Wow. Just wow. Ever since I gave up my NXT blog to the Queen (because of her scheduling issues, not my desire), I have deeply regretted it. Tonight, I get to write about NXT anyway. Let’s get to the beauty that was this episode of Friday Night…NXT.
In-ring segment – Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Guess he was able to charter a flight to get back when many others could not. Oh well. I’ll cry later. As always, Paul is absolute platinum on the mic. There are few better storytellers in the history of professional wrestling – yeah, I said it. Paul is a master of pace, content, and emotion. He can even be funny when the need arises. He can take you wherever he wants you to go…and you’ll willingly follow him. It’s said that Bobby Heenan was the best and I agreed…until I saw Heyman in action this way. To my mind, imagined heresy notwithstanding, Heyman is quite simply the best manager/advocate/whatever that wrestling has ever seen. This segment is proof of why. He told the story of Brock being furious because, in spite of his long-dreamed-of vanquishing of Cain Velasquez, Rey Mysterio interfered while the beast attempted to feast. Of course, this cannot go unpunished and Heyman announced that fact in the best way possible. Brock wants Rey but can’t have him because one is on Raw and the other is on Smackdown. The solution? Brock quits. Heyman even ended in Spanish like a boss. Perfectly done.
Interesting too is that Lesnar was out there with a replica belt and not the TV belt. Guess they couldn’t get it back fast enough. I affects nothing but just happened to notice it.
The placement of Triple H. & Shawn Michaels backstage was some brilliant foreshadowing.
Bayley (w/ Sasha Banks) vs. Nikki Cross
Thus far, Bayley’s heel transformation has been really good. She’s consistently getting better. If you haven’t heard the first episode of “After the Bell” – Corey Graves’ podcast, it’s worth it. She did well there. We’ve all wanted this for a while and wondered how she’d do. Glad it’s working out so far, not without bumps but it is working. Worth noting is that this is the only match announced for the show that actually took place.
This was a really good match and, of course, it had to end dirty with some Sasha involvement. I wonder what she’s going to call her finisher.
This is where NXT’s invasion began. Shayna came out and ate Bayley with fava beans and a nice chianti. Very nice NXT chants while it was happening too. I love Shayna dearly and have for years so this was fun for me. Aiden called Shayna “the Queen of Heart” and that basically ended his evening on commentary. This was clearly by design. Pat McAfee is a NXT guy so this is just likely the continuation of that story. Nothing was said about why Aiden was removed and I love that. I enjoyed what I got him though and always do on 205 Live.
UGH…Pat McAfee…Oh well…he didn’t hurt anything by being there. In fact, in a couple of instances, he even added some passion.
Backstage segment – Sami Zayn, Keith Lee, & Matt Riddle
Sami Zayn is such amazing slime. That interaction between the three of them was an absolutely riot and it carried out to the ring. Keith’s face while Matt was delivering pain was hilarious too. ‘Course, Keith had to get him some and he did. Riddle & Lee looked really good out there and the chemistry between Riddle & Lee was undeniable. This was an absolutely amazing segment. I’m a huge fan of both of them and couldn’t be happier to see them here.
In-ring segment which lead to… The Miz vs Tommaso Ciampa
Wyatt/Fiend was, of course, unable to get back in time so while he was the featured guest, that couldn’t happen. Miz, instead, started talking about the NXT invasion. Tommaso came out and this became fun. Ciampa is very compelling on the mic and they traded shots which lead to the match we got. Tommaso forced Miz into a ground game that we rarely see him work in. Miz is ridiculously underrated in all respect so he was more than up for it. He’s quite literally the only WWE superstar who’s been around as long as he has and never succumbed to injury. There’s a lot to be said for that. The look on Miz’s face when Tommaso looked to turn over the Figure Four Leglock was just priceless. I love seeing workers tell the story with their faces and Miz has always done a great job of that. Ciampa ended with the Fairy Tell Ending and thus far, NXT is being put over hard. I LOVE this!
Backstage segment – Daniel Bryan, Adam Cole, Triple H., & Shawn Michaels
This was fun. I love what a master of reaction Shawn is. He stood in the background cringing while Daniel challenged Triple H. He then took his warmup jacket off in a tease and then said it was cold so he put it back on. LOL!! Great stuff. Cole is such a star and I couldn’t wait for this match.
Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville) vs. Carmella & Dana Brooke…um…I mean…Tegan Nox & Rhea Ripley
Ah, my Queen, Bianca. She had…ahem…other ideas…about the impending match and decided it shouldn’t take place. She looked like a mercenary removing Carmella and Dana from the equation. Beautifully done. As for Fire & Desire, they were essentially fed to Ripley & Nox. Poor Renee. She caught Deville’s foot right in the face when Tegan reversed a throw. While I hate to see Renee & Tom catch it like that, it does tell the story extremely well. Even the commentators aren’t safe. Sorry, Renee, but it was fun match.
On the ramp…Stephanie McMahon
The only thing that mattered about Thursday night is that Natalya & Lacey Evans had the very first women’s wrestling match in Saudi Arabia. I watched the match and it was a very different thing for both of them. Lacey didn’t “heel” much at all like she ordinarily would and the match was little more cut and dried than your usual women’s match in WWE. Still, the match took place and it was what it needed to be. They were great out there and the next one is now possible. The moments at the end of the match were spectacular and while we didn’t cover it here, I’m glad I watched that match and would suggest that everyone do so.
Adam Cole (Bay Bay) vs. Daniel Bryan
This is a match many of us have wanted for quite some time and we’re getting it here. How delicious is this. Roderick Strong even got a few seconds out there on the ramp too so that’s cool. There was no way this wasn’t going to be an amazing match and I was not let down in any way. It was really interesting to see Adam essentially play “face” here and Daniel did too. There was one cringe-y moment where Daniel got dropped on his neck but he recovered perfectly and kept it moving. Thank goodness. That’s the last thing he needs. Daniel’s German Suplex on Adam also saw Adam land right on his head but, again, Adam recovered and life went on. There’s no way it didn’t hurt though. Also out there was Triple H. & Shawn Michaels. Adam’s main role model is Shawn so it must have been too much fun having him at ringside. They both sold their excitement and cringing just like the pros they are. Brian did this great rocket launch where he ended up hitting Adam and then sat in the chair. Boss move. This was an absolute clinic and nothing more could have been asked. I could have watched them fight forever.
I remember not being totally sure during DD whether or not they’d faced each other in ROH but I was reminded that they essentially crossed paths there. Daniel took off just as Adam was getting there.
Triple H., Shawn Michaels, Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Bianca Belair, Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai, Lio Rush, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Raul Mendoza, Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley, Pat McAfee, Roderick Strong, & Adam Cole (Bay Bay)
WE…ARE…NXT!!! Triple H.’s call to arms was just exactly what it needed to be. Can’t wait for this to play out over the weeks. This will be amazing. These were the first shots fired and I enjoyed each and every one of them.
#WeAreNXT. See you next week.