WWE NXT for January 25, 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Full Sail University – Orlando, Florida
We’re hopping around more than usual on this week’s NXT, as all the fallout comes our way from TakeOver: San Antonio, where two new champions were crowned. In case you missed it, we have written and audio coverage of the event. To the show now.
A highlight video of San Antonio kicks off the show. The NXT intro changes so frequently due to call-ups and title changes that it must be dreaded to hear the words “we need to change that intro, folks.”
Ember Moon def. Aliyah
I still need to watch the Ember portions of the TakeOver pre-show. This was a really good sprint to set pace for the rest of the night (as this was taped prior to the big show). Ember and Aliyah work well together, having trusted each other for unique spots like lucha offense or a momentum swingin’ sunset flip. Moon, queen of enhancement matches, made Aliyah look good, selling her lucha drags and gorgeous suplexes like money. The finish saw a sunset flip hit only for Ember to smash Aliyah’s face in, then hit the Eclipse for the pinfall victory. Everyone in the building were rooting for Ember sans one guy fizzling out his self-rendition of the Canadian national anthem after a few seconds. The whole crowd knew what the Eclipse was, adding to the excitement of Moon perching the top rope.
Highlights of Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger from TakeOver aired, along with a WWE.com exclusive SAnitY promo. The theme of it being choices, how Tye chose the wrong path. How the people in the group did make good choices. Killian Dain said they will tick (take). That’s followed up by two interviews with Tye plus video footage of his Royal Rumble appearance. WWE didn’t just use photos for once. Tye reiterated during both interviews that his name is going to be in the history books and it’s so surreal. He oozed happiness. Couldn’t help but grin.
The filler, highlights continue with the NXT Women’s title match focused on. Asuka was interviewed, destroying Ember Moon. Not only is the belt still hers, but she doesn’t know who Ember is. SHE WORK HERE? The promo is already a fun highlight of NXT’s year. Perfect character/feud development while keeping Asuka from going off the rail speaking wise. Short and to the point. Also funny. Asuka is not just multi-versatile in the ring, but in skits.
Exclusive footage of Tyler Bate arriving to the venue. What’s funny is that during the weekend, WWE uploaded a one minute video of him walking out of the San Antonio airport. Silence. Luggage dragging. Nothing else.
In a smart cut to backstage, Ember Moon responded to Asuka in her interview. It was fairly generic, but Moon made the interview with her facial expressions. She’s going to be the one to beat the Empress of Tomorrow. After beating her, she’ll know who she is. Just as I said, generic as all hell, but it works.
Tyler Bate def. Oney Lorcan
When, oh when, is Oney Lorcan going to be on a TakeOver? He’s one of the best wrestlers in the entire NXT program. I’m glad this match was able to take place, as it was another iteration of not knowing you wanted something until it was placed in front of you. Bate got a strong reaction from the fans all match long. It was a match made in heaven turned to a short put over for Bate. Lorcan still looked tremendous, matching up with Bate, tumbling around in a strength tug of war, hitting hammer fists on the U.K. Champion, hence making Tyler work from under for a bit of the match; something he excels at. We got an insane combo where Oney hit an uppercut which led to Tyler hitting the rolling kick. Tyler hit Tyler Driver ’97 (’97 was also used on commentary, contrary to what was done in the tournament) for the pinfall victory. It was a fun short match to show that Bate can hang with the “competitive” NXT settings. Now please, Triple H, etc, use Oney. Big time.
The interview pallet continues with Roderick Strong after his win vs. Andrade Cien Almas. It was super short, but he referenced chasing the NXT title again as he has in all his interviews. His sights are still on the title, and we’ve gotten a taste of Strong. What’s neat is that Cathy Kelley got screen time as an interviewer. She’s great.
Highlights of Authors of Pain beating #DIY for the NXT Tag titles aired. Paul Ellering spoke briefly about the final chapter. All the tag teams are apparently look over their shoulder. Not a typing error, just word for word what he said. They will take victory at all costs.
Throughout the show, commentary kept having to pitch it back to these segments, while having to phrase things in non-spoiler ways. I’ve always hated that about situations like this. The thing to fallback on was to ask Percy Watson what his first TakeOver was like. Because, you know, you can’t talk about matches and moments that haven’t happened yet, as you’re taping before the damn PPV.
Highlights of the NXT title main event aired. We also got exclusive footage of Shinsuke Nakamura’s sprained kneecap fallout, after TakeOver went off the air. None other than Kassius Ohno was the only non Triple H/NXT staff present, talking to him for a second, then following suit into the locker room. I guess it’s “shoot” footage, with an accidental tease of Ohno, who’ll be coming soon?
Ain’t nothing like ten billion interviews. Bobby Roode was up next, being interviewed by the newest female interviewer in NXT. Her first question referenced the outcome changing if Shinsuke were to not be injured, and that made Roode snap the whole time. Someone was also fiddling with the curtains in the backdrop behind the interview. His NXT, (calling her missy was a great touch), will be simply glorious. Speaking of Roode, his championship victory celebration will be next week.
As this was the last bit of NXT programming Corey Graves would be on, before fully moving up to the main roster, we got an awesome farewell video package. It touched on his NXT career, showing off some things I didn’t know existed, and also revealing some things I didn’t know, like the Performance Center confession booth, plus the fact Graves, as part of his time working different roles for NXT, got to choose new signee’s music at times. This is a must watch and one of the only reasons to watch this episode. You couldn’t have gotten a better troll than Elias Sampson’s music hitting for the main event, as Graves must put up with his least favorite wrestler for the last few minutes of the show. Sampson waved bye to Graves which popped me huge. Graves also got to say “he’s not from Pittsburgh” when Drifter was intro’d.
Sampson was going to sing a special song for the San Antonio crowd, but No Way Jose interrupted before Sampson could start, kick-starting the biggest party of the night.
No Way Jose def. Elias Sampson
This wasn’t much at all. Very bland, but if there was gonna be any geek that’d sell for Jose well, and also lock on holds while garnering heat as a foil for Jose, it’s The Drifter. The two roles were filled well, but it was never going to be anything past “okay” in ring. The highlight was Graves commentary as it would be the last match he’d ever call for the brand. Sampson managed to put Jose in a nice looking, tight headlock, but other than that nothing stood out aside the finish. Jose went for the fastball punch but Sampson stopped it, only for Sampson to be instead hit with it in mid-air, as that earned Jose the pinfall victory. Nothing offensive.
As NXT went off the air, Graves declined to provide any more words on Sampson. Him being knocked out was the best possible parting gift.
WWE NXT (FEBRUARY 1, 2017)
Average - 5.5/10
NXT was a mix between two very good short matches, 10+ interviews to showcase TakeOver fallout, other misc. filler, and an incredible farewell for one of its products moving on up, Corey Graves. It's an easily skippable episode, but everything was fairly compact, snapping from segment to segment. You should set aside 15 minutes to jump between Moon vs. Aliyah, Bate vs. Oney and Graves' farewell. It doesn't fall flat in the middle of the review scale because of those three things.