This week's WWE NXT, was a bit of an underwhelming edition of the show, for me. Whilst there wasn't anything on the show, that I would call particularly bad, it was distinctly average, with really only the women's match between Paige and Sasha Banks fighting to stand out.
The main event of this week's NXT, saw Xavier Woods taking on Leo Kruger, after Kruger had attacked Woods last week in the parking lot. Personally, I was surprised that WWE decided to hot shot this into a match, as imagined they could have pulled out the angle a lot longer than one week and really build up anticipation to a singles contest between the two. I've noticed this a few times with NXT, that one week something will happen between two wrestlers and then the week after they'll have a match and that's the feud done with. Usually, it's when they have main roster wrestlers appearing on the show and they don't have long with that particular wrestler, but here there really is no excuse, they had the time to build a nice feud and decided not to.
The match itself was decent, it wasn't anything to shout about, but for the most part the action was strong, even if for some reason the Full Sail Arena wasn't having any of it, with what sounded like a small group of fans trying to get themselves over. This might be NXT, be the action gave off an old school vibe, with Kruger running around the ring to evade Woods, until Woods got hold of Kruger's hair, which got a nice pop from the crowd. Kruger spent the majority of the match in control, although continuing with the old school theme was mainly made up of rest holds, which never goes down well with a modern audience. There were some nice near falls towards the end of the match, once Woods started to edge his way into the contest, such as a nice High-Angle Spinebuster from Kruger after catching Woods in his attempt to hit Honor Roll.
The finish saw Woods duck a Slice from Kruger, and counter with a headkick followed with a version of former partner Jay Lethal's Lethal Injection for a near fall, with Woods going on to hit Honor Roll and then a slightly botched Lost in the Woods to pick up the pinfall victory. Personally, I could have done with the near fall off of Woods ducking the slice, and feel that Woods hitting Lost in the Woods straight off the duck, would have been a much more satisfying ending, if it hadn't been botched. I thought it was strange to see Woods go over Kruger here, and automatically get his revenge on Kruger, who they seemed to have a plan for at last. Kruger has suffered a series of losses in high profile matches and it's becoming difficult to take his character seriously, which is a shame because the character does have potential.
Whilst this match won't be making my list for Match of the Year, I do like both men involved in the contest. We've seen good stuff from both Woods and Kruger on NXT before, and both deserve decent programmes before getting called up. With Woods currently travelling with the main roster and appearing on a number of house shows recently, it would have to assumed that Woods is close to being called up to the main roster very soon. I do think he will fit in on Raw and Smackdown well, being able to put on exciting matches, with a recognisable look and move set, I'm pretty sure he will go down well with the quirky mix of kids and adults that WWE attracts. Kruger on the over hand, I still think still needs some time, he is in desperate need of a nice long programme, that I think will really sell to me what Kruger has to offer, which isn't something he hasn't been afforded on NXT. He has potential, but it isn't being fully realised, just yet.
Best of the Rest (In The World)
NXT Champion Bo Dallas also turned up this week to speak to the Full Sail Arena about Sami Zayn. I'm beginning to realise why I was beginning to like Bo Dallas in this segment, because the scripting is so strong. It realised the feelings the fans in the Full Sail and elsewhere were feeling against Dallas as a face and began to turn add it to his character, over empathising the elements that were already gaining the ire of wrestling fans all over the globe. Once again this another very well written promo with Dallas claiming he was a mentor to Zayn, reminiscent of the way The Miz gained heat in 2010 as Daniel Bryan's “Pro” on the very first series of NXT. However, Dallas' actually delivery does leave a lot to be desired. In front of a live crowd, Dallas seems easily put off, often corpsing when the often imaginative Full Sail Arena faithful chant at him, which definitely affects the flow of his promos.
I am actually quite excited to see the Dallas and Zayn feud play out on television, as NXT has been consistently strong at creating feuds that are watchable from start to finish and giving them enough time to breath, which isn't always the case when it comes to regular WWE television. However, this offering from Dallas, just simply wasn't up to scratch, and he won't have the strong booking of NXT to protect him once he heads to the main roster, but that probably says more about how WWE operates than it does about Dallas himself. It could take a while for Dallas to be ready to be able to step up to next level, but giving him more opportunities like this can only help the Twenty Three year old.
In the strongest match of the night, NXT Women's Champion Paige took on Sasha Banks. The action was fought at a good pace throughout, with both women working together to put on an enjoyable bout. Whilst the match might've rested a little too heavily on rest holds, especially considering neither woman was heel at this point, there was a really nice section that saw Paige attempting to hold Banks' arms to the mat, with a good looking reversal into a roll up getting a near fall for Banks. The finish saw Paige reverse a running Cross Body block from Banks into a pinfall to pick up the victory. It was ending that we've seen plenty of times before, but allowed Banks to continue to look competitive, and sold the story of the bout well. After the match was over, as had been hinted in the build up to this one, Banks attacked Paige from behind to complete her heel turn, and was later seen to be fully aligned with Summer Rae, in a pretty awful backstage segment, which really showed up both girls lack of acting ability.
In a very disappointing tag team contest, the Sylvester LeFort managed team of Alexander Rusev and Scott Dawson took on Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Amore looked great in his pre-match promo, unfortunately that didn't translate to the ring. To be fair, the main body of the contest, actually wasn't a complete failure, with both Rusev and Dawson looking impressive whilst in control. However, it was the ending of this contest that really let it down, after a awkward looking version of the Hart Attack, featuring a Spinning Heel Kick from Rusev, the referee ending up disqualifying the heels for being in the ring for too long. It really was bizarre, with no one knowing exactly what had happened and simply wandering around. It felt like the DQ was shoot, as Harry Smith talked about in his interview with Wrestle Talk TV, but if that was the case NXT is taped, why didn't they just re-shoot the ending?
Something that did work on the show was a Renee Young interview with CJ Parker. I've been calling out for some interview time for Parker over the last few weeks, as his character will only work if it is given time to speak and get over with the people, other wise it is just another 2D gimmick that will be hard to buy into. Luckily, Parker did a good job here, with a quirky promo about beavers and phoenixes, to explain his feud with Tyler Breeze. In a solid wrestling cliché, Breeze turned up at the end of the interview to lay the boots into Parker, with the nice added touch of a cheeky selfie whilst posing on top of Parker.
My final thoughts on this week's WWE NXT.
1. Xavier Woods could easily slot into the main roster of WWE, Leo Kruger still feels like he needs a bit more time.
2. The scripting of the Bo Dallas character, is strong than it's delivery.
3. Sasha Banks might be able to wrestle, but she certainly can't act!