The NXT Report Card (8/30/17): A Glorious Rematch

I think we can universally agree that last week was a tough one for all of us. I delved into Tiramisu, chocolate treats and even reviewed an Alexa Bliss advert that wasn't actually a part of NXT. As many of you know, I’m a truly courageous wrestling reviewer but although I may seem flawless at times, even I sometimes wilt under this immense pressure. Last week I suffered from TakeOver hangover and simply wasn't prepared for an hour of heart-wrenching recaps with some hot wrestling action scattered in-between. I failed you all and sadly, I sense that this traumatic disappointment will likely hurt my long-term legacy as the greatest mind in the history of the business.

Fortunately, things are looking better this week as we return to my kingdom: Full Sail. It’s a fresh set of tapings and a new direction seems almost inevitable as the real fallout from Brooklyn now finally commences. Things could get very exciting or maybe not but let’s be honest, it doesn't really matter as regardless of NXT’s quality, this series will continue to be proudly mediocre and that’s the way it should be. With that being said, let’s see what Hunter’s outlaw promotion has in store for us.

Trish Stratus Says Great Storytelling Can Happen With Intergender Interactions

DISCLAIMER: any wild predictions I make that you disagree with will likely be proven completely wrong in the coming weeks, months and years anyway so don’t worry too much. Basically, take everything you read from this point forward with a grain of salt as its credibility is preposterously low.

We get started with our usual intro before oh my lord someone has killed Sanity….I mean mine died years ago but I’m talking about the wrestling faction here. They are laid out in the parking lot and so are some others it seems. Regal looks very angry and speaking of such, I’m delighted to announce that in this brief clip he scored a whopping 9.1 on the William Regal/Alexa Bliss Facial Expression Scale. I know right, you thought I’d forgotten about that gimmick huh? Well in that case, you’d be right. Congrats.

Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong Discuss Being Men

Our new NXT champion is here and the Full Sail crowd certainly seems happy to see him. We’ve been down this road before as far as Drew’s promos so I’m not going to rehash it anymore. He says he’ll fight anyone and this led to Roderick Strong arriving…in his gear. Oh yes, he’s wrestling Bobby Roode tonight and I’ll probably end up crying again. Great. Strong is still kind of wooden in his delivery but it’s evident that he’s actively trying to bring more passion and I definitely respect that. They then talk about fighting like men and just generally discuss being blokes and such. This was fine and achieved its purpose, even if it was a little bland for my liking.

Grade: C+

We now got a replay of last week’s Bobby Roode interview as well as being informed that Asuka will be here next week. Seems that we’re pretending that the result of that ‘update’ isn’t already known. Weird.

Peyton Royce

Time for our first match now as Peyton takes on Ruby Riot. Firstly, I enjoyed the grappling exchanges early as they seemed to be actually fighting from one position to the next. Neat. I also really liked the way Peyton pulled Riot throat first into the top rope for the cut off spot. She then just started kneeing and kicking her in the face which is always fun too. I must concede that I wasn't crazy about Peyton’s work when in control here but in fairness, her character work always keeps things pretty entertaining.

The Death Valley Driver was a great false finish and both talents really sold it well with their facials. The finish came when Peyton distracted the referee by pulling the apron up which allowed Billie to pull Ruby out and literally destroy her with a big boot. This interference spot ruled. Peyton then hit the Fisherman suplex for the pin. Good showing for Royce and a fun match.

Grade: B

Ruby Riot

I’ve not always loved Riot’s performances in NXT but I have to say, I really enjoyed her here and thought she looked great. Ruby briefly worked Royce’s arm early and I liked the way this focused approach matched with her overall style and energy. She sold really well throughout and made a very fun comeback which she punctuated with an awesome kick to the brain. Riot’s offense seems to be a little inconsistent and doesn't always look perfect but nonetheless, it definitely looked solid in this match. She also had some really strong moments down the stretch including a great powerbomb and even a bottom rope dive which looked pretty cool. Ruby did a really good job here.

Grade: B+

William Regal is now being interviewed about the incident we saw earlier before Kassius Ohno interrupted and was informed of a match against Hideo Itami next week. Ohno then successfully got the bout turned into a No Disqualification match.

Heavy Machinery

Time for my favorite tag team now folks as Otis and Tucker are finally here again! Dozovic’s face is a joy to behold and so are the weird noises he makes when grappling. His offense is basically him just running into his opponent and it’s truly wonderful. His mannerisms are completely obscene. Tucker Knight was now in and put on a guillotine choke which seemed out of place but the fun soon continued with “Tucky” hitting a crossbody on both men. They then hit the Compactor on one man on top of the other and this was simply incredible. This tag team is awesome.

Grade: A*

We next see Lord Steven informing Lars Sullivan that he has a 3 on 1 handicap match coming up next week as well as an also announced rematch between Cezar Bononi and the best wrestler ever: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas.

Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Roode

Main event time now as we get a rematch of one of my all-time favorite NXT matches. Some of you may recall how much I loved their first bout and with that in mind, it’s time to bring out the illustrious TakeOver Style grading. Strong sold his initial rage perfectly early before pushing Roode to the floor and that immediately made things intense as Bobby began to nail Strong with strikes. Strong fired back though and the conflict between the pair was perfectly represented by the almost instantly wild action. This was a fight. Strong hit a few awesome backbreakers (duh) and he was now on top.

Roode threw Strong into his arch nemesis: the ring post and that, as well as an ARN ANDERSON SPINEBUSTER on the outside, suddenly put him in control. I’ve discussed this before in obscene detail but I really can’t stress enough how much I love Roode’s heat segments. He’s so nasty and vicious but also flashy enough as a character to avoid being bland. Moreover, this throwback style is even better when contrasted with a guy as innovate on offense as Strong is. Roddy had a quite brilliant flurry of strikes here as he made his comeback, selling the whole time too by the way.

Strong’s moves only got cooler down the stretch but every time he seemed in control, Roode would have always have a smart tactic to turn things around. The dynamic between these two really is great. Roddy always does a nice job of selling near falls with his face but that was especially the case here and it really elevated the match as it showed his sheer desperation to win. Also, credit to Strong and Roode for paying homage to Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss with that big superplex! Women’s wrestling is strong!!!!

A wonderful strike exchange led to the Glorious DDT and in a beautiful moment of storytelling, Strong got his foot on the ropes just like Roode did in their prior encounter. Roode then talked trash and slapped Strong across the face but Roddy fought back and closed the show with 91 knees to the face and two End of Heartaches, only after blowing a vengeful kiss first though of course. This was a superb match filled with psychology, storytelling and selling and it all culminated in an incredibly satisfying ending.

Grade: A

Drew is back after the match now and points at Strong before suddenly Adam Cole and his ReDRagon buddies jumped the champ. Cole nailed a DDT on the ramp and the trio quickly scurried when security arrived. This felt quite authentic all things considered but it does make me question having Kyle and Bobby previously lose on television.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a very strong episode of NXT and they did a really great job of ending a prior era all whilst setting up the new landscape seamlessly. We had a good match in the women’s division, a fun squash for Heavy Machinery and an absolutely brilliant main event. We even had an intriguing angle to close the show on and that left me looking forward to next week which is always the real key of course. A lot to like this week and I really can’t recommend the main event enough, especially if you were lucky enough to catch their first match together. If not, watch both.

Grade: A

Please comment your thoughts below or just tweet me abuse on Twitter @JoeHulbert5

See you next week folks.

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