BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

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Big Red Machine
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BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

Post by Big Red Machine » May 6th, '20, 22:25

JOHNNY GARGANO vs. DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC- 6.75/10
This was a REALLY weird match. Obviously Johnny was the heel, but Dijakovic is this big, mean dude coming out to this mean, angry heelish music and who not only cut a promo last week basically saying “I’m bigger than you and therefore can kick your butt,” but also apparently (according to Beth Phoenix) “made comments about” Johnny’s wife, and the way they worked the beginning of the match felt like Johnny was the babyface, figuring out how to overcome the larger opponent.
Then Candice came out and Dijakovic distracted himself yelling at woman who came out to support her husband, allowing Johnny to take over. Once again, I know in my head that Candice was almost certainly planning on interfering (and later wound up doing so) so I almost can’t blame Dijakovic for paying some attention to her, but Dijakovic came off like this big bully heel. This all made Dijakovic feel like such a bad choice to be Johnny’s first opponent (and let’s throw in the fact that he’s not a babyface that fans particularly care about, the way that Keith Lee or Matt Riddle or would be, so they’re less including to cheer him against Johnny). Such a bad choice that, in fact, that I started wondering if they did this on purpose to make Johnny feel like the babyface in order to hammer home the idea that in their own minds, Johnny and Candice are the babyfaces. But, at the same time, that feels totally unnecessary, as the promo we got a few weeks ago got that point across pretty well. Is this incompetence at work, or is it genius?

Candice pulling him away from Dijakovic should have been a DQ right there but wasn’t. Johnny cheated to win, which feels necessary for the angle, but I wish they had toned it down. I was fine with him taking off the turnbuckle pad, but don’t also have him pull the tights on a roll-up. Johnny and Candice are in a spot where their cheating should feel like something they feel they need to do in order to win. If you have them cheat too much they start to feel like generic heels rather than people who have been driven over the line and are justifying their presence on that side of the line even though if they felt that NXT became “fair” again, they would cease cheating (as opposed to a classic heel, who will cheat even if they think the parameters of the competition are completely fair).

MARCEL BARTHEL & FABIAN AICHNER PROMO- very good
Imperium is the best faction, they’re the best tag team, the babyfaces are embarrassments to the sport of professional wrestling. The mat is sacred. Standard stuff.

INTERIM NXT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT GROUP B MATCH: Akira Tozawa(1-0) vs. Jack Gallagher(0-1)- 6.5/10
Relatively short, but exciting. Very good for the time it got. The winner cut good promo after the match.

XIA LI vs. CHELSEA GREEN (w/Robert Stone)- DUD!
This was short and had some stuff that didn’t look very good (including the finish). Aliyah came out and tried to attack Xia. She got foiled, but the distraction allowed Chelsea to hit her finisher and win the match.

THE VELVETEEN DREAM PROMO- bad
He took a long time to say absolutely nothing. Then again, the guy probably has a lot on his mind right now so maybe I shouldn’t expect so much of his promo work.

LEON RUFF vs. KARRION KROSS (w/Scarlett)- no rating, bad squash
Look… they obviously put a lot of work in this entrance with all of the special effects and Scarlett lip-synching it (I assume she did the actual vocals in the song, too), but I just don’t give a sh*t about Karrion Kross because instead of spending the twelve weeks or whatever it has been since the first teaser aired establishing his character, they’ve just gone with this “ooooh! Isn’t this so cool and/or mysterious?!” vibe that feels completely empty to me. It’s the same thing that doomed Bray and that I’ve seen fail so many other places, so until they prove that there is some actual substance here, my default is going to be to not care about Karrion Kross and Scarlett.
Anyway, Kross hit Leon Ruff with two Saito Suplexes. It looked like he dropped poor Leon on his head both times. Then he locked in some sort of rear naked choke that looked very loose and sloppy. Then he snarled a lot. I didn’t like this.

MCKENZIE MITCHELL INTERVIEWS MATT RIDDLE & TIMOTHY THATCHER- bad
Once again, Riddle is holding both of the belts. Riddle is coming off like a little too much of a goof for my liking, pretending to be upset about his stupid “Newly-Bros Show” from last week getting interrupted as if this somehow made last week’s attack by Imperium much worse. He leaves it up to Thatcher to determine if they will accept Imperium’s challenge, which Thatcher obviously agrees to.

NXT WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Charlotte Flair(c) vs. Io Shirai- 5/10
This was on pace to be a great match when it came to an abrupt end via intentional DQ from Charlotte via weapon shot. Then then attacked Io’s injured knee. Rhea Ripley came out to make the save. Charlotte ran away. Rhea and Io yelled at each other after the match, with Io limping up the ramp to try to catch Rhea, who was walking way faster than the limp Io could, even with the fact that she was stopping every few steps to tell Io to shut up.
There are definitely ways they can work this into the whole Charlotte wanting to humble the NXT women’s division story and we now have two viable challengers for the title to buy us time to build up some others on the undercard, but doing a DQ in a title match when you give it the crossover hour spot (which is essentially the semi-main event), and on one of these shows without fans where there are so few big matches feels extra disappointing.

MCKENZIE MITCHELL INTERVIEWS RHEA RIPLEY- good promo, bad segment
Rhea starts cutting a great promo on Charlotte but she is interrupted by Io Shirai, who has apparently caught up to her. Words were exchanged and Io slapped Rhea, starting a tussle… and apparently Io’s leg healed up very well during the commercial break, because she seemed just fine here. The tussle was quickly broken up, but the whole thing was a mistake. You already got across to us that these two are not happy with each other in the previous segment. All this confrontation did was open up an opportunity to for Io to forget to sell, which is never a good thing.

INTERIM NXT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT GROUP A MATCH: Jake Atlas(1-0) vs. KUSHIDA(1-0)- 4.75/10
This was short, but there was a reason for that: They used this to push the idea that KUSHIDA can score a submission victory at any time and from any position. He cut a good promo after the match.

FINN BALOR PROMO- didn’t like it
He used insider-y terms for pretty much no reason other than to use them. All he really did was say that he would beat up whoever attacked him, but he felt the need to use the terms “push” and “squash” a lot instead of saying it in English.

CAMERON GRIMES vs. DENZELLE DEJOURNETTE- no rating, decent… squash, I guess?
Grimes won quickly with the Cave-In, but this didn’t feel like a dominating win the way a squash normally would. It got the move over, but it didn’t feel like a squash.

POST-MATCH SEGMENT- didn’t like it
Grimes cut a promo running his mouth on Balor. Balor came out and dared Grimes to make good on his brag to slap him in the face. Grimes tried to back off but Balor goaded him into attacking him, at which point Balor took him out very quickly. This didn’t do anything for Balor made Grimes look bad, basically undoing his win. It would have been better to not do this segment at all.

NXT TITLE MATCH: Adam Cole(c) vs. The Velveteen Dream- 6.25/10
Wow… what to even say here. I guess WWE has a lot of confidence in The Velveteen Dream’s side of the story, because instead of having Cole win clean and keeping TVD off of TV until the whole situation is resolved, they protected him big-time. Fish and Strong tried to interfere but Dexter Lumis came out from under the ring to stop them. While I would normally ask “why was this guy hiding under the ring?” in this case I can fully believe that whatever Dexter Lumis’ end-goal with either Adam Cole or TVD is, his creepy, evil plan necessitated hiding under the ring the entire show and waiting there just in case anyone tried to interfere.
He fought off Fish and Strong, but wound up sending Roddy into the referee. TVD hit the Purple Rainmaker and got a phantom pinfall on the champion, but by the time the referee recovered, Cole had, too, and hit a superkick for the win.
Velveteen Dream stuff aside, this still was not the right thing to do in this spot. I’m interested in whatever they’re doing with Dexter Lumis, and I don’t have an objection to the finish itself, but doing it in this spot was absolutely the wrong move. I mentioned earlier how frustrating getting a DQ in one of the two big matches they built up for tonight’s show was, and getting a f*ck finish in the second one as well only compounds the problem. As a general rule, if you want to do a finish like this, it’s best to find a reason for this to not be the main event. And that can be as simple as the tag titles or women’s title getting to be the main event. You don’t spend weeks building up a world title match on TV and then do a f*ck finish in the main event.

On last thing. Early on in this match, Beth Phoenix referred to the “mental and emotional mind games” that TVD has been playing with Cole. You know… as opposed to the other types of mind games that aren’t mental. Up until now I had been giving Beth the benefit of the doubt. I figured that the non-sensical word salads that she spewed at us between matches were being written for her by someone else and she was just performing the material she was given, because during the match she sounded like a normal, sensible person. Then she said this, right in the middle of the match, so I’m now assuming that this has been her coming up with this crap all along.
Beth, listen to me. USING BIG WORDS DOES NOT MAKE YOU SOUND SMART! You need to use them in ways that make sense and in ways that don’t feel like you’re using them just for the sake of using them. Does Mauro use big words? Yes. But he clearly knows what they mean and doesn’t say them in a way that makes him sound like an idiot!


Anyway, this was a bad episode of NXT. It moved some decent building-blocks into place, but giving us f*ck finishes in the two big matches was inexcusable. These empty arena shows are not the easiest things to watch on their own, so getting f*cked out of big-match finishes feels even more frustrating that it otherwise would.
Hold #712: ARM BAR!

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Re: BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

Post by XIV » May 7th, '20, 02:51

Killer Kross's debut would be much better with fans. But the whole "mysterious phrases that you need to decypher" gimmick has been overdone in recent years and I agree, it makes this a little bit of a damp squib.

I'm liking how they're beginning to use Dexter Lumis, he definitely has some serious potential, but he's one of those characters where he doesn't need championships so I hope inserting himself here is not for that purpose.

If you're going to have an NXT Women's Championship match. It should be saved for a week where it can main event, particularly if you've Charlotte Flair involved. I understand the timing of this was likely to try and gain viewership from flicking AEW fans. But it just felt too early down the card. Charlotte has obviously been brought in to NXT to try and boost viewers, but use her in her rightful space. She's main evented Wrestlemania, but not main eventing NXT?
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Re: BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

Post by Big Red Machine » May 7th, '20, 10:09

XIV wrote:
May 7th, '20, 02:51

I'm liking how they're beginning to use Dexter Lumis, he definitely has some serious potential, but he's one of those characters where he doesn't need championships so I hope inserting himself here is not for that purpose.
It's weird because while I like what they're doing with him and am intrigued by him, I don't actually think he has that much potential as a character. Over the past few years I've become a big believer in the idea that certain characters have a limited shelf-life if they don't get changed up. When I say that I don't mean they "get stale," like Dolph Ziggler. I mean that there is just a natural arc for the character to follow, and with certain characters, that arc doesn't extend infinitely.
For example, there is only so long you can have a cult leader character around for. You get one cycle of building up followers and then having the followers leave, because there comes a point when so many of his/her previous followers have seen the leader for the manipulative fraud he/she is that anyone who joins the cult after that point comes off like an idiot who the audience should have no sympathy for because how do you not realize that this guy/gal is just manipulating you by now (and, at best, you get one cycle of "I'm a babyface and want to help people now" followed by "surprise, I've been evil all along" before no one can trust the cult leader again, and you wind up in the same place of "so what can you do with this character now?").
Dexter Lumis feels like a character who is similar to this. He's a creepy guy with serial killer vibes. There are only so many things you can do with him before it all starts to feel redundant. Using him as a babyface first is a genius way to extend this, but ultimately, I don't see what this character can be doing eighteen months from now that won't feel redundant.

XIV wrote:
May 7th, '20, 02:51
If you're going to have an NXT Women's Championship match. It should be saved for a week where it can main event, particularly if you've Charlotte Flair involved. I understand the timing of this was likely to try and gain viewership from flicking AEW fans. But it just felt too early down the card. Charlotte has obviously been brought in to NXT to try and boost viewers, but use her in her rightful space. She's main evented Wrestlemania, but not main eventing NXT?
I think you're looking at show-structure through the wrong lens. Over the past twenty-three years, the formula has changed for 2+ hour episodes of TV, and fans have been educated that the most important spots on the show are 1) main event, 2) crossover segments 3) opener. The semi-main event on NXT is not the second to last match but rather the match that is on the air at 9:00.

As for the whole "she has main evented WrestleMania" thing, that just happens sometimes. Lots of people have gone from main-eventing Mania to not main eventing a TV show. I realize that there is the whole "but NXT is developmental" thing, but that's clearly not how WWE wants us to think of it, and I don't think it's fair to NXT to think of it that way.
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Re: BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

Post by XIV » May 8th, '20, 04:49

Big Red Machine wrote:
May 7th, '20, 10:09
It's weird because while I like what they're doing with him and am intrigued by him, I don't actually think he has that much potential as a character. Over the past few years I've become a big believer in the idea that certain characters have a limited shelf-life if they don't get changed up. When I say that I don't mean they "get stale," like Dolph Ziggler. I mean that there is just a natural arc for the character to follow, and with certain characters, that arc doesn't extend infinitely.
For example, there is only so long you can have a cult leader character around for. You get one cycle of building up followers and then having the followers leave, because there comes a point when so many of his/her previous followers have seen the leader for the manipulative fraud he/she is that anyone who joins the cult after that point comes off like an idiot who the audience should have no sympathy for because how do you not realize that this guy/gal is just manipulating you by now (and, at best, you get one cycle of "I'm a babyface and want to help people now" followed by "surprise, I've been evil all along" before no one can trust the cult leader again, and you wind up in the same place of "so what can you do with this character now?").
Dexter Lumis feels like a character who is similar to this. He's a creepy guy with serial killer vibes. There are only so many things you can do with him before it all starts to feel redundant. Using him as a babyface first is a genius way to extend this, but ultimately, I don't see what this character can be doing eighteen months from now that won't feel redundant.
Oh I agree there's really a limited run on it. One good stretch in NXT which if desired could go onto main roster, but they'll mess it up and change him in some form of fashion to some kind of who knows what. But he has a great look which could be used in a variety of ways to be fair.
But without thinking too far ahead, I'm enjoying the current situation with him.
Big Red Machine wrote:
May 7th, '20, 10:09
I think you're looking at show-structure through the wrong lens. Over the past twenty-three years, the formula has changed for 2+ hour episodes of TV, and fans have been educated that the most important spots on the show are 1) main event, 2) crossover segments 3) opener. The semi-main event on NXT is not the second to last match but rather the match that is on the air at 9:00.

As for the whole "she has main evented WrestleMania" thing, that just happens sometimes. Lots of people have gone from main-eventing Mania to not main eventing a TV show. I realize that there is the whole "but NXT is developmental" thing, but that's clearly not how WWE wants us to think of it, and I don't think it's fair to NXT to think of it that way.
I know how it has changed. But they also do it on PPV, which I do not like.
Problem is, this is something WWE have fallen into with some guys on a regular basis in the last 20 years... they'll push someone, say Sheamus... as a main eventer, then drop him down the card, then pick it up again and put it down. Problem is, people then stop buying that they're top tier....

This didn't happen before. Austin, Rock, Triple H etc. were never presented as anything other than top guys no matter what they did and that stuff translates. It's my opinion that placement of match in the overall card can still have a negative effect.
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Re: BRM Reviews the 5/6/2020 NXT (bad)

Post by Big Red Machine » May 8th, '20, 08:46

XIV wrote:
May 8th, '20, 04:49

Big Red Machine wrote:
May 7th, '20, 10:09
I think you're looking at show-structure through the wrong lens. Over the past twenty-three years, the formula has changed for 2+ hour episodes of TV, and fans have been educated that the most important spots on the show are 1) main event, 2) crossover segments 3) opener. The semi-main event on NXT is not the second to last match but rather the match that is on the air at 9:00.

As for the whole "she has main evented WrestleMania" thing, that just happens sometimes. Lots of people have gone from main-eventing Mania to not main eventing a TV show. I realize that there is the whole "but NXT is developmental" thing, but that's clearly not how WWE wants us to think of it, and I don't think it's fair to NXT to think of it that way.
I know how it has changed. But they also do it on PPV, which I do not like.
Problem is, this is something WWE have fallen into with some guys on a regular basis in the last 20 years... they'll push someone, say Sheamus... as a main eventer, then drop him down the card, then pick it up again and put it down. Problem is, people then stop buying that they're top tier....

This didn't happen before. Austin, Rock, Triple H etc. were never presented as anything other than top guys no matter what they did and that stuff translates. It's my opinion that placement of match in the overall card can still have a negative effect.
Things were different back in the Austin/Rock/Hunter days because they weren't also trying to push the women as main eventers. Even if you're looking at just the top half of a card, there isn't enough room to fit Bryan, Rollins, Owens, Drew, Bray, Braun, AJ, Roman, Orton, Becky, Baszler, Sasha, Charlotte, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, and Kofi all on the top of the card... and that's not even counting any part-timers, trying to elevate anyone from the upper midcard (Aleister, Andrade, Lacey Evans, Nia Jax, Lashley), or anyone we all think they should be pushing more but aren't (Cesaro, Nakamura, Zayn, Joe, Nattie, Ricochet, Gable).

I'm not going to say that it's not possible to maintain the type of structure/hierarchy you want, but I think the necessary steps to get there are beyond what WWE is willing to do. Said steps would be:

1. Push all titles/divisions as important
To be fair, WWE has actually made a solid effort to do this with the women's titles, but if the same is done for the tag and cruiserweight divisions, it will, essentially, give you more "top" spots on the card, even if those matches aren't occurring in the top half of a PPV card, the wrestlers still feel like they are the top spot in their division, and thus are achieving their highest level of success possible based on choices they have made (choosing to be in a tag team, not bulking up to get above 205).
I do think that in order for this to work optimally, you do need to give the tag division- and even the Cruiserweights- at least one PPV main event every year or two, and a few PPV semi-mains or main events of highly-pushed TV shows as well, and WWE has very much shown that they are not willing to do that. Additionally, in order to do this right you can't just give them a token main event in a car-crash stuntfest match the way we all know WWE would do with the tag teams if they ever did this. You need to make that main event feel worthy.

2. Optimize usage of talents across divisions
Both to help make the divisions feel important and to help keep more wrestlers feeling like stars, you need to know when to shuffle things around. If you don't have anything big for Randy Orton to do in the singles division, maybe it's a better idea to move him over to the tag division for nine months and use being in a tag team to set up his next singles program (probably when either he or his partner turn on one another) while simultaneously using his star-power to build up the tag division.
Similarly, if you have some guys you know you're going to want to push in the future but aren't ready to pull the trigger on right now, use the tag division to build them up so that they start off at a higher spot when you pull the trigger on the singles push (similar to what WWE had done with Drew in 2017, or what they are hopefully doing with Ricochet right now).
Also, be realistic about what talent you're willing to put in which spots. In WWE's case, this means that if you're Vince and you're never going to make Cedric Alexander your world champion, no matter how talented the dude is, try to find a place for him in the tag division rather than just treating him like a singles jobber.

3. KEEP THE BRANDS SEPARATE

This right here is the big one that we know they're not going to do, but the best thing they can do to make the structure you want is to keep the brands as separate as possible, including giving them their own PPVs for all but the big five (we're including MITB as the new KOTR). We're on our second brand-split now, and while they always start off this way, they always inevitably give it up, and the thing we immediately see once that happens is that the midcards on both shows start to die because there are no PPV spots for them to blow-off their stories, and in a company whose entire TV mentality is built around the idea of building to the PPV as the big chapter-point, not having that PPV match to build to means that the midcard becomes unimportant. While this is important for many reasons, in this particular discussion, it matters because it essentially gives you twice as many top monthly spots without making anyone look bad for not being booked on a PPV because the reason they weren't booked is because they're on the other show and are thus ineligible. The other thing it does is reduce the number of title matches on each PPV, thus opening up a few spots to develop stronger undercard feudings in the women's and tag divisions, which will help you set up challengers who feel more credible (assuming you take the time to book a few months in advance rather than careening around week to week), thus making the titles feel more important, helping point #1.
Hold #712: ARM BAR!

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