NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces. But its primary goal is to make future superstars who will one day grace our televisions on Raw. Each week we’ll scout the “minor league” talent in each segment and decide if they’re ready for the big leagues. This week: Can Mr. Dallas make Sami Zyan a “Bo-Liever”? Also, it’s Nick, filling in for Matthew, who will be in and out for a wee bit.
The Ascension vs. Adrian Neville/Corey Graves
I may like Ascension more than Matthew does — which is to say “at all” — but I definitely hate Corey Graves more than anyone else I’ve ever met. I mean that both in the sense that I hate Corey Graves’s character the most out of anyone on the roster and that no one I know hates him more. Dude punches like an idiot, wrestles like he’s in his first ROH match, but looks like an Abercrombie model, so they’ve made him the male equivalent of Eva Marie.
This match, is however, greatly enhanced by the work of everyone else involved in the match, including the lovely William Regal and charming Renee Young on commentary. That this will also lead to a feud where Adrian Neville goes over Corey Graves is nice. But, the fact that they got there by Graves having to RUN OFF THE ROPES AND INTO NEVILLE AFTER STANDING NEXT TO HIM is the type of stuff that gives me the howling fantods.
Graves: CZW-worthy Ascension: NXT-worthy Neville: Main Event-worthy | Segment: NXT worthy
Tyler Breeze vs. CJ Parker
In case you didn’t know by reading previous reviews, or the headline of this article, or having watching Tyler Breeze work, literally anything he does is worthy of being on the main roster. He is an entirely formed character, while also being a highly enjoyable worker who, as Stroud says “wrestles to character” near perfectly. He is what would happen if Zoolander was a professional wrestler and I am more than happy to watch him beat up uggos like Parker. I’m also pretty sure I would PAY to see him beat up uggos on Raw instead of the Kofi Kingston
And because God (JBL?) loves us, Regal and Young on commentary — even (or maybe especially) when they are (cordially) disagreeing — is as good as any pairing in sports. They helped establish both the silly — Renee selling that the feud is legitimately escalating because Parker stole Breeze’s phone — and the essential — how good of a heel Breeze is — without making it seem like they are trying to “stay on message” the way that Cole/Matthews have a tendency to slip into during matches.
CJ Parker may never amount to much, but this feud is definitely as good as anything Fandango has done and Tyler Breeze is a bonafide star.
CJ Parker: TNA-worthy Tyler Breeze: PPV-worthy | Segment: Smackdown!-Worthy
Paige/Emma vs. Summer Rae/Sasha Banks
If you are judging this match/show solely relative to its main roster equivalent, this is the main event of WrestleMania compared to what happened last week on Raw. Relative to the rest of the show it’s on, it was unequivocally the best single-gender tag team match since the Ascension became champions.
Sasha has potential despite how green she is, especially if she stops shutting off the part of her brain that allows her to react normally to things, but she’s definitely on her way. Emma and Paige are, oddly, too good to be on the main roster right now. When they make it to The Show, they should be able to pick up a badly sagging Diva’s division nearly by themselves.
The commentary on this match was a little more disjointed as the Dynamic Duo ended up ribbing the Dawson brother that still works in the E for most of the time. However, Renee Young is a wonderful change of pace from the sludge that we have to sit through during most Diva’s matches, offering actual insight into what the company is trying to articulate with these feuds from a woman’s perspective.
Please allow her to commentate at least during women’s matches (though it should be all), WWE. Please?
Emma, Paige, Summer: Raw-worthy, Sasha: Main Event worthy | Segment: “Better-than-Raw” worthy
Sami Zyan vs. NXT Champion Bo Dallas for the NXT Championship
When reviewing a situation like NXT, it’s important to look at what will “translate to the next level” and make them stars. However, unlike let’s say, the NFL Combine, NXT allows us to evaluate the performances while “live ammo” is firing. We get to see how the nascent stages of their overall “brand” work, and whether or not it will lead to success at “the next level”.
With the changing of what allows for success at that level in the WWE, from “being big while also able to walk and chew gum at the same time” to “be entertaining”, it means that guys like Sami Zyan and Bo Dallas have potential to be huge stars in years to come. While Zyan is far ahead of Bo in the ring, the way Bo carries himself as a performer is something you “can’t teach”. It’s something you’re born into, and if the work of his brother (Windham Rotunda AKA Bray Wyatt) or his promos are any indication, Bo’s understanding of the subtleties of what makes a performance work is at least at the level of Zyan’s.
This match did, however, have some problems in the booth, with the remaining Dawson brother unable to call a single move properly, much to the exasperation of Regal. A particular lowlight was calling a German suplex a “backdrop”, instead of saying, I don’t know “suplex”, “throw” or even “what a manuever!”. Not saying the “right” name is fine, but actively saying the wrong name for such a well-known move is gross, especially when the pace is as slow as it was at that point during the match.
And Renee Young was engaging, but rooted a *little bit* too hard for Sami. If that’s something they end up building on, I’m more than okay with it, but it kind of made you feel bad for Bo, which is something no one should feel. Ever.
The ending, while well-thought out, suffered from the one major issue with NXT: the camera work. They only really got a shot of the ref taking away the turnbuckle, and while it was supposed to be a surprise on some level, it ended up looking like a botch to the crowd in attendance, and even people who saw Zyan hit his head on the exposed turnbuckle.
All-in-all, though, it proved what everyone already knew — this is going to be a fantastic rivalry between two guys who are just on the brink of being stars in The Show.
Dallas and Zyan: Raw Worthy | Segment: PPV mid-card belt worthy