Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Wrestling With Words’ weekly review of NXT. Per usual, I’ll be guiding you through our weekly look at some of the best (and worst) developmental talent that WWE has to offer. This week’s episode of NXT emanates from the CFE Arena, and promises to be a good one with Bayley defending her coveted NXT Women’s Championship against her best friend, Carmella. Will Carmella do the unthinkable, or will Bayley rise above the odds again and retain the crown jewel of the NXT women’s division?
The first in a line of episodes filmed at the CFE Arena starts off hot, with the Lone Wolf of NXT Baron Corbin facing off against part-timer Johnny Gargano. Gargano gets a huge reaction from the Orlando crowd, and even gets a “Johnny Wrestling” chant. Baron Corbin, however, isn’t too pleased with the attention Gargano is garnering from the crowd or his attempts to mount offense. Corbin is visibly frusturated and being thrown off his game early by Gargano, but a huge right hand by Corbin puts a stop to the flurry of kicks and punches. Big Banter Corbin decides to unleash his recent misery of being unable to solidify himself as a contender upon the unfortunate Gargano, and in doing so applies varied submissions to wear out his opponent. Gargano derails Corbin with a vicious slingshot spear through the middle rope, but falls victim to the Deep Six immediately thereafter. Gargano responds in a huge way with a jaw-shattering superkick, but Corbin kicks out (just barely, I might add) and stumbles around ringside trying to shake off the shell shock. Once the action spills back into the squared circle, however, it’s all elementary as Corbin sneaks in the End of Days and puts Gargano down for the three count.
I’m not entirely sure what it is that NXT plans on doing with Corbin right now. It looked like he was due to get on a hot streak with his victory over Apollo Crews at TakeOver: London, but his momentum seemed all but lost when he tapped out to not one, but two opponents two weeks ago. Can NXT successfully mold Corbin into a star? I believe so, but it seems as if the WWE brass isn’t entirely sold on that idea. Nonetheless, it was a great opener and the crowd was actually into it. It’s refreshing to not see and hear the usual “Full Sail Shit-Chanting” (aside from a Morgan Freeman chant) and Corbin looked very strong in this match, which is what he needs to get back on the fast track to being a serious contender in NXT. Backstage, we see Sami Zayn talking about the upcoming match he has with Samoa Joe, saying that it’ll be the first time he has a one on one contest with Joe and that he vows to be the first ever two-time NXT Champion.
I’m starting to think that WWE has access to all of my dreams and nightmares. First, we get a another vignette of the Vaudevillians angrily staring into our souls for no reason at all, and then Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder appear on my television. In the odd chance you didn’t know by now, I’m not a fan of Zack Ryder or Mojo Rawley by any means whatsoever. Regardless, here we are, the Hype Bros facing Corey Hollis and John Skyler in tag team action. The opening moments belong solely to the Hype Bros, much to my dismay. Hollis and Skyler are able to single out Ryder and get some licks in on him before Long Island Iced Z (I’d like to pause and reflect on how stupid that nickname is, by the way) gets the hot tag to Rawley. Rawley hits the Hyperdrive, followed by a Broski Boot by Ryder and is capped off with the Hype Ryder for the victory.
This match serves as yet another scenario where I’m unsure of what WWE wants us to think, feel, or believe as far as the team of Ryder and Rawley go. I have no reason to be invested in them, and I doubt I ever will. With the looming call ups of Enzo and Cass and American Alpha, I suppose establishing Ryder and Rawley as one of the top teams makes sense. Speaking of things that make me confused, we go back stage for a quick interview with Bayley and Carmella talking about how their friendship will still be in tact no matter who wins tonight. I’ve been saying this the past three weeks about the build up to this match, and I still stand by it: Eh.
I honestly forgot that Cameron was still employed by WWE. I guess when you fade into irrelevance that fast, it’s hard for people to remember you. Alexa seems to share my opinion of Cameron and taunts her and brushes her off in the opening sequence of the match. Alexa quickly regains control, grounding and pounding Cameron. Alexa is being absolutely vicious right now, stomping Cameron square into the ground. This match is incredibly hard for me to maintain interest in, and thankfully is ended in short order. Bliss hits the Sparkle Splash for the victory here. I think I’ve found the the match you can exclude from your viewing pleasures on this episode of NXT. Nothing remotely good came of this match, and it felt incredibly forced and awkward.
Enzo and Cass are doing their usual shtick backstage where they show their growing displeasure with Dash and Dawson, where Gable and Jordan interrupt to discuss how they’ll be teaming up next week. Short little promo that delivered some good laughs, and considering what comes next, that’s not a bad thing.
Time for me to practice for my upcoming job as a teacher. Show of hands, class, who here cares or has a reason to care about Elias Samson? Don’t everyone jump at once to answer. Oh, nobody does? That’s about what I expected for an answer. Samson comes out hot, dominating Sorensen to the dismay of the CFE Arena crowd, to the point that they begin to chant “Drift away”. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. I can’t lie to you. Instead of watching this match, I decided to grab a drink, change out of my work clothes, and text my girlfriend. I came back just in time to see Samson hit a neckbreaker to get the victory. The only good thing I can say about the guy is man is that neckbreaker vicious. That’s not enough to redeem him in my eyes, though. Apollo Crews is backstage, talking about how he has no regrets in facing and losing to Finn Balor last week, and that the next time we see him in an NXT ring, it will be a “new Apollo Crews”. I sure hope he means that, because he’s starting to lose traction and needs to get back on the right track, and fast.
This may seem like a minor thing to most people, but NXT absolutely does the “big fight feel” presentation for championship matches so much better than the main roster. The entire light’s out display with the spotlight is just incredible. WWE’s main roster could stand to learn a thing or two from NXT in terms of presentation value. Bayley and Carmella hug it out to start things off, which is something Bayley hasn’t shown lately. Bayley and Carmella match up incredibly well, which is something I did not expect. There’s not a lot noteworthy to mention about the match, aside from the fact that Carmella had a few great outside dive spots. Otherwise, it was pretty clear that Bayley was never in danger of losing the championship. The ending, which normally would net intense amounts of criticism from me, was pulled off incredibly well. After a sequence of back and forth pins, Bayley nets a roll up to retain her NXT Women’s Championship. Of course, we knew going into this that there’s no way the match ends with the two friends hugging it out and celebrating a valiant effort by both. Enter Eva Marie and Nia Jax, who lay waste to Carmella as she heads up the ramp. Bayley tries to save her friend from a vicious beatdown, but is rendered useless via Nia Jax. Asuka makes the save and chases off Eva and Nia, but not before making her intentions know. In the closing moments of the episode, Asuka dusts off the NXT Women’s Championship on Bayley’s shoulder, all while intensely staring down with Bayley, who is absolutely petrified.
All in all, this was another good episode, and a good showing to start off the string of CFE Arena shows that were tapped. It could have been better, but Baron vs. Gargano delivered, as did Bayley vs. Carmella. We also have several takeaways from this show, with the major one being that Asuka is likely the challenger for Bayley at TakeOver: Dallas. With next week’s episode looming on the horizon, we have a week to look forward to the rematch of Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn to determine the next challenger for Finn Balor’s NXT Championship.