On 14th June, WWE aired the 252nd episode of NXT, taped at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on May 25th. The show's main event saw Asuka defend her NXT Women's Title against Nikki Cross & Ruby Riot in an eliminations match. With matches also featuring Drew McIntyre, Velveteen Dream, Authors of Pain and the newly contracted CWC competitor Raul Mendoza, why was all of this so dull?
McIntyre def. Ryzin
Drew McIntyre's out against a newly red-haired Rob Ryzin, they lock up to begin with Ryzin transitioning to a waitslock followed by a chinlock, Drew hits a big belly-to-belly and... you know, I can't be bothered. Drew hits a Claymore to win, it's fine, I yawned at one point and missed the match. Doing these matches to build up new signees is fine but don't just keep doing them because you have nothing for them.
- Talking of people in need of a fucking storyline, here's an Aleister Black package. Seriously, just do the Bull Dempsey-Baron Corbin storyline with Black and McIntyre, do anything with them just give them something to do.
Authors of Pain def. Dominguez & Freyday
Akam is in first and he hits a big boot taking out Wilmer Freyday before in comes Anthony Dominguez to get taken out as well. Dominguez is thrown practically onto the ramp before Akam hits a Modified Death Valley Driver for the win. Another day, another NXT squash match that does little but add another notch to AoP's belts.
- After the match, the AoP hit the Super Collider on Dominguez and Freyday. Paul Ellering calls out Heavy Machinery claiming that they haven't read the book of pain and that they're about to write a new book, the book of dominance, this one has music in it, in fact, it's where music comes from. Also that, Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight will be a footnote in the book. Out come Heavy Machinery for a four way big lad staredown. Intense, I guess.
- Roderick Strong tweeted about Bobby Roode. Huge if true.
- Sonya Deville gets a package. It's pretty good at aping the style of MMA video segments. She's in action next week. I can't wait.
Dream def. Mendoza
As Velveteen Dream makes his entrance, Tom Phillips makes a reference to a 'sign of the times', do you get it? Dream is like Prince! Ha! Dream plays with his Raul Mendoza to begin with using his collegiate wrestling background to wrestle him to the mat and then literally walks over him to taunt at the audience. They lock up, Dream hits a Little Red Corvette sized shoulder block, Mendoza rolls up but only for a 1 count. The two trade strikes till Dream cuts off Mendoza with a boot as Mendoza attempted a springboard. Dream makes Mendoza's chest look like a raspberry beret in the corner and throws a belly to back suplex. A Purple Rain of chops onto Mendoza's chest light him up. Mendoza comes back with a high kick and chops, but just as he's beginning to party like it's 1999, a flapjack, a rolling death valley driver and a Glam Slam Top Rope Elbow Drop from Dream earn him the pin. After picking up the win, he eye-fucks the camera, so much. Both men look solid but frankly, there is nothing achieved here. Still, hopefully Dream can build on this potential and move into an actual story.
- Kassius Ohno is interviewed backstage and he regrets sinking into frustration like Hideo Itami and he's leading by example in a match with Aleister Black, now that's more like it.
- Ember Moon package, she's back and facing Peyton Royce next week. The way Royce has been performing recently, this could be very fun.
Asuka vs. Cross vs. Riot ends in a No Contest
So, um, what was that? I'm not even commenting on the performance of the three women who are arguably three of the best performers in WWE at the moment but somehow they took the template of a match that was a fun mess a few weeks ago and re-created it as something that doubles down on how much of a mess it was but in terms of fun...
It had promise as a match, especially if you love multiple dropkick variations as after all three women brawled to begin with. Cross hit Riot with a front missile dropkick, Asuka hit Cross with a side missle dropkick, Cross and Riot team up to get Asuka out of the ring before doing the lets fight each other but also keep Asuka out the match. The sections like this which focus in on Cross and Riot work best as they continue to suggest that when we actually get a singles match with these two it will be mental and amazing. Riot hits a superkick to Cross to take us into the Ad break. Post break, Asuka is back and hits Riot with running bum (because let's face it, she doesn't really use her hips) but Riot responds with a hurricanrana, Cross does her crazy attacking thing but Riot retaliates with her Wind-Up Overhead Kick finish going for a cover but Asuka breaks it up getting some Riotous slaps for her effort. Asuka kicks Riot in the head and gets a two count, Cross pulls Asuka out of the ring, Riot hits both of them with an apron dropkick on both women. Back in the ring and Riot hits a shotgun dropkick on Cross, she heads up top but Asuka pushes her out of the ring before attempting a dropkick, Cross with her Fisherman's Neckbreaker finisher but Asuka rolls out before she can be covered, Riot hits a Saito Suplex. From here on out, the fragile thread holding this match seems to fall apart without Riot as lets note that Tom Phillips makes every effort to remind us that this is all under Triple Threat rules so no countouts or DQs, only pins, submissions and maybe KOs but certainly no way that this is going to have to be thrown out on a double countout.
So the two women fight in the ring briefly before taking it to the outside again, after a few near falls, they brawl near the audience and out into the wing and the referee throws out the match. For one thing, throughout this and the previous match, the most impressive performer has been Ruby Riot, so of course she is the only one to take a legal pinfall in both matches. For another, it may have been a symptom of the crowd being completely dead but this match just felt supremely messy and its finish was completely nonsensical. If you wanted to build up Cross to keep her on Asuka's level, there are cleaner ways to do it than just throwing out storytelling. It might have all been redeemed if the match had something we didn't get in the Chicago Triple Threat but this felt as much as rehash as a rematch at times. I wanted to like this so much more than I did. As it is, I think we're finally hitting the point where Asuka has almost jumped the shark. She's been built to look so unbeatable that when someone, be it Cross or Moon, eventually does beat her, it will be that much more difficult to make it believable.