Emma vs Shazza
A simple and entirely forgettable squash match. I think this was Shazza’s debut, but I could be wrong. But she didn’t have time to impress. She was just there so Emma could rebuild a little heat after being smirked at by Asuka. I daresay Asuka and Emma will meet in the ring…but we all know what the result will be!
VERDICT: 2/10. Squashy squash squash!
INTERVIEW: James Storm talked about Johnny Cash, breast cancer and his mother in a pretty great first promo that made little sense, but Storm sold it with his passion and obvious excitement about coming to NXT. The crowd loved him last week, and I’m sure they’ll continue doing so if he performs at an acceptable level (and if he’s handled right: look at what’s happened to Samoa Joe…).
SEGMENT: A video package about Finn Balor is spliced with Balor talking about his match with Apollo Crews on the next episode of NXT. Balor may be great in the ring, but his mike work needs a little more ‘oopmh.’
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable vs Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
Wow! A PPV-level match on NXT, thanks to two great tag teams. I imagined these two teams meeting in a classic match somewhere down the line, but this first meeting seemed a little random. However, it did not let me down! From the opening chain wrestling between Gable and Gargano, to the beatdown of the (ever-growing in popularity) Gable, to the hot tag to Jordan, and everything in between, it was an almost flawless match. It’s easily one of the tag team matches of 2015. Gargano and Ciampa are a proven commodity in the indies, and they have put every ounce of effort into their NXT appearances. They are something a little different from what we are used to, in the best possible sense. Jordan and Gable have tonnes of potential. This match was on a par with their clash against Baron Corbin and Rhyno at Takeover: Respect. Unfortunately, it didn’t have quite a thrilling ending sequence as that match. But the match was given a hefty amount of time (for an episode of NXT), and reaped rewards. Simply watch this match!
WINNERS: Jordan and Gable
VERDICT: 8/10. A PPV-worthy match on TV! A random pairing of teams that blew the roof off!
INTERVIEW: Bayley says that she has stayed true to herself in a rebuff of Alexa Bliss’ comments that Bayley is a poor role model for young female wrestling fans. Bayley isn’t the best on the mike, but it fits her character: the shy girl who just wants to be the best. I’m still undecided about how I feel about a Bayley/Bliss feud…
Nia Jax vs Kay Lee
Jax’s second match was not an improvement on her first match. She mostly let Kay Lee run around and do all the work whilst attempting to look strong. Is it too soon to make a judgement about Jax? She has shown little ability thus far, but she’s only on her second match. Kay Lee looks great, and it’s a shame that she’s only used as jobber material. But she struggled to make anything work with Jax. So far, so bad…
WINNER: Nia Jax
VERDICT: 3/10. Another squash that showed Nia Jax still has a lot to learn in the ring.
SEGMENT: Dash and Dawson attacked Amore and Cassady on the ramp. They hurled Amore off the ramp, and savaged Cassady’s knee. Thinking about it, wouldn’t it have made more sense for Dash and Dawson to win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic? Balor and Joe can do little with their victory in the tournament, but it would have given Dash and Dawson a lot of credibility. I know they defeated the tag team champs in the tournament, but winning it would have sealed the deal. They deserve to fight for the tag team championships!
INTERVIEW: Alexa Bliss challenges Bayley to a 6-Person Tag Team match whilst Blake and Murphy laugh and chunner in the background. I wonder who will tag with Bayley? The Vaudevillains, perhaps?
SEGMENT: The second part of the ‘Apollo Crews Life Story’ shows us his NXT career, or what there is of it. I still believe it’s far too soon for him to be challenging for the NXT Championship. Not only that, but the babyface vs babyface clash has to be done with two massive fan favourites. Crews, whilst liked by the crowd, isn’t yet loved by them. Not only that, but the match will happen last week…so no more time to build it up.
Samoa Joe vs Tyler Breeze
Joe and Breeze put on an entertaining match. It wasn’t anything more than that, and won’t be remembered a few weeks from now, but it passed the time well enough. It was one of Joe’s better performances in NXT, and Breeze meshes well with anybody. They stuffed the match full of action, with little time for resting moves or anything like that. The highlight of the match was Joe’s elbow suicide dive to the outside! Obviously, Joe got the victory, and I can’t remember the last time Breeze pinned anyone (or can I? Did he pin Bull Dempsey in their mini-feud?). But hey, he’s been promoted to the main roster now, so who cares about wins or losses? This could be Breeze’s last match in NXT, and it was a worthy farewell match. But he was the fan favourite in the match…so Joe needs to be turned heel! Then he can build up to a match with Balor.
WINNER: Samoa Joe
VERDICT: 7/10. An entertaining, if by-the-numbers, match. A decent possible farewell for Breeze as well!
OVERALL VERDICT: 6/10. The hour was punctuated by a scintillating tag team match between Gable/Jordan and Ciampa/Gargano. Storylines and feuds were progressed well enough, and the main event entertained as well. But the squash matches offered little of value.
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(Click here for my review of NXT Episode 303)