Well friends, this is it, the end of the line. If you didn’t join us all for last week’s column on NXT Takeover, SPOILER-ALERT, I stop writing for TJR at the end of this week’s column. It’s like that one book where that one guy dies, except way more mundane. Before I get all introspective and slightly nauseating, let’s discuss this week’s NXT, shall we?
Pretty good show, right? Let’s start with the…
Okay, I lied. Here’s me looking inward, right off the bat.
I, like many of you, have been watching NXT since it started back in 2010. Logistically that was only four years ago. But if you use WWE wrestling as your frame of reference, that means NXT premiered at about the same time as that year’s Elimination Chamber, which featured Legacy, Gail Kim, a US championship match between the Miz and MVP, and Drew freakin’ Mcintrye beating Kane. Does that sound like a PPV from a long lost time or what? Since that very first episode a lot has happened. Daniel Bryan has gone from being s**t on for no particularly good reason to becoming the Unified WWE Champion and anchor of one of the coolest moments in WWE history. At the same time the diva’s division has pretty much built itself back up from nothing. If you were here experiencing NXT’s third season with me, you know that it was abysmal. But from that terrible, terrible series of episodes came eventual Diva’s champion Kaitlyn, solid lady wrestler Naomi, way underutilized Maxine and, most importantly, AJ Lee. AJ, of course, went on to become the most important women’s wrestler since at least Mickie James (I will fight about this), not only for her numerous entertaining moments as wrestler and valet, but for breaking the mold on what a WWE diva could do or be.
Seriously, I don’t think it’s a giant stretch to say that AJ’s success has opened the door for other types of women to become successful WWE wrestlers, in the same way that C M Punk’s success has opened the door for other types of men to become successful WWE wrestlers. Those previously mentioned woman are on NXT every week, tearing it up and laying the foundation for a renewed and revitalized main roster women’s division. It’s gonna happen, people. One day Triple H or whoever is going to spot two NXT divas backstage at Raw and decide to let them cut loose, and you can kiss the old bathroom break division goodbye.
…so all that was a pretty rambling way to say that I thought a lot about where NXT started and where it is now after seeing Justin Gabriel in the main event and the top six Divas on NXT all in the same segment. Paige, Emma, Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Summer Rae. God, that’s a strong, multi-talented group. Add a hella motivated Natalya, godmother AJ Lee and whoever else wants to party and there’s no way the women’s division doesn’t kick ass in a year. A huge part of that is because of the new attitude towards talent development and it’s been awesome to watch that idea evolve with time.
Coming down from Takeover
Apart from over-thinking NXT from a historical prospective, the major theme I got from this week’s show was, “Man, it’s hard to go from Takeover to this.” Not that there was anything necessarily wrong with tonight’s show, it’s just that it involved an obvious step down when it came to the in-ring product. We went from payoff back to build-up, from Natalya vs Charlotte to setting up the next storylines for the women’s division. Again, it’s just a natural part of the wrestling cycle, but I did notice it.
A New Challenger approaches!
I am definitely a fan of the tag team pairing of Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger, though it’s mostly based on potential at this point. Jordan seems like an athletic freak capable of translating that ability into the art of professional wrestling. Tye Dillinger seems like a smart and technically skilled wrestler with a sense of humor. I have seen flashes of greatness from them, but it didn’t really come together tonight against their random jobber opponents. Maybe they just need more time to establish themselves, maybe they should have had less difficulty with their opponents, but the match didn’t click. The WWE should totally keep letting them try, however, because I can see them going places.
Tyler Breeze steps up, part 2
If you haven’t seen Takeover yet, watch it and understand that Tyler Breeze had a great match against Sami Zayn, proving that the guy playing the silly character does know what he’s doing. This week’s show featured Breeze pulling off his most challenging promo yet and showcasing his character’s range with a ridiculous music video. So, if you’re checking things off a list, that’d be Tyler Breeze turning in an excellent match, an excellent promo and an excellent vignette. I’ve always been annoyed by the “entrance-character” tendencies of Breeze but over the last few episodes he’s been outed as a useful, long-term character. I am definitely excited to see what he and Adrian Neville do with their next match.
…but you guys won’t know my opinion of it. This is where we part. I could say that’s it been a pleasure writing for you on this website, and it has. But what I want to leave you with is encouragement. I encourage you to be a better wrestling fan. Like what you like, enjoy what you enjoy and try to leave all the negativity behind. Don’t harass the wrestlers on twitter. Don’t fixate too much on scandals or ratings or business figures. Focus on what makes wrestling fun and exciting and awesome. Be a fan and just watch wrestling.