I haven’t posted anything about NXT since Episode 331! That was a month and a half ago! Part of the reason is work: the boss was off for two weeks, so I was in charge. Another part is Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword! I can’t stop playing it…but I am nearing the end! But, to be honest, NXT hasn’t inspired me to write anything. The NXT Championship may have changed hands (at a house show!), but there hasn’t been a lot to shout about concerning the show….So here are my thoughts about NXT, Episodes 332 to 337…
My main gripe was the over-exposure of Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura should have been used like Brock Lesnar; a special attraction only! He’s fought three single matches and a tag match since NXT Takeover: Dallas and been a presence in interviews/backstage segments (yes, they are small in duration due to Nakamura’s limited ability to use English, but they are still there!). None of his matches have even snuck a peak at awesome level of quality that his debut match reached. I understand that we need to get to know him and his move set, so I can understand one match. But putting him against Elias Samson? Samson is plunging the depths of wrestling quality. Nakamura should not have been put anywhere near him. The buzz from Nakamura’s debut is still there, but I reckon the buzz would be higher if we had only seen snippets of him from that point on.
A second gripe which overlaps the previous one is the mis-use of Austin Aries. The two men debuted on the same night. Nakamura fought Sami Zayn. Aries was stuck with Baron Corbin, and that resulted in the worst match of the night. Aries has secured victory after victory since then (even over Elias Samson!!!) and talked a lot about being the greatest wrestler on the planet (or words to that effect). But he hasn’t really proved that, has he? No match that he’s been in has stood out. He looks slick in the ring, but hasn’t shown us that ‘x’ factor yet. Of course, that’s more his fault than the bookers. But couldn’t they give him decent opponents?
For NXT Takeover: The End, they’ve pitted Aries against Nakamura. A decent opponent? Of course! But it’s a mismatch. Aries will lose and continue to fly under the radar. Why have the two face off at this point, before they are well-established in NXT? WWE/NXT see money in Nakamura; Aries is just another opponent for Nakamura to defeat. No doubt, it will be a great match. Aries should show us his true ability. But after his defeat, where next for Aries?
One of the reasons for this match-up is a lack of star-power in NXT. Zayn left after Takeover: Dallas. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor are wrapped up in their interminable feud. That’s why we see the talentless Samson every other week on NXT. That’s why the hopeless gimmick ‘No Way Jose’ is winning matches with a baseball punch (okay, I know it was only once…but it still irritates me.). No Way Jose is a joke gimmick, and won’t last long at all. He only has two dance moves and looks limited in his wrestling ability. Eric Young surprised us by interrupting Samoa Joe. Joe easily beat him later on in the programme. Why have Young face Joe so quickly? NXT is desperate for male singles competitors…and I fear Balor will leave after his defeat at Takeover: The End…
Is there anyone excited for a third main event for Balor and Joe? After Joe won the title at a house show, the final match between them should have been at an episode of NXT. Joe could have gone on to face a new challenger for his title. Balor could have faced Nakamura or Aries in his last NXT match at Takeover: The End. Of course, again, the reason is lack of competitors. Is there a babyface suitable for a feud with Joe? Nakamura, maybe, but they shouldn’t rush him into the title picture. There’s no one else! I’ve enjoyed the past two Takeover main events, and I am sure Joe and Balor will put on a great match. But is it a match we really need? And that sit-down interview during Episode 337 was one of the most stilted and awkward exchanges I’ve seen on NXT…
There have been a few highlights. Tomassa Ciampa and Johnny Gargano have kept the tag team division alive! They have a very good match every time they are in the ring. They’ve outshone American Alpha, who’ve taken a backseat since winning the titles. One thing I don’t understand: why did Ciampa and Gargano defeat The Revival on Episode 337? The Revival have their rematch at Takeover: The End! Doesn’t Ciampa and Gargano’s victory mean they deserve a title shot? I imagine they will get a title shot (if you remember a while ago, American Alpha and Ciampa and Gargano had a cracking match on NXT. For a title match, I imagine they’ll repeat the same magic!).
The two consecutive female main events of NXT served to prove that the women’s division in NXT has survived rather well since Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch left last year. Like the NXT Championship scene, competitors are thin on the ground (a reason why Eva Marie fought Asuka!), but the swerve of depriving Bayley of her rematch injected intrigue into the division. Her match with Nia Jax was another triumph for Bayley (and even better than their match at Takeover: London). The triple threat match for the Number One Contender to the Women’s Championship was another belter, despite including Carmella, Alexa Bliss (she good, but not great) and Nia Jax! It was a triumph of booking, delivering drama, big near-falls, and notable moments for each woman. Although we were subjected to another contract signing for a title, Nia Jax’s huge powerbomb to Asuka made the NXT Women’s Champion look very vulnerable. Good work all round!
That’s my (not very) brief roundup of NXT Episodes 332 to 337! And here are my predictions for NXT Takeover: The End-
Shinsuke Nakamura to defeat Austin Aries
Asuka (c) to defeat Nia Jax to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
American Alpha (c) to defeat The Revival to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
Samoa Joe (c) to defeat Finn Balor to retain the NXT Championship
Leave your thoughts/comments below!
Click here for my review of WWE NXT Episode 331 (20.4.2016)