWE wants to use Dunne and Riddle as singles competitors in the wake of Wrestlemania, as well as move the Undisputed Era off of NXT, then there is nobody I’d rather see take the NXT Tag-Team Division forward than James Drake and Zack Gibson.
Winners: Undisputed Era
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Austin Theory
10 Count Rating: 8
Well, this was just insane.
It was a spot fest of epic proportions and had more than enough of that good old flippy-s*it to give Jim Cornette a series of aneurysms and I loved it.
I also realize that that’s twice I’ve mentioned Cornette in this review and promise to not bring him up again.
I’m pretty high on Austin Theory at the moment, he seems to be putting on pretty stellar matches each time he hits the ring and even though he lost to Tommaso Ciampa last week, he came out of it looking strong.
This time out saw him in there with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and they clicked from the get-go, delivering what would’ve been my Fight of the Night if it hadn’t been for the Main Event.
There was plenty of high flying and hard-hitting going on to keep you hooked to your screen, but there was also some very good and very clever story-telling happening as the match progressed. One of my favorite parts was the look of pure anger that Scott got in his eyes and on his face after he realized that Theory wasn’t staying down, showing a side to him that we’ve not seen, and one that could lead to a Heel turn somewhere down the line.
It would take an ATL to give Theory the 1-2-3, but everything that led up to his victory will only help to benefit both men in the long run.
Winner: Austin Theory
Johnny Gargano Promo
10 Count Rating: 6
This was a solid enough promo from the former Johnny Wrestling.
He sat down with Mauro Ranallo at the Performance Center, got annoyed when Ranallo kept asking him why and accused him of sneak attacks, went off the rails, started on about nobody knowing what he’s going through, mumbled some jumbo into the camera after Ranallo had split, and Bob’s yer Uncle’s Sister.
It didn’t really answer anything but was interesting enough that I’m intrigued to see what happens from here on out.
Steel Cage Match: Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong
10 Count Rating: 9
Oh, Velveteen Dream, you gloriously deceptive bastard you.
It seems that the Dream was conning us all along and it wasn’t Roderick Strong that he was after, but the leader of the Undisputed Era and the NXT World Champion, one Adam Cole (BAY-BAY!), as the ending to this Steel Cage match would reveal.
Before this swerve happened, the match itself had been of the highest quality. A couple of weeks ago I’d not been that kind to their first go around, rating it only a 5 and saying that the whole thing felt kind of off. Personally, I thought there was a little ring rust around the Velvet one, but there was none of that on show here.
This was as brutal a war inside four sides of steel than any I’ve seen in a long time and it showed whoever planned out the opening cage match how a cage match should be booked.
They bounced each other around like basketballs, Strong’s wife rushed to the ring to make sure a Kendo Stick found its way inside the structure, there was even a moment when Strong jammed Dream’s head through the corner gaps and used them to try and kill him.
It was fantastic.
But it was that ending, that glorious swerve, that sent this from “This Is Awesome!” to “Holy S*it!” in my books.
When the Undisputed Era rushed the ring you’d have been forgiven if you’d thought that Dream was going to end up getting stomped into oblivion, but he managed to stop O’Reilly and Fish climbing into the cage before leveling Adam Cole (BAY-BAY) once he’d managed to get inside.
While all this was going on, Strong had made a beeline for the door but when Dream caught him you’d have expected Old Roddy to find himself on the losing side, except that Dream pushed him out onto the floor, giving Strong the win.
You see, it was all a ruse.
He wasn’t after Strong at all, he was after the NXT World Champion, Adam Cole (BAY-BAY!).
With the match over, he locked himself inside the cage with Cole and proceeded to beat the living hell out of him and any other Undisputed Era member stupid enough to try and help their leader and when he was done, he picked up the NXT World Championship and climbed to the top of the cage to pose with it as the show went off the air.
And like I said at the beginning of all this; Oh, Velveteen Dream, you gloriously deceptive bastard you.
Winner: Roderick Strong
It might seem strange for me to give this the old “Meh” treatment, but I think it’s justified.
The show didn’t really pick up until the last three matches of the night and even though those ranged from “Pretty Damn Good” all the way up to “Holy S*it!”, it was too little, too late in my opinion.
NXT seems to be in a state of rest at the moment, still nursing the hangover from NXT TakeOver: Portland and where I would expect nothing less from RAW or SmackDown if they’d put on a killer PPV, I do expect more from the yellow and black brand.
Don’t get me wrong here, there was enough on offer to keep my interest in the overall product but I’m hoping in an upturn in quality next Wednesday, or I’m worried that the move to the USA Network and the new two-hour format might just be beginning to take its toll on the show.
After all, NXT has always prided itself on being a wrestling show, but there’s not been enough wrestling quality lately to justify it keeping that tag.
Oh, and if you were one of the people in the audience that managed to ruin the Keith Lee/Cameron Grimes promo, then you are not the answer, you are the problem, and perhaps do us all a favor and stay away from tapings from here on out, eh?