Episode 281 of NXT provided us with bookends of two very good matches and some interesting developments story-wise. First Leo, I mean Adam Rose and Tyler Breeze gave us a great bout, and the exciting main event pitted Finn Balor against Rhyno. Yes, I know…Rhyno again! But at least he is doing the job for rising talent, and putting on decent matches (with the right opponent). The other matches ranged from poor to mediocre, but at least there were actual reasons for them, rather than random matches put together at the last minute.
Adam Rose vs Tyler Breeze
I’ve only seen Adam Rose as Adam Rose. I believe that Rose, as Leo Kruger in NXT, was a good talent in the ring. Of course, he was shoved into a poor gimmick upon his graduation to the WWE, and has suffered ever since. I found it ironic that, whist referring to Breeze’s cape, the commentators mentioned the name ‘Mighty Mouse.’ At one point, Neville was rumoured to be bundled with that gimmick when he debuted on Raw. He hasn’t, fortunately, and his talent has shined through. Rose, on the other hand, couldn’t show his talent due to the awful gimmick. His disgruntlement for the gimmick showed during his ring entrance, as he unwillingly performed the usual Adam Rose taunts and teases.
Back at NXT, Rose knew he had to wrestle. And he (along with Breeze) wrestled their socks off in a match that was as entertaining as anything during Elimination Chamber (apart from Cena vs Owens!). I’d say that this match was both wrestlers’ best showing of the year. Maybe I was surprised by Rose, but the match had me glued to the screen. Back and forth, back and forth, the match flowed well with impressive offence from both (a Jericho-esque springboard dropkick from Breeze, an Foley-esque elbow drop off the apron by Rose to Breeze). The winner was in no doubt from the start (and served to show how low Rose has dropped in the WWE), but it wasn’t about the victor. Both guys deserved to win.
WINNER: Tyler Breeze
VERDICT: 8/10. One of the best NXT matches this year (disregarding the Takeover specials). Rose showed that he doesn’t need the Adam Rose gimmick. Just let him wrestle!
INTERVIEW: Solomon Crowe asks for a rematch against Kevin Owens. Like Alex Riley before him, Crowe seems to think that an utter defeat means that there is hope of a future victory. Don’t hold your breath, Crowe…
SEGMENT: NO DANA BROOKE FOR A WHILE! She’s off modelling or something…what a shame!
SEGMENT: Eva Marie comes out to an absolute mauling by the crowd. She and the interviewer tried to ignore it, but it was insurmountable. Marie says she is coming to NXT. Really? After that reception? Well, good luck!
SEGMENT: William Regal announces Kevins Owens vs Finn Balor for the NXT Championship at the WWE Japan Supershow. Their first match in NXT was awesome. I wonder what their next one will bring?
Alexa Bliss vs Carmella
When you are used to a high calibre of women’s match in NXT, a poor match is unexpected. This match was scrappy and short. Both wrestlers need a lot of improvement. At one point, Bliss tried a standing moonsault that Carmella looked to have avoided…but both women didn’t know how to react afterwards. Was it supposed to have connected? It looked terrible. Fortunately, it lasted a little over five minutes. Bliss wins with the assist of the ropes. However, it did serve to increase the animosity between Amore/Cassady and Blake and Murphy. So some good came out of it.
WINNER: Alexa Bliss
VERDICT: 2/10. Awful. One of the worst matches of the year!
INTERVIEW: After losing to Baron Corbin, for some reason Rhyno believes he can fight for the NXT Championship. Well that makes no sense! Why doesn’t he try to defeat Corbin before going for the NXT Championship? Rhyno says he will defeat Finn Balor, the number one contender.
SEGMENT: A rather emotional overview of Sami Zayn’s injury and surgery. Get well soon Zayn!
The Vaudevillains vs Jason Jordan and Marcus Louis
A below-average match for the return of the Vaudevillains. It was good to see them back in action again, but both teams looked to be simply going through the motions. Marcus Louis looks like a bargain-basement Kane. And he’s not much cop in the ring. The Vaudeviallins win with the greatest of ease. The important storyline was Jason Jordan’s search for a tag team partner. Marcus Louis obviously was not the right partner, as he was the man pinned. His search continues…
WINNERS: The Vaudevillains
VERDICT: 3/10. Nice to see the Vaudevillains back, but nothing much to say about the match apart from that.
Rhyno vs Finn Balor
Another main event for Rhyno? At least it was a good main event! It was Rhyno’s strength against Balor’s quickness, and it was played out very well. Balor came out of the gates quickly, knocking Rhyno to the outside and hitting a tope over the ropes. It didn’t take long for Rhyno to dominate, and dominate he did. A power slam, a military press slam, a spinebuster…Balor kept fighting back, but Rhyno over-powered him. Balor missed the Coup de Grace, Rhyno missed the Gore, and Balor rolled Rhyno up and the victory. A hard-worked match that built up well to Balor’s comebacks. It made Rhyno look like a monster in a better way than any squash match could!
WINNER: Finn Balor
VERDICT: 7/10. A good main event to end the episode. My dislike for Rhyno is shrivelled every time he impresses in the ring…
Post-match, Rhyno Gores Balor on the stage. Heel turn!
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. Well worth it for the two bookend matches and the Sami Zayn segment.
(Click here for my review of WWE NXT Episode 280)