COMMENTATORS: Byron Saxton & William Regal (& sometimes Jim Ross)
NXT gets some direction this week as the Gold Rush tournament to crown the first-ever NXT Champion begins. Also on the show Big E Langston makes his in-ring debut, Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan go 1-2-3 Kid on Hunico & Camacho, and Raquel Diaz continues her Exfoliating Ugliness tour. I’m glad I wasn’t in the audience for these shows, I would have been stomped out in a heartbeat.
- NXT CHAMPION: Vacant
- GOLD RUSH QUARTERFINALS: Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger (**1/4)
- Big E Langston vs. Adam Mercer (SQUASH)
- Audrey Marie vs. Raquel Diaz (*3/4)
- Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan vs. Hunico & Camacho (**)
- GOLD RUSH QUARTERFINALS: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre (**3/4)
–Byron Saxton welcomes the home audience then sends it over to interim GM “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes in his interim office. Rhodes announces an eight-man “Gold Rush” tournament to crown the first-ever NXT Champion. The eight man are: Richie Steamboat, Bo Dallas, Leo Kruger, Seth Rollins, Michael McGillicutty, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, & Justin Gabriel. The tournament begins right…NOW.
GOLD RUSH: QUARTERFINALS
Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger
Kruger defeated Steamboat two weeks ago on NXT, so he’s coming in with all of the momentum. Jim Ross is with Saxton and Regal on commentary.
Steamboat tries a couple of near-falls early, trying to catch one on Kruger before he has a chance to get going. Kruger slaps Steamboat, Steamboat chases him around and inside the ring. Kruger goes for a sleeperhold, Steamboat quickly slides out (probably due to the greasy hair) and connects with a pair of double chops to send his opponent scrambling back to the floor to break the momentum. Back inside Steamboat lights Kruger up with a chop and tries to attack him in the corner, but Kruger complains of a knee injury to force referee intervention. Kruger cheap shots Steamboat and takes control of the contest, slowing things down with a cravat (cravate?). Steamboat escapes, Kruger reverses an Irish whip and drills him with a spinebuster for the 1…2…not yet. Steamboat escapes the sleeper once again, Kruger goes full ground and pound to make him pay.
Steamboat mounts a comeback with a series of chops, Kruger buries the knee and runs right into a pair of clotheslines. Steamboat connects with a missile dropkick for the 1…2…Kruger barely kicks out. Kruger grabs the sleeperhold, Steamboat almost fades but gets to the ropes to force a break. A frustrated Kruger drives a series of knees into Steamboat, Steamboat counters a clothesline out of nowhere with a sling blade for the 1…2…3!
Richie Steamboat defeated Leo Kruger via pinfall (7:53)
- Good win for Steamboat, albeit one that felt out of nowhere but I guess that was to sell the power of the Sling Blade. (**1/4)
-VIDEO: Big E Langston sees his opponent as a victim, not a challenge. He debuts N(e)XT!
Big E Langston vs. Adam Mercer
GOD I MISS THAT CHALK SLAP ENTRANCE AND THEME SONG AND PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ABOUT NXT LANGSTON. I have no idea who Adam Mercer is and I feel like a jerk about it, don’t look at me.
Bell rings and it’s all Langston, bending Mercer nearly in half with multiple backbreakers and a series of shoulders to the midsection. Mercer stuns Langston with a couple of jawbreakers but then gets completely bowled over with a bodyblock. Straps down and BIG ENDING for the 1…2…3.
Big E Langston defeated Adam Mercer via pinfall (2:00)
- Langston comes out of the gate looking like a killer. So good. I appreciate that the bulk of his offense is midsection based, weakening it up perfectly for the Big Ending. (SQUASH)
-DID YOU KNOW: The 100th episode of RAW was more “socially active” than the other top ten shows of the night COMBINED. Cooool.
–Raquel Diaz makes her way out, talking trash about how Audrey Marie has no idea how to work the ramp. Diaz looks especially beautiful tonight because the Exfoliating Ugliness tour commences NOW. Or continues. Or something.
Audrey Marie vs. Raquel Diaz
Marie controls early with a side headlock, Diaz cheapshots her way out and drops her across the top rope with a stun gun for a one-count. Marie mounts a mini-comeback, Diaz stops it with a drop toehold and rubs her face into the canvas, I assume to exfoliate the ugliness. Marie with a jackknife cover, Diaz bridges out and goes for a backslide. Marie flips out, Diaz rebounds and hits a Gory Bomb for the 1…2…3.
Raquel Diaz defeated Audrey Marie via pinfall (2:35)
- Full Sail showing their bitch colors chanting “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE” to Diaz. I mean yeah it wasn’t the prettiest contest, but it got the job done. I think the gimmick hurts her more than anything; it’s annoying on a “GO AWAY” level more than heel heat. (*3/4)
Diaz writes an “L” on Marie’s head with lipstick. Okay I don’t hate that.
–Briley Pierce is backstage with Paige. He asks about Raquel Diaz’s ugliness tour, she simply says “we’ll see” and walks off.
Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan vs. Hunico & Camacho
Jordan grabs a waistlock, Hunico immediately forces a rope break. Jordan takes him down with a fireman’s carry and a waistlock slam into a front chancery. Dalton tags in and sweeps the legs into a roll-up, Hunico kicks out at one and dropkicks a distracted Dalton for a two-count. Camacho pummels Dalton, Hunico tags back in with a slingshot dropkick. Dalton counters a knee with a roll-up for the 1…2…Hunico kicks out and stomps him. Dalton backed into the heel corner, Camacho tags in and connects with a butterfly slam for the 1…2…not yet. Hunico & Camacho connect with a double slam for the 1…2…Jordan breaks it up and distracts the ref allowing Hunico & Camacho to cheapshot Dalton. Hunico floats Dalton into Camacho, Dalton counters a power bomb with a roll up as Jordan holds Hunico back for the 1…2…3! HOROWITZ WINS! HOROWITZ WINS!
Mike Dalton & Jason Jordan defeated Hunico & Camacho via pinfall (3:42)
- Well that’s a pleasant surprise, I totally expected a squash here; instead we get an upset win by a new team of NXT rookies. Respect. Dalton and Jordan were a great plucky babyface team here, Dalton shining especially. Poor Hunico & Camacho, but I’m sure they’ll beat these guys into paste next week or something. (**)
-VIDEO: Bo Dallas is all business when he steps in the ring. He’s in action next week.
GOLD RUSH: QUARTERFINALS
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Rollins & McIntyre met in the main event of last week’s show, with the latter picking up the victory. Hmm feels like I’m sensing a pattern with this week’s Gold Rush matches. Ross is back on commentary for this one, Saxton hypes Rollins up as a poster child for individualism. UGH.
Rollins attacks the hammies, McIntyre catches him with a right hand when the ref tries to break it up. McIntyre rings Rollins’ bell with a European uppercut, Rollins responds with a dropkick to the knee and a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. One-foot dropkick, McIntyre takes a powder and hides under the ring. Rollins tries to pull him out, but he uses his leg strength to send his VERY INDIVIDUALISTIC opponent into the apron. McIntyre flings Rollins to the canvas and works over his left arm, dropping him on his own wing with a belly-to-back suplex for a two-count. McIntyre with a top wristlock we go to commercial.
Back live Rollins counters a backdrop with a kick but runs right into a back elbow, McIntyre covers for a one-count. Ref’s got a glove on so I guess somebody is bleeding? I don’t really see anything though. Rollins rolls to the apron, McIntyre drapes him across it and buries a stiff forearm to the sternum. Rollins flips over a short-arm clothesline and counters a pop-up into a DDT. The one-armed Rollins mounts a comeback, using a variety of kicks to compensate including an enzuigiri to the side of the head. Rollins clotheslines McIntyre to the floor and quickly follows up with a tope suicida. Rollins with a corner forearm, McIntyre turns him inside out with a clothesline for the 1…2…not yet. Rollins catches McIntyre with a back elbow, McIntyre counters a flying nothing into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for the 1…2…Rollins kicks out! Rollins elbows McIntyre off the buckles, Rollins lands on his feet off a Phoenix splash but this time dodges McIntyre who goes right into the ropes and Rollins finishes things off with the Blackout for the 1…2…3.
Seth Rollins defeated Drew McIntyre via pinfall (9:32)
- Rollins avenges his loss from last week and advances to the semi-finals of the Gold Rush Tournament. I liked the callback to last week’s ending there, with Rollins being one step ahead this time to put it away. Almost liked he learned something! I like little things like that. Much better than the other QF match, but I assume Rollins/Steamboat isn’t going to be the SF contest which is a bummer. I think that could be real good. (**3/4)
Rollins poses next to the NXT Championship on the entrance stage as the show concludes.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good episode of NXT this week, nothing much stood out wrestling-wise but we got a Big (E) debut and finally a goal for the wrestlers to strive towards with the introduction of the NXT Championship.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Big E Langston sending me into a nostalgia spiral with his chalk cloud entrance.