NXT: 10-28-15 — Recap & Analysis

NXTI watched RAW but wasn’t inspired to write about it this week. I watched NXT, though, and was immediately inspired. Why? Well…

Emma vs Shazza

Emma & DanaEmma’s new heel persona still isn’t “clicking” yet. She’s got a lot of the elements that it takes to be a heel, but she still seems awkward at times…as if she’s playing a role instead of just BEING the role. The announcers tried to put over her “anger” and being “fired up”, but I didn’t believe…and judging by the lack of reaction by the Full Sail University crowd, neither did they.

ShazzaShazza is from Australia. While serving as enhancement talent for the more established stars, she didn’t appear to bring anything to the ring in terms of personality, gimmick, OR ability. At least she was able to sell better than Eva Marie.

Are they trying to set up a match between Emma and Asuka? On one hand, I hope so because that could be an incredible match. On the other hand, do we really need to see Emma lose another big match? Emma and Dana Brooke are in a good position in NXT, though…Brooke is learning how to wrestle thanks to partnering with Emma, and Emma is probably learning how to improve her heel persona by sticking with Brooke, who is a natural.

James Storm recap

James Storm interviewYes, James Storm’s appearance in NXT took everybody by surprise. Here’s the thing, though…Storm looked like a “normal” wrestling guy inside of the ring. He is a guy that you need to build through personality first, and then let the wrestling shine through. He doesn’t have a great physique, he isn’t big in size, and his wrestling style isn’t one that “wows”.

Thankfully, they showed a quick recap of his debut the previous week and then showed a backstage interview that he gave WWE.com. Interviews are his strength, so he really came across as a character…which is what he debut lacked a bit of. And yes, he used his catchphrase at the end of the segment (“Sorry ‘bout your damn luck!”) so all of the pieces quickly came together in just one segment.

There are a lot of questions about Storm’s future at the moment. He has been given another offer by TNA, but he has done everything there is to do there. I don’t see him coming up to the main WWE roster unless it was in a managerial capacity (or maybe something similar to Xavier Woods’ role with New Day), but from what I’ve read he simply wants to wind down his career (he’s 38) by being a trainer/wrestler with NXT. If that is the case, then he would be a MAJOR score for NXT. He always had the talent to come to WWE, but remained loyal to Dixie & Co. This is the time for him to spread his wings and take a risk.

Here’s the thing…even if he stayed in NXT for a year and the entire experiment failed, Storm could still go back to TNA and be successful. This really is a win-win situation for him and I’m hoping he decides to remain with NXT.

Jordan & Gable vs Gargano & CiampaJason Jordan & Chad Gable vs Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa

I’m becoming big-time fans of Jordan & Gable in terms of their in-ring work. I’m still not yet sold on the personality of Jason Jordan, but he’s got some incredible in-ring skills to go along with his size. If he can get the personality to go with everything else then he’s got the chance to be a big splash in both NXT and the WWE main roster.

Jordan & GableWith Chad Gable, you just might have the second coming of Kurt Angle. He’s an amateur standout who has huge personality, charisma, and in-ring talent. I don’t know if I’ve seen a non-wrestler pick up skills as fast since Angle in the mid-90’s. I’m definitely NOT a fan of the whole “Ready, Willing, & Gable” gimmick, but that can easily be changed or updated. The only downside with Gable is his lack of size. Having said that, he’s got so much of the “total package” in all other areas that he can thrive in a tag team or as a fan favourite along the lines of Neville or Evan Bourne.

Gargano & CiampaIn terms of Gargano and Ciampa, I’m a little confused as to their future. I don’t think they’re being brought into NXT as “future superstars” because they are being allowed to wrestle as “themselves”, which will help them tremendously on the independent circuit but isn’t normally allowed if NXT is about to pick you up.

Johnny Gargano is extremely talented inside of the ring. His ability to sell and create believable offense against larger opponents is important to being a complete performer. People gravitate to him because he’s relatable and he can get people to care about him. THAT’S important, too. So while I can see him being a focal point of EVOLVE, I don’t see him reaching NXT full time as anything but enhancement talent (which is NOT a bad thing, by the way).

Tommaso Ciampa is a little bit bigger in terms of his physical size and, having seen him wrestle a number of times in ROH and PWG, knowing how talented of an in-ring performer he is, I’m surprised that NXT hasn’t already picked him up. Again, being able to use his “wrestling name” in NXT is only going to help his bookings and money making ability on the independent scene…so it’s really a win-win for him, especially if he continues to impress WWE brass.

The match itself between all four competitors was better than anything provided on Monday Night RAW this week. All four men were able to wrestle, tell a story, and hit their big moves for pops. The pacing was fantastic and the match ended with a big-time pop from the crowd, who were really into the match at that point. I don’t know who the agent was for the match, but kudos for a job well done.

Bayley Interview

Bayley interviewI feel bad seeing Devin Taylor interviewing Bayley in one of her last appearances before being let go. Having said that, however, I never really enjoyed her interviews. When you look at someone like Renee Young, I guess there really is no comparison. Renee’s interviews seem genuine and real. Her reactions are fantastic because she LOVES the business and knows how she should be acting and reacting. Devin just doesn’t have “it”. She always looked like a robot going through the motions.

And as super talented as Bayley is inside of the ring, I can’t be the first one to mention that her interview and promo skills are less than stellar. There’s a reason that she hasn’t been brought up to the main roster yet. I’m with Triple H in the sense that I don’t get what the fans see in her as a character, but I’m on the bandwagon and along for the ride because she simply resonates with fans who absolutely adore her.

Bayley discussed her feud with Alexa Bliss and tried setting up heat between the two of them. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get the sense that Bayley even cared that much. She really needs to up her game when it comes to promos. She won’t be able to rely on her in-ring skill alone when she hits the main roster.

Eva Marie “Message To Fans”

Eva MarieI’ve got two thoughts on these messages from Eva Marie…

  1. It’s super smart of NXT to jump on the fact that fans absolutely HATE her. These messages are almost like a new version of the Honky Tonk Man’s promos from his heel turn shortly after his debut. She talks about missing the fans and how they must miss her and blah blah blah. It’s brilliant because it helps put her over even more as a hated heel.
  2. It’s ridiculous that she is STILL being pushed because the heel heat is due to her inability to wrestle a damn match. Is she better than a couple of years ago? Of course, she is. Is she still miles away from 90% of the women in the NXT locker room? Your damn straight, she is. I realize that Vince loves her because of her looks, but her lack of personality or promo skill or selling ability or wrestling knowledge is just helping her get eaten up alive by the fans…and NOT in a good way.

This is the age of women who are attractive and can kick-ass. Fans are digging the entire “Diva Revolution” in spite of how they’re being booked on the main roster because the matches have been really, really good. You can’t push the revolution and sign people like Asuka to the roster and expect the momentum to continue with someone like Eva Marie holding everybody back, yet getting a ton of air time.

Make the decision, Hunter…put her with a wrestler on the main roster. She’s eye candy…nothing more.

Kay Lee Ray vs Nia Jax

Kay Lee RayIt’s nice to see all of these new women debut in NXT. It was my first time seeing Kay Lee Ray and I liked that she didn’t just walk down to the ring like most of the other “generic girls” that they throw out there from time to time. I liked her in-ring personality and you could tell that she had some skills, too. To me, Kay Lee Ray has impressed me more than any other “new” NXT woman performer over the past month.

Nia JaxNia Jax, to me, is similar to Dana Brooke in the sense that she’s being pushed way too soon due to her uniqueness and size. Yes, she’s the Rock’s cousin, but she should have to earn her way to the NXT roster. Juding by the two matches I’ve seen thus far, she’s a one-trick pony who is a cheap version of somebody like Awesome Kong or Jessicka Havok. Could she get over as a monster on the main roster? Yeah…it’s possible. But the key to being a monster is developing the ability to sell to the smaller opponents to put them over. She needs a lot of work.

Enzo & Cass vs Dash & DawsonEnzo Amore & “Big Cass” vs Dash & Dawson

EnzoYou can’t get more “over” than Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and Carmella. As a team, they are beloved by the NXT Universe. Having said that, you can’t argue against the fact that it’s all Enzo. I mean, if Cassady or Carmella were out there by himself trying to get over with just his personality, he’d die a painful death. Enzo Amore is READY for the main roster. He’s a bit small, yeah…but his speaking ability should be able to carry him a VERY long way. People will end up LOVING this guy, but he just needs to be given that opportunity to succeed on his own.

Colin Cassady is a talented big man. Unfortunately, he’s a bit boring at the moment. He needs a gimmick or character at some point to go along with his size and ability. Without Enzo, I think Big Cass would already have been “future endeavored” at this point.

Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson 3I’d dare say that you should expect to see Dash & Dawson on the main roster some time in 2016. These two are legitimate throwbacks and remind me of the insanely awesome combination of Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard. They are being given the opportunity to run with the ball right now and have done a great job so far of being two legitimate bad-asses who don’t need to be massive muscle-heads (i.e. the Ascension) in order to get over and kick ass. I love these two and can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next.

The match never took place, as they “took out” Enzo during his introductions and “injured” Cassady. It was a great angle that really put over the team of Dash & Dawson. The whole thing was very “old school”. I loved it.

Alexa Bliss interview

Alexa Bliss interviewI absolutely love the new Alexa Bliss. The fact that she has the whole package is extremely intriguing to me. She’s got a legitimate gimmick with her character and she lives it (rather than play-acting it like Emma does). Her in-ring skills are on point and in addition to everything else, she’s extremely beautiful. While I don’t think it’s the right time to take the title off of Bayley just yet, I can see two or three fantastic matches between the two of them over the NXT Women’s Championship. If nothing else, this feud with Bayley will “make or break” what happens to Bliss next.

The only thing I don’t like about Bliss is that she looks to the side of the camera when challenging Bayley. I don’t think that’s as much her as it is a WWE-thing because they want to ensure that the scripts are being read properly. I mean, Ryback and Ziggler promo while staring off to the side. I want people to stare at the camera so I can FEEL what they’re trying to say. Maybe it’s old-school in thought, but I think it would deliver a ton of emotion to interviews…especially when there’s a feud.

Finn Bálor and Apollo Crews set-up segments

Balor vs CrewsDuring the show, NXT put together video packages for both Bálor and Crews to set-up their title match next week. This was absolutely fantastic in its simplicity. Not only did they make viewers CARE about the two individuals, but it put over the NXT title as something incredibly important. THIS is what’s lacking on RAW and Smackdown. Matches are thrown together and at the end of the day, even title matches don’t mean that much anymore. These short segments did an incredibly good job of putting over both guys and I can’t wait to see the match next week.

Joe vs BreezeTyler Breeze vs Samoa Joe

Tyler BreezeI was a little surprised to see Tyler Breeze called-up to the main roster as it seemed to come out of nowhere. I’ve been saying for months that he was ready, but I didn’t know for sure if WWE would pull the trigger or not. Then I said that him teaming with Summer Rae would be a perfect fit, and then the next thing you know he’s got the beautiful blonde by his side. Having him feud with Dolph Ziggler is the PERFECT first introduction because if anybody can make Breeze look fantastic, it’s Ziggler.

The storyline with Joe has been ongoing for a couple of weeks and, quite frankly, I was looking forward to seeing Joe kick his ass. This was a really good match (again…better than almost everything else on WWE television this week) and they did the right thing with having Breeze do the job on the way out…or in this case, on the way up.

Samoa JoeSamoa Joe has done a lot of work over the past few months since he initially debuted in NXT. He’s dropped some weight and found a new focus that he didn’t have in TNA. Right now, he looks like he could legitimately be called-up to the main roster, which I didn’t think was possible a few weeks ago. I am definitely looking forward to the eventual Samoa Joe vs Finn Bálor title matches that will take place as I see Joe as a potential NXT champion…legit…even if he isn’t an official, full-time member of the WWE Universe and NXT. I think Joe has done enough to prove that he should be on the roster full-time, and given the same opportunity that Kevin Owens had.

Finn Bálor backstage interview

Finn Balor interviewOne of the biggest drawbacks for Bálor is his promo skills. I think he’s getting better, but he brings so much more to the table that I don’t think he’ll need to promo that much (similarly to Neville). Give him time to grow as a performer and he’ll thrive on the main roster. As it stands now, he’s helping NXT get over as THE promotion to watch.

******

At the end of the day, anybody who hasn’t seen NXT and doesn’t know what the buzz is about (or why it’s considered a superior overall product to RAW and Smackdown), then they should watch this episode. There is SOOOO much to love with NXT. I’m constantly looking forward to seeing what they can do with the brand next.

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