Aired - 31st August 2016
For the second week in a row, Tye Dillinger found himself in the main event of NXT, this time taking on former Tag Team Champion Buddy Murphy, but would that be enough to end NXT's summer with a bang?
This week's headline encounter saw "The Perfect Ten" Tye Dillinger continue to build momentum with a victory over Buddy Murphy in what was a solid outing for the pair. Whilst Dillinger is clearly a crowd favourite thanks to his Perfect Ten gimmick, I was particularly impressed with Murphy here, as he not only worked hard to allow Dillinger to look as good as possible, but also had a couple of promising moments himself. Whilst he may look like a boot-leg version of Triple H circa 2002, Murphy showed that he's got a little more about him this week, which included hitting a tasty meteora for a two count. Dillinger seemed to be resting on his Perfect Ten popularity to pull him through the match, as his comeback was especially basic here, not really containing anything to get too excited about, en route to getting the pinfall with the Tye Breaker [Fireman's carry neckbreaker]. I feel like if Dillinger wants to continue to main event NXT, then he needs to add a little bit more to his in-ring work, especially if working as a babyface.
After thirteen previous attempt, Steve Cutler finally got himself a televised victory with a quick win over Kenneth Crawford, thanks to a Fisherman suplex slam, in the semi-main. I wasn't at all impressed with Cutler in his triumph however, as not only did he look like the budget lovechild of Baron Corbin and Corey Graves in his pre-commentary days, but he was pretty damn sloppy in the ring. The crowd clearly didn't have much time for him either, showering the bout with the sound of complete indifference. Crawford showed some moments of promise, including a nice running shooting star press, but also had his own fair share of slips and trips during the match. Considering Cutler has been in NXT since 2014, had a years worth of Indy experience before being signed and has faced talents now on the main roster like Baron Corbin, Chad Gable and Aiden English on a regular basis, he's nowhere near where you'd expect him to be at this point in his career.
No Way Jose looked to build momentum following his Takeover: Brooklyn II loss to Austin Aries, with a swift success over Angelo Dawkins. This was a real nothing match, in which there seemed to be a vacuum on entertainment or anything notable before Jose got the pin with a Cobra clutch slam. If I'm going to criticise Steve Cutler for his tenure in NXT, then I need to bring up that Dawkins has been with the company since 2012 and lost 21 TV bouts in a row. His character is undefined as he comes to ring doing a weird stirring motion, whilst wearing two headbands like a shit Bobby Lashley and being extremely cocky for a chap who has lost 21 matches in a row. Jose finished things off by dancing in the crowd, which was nice.
In his first appearance in the Full Sail Arena since winning the NXT Championship from Samoa Joe at Takeover: Brooklyn II, Shinsuke Nakamura came out and said a few words about his win. The crowd love The King of Strong-Style and they hang of his every word as he explained that he was still hurting from his match with Joe, but that doesn't matter because he has the belt in his signature charismatic style. It would certainly be impossible to criticise what was present on screen across the 6 minute segment, but I can't help feeling that it lacked any feel of drama and didn't advance anything in terms of story. As cool as it was to have Nakamura speaking directly to the crowd, everything that was done could have been done in a backstage interview, with this time given over to a lengthier main event or something with a bit more drive behind it. Closing the show with a promo that no matter how enthralling, was still a straight forward promo was a odd decision that didn't pay off completely.
In the weakest contest of the evening, Liv Morgan and Aliyah worked a sloppy and illogical match in front of a crowd that was as dead as a dodo. There was some promise early on, but the match quickly showed up both women as not quite being ready for this kind of spotlight. Things like Aliyah not moving Morgan away from the ringropes when going for a pin shouldn't be happening by the time talents have come up to television, whilst Aliyah's wear down hold looked more like a finisher, which effected the flow of the contest and made it hard to believe that Morgan could actually have escaped it. Morgan picked up her first TV win with a nasty looking Reverse Roundhouse Kick, that needs a lot more polishing. With Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Emma, Charlotte and Carmella all departing the roster over the last year or so, it's left Asuka holding up a skeleton of a division that Morgan and Aliyah aren't ready to contribute positively to.
Best of the Rest
- With Johnny Gargano out injured, Tag Team Champions The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) to advantage of the situation, attacking Tomasso Ciampa during an interview before destroying him in the ring.
ATPW Scale Rating - 2.95/10
Man, this was not a good episode of NXT. When the highlights are an average main event between Tye Dillinger and Buddy Murphy and an inconsequential promo from Shinsuke Nakamura, you know that the hour of TV that you've just watched probably wasn't that good. The three squash bouts left a lot to be desired, with no one involved coming off all that well. There's some talent down the lower portion of NXT's roster that currently aren't up to scratch, which is worrying considering the length of time that some of them have been attending the Performance Center.
I'd expect the show to improve over the next few weeks, there's plenty of stars on the roster to do that, but there's questions that need to be asked about why more home-grown talent like Steve Cutler and Angelo Dawkins aren't cutting the mustard.
Words - James Marston
Banner Credit - Kai Stellar