So as we all know, NXT’s overall operating philosophy has changed. It’s no longer just about grooming stars for the main roster. It really is its own brand within the WWE structure. As a result, calling the blog “The Illustrious Future” really doesn’t fit anymore. It’s “The Here and Now”!
If you didn’t watch, “TakeOver: Phoenix”, you should have. Go back and watch it on the WWE Network (only 9.99 a month, don’tcha know!) and be amazed. Of course, much of this was a recap of “TakeOver” itself but there was fun to be had here for sure*. Let’s dive in!
Some has a sign that says “Jayden in SAWFT”. Poor Jayden and poor fan trapped in another year. Wake up! LOL!! Okay, on with the show…
Io Shirai & Kairi Sane vs. Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir
I dearly love Shirai already and I love Sane too. The only thing I don’t love about Sane is her completely silly gimmick. At least she got rid of the stupid steering wheel. The telescope looks much cooler so that’s a step up. I really like her theme too – very catchy.
That face mask makes Shafir look positively dark. Duke is 5’11” so she towers over everyone else. What a great scenario for Duke & Shafir. They’re still green (and there were some minor timing things) so putting them in the ring with Sane & Shirai is a good move. Duke looked pretty good in there, honestly. She really made Shirai and Sane look good in there with their tandem offense.
Of these four, Shirai is my favorite. There’s just nothing she can’t do. It’s really that simple. She can fly and not bore me but she can also stand and deliver. Just an incredible athlete. Yes, Duke & Shafir lost but they have nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone came out looking as they needed to look here.
Backstage segment – Johnny Gargano
Short but sweet. He was lost in the euphoria of winning, darn it, and it was fun.
Backstage segment – Bianca Belair
“Being undefeated is a mindset”. Nice way to turn that around. I mean, it’s totally silly but I get it. Bianca has nothing to ashamed of in her performance at TakeOver. I absolutely LOVE her and can’t wait to see where she goes from here. As usual, she did well here. Her mic work is always good.
So onto Sam Robert’s “out of nowhere” criticisms of Bianca, that whole thing was just weird. He wasn’t at all on that header prior to them and the whole thing felt very forced to me. It was as if someone told him to criticize Belair in his ear and he unconvincingly just went for it. It was awkward and it was superfluous. As for Belair’s response to it, she kinda phoned that in too. It’s all just weird and I hope it’s just quietly forgotten about.
Backstage segment – War Raiders (Rowe & Hanson)
I like these guys in the ring a lot. I like their aesthetic. What I don’t like is the one thing they can’t do a thing about. They protect this dark, burly visual but they have voices like utterly regular guys. They can talk – don’t get me wrong. It really is only their voices. They don’t sound scary at all; they sound like your next-door neighbors. That undoes them entirely. They really need a mouthpiece badly to do all their talking so the voices can’t get in the way. Again, they can’t do anything about that so it’s not really their fault.
Backstage segment – Matt Riddle
Okay, I’ve been pretty down on “The Bro” and I was was ready to hate this. I saw him standing there and I was sure this would be unpretty. I was all ready with my NXT skull but he did better here. It was short but he was actually in this moment. This was a far cry from the usually blithe and uninvolved Riddle we’ve gotten up to this point.
Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake)
So we’ve gone to red Solo cups now. Oh well, black Street Profits cup. We hardly knew ye. What is with that ring gear though. I dig the red but the fasteners that hold up the chest part of the gear are just weird. It is completely unflattering on Dawkins in particular who’s a little too fleshy for it. Even on the slimmer Ford, it just looks odd. I showed Queen but she hasn’t said anything yet. I await the response…
The Forgotten Sons don’t do a thing for me yet. I’m still waiting for them to make an impression on me. The chants of “we forgot you” about sum it up, really.
This was definitely a very good match. Montez Ford’s vertical leap onto Cutler outside the ropes was just amazing. Ranallo’s “MAMA MIA” was totally warranted there. The air Ford caught was pretty spectacular. In the end, the Forgotten Sons badly needed this victory in order to matter at all and they got it. I hate to see it come at the expense of Dawkins & Ford but there really was no choice.
*This was the only line of this blog I wrote after the show ended. The rest was written, as is usually the case, while it was happening.