WWE NXT on April 12, 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida
Another week of NXT rolls on here at Wrestling With Words and the WWE Network. This NXT, however, has a much different look & feel than previous episodes, sporting a new introduction reel, complete with the new graphics and a new song. I’m all about this face lift.
Aleister Black vs. Corey Hollis
Speaking of face lifts, one man who isn’t in need of one is the former Tommy End, now known as Aleister Black. Thankfully, he kept his excellent entrance from TakeOver: Orlando. As someone who has never seen the work of the former Tommy End, I’m incredibly excited to see what he brings to the table. If TakeOver: Orlando was any indication, Black has an obstensibly bright future with WWE. Corey Hollis is put down in brutal, excruciating, and beautiful fashion with the Black Mass kick. Oh, my, lord! Somebody better have the ice pack already waiting for Hollis in the back, because that looks vicious.
Perhaps the editing team sensed that we would need a few minutes to recover from what shall henceforth be known as the murder of Corey Hollis. We’re treated to some recaps of both the debut of Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura on SmackDown Live, complete with Dillinger stating he has unfinished business with Eric Young despite achieving his 15 year dream of making it to the WWE main roster.
#DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tomassa Ciampa) vs. Dylan Miley & Michael Blake
Before I get into talking about the match, I’ve got to address the elephant in the room. Dylan Miley is absolutely massive. Vince McMahon is probably in the middle of a furious wet dream in the back via Miley’s stature and physique. That being said, I’m always glad to see Ciampa and Gargano on my television. I haven’t been let down by their work yet, and I hope that I won’t any time soon. Ciampa and Gargano connect Meet in the Middle on Michael Blake and make short work of their opponents. I’d imagine that this is all to build up some momentum for the blow-off match with Authors of Pain at TakeOver: Chicago, which will lead to the splitting of #DIY or to their debut on the main roster. Personally? I’m hoping for the second option because my poor heart can’t handle to see Gargano and Ciampa break up. Dylan Miley is absolutely enraged and destroys Blake post match in a frightening show of power. Remind me to never make that man angry.
If you’re looking for the text-book definition of a violent mood change, NXT certainly just delivered one. We went from seeing Dylan Miley decimate his already broken tag team partner to seeing Ember Moon being broken in a much, much different way. Ember Moon is shown, with hauntingly beautiful and depressing piano as a back drop, walking the empty confines of the Amway Center. Ember Moon is convinced that she will be the one to finally dethrone Asuka.
Ruby Riot vs. Kimberly Frankele
Ruby starts the match off getting her brick kicked by Kimberly until Nikki Cross makes her presence felt in a rather interesting way. Cross decides to bang around the barricade surrounding ringside hoping to throw Ruby off her game. Riot perseveres as Cross diligently watches from ringside, eventually dispatching Kimberly with a pele kick. I’m fine with a Cross/Riot feud. What I’m more OK with is that NXT seems to have refocused majorly on the presentation of their feuds – one of the things they fully excelled at during their rise to prominence and popularity with the launch of the WWE Network. If they continue on that path, the love affair that many had with NXT previously under mainstays such as Paige, Charlotte, Sasha, and company may just be reignited. Looks like based on that interesting back stage segment, we’re going to see a feud involving Billie Kay & Peyton Royce against Aliyah and Liv Morgan. Good stuff, ladies and gents.
Oney Lorcan vs. Drew McIntyre*Highly Recommended*
Let’s get the important question out of the way with. For those hoping that Drew McIntyre would return using the greatest of WWE theme songs (Broken Dreams), I unfortunately have to tell you that he instead uses a very generic rock song featuring bagpipes. It’s not bad, I rather like it actually, but it’s just nowhere near as good as his original theme. It also never really occurred to me how big McIntyre really is until just now. The guy is a damned brute. As for the match…what a goddamn brawl! Oney is the perfect match for McIntyre in his re-introduce to the WWE and NXT faithful. Oney and McIntyre destroyed each other in an incredibly physically affair that made you question whether either one really cared if their opponent was unscathed at the end of the day. This match may seriously be my TV match of the year. McIntyre comes up with the victory after a running big boot that hurls Lorcan inside out and leaves him a crimson mess in the center of the ring. You need to see this match, even if it’s mostly just a sprint. If you want to see a sprint done right, this is the match to base one off of.
To close out the show, Shinsuke Nakamura comes out to say a heartfelt thank you and goodbye to the NXT faithful as well as the NXT locker room. Nakamura is officially a member of the SmackDown Live roster, which is one of the strangest sentences I’ve ever typed in my entire life. Shinsuke is a very elegant talker, which is something I was caught off guard by a little bit. While English is clearly not his main language, he’s very well versed and can cut a better promo than half of the people on the main roster. Nakamura says his goodbyes, greeted by the entire NXT locker room, save for Bobby Roode on the stage. If you’d like to see Nakamura’s speech, here’s the video for your viewing pleasure.
WWE NXT ON APRIL 12, 2017
GREAT - 8.0/10
As someone who's loved the evolution that NXT has taken, it's been a frustrating ride with WWE's yellow brand. Sometimes, NXT delivers on a massive scale and other times it seems like nobody involved with the brand has any idea what the true purpose of it is supposed to be. We've gone from fledgling developmental to "super indy" to anything in between. Tonight's episode was many things, but the most important thing that it was: a breath of fresh air. Not only did it manage to refocus and reignite a purpose, but it also welcomed us to a new era of NXT. May this era of NXT be as fruitful as the past era.