Thursday, March 30, 2017
The Architecture of NXT: Episode #122
Yes, this is going to be a series covering NXT from the very first episode at Full Sail University. The WWE Network recently began adding the original Full Sail run, so I thought it would be fun to check that era out. Maybe one day they’ll add the hilarious NXT season three for me to review. Since I do the weekly reports for NXT on 411mania, I’ve seen and covered over two years’ worth of episodes. Eventually, this series will take me to revisit those, but that won’t be for a while.
So here it is. Episode #122 of NXT, but the first at Full Sail. Previously, NXT was a show where contestants did strange challenges and competed before being voted off by the fans. Wade Barrett, Kaval, Kaitlyn and Johnny Curtis won the first four seasons. The fifth season, titled “Redemption” was a long, strange journey that eventually went nowhere and was replaced by this. A new weekly third brand of developmental meant to give talent a feel for the main roster but on a smaller scale.
The show opens with shots of Superstars before explaining that NXT is the show of people trying to make their own history. Footage of Seth Rollins, Jason Jordan, Corey Graves, Xavier Woods, Tyson Kidd, Kassius Ohno, Paige, Derrick Bateman and several others are shown. The Coheed and Cambria “Welcome Home” intro > “Roar of the Crowd.”
It might not look like much compared to now, but this entire setup was awesome. Jim Ross comes out first and introduces the interim NXT General Manager, Dusty Rhodes! Dusty announces the main event as Tyson Kidd vs. Michael McGillicutty. They throw to a video package of a new NXT star, Bo Dallas. He comes across here as a massively generic babyface, plugging his family history. “I’ve got a smile that shines for miles, a fist that breaks bricks and a chin that won’t give in.” Wow.
This is pre-Ascension era Viktor. William Regal joins JR in the booth, giving us a splendid commentary tandem. He notes Viktor was the last man to come from the Hart Dungeon, which is a sad statement. Viktor gets no entrance and Bo treats him like a jobber. Viktor gets in a few early shots before Bo tosses him around the ring. Bo scores with a spear to win. THE ORIGINAL BIG DOG BO DALLAS! Not the hottest way to start a new show but it was clear they had early plans for Bo.
He gets interviewed atop the stage and says he came in with a game plan and executed it. It’s just the beginning.
VIGNETTE ~ Seth Rollins gets a video package. Though he isn’t on this episode, he instantly stuck out me since I loved him as Tyler Black. He debuts next week.
VIGNETTE ~ Former rugby player Antonio Cesaro! And he’s making out with Aksana! Remember these days? He also debuts next week.
Damien Sandow comes out for a match against future NXT Tag Team Champion, Jason Jordan. He has a mini-afro and it benefits him that he got a haircut down the line. Sandow introduces himself and it appalled at his unworthy opponent. He will not compete and does it for the benefit and welfare of the fans. That was a great way to showcase how much of a pretentious dick Sandow is.
VIGNETTE ~ WELOME TO THE WASTELANE! The OG Ascension, featuring Konnor and Kenneth Cameron (future ex-husband of Charlotte and TNA multi-contract signee Bram) get to cut a strange promo, which is over the top and rather funny.
RAW REBOUND ~ Since I’m not watching the weekly shows from 2012, this should be kind of fun. On Monday, John Laurinaitis had his goodbye after getting fired. He booked one final match, pitting himself, Big Show and David Otunga against John Cena. Show walked out due to his ironclad contract. Otunga in main events was a bad idea, but I actually really enjoyed Big Johnny as a GM. Being the bully that he is, Cena hit him with AA after AA.
JUICE ROBINSON AND TYLER BREEZE! The Ascension’s entrance is over the top and a bit strange since it cuts to random shots of them, which could be confusing to some. Konnor had probably been in development for about a decade at this point. They just dominate and beat Parker with the Downcast. Another fine squash that did what it needed to.
VIGNETTE ~ It’s Bray Wyatt! Every single thing about this and the Bray character are so goddamn cool. The WWE made far too many mistakes with him as he could’ve been special.
Derrick Bateman is walking backstage and enters the men’s bathroom looking for Johnny Curtis. Johnny busts out of a stall and claims to be sick. Bateman thinks he’s faking it so he can get out of next week’s main event. They both have been pondering what they’re gonna do to each other next week. Curtis leaves and Bateman asks if he’s gonna wash his hands, so Curtis wipes them on Derrick’s shirt. I guess it’s Fandango vs. EC3 next week.
Michael McGillicutty is such a stupid name. He was a runner-up in NXT season two, where he cut the ridiculously absurd “genesis of McGillicutty” promo. They go through a solid feeling out process, with Kidd winning out and causes McGillicutty to regroup outside. Knowing he has the power advantage, McGillicutty takes it to a test of strength, but Kidd uses his speed and athleticism to win out. McGillicutty turns it around a bit but gets sent outside and Kidd greets him with a tope suicida. After a short commercial, McGillicutty takes over. Props to Kidd for taking the Hart family sternum corner bump. Kidd gets a few hope spots and flash pins, but McGillicutty remains in control. He misfires when putting Kidd in the tree of woe and tries a baseball slide but hits the ring post. McGillicutty does Mr. Perfect like bumps when Kidd kicks him in the leg. It’s straight out of SummerSlam 1991. Kidd springboards into a dropkick, stopping his momentum. Kidd does score with a moonsault (JR incorrectly calls it a reverse moonsault) for two. McGillicutty avoids a submission and puts Kidd in the Sharpshooter, though he reaches the ropes. Kidd gets few rollup attempts before applying the Dungeon Lock, complete with kicks to the face, to get the win. Awesome main event. Two guys that are very talented in the ring but weren’t getting a chance to show if off on the main roster, so they made the first NXT main event their bitch. Great exchanges and I loved the callbacks to the Hart/Hennig rivalry. Maybe I’m going a bit high, but this was my kind of match.
Overall: A strong effort for a first show. The two squashes were clearly nothing special, but accomplished the goals of establishing the Ascension and Bo Dallas. That’s key because they’d both play major parts in the early stages of NXT. The main event was great, I loved the commentary team and the production was top notch. This was a damn good way to let people know that NXT was different this time around.