Saturday, July 8, 2017
Byron Saxton and William Regal are on commentary. They plug the main event pitting former WWE Tag Team Champions against each other when Heath Slater faces Justin Gabriel.
Babyface Tamina is a strange sight. Kaitlyn won season three of NXT and is about six months away from a Divas Title run. Tamina shows her power and sends Kaitlyn to the apron. If this was about four years later, Kaitlyn would be muscular enough to ragdoll Tamina. Kaitlyn gets in some stuff but is too overconfident, so Tamina hits a cross body for a near fall. Tamina withstands another Kaitlyn run and hits some boots. Kaitlyn grabs Tamina’s leg to stop her from going up top and then applies an interesting submission. Tamina powers out and hits the Superfly splash to win at 5:19. Kaitlyn is much better as a plucky babyface than the weird heel she played here. Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a good Tamina match.
VIGNETTE ~ The Big Ending is coming because Big E. Langston ins on his way to NXT.
Like Kaitlyn earlier, “Showtime” Percy Watson competed on a previous season of NXT, though he didn’t win. Regal puts over Mahal’s uncle, who used to wrestle. It’s a small thing but he excels at adding those tidbits. Watson starts hot, including a hip toss, but Mahal uses a cheap shot to turn it around. Watson is in trouble but then rallies and hits the Showtime Splash for two. Mahal hits a high knee and wins with the Camel Clutch at 4:02. Like the opener, there wasn’t much to this.
Jinder Mahal slaps the submission back on after the match.
Kruger is not yet the “hunter” and far from Adam Rose. He stops the quickness of Richie with a school boy into the turnbuckle. Again, Regal excels by pointing out how smart it is to use the entire ring as a weapon. He throws in some digs by doing Steamboat like arm drags. After a suplex, Kruger takes time to pose a bunch. Steamboat starts in with the babyface fire and comeback. Kruger makes Richie chase him around the ring. Once inside, Kruger counters a cross body into a pin with his feet on the ropes at 4:28 to steal it. This was the best thing so far, but didn’t do much for me. I do like how it should set up a better rematch though.
It’s funny to me that Paige is used as a jobber in these early episodes. Raquel cuts a promo on a headset on her way to the ring, saying she was here to rid NXT of ugliness. She has the mannerisms down but is a bit over the top. Paige gets an actual entrance here. She has no character yet but is already quite over. Diaz starts by rubbing Paige’s face in the mat and talking smack. She cowers in fear when Paige turns it around. She blocks a kick and hits the Gory bomb to win at 1:37. A squash but we all know Raquel went nowhere fast.
Backstage, Alex Riley asks Aksana where catering is. She flirts a bit when Antonio Cesaro comes in. She complains that Riley was flirting with her. Cesaro calls it very “American” of Riley to do and a match is made for next week.
Jim Ross joins the booth.
I remember randomly finding an episode of FCW before the original Nexus run and these two were in an FCW Title match. Slater spends a good chunk of the opening run wearing down Gabriel on the mat. It doesn’t make for exciting TV, but is a smart strategy. Sure enough, Gabriel turns things around with a series of kicks and fast paced offense. A blue thunder bomb gets a near fall. Heath comes back with a spinebuster for two and argues with the official. They continue to trade near falls until Gabriel hits a nice moonsault like DDT for the win at 8:53, though it looked like Slater kicked out. The finish was flat and the match was alright. The closing stretch was decent.
Overall: Back down to an episode I didn’t care much for. In terms of entertainment, it was kind of just there and none of the matches stood out. I liked that Kruger/Steamboat is developing a story and Raquel’s character looked interesting. However, shining a light on people like Tamina and Justin Gabriel, especially knowing they don’t really go anywhere with it, is odd.