NXT Episode 284 started with a sombre but heartfelt tribute to Dusty Rhodes from HHH, who was surrounded by his “NXT kids.” Short and poignant, HHH spoke for the NXT wrestlers.
SEGMENT: Hideo Itami came down to the ring. He said that he’d be at WWE’s Tokyo Supershow, and that he would challenge the winner of the NXT Championship match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor. That was all it took for Owens to make an appearance. Apart from a strange comment by Owens about Itami seeing his family in Japan (I thought Itami’s family came with him to the USA?), Owens’ promo was pure gold. When he tripped over his lines, Owens laughed it off, saying that he stumbled almost as badly as Itami spoke English. Low blow, Owens, low blow! Owens denied that he injured Itami. He requested an apology from Itami for being called a bad human being. Itami replied that Owens was a terrible human being.
Owens marched down to the ring, hoping to injure Itami’s bad shoulder. But Balor made the save! He was harshly interrupted by Rhyno, who attacked Balor on the stage and kicked him off it. Obviously, it meant another main event between Rhyno and Balor…
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady vs Jason Jordan and Sylvester Lefore
Jordon’s ongoing search for a tag team partner continued against Amore and Cassady. The most entertaining part of the match was the pre-match promo by Amore and Cassady, involving a Super Mario reference and a botched Mark Wahlberg reference by Cassady (who followed THAT up with a Terminator reference! I didn’t see the connection…). Below average action during the match and a foregone conclusion made me turn my attention elsewhere. Nothing wrong with the match, but just a generic tag team match. Jordon loses, so his search is not over…
WINNERS: Amore and Cassady
VERDICT: 5/10. Perfectly average tag team match.
Dana Brooke vs Cassy
A newcomer against Brooke? A foregone conclusion, again! Brooke is the character I hate to hate in NXT; instead of beign the rebirth of the NXT Women’s division, she is more like the death of the NXT Women’s division. Cassy impressed me more than Brooke, for the second week in a row. Fast, agile and a little risk-taker, Cassy can wrestle. Unlike Brooke, who can barely execute the typical women’s move of bashing the opponent’s head into the mat. A match only made bearable by Cassy, who needs longer matches and decent opponents. Of course, Cassy lost to Brooke’s finisher. Does it have a name yet?
WINNER: Dana Brooke
VERDICT: 4/10. A match made by Cassy. Brooke is far from ready to headline the Women’s division. She is the Baron Corbin of the tag team division (but looks more muscular than Corbin, actually!)
INTERVIEW: Charlotte basically vows to kick Brooke’s ass. Let’s hope she does…but I fear she will lose to Brooke when they battle in singles action.
SEGMENT: Finn Balor’s Journey: Part 2
By gosh, they sure are building up Balor, are they? But for a victory, or a fall, at the Tokyo supershow? Again, an enthralling look into Balor’s past, this time his move to Japan. Balor’s love of Lego came as a welcome surprise (and Sami Zayn causing a satellite to fall of Balor’s Lego NASA rocket was a highlight!). It also made me dream of the next Lego brand extension…Lego WWE! Yeah baby! Insights from Prince Albert helped things along, even though we were showed a picture of Albert pulling Balor’s pants down (thankfully, he had his undies on!)! We were given a rundown of a day in the NJPW dojo, which involving rising at the crack of dawn to clean toilets, cook food for the veterans, then lots of intense training, followed by more cleaning…rather Balor than me! Balor as Prince Devitt was a huge hit in Japan, but after achieving all he could do in Japan, there was only the WWE to conquer. It was displayed as a big decision for Balor to come to the WWE, and while he’s a big name on NXT, the bigger league is still ahead of him. I’m sure he’ll reach it, though!
SEGMENT: The humiliation of Bull Dempsey continued as we were shown Instagram pictures of Dempsey attempting to exercise but eating junk food instead. Too many pictures of his belly! What exactly is the point of this storyline, apart from promoting bullying?
The Hypes Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawlsey) vs Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton
Another exciting match from the Hypes Bros. It’s a silly name for the tag team, but a fitting one as well…Their energy involves you in the match. Seeing Ryder in action always reminds me that WWE dropped the ball with him. Big time. Dawkins and Fulton are always a reliable tag team, and together they build an above-average match. Dawkins and Fulton even stole the World’s Greatest Tag Team’s finishing move! In the end, Ryder and Rawlsey took the victory with a Modified Rough Ryder.
WINNER: The Hype Bros
VERDICT: 6/10. Exciting and fast-paced, complemented by the basic wrestling style of Dawkins and Fulton.
SEGMENT: Eva Marie comes into William Regal’s office and asks him for a match. He says that he needs proof that she is ready, but doesn’t specify what proof he needs…maybe a video of her training? Or a more private meeting? Or will we see her attack Bayley or someone else? I think we all know that Eva Marie is not ready to wrestle at all!
Finn Balor vs Rhyno
The rematch between the two wrestlers was similar to their first match. It’s not a bad thing, but I preferred their first match. This match involved Rhyno dominating for most of the match, with Balor making comebacks now and again. I must admit I was distracted by Kevin Owens on commentary. He’s as great on commentary as CM Punk was for his brief stint, so much so that my laughter overcame my involvement in the match. It’s ironic as Owens was berating Byron Saxton for not focussing on the match. A particular highlight was Owens comment that “I think Rick just hit puberty on the air.” Classic! But back to the match…Rhyno looks bigger by the week, and not in a good way. But he still hung with Balor. Balor took the victory, after foiling Owens attempt to distract him.
WINNER: Finn Balor
VERDICT: 6/10. Good stuff from both wrestlers, but I was far more entertained by Owens’ commentary!
POST-MATCH: Rhyno and Owens team up to beat up Balor, until Samoa Joe makes the save. Is it me, or do WWE not know what to do with Joe? His match with Owens failed to make any impression last week, and all their feud has amounted to is Joe saving wrestlers from Owens. We need more from Joe!
OVERALL VERDICT: 6/10. Two matches worth watching, and another great insight into Balor’s career. It started off like a Monday Night Raw, which was no bad thing, actually!
(Click here for my review of NXT Episode 283)