Thursday, 4 May 2017

WWE NXT #246 Review (Aired - 3rd May 2017)


On the 3rd May, WWE aired episode #246 of NXT, taped at Full Sail University on the 19th of April. The show's main event was a Battle Royal to determine a Number 1 Contender to Asuka's NXT Women's Championship. In a show also featuring in-ring action from Hideo Itami, Killian Dain, Danny Burch, Kona Reeves, Heavy Machinery and many more, could NXT finally break the habit of a lifetime and present a Battle Royal that wasn't incredibly messy for the first 5 or so minutes? Well, I'll save you waiting to find out that one, no. No they could not.

Dain def. Burch




Killian Dain would come to the ring sans Nikki Cross or Alexander Wolfe for tonight, I know that Cross is probably preparing for the Battle Royal later on but that doesn't explain Wolfe's absence. The two men lock-up, Dain quickly overpowers him, Burch fights back but gets shoved back, he gets a reversal in, goes top rope but Dain pulls his leg out from under him, crossface strikes by Dain and an elbow to the head, Burch gets in some more offense, Dain hits Barrett's old Wasteland finisher, a running senton and repeated elbow drops, Burch is back up, he gets in some comeback offense with a reverse elbow, an enziguri, second rope for a front dropkick, a headbutt, European uppercuts only to be interrupted by a standing missile dropkick into the Ulster Plantation by Dain. A fun, predictable match. No one and I mean no one would ever expect Burch to win but it did enough to establish the force of Dain with Burch showing some spirit. Eric Young hung around on the outside doing nothing.
  • We get a Patrick Clark video, he's now going by 'The Velveteen Dream' to which I have so many questions that I will wait until there are at least some answers prepared before I ask.

Heavy Machinery def. a pair of tiny men



The aspiring face team murder a pair of tiny men,. I actually think that at least one of them might have died when the two of them did a double rope rebound body splash directly onto his head.  The crowd seem really into these big lads and I still don't fully understand why is it because they're just big? At one point they pull both members of the opposite team into the ring and begin attacking them because they can and that's how being a face works in the modern era. The finish has both men picked up for the forward slam-bulldog combo. Just a bit shit really.
  • Post-match Heavy Machinery have a promo, they establish they like weights and protein shakes, somewhere Allie is remembering her Cherry Bomb days and bemoaning their lack of acknowledging the virtues of sex as well. Anyway, they want a title.
  • #DIY are interviewed backstage, they talk about how Heavy Machinery think they are owed a title match, they establish that they are still owed their 1on1 rematch and that they should get a shot before Heavy Machinery, no disagreement here.


Itami def. Reeves



Bobby Roode was seen chatting to Kona Reeves backstage before the match, presumably telling him how to be glorious, the crowd didn't get the memo as they give him no response, at any point during the match. They make so much noise for Itami but they point blank refuse to do anything for Reeves which is a shame as in his brief sections of heel control, working over the injured shoulder of Itami, he looks very promising. A sneak attack before the bell by Reeves would set the tone, stomping Itami in the corner, Reeves is pulled back by the ref, off the bell he runs at Itami who dodges sending Reeves into the ring-post, Itami kicks him in the chest, Reeves reverses with a lovely forearm and begins more stomping, eventually Itami begins his comeback with a stiff, disrespectful slap to the face, rebound clotheslines, chest kicks, more slaps, more kicks, a fine-as-hell hesitation dropkick in the corner then picks up the big man for the GTS and go to sleep he does. Another quick squash, another predictable result but it got over that despite two recent, extended injury breaks, that Itami is still ready to go and that if he can get the crowd to respond more (difficult with the notoriously awful Full Sail crowd), Reeves might have a decent future ahead of him.

  • We get a Drew McIntyre package. It tells us he's big, he's a Scot and yeah, that's it.

Who Is Roderick Strong pt.2





Last week's edition really focused on the former ROH World Champion's childhood, this was about his transition from a Young Man to Adulthood. A lot of this focused on the relationship between Strong and his wife, UFC star Marina Shafir, with a nice immediacy to the footage as it showed their daughter who was only born about 10 days ago. It was a relaxing change of pace after the heartbreaking traumatics of last week to go to the gentle, human story of Strong as a guy who's just wrestling because he wants to provide for the people he loves and wrestling is the only way he knows how to do this. That said, with WWE's burgeoning relationships with multiple Indies, it might have been nice if we could have had video evidence of him wrestling for someone other than just IPW. We cover his Ring of Honor days using some quick photos of  SmackDown Live's Kevin Owens (Née Steen), RAW's Seth Rollins (Née Tyler Black), 205 Live's Akira Tozawa & Tomohiro Ishii. It was overall a fascinating approach that they took a guy who has been criticised for having no character and instead build him up as a real person instead of a gimmick, whether it will work remains to be seen but for now, I have to give a lot of credit to Strong and the NXT production team for creating a fantastic mini-documentary that has been a highlight for me, these past two weeks.

  • William Regal and Bobby Roode are in the office, Regal is a bit in love with Strong, Roode is unhappy with Itami getting opportunities he doesn't feel he's earnt, Regal announces next week a Number 1 Contender's Match for Roode's Title between Itami and Strong.

Asuka Crashed the NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contenders Battle Royal



Macey Estrella, now Lacey Evans, Billie and Peyton, Nikki Cross, Liv Morgan, Ruby Riot, Ember Moon get entrances, so I guess then that Aliyah, Bianca Blair, Candice LeRae, Kimberly Frankele, Rachel Ellering now Rachel Evers, Sarah Bridges, Daria Berenato now Sonia Deville nor Victoria Gonzalez are winning. The first performer to get focus is all 6"1 of Gonzales who begins fighting both of the Iconic Duo. Battle Royal stuff happens, seeing Candice LeRae in an NXT ring without any build-up makes me lament how great Asuka v LeRae could have been. Up until the Ad break and no eliminations till we come back and Gonzalez has been eliminated already by the Duo because NXT can't control when they air ad breaks in this pre-recorded product. The Duo take out Blair aswell,  Aliyah eliminates Evers to massive boos Sarah Bridges is taken out with a dropkick by Morgan and Deville is eliminated by the Duo, Bridges and Deville argue outside the ring, lets see if that goes anywhere, Riot eliminates Frankele, nuclear heat for Billie Kay as she boots out Larae, Cross eliminates Aliyah to 'thank you Nikki' chants, maybe don't have an aspiring babyface take out an indie darling NXT. Down to the final 6 (Moon, Riot, Morgan, Cross, Royce, Kay) and the heels dominate, Cross gets in one of the more unique eliminations I've seen by getting Morgan over the ropes and then practically mauling her hands until she has no choice but to drop off the apron, Moon manages to take out Kay and Royce with a beautiful superkick to Kay and practically deadlift suplexing Royce out onto the floor. 

The final three present some very smooth action making it seem like you could have had a much better match if you'd just used them to begin with, the high point of the match comes when Nikki Cross takes an Eclipse and appears to die as Ember Moon tries to carry 'The White Chocolate Cheesecake of Sports Entertainment' out of the ring but her limp body refuses to go over. After some near eliminations and some successful building of tension, Moon would set up Riot for the Eclipse as well only for Asuka to run out, toss Moon off the turnbuckle (taking a landing that may have legit injured her shoulder) before giving her an assisted suicide dive headfirst into a barricade and hitting some of the kickiest kicks I've seen from the Goldberg-surpassing NXT Womens Champion. With all three women lying prone, Asuka, not requiring vocal amplification would scream 'NO ONE IS READY FOR ASUKA' before running away. As the medics attend to the three women, Nikki Cross would leave the ring muttering Asuka's name before noticing Moon practically dead in the corner and stopping to point and laugh at her in what was a delightful moment. Regal would come out to announce that at Chicago, it  will be a Fatal 4 way against Cross, Moon and Riot. Like practically all Battle Royals, until it gets to the point where you can seat the number of participants around an average dinner table, it's all very messy. Even then, I'm not entirely sure how they justify a No Contest finish in a Battle Royal as I didn't realise there were DQs in those, though I am glad that if this was the result they were heading for, they didn't attempt a simultaneous final elimination as if Styles and Harper couldn't do it convincingly, it would have been significantly harder to choreograph for three. That said, off the interactions of the Final three, this next Takeover could already have a show-stealing match.


Finally...


This was a step down from last week as beyond the final stretch of the Main Event, the in-ring action was nothing to talk about with the first 3/4 of the show being squash city. Luckily a compelling and vicious beatdown by Asuka and the second part of the fantastic 'Who Is Roderick Strong' vignettes helped save the show. With two weeks to go till NXT Takeover Chicago, there still seems to be a severe lack of build outside of the three title matches with talents like Kassius Ohno, Aleister Black, The Iconic Duo and many more currently without anything to do. Not necessarily the worst episode of NXT but after a couple of weeks of solid storytelling, this was overall a step-down but there was just enough to suggest that with a bit of an up in the ante over the next fortnight, Takeover could be something special.


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