bill bodkin looks at the future of wrestling…
A few years ago mainstream wrestling audiences were introduced to a new program, WWE NXT, a version of the federation’s popular Tough Enough series, this show was a way for the promotion to showcase their young talent by teaming them with a veteran and having them compete in matches and various (and most of the time ridiculous) contests.
The first season of NXT was its most successful producing major stars like Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett and Ryback along with undercard performers Darren Young, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel.
Subsequent seasons didn’t live up to the first year’s superstar success and the entire concept was scrapped for one that is actually more appealing — a weekly 1 hour series filmed at the WWE’s developmental system (Florida Championship Wrestling, which was redubbed NXT). The show would forgo silly games and contest and would just be a completely autonomous program that featured WWE developmental wrestlers and the occasional WWE Superstar. The show airs weekly on Hulu Plus.
This week’s episode of NXT was all about the main event, featuring two wrestlers currently on the main WWE wrestlers, albeit in mostly supporting roles, Seth Rollins of The Shield and Big E. Langston, current bodyguard of Dolph Ziggler.
However, we started in a unique way, with one of the more captivating groups in NXT, The Wyatt Family. The head of the “family” is Bray Wyatt, who some of you maybe remember as Husky Harris, who was a member of WWE’s New Nexus a few years back. Wyatt is also one of the sons of former WWE superstar Mike Rotundo/Irwin R. Scheister. Bray Wyatt’s southern cult of personality is so oily and heelish that if Bray never makes it as a wrestler, he has a very bright future as a manager. His charges as Rowan and Luke Harper (former Northeast indie grappler Brodie Lee). They battled in…
The Wyatt Family vs. Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson
The Wyatts remind me of a less crisp version of Rip Morgan and Jack Victory — big, hulking, brutish. With some polishing they could be a ‘monster’ tag team, but they’ve got a while before they’ll be called up to the main roster. Yoshi Tatsu did his best JV Tajiri impersonation while Percy Watson showed a whole lot of nothing. Tatsu has a lot of talent, it’s just there’s no good storyline or gimmick that seems to work for him. In the end The Watt Family ends when Brodie Lee hits a flurry of high impact moves on Tatsu.
Paige vs. Emma
This was one of the better women’s matches I’ve seen in the WWE in a number of years. While Emma has a bit of a dopey gimmick — as a really awkward dancer, I thought she handled herself pretty decently in the ring. Meanwhile Paige has superstar written all over her. Her “anti-diva” gimmick is a solid one and her in-ring work combined with a stunning looking, make her the future of the Divas division. Her finisher, The “Paige Turner” is a cool spinning Human Torture Rack/Roll of the Dice combo.
Epico & Primo vs. Michael McGillicuddy & Bo Dallas
What an old school tag match, loved it. Primo & Epico were the classic, arrogant heels and their in-ring work was super-tight, kind of a throwback to the a heel version of The Fantastics. Meanwhile McGillicuddy, the son of Mr. Perfect, was awesome. He was an intense hybrid of his dad and his grandfather, Larry “The Axe” Henning. He has agility and speed but a wonderful sense of blunt force trauma. He really is a star in the making. Bo Dallas, another son of Mike Rotundo, is a wild-eyed Ricky Morton-like babyface. He gets his butt handed to him and makes the hot tag at the right time. The Colons win this one when Primo hits The Backstabber on Mike after he cleans house. A stroke of genius booking — the vets get the win, but the losers still look strong.
Main Event: Seth Rollins, NXT Champion vs. Big E. Langston
The crowd was red hot and helped punctuate a fun little match. Rollins is a great heel in terms of his facial expressions and tactics, but the match didn’t show me any of his in-ring chops. Meanwhile, Big E. was fantastic, channeling a Ron Simmons circa 90s WCW, vibe. He was a house of fire and hit all his “big man spots” which were executed very well. The Shield’s interference was countered wonderfully by the entire NXT lockerroom coming out and taking them out. This, again, is smart booking — The Shield did get beat down, but it took everyone and their mother to do it. Big E. gets the emotional 1-2-3 with his falling slam.