Dusty Rhodes Gives NXT New Meaning. God Bless America:

That damn Dusty Rhodes. He doesn’t even have to speak loudly and he can still make something seem super exciting. Forget this “Interim General Manager” crap, Dusty should make every important announcement ever. Cutting to the chase, Dusty announced that NXT would indeed be crowning a champion through the Gold Rush, an eight man single elimination tournament, beginning tonight! The participants are as follows…….

            -Richie Steamboat

            -Bo Dallas

            -Leo Kruger

            -Seth Rollins

            -Michael McGillicutty

            -Drew McIntrye

            -Jinder Mahal

            -Justin Gabriel

How’s that lineup sound? Yeah, it’s not the eight wrestlers I would have chosen either but hey, until they come up with the technology to digitally cater television shows to our own individual tastes, this is it.

Richie Steamboat vs Leo Kruger:

So here I was, all ready to bash Leo Kruger and explain how his sash was also his entire character and then he and Richie went ahead and had a decent match. Kruger even used an offensive move that wasn’t a part of the “trifecta of vanilla”. What a jerk.

Kruger cheats, of course, using multiple tactics to catch Steamboat off guard and otherwise turn him into a dumb good guy. He even fakes a knee injury so he can sucker punch Richie in his sucker face and take control. After avoiding the sleeper hold throughout the match, Steamboat falls victim to its….sleepy powers and struggles for the ropes. For some reason the ref doesn’t break the hold when Richie touches them (do I not understand rope breaks?) but he later grabs them again to end the submission. Steamboat runs the ropes, hits the slingblade and picks up the victory. Richie Steamboat wins and I can now sleep comfortable in my knowledge that Kruger will not become the first NXT champion. Thanks Richie!

Big E Langston vs Alan Mercer:

The Big E is billed at 289 pounds, looks to stand about 6 feet tall and seems pretty intense. Adam Mercer doesn’t really stand a chance. Langston treats him like a piece of meat, hitting animated knee strikes, a repeated backbreaker and violent shoulder strikes in the corner. Mercer tries a couple of jawbreakers to little effect and gets hit with Big E’s finish, a move that starts off like an inverted Argentine Backbreaker and turns into…something. Langton basically drops down and forces Mercer down to the canvas. The Big E wins.

Raquel Diaz vs Audrey Marie:

Just like last week Raquel Diaz delivers a promo on the way to the ring, solidifying the fact that she annoys the crap out of me. I suppose that’s the point. Her outfit has the words “Latinas are hotter.” So there’s that.

Audrey Marie, making her NXT debut here, doesn’t say anything at all but between her hometown of Houston and the country music that escorts her into the arena, it’s pretty clear she’s a country girl. Too bad it doesn’t seem like she’s knows what’s doing.

I can’t say this match was terrible because I reviewed NXT season 3 and have therefore seen some turrrrrrible women’s matches but it certainly wasn’t good. Both Audrey and Raquel seemed a little lost, causing some awkward looking moves and a lot of loud flailing, earning a loud “You Can’t Wrestle!” chant from the usually timid live crowd. Raquel Diaz hit her Gory Bomb for the three-count. Raquel Diaz wins. After the match Diaz paints an “L” on Audrey’s forehead with lipstick.

Briley Pierce Interviews Paige:

Backstage Paige is watching what Raquel Diaz did on the monitor. Pierce asks her what she thinks about it and Paige responds with the following: “Raquel Diaz….Ugliness tour…….we’ll see.” She then walks away.

Hunico and Camacho vs Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton:

Jordan and Dalton don’t even get entrance music, that’s how jobber they are. Jordan was only in the ring for a minute, physically dominating Hunico before tagging in Mike Dalton. Dalton got his ass kicked like a champ, taking a nice double underhook suplex and a double-team hiptoss into a nasty slam! Hunico tossed Dalton up and over to Camacho for an assisted powerbomb but got distracted by Jordan as Dalton countered the powerbomb into a hurricanrana pin. The referee ran over, counted the three and bam! Dalton and Jordan win!

Drew McIntrye vs Seth Rollins:

This match put a smile on my face! I have no idea why but Rollins and McIntrye work incredibly well together; this match was easily better than last week’s already good match and a definite Match of the Night. Watch it!

Where do I begin? Speed and pluckiness vs strength and craftiness is a classic wrestling story and Rollins and McIntrye tell it well. There are so many good things to say about this match. Rollins’s offense is fast and furious. McIntrye’s brawling keeps one’s attention, which is never a given. Both men’s selling is excellent, putting over the skill of their opponent and covering their transitions well. Then they are the raw moves: hammerlock back suplexes, swinging DDTs, tilt a whirl backbreaker counters. It’s all pretty sweet. The finish of the match actually played off the ending of their encounter last week. McIntrye dodged the Phoenix Splash but this time Rollins was looking for the big boot and dodges that as well, allowing him to hit the curb stomp for the win. Seth Rollins wins.

Wrap-up:

Glory Hallelujah, forward momentum. Even though the women’s match was bad and there were a couple of other low spots on the show, tonight’s episode was one that established storylines for the future and not only in the Gold Rush Tournament. Paige’s little bit with Briley Pierce means that we’re definitely going to get a feud between her and Diaz and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dalton’s  upset win over Hunico and Camacho turns into a feud as well. Those little storylines are what separates a crappy 1 hour wrestling show from NXT and I’m thankful we’re getting them back again.

Wrestling wise Rollins and McIntrye pulled off a great match but I also enjoyed the tag team match as well. It was quick but fun and actually did a pretty good job of showing us what Mike Dalton can do. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to see more and more from him as the weeks go by. Thanks to Dalton, Rollins, McIntrye and the rest, this week’s episode of NXT gets a 6/10. Next week’s show will feature more Gold Rush matches.

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