bill bodkin really does love wrestling…
This point is going to be reiterated every week in this column — NXT is some of the best WWE programming being aired right now. Sure, anything with CM Punk is amazing (he’s not the best in the world for nothing), but seeing just pure wrestling week in and week out is really enjoyable. No rambling promos, no absurdly long, drawn out comedy bits and no, tired ‘been there, seen that’ feuds. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s really enjoyable.
This week’s episode of NXT continued to focus on the tag team titles as well as the re-establishment of WWE main roster stars who succumbed to injury and some indie guys who we’re being reintroduced to.
Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman versus Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger in a First Round Tag Tournament Match
It was obvious that Ohno and Kruger were going to take this one, as Ohno is probably the best heel in NXT. Derrick Bateman is returning from major leg injury and the injury was used as a match story arc. He’s got a solid look and he can take a beating, but nothing stands out about him just yet. But since he was the Ricky Morton of the match (AKA the good guy who gets pounded on throughout the match then makes the desperate hot tag), you can’t pass judgement. As for Alex Riley AKA A-Ri…he really does have star written all over him. He’s so talented, has a great look and is really, really crisp in the ring. As for Kruger, he’s much better than he was two weeks ago, but still don’t see anything overwhelmingly special about him just yet. As for Ohno AKA Chris Hero, the dude is great. He knows how to be a heel, he knows how to work the crowd. And he has some great moves. The match was a classic tag match — work over the injured face, hot tag, all hell breaks loose, heels sneak a victory. But the sneaky victory was a crazy kravat applied by Ohno for a submission. Very unique…but he’ll have to adjust that move once he gets to the main roster, much like CM Punk did with The Anaconda Vice.
Winners: Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger
Backstage Vignette: This is probably out of order, but whatever. We run into Xavier Woods, the former Consequences Creed of TNA, who’s hanging backstage with announcer Tony Dawson (so underrated). Woods’ gimmick seems to be that of “Mr. 90’s” as he had a beeper, Discman and broke into a dance while singing Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” It was silly, but entertaining because Woods sold it so well. And Dawson helped by dancing and rapping with Woods. It should’ve been a groan moment, but it was a nice, quick bit of comedy.
Sakamoto versus Mason Ryan
Sakamoto, as the guys at PWInsider would say, is in the “rent don’t buy” category. He jobbed to Adrian Neville and this week he gets pulverized by the returning Mason Ryan. He’s a solid wrestler, but he needs a break. If you haven’t seen Ryan before or kinda forgot about him, he’s basically Batista 2.0 minus the tats. The dude is ripped to hell and is actually pretty decent in the ring. He has all the power moves down and if he had a great manager, like a Paul Heyman, this dude could be a serious contender in the WWE.
Winner: Mason Ryan
Aksana versus Paige
Paige is the future of the WWE Divas Division. The “anti-Diva” gimmick she has with her raven black hair, quasi rock ‘n’ roll riot grrrrl gear and attitude make her really stand out. Oh, and in the ring, she’s boss. Aksana, who’s been on the main roster for a while, is actually more than just a pretty face. She’s got a lot of strength and with time can be a serious contender.
Backstage Interview: Big E. Langston talks about Conor O’Brian. Man, Big E. should have someone work with him on his promos. He needs to exude some charisma. If he’s going to be a ‘man of little words’ put a manager with him.
Michael McGillicutty and Bo Dallas versus Epico and Primo (with Rosa Mendes) in a First Round Tag Tournament Match
This is a rematch from a few weeks ago. Primo and Epico are a really, really good team. In NXT they get to show a lot more of their heel persona, showing they’re actually better at being bad guys than their brother and cousin (respectively), Carlito Caribbean Cool. That dude was pure laziness in the ring. Anyway, this Puerto Rican heel version of The Fantastics really works like a well-oiled machine in the ring. So crisp, so fluid. And with their main roster status, you knew these dudes were not winning this match.
Bo Dallas, who recently entered the Royal Rumble and did very well then beat Wade Barrett on RAW this week, really shows me nothing special. He’s a solid wrestler and his tornado bulldog is a dope move. The two times he’s been on NXT he’s been a punching bag that gets the occasional flurry of offense. Michael McGillicutty, on the other hand, has champion written all over him. He’s the perfect hybrid of his dad, Mr. Perfect with all his grace and technical prowess, and his grandfather, Larry “The Axe” Hennig, who was a brutal, physical wrestler. McGillicutty is like if Arn Anderson was super-agile.
This match was much, much better than their initial encounter a few weeks ago. I think these four work great together and I’d love to see them take the gloves off and have a really barnburner.
Winner: McGillicutty and Dalls