The latest instalment of NXT gave us the debut of Dana Brooke and the much awaited in-ring return of Sami Zayn, against Rhyno. Rhyno finally showed us some wrestling ability, instead of ending a match within the minute with a Gore. And Zayn proved that he hasn’t missed a beat after his long absence.
CJ Parker vs Solomon Crowe
Crowe’s debut against Parker a few weeks back didn’t impress me. Crowe looked sloppy and lazy. His finisher, the headbutt, was pathetic as well. While he didn’t set the world on fire in his second match on NXT, he showed some fire and enthusiasm. He had some good offence, apart from a pretty reckless suicide dive between the bottom and middle rope (I’m sure it busted Parker’s lip open). Crowe showed us a new finisher: the Stretch Muffler submission. It’s a lot better than his former finisher! As for Parker, I presume this was his last match before he left WWE. Underrated, he could work a good match with almost anyone. He will be missed!
VERDICT: 6/10. Crowe showed some promise. He’s nothing special for now, but I can see why there was a lot of excitement about his arrival.
Baron Corbin vs Steve Culter
Another worthless squash bout from Corbin. Having said that, he has worthless normal bouts. He hasn’t improved at all.
VERDICT: 2/10. Nothing more to say.
PROMO: Sami Zayn says that Rhyno is imitating Kevin Owens’ quick rise to the top of NXT. But Rhyno will not get past him. Let’s hope not!
Amore and Cassady vs Dawkins and Fulton
A decent match. Amore and Cassady got most of the offence in, but Dawkins and Fulton showed some potential, even as jobbers to the stars. Their pure wrestling background was talked about by the commentators, and it was easy to see this background. The result was never in doubt, even after interference from Blake and Murphy. They gave Carmella two bunches of flowers. However, this didn’t stop Amore and Cassady from storming to victory. Afterwards, they didn’t seem happy about Carmella’s flowers…
VERDICT: 6/10. Amore and Cassady aren’t the best tag team in the world, but they are reliable. And Dawkins and Fulton made apt opponents for them.
PROMO: Alex Riley says he wants Kevin Owens again. Why? He was beaten cleanly and easily by Owens a few weeks ago! Why can’t he go back to the announce team? Oh yeah, because Regal told him he was either a wrestler or a commentator (of course, he couldn’t be both…but no reason was given for that!). I see another Owens victory….
Blue Pants vs Dana Brooke
Brooke’s entrance was almost as long as the match. She came out posing, doing flips, flexing her biceps and pretty much flaunting her body. The crowd were too busy chanting ‘Blue Pants’ to care much about her. In-ring, she was quite green, but came up with some innovate move, like a handstand foot choke in the corner. Brooke easily defeated Pants. The match wasn’t long enough to expose too many flaws in Brooke’s ability.
VERDICT: 3/10. Inoffensive and short. But Brooke has a long way to go before being able to hang with Charlotte or Sasha Banks…
Sami Zayn vs Rhyno
I thought Rhyno was a babyface? For me, it felt like the game plan was to have Rhyno eventually face Owens and get beaten. Two big men in a match of power vs power. But they went the other way with Rhyno, instead having him face Zayn. He hasn’t acted like a heel in his past few appearances. But the crowd didn’t treat him like a heel. Indeed, there were chants for both Zayn and Rhyno when the match started.
To me, Rhyno looks out-of-shape. He has a pot belly. And his sub-minute matches thus far in NXT did not foretell good things in the ring. However, with the help of Zayn, this match turned into something very good. Rhyno dominated most of it, setting up Zayn’s comebacks with precision. Whatever Zayn came up with, be it dropkicks, top rope splashes, Rhyno would always come back with a power move. After a Blue Thunder Bomb from Zayn, the crowd started to chant ‘This Is Awesome.’ I wouldn’t go that far, but the match was nothing less than exciting after that. Zayn went for a crossbody off the top rope, but Rhyno caught it, heaved Zayn onto his shoulders, and hit a TKO. In the closing moments, Rhyno went for a Gore, but Zayn dodged and connected with the Helluva Kick for the victory.
VERDICT: 8/10. Rhyno defied my expectations to hang with Zayn for a very exciting match. Full of drama and twists, Zayn had a successful comeback match (in more ways than one), and Rhyno looked strong in defeat.
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. A good array of matches, only let down by Brooke vs Pants. Brooke needs a lot of work. Crowe looked like he could live up to the hype. Rhyno surprised and impressed with Zayn. Two matches out of five with squash matches, but the other three gave us a lot of entertainment.
(Click here for my review of WWE NXT Episode 272 (8.4.15))