Greetings wrestle-friends. We’re almost a week away from WrestleMania, and I’m betting your asses are excited. I was lucky enough to watch last year’s show live (and as a surprise) alongside TJR writers Jacob Lindsey and Andrew Johnson. It was oodles of fun. Speaking of the Johnsonator, the dude is currently writing a series of articles chronicling the history and evolution of WrestleMania alongside the history and evolution of himself. It’s pretty deep, personal stuff, some of the best writing he’s done for this website. If you haven’t yet read them you can check out the first two articles in the series here and here.
Now, on to NXT.
So yeah, a bunch of people faced a bunch of other people (like, five matches worth of people) and there was very little talking. You could say this week’s show was similar to last week’s in that it was mostly matches and the good stuff happened towards the end of the episode. Good stuff like…
The women’s match once again being the official start of the show:
There were small bits and pieces I liked about the opening triad of matches. Xavier Woods hit a pretty cool shining wizard. Yoshi Tatsu was surprisingly peppy fighting against Corey Graves. But if you asked me if anything that happened before Natalya vs Charlotte was necessary viewing, the answer would be a firm no.
But Natalya fighting against Charlotte was fun, and incorporated both women’s strengths nicely. It was easily Charlotte’s best match and by no coincidence also happened to incorporate her raw athletic ability better than any other match she’s wrestled. I loved the submission work, I loved Natalya’s wicked clothesline in response to Charlotte showing off, I even agreed with the DQ finish. Yeah, everybody and their mom hates DQs, but Natalya has lost to most of the divas on NXT in the recent past and Charlotte was being elevated quickly to go against Paige, so this slows all that down a bit, which I think will be a good idea in the long run.
What might also help NXT in the long run is realizing that…
Alex Riley drags down the entire commentary desk:
Usually the commentary team on NXT is fine. Sometimes they make the product better, sometimes they’re inoffensive enough that I just tune them out. This is why I don’t mention them much in these reviews, because they’re doing their job for the most part and staying out of the way. And then there’s Alex Riley, who is annoying to the point of constant distraction. If he’s not saying something stupid just to reference another aspect of popular culture (it was Eddie Murphy this week) he’s playing devil’s advocate enough to suck in the other commentators and cause constant, needless bickering. He’s bad and he makes the program worse.
…though his crappyness did lead to the line of the night, wherein Tom responded to something silly with the no sell of “Yeah, sure, whatever.” I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I giggled.
The main event delivered:
The other slice of the show I really enjoyed this week was the NXT title rematch between Neville and Dallas. It had definite energy and featured a few neat moments revolving around Neville’s high-flying. A smaller, zippy dude launching himself at people during a fake fight requires the audience to suspend a bit more disbelief than usual, so it’s nice when wrestlers incorporate a little bit of logic into the aerial matches, like when Dallas got his knees up to block Neville’s slow Red Arrow finisher, or when Dallas rolled out of the ring to avoid an earlier attempt and Neville just jumped on him a different way. All that flash lead up to a killer finish with Neville getting the three-count after what I think is called an imploding 450 splash. Basically Neville hit a 450…moving backwards into the ring. It was awesome.
And that was NXT this week! What did you think about the show? Are you a Hypee? A Mojosapian? A Rawleaster? Seriously, what does Mojo Rawley call his fans, I’m sure he has a name for them already.