With Bobby Roode making his debut, Hideo Itami making his return and TM-61 facing the Revival in the main event, this week's NXT was going to be amazing, right?
Before I get into talking about those two cheeky chappies above, let me begin this week's NXT review by talking about The Revival's victory over TM-61. As much as this was an anticipated main event match, this bout was all about Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. The two looked dominant throughout and every inch of the Tag Team Champions that they've grown into since they first won the belts last October. Wilder and Dawson looked great when cutting off the ring for Shane Thorne, targeting his arm and bringing in a narrative, helped by Thorne's capable selling. However, it was in the match's conclusion where they looked at their strongest, as after whether the storm of a Nick Miller hot tag, as Wilder attacked Thorne, leading to Miller giving chase around the ring, only to be hit with a precise snap DDT from Dawson when entering the ring. It wasn't the high gear thriller that it potentially could have been but boy did it make The Revival look like world beaters.
The show would conclude with an entertaining talking segment as Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa interrupted the tag champs and issued a challenge. Both sides were on top form on the microphone and managed to create a good amount of friction were before there may not have been any, which will only act as an aid when they meet on 20th August. Both managed to hit the right notes with their promos and it was cool to see Gargano and Ciampa get to develop a unique style of talking to their opponents and the crowd. They seemed to be enjoying themselves as they joked about, riffing off the Revival's promo about who they'd beaten and getting a big pop for mentioning Pokemon Go! (which might be the most over thing in wrestling, right now). Gargano & Ciampa besting the Revival in the show-closing scrap, after such a strong performance from the champions, was a great way to go off the air, with both teams looking pretty even heading into Takeover: Brooklyn II.
Bobby Roode finally made his NXT debut this week, just five months after his TNA departure. This was a simple way of introducing his character to the NXT audience as he takes on a new "Glorious" persona. Roode is fine talker and worked the crowd nicely, initially pandering to them, before ripping into them for wearing shitty clothes and not being either presidents or CEOs. My favourite part of the promo was him claiming to be the wrestler that will "expand the brand" as it will play off any anti-TNA sentiment that the audience holds and let's face it NXT have already done a much better job of making Roode look like a star than TNA managed in his 12 year run with the company. It was nothing ground breaking and didn't offer any idea to where Roode's first match would be or who he'd be feuding with, but it was a novel way of introducing a new character to an audience.
In a curious twist to their previous rivalry, Women's Champion Asuka would call #1 Contender Bayley down to ringside from the commentary desk to watch as The Empress of Tomorrow destroyed Aliyah. It was a brutal display that saw Asuka hammer the rookie with a vicious kicks before collecting the submission victory with the Asuka Lock and having Bayley at ringside gave everything an extra depth and allowed their feud to pick up some much needed momentum heading towards Takeover: Brooklyn II. Credit to Aliyah for some strong selling that allowed Asuka to look even better than she already did. Considering this was only her second TV singles match it was solid performance were she did every that she was tasked with and did it well.
Hideo Itami made his return to NXT, going over Florida indy worker and CWC participant Sean Maluta, in the opening match. Itami looked decent as he eased himself back into action, with a simple contest that essentially had to re-introduce him to the audience after over a year out of action. Maluta held himself well against the bigger name, but it was a swift and convincing victory for Itami, following a flurry of strikes and the Shotgun Kick. It was interesting that the crowd didn't seem all that bothered about Itami's return and he struggled to get much of reaction of the crowd, but after only an initial seven months on television, followed up by a 15 month absence, it's understand that the audience will take a little time to get back "into" Itami.
Best of the Rest
- With Mojo Rawley about to get a win over Chris Atkins in seconds, NXT Champion Samoa Joe assaulted Rawley, choking him on the ramp with the Coquina Clutch.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.05/10
A solid hour of build towards Takeover: Brooklyn with only two more episodes to go until the special. The continued spotlight on the tag division is paying off with a solid main event and an even better interaction between The Revival and Ciampa & Gargano to end the show on a high note. Bobby Roode's debut and Hideo Itami's return inject some extra star power into the brand following a couple of high profile departures, but both appearance were more about setting the ground work, than wowing the audience. An average hour to watch, but an hour that will make other hours much more satisfying viewing, especially come 20th August!