On the latest episode of NXT, from January 15th, 2014, Triple H himself opened the show to address the WWE Universe – or NXT Universe, depending on how he and the rest of the corporate suits feel on the day. Surely, if the over-arching multinational entity known as WWE has its own “universe,” and NXT is just a part of that, then this is the “NXT Galaxy” instead?
Regardless of terminology, Triple H addressed the fans in attendance at Full Sail University to announce that on February 27th, NXT itself will actually air live on the WWE Network, which by then will be three days old.
One of the most crowd-pleasing announcements made by the corporation in years, the WWE Network doesn’t only feature a logo far superior to that of its organisation itself, but actually promises incredible value for money via media accessible anytime, anywhere, for all intents and purposes. The McMahons seem to be ahead of the game (no pun intended), and it wasn’t through the WBF, or the XFL, or The World, or any of the other “outside” ventures they attempted; it was by staying true to their original product of pro wrestling – and making it available on a widespread scale while refusing to rip off their customers. It’s fantastic.
After Triple H’s promo had finished, Adrian Neville finally got his hands on Tyler Breeze, following their backstage altercation last week. As noted in the report from that show, the lack of character suffered by Adrian Neville again resulted in fans engaging far more with the heel, Tyler Breeze – not because the “Jumping Geordie” isn’t popular, but because “Prince Pretty” has a well-defined persona.
Leaving that aside for now, though, it has to be said that this match was very good. Breeze seemed a little taller than his opponent here, which was refreshing, and offered different dynamics for the match. There were several very convincing near-falls, until Neville finally hit what they’re calling the “Red Arrow” for the pin and the win.
Things didn’t look good for a returning CJ Parker (no, not Pamela Anderson’s Baywatch character) when he was suddenly pitted against Jason Jordan, who was embarking on his first high-profile NXT match, complete with ring introduction and music. We can be forgiven for expecting the worst for the “Moon Child” since his babyface hippie character has been booed since day one at Full Sail, with his mannerisms and movements simply annoying fans since it isn’t backed up by anything rebellious, aggressive, or even tangible.
Nonetheless, CJ snatched a much-needed pinfall victory after a superb series of moves leading into his “third eye” finishing move, which is simple but impressive on camera due to the way he executes it (and how his opponent sells it). As a wrestler, the real-life Joe Robinson has certain potential and the necessary abilities to make it, but this gimmick just isn’t working. They have to go with the negative response and turn him into a self-righteous hippie heel, or simply pull him from TV and repackage him. The only way they can get this character over as a babyface now is if they have Mick Foley’s Dude Love accompany him to the ring.
NXT Champion Bo Dallas – still playing the oblivious heel in the style of a circa 1986 Honky Tonk Man – faced an odd choice for an opponent: Mojo Rawley, who has been a sure-fire hit with fans ever since his introductory vignette as a man who “stays hyped.” A real livewire, Mojo runs out on stage and along the aisle, then in – and out of – the ring, engaging with ringside fans all the way as he “stays hyped.” A simple yet effective character, Rawley has been incredibly over with this since his debut, and he remained undefeated going in to this match, a match that threatened to derail him and take away his momentum.
To get around this, WWE booked Dallas to pin Rawley with a handful of trunks to gain the three-count. This kept Dallas on top, while making Mojo’s first loss merely through skulduggery. Though this will surely lead to a rematch, by the time it happens both wrestlers will be drawn out further in their respective character development to the point where a clean loss for either will do no harm. Not that Mojo will actually defeat Dallas for NXT’s premier title – unless it’s far, far away in the future, when the likes of Sami Zayn are no longer stuck in NXT.
Then came the main event, with Kofi Kingston returning from the main roster for his rematch with Alexander Rusev after cutting such a simplistic yet effective interview last week on the subject of their first in-ring meeting, which he lost due to what he claimed was simply an underestimating of his opponent – and his “social ambassador,” Lana.
Once again, this was tricky booking, as a second loss on NXT for Kofi would be a slap in the face, while a defeat for Rusev would end his mini-legacy on NXT if not executed well. The solution this time was to present us with a long match before the Bulgarian’s defeat, which finally showed that he can hang in there and still look good when having to go the distance. This boosted his credibility immensely, and though still green, he is evolving in the right way, and has the tools to one day be a real main roster force. The
Jamaican Ghanaian, meanwhile, redeemed his previous loss, and sent the fans away from this taping happy.