Welcome to the inaugural WWE NXT review post, which if all goes according to plan, will be here for you every Thursday morning. After watching three hours of Great Ball of Fire and three hours of Raw, a hour one wrestling show is just what the doctor ordered. Let’s get to the review!
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Fish out of water
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you follow NXT and aren’t just tuning in to consume my beautiful prose. NXT did have a debut last night though, as former Pro Wrestling NOAH, ROH & NJPW star Bobby Fish wrestled his first match for the brand. Fish has been wrestling back and forth between Japan and the US for over a decade, and had a very impressive debut match against Aleister Black. The only problem I can see NXT running into is something I noticed on commentary, as Mauro Ranallo called Fish ‘Roderick Strong’. It’s tough to blame him, because they might as well be one in the same (add in Johnny Gargano too). While it’s great NXT can bring these veterans from other promotions into the mix, they need to make sure they’re given deep enough characters so they don’t all start meshing together.
One of my favorite parts about Aleister Black’s rise in NXT is that almost each match has showcased a different strength of his. A squash match is a squash match, but his match against Kassius Ohno showed his striking power, while last night’s match against Fish showed his resiliency. I don’t think he underestimated Fish, but he definitely thought it wasn’t going to be as tough a matchup as it turned out to be. Fish had a good game plan working on Black’s legs, which Black utilizes for almost all of his big time moves, but once Black got some momentum going, it was lights out. The Black Mass he hit on Fish was one of his more impressive ones to date, and he continues to climb the NXT ladder. WWE still hasn’t uploaded the match to their YouTube page yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Mae Young Qualifier
The Mae Young Classic tapings begin today, so it made sense to give us a quick qualifying match, even if it was an uneventful match between two women we’ve never seen before. Vanessa Borne defeated Jayme Hachey, and the highlight of the entire segment for me was Vanessa Borne’s entrance theme. I can’t find it anywhere online, so if somebody has the scoop, comment on the post or reach out to me on Twitter.
#1 Contender Battle
After last week’s NXT, fan footage captured Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe attacking Drew McIntyre in the parking lot. I think my favorite part of the beat down is that this confirms that Killian Dain is always wearing his wrestling clothes, no matter the situation. Now all I can picture is him going to a restaurant dressed in oversized underwear and his leather chain vest and the staff refusing to say anything because he looks like he could eat them whole. McIntyre and Dain are both undefeated in NXT, so that stat combined with this attack prompted GM William Regal to make a #1 contender’s match between the two for next week, with the winner facing Bobby Roode for the NXT title at TakeOver Brooklyn III.
Johnny Wrestling Returns
As perfectly executed as Tommaso Ciampa’s heel turn was, it’s tough luck that he’s actually hurt and out for awhile. This Johnny Gargano promo was passable, but knowing that Ciampa is out hurts the drama surrounding it. Gargano is fantastic inside the ring, but I’m much more interested in seeing him get revenge on Ciampa than I am seeing him move on to something else. He obviously has no choice, but I wish Ciampa and Gargano were going to be doing battle in Brooklyn instead of whatever else they have planned.
Battle of the Heavyweights
Full disclosure: Heavy Machinery are the apples of my eye. I love Dozovic and Knight, and while they weren’t winning the straps tonight under any circumstance, this was still a great showing. Last week’s NXT main event featured Bobby Roode vs. Roderick Strong for the NXT title, and while you knew Roode was going to win the whole time, it was still executed well. The same goes for last night’s main event; the AOP are the undefeated tag champs, so they’re not going to lose on a random NXT to first time challengers. But the match could still be used to make Heavy Machinery look like threats, which is exactly what happened. Dozovic was easily the star of the match, and his clothesline standoff spot at the beginning of the match and hottest of hot tags towards the end were the two highlights. AOP ended up winning with the Last Chapter, and my heart broke just a tiny bit.
After the match Dain, Wolfe & Nikki Cross, representing Sanity, stared down Paul Ellering & the AOP while book pages fell from the ceiling. The announce team seemed to think it was pages from Ellering’s Book of Dominance, and if that’s true, Sanity went through a lot of trouble to do that. They would’ve had to find and steal the book, then find some type of machine to store up in the rafters and disperse the pages throughout Full Sail. Also, that would mean that Paul Ellering wrote an actual book of dominance, which is something I’d like to read immediately.
The floating pages was a nice trick, but I would’ve preferred if Sanity and Heavy Machinery’s roles were reversed here. Dain has a #1 contender’s match next week and Nikki Cross just fought Asuka for the Women’s title, so I don’t know if they also needed to be thrown into the tag title scene. I think feeding Sanity to AOP to setup Heavy Machinery would’ve worked better, but I’m also the world’s biggest Heavy Machinery fan.