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  • Another solid NXT.

    Diamond Mine being a Malcolm Bivens stable was something I predicted, as he kept using Diamond in the Rust for promoting Tyler Rust. By predicted, I don't mean I stated it anywhere, just what I figured would happen. I did not expect it to be what it seems to be though. Despite all the MMA style promoting in the vignettes, I felt it might be a swerve in some way. And I guess it sort of was, but not in the way I pictured. But having Roddy back gives them credibility, and the larger Japanese guy only adds to it. I can't recall his name and I feel if I guess I'll get it wrong disrespectfully, so apologies for that. But I know he was hired as a coach for the WWE PC, so this might not end up being a real run for him. Either way, we'll see.

    Speaking of new(ish) stables, I'm very impressed by Hit Row so far. Now, I'm nowhere near educated on modern hip hop culture, so I might be off the mark. But this feels like an actual successful attempt to capture a modern culture trend. WWE is not known for that, with more Men on A Mission type acts in their repertoire. But I get the feeling Swerve has a lot of input into this stable, and everyone seems to be doing their part so far. Very intriguing. Huge potential here.

    And speaking of stables with leaders chasing the North American Title, Escobar and his mates have been amazing. It's really tough to predict how NXT will book in the future. With Kross and Reed getting main roster spotlights this week, they might be moving up sooner rather than later. If I were Vince, I'd take Kross, but leave Reed (he still needs work) but take either of these 2 stables instead. Hit Row has some very green workers, and likely should iron out their kinks before being called up. But if WWE will be on the road with non-TV events, they could get called up and work the house shows to get practice. Maybe do TV for Mondays or Tuesday, and still do the Florida NXT house show circuit. But I admit, I'm a very white guy who has no real knowledge of modern hip hop. My nephew showed me Trippie Redd lately (no thanks). And I like The Weeknd's 80s synth music. Beyond that, I'm still waiting for Hip Hop Hooray to play. But somehow I feel this is more on the mark, and therefore Raw/SD should take advantage sooner rather than later while the act is fresh.

    I didn't care for O'Reilly vs Kushida. It wasn't bad, but it was't my style. Seemed fine for what it was though. Same for Cole vs Hayes. I also don't care about Cole vs O'Reilly on GAB.

    I didn't care for how they had Jake Atlas join Mercedes. Seemed lame, but I think he's lame. He needs a character, but as the token LGBT member of the roster (well, Toni Storm is now openly part of it), it feels like his TV time is only to take advantage of him being openly gay. But right now he's a black hole of charisma, and is overly choreographed in the ring. I'm hard pressed to think of anyone I feel he should be defeating and going over against.

    I didn't care for Gargano teasing a face run, but I won't deny that he works in the ring much better as the baby. This match was good though, and I think Lorcan/Dunne is an amazing team in the ring. Still too choreographed at times, but I think I just have to accept that this is what wrestling is today. Either way, that team vs Thatcher/Ciampa would be godly.

    I'm really enjoying this heel LA Knight. Eli Drake was always a great character worker, and I recognize this isn't much different. But the element of being the Million $ Champ who attacked DiBiase helps give him real heat, which he needed. He's so good that he can get that cheering reaction despite being a heel. But this slight adjustment is great for the moment. It's a shame Grimes will have to go over him at some point, because Knight is likely at the hottest he'll ever be in NXT right now.


    • I had actually stopped watching a lot of NXT a little while before they moved from Wednesday nights, but since In Your House I've gotten back into it and it's really, really good stuff. I agree with pretty much everything you said about this week's show.

      It's not the NXT of a few years ago, but it's incredibly entertaining, moves quickly and is a fun show.

      Gargano has started to grate on me, and I'm hoping that maybe if he turns babyface and isn't as whiney, that'll change. But I doubt it. I have a feeling they'll lean harder in to comedy and "coocoo bananas" garbage with him.

      I actually really liked the opening and closing matches. Cole vs Hayes maybe gave the other guy a little much, but I kind of liked him so if they're going to get behind him a good showing vs Cole is a decent way of doing it. O'Reilly vs Kushida was something that I was super into, and I loved that they spent the night building it up like it was the most important thing that week. It's very "real" sports, and adds importance to what is, on paper, not the biggest match in the world.

      Wrestling could use a lot more of that. In fact, if this is a dream match, I wouldn't mind a couple other talking heads and maybe a legend or two chiming in about who is going to win throughout the night.

      I wasn't the biggest fan of the show closing angle. Not because I didn't like the debut or the concept, but just because it felt like there was too much happening, while at the same time not enough was happening.

      If you envision being someone who's there live, Kushida is standing in the ring watching O'Reilly get jumped by Cole and the two fighting. It's awkward for Kushida. Why wouldn't he get involved trying to break it up or help the guy he just had a big show of respect with? It's sort of like in a lot of these multi-man matches where a guy will get bumped out so two guys can work, but it gets to the point where he's not even selling anymore, he's just waiting for his spot and they figure that if he's not on camera it doesn't matter (despite having a live audience). On top of that, the brawl and debut kind of take away attention from one another. The debut attack had happened before Cole and O'Reilly were fully out of the arena, which makes it feel more spontaneous and unplanned, but also means a good chunk of the people who would have reacted were paying attention to something else.

      If you feel you have to do the brawl, which I would have saved for the go-home show, I'd have had Cole enter from the other direction (from the stage rather than I guess a secondary door?) while both men were on their knees showing each other respect and in one motion, with just enough of a beat for O'Reilly to realize he's there and what's about to happen to his friend. hit Kushida with the Last Shot. Now Kushida is down and out from Cole's finish after a hard fought match and can sell and maybe someone is checking on him. Cole and O'Reilly to their fight and O'Reilly can now be on Cole from the jump like he was by getting Cole on his way back to his feet after a move, as opposed to just double legging him.

      Cole and O'Reilly are being pulled apart and dragged out on opposite sides of the rampway, with the commentators making note that Kushida is still having trouble getting back to his feet but an official is apparently coming out to check on him.

      That "official" is coming down the ramp (where the crowd is already watching because of Cole and O'Reilly) and you realize just as he helps Kushida off the mat that, wait a minute, this guy is wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap (maybe for the night you have a couple of your camera people dressed like that and get caught in shots from other angles just so the person kind of blends in a little) and he lays out Kushida. Then his two buddies appear from seemingly nowhere (they ran down the ramp while the camera was on the ring and the Strong reveal), the three stand over Kushida while Bivens who sauntered down to the ring hands Strong the Cruiserweight title, and if that's the direction he holds it over his head as the show goes off the air.

      It's pandemonium. It's chaos. It feels at the same time completely spontaneous, but also organized. And all those words could be pulled off in three minutes or less.
      My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


        • Cameron Grimes returns to action
        • Mercedes Martinez and Jake Atlas vs. Xia Li and Boa
        • Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon vs. Io Shirai and Zoey Stark vs. Dakota Kai and NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez - #1 contenders match
        • Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher will Face-Off with NXT Tag Team Champions MSK
        What I like about NXT is that the stories move in a way where PPVs aren't needed. They sell a show with ongoing rivalries, and deliver drawing matches. All 4 of these are unlikely to end the feuds involved, and they'll likely build to bigger matches for Great American Bash.

        Speaking of, any chance for an NXT title match? Will the main event be Cole vs O'Reilly?

        Grimes vs Knight feud essentially started with a ladder match, but the angle isn't over. Cole vs O'Reilly I was unsanctioned, and now the sequel is a singles match. As HHH would say "It's a funny thing..."


        • I'm assuming that they'll pull the trigger on Kross vs Gargano at some point in time, but whether that's for GAB or not I don't know. The next Takeover is probably in August (last year In Your House was June and then XXX was in August) so they might well build to that for that match t happen there.

          I do think Cole/O'Reilly will headline next week, so maybe that's why they're holding off on Gargano/Kross a bit.

          Nasty looking knock out for Mercedes Martinez last night, hopefully she's OK. As we say in the UK, she went down like a sack of spuds - must have been completely out cold. To put a positive spin on it, though, it does give Xia Li and Tian Sha a real edge. I really like that little stable, but the pre-match stuff from Xia I find a little bit too corny to take seriously, especially against the overall feel of their entrance.

          I thought this week's show overall was a bit of a blend between clear build for next week and then some establishing bouts for people. I loved the Strong squash win, and Grimes needed his one too. Solid, unspectacular, but all the building blocks are there for GAB and I though the promo segments largely worked really well in that context.

          One thing I do wish is that Jake Atlas had something more character-wise. I think they want to use him, and I've been impressed with him enough in ring to think he'll be good, but there's nothing in terms of character there which might help him really get a foothold.


          • I think that this show was exactly what a modern professional wrestling show should be. It was almost perfect from a format standpoint.

            Open with a strong match that doesn't give away business you'd want to make money with later (it was a four way) that has a purpose and stakes so you have to stay tuned in. An angle with a pull apart between Gargano and Kross. A squash for your new stable, followed by a squash for your rising star that ended in a promo to further business. The big face-off between the people in your main event next week. A competitive mixed tag team match (despite the ending). A unique and interesting in-ring promo segment to further next week's business in that tag match. Kross getting his heat back after being verbally beaten earlier in the night. And then an extended main event with stakes that meant something.

            This was a really great show that I couldn't believe was already over when it ended. No filler, no time killing. Every match, angle, promo, backstage interaction and interview had a purpose, served current or future business and was well executed.

            There are nitpicks, sure. I'm with Oliver in that I don't think Li's pre-match katas are particularly well executed. They're a little slow and not very smooth. Some people still feel wooden when they're speaking. They keep talking about DiBiase, but we don't see him. Etc. But from a start to finish, quality wrestling television show, that might be one of the best I've seen in a long time.
            My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


            • That was a really good show last night - big night feel from top to bottom and broadly speaking the matches delivered.

              I still think the Panama Sunrise is a stupid move, but I think the match before it built to the move well enough for it to at least be reasonable that O'Reilly was stooped over enough to allow Cole to hit it. Otherwise, I would say that match was better than their plunder filled unsanctioned bout.

              Tag opener was strong, Knight vs Grimes was good (although Knight using a Burning Hammer for a near fall will never get over for me - that thing should be death, even in the WWE version where it's more of an inverted body slam style thing), and the women's tag, while probably the weakest bout on the night, still hit the mark for me. Minor nitpick that I don't buy Indi Hartwell as a 'powerhouse' no matter how much they refer to her as one on commentary, especially with like Zoey Stark in the ring who is built far more like a strong/powerful wrestler based on the naked eye test, but whatever.

              The Hit Row Cypher Celebration was fine, but went a little too long for me and I'm not completely sure what the end goal of it was. I kept expecting Bronson Reed to come and crash the set but it didn't happen. Then I thought maybe one of the tag teams would turn up to challenge them but they didn't. It just seemed to be to establish that these four people quite like the sound of themselves. Which is fine, but it was a very lengthy way to do it.


              • I liked it as well, but I skipped to the end of the main event. I can't do Cole matches anymore, and it ruins the show for me to put up with that style. I'll possibly do the same for Gargano vs Kross.

                I loved Grimes vs Knight. Classic wrestling booking, good storytelling. Some over choreographed modern stuff, but it was not overly prevalent.

                I also enjoyed the women's tag, though I made the mistake of reading the Raw dark match spoilers and guessed that's who it would be. I also wonder if they could have done a better job reminding us Candice was who kayfabe took Tegan out. I completely forgot, and I still don't really remember what happened. But that could just be me being an old man and forgetting things.
                I like the new champs. Io is a huge asset to the roster, and this run helps keep her in focus while allowing Raquel to develop her own stardom.

                Best match was the mens tag, but I likely will always select Thatcher/Ciampa matches over any other. MSK were at their most interesting. As exciting as they are as a modern Rockers type team, we don't have any real understanding of who they are. So it was nice to see some sort of character work of them toughing out a hard hitting match. Not heels, but they had an edge that I felt adds a lot.

                I liked the idea of the Hit Row thing. None of it was for me, and it seemed like some of it wasn't good even to hip hop fans. But I appreciated the effort and what it adds to their aura as a group. They might be the most exciting act in NXT, which is saying something.


                • I agree on the Tegan/Candice thing, Pen - I questioned why she had turned up during the tag match on her own when it happened. I had to go back and then double check the history after the show, because I genuinely couldn't remember what happened (I thought she'd been out since the first women's WarGames and the Dakota Kai attack).


                  • I thought that was a pretty solid Takeover - possibly the best one for a while. Cole/O'Reilly going through their three falls pretty quickly was to their benefit, because I was settled in for 40 minutes odd of that and fearing it going long. I liked the Joe/Kross didn't go too long either.

                    Walter/Dragunov will take all the plaudits, but I thought Kai/Gonzalez was the best both have wrestled in NXT.


                    • I'm very interested in the revamp for NXT that seems to be coming. NXT has a lot going for it that helps it stand out from "main roster," but it's also got a lot that holds it back. It should still be unique, and I really don't sense it'll be just another WWE brand the way people fear. There's no business logic in going for that approach. It needs to be unique, but it also needs to be successful, and that isn't something we can say when looking at viewers and metrics. If the brand isn't going to tour for the near future, and will still be a taped studio show, a bright revamp would be wise. It is a bit too dark. And as much as I hate hiphop, that style of atmosphere is much better to attract new viewers. Judging by how Hit Row are being shown, I think NXT has the potential to be a more modern product.


                      • I was a big fan of the dark look when they brought it in, and I think it's been an overall feel of the show for a while now (which blends with the theme music and also the type of wrestling which has been a bit more rough and ready brawling/gritty sort of stuff - I don't know if that's the best description of it, but I mean that Balor/Dunne/O'Reilly main event style).

                        I'm all for a bit of a style revamp, though - in presentation if not in actual content immediately. I don't buy that they'll suddenly can the likes of Ciampa, O'Reilly, Dunne, Lorcan, Burch to replace them all with 6' 6" ex-NFL players, because that would be stupid. Mind you, someone like Ridge Holland getting a bit of shine recently might hint at them investing more into that 'type' I suppose.

                        I can certainly understand the idea behind shifting to a bit more of a 'developmental' style, like it originally started out as. But I think it'll be more on the lower card, kind of like how it started out where you had the Neville/Zayn etc group holding it down at the top of the card, a couple of guys like Breeze who were homegrown that dipped into that, but also the likes of Corbin and Dempsey on the undercard.


                        • Admittedly I have not watched NXT on a regular basis in weeks to months, but if LA Knight wins and becomes the champion, I may not tune back in until he loses the belt.

                          I, personally have go away. get off my screen heat for him. The rest of the show is fine, but he just irks me, and NOT in a good, he is getting heat way.


                          • See, I think Knight is the perfect heel right now. I want to see him get is arse kicked, and that's all I can ask for in a heel. He's got the look, he can cut a hell of a promo...he'd be perfect if what you wanted in a heel champion is someone who's going to come out into a building and make them boo him within 2-3 minutes.


                            • See, to me, Lashley and Roman have been the perfect heels. Hell even Gargano, where I want to see him get his ass kicked, but Knight, upon his debut, I just did not see anything in. He is a guy who just likes to say his name with hand gestures.

                              again, personal preference. But I tune him out


                              • I have not seen a lot of him in nxt but I have liked him in the past. In nwa especially.