NXT Recap 4/1/2015: Fan Service

Posted in The Three Count by - April 02, 2015

It has been a great week to be a WWE fan. Sunday saw Wrestlemania 31, the best Pay-Per-View event of the Reality Era and the following night’s Raw was the best in nearly three years. Rhonda Rousey finally showed up in a WWE ring and with any luck, we’ve seen the last of Roman Reigns in a main event slot. Life is good.

With all of the hoopla and pomp surrounding the main roster, This week’s NXT comes as a bit of an afterthought… an illustration that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Riding the high that was ‘Mania31, WWE would have been better to give their fans a rest and give us the promo heavy clip show that we were treated to last week, allowing us time to process the nine hours worth of entertainment we’ve consumed just 80 hours previously. However, a full broadcast is in order as we return to sunny south florida for NXT.

We start our broadcast tonight just as every three hour Raw does… a promo! Sami Zayn makes his return to NXT after a month long sabbatical. Sporting his latest shirt, he thanks fans for their support while he wrestled in front of “his people,” the citizens of Abu Dhabi. He goes on to tell how Kevin Owens has changed, not just as a competitor, but as a person. Eventually, a loud “kick his ass,” chant swells in the crowd. Zayn closes by stating he will do just that, screaming in the mic that he will indeed kick Owens’s ass.

Rhyno defeats Elias Samson

Rhyno punches the guy in the face, delivers a suplex and gores him for the pinfall. Fin.

I think there’s enough of a problem with allowing jobbers to be fed to guys like Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey in thirty second matches, that giving Rhyno the same treatment feels even more unfair to the rest of the locker room. Perhaps, instead of doing the job for a veteran performer that doesn’t need the boost, perhaps assign him to a talent that needs the bit of boost that a win on your record brings. At the very least, if you’re not going to do that, tell us what his fucking name is.

After beating the nameless man in the ring in under thirty seconds, Rhyno grabs a hot mic and puts the main event card of NXT on notice, calling out Finn Balor, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Of the three, the mention of Owens gets the biggest crowd reaction. They’re dead on center, an Owens vs Rhyno encounter would be a match well worth watching.

Bayley defeats Emma 

Despite teasing a heel turn on last weeks NXT, Emma enters the ring to the same childish, idiotic music that helped bring her back to NXT in the first place. After merely rolling into the ring instead of her standard entrance over the top rope, the match begins. The two exchange dialog in the ring after the bell, Bayley reminding Emma about the slap delivered last week. Finally, the two come to blows, locking in a standard Collar and Elbow tie up.

After a clean break by Bayley, the match returns to more chain wrestling as the pair trade control of waist locks. The chain is broken as Bayley sends Emma to the mat with a running shoulder tackle. Emma would go on to hit a leg sweep for a quick two count. After delivering a hard clothesline, Emma takes control of the momentum as the match takes a bit of a confusing turn.

Maintaining a physical grip on Bayley’s hair the entire duration, Emma would walk Bayley to each turnbuckle from the near side outward, smashing Bayley into each one and delivering a mix of strikes. Bayley eventually would push away after much time was burned from the clock however. The pace begins to slightly pick back up as Emma appears to be much more comfortable adapting to Bayley’s pace. After a hard elbow, Emma is able to lock Bayley in her submission, the Dilemma, a version of the Tarantula. Emma would attempt to score a pin after hitting her second signature, a diving cross body in the corner. However, Bayley is able to power out and reverse the pin, scoring the victory with a roll up.

During both her entrance and during the first half of the match, Emma’s attitude and demeanor were different than what we’ve seen from her. Seeming to mock her own gimmick, her first match back had a slight level of mystery behind it. A heel turn for Emma is not only imminent, but desperately needed. Her gimmick has been dead in the water for some time now. It will be interesting to see if a darker side of Emma can help turn things around.

Blake and Murphy Defeat Lucha Dragons 

After a Becky Lynch promo asking why all the other women have gotten a title shot and not her, we move on to what would be the match of the night. Having made their raw debut earlier in the week, its likely that this is the Lucha Dragons swan song performance. Fitting as they take on the pair that dethroned them as tag team champions, Westley Blake and Buddy Murphy.

The match begins with Kalisto taking an early lead on offense over Blake. After an early diving crossbody/armdrag combo Blake and Murphy find themselves outside the ring. Sin Cara dives through the second rope to score a double takedown, while Kalisto takes to the top rope for a Moonsault. The competitors return to the ring, however, it is now Murphy who finds himself in control.

Murphy holds Kalisto to the mat with a reverse chin lock, burning time in the match and allowing the pace to slow. Kalisto eventually fights to his feet and scores a tag to Sin Cara. Sin Cara enters with a diving cross body from the top rope, an always impressive feat to watch. After planting Blake to the mat with the cross body, Sin Cara hits a second springboard cross body from the far side second rope. He follows with a springboard moonsault to a very vocal crowd.

Appearing to now have solid control of the match, Blake begins to attempt to enter the ring. In typical fashion, Kalisto attempts to enter to stop his oppenent, distracting the referee in the process. During the distraction, Blake lands a stiff right hand to Sin Cara, sending him to the mat. After a tag, Blake ends the contest with his signature frog splash.

Kalisto was the best thing that could have possibly happened to Sin Cara. Kalisto has always been, in my view, a top level performer and the obvious choice to replace Rey Mysteryo on the main roster. Sin Cara on the other hand… well… Sin Cara isn’t the most graceful man in the ring. If you’re not familiar with the the adventures of Sin Cara, when you’re done scouring this amazing website, open a second tab and acquaint yourself with Sin Cara’s ring work.

Now, as the Lucha Dragons, Kalisto has a veteran at his side to give some level of star power as he begins to enter the main roster. Sin Cara now, along with a lot of experience in the WWE method, has in his corner perhaps the best lucha to enter the WWE, who not only helps him shine, but also brings attention to the level of improvement the character has made, although being a completely different person under the mask certainly helps. Though, together they make a great team and the future certainly looks bright for the both of them.

Tye Dillinger Defeats Jason Jordan 

After a commercial we move on to a match featuring two individuals many figured were long since fired. Tye Dillinger and Jason Jordan never seemed to gel well as a tag team, coming across as Jobbers with an entrance package. The match gets underway with little fan fare to sell the split, however Jordan clearly is the heel in this match.

After trading hard strikes and some standard mat wrestling, Jordan takes the lead, sending Dillinger to the mat. Jordan straddles Dillinger and delivers sharp rabbit punches and a healthy dose of trash talk. Dillinger attempts to mount some offense with a slowly executed atomic drop, followed by a sharp chop to the chest. Dillinger then nails a Russian leg sweep and appears to take the lead, however, this momentum is quickly lost as Jordan takes back the lead. Jordan sends Dillinger into the near corner and scores the pinfall with a fisherman’s suplex.

Coming into this match, I had completely forgotten that either man worked for WWE in any capacity, which says a lot about their presence in the ring. That being said, it appears that Jordan is the man that will be seeing the better push in this instance, given the outcome and booking of this match. Jordan also looks to have added some mass to his body, a sign he has the desire and passion to succeed in the business.

Tyler Breeze Defeats Hideo Itami in Best 2 out of 3

After a video package reminding us what brought these two to the ring, we begin our main event. After a pair of tie ups and breaks from Itami, Breeze takes the early lead in the contest. Itami is tossed in the corner and finds himself on the receiving end of hard shoulders to the midsection in the corner. Eventually, Itami counters and takes the lead on offense. Itami delivers his trademark quick strikes and kicks. Itami lands a hard drop kick to the corner and brings Breeze back to his feet. Rebounding off the ropes, Itami lands a flying boot for a relatively quick fall.

At the start of the second fall, Breeze appears quite rattled in the corner, struggling to get to his feet. He waves off the ref and states he can continue. After the bell rings Breeze falls back to the mat. The referee waves Itami off as he checks on Breeze in the corner. Itami again attempts to encroach and start the match, but is continually waved off by the referee. This continues until Breeze explodes out of the corner, landing a beauty shot to score the second fall.

Our third fall gets underway as we go to commercial. We return with Breeze continuing on offense, Itami just beginning to fight his way to his feet out of submission. Breeze then sends Itami into the ropes and lands his signature high standing drop kick. Breeze again slows the pace down and brings the fight back to the mat, returning to the the reverse chin lock, a submission we’ve seen a lot of all night. Itami again breaks the hold and finds his way back to his feet, landing a trio of running clotheslines and an eventual running knee in the corner.

After a botched fisherman’s suplex, which Breeze quickly covers with an inside cradle for a long two count. Itami rebounds from a hard knee from Breeze, landing a sunset flip for a near fall. Breeze then answers with a near fall of his own. After continuing to trade near falls for some time, Itami lands the same flying boot he used to win the first fall, however this time he is only able to get a long two count. Breeze then answers with a wonderfully executed super kick for an even longer two count.

At this time the pace has slowed down considerably, both men struggling to get back to their feet. After becoming vertical, Breeze lands a flurry of kicks to the chest followed by a hard slap to Itami’s face. After landing a heel kick, the pace beings to pick up again as the match enters its crescendo. Itami misses with a standing drop kick, however, Breeze misses with a Beauty Shot. Itami is able to capitalize and connect with a heel kick and standing drop kick. He sends Breeze into the ropes as a set up for the flying boot, however Breeze answers with a Beauty Shot, connecting for the victory.

The booking for this feud has actually been quite interesting, and the ending didn’t disappoint. Despite his stagnation lately, Breeze has benefited from this match and feud in a big way. Scoring multiple victories over Itami can propel him back into the main event scene as a dark horse. While I’m not happy with Breeze’s gimmick, his ring work and presence has improved markedly over the last few months. While I wouldn’t say I’m quite ready to book my ticket to Cuteville quite yet, with each victory I’m becoming more and more engaged in Tyler’s journey through NXT.

While I would have much rather had this weeks and last weeks broadcast switched, it was nice to not have had a lot of story line progression tossed at us this week. The show was very watchable, but lacked much in the way of substance, which, coming off of two prior excellent events was a good break. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the main event scene becoming crowded, nor did I feel overwhelmed by Sami Zayn’s return and quest to take on Kevin Owens. I was simply entertained.

The 4-1 broadcast is a great example of pacing and consideration for the audience. The ring work was spot on as always and the commentary was not only engaging, but seemed to harken back to the days of JR and King in both in ring analysis and banter.

Fan fatigue is a very real thing in WWE and NXT took great care in not overfeeding us. Only marred by the Rhyno match, this is more than a decent WWE episode, its an excellent example of top notch production work and true fan service.

NXT Rating: 4 out 5 Falls

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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