Look, we could sit here all day long and criticize WWE. Both RAW and Smackdown have seen better days. Everybody is well aware of that. Beyond even those who care about television ratings, the usual stale Fall season has not been kind to the Universe, with the winter lull just as bad. Instead of beating a dead horse and writing a million 'fantasy booking' ideas that are pointless, how about showing some love for the absolute BEST thing going on in all of wrestling right now?
Of course, I am talking about NXT. What else would it be?
Just two weeks away from their latest WWE Network live special, let's take a look at last night's episode and why even a basic pedestrian one hour show can mean so much.
Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger - Just a boring squash, right? Wrong. This quick bout did three very important things all in less than five minutes. First, it allowed the commentators to hype up NXT: Takeover London. That may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised. Second, it gave some more screen time to Tye and his "10" gimmick. I believe more could be done with it, but now is not the time for that. This spot is fine in late 2015 for him. Third, Baron looked dominant and ready for his upcoming battle with Apollo Crews. Clean win for the heel and an easy decision at that.
Apollo Crews Interview - Give the man credit. Crews' one lone weak spot is his mic skills and letting his natural charisma shine through. Thus far, he has gotten better every week in NXT. No wonder WWE Network original Breaking Ground showed him getting a pay raise so quick. Crews spoke of all the story lines going on and plugged a big match for next week's episode. Gives you a taste of NXT: Takeover London and makes fans tune in next Wednesday.
NXT: Takeover London Promo - Very cool plug. Live on the WWE Network!
Tommaso Ciampa Interview - Quick and painless. Introduces him to a new audience who may be unaware of his previous work or forgotten his recent NXT tag team appearances. Set the table nicely for our main event.
Nia Jax vs. Blue Pants - Tough heel crushes the beloved face with a roady live crowd. Hey, works for me. Jax is about to challenge for the NXT Womens' Title, so this was as good as it gets building her up while Blue Pants (who is not a regular main character) served her role well in defeat. We will see if Nia is can match up against Bayley, as Eva Marie is sure to get involved too.
Dash/Dawson Speak - The heel tag team champs get some promo time and run down their NXT: Takeover London challengers. Again, simple, basic and straight to the point. No funny business or wacky shenanigans that took away from the segment.
James Storm vs. Adam Rose - If I must say so myself, James Storm looked great in the squared circle and determined to make an impact here. During his entrance through the match, he was a man on a mission. Adam Rose, with his new party pooper persona, was the perfect opponent due to the social media "feud" happening. Looking forward to seeing what Storm can do in WWE/NXT in 2016.
Backstage Segment The Vaudevillains tease a heel turn, as Jason Jordan and Chad Gable play up their relationship with one another. Entertaining stuff laying the ground work for more to come. Subtle foreshadowing at its finest.
Sami Zayn Is Coming Back - Amazing work as always from the WWE production team. I believe Sami Zayn is heading to the main roster to feud with Kevin Owens in early 2016. Until then, he can return to NXT, have a few big matches, and close this chapter of his career. Can't wait!
Vaudevillains vs. Jordan/Gable - Fun tag team match with both teams looking at a shot at gold sometime soon. The main take away is The Vaudevillains lost again, and that may have finally set them off. Playing off earlier teases, they refused to shake hands with Jason Jordan and Chad Gable after the match. Heel turn? NXT is so good with these small touches.
Dana Brooke/Emma Interview - The show rolls on as Dana and Emma hype up their feud with Asuka. I miss Devin.
Vignette - Black ad white video of a man singing, while playing guitar. I think most fans know who this is, but I will refrain from using his name as NXT has not revealed that yet. Love him or hate him, the brand is keeping things fresh by rotating guys and gals in non-stop. You never know who will show up in NXT.
Emma vs. Liv Morgan - Emma wins in a quick bout. Asuka appears on the big screen following that and says see will see Emma in London, followed up by kicking a punching bag. Oh, that smirk/smile is dangerous. Crowd chants "Asuka's Gonna Kill You!" Just so perfect how a 15 second promo builds up the London show. Everything right about NXT in that one segment.
Bayley Interview - The Womens Champion talked about facing Nia Jax and says she is willing to accept any challenge. Of course, Jax shows up and says she takes things head on. That was a lie, as moments later, she attacked Bayley from behind. Beautiful heel move. Say one thing and do another. Jax said she would face Bayley and then jumped her while she wasn't looking - throwing her through a door no less! Firmly establishing a face and heel before their title match in London. I like it.
Samoa Joe vs. Tommasa Ciampa - Main event time! Joe looks like he beast we all know he can be, while Ciampa gets a WWE (NXT) main event under his belt, assuming he officially signs with the company down the road. Joe wins and warns NXT Champion Finn Balor he is coming for his title.
All of this was classic NXT wrapped into one hour. There was no useless filler, terrible comedy, or 20 minute talking segments that led nowhere. Everybody involved with the upcoming live special got time to speak or wrestle and hype up their current rivalry. Oh, and the in-ring action was entertaining too. What a wild concept, huh? Great story telling and solid wrestling.
Yep! Welcome to NXT...
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