After two weeks of very good - superb television, NXT presented a show with three big matches on it, in hopes of continuing it's fine run of form. With Nia Jax facing Bayley, American Alpha finally getting a match with The Authors of Pain and NXT Champion Samoa Joe in action against Rhyno, would this week's episode continue the show's strong run of form?
A real shining moment for the women's division here, getting to main event such a strong card, as Bayley defeated Nia Jax in a match that built and built into a very good television bout. Having said that, the first portion of the match didn't do much for me at all, and it seemed like it took the wind out of the live crowd also. It was weirdly based around Jax being over-confident and putting on cocky pin-covers, whilst also constantly throwing Bayley outside of the ring. Jax would control the opening portion, until Bayley was able to throw her to the outside. I can kind of see where they were going story-wise, but it was just a little bit lame. It was a disappointment not to see Bayley's supposedly injured knee, the knee that Jax had injured herself, play into the story of the match. There wasn't even a hint of this and it felt like a missed opportunity.
Okay, James, you said this was a good match, but all you've done is moaned so far. Well, erm, yes, but here's some positives. Following Jax being sent to the outside, the match kicked up a gear, shifting to an idea of Bayley attempting to knock Jax off her feet. This lead to the former Women's Champion getting to show a whole lot of babyface fire, as he layed it on thick with a series of knees on the apron and lovely crossbody that would finally take her opponent down. The crowd would finally come to life when Jax had a nearfall off a Jaxhammer and the expression of anger on her face was spot on, instantly igniting the crowd as they began to push for a Bayley win. The final moments would bring back the themes from the beginning with Jax deciding against hitting a normal leg drop for a diving one, confident she'd have enough time to move Bayley and hit the move, only to get hit with middle rope Bayley-to-Belly and lose the match. With Jax moving onto RAW from Monday, it certainly makes sense to have her put over Bayley clean on the way out, but it's a real shame that it's not Bayley getting the leg up to the main roster.
The Authors of Pain (Gzim Selmani & Sunny Dhisa) would pick up an impressive victory over American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) in a match that was surprisingly well-worked. I say surprisingly because no one really had any idea what Selmani and Dhisa could do in the ring, beyond a squash match from #200, but they looked more than competent in the ring, whilst Gable & Jordan allowed them to look like world beaters. A pre-match attack on the ramp fueled the match, as American Alpha were always fighting from underneath after fighting through the initial attack. Both of Authors of Pain took Gable and Jordan's series of suplexes very well, bumping crisply for their opponents, making them American Alpha look brilliant in the process. The finish was put together nicely with The A.O.P. able to take control on the outside, Jordan running into the steel steps, leaving Gable to fall to his rivals. I'm not a fan of the A.O.P's leg sweep, clothesline finish, as although it's done with a physicality it doesn't look as a devastating a move as the teams finish should be. With American Alpha drafted to Smackdown Live from next Tuesday, this may have been their last match for NXT, which would explain them doing such a convincing job here.
The weakest of the heavily promoted contests was NXT Champion Samoa Joe beating Rhyno via submission, in a plodding bout. The crowd never seemed to pick up as Rhyno had only recently returned to the brand, and suddenly become a babyface and therefore didn't have a whole lot of supports from the fans in attention. That meant that the pedestrian pace was shown up even more, because the crowd had little to get excited about at all. It was however a strong and dominant match for Joe against a performer who will not be hurt by a loss but will provide extra legitimacy to "The Samoan Submission Machine" as Champion, in a similar way to how NXT bought Eric Young into job for Joe a few months a go. This was a good match for Joe's title reign, but not a good match to watch.
Austin Aries' feud with No Way Jose would continue to gather steam as Jose would attack "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" after the former had squashed Patrick Clark. I'm interested to see where this feud is heading as we got a different side of Jose here, that I'd be interested to see how it could be worked into his fun loving, dancing gimmick situation he's got going on. The idea of Aries escaping through the crowd sold the beating nicely, as well as putting Aries over as a cowardly heel, which is a role he happens to excel in. This rivalry could end up helping both men in NXT, but only if it's done correctly and plays true to the two characters!
Singles Match: NXT Champion Samoa Joe def. Rhyno in 6 minutes, 20 seconds
Tag Team Match: The Authors of Pain - Gzim Selmani & Sunny Dhisa (with Paul Ellering) def. American Alpha - Chad Gable & Jason Jordan in 6 minutes, 34 seconds
Singles Match: Austin Aries def. Patrick Clark in 1 minute, 54 seconds
Singles Match: Bayley def. Nia Jax in 13 minutes, 35 seconds
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.3/10
Certainly this episode didn't have anything as strong as American Alpha v The Revival or Shinsuke Nakamura v Finn Balor, but this was still a solid hour of wrestling with a lot of different things to be enjoyed throughout the card. The mixture of focus of NXT's three distinct division was done rather nicely and gave each match it's own feel. This was helped by wonderful performances from the likes of Bayley and American Alpha, who both showed their capable of taking on any opponent and making a good match, and in the case of Bayley facing the same opponent on multiple occasions and producing different ways of approaching each match. There was also the added bonus of no random squash matches this week, as whilst Aries smashed through Clark it was all a set up for the Jose angle. Therefore everything meant something and everything had a reason for the viewer to stick around, whilst simultaneously keeping a solid range of action.
A case of it not being the most memorable episode, but a number of competitors will have benefited from it existing and for the most part it was an easy watch. With WWE snapping up Finn Balor, Nia Jaxx, American Alpha, Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Mojo Rawley for it's separate brands drawing the draft on Tuesday, we could be seeing some big changes to the NXT landscape over the next few weeks and months.
Article by James Marston