Each week going forward, I'll be checking out NXT to give my thoughts on the show and how the WWE's developmental talent is progressing. To give you an idea of where I'm at with the product as a fan, I was one of the many who tuned out once the WWE Draft took some of NXT's most talented wrestlers, although, I do always watch the live TakeOver events. Since the draft, I've pretty much skimmed through the weekly show, only really focusing in when something major happens. I'm hoping the break will give me fresh eyes to what NXT is up to these days.
If you follow my Raw or SmackDown Reviews, you'll notice the format will stay mostly the same with only the "Standout Moments" getting changed to "Segment Reactions." Since this show is only about an hour long, I'm going to be pretty much reacting to everything NXT throws out there. "Trending Up/Down" will focus solely on the wrestling personalities, "MVP" goes to the biggest star of the show, "Overall Thoughts" will talk about the show as a whole and/or compare it to the previous week, and "Grade" is out of 10. One other note, I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, so I'll just react to things as they come and may even ponder events that won't happen, thanks to the taping results. Just go with it, it'll be funny when I proclaim someone will be champion for a long time and they actually drop the title(s) the next week. Okay, let's get to tonight's show!
1) An Experience – Patrick Clark has been adamant on his social media that he is still very much figuring out who he is as a wrestler, so putting a "Prince" label on him would probably not be to his liking. There's no mistake he has some Prince influences, but I can't help but notice some Goldust in his mannerisms with an added aggression that was very clear as he threw Sean Maluta all over the ring in the first few minutes of their match. I feel like in previous segments I've seen with Clark the crowd gave him a bigger reaction, overall they pretty much sat on their hands as he put down his opponent very easily. A modified fameasser finished the match as NXT looks to build up Clark. Sean's offense was minimal in this contest and had I not already seen his solid performance in the Cruiserweight tournament, I wouldn't care to see him again.
2) Campfire Chat - I love Eric Young's voice, it's so off and weird sounding, which obviously fits the Sanity gimmick perfectly. Killian just stood there, Alexander looked like he can hardly focus on reality, and Nikki is quite possibly the most dangerous of the bunch.
3) And Still... – I'm digging Peyton's music, not sure how new it is, but it's always good to help give her some separation from Billie Kay. NXT has a history of women tandems like BFF's and Team Bae, so these two will continue that tradition until one of them turns on the other. Peyton got the fortunate (or maybe unfortunate) chance at taking on the incredibly dominate Women's Champion, Asuka. Commentary put over her championship reign in a big way, whoever defeats Asuka will surely get a nice rub from beating the champ. Props to Nigel with a Manami Toyota reference, one of the greatest women's wrestlers ever.
Peyton managed to avoid Asuka's early onslaught, but then came the hip attacks, one that sent her to the outside. Peyton managed to get something going against Asuka including a standing arm submission that Asuka sold for the rest of the match. Crowd seemed incredibly dead for this one, which strikes me as nobody believing Peyton had a chance of winning, I mean, she doesn't, but still, very quite audience. Asuka Lock in the middle of the ring finished the match, Billie Kay rushed Asuka and the mean girls teamed up on her, working the arm on the ring post until Ember Moon found her way out to the ring. Ember blasted Billie Kay on the ramp and promptly took out both women in the ring. Ember then turned her attention to Asuka, both smiling at each other, Asuka got in Ember's face (in kind of an awkward way), raising the title up, before heading to the back. As much as I want to see Nikki Cross battle Asuka, Ember taking on Asuka should be fun too.
4) "Last Week" – I get NXT likes to show some of the bigger segments from previous weeks, but when a show is not even an hour long, is it really worth spending that chunk of time on a recap? Especially, when it just led to Regal announcing Bobby Roode will defend his title in two weeks against Ohno. Who's getting a title shot really quickly, no?
5) NXT: The Future is Now Book – "Foreword by Vincent K. McMahon" Haha, really?
6) Messy Tag Scene – I just tried to take in the tag match between DIY and The Authors of Pain and both teams had a solid outing. AoP have really come a long way with their ability to have a quality fully fleshed out match. Although, it seems like the crowd doesn't really know what to do with them, they weren't getting cheers, but people weren't exactly booing their viciousness either. AoP went for double powerbombs, which ended up in stereo submissions by Ciampa and Gargano until The Revival came out to get revenge from Toronto. AoP didn't seem to appreciate Dash and Dawson's presence, but by the end of the segment, The Revival were standing tall. A triple threat title match is drawing near.
Wolfgang – If you didn't get a chance to check out the WWE UK Championship Tournament, Wolfgang really impressed in his matches. He went from being a solid fan favorite to heel (when he took on Tyler Bate) and was able to adapt pretty well with the sudden change. Hoping he will get some regular appearances in NXT, the guy has an intriguing vibe.
Commentary - One of the biggest changes was the loss of Corey Graves, he brought a lot of to the table and it's going to be tough to make that up. Tom Phillips did his usual thing, while Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness have very different styles, maybe something will eventually click there, but last night they didn't do much for me. Nigel is still getting his feet wet though, maybe a few more shows is all he needs.
This Week's MVP
Ember Moon - Can't say anyone really jumped out this week, but I did enjoy Ember Moon coming out to the aide of Asuka. She blew through both Billie and Peyton in a flurry of attacks, before taking notice of the title. She had a nice mean-muggin' session with Asuka before the champion departed. Should be a fun match down the line, Ember has more of a "force" that could potentially take the title away.
Not going to lie, I really have to downshift after watching Raw and SmackDown, NXT is obviously on a smaller scale and it doesn't seem quite as hyped as I remember. Everything tonight was solid, yet, average, so I'll go with a 6 as a starting point in these reviews.
Grade (out of 10): 6