I missed out Episode 329 because it was a recap of Takeover: Dallas and had Apollo Crews against Elias Samson as the only bout. No one wants to see or hear about Elias Samson!
Austin Aries vs Angelo Dawkins
Didn’t Austin Aries look much better here than in his bout against Baron Corbin? It may have been a simple squash match, but Aries looked cool and crisp, cracking out moves like a second rope neckbreaker. There’s still a lot to come from Aries, but this should have been his debut match. The boring bout against Corbin paled in comparison. Corbin wasn’t the best opponent for Aries anyway. Even Dawkins looked decent against Aries, but what is his new gimmick about? The Curse of Greatness? Some sort of in-joke? And why trial a new gimmick in a squash match that you are going to lose?
WINNER: Austin Aries
VERDICT: 6/10. Aries looked miles better against Dawkins than he did in his debut match. We’ve still only seen a tenth of what he can do, but that’s good in itself!
INTERVIEW: Samoa Joe said that he was a warrior, and that his war with Balor isn’t over. He will not stop until his mission is completed…I’ve said it before, but both in the ring and on the mike, Joe is brilliant. There was a tangible air of menace behind his words. Will he get a third chance against Balor, though?
Alexa Bliss vs Tessa Blanchard
Yet another second or third generation wrestler! Tessa Blanchard’s debut was underwhelming. Her offence was merely average and her selling was over the top. She sold everything like she had been shot! Usually, the problem is that wrestlers undersell. But Tessa oversold everything to a degree that it broke suspension of disbelief. Bliss was Bliss, good but not great. There were a few problems with timing, mostly to do with Blanchard’s ‘rookie’ status. It looked like it was a little too early to have her on TV…and I was surpised to see her lose as well.
WINNER: Alexa Bliss
VERDICT: 3/10. A poor debut from Blanchard, and Bliss didn’t do much to help her along, either.
INTERVIEW: Finn Balor said that it doesn’t matter who the Number One Contender is to his NXT Championship. I’m sure if it was Shinsuke Nakamura he’d be bothered!
Tomassa Ciampa and Johnny Gargano vs The Vaudevillains
Was this The Vaudevillains’ swansong in NXT? They’ve been called up to the main roster, so this match could have been their final NXT match. It was limited by the time constraints, but if you want a short and exciting match, then Ciampa and Gargano are your guys. They made this match entertaining, in spite of The Vaudevillains lacklustre offence. It was a one-sided battle in favour of Ciampa and Gargano, but thankfully their offence is thoroughly exciting. Not only that, but their victory was well-deserved. Who’d like to see them fight American Alpha for the titles? They’ve had a very good TV bout before…imagine if they were given twenty to thirty minutes! It’s sad to say, but I won’t miss The Vaudevillains.
WINNERS: Ciampa and Gargano
VERDICT: 6/10. Short but fast-paced and entertaining, but all the effort here was from Ciampa and Gargano.
INTERVIEW: Tye Dillinger said that he will send Nakamura back to Japan after winning their match. I must say, Dillinger was on top form vocally here. I’ve never seen him so enthusiastic! If only they’d give his character some meaningful victories, instead of feeding him to debutants.
Tucker Knight vs Baron Corbin
Knight gets some offence in, but falls quickly to the End of Days. Typical Corbin bout, boring and uninspired!
WINNER: Baron Corbin
VERDICT: 2/10. A Corbin squash bout. The end!
SEGMENT: American Alpha were talking about their title victory in the empty arena that it happened. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady entered and asked for a tag team bout against them. Will that be Amore and Cassady’s swansong, considering they’ve been called up to the main roster? It will be a good match, swansong or not!
Bayley vs Liv Morgan
Bayley phoned in this bout against Morgan, who did most of the work. Morgan looked very good, considering it was a squash bout. Her explosions of offence were the highlight of the match. However, Bayley won after a Bayley-to-Belly out of nowhere. It was easy as that!
VERDICT: 4/10. Worth watching for Morgan’s offence, but Bayley looked bored here. Maybe that was the point, after losing her belt to Asuka.
POST-MATCH: Bayley got on the mike and said that a champion isn’t measured on how often you win, but how often you get back up after a defeat. Or something along those lines! I kept hearing Rocky Balboa’s quote that “it ain’t how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” I’m looking forward to the rematch between Bayley and Asuka, however. Hopefully it won’t have to follow a mind-blowing match like Nakamura v Sami Zayn next time around!
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Tye Dillinger
After Nakamura’s bout against Zayn, he couldn’t hope to top that against Dillinger. Which is why, presumably, Dillinger was on the offensive for much of the match. Their exchange of mock gestures was funny at the beginning of the bout. However, I couldn’t help but feel deflated. I want every Nakamura match to be like his debut! Of course, that’s never going to happen. Nakamura used about a tenth of his abilities here, and the match suffered for it. Still, his offence looked as stiff as hell (especially compared to Dillinger’s). The most memorable part of the match was the crowd chanting ‘He’s 11!’ to Nakamura. Brilliant!
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura
VERDICT: 5/10. An average main event. Any match that Nakamura will be in after his blinder against Zayn will be a comedown, but this was a disappointment. But then again, Nakamura needs to be fed some wrestlers before fighting a worthy opponent.
OVERALL VERDICT: 5/10. An average episode of NXT, stuffed with too many matches. Four is the perfect number! Here, most matches didn’t last more than ten minutes. A main event needs to be about fifteen minutes long, and Nakamura’s TV debut didn’t last ten. The opening bout and the tag team bout were worth watching. Nakamura’s bout, whilst disappointing, was still worth watching because it was his debut. But don’t expect anything special…
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(Click here for my review of NXT Takeover: Dallas)