NXT Review and Analysis – 25/05

With just two weeks until the next NXT Takeover, now revealed to be called, rather cryptically, NXT Takeover: The End, the latest episode of NXT aired on the WWE Network. It featured a couple of announcements and matches with major implications for Takeover, as well as a debuting tag team. So let’s see what went down…

First up was William Regal announcing that Bayley has suffered an injury and will not be able to compete at Takeover. To determine who would get a shot at Asuka’s NXT Women’s Title at Takeover there would be a triple threat between Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and Carmella to headline that night’s card.

Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa defeat TM61 by pinfall

One of the fastest rising pairings in the tag team division took on the debuting Australian team of TM-61 (known on the indies as TMDK) to open the show. Whilst not getting the pomp and circumstance of some of the recent debuts from indie stars on the NXT roster, TM-61 did at least get to cut a pre-recorded promo and make a proper entrance to differentiate them from jobbers. This was a very good start to the show, with both teams looking fairly equal throughout the match, before TM61 were defeated as Shane Thorne ate a superkick/running knee combo.

Thoughts:

  • I was impressed with TM61, having never seen them before. They have some great moves, they’re good talkers based on the little speaking they did and Shane Thorne in particular has a real swagger to him. Almost like a toned down Nakamura at times.
  • Is the name Shane Thorne supposed to sound so much like Shane Warne? Because they’re both sportsmen from Australia you see.
  • Poor Bayley, it sucks she’s injured. Just makes me want to hug her even more.

We then see a video hyping Samoa Joe for his cage match with Finn Balor at Takeover. It’s a good little package, making Joe look like a beast and genuinely making you fear for Finn’s safety a bit in that cage.

Next up is Bayley being interviewed backstage, where she talks about how being injured sucks but that Regal probably made the right decision. Nia Jax then turns up and claims responsibility for Bayley’s injuries, telling the former champ that she’ll never be the same again. Carmella shows up to back up Bayley but Jax is unimpressed and finally Alexa Bliss arrives. The Samoan is about to say something but decides Bliss isn’t worth it and walks off, leaving Alexa and Carmella to have words briefly, before Alexa walks off.

Then there is a vignette advertising the impending debut of Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, showing a luchadore taking off his mask from behind.

That’s followed by still more non-wrestling action as Austin Aries takes to the ring to talk about being the best, greatness and how other guys have grabbed the spotlight. He then claims that it doesn’t matter who wins between Balor and Samoa Joe as before long Aries will have the belt anyway. Shinsuke Nakamura, Aries’ tag partner from last week, then appears and promises that he will be the one to defeat the winner of the cage match and claim the championship. This brings out William Regal, who makes Aries v Nakamura for Takeover, causing the two competitors to shake hands in the ring.

Thoughts:

  • I’m surprised the route to Nakamura v Aries has not yet involved an Aries heel turn, they were definitely teasing him using heel methods to rise to the top.
  • That was a really quite powerful vignette for Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (previously known outside the WWE as La Sombra), with the luchadore removing his mask, which obviously has massive resonance in the world of lucha libre.
  • The size difference between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax is ridiculous. It’s great that Nia underestimates Bliss and that Alexa doesn’t back down because it sows the possibility of Bliss overcoming the odds. But seriously, Nia makes Alexa look like a child.
  • Good video for Samoa Joe, dude looks beastly.

Next up Amerian Alpha hype up their contest with The Revival, promising to out-wrestle them and defeat the former champs at Takeover.

No Way Jose defeats Jonathan Ortagun by pinfall.

This was a total squash, with No Way Jose doing his usual ‘I love to dance and play baseball’ schtick and winning with a new cobra clutch slam finisher. At least the baseball swing thing isn’t his finisher any more, even if he still uses it.

We then see Balor’s equivalent of the Samoa Joe video we saw earlier, with Finn talking about his obsession and saying how Joe doesn’t know what Balor is capable of inside a cage.

The last promo of a very talky NXT was from Asuka who promised that whoever won the Number One Contender’s match that night she would retain her title at Takeover.

Nia Jax defeats Carmella and Alexa Bliss by pinning Carmella

A really enjoyable match saw the three women play to their strengths – Bliss was the manipulative and cowardly heel, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, Carmella was the fearless firebrand and Nia Jax was a force of nature. They all delivered some great moves, with Jax hitting some strong power offense, Carmella taking some high flying risks and Bliss reacting brilliantly when caught trying to sneak attack Jax from the top rope. In the end Nia’s power won out as she pinned Carmella with Alexa Bliss laid out at ringside.

After the match Asuka came out and held the title aloft on the entrance ramp before making her way down to the ring to face off with Jax. The new number one contender threatened Asuka while the champion just smiled as NXT went off air.

Thoughts:

  • Nia Jax was definitely the best choice to win here. She is a strong, powerful competitor and offers a significant kayfabe challenge to Asuka, especially since the Samoan is ironing out the mistakes she used to make due to inexperience.
  • The other two women deserve a lot of praise too – Carmella was a bundle of energy who was very over, while Bliss being caught by Jax and climbing down the turnbuckle apologetically was hilarious.
  • The commentators had a bit more to say about No Way Jose this week as they fleshed out his character but I still can’t say I’m particularly interested in him. Gets a good crowd reaction though.
  • Oh American Alpha just make me happy, whatever they’re doing. I wonder if the WWE brand split will see them moving up to the main roster sooner than expected.

So there we go, another episode of NXT in the books and we got a decent build toward Takeover but very few matches. What did you make of it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @CellarDoorChris.

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