Things seem to moving along swimmingly in NXT. Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey have finally locked up, and I am looking toward this big guy rumble way more than whatever Roman Reigns and Big Show are doing. The Ascension faced off against Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor in another fun and exciting match. If this was the NXT sendoff for the fearsome tag team, it was a good one. The duo have moved on up to the main roster, and they are…not being received well by many, and were fighting two people whose name I did not get to catch on Smackdown, making winning look easy. To be fair, they are dressed like the horsemen of Apocalypse from the X-Men comics, but I am hoping they own it up in the wasteland.
Seeing what NXT does in the new year is something I am looking forward to, but there are some things that concern me. I keep seeing random wrestling fans say that NXT should add a mid-card title, and I completely disagree. Keeping it simple is what helps to make NXT so easy for fans to jump into and does not overcomplicate storylines. Adrian Neville is preparing to join the main roster, but rumor has it that creative wants to stick him with a horrible groan-worthy gimmick—it is Mighty Mouse, I love the character, but what? Ugh. Let that man just be Adrian Neville; it will work fine for him. I know why the gimmicks are used for newer talents, but I think it hurts so many wrestlers. The other rumor I am hearing is that Sami Zayn may not be called up in 2015 at all, and creative wants to see him have a long feud with Kevin Owens. The feud idea looks great from where we are right now, and staying down in NXT is probably a blessing in the eyes of some fans—which I am close to agreeing with. The bad part is that Zayn deserves a top spot, a bigger paycheck, and some more exposure. He has put the work in and could amaze some fans. I do not want him gone too soon from NXT either, because one thing I want in 2015 is to see an amazing run with Zayn as the champ. Things are looking up where we stand now.
The coolest part about Smackdown this week was Edge wearing a Cesaro shirt. I am enjoying his team-up with Tyson Kidd and hope they actually make some waves in what looks to be a growing division. I liked Dean Ambrose’s beat down of Curtis Axel, because it was not over too quickly and Axel actually got a couple of shots in. Not only is it more realistic but it hurts Alex just a little bit less if they want to do more with him. This event also helped to cement how serious Ambrose was about their match for Raw. On the flip side, Wyatt looked fine, but why in the world did they waste his first confrontation with former Wyatt family member, now face, Eric Rowan like that? That could have been a bigger build, a bit more of a story, anything really. Am I the only one that saw wasted opportunity here? I will call myself out for being a tad unprofessional and falling asleep during Roman Reigns versus Rusev, and was only roused slightly when Big Show came out and was receipt-buried under the announce table. I went back and watched the match again and realized I did not miss anything though.
I am glad I did not miss a second of Wrestle Kingdom 9, because that would have made me angry. It is hard for fans that have come up only on the WWE product to get into a lot of other wrestling styles out there, but places like ROH, AAA, and New Japan can be absolutely amazing to watch for those who like pure wrestling and a little bit less of the show side of things. The action is great and feels like all of the moves are harder and edgier, making even the simple wrestling maneuvers feel important. Though the language barrier is an obvious hurdle, many of these wrestlers tell their stories in the ring exceptionally in small spurts with few words. These guys are tough, and there were some hard fought battles with some nice title changes. The announcers were a tremendous help in that as well, building tension and making each match feel important. Jim Ross was wonderful to hear again and he was joined by an announcer I am fond of, Matt Striker. Both men complimented each other well and made the event feel energetic and alive outside of the ring as well as in. Those were not the only familiar faces I was happy to see though; guys like AJ Styles, Alex Shelly, and Shelton Benjamin have not appeared on my television in a long time, and it was cool to see them in action again. I also got to see more of wrestlers I am still learning about like Kenny Omega and The Rainmaker, Okada.
Overall the show put a smile on my face, and I will be watching it again. Every time I see a show like this I feel less of a need for WWE and TNA, and want to move more towards what most call the independents. Like Striker said, with ROH, Lucha Underground, New Japan, and NXT, right now is a great time to be a wrestling fan.
And then there was Raw…
Last week’s Raw left a weird taste in my mouth, like a mix of sweaty sox and baby oil—do not ask. This week though started off so much better to me. I loved the idea of adding Seth Rollins to the newest incarnation of the Cena/Lesnar match, because from a strictly wrestling match standpoint; I am way more interested. Unless there was going to be another sixteen suplex Cena beat down, I was not interested in the outcome of that match, but now, with the slight thought that Seth might actually have a chance to win—I almost care again. No, I do not think creative knows what to do with his briefcase, but I am eager to see Rollins do something big at Wrestlemania.
Some people were quite upset with Dolph Ziggler losing the IC title to Bad News Barrett, but I found myself thoroughly entertained. I do not like Dolph being without a belt, but a good swerve can go a long way, and I was stoked to see Wade use the Wasteland finisher again. The Authority’s interference made the match look like a slow assassination of the fan favored crusader, and looking at all it took to keep him down; Ziggler came out feeling strong in the end.
I could say the same thing about Ambrose in his ambulance match against Bray Wyatt. Dean felt unstoppable at a couple of points and both men looked like they were willing to kill each other to win. No matter who won, the audience got the best part of the encounter, but I think the loss hurts Ambrose less. He looked just as lethal as if he would have won, and if the rumors of Undertaker versus Wyatt are even slightly true, Bray needs a good boost like this. Also, I popped for that table spot.
Some other stuff happened, but other than laughing at Tyson Kidd and Cesaro as rosebuds, I seem to have forgotten the rest. I saw what they were trying to do with the end of the show, setting Cena up for the blame on the firings. It just fell flat. Maybe it was because everything I watched previously this week (excluding Smackdown) was so much better, but I think the bad writing also just spilled over from the previous week. Most of my enjoyment was that first hour of the show, and the only think the other two hours offered was Wyatt vs. Ambrose, which though great, was not enough. Raw was not horrible, but saying the first Raw of the new year was just disappointing would be too kind. Let us hope that this episode was the worst Raw will be in 2015.
No chance, but we can hope…
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