Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views - December 8, 2015

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Cheap Pops - December 6, 2015
by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter


This week!
- State of the WWE
- Complete Listing of matches and segments for Best of NXT Vol. 1
- WWE Network adds more classic wrestling
- NXT Results


State of the WWE

Mike: With ratings dropping lower on a weekly basis, I think we should talk a little bit about the state of the WWE and the wrestling industry as a whole.  I was particularly taken by Mick Foley’s comments over the last two weeks while we took our Thanksgiving break: 

“I’m going to quote an article from July, 2014, called “The Sad Case Of Zack Ryder” in which I wrote: “Eventually, people get tired of finding out that the WWE Superstars they have supported with their cheers, their signs, their purchases, their follows, and their likes aren’t real Superstars – and, little by little, those fans lose interest in WWE, find other interests, and become former WWE fans.

I am one of those people on the verge of becoming a former WWE fan. I’m tired of being told through Raw, Smackdown and PPV’s that WWE superstars I have rooted for – from Ziggler to Cesaro to Kevin Owens aren’t top stars – no matter how strongly crowd reaction seems to disagree. I’m tired of NXT stars getting their big “break” in WWE, just to be treated like jokes.

Six months ago, my son and I traveled 12 hours – from Eastern Tennessee to Orlando, Florida to watch Sasha Banks wrestle Becky Lynch at ‪#‎NXTTakeover‬. One of the greatest women’s matches of all time. Last night, in what I believe was their first singles match on ‪#‎RAW‬ Sasha and Becky were given four minutes. At a time when WWE desperately needs to make new stars – when they need to give wrestlers with talent the opportunity to break through – they gave Sasha and Becky four minutes. I turned the channel, and watched a pretty good football game instead. I think I can get used to watching football games on Monday night again…. There is an old saying in politics : as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Think of me as the Ohio of wrestling fans. If I leave, it’s not just one disgruntled former fan; finding something else to do on Monday nights. Instead, my leaving might well be an indication of a larger exodus from WWE.”

Up front, I want to point out that I haven’t watched a full episode of Raw or Smackdown in months now.  I still skim the results, but every time I try to watch Raw or Smackdown I get bored and change the channel within 15 minutes.  I do still love NXT and watch every week.  And for the most part, I do watch the PPV’s, although that is becoming more of a “guy’s night out” thing than any burning need to see the PPV.  I ended up falling asleep about two hours into Survivor Series, and never went back to watch the last two matches.  More often than not, I would rather use guy’s night to catch a local Pro Wrestling Syndicate show than a WWE PPV.

I also wonder what goes through WWE Creative’s head.  Ratings are at an all time low.  What can we do?  Just from this week’s Raw, it seems the best they could come up with was:

Bring back Tommy Dreamer.  Look, I like Tommy Dreamer.  He’s a hell of a nice guy, and seems to have a great love for the business.  But he’s never really been a huge draw, and he doesn’t have a lot to offer in the ring beyond “he can take a lot of damage and keep going.”   But, all that said, I am not sure bringing back ANY wrestler from ECW or the Attitude Era is a good idea.  All it says to me is “this current crop of wrestlers has nothing to offer.  So let’s play on your nostalgia.”  And I think that is just insane.  Mick is 100% right when he says things like, “The talent pool has never been deeper. But the creative flow is stagnant...and it's been stinking for a while.”

Give Sheamus the title and have him head up a stable called the League of Nations.  I was a huge Sheamus fan back just a few years ago...in fact, the first wrestling shirt I bought in like fifteen years was a Sheamus shirt.  But WWE has done nothing with him creatively.  When the audience is chanting “You look stupid” at the guy who is your top hand, something is drastically wrong.  No one ever chanted that at Hogan when he was at the top...even with that ridiculous bald spot mullet.

And then his stable.  Wade Barrett and Rusev, who both had their careers thrown into the Cena Shredder.  These are two guys with a ton of potential that the WWE seem to have no idea what to do with.  And then Del Rio...who has just been spending the last month or so talking about how superior Mexico and America are to the rest of the world...just to join up with a stable called the League of Nations.  Actually, it’s even weirder than that.  EARLIER THAT SAME NIGHT, they seemed to be teasing a feud between him and Swagger, before they did the random change of “Del Rio is now with Sheamus.”  It is clear they are really changing scripts on the fly here, and not in any kind of intelligent manner.

Chris: The League of Nations is such an epically lame idea, but if it means less Authority promos, I'll take it.  They could turn Rusev, Sheamus, Del Rio, and Barrett into a stable worthy of the Four Horsemen.  Could!  It would take getting behind them with booking that makes them an indomitable force.  With the right storytelling, this could be a fun storyline that would build the heels and Roman Reigns at the same time.  

More than likely, they are just going to get buzz sawed by Reigns on a weekly basis, which will lead to decreased stock in all involved.  It's a shame, but we all expect WWE to drop the ball.  Even still, if we get a few months where the top heel isn't Trips and his stupid suit, well, the fans will be winners. I want old school unbeatable heels that wrestle!  This could be it.

Jeff: How much do you feel is Vince having truly lost touch with the WWE Universe, or is it that the talent aren’t allowed to deviate from WWE Creative’s uncreative scripts? I can’t help but notice that when guys really embrace their characters and get themselves over—Ryder, Wyatt, even Barrett—they get buried or booked into oblivion. Guys like Cesaro that fans are ready to embrace, guys like Tyson Kidd, who was reasonably over before he got injured, guys like Sandow and Hennig—where the heck are they anyway? The names I just mentioned could be main eventers if the WWE would let them thrive. They let the Rock thrive. They let Stone Cold thrive. And then they whine and moan that nobody wants to grab the brass ring from Cena. Cena offered the darn ring to Cesaro! Vince put the kibosh on it. Sandow and Ryder got themselves over with lame gimmicks and are promptly buried. Wyatt should be the modern Undertaker for the next decade, and he’s jobbing in PPVs to guys who had spent the last 6 months on the DL.
 
It makes no sense. Heck, Ryder, Sandow and Hennig should rebrand themselves as Raven and the Flock and bum rush Dreamer and the Dudleys for usurping their spot on the card. These guys worked their butts off and they’re still having to worry about future endeavors!

Mike: In my mind, the biggest problem is that guys are stuck in very narrow scripts and not able to give themselves any real personality.  I think if you look at New Day, who seem to have been given a ton of freedom, the crowd really resonates with that.  

Beyond New Day, there are a lot of wrestlers than have real big personalities that never get to show in on WWE TV.  You have Zack Ryder on Z True Long Island Story, and a wide variety of wrestlers on JBL’s Youtube show who were just hilarious, especially Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes.  Even Big E for the longest time was only allowed to have any real personality on “WWE App exclusive videos.”  I could never figure out why they didn’t allow him to actually do these fun segments ON TV!  Especially with a platform like WWE Network where you can really expand on who these guys are and why we should care about them.

And even guys who start to catch on, if it’s not in the way the WWE wants, they drop it quickly.  Cesaro with the swing was getting huge pops...but they wanted him to be a heel so they cut that out real quick.  Same with Barrett and the “BAD NEWS” gimmick.  This was the first time Barrett had really had a chance to show that he had any personality, and people seemed to be gravitating towards it...so off course they quickly scrapped it.  Making him a generic “evil king” which has been done dozens of times before.

I also think a big part of it is that these days, the WWE seems to believe they know what the fans much more than the fans do.  In the past, they were much better about getting the pulse of the crowd and reacting to that.

-Bret Hart was a face for years, the crowd started booing him because his schtick was getting old?  No problem, we'll go with him being a heel.

-Stone Cold is a horrible bastard.  But the crowd is cheering for him.  Okay, he's a face now.

-The Rock's entire career was defined by following this trend.  Crowd hated Rocky Maivia, okay, we will go heel.  Crowd is really getting behind him now? Okay, we will go face.  

BUT, that's not what happens today:

- John Cena is getting boos.  HE CAN NEVER GO HEEL!  NO MATTER WHAT!

- Wrestlers are not getting the reaction we expect them to get (Cesaro, Ryder, Barrett, etc, etc).  Don't go with it! BURY THEM!  

- And the constant attempt to force feed the WWE's newest "golden boy" down our throats.  Last year it was Batista, this year is was Reigns.  

Chris: You guys hit on all the right points.  Vince just doesn't want to make the fans happy.  Hell, he barely gave them the Daniel Bryan moment they were begging for, and DB was the most over guy in a decade.

WWE used to deviate based on crowd reaction.  They would stick things down your throat to a point, but they knew when to cut bait.  They also knew when a guy was hot, and it was time for a big push on top.  Besides the names you mentioned, Jake Roberts is another person I think of is in this regard.  He was working as a top heel, but when he became popular, they pushed him as a face.  It didn't matter what the original plan was.  

On the opposite side of the aisle, there was the Honky Tonk Man who was brought in as a face, but the fans despised him.  They still pushed him, but they changed directions and used those reactions of hate to build their product.  It was a winning plan because they let fans impact the product through their natural reactions.  

Today it's to hell with the fans.  They are doing what's “Best for Business.”  Only it's what's best in the mind of an out of touch, muscle-headed buffoon.  

Jeff: They brought Honky Tonk Man in as a face? Man, this goes back much farther than I realized--in no alternate universe does an Elvis impersonator ever gets over as a face, not until he has a long heel run. Then maybe you can flip him if he’s the victim of the Four Horsemen or something. 

Yeah, WWE Creative is an oxymoron. Vince has really seemed to lose touch with his own product, and I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. He thrives on competition. In the early days, that was the territories. He was competing against Verne Gagne, Bill Watts, Jerry Jarrett, Jim Crockett, Sam Muchnick, Paul Boesch, Joe Blanchard, Jim Barnett, Bob Geigel, Don Owen, The Graham Brothers--just to name a few. To get stars to come up to his market and to convince them that he could take his then WWF to a national and even global level, he had to be innovative. He pioneered Pay per View in many ways. He embraced cable television. He made monstrous stars out of a young Hulk Hogan, whom his father had shunned because he begged off for the role of Thunderlips in Rocky III. Verne Gagne snatched him up after he wrapped his small part, but it was Vince that created Hulkamania. Oh, and WRESTLEMANIA. Small details, ya know?  

Then some years later, his competition was Ted Turner, and his point man, Eric Bischoff. I don’t think I have to explain to too many readers how that turned out. I’ll just sum it up as “The Attitude Era.” Now Vince faces a lack of genuine competition. TNA? Sadly, whatever small chance it had was crushed by bad management and worse booking. Ring of Honor? Nice little promotion, but they’re not even at the level ECW was before the “E” stood for Extreme. Rumor has it Vince may be quietly keeping them afloat, almost like a low minor league before he brings someone over to NXT. Lucha Underground? Too niche. Whatever Jeff Jarrett’s long talked about but never seen promotion? Hahaha...no. 

Vince simply has no competition right now, and that’s a huge problem, because when Vince doesn’t have competition Vince competes with himself, and loses. He reads the major dirt sheets, looking for leaks. “What’s this? Everyone wants to see the World Title on Daniel Bryan? Let’s give the WWE Universe what they want!™ We’ll put the belt on Bryan, for about three seconds, and then reverse the decision, and then have John Cena cash in Money in the Bank, even though the briefcase belongs to Ryback, because, I’m Vince McMahon and I can do what I want!” Everyone, including Hunter and Stephanie, to a degree, is just a toy soldier for General McMahon to deploy as he sees fit. So when John Cena, Steve Austin, Mick Foley and millions...and millions!...of Cesaro fans want to see him take the brass ring Vince famously declared as being unattainable to his entire roster on the Stone Cold Podcast (and making himself a legit asshole instead of just a scripted one in the process), Vince says, “We’ll do that on the next Sunday that doesn’t end in “y.” We’ll call it NEVERMANIA! And while we’re at it, let’s waste Sting on some useless jobs just for old times sake.” 

Here’s what needs to happen: history must repeat itself. Vince leveraged out his father to take control of the company. Now, the board of directors of this publically traded entertainment corporation needs to leverage out Vince Jr., and, most logically, place Stephanie and/or Hunter in charge. Will it get better? I can’t promise that--Stephanie has been the lead writer for years, and the writing has become predictable and stale. But I think Hunter understands some of the old principles that his father-in-law has forgotten, and he might actually put that brass ring within reach of more than just a couple of stars.  

Mike: When you look at NXT, it seems clear to me that Hunter has his finger more on the pulse of what works in the modern area.  NXT seems capable of making anyone a star.  Granted, it’s a much smaller pool, but NXT continues to grow in leaps and bounds.    Now, could anyone takes that success and replicate it on the national scale needed to run a show like WWE?? Hard to say, but at this point, I think WWE can learn a lot more from NXT than NXT can learn from WWE.


Complete Listing for Best of NXT Vol. 1

NXT Championship Tournament Final
Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal
NXT - August 29, 2012

No Disqualification Match for the NXT Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Big E Langston
NXT - January 9, 2013

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
NXT - May 1, 2013

NXT Women's Championship Tournament Final
Paige vs. Emma
NXT - July 24, 2013

Best 2 Out of 3 Falls Match
Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro
NXT - August 21, 2013

William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro
NXT - December 25, 2013

Ladder Match for the NXT Championship
Bo Dallas vs. Adrian Neville
NXT ArRival - February 27, 2014

NXT Women's Championship Tournament Final
Charlotte vs. Natalya
NXT Takeover - May 29, 2014

Tyler Breeze ''#MMMGorgeous'' Music Video
NXT - June 5, 2014

Sami Zayn vs. Tyson Kidd
NXT - October 16, 2014

NXT Championship Match
Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn
NXT Takeover: REvolution - December 11, 2014

Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women's Championship
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley
NXT Takeover: Rival - February 11, 2015

NXT Championship Match
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
NXT Takeover: Rival - February 11, 2015

Adrian Neville vs. Cesaro
Columbus, OH - March 5, 2015

Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze
[Arena Cam] San Jose, CA - March 27, 2015

Six-Person Tag Team Match
Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady & Carmella vs. Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss
NXT - June 17, 2015

NXT Championship Match
Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor
Beast in the East - July 4, 2015

NXT Women's Championship Match
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn - August 22, 2015

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament Final
Finn Bálor & Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin & Rhyno
NXT Takeover: Respect - October 7, 2015

===================================================

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES

CM Punk & Seth Rollins vs. Antonio Cesaro & Kassius Ohno
NXT - October 17, 2012

Best 2 Out of 3 Falls Match
Adrian Neville vs. Corey Graves
NXT - November 13, 2013

Bray Wyatt Thanks the NXT Universe
NXT - August 14, 2014

Paige vs. Becky Lynch
[Dark Match] NXT Takeover: Fatal Four Way - September 11, 2014

NXT Women's Championship Match
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
NXT - July 15, 2015

Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze
NXT Takeover: Respect - October 7, 2015

Mike: Wow!  When we first reported on this collection a few weeks ago, they had only announced a handful of matches.  It was a decent collection, but it felt to me like there was a lot of important NXT history missing.  

The full listing is really a terrific collection of the best matches and segments from NXT.  There are a lot of surprises here, including Seth Rollins vs Jinder Mahal, and CM Punk & Seth Rollins vs. Antonio Cesaro & Kassius Ohno (which I don’t believe was ever aired).  We even got a Bo Dallas match on here!   I also like that they acknowledge who really started NXT’s tradition of great women wrestling with Emma Vs Paige.   WWE seems to have put a lot of great material on this collection, and it’s definitely worth picking up!

Chris: This is a spectacular set.  NXT doesn't have a long history, but they've included all the big title changes, most of the highest profile matches, and a perfect blend of what made NXT great.  

You mentioned how Bo Dallas and Jinder Mahal even have matches on the set, but they are important pieces in the fabric of the NXT narrative.  Mahal was the first major villain on the show, and Dallas was THE man for quite some time.  It makes you wonder why Jinder was released a year ago, and Bo NEVER makes it on television.   A lot of NXT's best have hit a glass ceiling on the main roster, but that doesn't make this set any less compelling.  

Time is tight for me, at the the moment, so I don't think I'll be buying the set, but I'm tempted.

Mike: Funny that you mention Jinder.  I saw a post online where someone said, “Greatest Matches -  First match features Jinder Mahal. Does not compute.” And I actually got defensive about this.  When NXT first became it’s own brand, it really was very separate from WWE.  You had quite a few guys like Jinder, Michael McGillicutty, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, and Tyson Kidd who were having great matches on NXT while still acting as jobbers on WWE.  Jinder did some great heel work in NXT, and proved what we said in the opening section of this column, WWE has no idea what to do with the talent they have.  No one is saying he would be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin, obviously, but he could have been a solid midcard heel.

Chris: Jinder is such an interesting case.  Think about this, in NXT he was portrayed in the typical WWE stereotype of an evil Arab sheik.  On the main roster they actually made him a rock and roller.  It's an odd case where WWE did something a little fresh, but still, in the end, wasted a good hand.

Mike: Say what you want about The Three Man Band, they worked their asses off to try and get that gimmick to work, and that was a failing effort from day one.  

Chris: They certainly did!  All three men deserved a chance to win some matches and be better than jobbers.


WWE Network adds more classic wrestling

Mike: It’s only taken 20 months, but WWE seems to be finally adding some more of their massive tape library to the Network.  This week they added a handful of AWA episodes, and some shows from Smoky Mountain, and Mid-South Wrestling.   I understand that this isn’t the priority of anyone at WWE, but I think it should be!  What’s the point of having that vast library if you can’t capitalize on it!

Chris: World Class Championship Wrestling was the first thing I watched when the Network went live. Classic shows of this ilk were what I wanted to see more than anything else.  It's about time we got some love on the old school end.  The AWA is what I'm most excited to delve back into!  Holy crap, I remember many hours watching ESPN broadcasts of the American Wrestling Association!  Now, it's time to for some Badd Company, Midnight Rockers, Curt Henning, Nick Bockwinkel, and Larry Zbyszko!

It seems the episodes added all deal with Shawn Michaels in some way, which makes perfect sense.  I see they added more WCCW episodes as well.  Most of which seem to center on Dingo (Ultimate) Warrior and Rick Rude.  This is a brilliant plan, actually.  If they don't want to spend the time adding huge runs of old content, at least placing chunks of classic talents’ runs is a brilliant way to draw eyes to these shows.

Jeff: They day I watch Total Divas, Legends House or anything involving Jerry Springer is the day after the Cubs win the World Series, because there’s nothing else on in Hell. I signed up for the Network because I wanted to watch all the old stuff with Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo, Tully Blanchard, Jesse Ventura--all the classics. I could be perfectly happy if that was the only thing on the Network. I have come to love NXT, and the current PPV availability, as well as a few odd ball shows like the live Podcasts and Table for 3 -- though they really should have just brought back the old Legends of Wrestling roundtable that used to run on the WWE 24/7.com feed. That show was incredibly entertaining. This is certainly a step in the right direction. Now I’d like to start seeing more curated content. How hard could it be to put together some “Best of…” compilations with a knowledgeable host like Jimmy Hart, perhaps, to introduce each match in “The Best of Bam Bam Bigelow” or “The Honky Tonk Man’s Greatest Hits?” It used to be the WWE would interview past and current stars for big “Best of...” DVDs, but then they just started using Maria and Stryker, and boy did that ever suck. This would be a perfect role for Sting, as well!


NXT Results -  December 2, 2015
 

- Baron Corbin def. Tye Dillinger with End of Days

- Apollo Crews cuts promo.  Next week, Apollo Crews and Finn Balor will team up against Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin.

- Tommaso Ciampa cuts promo.  He’s fighting Samoa Joe later tonight.  Joe has always been dangerous, but something has changed.  But nothing is more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose.  No one thinks Tommaso can beat Samoa Joe, but he will, and then everything changes.  Good promo, though “everything changes” is so overused.

- Nia Jax def. Blue Pants with Samoan Drop followed by a leg drop.

- Dash and Dawson interview.  Tom Phillips asks them about the consequences of Dash and Dawson’s actions with Enzo and Big Cass attacking them last week.  At Takeover London, they will be defending the tag titles against Enzo and Big Cass.  Dash and Dawson has a message for them, “Big Cass has another knee.  The flight back from London will be tough with a broken leg.”

- James Storm def. Adam Rose with Last Call superkick.

- Vaudevillians cut a promo about losing again to Dash and Dawson.  They are fighting Gable and Jordan tonight.  Gable and Jordan walk in, they say they will be champs soon.  And both teams put each other other, even shaking hands before the match.

- Promo video for Sami Zayn.  He’ll be returning soon!

- Gable/Jordan def. The Vaudevillians with Grand Amplitude.  After the match, Gable and Jordan try to shake Vaudevillians hands again, but the Vaudevillians just turn and walk away.

-Emma and Dana Brooke celebrate their defeat of Asuka last week.  Asuka messed with the wrong girls.  Last week was just a warning.

- Another promo by the Drifter singing a cryptic song.  These segments have been odd, but kind of awesome to be honest.

- Emma def. Liv Morgan with Emma Lock.  After the match, Asuka appears on the screen,  She promises to see Emma in London.

- Bayley promo.  Talks about her many title defenses.  She’s asked about Nia Jax.  Bayley says that is Nia wants a match, she’s up for any challenge.  Nia gets in Bayley’s face.  She smiles and walks away.  And then she attacks Bayley from behind.

- Samoa Joe def. Tommaso Ciampa with Muscle Buster followed by Coquina Clutch

Mike: Lots of squash matches on this show.  They set the tone for the night immediately with Baron Corbin beating Tye Dillinger.  The sad part is WWE basically has the same exact squash matches every time.  Squasher dominates to start the march,  Squashee gets in a brief flurry of offense. And then Squasher finishes him off.  I prefer a lot more back and forth in my matches.  The sad part is that they have shown Corbin can work a more competitive match, and Tye Dillinger seems to have a bit of a following.  I don’t see why they can’t use a match like this to improve both men’s reputation.

Chris: I didn’t see this one as a straight squash, but it was definitely too short.  The pattern of the match could use some tweaking, but there’s not much that can be done when the guys only have a few minutes.  Sure Corbin comes out better, yet I don’t think Dillinger came out as a complete tomato can.  I especially liked the sequence that led to the finish, which kind of gave the finish that “one fatal mistake” type of story.

Mike: BLUE PANTS IS BACK!  And she has a new theme.  I liked the original better, but I guess there might have been a copyright issue with The Price is Right people.  No idea why they would even bring back Blue Pants just to have her get squashed.  Leva Bates is a damn talented wrestler, and this is just a waste.

Chris: Hard to say why they keep bringing her back, since they obviously have no intention of signing her.  I guess it gets the crowd hot and makes the product look good on television.  

Mike: Adam Rose’s new boring gimmick is dumb.  It feels like they are just biding time with Adam Rose until they can cut him.  Real shame, Adam Rose was another guy that had a great crowd response, but WWE could not make the transition to the main roster.  A lot of solid NXT performers have had this problem, and sadly I see the same thing happening to Tyler Breeze.  

Chris: It’s sad to see what Adam Rose has become.  I don’t even get what they are going for with the new gimmick.  

On the other hand, the match was solid and Rose made James Storm look really good.  Seems like “The Bearded Outlaw” has a nice run coming in NXT.  I don’t know if they’ll put him in a feud on top, but I’m hoping they get him in the mix.

Mike: The best match of the night was probably the tag team match.  I love that NXT managed to make starts of Gable and Jordan in a relatively short period of time.  And yet the WWE can’t make stars with their stacked roster...something is vitally wrong here.  This match featured four of the most innovative wrestlers in NXT, and it was exactly as cool as I expected.

Chris: GABLE...JORDAN...GABLE...JORDAN!

I love the Vaudevillains but they really aren’t going anywhere when it comes to the main roster.  On the other hand, Gable and Jordan probably will be transitioning soon.  They are so charismatic, the Olympian gimmick will come off well on the main roster, and they can go in the ring.  The match was indeed cool, and the best of the night for sure.

Mike: The main event was decent.  They did have Tommaso Ciampa get in some offense, but it was mostly a showcase of how dominant Samoa Joe is.  I did think they did a great job with the commentary here showing the history between these two guys.  Apparently Samoa Joe was the one who introduced Ciampa to his wife.  I love little things like that they help build context for the matches.  

Chris: The main event was fine considering how short it was.  It’s sad that they bring a guy in like Ciampa but don’t really give him much to do but lose.  He’s got way more upside than being a curtain jerker.  Like Dillinger in the opener, Ciampa made Samoa Joe look like an indomitable force of nature.  I only wish someone would do the same for Ciampa down the line.     

Mike: What’s the point of having six matches on the show if they are pretty much all squashes. I would rather see a show like Lucha Underground, where the have 3 matches, but each match is given some time, and all the performers are made to look better.  Squash matches just feel like a waste to me.

Chris: Four matches is a nice sweet spot for the show so the workers get some time to put on a memorable match.  If nothing else, we could have easily done without the Nia Jaxx match.  We’ve seen it time and time again.  In the end, this episode was a lot of fun, even though the matches were short.  It’s the unfortunate aspect of building towards Takeover.  All the people working the show have to look really good.  

Hey, what about that promo by Dash and Dawson?  They are building some really menacing personas.  I love the old school threat they’re bringing to the roster.  Here’s the thing, are they transitional champs, or are Enzo and Big Cass going to lose the big one again?  This is probably the match I’m most interested in seeing on Takeover.  It won’t be the best match of the night, but it’s going to be fun.  The entire NXT roster is stacked with quality teams right now, and I want to see how things are shaking out.