Hello there, wise and hardy followers of the best booked show on WWE TV, NXT. Lonestar has buggered off on his jollies for the next 2 weeks, so unfortunately you're all stuck with me covering NXT during that time. No worries though, we'll get through and it'll be as if he never left. We'll even use the same format! Let's get to it...
The show opens up with Good ol' JR (and I'm going to say it, his music is terrible) curating the contract signing between Big E. Langston and Bo Dallas ahead of their NXT Championship battle next week. There are surprisingly little shenanigans during this. There's Bo giving a promo about how he should be in Big E's position and Big E replying by making jokes about Bo smiling and living with his mother.
We had the beautiful Renee Young interviewing Cody Graves and Kassius Ohno individually, who will be challenging the Wyatt Family for the tag titles later on.
The NXT Divas Title tournament began with Paige defeating Tamina in a decent short match, that included a sick superkick by Tamina.
Mason Ryan, who isn't from Cardiff, squished Colin Cassidy with a torture rack into a neckbreaker that Brad Maddox beautifully referred to as the 'Rackbreaker'. Brad Maddox is awesome.
We were then treated to a little more Renee Young, which is fine by me, as she briefly interviewed Sami Zayn before Antonio Cesaro interrupted and we had a minor scuffle between the two, leading to a future match. I am ALL for that.
Alex Riley came down to be squashed by Conor O'Brian and his new submission 'The Stockade', which is a Bow and Arrow type ground submission.
The main event was a cracking little tag match between The Wyatt Family and the makeshift team of Ohno and Graves, preceded by a classic Bray Wyatt promo and ending with Luke Harper pinning Ohno after interference by Bray. Got all that? Lovely, let's break it down.
What is the point of contract signings?
The show opened with Big E and Bo Dallas having a contract signing for their main event match next week. Now, I can understand having these occasions for championship bouts, as it adds an air of grandeur to the battle, but this followed another contract signing for Chris Jericho and CM Punk this past Monday, which ended with Jericho sexual assaulting Paul Heyman by the way. Now, I'm fully aware, these contract signings have little or nothing to do with the contract itself and more to do with the story that it evolves, but it makes me wonder about contract signing for basic matches in general? This one was pretty good though, and almost sold me on Bo Dallas as a bitter heel, desperate to prove himself. I didn't like Big E's promo however, it was a little too patronising and demeaning for a proud face champion. He also made a comment about living with your parents, which to be honest is quite normal at 23 here.
The Divas Title Tournament is shaping up nicely
Paige became the first person to advance in the tournament this week with a hard fought win over Tamina Snuka. The match was a great example of what is right with the booking of the Divas on NXT, as it told a basic story and accentuated what both performers did well, as opposed to the usual WWE formula of rushing the match and exposing the weaknesses of its performers. The brackets for the tournament were also announced, and made for interesting reading. It looks like a clear run for Paige to the final, but the sudden emergence of Emma makes the bottom half a little more intriguing. With Summer Rae featuring as the Fandangal, will Emma make it through? Or will the premier divas feud on NXT retain its prominence and feature in the final? Will Aksana cause an upset? No, no she won't.
Brad Maddox is awesome
Seriously, my notes for this show feature the above 4 words at least 6 times. Whoever made the decision to put Maddox on commentary on this show deserves a raise, because the man is gold. He doesn't really seem to have the ability of your usual commentator, but he more than makes up for it with enthusiasm and improvised moments of wonder, which is the only way I can explain naming Mason Ryan's finisher the 'rackbreaker'. He even sounded surprised at himself when saying it. Brad Maddox, you're the best.
The Indie Scene will always trump developmental
This was a decent showing of NXT, but the fingerprints of independent wrestling were all over this. Whilst the main event championship feud features 2 WWE-as they comes talents, just look at the standouts of the rest of the show. The tag team main event featured 3 guys who cut their teeth in the bingo halls, and it is easy to see in the free flowing construction of the match up. This is where I feel like Luke Harper is vastly underrated; the guy is a legitimately top class in ring worker. Anyone who saw his work in Chikara will already know this. Two of the 3 favourites for the NXT Divas title are also products of independent wrestling. Then you have Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro, who most of you know from Ring of Honor. As I've said in a previous column, WWE is more and more looking towards independent wrestling for its talent, and this can only be a good thing.
A decent show overall, with good build towards next week's Big E/Bo match, another successful tag defence for the Wyatt Family and the Divas tournament is up and running. The only thing that was truly passable was the Conor O'Brian squash. I would have put that Mason Ryan one in there as well, but it's worth it for Brad Maddox and his 'rackbreaker'.
The NXT program continues to make sense from start to finish, something that is quite unusual for wrestling programming sometimes. Roll on next week!