Another week, another episode of NXT! Tonight, the two segments advertised are an interview with Asuka and a match with Ember Moon.
Tom and Corey fill us in on the plans for tonight – the interview with Asuka and…A match between Steve Cutler and Shinsuke Nakamura? Are you bloody kidding me? That’s Shinsuke’s first match back? I mean, at least I know who I was supposed to care about last week, but c’mon.
MATCH: TM61 vs. Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari
TM61 is ‘Australia’s favorite team’ and, yeah. I guess I can see it. When they’re doing their little pose (they steeple their fingers and hold their hands over their heads), there’s a camera shot of the rig that is above the ring and it’s got an image of the Australian flag on it. The shade of red-orange Shane is wearing is kinda similar to the red and the shade of blue that Nick’s wearing is basically identical to the shade of blue in the flag, so I’m assuming that’s where their new trunk colors come from.
It doesn’t excuse it – those are ugly colors – but it does explain it.
The inside of Full Sail shifts from blue to purple and, yep. They’re up against two guys from the Cruiserweight Classic: Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari.
- Nese and Shane start us off and they’re both slippery little bastards. Neither one can keep the other one in any form of hold for any period of time. Eventually, Nese fights out and then beats the ever loving shit out of Shane. That was stunning. He covered Shane, who kicked out at one. Not long after, both men tag in their respective partners.
- Tom is talking about the height and size disadvantage Nese and Daivari are at while Daivari gets the upper hand against Nick. Yes, Nick and Shane are several pounds heavier, but I don’t think Ariya Daivari or Tony Nese are letting that stop them.
- Tony Nese gets an impressive flip out of the ring onto Ariya and Nick. This is followed by Shane Thorne also getting an impressive flip out of the ring onto Daivari and Nese. Nick – the legal man – drags Nese – also the legal man – back into the ring for an attempted pinfall. Nese kicks out at one.
- After Nick and Shane delivered a tag team move, Shane – who had tagged in – covered Tony for a pinfall. Nese kicked out at two, then Shane just…Sat on him. While talking to the referee. Just…Sitting on him.
- For all that Tom was talking about the size disadvantage, Tony Nese doesn’t really seem to have much trouble picking Shane up. He dropped the Australian onto the ropes, then hit him in the face with a flying knee (seriously. He basically flew into Shane’s face). Shane fell off the ropes and Nese covered him. Shane kicked out.
- Shane Thorne’s specialty seems to be ‘getting the shit beaten out of him’. Damn.
- But Daivari’s (now the legal man) decision to get into an argument with Nick turns out to be a stupid one (…not shocking. Dude, have you never watched a tag team match in your life?), because it gives Shane the time to recover. C’mon, dude. You’re wasting all of Nese’s efforts. However, Daivari recovered faster – Shane’s still slowly inching his way across the mat when Daivari’s most of the way to his feet and tagging in Tony Nese.
- After a lot more beating, Shane manages to knock Nese away long enough to tag in Nick. And, like, Nick, dude, I know you have a cruiserweight to beat the shit out of off, but you got tagged in by your partner literally falling over. Like, literally. Shane tagged Nick in as he was falling towards the mat. Not a single second to make sure he’s not seriously injured?
- Nick beats the shit out of Nese and goes for a pinfall. In this entire time period, Shane is nowhere to be seen (presumably out cold on the floor or something). He reappears right after Nese kicks out of the cover, so Nick can tag him back in. Dude. You’re mostly fresh. Shane looks fucking exhausted, dude.
- Admittedly, it seems Nick tagged Shane in for a tag team move, but also, dude. Anyway. Shane covers Nese and nearly gets the pin, but Daivari dives in to break it up.
- There is a lot of action very quickly following that. Nese tags in Daivari, who hits Shane with a frog splash into a cover. Nick breaks it up. Eventually, both illegal men (Nese and Nick) are sent tumbling out of the ring, while Shane and Daivari attempt to kill each other in the ring. Shane lays Daivari out, tags in Nick, they hit Thunder Valley, and Nick covers Daivari for the pinfall.
- TM61 win by pinfall.
I will keep my whining about Shane and Nick’s new trunks to myself (seriously, that’s Broncos colors. Not even the new, tame-ish Broncos colors, the retro, bright Broncos colors), but it will be a cold day in Hell before I stop ragging on Corey. He looks like an extra from Newsies now. C’mon, dude. You used to look so good! What happened? Did Byron and Michael Cole make you burn your suits as an initiation to Raw? What happened?
Tom looks nice, though. Well done, Tom. I’m proud of you.
Asuka! Oh, my murder queen, I love you. We’re to the interview segment and she looks so gorgeous. I think she’s added purple to her hair and it looks wonderful. She’s just bloody fantastic. I love her.
…Wait, this needs to be more than me swooning over Asuka. Ahem.
Tom asks her about TakeOver: Brooklyn and she says that the crowd in Brooklyn was “crazy” and made her excited. Asuka continues, saying that she respects Bayley and that Bayley was the heart of NXT. Bayley fought hard – “But I fought harder.”
Asuka’s been year for nearly a year and she’s been undefeated in that entire time. Tom asks her about all of the women who’ve graduated from NXT to the main roster and Asuka says that they have been “saved”, because they no longer have to fight her.
Tom asks her about how it feels to represent Japan as a champion. She says that the NXT Women’s Championship is important to her – she defends it for herself and her country. Asuka turns to the camera, says “To my fans in Japan”, and begins to speak Japanese. I know that “Watashi wa” means “I am”. Beyond that, I have very little Japanese knowledge, so I can’t really tell you what she said.
The last question Tom has for Asuka is whether or not any woman in NXT is ready to challenge her for her championship. Asuka smiles, then says something to him in Japanese (still of absolutely zero help here, sorry!), before shaking her head with a laugh. “No one is ready for Asuka.”
Backstage interview with Steve Cutler and I actually upset my cat with the long, deep sigh I released. Why? It’s one thing to be as boring as white bread and attractive. It’s another thing to be as boring as white bread and ugly.
He also starts the promo with “What are my thoughts? What are Steve Cutler’s thoughts?”, which makes it feel more like an exercise than an actual promo. Alas, it is and I have to suffer through it.
Apparently ‘Shin’ (Not ‘Shinsuke’, ‘Shin’) has no honor and doesn’t understand sacrifice. I’m so bored.
“I don’t care if you like me. I don’t care if you love me. And I for damn sure don’t care if you hate me.” Shit, did Roman’s old writer get bumped down to NXT? That’s what that felt like – his old “I’m not a bad guy, I’m not a good guy, I’m just the guy” bullshit.
Anyway. Cutler thinks we’ll respect him afterwards, which – ha! Good luck with that one, mate.
MATCH: Ember Moon vs. Leah Von
We have music, but no proper entrance and out walks – a blonde white woman! She’s doing the letters ‘L’ and ‘V’ with her fingers, so presumably her name has something to do with that and yes! Her name is Leah Von.
She shoots the camera the best facial expression and she reminds me of Alexa Bliss. Ahh, Alexa, how I miss you.
Ember! I feel like CFO$ – the production duo that creates all of WWE’s themes – is on a roll lately. Ember’s theme is bloody amazing, go listen to it, if you have the time.
After her entrance, she gave Leah an almost Asuka-like smile. You know, the one where it looks like Asuka’s mentally plotting how she’s gonna kill you? The camera cut to Leah, who was mouthing, “You don’t scare me.” Oh, darling. I admire your bravery (or is it stupidity?).
- The two ladies lock up and Full Sail chants “Let’s go, Ember!” Both women are very athletic and agile. Any time Leah tries to catch Ember, Ember escapes. She flipped straight out of an arm drag attempt.
- Ember delivered a springboard crossbody straight into a cover. That was fucking gorgeous. My god. She’s fucking amazing.
- Leah manages to get in a fairly good offense, even pulling off a cover (Ember kicked out at one). I get the feeling this is going to be her best offense in this match. Leah’s doing good heel work, especially when she gets Ember in a chinlock – she alternated between telling Ember “Give up!” and telling the crowd “Shut up!” It was even loud enough to be picked up by the microphones, which is something people have trouble with sometimes.
- I feel like there’s a trend towards audible hits in NXT. Obviously, you don’t kick someone in the head with enough force that makes one hell of a noise (unless you’re Kota Ibushi kicking Buddy Murphy in the head. That was impressive and frightening, to be entirely honest), but more and more hits to the midsection tend to be hard enough you can hear them.
- Ember Moon delivered a flipping clothesline to Leah Von in the corner, then climbed up to the turnbuckle. Is it – it is! She delivers her diving corkscrew stunner finisher (please, can we have a name soon?) to Leah, then covered her for the pin.
- Ember Moon wins by pinfall.
I really wish this match would’ve been longer – about three minutes bell to bell. I think both women could’ve done a longer match. Even though Ember’s win was a foregone conclusion, I would like to see her more and having longer matches.
Also, a longer match would delay Shinsuke vs. Cutler. Please.
No Way Jose! Yay! The interviewer asks him about Bobby Roode being a dick to him. Jose got a fantastic eye roll in there. That was great. After a quick rundown of Roode’s appearance (“Nice jacket. Great slacks. Nice shoes.”), Jose says that Bobby Roode disrespected him, but it’s not the first time he’s been disrespected.
Okay, I’m gonna sound really dumb – and this is one oddball of a tangent – but what’s up with wearing white after Labor Day? I don’t get it? Anyway. Jose slid a joke in there about him wearing all white about Labor Day and it made me laugh, even though I have zero clues about what’s up with that whole Labor Day thing.
Jose ends the interview by stating that Bobby Roode was going to discover that one does not disrespect No Way Jose.
Video package about The Revival, presumably to match the video package about TM61 from last week. I really need to stop rolling my eyes any time Dash and Dawson are like “There’s no tag team that beat us.” …How the hell did you become two time tag team champions without being beaten at least once? You didn’t just trip and lose the belts all “whoopsie-daisy.” You got beaten, you got pinned, y’all need to shut the fuck up or else Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are gonna come back and make you remember them.
Tommaso! Ciampa is backstage, with a physical therapist (I believe) and she’s checking on his ribs from last week’s beatdown. Johnny Gargano comes in and asks about Tommaso’s ribs, which are fine, apparently. Tommaso asks about Johnny’s knee, which will be okay, apparently.
Johnny just came from Regal’s office and that – if Tommaso’s cleared to wrestle – they’ll be in a tag team match at the live finale of the Cruiserweight Classic. Tommaso asks about The Revival, which Johnny deflects by asking the physical therapist if Tommaso’s cleared. She says that if Tommaso rests and takes it easy, he can wrestle next week.
Next week, they’ll show Regal and the world that they’re better than ever. After that? Their goal is to fuck The Revival’s shit up for injuring them (oh, and win the NXT Tag Team Championships, too). You’ve got this, dudes! Go kick ass!
MATCH: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Austin Aries
HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING. HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING, NXT. There are very few wrestlers in NXT that you can convince the audience to cheer over Aries and Roode. Very. Fucking. Few. And as much as I love Almas and Jose, they aren’t on that list (sadly).
- There’s an almost John Cena-esque chant, with the men chanting “Austin Aries!”, while the women and children add “Sucks!” onto the end. I mean, it’s in the inverse of “Let’s go Cena!”/“Cena sucks!”, but I was still reminded of that oh-so-famous chant. It did eventually slide into a proper “Aries sucks!” chant, though.
- These are both very slippery bastards, as they evade and escape each other a lot. There is a funny moment where Aries’ head is between Almas’ legs (because he just escaped a hold) and he does a handstand. The bewildered/surprised look on Almas’ face is bloody hilarious. Then, of course, Aries immediately knocks it off Almas’ face, but, hey. Fun while it lasted.
- Austin Aries lays across the ropes in the corner, a la Tyler Breeze. It’s not as impressive as Almas’ trick, since Almas just lies in the ropes proper, no turnbuckle required.
- It looks like Almas’ tights did not have a good time in the wash. Man, I’m torn between hoping that was intentional – else someone damn fucked up while doing the laundry – and hoping that it wasn’t intentional – my god, it looks like pieces are about to start falling off. What the fuck?
- Both of these men are very athletic and agile and it shows. It is a lot of fun to watch Andrade Almas wrestle, which is potentially why I get so pissed off when NXT sends him up against the really popular heels. He’s a damn good wrestler and luchadors are typically really good at getting positive reactions, but when you’re against Bobby Roode or Austin Aries, you don’t have a chance (unless you’re Shinsuke Nakamura).
- Almas gets Aries with a standing hurricanrana, who then escapes out the side of the ring to take a breather. This does actually get him a few boos. It’s a goddamn miracle. Andrade slides out of the ring after a bit, then there’s a sprint around the ring. This, of course, as it tends to, backfires in Almas’ face after he slides back into the ring after Aries (or, more specifically, gets him kicked in the face).
- Now Almas does his trick, where he drapes himself between the second and third ropes. That gets a positive reaction, thank goodness.
- After a corkscrew plancha to Aries, there’s a ‘Cien’ chant as Almas tosses Aries back into the ring and covers him for a pin. Aries kicks out at two.
- Almas climbs to the top of the turnbuckle and Aries pushes him off. This sent Almas tumbling headfirst towards the ground and, fuck, man. That was genuinely terrifying.
- After that, Aries acquires nearly complete control of the match. Almas gets a few shots in every once and awhile, but Austin Aries is basically in control. He also nearly pantsed Almas a few times – stop grabbing the waistband of his tights, dude. One of these times, you’re gonna pull them down and give a lot of people a show they probably didn’t want (or, perhaps, a show they do want, but don’t wanna admit to in front of children. Either way, stop it).
- Andrade manages to flip out of a shinbreaker attempt and, hey! He’s starting to fight back! Also, man, does he flip around a lot. Flips out of the shinbreaker attempt, flips over the top rope to avoid Aries…Damn, dude. How does that not fuck with your equilibrium?
- Andrade’s attempt to hit Aries with his finisher – the double knee in the corner – is foiled and I’m now relatively certain my beloved luchador is about to lose. Alas. While he does kick out of Aries’ cover, Last Chancery seems to be one of the best submissions in NXT and we haven’t seen it yet.
- Man, Andrade has some really fucking fluffy hair. Damn. I wanna touch it.
- They gave me a lot of hope that Andrade maybe potentially had a chance, he put up a good offense, he caught himself before he missed on moves, but Aries planted him with a powerbomb, before bridging into Last Chancery.
- Austin Aries wins by submission.
Damnit. I love Austin Aries, I do. He’s a fucking awesome wrestler. But I really wish they’d stop feeding Almas and No Way Jose to him.
MATCH: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Steve Cutler
Joe! Oh, yes! I’m really happy we’re seeing him, even though he’s not been cleared for in-ring activity. I really like him, heel or not. He’s going to be on commentary for this match – oh, I do not see this ending well. He calls Tom ‘Todd’ – because no one can ever get that poor man’s name right – and asks Corey if that’s right. Corey responds, “We’ll go with that”, to which Joe says, “Okay, sounds good.”
When Cutler’s entrance started, I literally looked over at my sister and said, “One Kinshasha and a pin. That’s all I want. One Kinshasha straight into the pin.” That’s not gonna happen, but, hey – a girl can dream.
While Cutler enters the ring – getting a shockingly negative reaction. It’s not shocking in that it’s negative, it’s shocking in that he got a reaction. If I was there, I wouldn’t be able to gather enough interest to boo him. He’s just very ‘meh’.
Tom asks Joe about the match at Brooklyn and…I dunno. I feel like they’re lining up for a face turn with Joe. He’s calmer, he’s more eloquent, he’s not raging nonstop about the loss of the championship. He admits that he “took some things for granted” and that he’s realized “the mistakes that [he’s] made”, which really makes me think Joe’s gonna come back a face. I could be wrong, but I think we’re gonna get a face turn out of our beloved former champion.
Shinsuke’s entrance remains one of the best things in WWE.
We do get shots of Joe interspersed with Shinsuke’s entrance and he looks…Upset. Frustrated. He does seem to be trying to stay calm during the shots, but it’s nothing compared to his impressive rage fits prior to Brooklyn.
Corey asks Joe about watching Shinsuke enter with the belt that Joe “held so dear”. It’s worth noting that Tom is sitting between Joe and Corey. I’m not saying that Corey’s asking this with the knowledge that he can sacrifice Tom to Joe, should a rage fit follow, but – actually, I am saying this. He probably wants to sacrifice Tom to Joe, in case of a temper tantrum.
Joe says that the feeling is “indescribable” and he’s…Uh…Not looking too good there, but he says that he recognizes that “Shin” was the “better man” in Brooklyn, who “deserves” to stand in the ring with the championship. Does that sound heel-ish to you? It doesn’t sound it to me. Also, is four syllables too much? Shinsuke. It’s eight bloody letters.
- “Shinsuke’s gonna kill you!” Full Sail chants. “As if I’d be that lucky,” I mutter in response.
- Shinsuke seems to be taking Cutler about as seriously I am. Which is to say: not very. Any time Cutler tries to charge in, Shinsuke kicks him. They locked up and – shockingly enough [/sarcasm] – Shinsuke kicked Cutler in the face again. Cutler looks offended at this. Dude. You’re up against Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s gonna kick you. A lot. It’s kinda his thing.
- Shinsuke is absolutely mauling Cutler in the ring as Corey seems to keep trying to piss off Joe. He says this Joe seems “almost different” because the Joe before Brooklyn would be “incensed”, after having lost a championship match on a stage the “scale of TakeOver: Brooklyn”. Joe says that Brooklyn made him realize that there might be “a bit of a flaw in the way [Joe approaches] things.”
- Cutler manages to get an upperhand by repeatedly bouncing Shinsuke’s head off the turnbuckle. He whales on Shinsuke for a bit, but Shinsuke regains control after fighting out of a suplex attempt. During this time, Joe calls Shinsuke a “dangerous competitor”.
- Cutler takes several vicious kicks off of Shinsuke – what did you expect, Cutler, what did you expect – while Corey asks Joe what Shinsuke’s kicks are like. Joe takes a minute to decide how to describe them and finally ends on “They suck, Corey. That’s the best way I can put it, man.”
- Shinsuke has Cutler stretched out on the turnbuckle and delivers a knee to his midsection. Then he delivers an inverted exploder and finally – finally! – the Kinshasha! Shinsuke slid into a pin attempt and that was beautiful, not gonna lie.
- Shinsuke Nakamura wins by pinfall.
After his win, Shinsuke is holding his belt high. He looks over towards where Joe’s sitting at the commentary table and smiles. Then he walks around the ring, still holding the belt high. Afterwards, he places it on his shoulder and looks over at Joe again.
Joe isn’t looking pleased as he stands up and removes his headset. He steps away from the commentary table, but instead of entering the ring, he walks backstage. Tom says “not the attitude we expected tonight from Samoa Joe” and, yes, I agree. I kinda like it, to be honest. One hundred percent here for a face Samoa Joe.