Chris and Spaceman Frank analyze the infamous “Final Deletion,” The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day, Nakamura and Finn Balor’s epic encounter and way more in a heavy-hitting podcast.
Chris and Spaceman Frank analyze the infamous “Final Deletion,” The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day, Nakamura and Finn Balor’s epic encounter and way more in a heavy-hitting podcast.
by Frank Lucci
Despite the ominous title, the newest NXT TakeOver live event special is not the end of the highly praised series – but it does have some finality hanging over it.
With many of the top NXT talent already on the main roster and several more possibly leaving NXT for Raw or SmackDown! when the brand split occurs in July, this may be the last TakeOver event with some of the classic NXT talents people first latched onto when WWE first began having live specials for the developmental brand.
Here are Spaceman Frank’s predictions for NXT Takeover: The End.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger
Poor Tye Dillinger. Despite having lots of crowd support and a marketable gimmick, the poor guy lives just to put over new talent. With so many of the old NXT guard on the main roster, would a push for “The Perfect Ten” be too much to ask?
His opponent, the former La Sombra, has been working NXT live events (as well as a dark match at NXT Takeover: Dallas) and has received rave reviews from live audiences. Random side note: I like that Andrade has “Cien” as a nickname instead of being “Cien Almas. ” As much fun as No Way Jose is, it’s hard to take him seriously with no real name. In addition, it’s rumored that Almas is going to be heavily featured in the Cruiserweight Classic this summer, so it’s pretty clear that he’s going to beat Dillinger.
America Alpha (C) vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championships match)
This matchup is a big toss-up. For one, champs American Alpha are super over with the crowd and have routinely handled The Revival at live events. However, the champions are frequently discussed as the next tag team to jump to the main roster, so they could easily lose the titles and then move on. The Revival are a better version of the now broken up Blake and Murphy and shine as the talented yet generic heel tag team that make good diabolical champs. It’s time for a two time champion in NXT and The Revival will reclaim their belts so Jordan and Gable can make their leap forward.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries
The big new dream match for The End sees the two men who debuted at NXT Takeover: Dallas clash and have an unofficial number one contenders match for the NXT Championship.
Nakamura can do no wrong at Full Sail as the crowd pops big time whenever his theme song hits. Meanwhile, Aries has the crowd begging for his heel turn; as A Double would be the perfect bad guy to slide into the main event picture. The big question here is if Aries turns on the live special or if he saves it for NXT’s weekly programming. I’m predicting Nakamura wins clean here, causing Aries to descend into madness later – making Swagsuke look good while the cameras are live.
Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
First teased at Takeover: London, this match is brimming with potential.
Asuka was able to take down Bayley, but can she handle a motivated Jax who’s been taking down every other woman on the NXT roster? Conspicuous in her absence is former champ Bayley, who (kayfabe) was injured by Jax and thus unable to get her rematch. It seems blasphemous to leave Bayley out of a TakeOver, as NXT could have easily added more drama or intrigue by having this be a triple threat or having Bayley be the guest referee. By having her out it seems plain as day that Asuka hangs on to her title so the two can have their big rematch in front of the much larger NXT Takeover: Brooklyn crowd while Jax gets valuable reps so she can be NXT’s next big heel.
Samoa Joe (C) vs Finn Balor (Steel Cage Match for the NXT Championship)
The fourth and (probably) final match between these former friends is sure to be memorable. When it was assumed this feud was played out, NXT pulled a shocker when Joe won the NXT Championship at an untelevised show. Instead of having Balor immediately jump to the main roster to join his mates in The Club, he’s been showing more fire than ever in trying to reclaim the gold.
Joe has been perfect on the microphone as champ and I’m sure WWE wishes they could give their main roster champion Roman Reign’s half the ability this Samoan has. Throw in not only a rare stipulation but the first-ever NXT cage match at Full Sail and this could be a classic feud finisher that has been sorely lacking in this age of 50/50 WWE booking.
Both men deserve to make it to the main roster ASAP, but I see Joe retaining so WWE can begin hyping Balor coming to the main roster and Joe can lay down the groundwork for a match with Nakamura that will be so heavy Iron Maiden will write a concept album about it.
As expected, WrestleMania 32 was huge – so huge that one episode alone cannot cover the events surrounding “The Granddaddy of ‘Em All.” In part one, Chris and Frank discuss NXT TakeOver: Dallas in vivid detail.
By Frank Lucci
With WrestleMania upon us, it’s for fans and Superstars alike to gear up for the biggest night of WWE’s calendar year. Before ‘Mania fully takes hold, NTX’s Takeover: Dallas special proceeds WWE’s flagship Pay-Per-View this Friday on the WWE Network.
It’s no secret that NXT is slowly gathering more eyes on the product, generating consistently positive reviews and selling out a large portion of their events. Due to WWE’s lackluster booking of their main roster, even WrestleMania has been overshadowed by the NXT Takeover series. While ‘Mania will always have a special aura around it, the young talent at NXT have Wrestlemania 32 beat. But enough doom and gloom, here is Spaceman Frank’s NXT Takeover: Dallas predictions.
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
Aries received a hero’s welcome when he stepped into Full Sail University (and when I saw him at NXT Live in Albany) and Corbin’s vicious attack on the former TNA talent roughly 30 seconds after he stepped through the curtain was perfect. Aries is a great foil for Corbin and his indy wrestler hating ways (although whenever Corbin shows up on Raw I imagine that gimmick will change to hating cruiserweights). Corbin is primed to takeover (pun intended) the number one heel spot of NXT after Samoa Joe inevitably jumps to the main roster, and for that reason I see him defeating the newcomer in a fun match.
The Revival vs. American Alpha (NXT Tag Team Championship match)
Both teams are red hot right now and with the titles on the line, this could steal the show. The Revival have proven they can work with anyone and their smash-mouth old-school style has been sorely missed among the tag team division. Dash and Dawson had the best match against Enzo and Big Cass at WWE Roadblock and they seemingly can do no wrong when it comes to being bad. Meanwhile, American Alpha has been playing lights-out ball both in the ring and on the mike since they burst on the scene. The extremely likable duo of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable is like watching Attitude Era Kurt Angle team with himself. Both teams could easily walk away with gold, but I predict The Revival to win simply because their personas are more wrapped around being champs (plus I don’t want them to fall into the abyss former champs Blake and Murphy are currently wallowing in).
Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson
Directionless but lovable babyface versus heel with “go away” heat from the crowd. Crews has yet to find a rival that bumps him up to the upper echelon of NXT through a show stealing performance. In addition, his smiling yet oddly passive aggressive interview personality needs to evolve before he is ready for the big time. Sampson has a gimmick that garners Eva Marie heat from the crowd, but needs to channel that initial momentum into something the crowd can respect. It will be interesting to see how both men do in this match, given that it has the least amount of hype and neither can afford a loss at this junction. Sampson wins via cheating to solidify his stance in the company as Crews continues to drift.
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura has NXT fans abuzz and his main roster debut seems to be heading in a similar direction as AJ Styles was in January. The big international superstar looks to be WWE’s biggest signee of 2016 and Nakamura could find himself in the title picture before the year is out. Standing in his way is Sami Zayn, one of the most beloved NXT wrestlers of all time in what very well may be his final Takeover appearance. This match should be great, but I would not be surprised if Zayn keeps some energy for his Wrestlemania ladder match later in the weekend. With the former NXT champion having to work double duty, I see Nakamura winning this match in a fun but safe affair.
Bayley vs. Asuka (NXT Women’s Championship match)
The battle between two of NXT’s best and brightest women will most definitely have fans divided as to which competitor they want to see win. Asuka has been on fire since her debut and the Japanese star has been raising the bar when it comes to physicality in women’s matches. At the same time, Bayley continues to be the face of NXT (perhaps even more than NXT champ Finn Balor, who has been notably absent from NXT television as of late). Bayley is afraid of the threat that the aggressive Asuka presents, which is refreshing when compared to her usual John Cena-lite attitude towards rivals. This points to a potential heel turn from Asuka, but I see that happening after Bayley retains her title at Dallas.
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Champion match)
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the logic behind the NXT title picture.
The two men put on a clinic at the last Takeover event in London and their second encounter will definitely be another classic. One big problem I have however, is the lack of Balor in NXT compared to Joe. While Balor has been nursing an injury, Joe has had a great rivalry with Sami Zayn that was Pay-Per-View worthy in and of itself (how often do we see a full broadway aka one hour match on Pay-Per-View, let alone TV?). This puts Samoa Joe way ahead of Balor in terms of momentum.
On the other hand, the constant Bullet Club (or Bulletproof as WWE now calls it) still has fans buzzing about the NXT Champion in 2016. Either men could make the jump to the main roster after WrestleMania, but considering Joe’s age and hot streak I see the Samoan brawler getting called up first. Balor retains the title so Joe can head to Raw and the champ can reunite with his friends sooner rather than later.
by Frank Lucci
NXT has become the hottest brand in all of wrestling and it’s easy to see why. The “developmental” promotion has sought out many top wrestlers in the industry with seemingly little regard to the unwritten rules of what the WWE wants in their superstars.
Triple H, the man playing the wizard of this veritable land of pro wrestling Oz, has signed big guys, little guys, guys who have been told before they “would never make it to the WWE” and perhaps the most important of all, women for his brainchild. Throw in key elements that have been missing from the main WWE roster (simplified, cohesive stories, emphasis on in-ring ability, focus on both women’s and tag team wrestling) and the brand that was once a third-rate reality TV show has eclipsed the WWE in the eyes of many fans.
When NXT began touring outside of Florida for the first time in May of 2015, I saw no reason not to drive over 200 miles from Rochester, New York to Albany for a chance to see NXT. With the company once again coming to the Washington Avenue Armory on February 20 of this year, I jumped at the chance to see the superstars in training once again.
Of course, it’s never quite as simple as jumping into a car on a Saturday afternoon and driving down the thruway. I had to get up early (i.e: 10 in the morning, I worked until one A.M the previous night) and scramble to secure five tickets. Shockingly, the tickets cost more per person than the WWE live show that had come to Rochester the previous September. I purchased five tickets, (enough to fit into one car) and then had to figure out a) who to offer tickets to first and b) how to gather people who lived out in Buffalo and Oswego to my place so we could all drive together.
I was confident in my ability to go, as that day happened to be a guaranteed day off from Saturday overtime for the shift I was on. Lo and behold, two weeks before the event my work changed my shift to the morning shift. This meant I went from having the day guaranteed off to being on the shift that was primary for working Saturday.
I began to panic slightly. However, it had been several weeks since anyone had needed to work Saturday, so perhaps I would still be in the clear. God and the weather laughed at me and proceeded to dump a foot of snow on Rochester the Tuesday before the show. While I managed to get to work, the main highways were actually closed later in the day due to the storm, a feat unheard of in Rochester lore. Sure enough, the other shifts were cancelled that day and we got to “leave early” (aka shovel our cars out of the parking lot and brave the storm). This lead to Saturday overtime, leaving me high and dry for NXT unless I could find a volunteer to work for me. Despite my best attempts to convince people that a painted up Irishman and an adorable woman in a side ponytail needed me to cheer for them, people did not want to wake up at six in the morning to work for me.
Things were bleak until I asked the women on night shift (who were also coming in for Saturday, but due to their schedule worked through Friday night) If she was willing to work a 12 hour shift. Finally I had a success, and she agreed to stay, leaving me with only four hours to give away. Thankfully my good buddy and fellow wrestling fan John (who had the privilege of seeing Andre the Giant perform) agreed to come in for the rest of my shift knowing how important seeing NXT was to me. John, a diehard Phish fan (as if there are any other types of Phish fans) compared my love of wrestling to that of his love of Phish. I took that as a huge compliment and with my wrestling plans secured braced myself for the long drive ahead.
Saturday came and my four traveling companions were ready to make the long drive with me. Marques (aka occasional Manopera guest Lord Boximus) was ready to see his girl Asuka kick people’s heads in. As the most veteran wrestling fan of our group (he saw the premiere of the Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series 2002) he got to ride shotgun for part of the trip. Kim, the owner of the car we piled into, intrepidly drove the first half of the trip. Her boyfriend Dan, being the next smallest person in the group, had to ride in the middle seat the entire way. Rob, our fitness freak friend who proudly lost over 100 pounds to become the height and weight of Cesaro, managed to squeeze into the rouge as well. With the weather doing a complete 180 from Tuesday’s storm, deciding to be 50 degrees and sunny, things were on the up and up. With this good fortune we barreled down highway 90 discussing who we thought would be on the card, theorizing about Wrestlemania plans, addressing internet wrestling rumors and in general forgetting that Fastlane was the next day. The 200 plus mile trip was conquered in three hours and change; and after a brief trip of downtown Albany in a quest to find parking we were set.
Feeling good about arriving half an hour before the show was scheduled to start, our spirits were high. Groups of wrestling fans converged on Washington Avenue and everyone was excited to attend the sold out show. On the way to the building we passed a dead crow who had slammed into a window while flying, broke it’s neck and face planted into the ground below. I decided this hardcore sight warranted an “ECW” chant – unaware of the bad omen the crow represented. We got to the doors to see the line snaked around the side of the building, which was expected. Little did we know, the line went around the building and had almost passed the end of the line walking from our car to the building’s front door. With the clock rapidly counting down to the start time of 7:30 the familiar panic began to set in. We joked that Rob, fit as he was, should have stripped down to his underwear and pretend to be a local jobber working the show to get us in. With five minutes until the start time seeing us still snaked around the building, we debated bum rushing the garage entrance of the building when a car pulled up. 7:30 hit and we were still outside.
All seemed quiet so we thought perhaps WWE officials had wisely delayed the start time. We were wrong however, and soon we reached the point where we could heard the crowd inside cheering. It turns out that Triple H had come out to hype up the crowd before the show’s first match started, and a large portion of fans missed it. With the doors nearly in view we heard the first wrestler’s theme hit. It was Asuka, and the mood in the line soured quickly. Many fans were peeved that poor planning was leading them to miss one of NXT’s brightest stars, myself included. Once I recognized Asuka’s theme I let out a F-bomb at the top of my lungs, public decency and the children (which there was a surprisingly large amount of, though nowhere near the amount found at WWE shows) be damned. We were even more pissed when her opponent was announced as Eva Marie, as we knew the match would be a disappointment anyway. Finally, realizing the crowd outside was getting hostile, the event staff opened up the VIP entrance to the crowd, and we filtered in to see Asuka make Eva Marie tap out to the Asuka Lock. With my group finally in the building we settled in to our seats and got ready for the show.
Next we had Apollo Crews come out to a decent crowd reaction. His opponent Alex Riley received a very mixed reaction, as some people were either confused as to whether he was heel or face. Some wondered why he was facing Crews when the official fight card poster for the event had Elias Samson wrestling Crews. Either way, the two had a short but relatively uneventful match that saw Riley kill time by running out of the ring repeatedly and Crews trying to hit his signature moves. Eventually Crews rallied against the former announcer and hit his five moves of doom for the win.
Nothing against Riley, but he is a pretty bland wrestler in a sea of colorful personalities and has become the Curtis Axel of NXT. Crews needs an opponent who can work at a higher work rate so he can really shine. Until then, he is destined to be second banana in NXT.
Carmella came out solo for the third match on the card and did her usual stick on the mic. The princess of Staten Island was bursting with energy, but without her main men she lost a step or two. However, she is miles ahead of her opponent Peyton Royce when it comes to having a character. At this point I decided to check out the merch booth, but the line was long enough that I could still check out the action in the ring. However, roughly 70% of this match was the crowd chanting “smell her flower” – referring to the flower Royce brings to the ring as part of her frankly terrible “Venus Fly Trap of NXT” gimmick. When Carmella got ahold of said flower, she smelled it to the delight of the audience as Royce acted like Carmella had just bit the fingers off her newborn child. Once the actual in-ring action took place it was decent, but as I neared the merch booth the bleachers obstructed my view. With only a few people ahead of me I heard the bell ring and Carmella won the match. I was comfortable with my choice to skip the match to grab the awesome fight card poster they made for the event as well as a Samoa Joe shirt.
Just as I had almost made it to the merch booth my heart sank as Enzo and Big Cass’ music hit and the crowd collectively lost their minds. The tag team easily got the loudest sustained pop of the night and the two New York City natives responded accordingly. I got my gear just as they got to the ring after Enzo’s introduction speech and the crowd chanting “How you Doin?” Enzo and Cass relished the Albany crowd, as they considered wrestling there a hometown crowd. It’s astonishing how over the tag team are, although part of the crowd’s love may have been due to the (false) rumor that the two were to appear at the Fastlane Pay-Per-View the next day. Their opponents were The Vaudevillians, who got a nice pop before the crowd settled into the routine rhythmic clapping audiences use to show their love. The two veteran teams have wrestled countless times in the past, but the four men put on a great show for the crowd. In particular, Aiden English played to the crowd while Simon Gotch was in the ring and Big Cass threw Enzo around almost as much as his opponents. Seeing as Enzo and Cass had the crowd in the palm of their hands, the two walked away with a victory before intermission hit.
After a fairly quick intermission (that the venue botched hard by not having enough food prepared for the audience and ridiculous lines to boot) the crowd was ready for more action. What we got was Elias Samson, who got booed like he just ate the last known bison. When he meandered his way to the ring and began playing his guitar things got even worse. The crowd started chanting “drift away” to the New Day Rocks beat. Channeling my best Zoidberg impression, I yelled “Your music’s bad and you should feel bad” which at least made the guy in front of me laugh. While Samson’s gimmick is really lame, he generated so much heat I couldn’t hear him over the boos, so at least he can say he is the male Eva Marie. In addition, his negative reception perfectly dovetailed into monstrous cheers for his opponent Sami Zayn. The ska-tastic Zayn made Samson look good, although to be fair Samson is perfectly fine in the ring. Zayn gave The Drifter plenty of offense, probably because he is polite and Canadian. However, Zayn stormed back and delivered a Helluva Kick to end the contest.
Bayley stormed into the arena next, and the Women’s champ got a very high pitched pop for the many young ladies in the crowd. Bayley spent several minutes giving high fives and knick knacks to fans at ringside because Bayley is pretty much the perfect woman. Her opponent was Alexa Bliss, who was without Blake and Murphy. Quick side note worth mentioning: Bliss has a fantastic butt. Our entire group and everyone in our section agreed. Meanwhile, back in the ring Bayley opened up the match by doing the worm several times, because once again, she is perfect. After the third time Bliss attacked, showing some good heel instincts. Both women put on a good match, and the Glitter Blizzard by Bliss is a thing of beauty. Like most heels, however, Bliss ended up losing to Bayley. Another worm was in order, and the crowd showered the champ with cheers for a great match.
The main event of the evening was a tag match with Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe facing Austin Aries and NXT Champion Finn Balor. Corbin got a decent amount of boos, but the crowd cheered heel partner Joe. Meanwhile, Aries got a tremendous pop from the crowd as most everyone knew who the indy veteran was despite not yet appearing on TV. Balor also got a great pop, but the leather jacket/flashing the title thing makes him look like he may be a pervert. Just once I want him to open his jacket to reveal Krang.
There was a nice bit of psychology to start the match as the face team sent out Aries to please the chanting crowd, only for Joe to refuse to start the match unless Balor was in the ring. Corbin did a series of hokey strikes in the corner followed by posing and yelling, which was super goofy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ares ended up taking loads of punishment and the small boy behind us tried in vain to start a “let’s go Austin” chant for five minutes before his mom told him to stop. This match inspired many great moments from the crowd, with a guy near us yelling “NXT lifer” at Corbin, who clearly heard it and looked pissed afterwards. The Lone Wolf had one fan who kept cheering for him, despite the “shut the fuck up” chant he drew. Because I have the maturity of a five-year old, I tried to start a “Baron Corbin’s a weenie” chant (which did not take off). The four men gave a great performance, ending with the champ cleaning house and winning with the Bloody Sunday. The good guys swept the event, making sure everyone went home happy. Balor thanked the crowd and as a special treat called out Bayley so he could dress up like her and imitate her entrance to the delight of the crowd. Immediately after we hightailed it out of the arena, as we had a three hour drive home to deal with.
The event was a huge success, despite the staff trying hard to throw a wrench in NXT’s momentum. They were probably the biggest heels of the whole show. As our car drove the long stretch from Albany to Rochester listening to Deltron 3030, Action Bronson, and 18 minute long prog metal songs we went through highlights of the evening and tried to picture a scenario where Fastlane could top even an untelevised NXT show.
While a stadium full of fans screaming for the spectacle of a Pay-Per-View is always a treat, an armory of passionate fans watching passionate performers trying to give back what they have received to the fans cannot be topped. Not by the WWE as it stands now, but perhaps when Balor, Bayley and the others make it to the main roster (hopefully with their personalities and gimmicks intact), the company can find its way out of the rut it’s in and start flying high again.
by Frank Lucci
The halfway point of Breaking Ground sees Cal Bishop attempt to get back in the ring, the return of Tino Sabatelli, and Nia Jax making her debut.
Episode five starts with ZZ struggling with cardio to the point where he quits during a drill. It’s pretty much the same stuff we saw before, only with Coach Bloom finding ZZ with the trainer recovering from the drill (makes me curious how much working out ZZ and other trainees are doing per day and if trainers make exceptions for people like ZZ with a less than athletic background).
To the shock of nobody who saw NXT Takeover: Respect in October, Jordan and Gable beat The Hype Bros to get a match at the live special. While the recap type segments such as this and the ZZ spot are good if you waited several weeks between watching episodes, watching this and the previous episode feels pretty boring. After losing, Zack Ryder expresses frustration with being unable to get cohesiveness with tag team partner Mojo Rawley in the ring.
We are reintroduced to Bishop in yet another rehash of the previous episode. We see the second time his shoulder dislocates (ow) off a simple slam. After several months he again dislocated his shoulder taking a hip toss. Things are not sounding good for Bishop who seems like a hell of a nice guy. He does get cleared to return to the ring even though his scar tissue makes moving his shoulder difficult.
Ten minutes in and we finally get something new with Jax making her official debut on the program. Jax both claims that her character is who she is on the inside (turned up to 11) and also someone completely different than herself (what???). Of course she has to mention the fact that her cousin is The Rock 30 seconds into her first talking head interview. Annoying, but if if Rocky was my cousin I would announce that everywhere I went and make T-shirts with photos of us hanging out on them. After watching The Rock’s match at Wrestlemania 28 she was inspired to start wrestling and after a year at NXT she is gearing up for her NXT TV debut. A casual way to insert a basic intro segment.
Nhooph returns to the program to complain how she has not been booked to wrestle at shows. I would feel bad for her if she wasn’t so young and way down the totem pole compared to vets like Bayley and Alexa Bliss. Tyler Breeze is also in the house to give the newbies tips both for in the ring and getting their characters together. Breeze gives amazing pointers for how to present yourself in the ring and asks the girls to imagine how a child watching the show would imitate their characters.
A weekly coaches meeting reveals that pretty much everyone loves Bishop but worry his shoulder will give out again. Coaches also worry that Sabatelli is a cylon in the ring and is way too robotic despite having a great athletic background. Sabatelli is also trying to help his brother Shaun get his foot in the NXT door. Hilariously, Shaun is the one who initially wanted the wrestling career and Tino only got signed because he was there with his brother (who didn’t make the cut. Way to Sideshow Bob your brother dude!) Tino feels bad that he is so successful while Shaun is still chasing his dream. Humblebragging Tino everybody!
Back to Nhooph, who finds out her ring name will be Aliyah. She decides to call William Regal to figure out a character for herself (smart). Apollo Crews and a few other wrestlers get together to play video games and chill. Unsurprisingly, the game they choose is WWE 2K16 (product placement much?). Solomon Crowe makes a brief appearance, which makes me wish NXT did something with the talented wrestler. Tino finds out his brother sprained his MCL and can’t make his NXT tryout (D’oh!). Nhooph meets with Regal and says she wants to be a Kardashian/Brat Doll character. Regal shoots that shit down because by the time she would be able to show that character on the main roster they will be no longer popular. Regal clearly does not know the cockroach-like powers of the Kardashians. Nhooph is hesitant to play up her Middle Eastern background, claiming she wants to be something different than anyone else, which Regal approves of.
Bishop finally gets back into the ring, but has to limit what he can do because of his shoulder. Coach Bloom is worried about the safety of Bishop’s opponents in case he injures himself in the ring and calls Bishop out on trying to avoid using his injured right arm on basic moves. All the NXT women gather to watch a Nikki Bella interview to help them dial in their character performance. Lots of segments are devoted to showing how much work NXT wrestlers put into their characters, which is a nice change of pace from showing in-ring drills.
Side note: Never noticed this before but lots of wrestlers drink from gallon jugs. Is this a weird athlete thing? A gallon seems like too much fluid during working out. Does the WWE provide them jugs to use, because if not they are missing out on a prime marketing opportunity. BUY YOUR OFFICIAL NXT WORKOUT JUGS NOW!!!
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES COLD-BLOODED CANYON CEMAN IS IN THE PERFORMANCE CENTER! His goons round up a bunch of people including Crews, Jax, and Bishop. Everyone is nervous, but Ceman’s actually here to give everyone raises (except for Bishop, who is blindsided to find out he is being released). Episode five closes with him getting let go in a super downer ending.
Bishop’s release is really sad, especially considering the WWE spent the last two episodes getting to know how much he wanted this chance and how hard he took his injuries. Even more egregious, he was let go on the same day as Devin Taylor – meaning the WWE manipulated the show’s timeline to make it seem like he was there longer. Combine that with lots of recycling/rehashing footage and this episode is a low point for the series.
In the final edition of Manopera of the year, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank analyze WWE TLC 2015 and NXT TakeOver: London.
By Frank Lucci
NXT TakeOver: London is in a unique position in many different ways.
Unlike most NXT live specials, this event takes place after a main roster Pay-Per-View rather than before. In addition, that PPV, TLC, was a surprisingly good event.
Instead of giving wrestling fans a high standard to judge WWE specials on, now the shoe is on the other foot. There is no reason to believe that NXT TakeOver: London will fall short, but it will be curious to see how NXT responds to the pressure of TLC’s quality.
Secondly, with the NXT roster in flux and the main roster’s injury woes, the results of the London could be a preview of what NXT will be like in the new year.
Finally, several NXT superstars such as the returning Sami Zayn and the teams of Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake and Jason Jordan and Chad Gable are not booked for the special. These wrestlers could appear on the episode of NXT being filmed before the live portion of the special, but their shadows may loom large if the special fails to live up to the hype. With that being said, here are Spaceman’s Frank predictions for NXT TakeOver: London.
Asuka vs. Emma (with Dana Brooke)
Both of these women have been on a roll lately.
Emma has expertly grown into her heel role and has shown that she is still the great performer we all fell in love with. With her catchy yet dark theme song, goofy half gloves (seriously what possible function could they have) and her pet (I mean friend) Dana Brooke by her side she could be in line for a championship run. On the other hand, Asuka has been a force of nature. Her hard hitting matches are full of moments worth capturing in GIF form and she even made the perpetually stupid Flying Butt in the Face attack look viscous.
Asuka has all the makings of a future superstar, and for that reason I see her getting the win in an excellent match over Emma and continuing her spectacular run.
Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady (with Carmella) (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)
When Dash and Dawson first won the NXT Tag Team Titles, many thought that they would become Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake 2.0. Instead, they have quietly shown flashes of brilliance both in the ring and on the mic. However, they still have a lot of work to do if they are to rise to the level of the The Vaudevillains, Jordan and Gable and their challengers Enzo and Big Cass.If they weren’t the champs they would be lost in the shuffle – which may be why they’re champs in the first place.
Enzo and Cass are perpetually in the title hunt, but have never grabbed the brass rings. They deserve a run with the belts, but Dash and Dawson need a good run to prove their worth. Dash and Dawson win in a decent match.
Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
This match could (and should) be a number one contenders match.
With Crews already having challenged for the NXT title before and Corbin recently spotted working dark matches on SmackDown, both these men look to be moving up sooner rather than later.
While Crews has skyrocketed to the top of NXT with his amazing moves and buckets full of charisma, Corbin has shown incredible attention to the little things that make him a gem. For example, Corbin may have the best punches in the WWE and the former NFL player can throw his body weight around in ways that help sell the force of his moves tremendously. Despite all that, there is no denying Crews’ rise to the top and it looks as though he will pin Corbin for the victory.
Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax (with Eva Marie) (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
Poor Bayley. She went from headlining the last NXT TakeOver event to being in a hastily put together feud with the new monster heel on the block (perhaps Triple H is preparing her for life on the main roster).
Bayley has had several mini-feuds since her epic rivalry with Sasha Banks came to a close and while Alexa Bliss did well, Eva Marie (to put it kindly) served as bait for this new feud.
Side note: If you think that Eva Marie’s ability to garner jeers somehow makes her a standout performer then shame on you. The woman cannot perform in the ring and her matches are either short exhibitions done at a quarter speed or dangerous (as seen when she gave Carmella a concussion). She showed in her promo challenging Bayley for the Women’s Championship that she also cannot handle live promos as she just attempted to repeat the same lines over and over again and her attempt to combat the crowd was pathetic. Being a manager is a better fit for her, but she does not need to be paired with another newbie. She should be managing a veteran who can show her the ropes. She is not a grand-meta example of brilliant commentary on the modern heel, she is a reality TV star that will be gone the moment Total Divas ends.
Anyway, with little build up besides Nia Jax throwing Bayley through a door, expect the champ to retain in a match that could either be good or expose Jax for the green wrestler she is.
Finn Bálor (c) vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Title Match)
Balor and Joe are sure to put on a great showing here, but the build to this match has been on and off.
The parts of this feud that don’t involve the combatants getting physical have been great, but besides Joe’s initial attack on Finn the physical portion of this feud has been subpar. We already know how much of threat Joe is, so having him choke out Balor repeatedly signals (to me at least) that he will not win the championship.
Both these men will deliver a hard-hitting match that sees Joe and Balor beating the holy hell out of each other, but Finn will walk out champ to set up a rematch. Perhaps before Wrestlemania 32? We shall see.