NXT Thoughts- Nakamura & Roode Sign Their Life Away
Checking in with the yellow brand once again, and it's an accelerated path to the next Takeover. I feel like NXT spent a bit too much time highlighting their international tour. 2 weeks featured the Samoa Joe vs. Nakamura title matches in Osaka and Melbourne, and another two weeks featured the international shows in their entirety. While I'm extremely pleased that a show in Australia became WWE canon (somewhat), 4 weeks of Takeover hype was lost to tour coverage, and now NXT are scrambling to fill up their big card in San Antonio. Anyway, let's have a look at what went down this week.
-Sanity are a great new act in NXT. Graves and Phillips referred to the hush that came over the crowd when they made their entrance for Nikki Cross in the opening match. A lot of times, that's a cover for a performer getting no reaction, but it's actually a valid comment here, as the Sanity members get solid reactions during and after their matches. The presentation is on point for the anarchist group, they create a unique atmosphere.
-Kennedy Lewis appears to be a rather large woman for a jobber. There was a similar issue with Macy Evans in the tag match last week. I understand these green performers need TV time, but it seems a bit silly to have these imposing people beat in short order. Nevertheless, good to see Nikki Cross pick up a win and not get DQed. She's shown in the past that she's dangerous and unstable, and she needed to show an ability to harness it- even if it requires Alexander Wolfe restraining her. She'll be an intriguing factor in the Women's Championship Fatal 4 Way at Takeover.
-The No Way Jose/Kona Reeves segment was a little "awkward". Jose was a little too happy go lucky, I like his more intense side. He could have been happy and smiling but come across more determined. Kona Reeves... I don't know if he's any good, only really seen him as enhancement talent, but the name is just so lazy by creative. He vaguely resembles a young Keanu Reeves, let's call him Kona! And lastly, they made it sound like the Jose vs. Reeves match would take place on this show, but there was nothing. It would have been best to throw in a mention of "next week", I think.
-Nick Miller did well in his brief backstage promo on the Revival. So far, Thorne seems like the better worker, while Miller showed here he's the better talker. Hopefully, they can build up their skills as they go along. They're very talented, and have gradually impressed me more and more since joining NXT. They came in with a big reputation, but it's taken them time to adjust in the States after primarily working in Japan as far as I understand.
-It makes sense for someone in the PC to be mad about all these imports/big indy signings getting opportunities, I hope Steve Cutler can carry his end of the bargain. The match with Roddy Strong was just there, but I'm really far from sold on Strong. The commentators putting him over big for his work in the Fatal 4 way a few weeks back, but to me he was the weakest part of it. Post match promo didn't have the best delivery, either.
-I liked the little Ember Moon backstage interview, kind of acknowledging the elephant in the room- this Fatal 4 Way happening at San Antonio with some women that haven't had all that much success, especially compared to Ember who has tore through everyone so far. It makes little sense from a kayfabe perspective- I guess the only justification is that an irate Asuka demanded it after getting jumped. Selfishly, I'm glad it's going down this way. Seeing Asuka kick ass in a Fatal 4 Way will be fun, new setting/dynamic and all that, but it looks like they're saving Asuka vs. Ember Moon for Wrestlemania weekend and Takeover Orlando. I'll be attending, so I have no problem with that. Side note- I saw Asuka vs. Ember Moon at NXT Sydney. They have really great chemistry, but they didn't go all out, so the Takeover match between those two will be outstanding.
-Liv Morgan might be one of the most beautiful women in WWE looking past the Jersey gimmick, but I'm yet to be impressed by her as a wrestler.
-The Tye Dillinger/Sanity segment was really well done. It's kind of out of nowhere, but that goes back to what I said in the beginning about NXT rushing a bit to fill the Takeover card. Tye played the "is this it?" card a little too hard, but the crowd didn't help that with their "Royal Rumble" and "Number 10" chants (I think WWE are stupid if they don't do that, but it did fuck with this angle a bit). Good to see Eric Young getting singles spotlight, and he did a great job switching from the calm, reasonable cult leader type to "I'M NOT ASKING!" Interested to see what happens with the addition of Damo to Sanity, he's highly touted but I really know nothing about him.
-TM-61 and Revival had a good match, short as it was. I don't know if Shane Thorne was legitimately injured going in, but if not I question Revival looking so dominant post match after losing in a kind of fluky manner. They've been atop the tag division in NXT for a good couple of years, I'd like to see TM-61 look strong to put them in contention. Although, maybe the injury angle is just to lead to the Aussies firing back and getting momentum that way in future weeks. What could be a fun match at Takeover Orlando- yeah, I'm fantasy booking my own Takeover before San Antonio even happens- DIY vs. Revival vs. TM61 in a tag triple threat for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Fuck yeah.
-Roderick Strong vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas at Takeover San Antonio. A little thrown together, kinda playing off that no. 1 contenders Fatal 4 Way, I guess? Gotta fill that card, and hey, here's Roddy's chance to impress. If anything, I've learnt from Andrade "Cien" Almas to never write a talent off straight away.
-Main event contract signing! This is referred to as the two biggest stars in NXT colliding, and it's certainly the two most over entrances in NXT today. Don't know how the match quality will go. I feel like Shinsuke Nakamura has been coasting a little for a long time. Great match with Sami Zayn in his debut, very good matches with Aries and Balor, very average feud with Samoa Joe that spanned a good 6 months. I've seen Joe have way better matches before, and Nakamura visibly looked like he was coasting most of the time. Maybe I'm reading into it wrong and it was just a case of two performers not clicking.
So now we have Bobby Roode. Best entrance, song, and sparkly robe going- although he ditched the robe in favour of a suit this time around. I'm curious to see if Nakamura clicks better with Roode. Some have been down on Roode's in ring work, more specifically his finisher, but I really like the implant DDT. And Roode proved he can have a great match at Takeover Toronto against Tye Dillinger- best match I've ever seen Tye have too. Too bad about those pesky Revival and DIY taking MOTN away from the Glorious One.
-Anyway, Roode was in his element here, trashing Nak's appearance and gimmick. Shinsuke does a masterful job stopping the "Glorious" line then going to deliver it himself. Then his simple line of "I'm going to kick your head off". No big monologues from either guy, great use of character contrast, excellent body language from Roode, Nakamura, and even Regal as a background player. It covered Nak's weakness in English well and built up the heat for the rivalry in a basic, yet really effective manner. One of my favourite segments in NXT for quite some time.
Thrown together, rushing to Takeover, absolutely. But the segments and angles are still quality. NXT creative know that time is against them, but they're still making the most of that time. Well done all around.
Until next time, take care,