Sup yellow-rope friends. Before we get to this week’s episode of the show, I feel it is my duty as official NXT-guy at TJR-wrestling to talk about the seven developmental talents released last Friday. Let’s jump to some bold letters.
Audrey Marie – We may as well begin with Audrey since she’s actually in this week’s episode. There are some people who might (and do) think Marie was released because she didn’t fit into the typical Diva mold as far as appearances go, but with Paige, Sasha Banks and Bailey still on NXT I don’t think the WWE has quite as narrow a view on that subject right now. I believe Audrey Marie’s biggest problem was simply standing out. Yeah she was featured from time to time but never all that consistently and even when she was on the show it was mainly to highlight another diva. She offered in-ring dependability and, as we’ve seen countless times in both the male and female divisions, that only gets you so far.
Anya – This release surprised me more than Audrey Marie’s did, if only because I hadn’t actually seen Anya on NXT at all. You’d think a six foot tall, 23 year old Russian woman with a legitimate kickboxing background would be worth keeping around for longer than ten months, but I guess not. I mean, she’s practically a James Bond villain, could she really have been worse than Aksana?
Sakamoto – He was a small Japanese wrestler with the gimmick of being a small Japanese wrestler. Without the adaptability or goofiness of Tajiri and with the Funaki position already occupied by Yoshi Tatsu, Sakamoto was pretty much doomed once the Lord Tensai character ended. I really hope the WWE can one day get behind a Japanese wrestler for an extended period of time but Sakamoto wasn’t gonna be that guy.
Briley Pierce – I have heard that Briley Pierce can be an entertaining and hilarious person but I didn’t seen any of that from this season of NXT. Then again, I think he was only around for two episodes as a wrestler anyway. Was he secretly quite talented? You’d have to ask someone who watched FCW TV regularly.
Brandon Traven – Used once on NXT as a jobber. Nothing to say here.
Percy Watson – I was actually talking to my girlfriend a couple weeks ago about how Percy and several of the other long-time NXT talents had gotten completely and utterly overtaken by the new crop of NXT wrestlers that arrived with the overhaul of show. Watson was fine. He had some hops, some athleticism, but he wasn’t improving at a fast enough rate to deserve the spotlight over any of the dozen young, hungry, talented, more complete characters running around developmental. The people in the back realized that and started featuring him less and less, to the point where he was basically a jobber. He wasn’t the only wrestler to find himself in this position and he wasn’t the only one cut, which brings us to…..
Derrick Bateman – I have to admit, Bateman getting released stings a bit. His personality was great and made him one of the highlights of both seasons 4 and 5 of NXT. Then the new season came about and it looked like Bateman was going to get along just fine and maybe even feud with Bo Dallas early on. And then…..well, I’m not entirely sure what happened. I think maybe Bateman got injured again and by the time he came back he was barely used in anything other than a jobber’s capacity. So I don’t think he was really allowed to contribute much to the show after a certain point. On the other hand, at a certain point his matches also stopped improving, even before this season of NXT started. Still, Bateman had talent and created quite a few entertaining moments and it sucks to see him go. Hopefully the next step of journey brings him happiness and success.
And with all that out of the way, here’s the actual review!
NXT began with Sami Zane’s debut match against new haircut Curt Hawkins. Zane won obviously, with a tornado DDT. Antonio Cesaro then beat Yoshi Tatsu with little trouble and cut a promo about not having any competition. It was almost the exact same promo from Raw a few weeks ago except this time Sami Zane returned and challenged Cesaro and won with a rollup! Cesaro wasn’t happy about losing and beat up Sami after the bell, pretty much instantly making this a feud.
Mason Ryan defeated Enzo Amore and Audrey Marie had an awkward interview with Emma, which might have mattered if Audrey wasn’t released. In the main event Bray Wyatt defeated Corey Graves with help from The Family and beat down Kassius Ohno when he tried to stop the Family’s continued assault of Graves after the match.
Got all that? Let’s discuss.
The Sami Zane Show:
I was pleasantly surprised that Sami got such a huge spotlight tonight. He looked good in his first match against Curt Hawkins and even got to include some fun Generico spots. I didn’t really expect a second match against Cesaro in the same episode (I figured they’d wait until next week), but it was a smart way to build up Sami and then immediately put him into a feud with Cesaro. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of like what happened with Bo Dallas and Wade Barrett, minus all the suck.
Really Curt? Prince of Queens?:
Is it because you’re not nearly fat enough to be the “King of Queens?”
If you’re a long-time reader of these NXT reviews, you know I have little patience for Curt Hawkins or his antics. If you’re not a long-time reader….well I just told you. I think my disdain for Curt stems from a combination of expecting way more out of his in-ring work than what he puts forth and sensing that he thinks he deserves way better than what he gets. In my opinion he’s lucky to still have a job.
This was Curt’s first match I’ve caught on NXT in quite a while (he was injured) and he’s changed his look up a bit in the time off. He’s got the stupid nickname now (which he seems to have been using on twitter), his long hair has been cut and he’s added a turn around enzu-giri out of the corner to his offensive set. It didn’t suck. Other than that he was still his lame old self, just with less hair and different tights.
First Impressions: Enzo Amore:
You know how sometimes we see a new wrestler in his “NXT debut” and it just means he’s going to get no offense in, show no personality and lose badly? Well, Enzo Amore read that memo and totally ignored the second part, cutting a promo before his squash match against Mason Ryan and firmly establishing his character as a loud, brash, cocky, self-centered, aggressive, antagonistic Italian dude from New Jersey. This promo work before the match made the crowd excited to see Mason Ryan kick his ass, which is not the easiest thing in the world to do. So Bravo Enzo Amore, you’ve officially grabbed my attention in a positive way.
Awkward Main Event Theatre:
Bray Wyatt vs Corey Graves ended up being a bit of posing, some brawling and some leg work and never really kicked into high gear. It didn't really feel like a main event to me, probably because the two men's styles didn't mesh all that well together. Corey Graves, at this point in time, doesn't really do a big face flurry and instead prefers to wear down an opponent for an eventual leg submission. Put simply, he still sort of wrestles like a bad guy. The crowd might be cheering for him now, but he hasn't really changed up his offense all that much. Wyatt obviously is the bigger heel, with sheer crazyness and two giant dudes at ringside working in his favor, but there's nobody in this match to bring the babyface fire, cool moves, or speedy anything.
The ending with Kassius Ohno coming in and helping Corey Graves to spite the Wyatt Family and getting beaten down for it just furthers the direction this feud is going and as such is an important step, but I'd be lying if I said the journey is currently as engaging as the destination will probably be.
So I guess you could call this episode a set-up show, one that progresses feuds for an eventual payoff further down the line. What did you think of the show? Do you like Sami Zane? Do you hate him already because he’s from the independent scene and I said that I like him? Do you prefer frosted donuts or plain donuts? Jimmies or sprinkles? Leave a comment and let me know you’re alive out there.
P.S. Here's Bonestar's gift to you for being late with the review this week: