Thursday, 8 June 2017

WWE NXT #251 Review (7th June 2017)

On 7th June, WWE aired the 251st episode of NXT, taped at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on May 25th. The show's main event saw the returning No Way Jose battle the man who injured him, SaNItY's Killian Dain [Damian O'Connor]. In-ring action also saw the likes of Peyton Royce, Hideo Itami [KENTA], Oney Lorcan [Biff Busick] & Heavy Machinery with appearances from Roderick Strong and NXT Champion Bobby Roode. With a solid line-up like this, what could go wrong?

Heavy Machinery def. Sullivan & Andrews

Lars Sullivan [Dylan Miley] and Tucker Knight to start, they do a big lad lock-up which is like a normal lock-up but they're big lads, Sullivan powers Knight to the corner, break, headlock by Knight, there's an odd moment as Sullivan is referred to by Nigel McGuinness as Lenny from Of Mice and Men, don't use this match as evidence in your GCSE English kids. The two big lads trade shoulder barges till Sullivan hits a clothesline, Irish whip to the corner but Knight reverses with an uppercut and a boot before hitting a huge dropkick by which I mean a standard dropkick but he's a big lad. Knight runs at Sullivan only for Sully to catch him for a slam, now Sullivan should really consider what he's doing here as he tags in the much smaller Victor Andrews who gets in no offense as Heavy Machinery rag-doll him about before hitting their Compactor tag finish for the pin. The audience seems to love Heavy Machinery though I'll never understand why, I guess it's like with the Hype Bros. Sullivan seems set to be the next Performance Centre mega-push. That taken into account, this was fine.

  • After the match, Heavy Machinery start shouting about how they want the Authors of Pain and Sullivan gets annoyed at another person for failing him so decides to beat him up, just don't tag them in if you don't think they have a chance, it's your own time you're wasting.
  • Christy St. Cloud tries to interview SaNItY about No Way Jose's return, Killian Dain is angry and Irish.

Strong tries to play the Roode Lottery

Roderick Strong is in pumps, skinny jeans and a plain grey tee, make an effort lad, you're on telly. He talks about how he's making a statement, how being in NXT, having a lovely wife and son is making him feel on top of the world, how he feels he's exposed the true him to the fans and they reward him with support, long story short: he wants the NXT title. As if by magic, so appears the NXT Champion Bobby Roode, wearing a very nice suit, Roddy! Roode delivers one of, if not, his most blistering promos since coming to NXT running down Roddy for coming here and assuming he's owed a title shot for his above-average win record, reasonably hot wife and seemingly normal son (his words not mine). His buzz-term that the commentators can refer back to for this is 'the Bobby Roode lottery' as he laments the working man's attitude that for a small amount, people hope to luck out and win big instead of earning their money. What works particularly well here is that Roode's motivation while it could be perceived as standard heel cowardice, is also well motivated in a surface desire to elevate the title by making people earn their shots. Equally good is how it realises that Strong doesn't need much more than a desire for the title, he doesn't have much in the way of a character beyond being a genuine human being so putting him against the Streets of Rage villain become real that is Bobby Roode creates a wonderful immediate clash of styles. Here's hoping that they can deliver in the ring on the potential built here, though I've no doubt they can.

  • Nikki Cross [Nikki Storm] is being mental backstage. Talking about wanting to play again and headbutting stuff, it's nothing new but it certainly is disturbing.
  • Paul Ellering reads from the Book of Pain which is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing, it's full of facts on potential opponents and instructions for wrestling.

Royce def. Logan

More expert reporting from Nige as we find out that Sarah Logan [Crazy Mary Dobson]'s first match was as a child against a goat. Logan locks up and is powered to the corner by Royce, Irish whip to the other corner, fireman's carry takedown into an armbar by Logan, beautiful roundhouse by Royce for a two count, crosschin (or whatever you want to call a crossface on the chin), leverage pin by Logan, Royce hits a two amigos and a death valley driver for a two count, big slaps and headbutts by Logan for another close two. Royce fights back and hits the Bridging Fisherman's Suplex for the pin. A very fun match with some well-paced stretches of violence only ruined by a lack of heat for the heels. As good as their iconic mannerisms are, somehow the clean victory here almost makes their partnership feel less important as it implies they don't need each other to get a win. Hopefully the duo get something good to do soon, they're too iconic to be pushed to the sidelines.
  • We cut back to an interview with Andrade Almas [La Sombra] after he lost to Cezar Bononi last week, he's walking to his limo with three ladies when Thea Trinidad [Rosita] turns up asking what has become of him before giving him a slap and walking off but Almas is too damn tranquilo to care.

Itami vs. Lorcan ends in a No Contest

This match was just full-on bonkerballs. The two men lock-up, Oney Lorcan over-powers Hideo Itami pushing him to the ropes and separates like a nice lad, graps happen, standing headlock pushes Lorcan to the ropes, as they separate a stiff slap to the cheek by Itami who's not as nice a lad, Itami gives Lorcan a stiff AF shot for a two count, Lorcan back up, strikes and runs the ropes only to be caught by a knee to the gut, back up and the same thing happens again for another two count. Into the corner and a boot and a running blockbuster from Lorcan sends Itami to the outside, Lorcan heads for a tope only to be caught on the apron by a brace of kicks, onto the top rope and a flying lariat from Itami gets another two count. Itami continues to pummel Lorcan who catches Itami in a roll-up for another two. Out of the roll-up and Lorcan decided to throw some slaps of his own but Itami decided no, he will only sell for the stiffest strikes, as Lorcan wriggles out of a GTs, Itami shows him what the stiffest strikes look and feel like as he delivers The Stiffest Strikes, Lorcan fights back, Itami to the outside and a tope rope plancha by Lorcan, back in the ring and Itami is acting 'injured' til Lorcan gets close enough to kick straight for the knee and strike him all the way to fuck and hit a GTS, while Lorcan is out, Itami thinks about going for the pin, only to hit two more GTS' and be attempting to hit a fourth when Kassius Ohno [Chris Hero] runs out...

... Ohno screams before Itami gets annoyed and shoved him, Ohno shoves back much harder, pushing Itami to the floor, Itami, giving Ohno full murder eyes, rolls away to a chorus of boos. This was not only a superb match for the time it was given but the ending managed to use the brutality of the GTS brilliantly with Lorcan doing some of the finest knocked-out acting I've seen. While some could argue that potentially this could have been called as a win for Itami by referee stoppage, it still makes Itami look like a nasty fuck and sets up not only a rematch with Lorcan down the line but a match with Ohno that could be a violent treat indeed.

  • We get a Drew Packagetire, covering his time in WWE before in brief but also his re-arrival in NXT. Next week: Drew McIntyre vs someone.
  • Also next week: That big women's title re-match from Takeover: Chicago.
  • Christy St. Cloud is the busiest interviewer in NXT as she grills Ember Moon [Athena]. Moon talks about her missed opportunities but before she goes for the title, she needs to deal with the Iconic Duo.

Dain def. Jose

So, when do we discuss that the Nigel McGuinness-Tom Phillips-Percy Watson experiment isn't working? Can it be now? I know that chemistry isn't an immediate thing but even in early editions of teams like the heyday of 205 Live's commentary with Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves and Austin Aries or CWC's Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan or if Smackdown had literally just been Mauro Ranallo, there were suggestions that something could be made from it. Heck, even Tom Phillips has developed a decent act with Corey Graves but the three men just manage to sound constantly like they have recorded in three different rooms at three different times with only occasional interactions. I can see that NXT is the developmental brand still so it makes sense to use it as a proving ground for new commentators as Michael Cole is only awake three days a year and they need to train up the next generation but Percy Watson has managed to show both a lack of personality or insight in his time in the booth, Tom Phillips seems more distracted by sending people saucy snapchats than the matches leaving Nigel to try and actually remind them they have to do some story telling. During this match, they just about get round to talking about how No Way Jose is out for revenge after SaNItY put him on the injury shelf briefly while adding nothing that the showing of the clip from WM Axxess didn't. In an interview with the AVclub, Jim Ross spoke about how watching great wrestling like classical music and how the commentary team's job is to provide the lyrics atop that music (notice how much better the calls were when Jim and Nigel were calling the UK title match at Takeover), I am willing to give Nige, Tom and Percy time to work out their harmonies but if they keep going this way, I think it's time to try someone new. Also, please just move Nigel over to RAW/205 Live, he was great with Michael Cole and I think he would mesh well with Graves.

In regards to the match, it was a bit dull. Killian Dain got the pin off an Ulster Plantation. The most notable things were the new SaNItY music with added pan flute because if you didn't know, Dain is Irish and also the crowds interesting chant at Dain of 'Fuzzy Wuzzy'.

Finally...ATPW Scale Rating: 4.8/10

The middle section of this week's show was dynamite with Itami and Lorcan putting on the best sub-8 minute match NXT has had in a long time, possibly since Samoa Joe v Tomasso Ciampa, Royce v Logan being surprisingly fun and a great promo from Bobby Roode. It's just a shame that the opening and the closing segments were so plodding and free of excitement that it cut off the episode at the legs. Still, with no Takeover's booked until August's return to Brooklyn, it's good that they are focusing on building feuds outside of just the titles while always keeping the prize in sight.

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