WWE NXT Review, March 30, 2016: Thumbs up, thumbs down


Your very official review for the March 16, 2016 edition of NXT

Previously on NXT…

Everything has been clearly defined and we are now just waiting for the big night to arrive. Bayley is on her way to Takeover to defend her NXT Women’s Championship against the unstoppable Asuka. The beauty of NXT and the way this story has been painted is that it can go either way (more on that later).

The tag team division is gearing towards American Alpha’s triumphant rise to the top of the mountain that is the revitalized tag team division. Joe and Finn are set to close out their awesome feud. Oh, and SHINSUKE FREAKING NAKAMURA is going to make his WWE debut. We’ll get a little more comprehensive as this goes, so no sense babbling on here.

Now let’s get to it: your very official review for the March 30, 2016 edition of NXT.

Thumbs Down: Lightning Round

I don’t normally like to do this because the show is only an hour, but every single match that happened on this show was totally inconsequential and pointless. Even the wrestling itself, which is normally pretty good even when there’s nothing else to go with it, felt boring and pointless.

American Alpha takes on Corey Hollis and John Skylar and it’s exactly how you’d picture it going. Alpha doing all sorts of Alpha stuff, Hollis and Skylar getting a tiny shred of offensE in and then Alpha hitting the Grand Amplitude for the win.

Next up was Baron Corbin against Mike Cuellari, which was spectacular if only because they’re acknowledging all these jobbers as indie guys so that Baron can hate and destroy them. The match itself was another squash and nothing of note, but I will watch Corbin hate-wrestle all day, every day.

The Revival took on Tucker Knight and Steve Cutler and blaaaaaaah blah. I’m a fan of the Revival and their “Arn & Tully” feel, but again, a squash is a squash. Them getting the rather huge Knight up for the Shatter Machine was pretty impressive, though. Side note: Knight moves okay for a big guy, but holy crap does he need a new outfit. One with pants involved.

The only match of the night that wasn’t a true squash was our fourth match between Alex Riley and Apollo Crews. I hope they can find something to do with Apollo coming out of Takeover because his ceiling is too high for him to get lost in the shuffle of the card. Riley gets a few moves in, eats the toss-up power bomb and then gets to go back to yelling at the world as if anyone is listening. The Drifter came out singing a terrible, terrible song after the match, and holy crap, I wish they would fire this guy into the sun.

Finally, mercifully, our last match of the night: Samoa Joe against Bull Dempsey. It turns out this is the last match in WWE for Bull and it goes pretty much as expected. This was obviously all to set up the post match stuff and it kind of is what it is.

NXT has become so good that my brain almost can’t comprehend when they kind of have to do episodes like these simply because they can’t keep their food on the gas pedal all the time.

Thumbs Up: A Deeper Look

The other half of this show was video packages selling the card for Takeover on Friday. And like I’ve said before, there is no one better at video packages than WWE when they want to be.

The Bayley/Asuka story has been told beautifully and yet they’ve been positioned where it doesn’t feel like a guarantee as to who wins. Bayley could lose and it would be understandable given how unstoppable Asuka has been so far. Hell, coming out of it she could build herself back up: her confidence is shattered after being defeated by Asuka and now she needs to find herself as a performer before she can topple Asuka.

Or they can go the other way. Have Bayley take a whooping only to find a way to steal a win, causing an overly-confident Asuka to snap and turn heel. This sets the stage for a future match up where Asuka is well and truly pissed off, giving Bayley a truly unstoppable foe to look forward to.

I’m arguably most excited for Corbin against Austin Aries. The way NXT works, it’s not a guarantee that Aries wins, and if he does, I could totally see him stealing one only to get trounced by Corbin post-match. The beautiful thing about this Corbin vs the indies feud is that it has infinite possibilities. He could face literally anyone on the roster — and the best part? He’s kind of justified! He’s been busting his butt to improve and get better and these hot shots are gonna come in and take his spot? *Lone wolf noises*

The tag scene is the only one that feels terribly obvious. American Alpha’s run has been too scorching for them to go the Enzo & Cass route. I’d be stunned if they don’t walk out with the titles and I also expect this to be the show-stealer as Chad Gable can make anything look spectacular and this is the time to shine. I’ll lump Shinsuke/Sami into this as it also feels pretty obvious, but should be no less spectacular.

Which leads us to…

Thumbs Up: This is a Go-Home Show

Despite all the squashes, video packages and not much of consequence happening, NXT made the ending count. After Joe chokes out Dempsey, he refuses to let go of the coquina clutch. A bunch of jobbers come out to help before the man himself, Finn Balor, arrives to valiantly save the day.

They brawl throughout the arena, leading to a wonderful spot where Balor recovers from being thrown onto the announce table by using it as a jumping pad to throw himself at Joe. Wonderfully done and probably everything the main roster hoped Roman vs Triple H would be.

This is a lot like the Bayley/Asuka match but with potential call-ups involved. Either of them could conceivably be called up to the main roster at any time, so it puts this match in question. It also feels hard to accept Joe losing two high-profile title matches, but Balor is supposedly going to be the face of NXT, soooooo…

In any event, the Takeover card is absolutely stacked and there are several matches on the card that could go either way. It should be spectacular and should give WrestleMania a run for its money.