WWE Network
April 15, 2015
Full Sail University

NXT this week wasn’t outwardly a big or important show, but for those who follow NXT closely, it was somewhat monumental. Not only was Sami Zayn making his first in ring appearance in over two months (although the match was taped only 7 days after NXT Takeover: Rival), but ‘The Total Diva’ Dana Brooke was also set to debut. CJ Parker, recently departed from WWE, wrestled in the opener in what could be his final appearance (A match with Hideo Itami has yet to air, however). Plus, Rhyno main eventing a WWE TV show. I mean, this show had everything.

Solomon Crowe vs CJ Parker: Solomon Crowe defeated CJ Parker, in one of Parker’s final NXT appearances, via the Stretch Muffler. The Stretch Muffler is a leg submission, set up by Crowe delivering a splash from the top rope onto his opponent’s leg, that used to be a staple of Brock Lesnar’s repertoire in his original run with WWE. Parker had offense for most of the match, but Crowe’s comeback and finishing sequence was hot and enjoyable. The “I now return you to your original scheduled programming” line post-match makes it seem as if that will be his catchphrase, although he’ll need to tighten that up. **

Corey Graves, with a graphic on screen, put over the debut of Dana Brooke tonight.

Baron Corbin squashed Steve Cutler: Hilariously, the entire 17 second match was spent with Graves and Brennan focusing on the military background of Cutler. The match ended before they could even stop talking Cutler up, almost. It was the usual first-few-weeks-on-TV squash from Baron, with victory coming via the End of Days. NR

Sami Zayn told Not Jeremy Borash that he’ll be damned if he let’s Rhyno beat him tonight.

Enzo & Big Cass vs Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton: Again, the announcers really spoke highly about the jobber opponents, which you just don’t get with the WWE A & B-Team announcers. Sure, they’re job guys now, but they won’t always be, so speak highly of them. Plus, when your top tag team beats them, it isn’t considered a joke. Fulton is a huge guy, who ten years ago may have just gotten the Brock Lesnar treatment in developmental and been given big plans. No mention of the ‘Shoot Nation’ name, yet, so that name is still in development, much like the future of the tag team. This was no ordinary squash match, with Fulton & Dawkins getting offense early and often. Blake & Murphy made their way to the ring during the bout, offering Carmella some flowers. She seems to enjoy the gesture, even going so far as to thank the tag champs on Twitter for the flowers. Enzo got the pin over Angelo after the long-dart splash. This segment wasn’t about the match in the ring, but the furthering of the B&M vs E&C story. *1/2

“The Total Diva” Dana Brooke vs Blue Pants: Blue Pants is running her course. However, the story here is not her, but rather: DANA BROOKE! So, I present to you, the BEST & WORST of DANA BROOKE’s NXT TV DEBUT!

Best: Dana Brooke Is Here

Not every woman in WWE, nor NXT, is going to be the best wrestler in the division. Not every woman in NXT is going to be an anti-Diva in reference to what we see on Monday nights. That’s okay. It’s more than okay. WWE, and even NXT, needs characters for us to either care about, or root against. Dana Brooke is an absolutely amazing character to root against. She’s the strong woman who will use power to defeat the women we love, who won’t need to know how to counter every submission move because she’s too powerful to be put in one in the first place, and who will laugh at the Bayley’s and Alexa’s of the world just because she wants to. She’s here to pose, show off, and claim she’s the best. In the end, we’ll root for our NXT Women Heroes to defeat her, which means she’s doing exactly her job.

Best: Dana Brooke’s Entrance Music

Continuing a trend of NXT entrance music being main event caliber out of the gate, Dana’s music not only fits her, but can easily fit Raw and Smackdown. The song is catchy, she has an entrance that fits the character, and it adds to the overall presentation. I’ve seen some who have been negative on her overly choreographed entrance poses, movements, etc. Yeah, Finn Bálor says shut up.

Best: Dana beats Blue Pants

I keep seeing online that the Dana Brooke debut was a “horrible match”, and it’s obvious that Dana has “a long way to go,” and other various negativity. Yes, she has work to do. THEY ALL DO. Everyone, from Alexa to Charlotte, has a ways to go before being superstars on WWE TV. Is that a negative in itself? Of course not. You think Dana thinks she is ready for a WrestleMania moment? Of course, not. She’s new. This is how it goes for those who are new in WWE these days. Sami Zayn has been in NXT for two years, so quit acting like Dana not being ready on Day 1 is a big deal. Plus, the match wasn’t as bad as some people are saying. It won’t end up being in the top 5 of worst women’s matches this year, and I feel very confident in saying that. Oh, and Blue Pants lost, so let’s all celebrate that, please!

Worst: She had to leave

Dana Brooke left my TV screen, after taking over as an awesome force that the NXT Women’s Champion will eventually have to deal with. I greatly look forward to seeing her rise in NXT.

In sincerity, her first match on WWE TV went pretty well. The segment wasn’t about the match, but rather Dana’s arrival onto the scene, anyway. I don’t know whether it’s just that she beat Blue Pants, who somehow is a fan favorite, or that some men just have overwhelming gender issues when watching wrestling, but this Dana Brooke debut segment was not a negative. Even if it were, it was one small segment, hardly enough to be considered a real sample. She’s got a character, she’s a true heel, and she held her own. She looked relaxed, she was trash talking, and she didn’t seem overwhelmed with her first TV match. She’ll have time to develop, and I look forward to seeing that progress very much. *1/2 for the match, ***** for the future.

Alex Riley spoke about his rage not ending, challenging Kevin Owens to a match next week. We never got Owens’ response, but we assume it was a yes since they advertised the match in earnest for next week’s NXT show!

Sami Zayn vs Rhyno: Oh yeah, Sami Zayn is back. I love watching these Sami Zayn matches versus guys who aren’t the indie/international workhorses, because they give us a better view of what Sami can and will do on WWE main roster television. I enjoyed his series with Titus O’Neil last year for that fact, and was interested in seeing this match for the same reason. Rhyno brought his power into the match, as anyone figured it would. The story of the match was Rhyno thinking his power would be enough to win, especially after the quick work he has made of every opponent on TV up to this point. He couldn’t get the quick win, though, so he tried things out of his normal repertoire to get a win, and they would backfire. Rhyno went up to the middle rope at one point, but Sami knocked him outside before following up with a topé. Rhyno, looking for a finish, went for a GORE late. Sami, however, ducked, and quickly followed up with his Helluva Kick for the pinfall victory. A big win, in his return, over a man who had been shined up for several weeks on NXT TV. Sami is back, and we know what next for him. Rhyno, however, is now a question mark. ***

Sami’s win puts him on the road to an NXT Title rematch with Kevin Owens, presumably at the yet-to-be announced NXT Takeover on May 20. Next week on NXT: Riley vs Owens, Charlotte vs Becky vs Bayley for #1 contendership, and the final match in NXT of CJ Parker (likely).