July 1, 2015
Full Sail University
Thinking about NXT’s future is funny, sometimes. The future of NXT is anything but clear, lately, with the upcoming expansion to a more national stage, as well as the focus being put on more established stars than those of the WWE Performance Center. However, because of call ups to the main roster, injuries, and freshness needed in the top storylines, you start to see that the future of NXT is a lot like the past of NXT. Developmental. This show featured a main event featuring four well established, worldwide travelers working the main event in a build up to an NXT Championship match this Saturday morning on WWE Network. However, the rest of the show saw a lot of work being done by those growing in NXT, working from the developmental side. You have to build up new stars, and NXT is trying to do that right now with wrestlers in every division of NXT. From Baron Corbin, to Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, to Dana Brooke and more, NXT is certainly a developmental television show no matter how many top indie talents they throw at us weekly.
Cheery music for the Vaudebabyfaces
In a similar fashion to the rise of Enzo Amoré and Big Cass earlier this year into the tag team title picture, the Vaudevillains got another TV win this week to set them atop the challengers race. With wins over Marcus Louis & Jason Jordan, and this week, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder, the Vaudevillains were granted a #1 Contendership match to the tag titles next week on NXT against Enzo & Cass. It’s familiar, albeit a bit more rushed, to Enzo & Cass’ rise atop the division in that it is a very clear direction, and almost comes out of nowhere. When Ascension and Lucha Dragons left NXT for WWE, NXT needed new tag teams on top. Enter Enzo & Cass,who started getting wins out of nowhere in a clear rise to the tag title race. While their rise took a bit longer than Vaudevillains new push, when a new tag title contender takes shape, it is usually obvious. Of course, Blake & Murphy have been the exception, but thankfully so. If NXT used the same formula every time, fans would get a bit sleepy.
The tag team division is about to get more loaded, as well, as we got another meeting of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan backstage. Jordan, trying to convince himself that he isn’t a loser, was approached by Gable in another attempt to join forces. We didn’t get a clear answer from Jordan, but it appears he is ready to try something new to get off his tag losing streak.
Dudettes With Attitude
If you’ve been reading these NXT reviews for the last couple of months, you know I am super high on the potential for Dana Brooke. While now she is still green, the future looks bright for her. I’ve been thinking her potential will most likely be realized on the main roster more than NXT, because she just seems more suited for that landscape. However, she’s showing off a lot of talents so far in NXT at this early stage. If she can ever just move past the “What do I do? Oh, I’ll just flex here randomly” stage of her career, she’ll do quite nicely. Tonight wasn’t about Dana Brooke, though, it was about EMMA! With new remixed theme music that I’ll surely be playing on a loop until November, Emma got the win over Carmella via the Emma lock in a quick bout to set up a future tag team match. That tag team match? Emma and Dana Brooke against Sasha Banks and a partner, if she can find one. Backstage, after Emma’s win, she and The Total Diva invaded Sasha Banks’ locker room to get a look at the Women’s Championship. Sasha was no fan of this, challenging the two to a match. Dana and Emma laughed it off, as they claimed no one likes Sasha so it would be two on one. I wonder who Sasha’s partner will be!? Whomever it is, I hope they do it with flair.
Before moving on, let’s talk about Carmella for a moment. This girl has everything you’d want to be given to get over as a top babyface. She’s associated with the hottest act in the company, she’s very attractive, and she has a catchphrase. Yet, this crowd, and live event crowds that I have been a part of, just don’t get behind her at all. Like, at all! She’s just there. She comes across as pretty unlikable with her flaunting of how hot she is, and all her dancing, but she tries so hard to be liked. This isn’t a shot against her talent, because she’s done well for herself in the last few months. Some people are just more natural heels, as nice as they can be in person and off screen. Maybe it is the character background, maybe it is try-hard nature of her babyface work, or maybe a woman from New Jersey just can’t get men from Orlando to cheer for them. Whatever it is, Carmella as a top babyface doesn’t seem likely… ever. So here’s to the future of her proving everyone wrong.
Speaking of the Women’s division, we got clips this week of Eva Marie training in the ring as Sara Del Rey and William Regal looked on. They were scouting her, seeing if she was ready, and boy oh boy we’re going to all get to see that very soon on NXT.
I’ll be right back, I’m going to go listen to Emma’s new theme some more.
Baron’s getting cocky
Baron Corbin ate quickly tonight, beating Tucker Knight via the End of Days in a squash. Tucker was gigantic, relatively to Corbin, but Corbin was still able to land his impressive looking finish (which is still just Baron giving himself a Rock Bottom.) Tyler Breeze also got a quick win over Tye Dillinger on the show, and I’d say we might be headed towards Tyler vs Corbin at some point, but they’re both bad guys. Well, Baron is growing into that, anyway, even if not clearly on that side at the moment. Ever since February, we’ve been seeing Baron’s cockiness come out before matches. Lately, that attitude is starting to seep into matches, and especially in post-match work. Baron’s starting to gain confidence, and with that, a new demeanor where he knows he is better than everyone, with a side of brash coming along with that.
Poor Bull Dempsey. Backstage, Bull was having a little trouble getting some chocolates out of the vending machine. Growing angry, Bull lifted a chair in an attempt to break the machine open, but thankfully William Regal was there to stop him. This Regal guy is everywhere tonight. Regal told Bull to shape up, and a trembling Dempsey saw his NXT career flash before his eyes.
Finn Bálor’s Road to Tokyo
NXT for July 1, 2015, was really the Finn Bálor show, as it should be. Finn is challenging for the NXT Title this Saturday in Tokyo on the WWE Network: The Beast in the East special, after all. Finn got almost a half hour of TV time, as not only was he in the main event, but the final part of The Demon Revealed series aired, as well. You can catch the entire series in a stand alone special tonight, Thursday, at 10:30p EDT on WWE Network, by the way. In Part 3, we saw Finn entering NXT, with Jason Albert telling us that Finn isn’t there to learn moves, but to learn the aspects of shooting TV. We got clips of HHH giving Finn notes on his entrance, production workers helping Finn with his ring placement, and cool little behind the scenes stuff that you never seen on other WWE main shows. Jeff Hawkins and I discussed whether these types of profile pieces could work in longer form on WWE Raw this week on Shake Them Ropes, and we both agreed they could. Going out on a limb, I know. Fact is, the Finn Bálor pieces the last three weeks have been the best part of NXT, and I have to believe that fans unfamiliar with Prince Devitt are now more invested in seeing this man succeed after having watched the videos. That’s a win. A win someone like Dolph Ziggler, or Cesaro, or Roman Reigns could use up on Raw.
In the main event, Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe defeated Rhyno and Kevin Owens. Albeit due to an errant Gore that put Kevin Owens down, Finn got the pinfall victory over Owens heading into their title match this weekend. The final stretch of this match was just awesome, and the crowd responded in kind. Those closing moments may have done the most to get me really amped for Bálor vs Owens, as great as the Demon Revealed videos were. Those videos get you invested in the man, but this match really got you invested in the match. This Saturday, we could have a new NXT Champion. The reign of Finn Bálor could be quite the story closing out 2016.