COMMENTATORS: Byron Saxton & William Regal
Former Nexus brethren collide this week on NXT as Heath Slater takes on the returning Justin Gabriel. Also on the show Raquel Diaz begins her Exfoliating Ugliness tour, Richie Steamboat and Leo Kruger battle after their backstage brawl last week, and Alex Riley runs afoul of Antonio Cesaro and Aksana.
- Tamina Snuka vs. Kaitlyn (*)
- Percy Watson vs. Jinder Mahal (**)
- Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger (**3/4)
- Raquel Diaz vs. Paige (**)
- Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater (***1/4)
-Saxton and Regal welcome the home audience and hype the Gabriel/Slater main event.
Tamina Snuka vs. Kaitlyn
Smiling babyface Tamina is REAL WEIRD now that her whole 2020 shtick is angry-faced vet. Kaitlyn is hyped a girl next door with an easy-going attitude. Am I supposed to want to watch Divas wrestle or date them? I hate the way women are being presented on this show so far.
Snuka drops Kaitlyn, Kaitlyn bails to the apron to slow it down. Snuka connects with armdrag, Kaitlyn catches a kick and takes her to the mat with a dragon screw legwhip. Regal is ALL STUTTERS in this one. Kaitlyn misses a corner splash, Snuka buries a series of knees. Snuka floats over, dropping Kaitlyn with back to back drops and a running headbutt for a one-count. Kaitlyn gets Snuka caught in the ropes, wrenching back with an illegal abdominal stretch before tossing her to the canvas. Kaitlyn with a jackknife cover, Snuka kicks out at one. Kaitlyn with a basement dropkick, Snuka kicks out at two. Kaitlyn goes the wear down route, trapping Snuka in a bodyscissors. Snuka bridges up to turn it into a pinfall attempt, forcing Kaitlyn to break the hold but Kaitlyn gets the last laugh by sending her crashing face-first on the canvas. Regal touts Snuka’s “strong head” BECAUSE POLYNESIAN. Snuka regains control with a string of offense, Kaitlyn grabs the ankle to prevent her from climbing the buckles and turning into a side Russian Legsweep. Snuka powers out of a submission hold and connects with a Samoan Drop, finishing things off with a Superfly Splash for the 1…2…3.
Tamina Snuka defeated Kaitlyn via pinfall (5:20)
- The effort was there, but this was a clunky mess that felt like it went 30 minutes instead of 5. Yikes. (*)
-SUPERSTAR VIGNETTE: Big E Langston shows off his chalk hand ritual that totally isn’t a LeBron James thing. When his opponents see the chalk the end is coming…A BIG END. F*CK YEAH. NXT BIG E IS MY SH*T.
“Showtime” Percy Watson vs. Jinder Mahal
Mahal brings Watson to his knees with a side headlock, Watson whips him off and gets dropped with a shoulderblock. Mahal charges, Watson leapfrogs and connects with a leg lariat. Watson catches a kick and connects with a hip toss/neckbreaker combo. Mahal responds by kicking the leg out of the leg and connecting with a series of knees to the face and a kneedrop for a two-count. THE MASTER OF THE KNEE STRIKE. Regal touts how good Watson will be in 2-3 years and welllll…we’ll get there. Apparently John Cena has taken him as a protégé which is interesting. Workout Bros! Mahal applies a cravat, Watson counters with a jawbreaker and atomic drop. Watson connects with a Showtime Splash for the 1…2…Mahal kicks out. Mahal reverses an Irish whip and ducks Watson’s crossbody attempt (like ten seconds before he goes for it). Mahal follows up with a knee strike and the Camel Clutch for the win.
Jinder Mahal defeated Percy Watson via submission (4:04)
- Percy Watson has a ton of personality and athleticism and it’s a damn shame that it ends up going nowhere. Match was good, Mahal is being built up as the big bad of NXT so getting the win was a foregone conclusion, but Watson made him work for it. (**)
Mahal teases leaving the ring but instead reapplies the Camel Clutch, which Regal enjoys because he will always be a bastard. Ref forces him off relatively quickly but his point has been made.
Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger
These two got into a backstage brawl on last week’s show, leading to this match being signed. WWE Network recently aired a doc on FCW and played it off like Steamboat VANISHED after FCW turned into NXT. I hate when WWE rewrites history like that.
Kruger sends Steamboat into the corner and peppers him with forearms; Steamboat ducks a chop and goes around the world with him, connecting with chops and a monkey flip that sends Kruger halfway across the ring. Kruger takes the starch out of the run though with a roll-up into the buckles. Kruger tosses Steamboat into the ropes and connects with a running boot. Kruger steals Steamboat’s showy double chop to play mind games and settles into a chinlock. Kruger goes for a suplex, Steamboat counters into an inside cradle for the 1…2…Kruger kicks out and connects with a snap vertical suplex. He poses over his fallen foe for WAY TOO LONG before dropping a fist, taking too long to cover so Steamboat is able to kick out. Steamboat drops Kruger on his ass with an enzuigiri. Both men trade chops, Steamboat wins the shootout and hits a pair of clotheslines followed by the family double chop. Steamboat chases Kruger back into the ring, ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody but Kruger rolls through and gets his feet on the ropes for the 1…2…3.
Leo Kruger defeated Richie Steamboat via pinfall (4:30)
- Kruger steals a victory in a solid matchup. Had some odd delays here and there, mostly after that enzuigiri spot, but overall I enjoyed this one. Easy to forget how goddamn good Leo Kruger was, and how Steamboat had all the potential in the world. Man I’m just going to depress myself looking back on all this, eh? (**3/4)
-SUPERSTAR VIGNETTE: Raquel Diaz starts the Exfoliating Ugliness Tour next.
-DID YOU KNOW?: The 1000th episode of RAW is this Monday.
–Raquel Diaz makes her entrance and is going to TALK WHILE DOING IT. Diaz says she’s late but a late entrance is a fashionable one, and she’s here to give NXT a makeover. The Exfoliation of Ugliness has commenced. OH MAN HER VOICE, KILL ME.
Raquel Diaz vs. Paige
Paige actually got a real entrance this week, she’s moving on up. Diaz with a drop toehold on Paige, rubbing her face into the mat to exfoliate the ugliness (EEF YOU WHEEEL) and covers for a one-count Paige responds with a pair of clotheslines. Diaz catches a kick and sends Paige crashing to the canvas face-first, following up with a Gory Special into a Gory Bomb (must be in her DNA) for the 1…2…3!
Raquel Diaz defeated Paige via pinfall (1:42)
- Good debut for Diaz. I appreciate her face-based offense, goes with the gimmick as does the obnoxious voice. (**)
–Alex Riley asks if Aksana knows where catering is. Even in NXT he knows he’s not going to get any ring time. Antonio Cesaro shows up, Aksana says that Riley was trying to hit on her. Cesaro vows to kick his teeth down his throat. Riley mocks Cesaro’s “MURSE” and we’ve got us a match next week.
Justin Gabriel vs. “The One Man Southern Rock Band” Heath Slater
Jim Ross joins the commentary team for this main event. THE NEXUS POWERS EXPLODE. Maybe CORRE POWERS. Some sort of Powers.
Gabriel whips Slater off, Slater drops him with a shoulderblock and celebrates with a ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WOO. Gabriel ducks a clothesline and counters a hip toss by landing on his feet and sweeping the legs, slowing things down with an armbar. Slater counters into a side headlock, Gabriel counters with a wristlock to bring him back to the mat. Slater whips Gabriel off, Gabriel cartwheels over him and goes back to the armbar after an armdrag. Gabriel gets sent to the apron, Slater shoves him off the top rope mid-slingshot and he crashes to the floor. Slater is in control as we go to commercial.
Back live and Slater has Gabriel in a chinlock, connecting with a series of elbow strikes to quell an escape attempt. Gabriel escapes and connects with a kick, Slater ducks a forearm and connects with a neckbreaker for the 1…2…kickout. Slater hammer throws Gabriel, who bounces off the buckles and to the canvas, Slater covers for the 1…2…foot on the rope. Back to the chinlock, working over Gabriel’s often-injured neck. Slater tosses Gabriel to the apron and catches him with a knee followed by a hanging neckbreaker that Gabriel takes REAL AWKWARDLY for the 1…2…match ain’t over yet. For real though how is he still walking? Slater misses a corner splash and stumbles into a series of kicks from Gabriel. Gabriel flips over Slater and connects with a spin kick and corner forearm into a sit-out bomb for the 1…2…Slater kicks out. Gabriel favors his neck too long, allowing Slater to catch him off-guard with a BEAUT of a spinebuster for the 1…2…Gabriel kicks out! Slater counters Gabriel’s counter and hits an inverted suplex for the 1…2…Gabriel kicks out once more and rolls to the corner. A frustrated Slater charges, Gabriel catches him with a back elbow but gets crotched on the top turnbuckle. Slater grabs him and connects with a hanging neckbreaker for the 1…2…Gabriel kicks out again and now Slater is even MORE frustrated. Slater seats Gabriel on the top buckles, Gabriel elbows him to the mat and hits a moonsault into an inverted DDT for the 1…2…3!
Justin Gabriel defeated Heath Slater via pinfall (8:52 shown)
- Gabriel and Slater put on a mini-banger here, I dug this a lot. Gabriel is super entertaining to watch and Slater coming SO CLOSE to finally putting it all together was both great and heartbreaking to see. If only he could rein it in! Good stuff. (***1/4)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Another fun show but the lack of direction is becoming more and more noticeable as the weeks go on. I hope we’re getting close to some structure being added to this show now that it’s a brand and not just a random game show/throwaway C-level TV.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Leo Kruger channels Arn Anderson to get the win over Richie Steamboat