Even if you don’t watch NXT every week, I think it’s always a good idea to tune in two or three weeks before the next big Takeover event so you’re caught up on the storylines going in. So what better time for me to start recapping NXT TV? This week’s episode was a solidly fine hour that got me excited about some of the Takeover matches and intrigued by a few up and comers.
Which rebel heart? This rebel heart… again
Adam Cole opened the show by calling out Johnny Gargano, and they each cut a promo about how they’re going to win the NXT Championship in New York. The meat of it was Gargano talking about how much heart he has and how hard he’s worked to get to where he is in the company.
Johnny Wrestling, or Johnny Takeover as he called himself in this promo, or Johnny Participation, as Adam Cole called him in his promo, has had kind of a confusing year in terms of his moral alignment. He went from about as whitemeat a babyface as NXT has to a meanboy heel when he reunited with Ciampa, but that was all a ruse to gain his trust so he could later betray him. But then Ciampa had to go get surgery because that’s a thing that happens when your job involves slamming your spine onto hard surfaces three or four times a week. So we’re getting the much more fresh matchup of Johnny Wrestling and Adam Cole instead. It is sure to be a good one. That said, these promos were only okay. As fresh as the pairing is, there’s nothing fresh to me about hearing Johnny Gargano talk about his own heart and struggle.
When will the Baszler respecters log on?
Vanessa Borne and Aliyah faced Kacy Catanzaro and (for the first time on TV) Lacey Lane in a tag team match. Just when it was getting good, NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler emerged from the back with her lackeys Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. (The three of them, with Ronda Rousey, made up the MMA stable
The Meanest Horse Girls On Earth the Four Horsewomen.) Heels Vanessa Borne and Aliyah immediately fled, leaving Lacey and Kacy to face Baszler’s wrath. After choking out the irrepressibly chipper Catanzaro, Baszler made it clear to the commentary team that her bullying behavior won’t stop until NXT starts treating her with more respect.
Nice couch, bro
I will never be mad at seeing Matt Riddle, who is challenging the Velveteen Dream in New York for his NXT North American Championship, and had a match with Kona Reeves in this episode. Want to know what else I will never, ever be mad at seeing? Velveteen Dream being rolled out on a sofa in a crop top and silk pajama pants drinking out of a goblet. Riddle and Reeves had a short but competitive match that managed to get me: 1. even more excited about Riddle’s first title shot since signing and 2. curious about Kona Reeves– there’s definitely some potential there. Also I just love how many different character variations of “Florida” NXT has to offer me.
Really? These guys?
The main event was the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, NXT’s annual tag team tournament. As hard as everyone worked, and as cool as some of the moves were, it was hard to get invested in a match where the outcome was so obvious. In one corner, we had Aleister Black & Ricochet, former NXT Champion and North American Champion respectively, who have been getting major main roster matches all month. In the other corner, we had two basically identical bearded men assisted by a third basically identical bearded man, all with basically identical personalities, who are unfortunately so forgettable that their team name is literally “the Forgotten Sons.” To make their lack of individuality even worse, the Forgotten Sons also inherited the distressed denim collection and hair goop that Sanity left behind when they got called up. Instead of being punk carnival demons though, the Forgotten Sons are doing a kind of fun 9/11 commemorative graphic, uncomfortably patriotic Facebook meme twist.
You can’t just give me Velveteen Dream staring down Matt Riddle while drinking out of a goblet on a sofa, casually wearing a subtly rhinestoned scarf on his head and then expect me to care about these musty dusty guys with too many insufficiently moisturized hair growths covering their faces for me to be able to tell if they have any personality or not. It’s not going to happen. Ricochet hit a 630 and pinned one of them (I couldn’t tell which), winning the match and the tournament. I mean, it wasn’t bad. I’m always going to have some fun watching Ricochet and Aleister Black wrestling with people, but I didn’t think the Forgotten Sons brought anything to the match.
Here’s the good news though– the winners of the tournament get to challenge NXT Tag Team Champions the War Raiders at Takeover, and that will be a banger.