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 yet another Breeze/Parker matchup cut the mustard?
Enzo Amore & Cass Cassidy vs. Alexander Rusev & Sylvester LeFort
The entire purpose of this tag-matchup was to further Alexander Rusev progress as the big hoss of NXT, and on that level it worked just fine. After last week’s vicious destruction of the walking hacky-sack, I figured Rusev’s was moving to bigger and better things. Hanging out with Scott Dawson’s white trash ass wasn’t doing anything for him, and rarely has a hot mysterious blonde not improved a man’s situation. All good developments from a talent that just needs some seasoning before he’s ready for big things. The execution on his “turn” on LeFort was a bit sloppy jalopy, it would have been more effective if he’d attacked Dawson (who was no where to be found without explanation from the booth.) But we got the point – Rusev is a giant slab of hurt-the-fuck-outta-you, and NXT is on notice.
I was a bit disappointed when play-by-play man Byron Saxton asked Renee and Regal if they’d ever seen a big man as athletic as Rusev and somehow they blanked on FORMER NXT CHAMP and all around wrestling god Big E. Langston. Just thinking about those two facing off gives me the biggest fucking grin. Big dudes who can move are the best, and that match-up would be off the charts.
And despite practically jobbing in this situation, Enzo and Cass still got their full intro, which is a good sign. It’s by far the best thing about them, and as long as the wrestling is passable they’ll be stars. Being “fun” heels as a tag-team is an important part of a three-hour TV show, as 3MB has proved time and time again. And these guys are even more fun, and the gimmick makes more sense. SAWFT would be over in one segment. Whenever you’re ready WWE.
Verdict: Smackdown worthy
Aiden English vs. Jason Jordan
Well, at least this week’s Aiden English squash match with his opponent actually named check by the commentary team. He even got trunks with his name on the ass! Still, same bit we’ve seen three or four times from the resident artist of NXT. Outside of a not-so-hot encounter with RVD a couple of weeks back, this was stock stuff. Time for a proper feud to see if his “method” will work with a real NXT competition. Also: I really wish on Raw JBL would sell guys as much as Regal does here. His enthusiasm for English was infectious.
Verdict: Superstars worthy
Adrian Neville Interview
Poor Adrain Neville having to explain his beef with Corey Graves. Get this man somebody not awful to wrestle and maybe we’d get some fire and conviction in his promos. You can tell Neville knows outside of injuring Graves into an early retirement he gets nothing from this feud. When’s his old tag-team partner coming back?
Verdict: Superstars worthy
Paige vs. Summer Rae (non-title match)
It’s fun to see Summer Rae compete in the minor leagues during a breakout week for her in WWE. She scored the pin in a mixed-tag match at Hell in a Cell and looked great in her solo Raw debut despite losing to Natalya. Anyone that watches NXT knows how much better the women’s wrestling is, something I’ve harped on in the column to the point of exhaustion. But it’s even more apparent after watching Summer stretch those legs against some of the stale WWE competition and come back and square off against women more her speed.
The match itself was just ok – we’ve seen this tilt before several times. The real progression here was the further set-up of a Mega-Powers style clash between Paige and Emma down the road, as this was the 2nd straight week Emma’s accidentally knocked Paige around. Best vs. the best is always welcome, and if they can do it without turning either wrestler heel and stay true to character arcs it should be a fantastic set of matches. Their NXT championship match in July was awesome, and with a little more heat in the feud it could be even better. I know a lot of people are clamoring for these ladies to make their Raw debuts, but I think it would be smart to wait until the Total Divas clout runs out completely so they don’t have to get pinned by Eva Marie on some random Smackdown.
Verdict: Smackdown worthy
Luke Harper Vignette
Luke Harper getting a singles spotlight run in NXT is a fantastic idea. The man is prepped to tangle with Punk and Bryan on the big stage soon, so his stock is going to skyrocket in the next coming weeks. Getting some work in with skilled Kassius Ohno without the looming presence of Bray Wyatt should help us get to know his individual character even more. Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya.
Verdict: Raw worthy
Tyler Breeze vs. CJ Parker (Part 1000)
Okay, so maybe it hasn’t been that many times, but it sure feels like it. When these two first tangled back in July, I was worried their gimmicks were a little to perfect for each other, and finding follow-up feuds might be difficult. Which seems to be the case so far. This is a slight guess, but the reason we keep getting these matches is the crowd response is exactly the opposite of the normal heel-face dynamic, and NXT hasn’t adjusted and keeps trying for the result they want.
Normally the blow-off match of a feud features our hero finally vanquishing their foe and standing tall in the center of the ring. But for some odd reason despite the crowd loving every move Breeze makes in the ring, and booing the shit outta Parker, they still book this like Parker was the normal crowd favorite. So even though the “face” got sweet revenge on the heel, this feels oddly empty without Breeze getting his deserved clean victory.
One nice thing we did see was a full display of Breeze’s aggressive offensive in the second half of the match. He laid out Parker with some vicious knee drops to the face, mixed in some submission maneuvers, and overall put together his best offensive sequence since debuting in NXT. I surprised it didn’t lead to a win – but as strange a booking decision this was, Breeze is still the clear star out of these two. Time for him to move along.
Oh, and one more quick quibble: “Shooting the Breeze” is not a catch-phrase Breeze should use for himself. Just saying.
Verdict: Main Event worthy