Okay, if last week was "Fight Night," this week is "No Real Fights Night," or possibly something much catchier than that. Somebody help me out here. Point is, they skimped a bit on the action this week. Certainly, it couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that LU ended its season last week and NXT being uncontested this week, right? That said, we do spend most of this episode in the ring, even if there's not necessarily a lot to see there.
Case in point, we open with Shinsuke Nakamura against Wesley Blake. Blake's got a whole new set of packaging; new music, new gear, new entrance. It don't help him a lot here, though. Nakamura starts off with his rope taunt, and Blake answers back with a...headlock. That is the kind of night we're looking at here. They do a rope-run exchange, and Blake pops up and blows Nakamura a kiss. Nakamura catches it, smells it, decides that it does not smell pleasant, then dumps it on the ground and stomps on it. Blake is outraged. Then Nakamura puts Blake down and drops a knee on him, to start this match for actuals. Blake goes to the corner, only to eat a Good Vibrations, followed by a second. Blake escapes a third and counters with a big clothesline and a Vaderbomb into a knee drop. Blake snapmares Nakamura into a chinlock, then positions Nakamura in the corner to land a Good Vibrations of his own. It's not really a great idea to taunt Shinsuke Nakamura when you're at Blake's level, though, and sure enough, Nakamura counters back with a flurry of strikes, the reach-back forearm shot, some kicks, turnbuckle knee, inverted exploder, KINSHASA. Match Rating: Kinda Blerg. After the match, GM Regal comes out on the ramp to announce that Shinsuke Nakamura will be facing Samoa Joe for the NXT title in Brooklyn. I kinda wanted a little more set up here, but it's not like this is an unexpected outcome, either, and the match will be, y'know, alright.
Billie Kay is out with new music and packaging as well. She's working full heel tonight against Santana Garrett, who now sports rainbow-themed gear that makes it look like Billie's fighting Rainbow Bright. That may affect your overall enjoyment of the match. Anyhoo, this match is a little rough around the edges if I can be honest. They start off by feeling each other out, and Billie has a very nice fireman's carry takeover, but after some standing switches, Garrett hits a standing dropkick and a forearm. Billie answers back with a discus forearm, followed by a boot choke and some weird kind of suplex. Maybe a Teardrop suplex? Corey Graves was no help to me here. Billie moves into a cravat, but Garrett escapes into a shoulder tackle followed by a back elbow and a headbutt, which sets up a handspring splash in the corner. It looks like Garrett's got this one, until Billie Kay hits a big boot...and gets the pin? Match Rating: A Big Boot Is Not A Finisher!
We get highlights of Bayley's appearance at Battleground. Meanwhile, Bayley herself is backstage with GM Regal, and she wants him to know that she's ready for her rematch with Asuka. Just in time for Brooklyn? What are the odds? Anyhoo, Regal tells her he'll get the paperwork together, and the card is starting to take shape.
We get a very ambiguous promo for somebody here. My wife is hoping that he's a sexy vampire, which oddly enough we haven't seen too much of in wrestling. My money is on some kind of hunter gimmick.
TM61 is in action tonight against Some Jobbers. One jobber in particular cannot seem to get into position for ANYTHING. He's a mess out there. He's so bad, he actually makes TM61 look worse while they're wailing on him. That's like some kind of reverse talent. It's, it's hard to watch. TM61 hit their trademark offense, as is the custom of a squash, and finally, mercifully manage to hit Thunder Valley, with absolutely no help from their jobber. Match Rating: Or Maybe Inverted Skill?
Hideo Itami returns next week. Hooray!
They run down the Austin Aries/No Way Jose feud, and then NWJ shows ups for a boring squash against Some Jobber who looks like Liev Schriber playing Sabretooth. Corey Graves makes basically the same joke, and I forgive him for not helping me out with that suplex earlier. Oops, match is over. Match Rating: Short, At Least. After the match, NWJ gives a serviceable but intensely generic promo telling Aries to watch out.
Main event time already? We've squashed the night away! I may have forgotten to write this down, so I don't remember where on the show they set this up, but the deal is, Blake took on Nakamura in the opening to try and show Murphy that he could do what Murphy couldn't. Set your sights lower, guys. In response, Murphy claimed that he was going to beat the odds-on favorite in the CWC, which they have decided is Kota Ibushi. My money's still on Perkins. Anyhoo, it comes to pass that this will mark Ibushi's NXT debut, in a bookend match that will make viewers unconsciously connect him with Shinsuke Nakamura, probably for no reason, right? Nothing down the line for those two, I'm sure. For the record, I am assiduously avoiding spoilers for the CWC, so please do not tell me anything about the outcome, or Ibushi's contract status either, as that may constitute an accidental spoiler all on its own. Murphy starts out with a headlock and a pair a of shoulder tackles, but Ibushi hits a standing dropkick and a shoot kick, followed by a beautiful standing moonsault. I'm beginning to think that the standing moonsault is the new superkick (which was itself the new piledriver). Murphy rolls out of the ring, and when Ibushi tries to follow him, Murphy trips him and he takes a hard bump on the apron. Murphy sends Ibushi back in and clamps on a headlock. It's actually a really good headlock. Kevin Owens-level. I'm not going to call out a headlock unless it's a really good one, and I'm saying that this is a great headlock. Ibushi agrees, and decides he would very much like to get out of it, so he tries shooting Murphy into the corner, but Murphy comes back out with a running double knee strike! Murphy's getting a little full of himself here, and starts taunting Ibushi. Ibushi answers back by catching a boot and delivering a stunning strike combo. Muphy backs off, then nails a big boot, but Ibushi shrugs it off, nails a GIGANTIC roundhouse, and then a bridging German suplex that literally everyone thought was going to be the end of the match. Instead, it only gets two, so Ibush goes up top and fakes a moonsault, landing on his feet when Murphy dodges. Murphy's ready, though, and posts Ibushi's shoulder in the corner, nails a running dropkick to his butt, and then rolls him up for two! This is getting very exciting! Murphy sets Ibushi up top, but it's a mistake. Ibushi kind of sunset flips out, but instead of rolling through or landing the sunset bomb, carries Murphy out of the corner and then nails his sitout powerbomb for three. Match Rating: A Good Ibushi Match, And A Great Buddy Murphy Match.
Genuinely the best singles match I've ever seen from Murphy, and it wasn't just because of Ibushi.
Joe's here, finally, and he's not thrilled about his new challenger. We'll see him in the ring.
Bobby Roode next week. He gonna fight Itami, or what?
Okay, out in the ring, and Joe refuses to fight Nakamura because he didn't get to pick his own challenger. This, of course, brings out Regal to remind him that the champ fights whoever the hell the GM wants him to fight, and if Joe wants to sit this one out, he'll call a forfeit and give the title to the challenger. Joe...doesn't have much he can do about that, actually, so he just threatens to finish Nakamura off the next time he sees him, so he won't even make it to Brooklyn. That, of course, brings out Nakamura, who's got his mouthguard and looks ready to fight. Joe just sits in the ring and fumes, though, as we go out.
I can't help it; I love watching Joe made to look the fool. I don't know why, and I don't have anything against him as a performer. I think I just like watching him fail as a chickenshit heel. There's something very gratifying about it for me.
Ok this has been on my mind all day. Murphy is HBK Blake is Jannety. To be more specific Murphy really make me think of Benoit (looks and potential specifically) in his match with Ibushi. A few weeks ago he had a great match with Nakamura also. I've just noticed little things like how Murphy has kept himself in better shape since those two debuted as a tag team (Blake has "rounded" out a bit if you get my meaning). I also think he is more aggressive in the ring while Blake is very very goofy, but not in a funny way. His stupid peacock entrance to the ring and new music that doesn't fit him at all.
I unfortunately predict this is the furthest Blake's career is going in the WWE. If Murphy get's promoted without him he's screwed.
Cole: "Yeah, thanks to Kane. You should buy Kane a Rolex watch for what he did for you."
Rollins: "Oh don't be silly, Kane doesn't wear watches."
No Way Jose showed just the right ammount of temper/passion tonight. I liked his promo, but loved how he then decided to get back into the dance groove when his music started.
And while nothing's wrong with Blake as a wrestler, it's obvious that Murphy is much better. His outing against Nakamura and now Ibushi was great. Almost got me doubting the out come. However, he got the old music. Blake got new music, new tassles. I fear he'll be the one getting the push
I liked Garrett more than Billie Kay so I hope to see more of her. I was discussing the women's division and how it's now empty and they need to rebuild other than the champ when Bayley showed up with Regal. In my head she's already moved on but it would be sweet if she can regain the title in Brooklyn. Just because it's freakin' Bayley.
Joe's promo was fine. I like when he plays the chicken shit heel, because even when he does he still comes across as slightly bad ass. I am looking forward to the match between him and Nakamura. Hope it lives up to my hopes....? Not sure why but I feel they'll either bring the house down or totally not gell and have a clusterfuck of a match.