November 21, 2014 by gorillapressonline
Aside from the obvious PPV inclusion, NXT is currently the main draw for fans to take the plunge and purchase the WWE Network, with global superstars and home-grown talent alike taking to Full Sail University on a weekly basis to fight for a spot on the main roster and give fans one hell of a show in the process.
If this is the future of the WWE it certainly could, and indeed should, be bright.
This week’s episode kicks off with a VT from the previous week, with Japanese legend KENTA – now under the ring name Hideo Itami– and, quite arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of our generation, Prince Devitt (AKA Finn Bálor) looking to put an end to the tyrannical reign of The Ascension.
An impressive début to say the least and as this opens the episode, the fans are absolutely raucous, giving Devitt one hell of a reception – this just goes to show which area of wrestling fandom NXT is aimed at, and signing the Irishman was a wise move by Triple H indeed.
Bálor is interrupted by resident Heel Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, who claim to have seen a number of international talents proclaim they are the next big thing only to turn out to be nothing. As things look firmly stacked against Balor, tag partner Itami is out to even the odds.
Tyson Kidd has really come into his own during his NXT tenure, his heel character with his sense of entitlement and family pride offers him an instant, attention-grabbing storyline with any new talent they wish to push – on paper this could become stale very quickly but Kidd, alongside wife and Diva, Natalya, is proving to be a top player in this division.
All of the participants allow this match time to breathe, which epitomises how well they work a ring. Kidd/Gabriel back away and put the faces over rather nicely, which will do wonders for this talent even though they arguably don’t need it.
Bálor has retained much of the ring style the made him famous in Japan and across the world, delivering vicious dropkicks and high flying manoeuvres with reckless abandon.
The way he moves around the ring so methodically, so deliberately paced, proves he’s already turning Bálor into his own character, something which will please those who turned their noses up at the change.
Both teams work fluidly together, delivering a technical and elegant match – even Gabriel seems suited to this aggressor heel role alongside Kidd.
Hideo Itami sadly doesn’t feel like the focus of the match as all the cards are stacked on Bálor, a little unfairly as Itami may not be much on the mic just yet but his in-ring presence is outstanding, with efficient kicks and a wonderful running double dropkick in each ring corner absolutely beautiful – they actually used the same move the previous week on The Ascension.
Bálor ends the match with his traditional, brutal double foot stomp from the top rope – a delight to witness on NXT – and picks up the win for his team.
Hopefully, this is the start of a lengthy feud, as all four wrestlers have a lot to offer judging from this opener, and this definitely won’t be the last we hear from loud-mouth Kidd, in particular.
Divas action follows immediately after, but first there’s a brief interview with NXT #1 contender Sami Zayn, who will face off against Adrian Neville in the Main Event later on. The two have such an excellent ring chemistry and this should be one to watch.
The NXT Divas division is, for the most part, focused on the actual wrestling which is refreshing considering the whole Total Divas angle on the main shows. However, this is not to say it doesn’t ever have some WWE-style madness thrown in because why the hell not? It’s the Divas, after all.
Banks has quite an impressive in-ring presence, utilising submission wrestling against the high flying Alexa Bliss whom herself delivers a fantastically fluid sunset bomb flip. The match, as with all Divas bouts, is short but ends with Banks applying her submission finisher the Bank Statement- a crossface which is a million times better than the STFU (sorry John).
Another quick backstage interview, with the current NXT champion, follows setting up the match nicely. NXT is, thankfully, a more wrestling-orientated television show, which packs a lot of action into its 50-minute run-time – a wise move indeed.
Sin Cara and Kalisto – previously Samurey Del Sol – have been working really well together as of late and NXT is a great way to get the Sin Cara persona honed and into proper shape, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that being in this tag team has helped him move forward in leaps and bounds.
The juxtaposition of the high flying Lucha Dragons with the strong style of Murphy/Blake works really well, Blake delivering a harsh Suplex onto Kalisto and controlling the early stages of the match nicely.
The pacing changes dramatically with Sin Cara, and a head-scissors take-down followed by an innovative over the top rope corkscrew, which has to be seen to be believed.
Sin Cara also displays impressive strength as he picks up Wesley, and hits a slam before wrapping up the match with a diving senton to retain.
The Lucha Dragons are an impressive tag team and both could fill the void left by Rey Mysterio, particularly Kalisto.
Following the match, The Vaudevillains issue a warning to the Lucha Dragons about the NXT tag titles. Simon Gotch and Aiden English are definitely ones to watch, the strongman duo and the black and white footage they utilise make for a really interesting combination.
Two of the finest NXT Superstars, and arguably the ones ready to progress to the main WWE roster sooner rather than later, are predictably in the Main Event for the title.
The crowd are into this from the get go and aside from the Bálor début, this is the loudest they have been by far.
Both men have had must see matches previously and work extremely well together. Sami is controlling and confident from the outset, thereby building a genuine emotion amongst the fans. Sami the underdog has always missed out when the big matches are on the table, and there is almost an air of change around this match, with an excellent ring psychology.
Neville works the crowd well, looking disparaged at the confidence of Zayn as he show-boats with a flip onto the ropes to avoid a mistimed dive only for Zayn to open the ropes for Neville, who in return flips over them – simple yet effective ringmanship, which adds dimensions to this match in mere seconds. It’s little nuances like these that showcase the chemistry and the hold that these two relative newcomers have on the fans.
Neville is the real one to watch here, though. The imposing Geordie has the WWE look while retaining the agility that set him apart on the UK wrestling scene. His top rope finisher, the Red Arrow, is a wonderful corkscrew, which is delivered at a high speed with plenty of aggression and is all the more impressive from a man of his size.
However, the aforementioned Red Arrow is a near miss tonight for Sami Zayn, his downfall is checking that Neville is okay after landing awkwardly, only for Neville to capitalise on it. As Main Events go, this was a captivating match that left fans salivating for more and left Zayn wanting answers.
In the short, 1-hour run-time of the show, fans are given a good solid 40 minutes of wrestling action on NXT. This is essential viewing for people who are both new to the product, to get a first glimpse of the next generation, but is also recommended for fans who may have become jaded with the current WWE roster as this is the direction in which everything is heading, and it’s well worth being in on the ground level.
Next week sees the milestone 250th episode, and after this one there should be one hell of a celebration.
Catch NXT every Thursday on the WWE Network
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