Greetings, friends of Chevy Chase. We’re T-minus one day to WrestleMania, so instead of talking about that show, let’s discuss this week’s episode of the series that focuses almost entirely on the people that have to wrestle during the annual Hall of Fame ceremony…it’s better this week, I swear.

So, after two weeks worth of shows that could have been trimmed to half their normal running time, this week’s episode was…

Finally a better show.

While there was still some fluffy stuff in the middle that needs no repetitive criticism, tonight’s NXT was definitely an improvement over the past couple weeks in variety, promo and match strength. It also featured another smooth performance by the announce team, who seem to be settling into a pretty good groove when it comes to accentuating the show and not annoying me with constant bickering. Once again, Alex Riley was nowhere to be found, replaced easily by Byron Saxton and William Regal’s funky dance moves.

Now, for the biggest surprise of the episode…

Brodus Clay vs Xaiver Woods changed my outlook on everyone involved.

When the match between the late Funkasaurs and Xavier Woods was announced via graphic I groaned, but by the end of the segment I was quite impressed with everyone’s performance. Brodus, as the Funkasaurus, has for long been one of the characters that never really went anywhere and I think I forgot how believable the guy is as a bad ass. His feud with Woods over ring music was dumb, but the match they had here turned Brodus into a monster and became another step on Woods’s road to becoming a serious wrestler using serious wrestler moves. And by that I mean the shining wizard is a huge step up over whatever he calls his “eat da-feat” and his babyface fire is getting pretty darn good lately, especially while he’s been going against larger opponents.

On top of the good match, Brodus cut a solid promo announcing his intentions to go after the NXT title, reminding me once again that he can work well as a bad guy. Then, Adrian Neville responded to said announcement with easily his best mic work yet, telling Brodus in a logical, understandable but tough way that he’d have to earn a title shot, but he’d be ready if he did.

Mmmm, that’s good hero right there, and now we’re getting a match-up I didn’t know I wanted.

That variety I mentioned.

I’m definitely a guy who likes the wrestling match part of wrestling, but people talking on microphones made a welcome return this week, in many lovely forms. It split the show up a bit, making the whole thing pass by a nice pace, and the interviews themselves were mostly pretty good. I thought Paige getting to talk was nice, though I’m not sure how Charlotte is hiding behind her father when he was only there that one time. Sami Zayn also did well, reacting to questions about his concussion like an articulate and reasonable human being.

Corey Graves, on the other hand, didn’t necessarily made sense. In fact, I don’t really remember what he was he was trying to communicate in that creepy part of the arena. I know he was being threatening and I remember him saying something about bear traps. I’ll call it awkward but admit I was getting tired at the time.

The dependable acts delivered.

In addition to an improved middle of the show, the traditional NXT combo of good women’s match/good main event delivered once again, though not quite in its usual way. The women’s match was basically a squash benefitting Emma, but it was enjoyable enough thanks to the quirks of the characters involved. The main event between Corey Graves and Sami Zayn told a very different story than we normally see out of a Sami Zayn match and while I can see where some people might not have liked it, I thought it was good and fresh and different. Watching Sami falter more and more as the match went on was pretty interesting and in my opinion Zayn pulled off the tricky post concussion weakness well. Graves definitely needed the win to continue the feud and even though I’m not his biggest fan I think this combination of him and Zayn is working, especially with the little tweaks they’ve been giving his character.

What did you think of this week’s NXT? Did you like the main event? Are Xavier Woods and Corey Graves slowly growing on you like they are on me? Who’s the next NXT star to debut after Wrestlemania? Leave a comment and enjoy Wrestlemania!