NXT Recap 3/18/2015: Time For A Road Trip

Posted in The Three Count by - March 21, 2015

While WWE main roster is nearing the finish line on their road to Wrestlemania, NXT has set out on a bit of a road trip of their own as we witness our first NXT event outside of Full Sail University. Emanating from the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus Ohio, Wednesday’s NXT broadcast had a lot to prove. Not only was NXT one of the marquee events for those in attendance, it was also an opportunity to see show that talent can perform in a more traditional setting opposed to the more intimate and familiar setting of Orlando.

For the most part NXT would succeed. Despite what must have been the abject horror of spending any amount of time in the home of Urban Meyer, the NXT roster seemed well accustomed to performing outside of their home base. Most matches were free of obvious botches and only marred by poor creative decisions, a common thread for WWE programming as of late. Granted, many of the performers have competed on the main roster either in the form of Main Event or Superstars, it was a welcome sight to have a higher caliber show after last weeks snoozefest.

The show wouldn’t be without flaws however, as it was quite promo heavy, even for an NXT episode. While it was expected that there would be a video package showing off NXT presence at the Arnold Sports event, it was frustrating to see that video sandwiched between promos. A second clear issue, one that also has been an thorn in the side of many a WWE fan are overly scripted promos. Backstage and post match interviews seemed far less organic than in past editions, a shame considering that has been something that Triple H has championed as a feature setting NXT apart from the main roster.

Tyler Breeze Defeats Kalisto via Beauty Shot

We’ve seen a lot of Kalisto lately, and that’s a good thing. With the rumor mill claiming that his main roster debut is imminent, we should savor every chance we get to see him perform in an environment where the ring work is a bit more physical. Tyler Breeze enters the contest to a few scattered cheers that grow a bit more organized as his music hits in earnest. The commentators make note that Tyler Breeze has canceled all appearances outside of the ring, attempting to work his way back into the number one contenders spot. This throw away comment would serve as a spoiler to anyone whose watched more than an hours worth of wrestling.

The match itself proved to be quite good for an opener with Kalisto putting in much of the heavy lifting. Early in the match, Kalisto showed why he’s a shoe-in to replace Rey Mysterio by executing a series of hops from the middle to top rope, culminating into leaping corkscrew arm drag. This elevated pace would continue until Breeze would gain momentum after countering a top rope springboard with a leaping dropkick.

During the match, Breeze showed why he is one of the more charismatic wrestlers in NXT, shouting at the referee, “Don’t touch me,” after being forcably pulled off of Kalisto in the corner. In true NXT fashion, the crowd would reply with a roaring “Don’t touch him,” chant. Breeze would lose momentum as quickly as he gained it however, Kalisto hitting the Listo Kick into a facebuster. Later on in the contest, Kalisto would ascend to the top rope and hit an impressive 450 splash. More impressive however was Breeze’s distance to the corner, forcing Kalisto to basically jump straight in the air. The proximity to the corner would be used as Breeze grabbed the rope for a great false finish. The match would hit its crescendo however as Kalisto would set up his finisher, The SDS. However, Breeze would hit his third counter of the night, capturing the pin with The Beauty Shot.

While the match itself became a bit of a spot fest, it was no less entertaining. Since his debut Kalisto has shown real talent in the ring and while his style of spot heavy, high flying wrestling may not appeal to long time WWE fans, he is currently one of NXT greatest assets. Breeze on the other hand still has a bit of work ahead of him. His match Wednesday was much better than his previous fight with Hideo Itami, however he had a much stronger opponent helping him along. Heres to hoping this isn’t the last we see of the pair as their styles seemed to mesh well and made for quality wrestling.

After our weekly promo recapping Kevin Owens ascent to the level of super badass, we are treated to a video package recapping NXT’s presence at the Arnold Sports Festival and Triple H’s induction into The International Sports Hall of Fame. WWE has always done great charity work and should be applauded as such. However, for the sake of the product, its still kind of odd to see Sasha Banks and Charlotte standing side by side smiling wide, even if it’s for a worthy cause.

Colin Cassidy defeats Westly Blake via Distraction Pin

Exiting this video package, we’re treated to another promo staring Alex Riley and Finn Balor trading corny dialog about Riley’s match with Owens later in the night. With our interest piqued in the main event, its only fitting that we’re treated to three of the most irritating wrestlers on the roster, main or otherwise.

Blake enters with his partner at his side to little fanfare, unfortunately the same can’t be said for Colin Cassidy. The trio of Enzo Amore, Carmella and Cassidy enter with their standard intro and sing along led by Amore, however in the trio’s defense both teams enter to absolutely dreadful music. Amore and Cassidy deliver a rambling promo, a now weekly occurrence. The only difference in this situation is that they claimed to be the next NXT champions. As much as the pair would like it to be true, getting the audience to spell out “sawft,” will never be as entertaining or exciting as getting the crowd to scream “Suck-it.”

As the match gets underway, the crowd erupts into a “We want Blue Pants,” chant, likely directed at Carmella. Blake showed some typical heel tactics, using the top rope to choke Cassidy, following up with a diving chop to the back of the knee. Cassidy however would regain his momentum back rather quickly, delivering several consecutive running tackles to Blake. 

During the end of the match, Buddy Murphy would ascend to the apron to distract Cassidy. He would be quickly joined by Carmella. Cassidy delivered a running boot to knock Murphy to the floor. Blake would then capitalize by shoving Cassidy into the ropes, the momentum of which sent Carmella to the floor, somehow causing her to cut her knee open slightly. Blake would end the match on a distraction roll up.

A distraction roll up pin is the equivalent of the dollar bill on a fishing line gag. The wrestler is booked to see the distraction, and go towards the shiny object, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’re in a match and defeat is a possibility. In the last ten years, the only distraction pin plausible in a post kayfabe world has been Adrian Neville over Sami Zayn using a feigned injury angle. The distraction pin in modern wrestling serves little more than to undermine the intelligence of the viewer and should only be used sparing, if at all.

Alexa Bliss defeats Sasha Banks via Count Out

From one awful finish to another. Alexa Bliss enters as the hometown hero, and the crowd welcomes her with a huge pop. The match gets underway with the standard “Sasha’s Ratchet,” chant. The commentators would even get in on the fun, debating over the meaning of “ratchet,” and whether or not Sasha fit the bill. Sasha Banks would quickly take over on offense, delivering very hard strikes to Bliss. Banks has quickly developed into one of the better females on the entire roster with her strikes against Bliss during the match hit with real gravity, often times blurring the lines between wrestling and MMA. 

After a particularly hard jumping knee to Bliss’s abdomen, Sasha would slow the pace down and burn time off the clock with a string of submission maneuvers. Bliss would take back control of the match, reversing out of an over-the-knee sleeper hold, Bliss would connect with the Bliss Flip for a long two count. Banks rolled out of the ring, with Bliss in hot pursuit. Bliss connects with a flurry of punches, showing a higher level of aggression than before. Banks counters by bucking Bliss off, sending her face crashing into the apron. At this point the referee count is at five.

Banks quickly stands and brings Bliss to her feet for an irish whip into the ring post. Bliss would counter however, sending Banks into the cold steel and to the ground. Bliss rolls into the ring, scoring the victory via count out. Per the rules of wrestling, a victory over a champion during a non title match elevates you to the number one contender. In a promo after the match, Bliss discussed her upset victory and was interrupted by Banks, belt in tow. A title match is then set by commissioner Regal for next week.

The level of improvement in Alexa Bliss’s work has been quite remarkable over the weeks prior to her injury. While it was unfortunate that she was sidelined as long as she was, its great to see her back and elevated to such a high level in the roster. While her count out victory does more to advance Sasha Banks as the more credible competitor, a win here was big for her momentum.

Kevin Owens defeats Alex Riley via Pop-up Powerbomb

Alex Riley enters to a lukewarm reception, his passion and intensity not at the level praise he was receiving from the crowd. Owens however would enter to a great pop, a typical occurrence given his star power. The Owens/Riley feud has been booked in a very interesting way. The pair have been booked as two men who genuinely hate each other, so much so that the two came to blows prior to the opening bell. Both played the role very vell and showed excellent ring presence in their display.

The match begins with some quite aggressive chain wrestling, into a hard kick to the abdomen, courtesy of Kevin Owens. Riley would gain momentum back, executed with fluid dropkick. However, as quickly as he loss it, Owens would gain it right back, sending Riley crashing to the mat. Owens slowed the pace down as he towered over Riley, taunting him and playing to the crowd, who had been keeping a, “Kevin’s gonna kill you,” chant alive since the beginning of the match.

After a missed Cannonball, Riley would again take the lead, hitting Owens with a fantastic looking spinebuster. However, as before, he would quickly relinquish momentum to Owens, falling victim to a trio of running senton drops. Owens would take the fight outside, tossing Riley into the unforgiving fencing surrounding the ring. Bringing the fight back into the ring, Owens would score the pin via a Pop-Up Powerbomb.

After the match, Owens would attempt to further injure Riley, only to be greeted by Finn Balor’s entrance music. As Balor stood on the entrance landing, Owens back away, seeming to allow Riley a chance to exit. Owens would quickly lurch forward to attack Riley, only to be met with a diving clothesline from Balor as he leapt from the entrance area.

The pair rumble for a bit outside the ring, culminating in Balor sending Owens into the stairs shoulder first. Balor sends the fight into the ring to hit his signature moves. After sending Owens into the corner with his signature dropkick, Balor ascended to the top rope to score the Coup de Gras, however Owens would quickly roll out of the ring. As Owens sped around the ring to exit, he would deliver a final kick to Riley as he lay motionless in a corner outside the ring. Our show ends with Balor victorious in the ring as Owens exits, NXT title in tow.

With a high level of pressure to perform weighing on the roster, NXT showed it could handle it in stride. While the presentation was in no way an instant classic, it was certainly above average. The NXT crew and roster proved they were capable of producing great content outside of their comfort zone. Viewers have a lot to look forward to next week as all of our major storylines were advanced in meaningful and exciting ways. As an added treat, we now have a Women’s Title match to look forward to as well. Despite being a tad heavy on promos and video packages, tonight’s show served as a great preview to the future of NXT. With any luck, more  fans will be able to enjoy an NXT show live and in person as the brand expands.

This post was written by
He is the senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A Nebraska boy born and raised, where he spends most of his time as a writer. When not tearing up Xbox Live, he spends most of his time divided between Magic: The Gathering and his fiancee.
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