NXT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher(c) vs. Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)- 5.75/10
Again, Riddle is carrying both belts. They wrestled for a bit until Riddle got cut off. In the middle of his comeback he accidentally monkey-flipped Barthel into Thatcher, knocking him off the apron. Thatcher got angry and walked out, leaving Riddle alone. Riddle fought valiantly, but was soon overwhelmed and defeated.
This told its story well enough, but I really hated the whole idea. Thatcher is exactly the opposite of the type of person who gets annoyed because of something that was so clearly an accident (and especially on the first miscue). I’m all for Thatcher turning on Riddle, but let it be because he realizes that Imperium’s attitude and philosophy is actually a much better match for him than Riddle, who keeps dragging him into things he doesn’t want to do. (EDIT: In hindsight, I withdraw this criticism, but I think it’s important to leave this in because, in hindsight, I actually liked the announcers ascribing it to something else).
RIDDLE/THATCHER FOLLOW-UP- decent
Thatcher explained his reason for walking out in an interview, and while this was a lot more along the lines of how I’d like this storyline to go, I think it needed to go on for at least another month or so of Thatcher slowly getting more and more annoyed at Riddle before you can do this turn. (By the way, I don’t blame the announcers for ascribing the turn to something else, because Thatcher is an introvert and probably wouldn’t talk to anyone about his feelings about Riddle).
Riddle showed up and a shoving match started, but it was quickly broken up.
INDI HARTWELL vs. TEGAN NOX- 3/10
This was good for the time it got. They gave Hartwell a lot more offense than I thought they would. This was basically 50-50, if not 60-40 for Hartwell.
RHEA RIPLEY PROMO- very good for a three-way feud where the end-goal is clearly not going to include one of the participants. She built up what needed to be built up without marginalizing Io too much (just enough to give Io a reason to really get angry).
MATT RIDDLE TALKS TO WILLIAM REGAL VIA SKYPE/ZOOM/WHATEVER- Regal books him against Thatcher tonight. The interviewer shows up to talk to Riddle, which makes me wonder why there was a camera on him? Timothy Thatcher also showed up, but he wanted to attack Riddle rather than interview him. He did so. A referee showed up and backed him off. Thatcher made like he was going to leave calmly, but then grabbed a random TV that was sitting in one of their rooms full of equipment boxes and hit Riddle with it.
BYRON SAXTON INTERVIEWS JAKE ATLAS- good, although they’re pushing the Atlas/Maverick thing a little too hard, to the point where it feels a little phony.
INTERIM NXT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT GROUP A MATCH: Jake Atlas(1-1) vs. Tony Nese(0-2)- 6.75/10
Solid stuff. Atlas wins clean, as expected.
UNDSIPUTED ERA HAVE A ZOOM MEETING- meh
This was a lot better than the Bubbly Bunch in that it wasn’t completely stupid and they actually said and did things that mattered (Cole cut promos on Lumis and The Velveteen Dream, and they decided amongst themselves that Roddy would be the one to go after Lumis), but it still felt like it went on for a bit too long, with just these guys goofing around. At least they came off like douchebags while doing it, not like guys trying to make me laugh like the Inner Circle does.
KARRION KROSS & SCARLETT VIDEO PACKAGE- snore
Some f*cking Jazz song with lyrics is playing while Scarlett talks in a language that certainly isn’t English, and might not even be a real language at all (it sounded like it could vaguely pass as something Slavic). Then Kross spoke in English. Maybe don’t have the f*cking song with lyrics playing while this happens.
He said thinly-veiled things about the various big players in NXT (and just in case that was still too thick for you to figure it out, they put some clips of those people on the screen). He once again said nothing that gave us any clue as to any of the symbolism surrounding him or what his goals are, etc. As I’ve said in the past, until I get something like that, I’m going to be working under the assumption that he’s just another Bray Wyatt/Decay/Death Crew Council (and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of others) type that we’ve seen with increasing frequency over the past seven years where everything about them is empty bullsh*t that we’re all supposed to be impressed with because it looks and sounds cool. Characters need substance, not lightshows and CGI.
DAKOTA KAI & RAQUEL GONZALEZ VIDEO PACKAGE- great!
ISAIAH “SWERVE” SCOTT INTERVIEW- good stuff
He’s doing a great job of walking the line between confidence and arrogance, and can wind up going either way after this tournament is over.
Mauro plugged that “D-X is here!” and that they would be coming out next. He wondered whether this had “something to do with the highly-anticipated announcement of General Manager William Regal.” So you’ve got D-X showing up on your TV when you’re involved in a ratings war with another promotion… and you don’t hype it up on the show AT ALL? This is also the first I’m hearing about Regal’s announcement.
D-X ANNOUNCES NXT TAKEOVER: IN YOUR HOUSE- This would have been fine except that… well… They joked that Hunter was deny that he wrestled Henry Godwinn at the first In Your House because Godwinn shoved his face in pig crap. Beth came out of this joking that “we all have good memories of In Your House. Well… except Hunter.” The reality, however, is that none of them seem to have good memories of In Your House at all. First, that Hunter vs. Godwinn match never happened. It happened on In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings (which everyone should watch for the awesome Bret vs. Bulldog match, great stuff with Hunter and Godwinn, and Vince being outraged that Santa Clause sold out to Ted Dibiase), not the original In Your House that they were talking about.
Similarly, Shawn Michaels didn’t wrestle Jeff Jarrett at that show like they claimed. That match happened at In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks (which I will be covering in two months for BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series). And I’m shocked that Road Dogg misremembered this because the only thing they mentioned that actually happened on In Your House was Road Dogg wrestling Razor Ramon… except that match was actually a handicap match, in which Razor took on the team of Road Dogg… and Jeff Jarrett.
Anyway, I’m glad that they’ve announced a date for the next TakeOver (Sunday night, June 7th), but if you’re going to tie it to the “25th anniversary of In Your Hose, you really should be able to make sure that your memories of that show are accurate.
FINN BALOR vs. CAMERON GRIMES- 6.75/10
Beth wondered if finding his attacker was “becoming an obsession” for Balor and was being “detrimental to his win-loss record.” Hey, Beth? How about we let there be actual evidence for that (you know… like him actually losing a match) before we start saying things like that.
This was shaping up to be a really great match until we got the frustrating finish. For seemingly no reason, Damian Priest came to ringside. Balor punched him, so Priest took out Balor’s knee with his nightstick (while the referee was distracted by Grimes), allowing Grimes to hit a very bad-looking version of the Cave-In (he landed on Balor’s shoulders but didn’t actually stomp Balor into the ground so much as propel him down and then land on the mat rather than on top of Balor. For those keeping score at home, that’s now FOUR STRAIGHT big matches on NXT that have had f*ck finishes of one sort or another (the two title matches last week, the opener tonight, and now this match).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- meh
Priest revealed himself as the attacker. This was a little bit disappointing, as Balor assuming Priest was the attacker and attacking him, leading to Priest costing him this match and then cutting a promo saying that he wasn’t the attacker and only attacked Balor here because Balor attacked him for no reason would have at least played into Beth’s earlier comment as well as kept the story alive. Personally, I’d have rather had the reveal at TakeOver: In Your House (with The Attacker costing Balor the match) and then kept Balor vs. The Attacker for the SummerSlam weekend TakeOver (which you cross your fingers and hope will have a crowd).
INTERIM NXT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT GROUP B MATCH: Isaiah “Swerve” Scott(1-1) vs. Jack Gallagher(0-2)- 4.5/10
Nese jumped Scott from behind before the match as revenge for Scott’s comments from his promo saying that someone who couldn’t win a single match in this tournament should “quit wrestling.”
Scott insisted that he could go, but he was immediately hit by Gallagher’s finisher… and just got his foot on the bottom rope before the count of three for an EXCELLENT false finish. That was the beginning of probably the best three-and-a-half-minute match I’ve ever seen. Everything built so well and all of their false finishes were perfectly crafted.
KAYDEN CARTER vs. ALIYAH- 3/10
Robert Stone showed up at ringside. Aliyah tried to impress him and thus got distracted, resulting in a loss. She ran over to plead her case to him after the match but he told her to wait and walked away.
DINNER WITH THE GARGANOS- a good segment ruined by terrible, pointless camera effects
They haven’t given up on the stupid screen effects. All they do is make this otherwise good segment hard to watch. Whoever thought this time-lapsed blurry movement crap was a good idea ought to be forced to watch everything in their in that stupid effect for a week.
Our next programs are going to be Johnny Gargano vs. Keith Lee and Candice LeRae vs. Mia Yim.
On tap for next week is more Interim Cruiserweight Title Tournament action, plus Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai.
MATT RIDDLE vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER- 8/10
Thatcher didn’t even get his entrance shown.
This was WONDERFUL grapplef*ck until the finish. I’m fine with Riddle winning by roll-up, but I’m pretty sure it’s the shoulder-blades that need to be down, and Thatcher’s pretty clearly weren’t, and even if they were, the referee was in a position where he could not have possibly seem them to confirm one way or the other. Maybe this was on purpose and is Thatcher’s justification for attacking Riddle after the match, but my bet is that this was just a screw-up (if this was the plan then it would have made more sense for Thatcher to attack right away, not repeat his trick from earlier where he went to leave and then turned back to attack from behind).
This was a decent episode of NXT, but mostly buoyed up by the main event. The show definitely hasn’t been as good since WrestleMania, and it feels to me like that is more due to trying to draw things out until they can get a crowd, as well as trying to come up with things to do with the crew they have (although, admittedly, their crew is pretty full, so that’s not much of an excuse). The announcement of a TakeOver show in a few weeks has me optimistic that they’ve accepted that they can’t stall things out any longer and will return to doing things with their usual pacing.
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