Last week Bray Wyatt debuted, this week (WWE NXT 07/18/12) we’re getting Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater and the debut of Raquel Diaz. NXT still has its training wheels on but we’re steadily getting there. I’ll be back with these NXT Catch Up recaps more frequently in the coming weeks – I mean it this time! Let’s get to the recap.
WWE NXT 07/18/12 Recap
“Yes sir, we promised you a great main event tonight”, standard NXT opening credits, and we’re taped from Full Sail. Byron Saxton welcomes us to the show and William Regal is his broadcast partner this week.
The announcers hype the Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater main event and we’re sent to Tamina’s entrance. Tamina is presented as “Tamina Snuka” here and since it’s 2012, they really play up the Superfly Snuka angle. Seriously, this is the most I’ve seen Tamina smile – ever. She even throws up the “superfly” hand gesture a few times during her entrance. Kaitlyn is out next. I missed Kaitlyn’s run so she’s new to me. Before the match begins, Regal tells us that both women can squat over 300lbs.
Match #1: Tamina Snuka vs. Kaitlyn
Well, this episode peaked early for me. This was my favorite match and it’s not anything terribly special. Kaitlyn kind of reminds me of a more submissions-oriented Alexa Bliss. Tamina is younger here and not wearing visible knee braces so I imagine she’s healthier. It shows as she hits a “Superfly Splash” for her finisher instead of rolling with the superkick she tends to use in more modern times. Not much to really add here. It’s an average match. On par with the average one on one match you’d see on a modern episode of NXT in 2017.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The best women’s match we’ve seen on NXT Catch Up, but that bar is still set really, really low.
Up next? It’s like someone is playing around with their copy of WWE 2k18 – current NXT announcer Percy Watson takes on current WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Only, it’s 2012 and both of these guys are still wrestlers in developmental.
Next, an incredibly serious and deep vignette airs – for Big E. Yeah, I know. He keeps talking about his rituals in the gym and is dead serious. I kept expecting a record scratch sound, followed by the New Day music, and Woods and Kingston to saunter into frame. Alas, that did not happen. However, I did learn that the man who currently pours breakfast cereal into the mouths of fans and gyrates his hips once had the catchphrase, “when your time comes, take your beating like a man!”. Wow. Mind. Blown. I imagine this vignette means we’ll see him next week or the following week.
Jinder Mahal is out next to boos. He stops before entering the ring and places his turban in a glass case at ringside. “Showtime” Percy Watson is out next. Jinder gets put over by Regal on commentary and Percy gets a mild reaction from the crowd.
Match #2: Jinder Mahal vs. Percy Watson
Jinder Mahal wins, LOL. Seriously, if you ONLY watched 2012 NXT and late 2017 SmackDown you’d think that 2012 – 2017 was this oppressive era where Jinder Mahal wins everything like he’s John Cena or something. Jinder goes over relatively strong here and Percy’s only real offense is “athletic” but quite generic. Don’t fear though, Regal mentions on commentary that John Cena has taken Percy Watson under his wing recently. Clearly that “you can’t see me” thing was effective since before long Percy Watson is gone and doesn’t appear again until he joins commentary years later (spoiler alert!). Jinder almost exclusively uses knee attacks and slaps the camel clutch on to make Watson tap.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Not terrible and as someone watching these early episodes for the first time – it’s nice to finally have some context as to who Percy Watson was in the early days of NXT.
Later tonight? The unveiling of Raquel Diaz.
Up next? Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger.
Back from literally no break, Richie Steamboat is out. Leo Kruger enters last and he’s put over as a “diplomat” by commentary. There’s a bit he does where he makes the ring announcer take the sash he was wearing before he’ll start the match. The future Adam Rose seems to own this gimmick but I can already see why it probably wasn’t super successful.
Match #3: Richie Steamboat vs. Leo Kruger
Another average match. Steamboat clearly has the pedigree and I’m assuming it must be injuries that prevent him from being someone who is on the main roster in 2017. This match is positioned in such a way that it feels like WWE have plans for both of these guys. As a result, we get a measured match that features a TON of chops and Kruger heeling out by parodying Richie’s famous dad. The finish comes when Steamboat hits a cross body, Kruger rolls through it, and uses the “feet on the ropes for leverage” trick to steal a cheap win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Again, not bad – but nothing super special. Steamboat looks good and Kruger looks good but I can see why he eventually becomes Adam Rose because Leo Kruger “the diplomat” doesn’t get much heat from the crowd.
Later tonight? Slater. Gabriel. Main event!
A Raquel Diaz hype video airs and she’s up next.
Back from break, Diaz is out wearing a headset mic and cutting a promo during her entrance. She’s here to exfoliate ugliness. Paige is out next to a decent reception. I assume this means she’ll be squashed by Diaz.
Match #4: Raquel Diaz vs. Paige
Yep. Paige eats a Gory Bomb out of nowhere after Diaz spends most of the match playing “cowardly heel” and hiding from Paige. I always assumed that Paige was this dominant force in NXT from the way she was played up on the main roster so seeing her reduced to “local talent” so far is baffling to me.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – This did very little for me. Two women’s matches on this episode is cool, but not like this.
Meanwhile, Alex Riley is backstage and he’s… walking! He happens upon Aksana and asks her where catering is. She offers to show him. Cesaro barges in and wants to know what is going on. Aksana quickly alleges that Riley was hitting on her. Cesaro says hitting on Aksana behind his back is “very American” of Riley. Alex Riley blesses us with “Riley’s Rule #6 – Never trust a girl, especially in this business”. Thanks, Riley. Cesaro fires back with “Antonio’s Rule #58”, which is something in, I believe, German. Cesaro translates it and says the rule is “I’m gonna kick your teeth down your throat”. Riley wants to settle this and Cesaro suggests they do it next week. As Riley leaves he sarcastically compliments Cesaro on his “murse”. Wow, so early Cesaro was a stereotypical Eurotrash guy with a man purse, huh?
No breaks, because we don’t need no breaks – and Heath Slater is out for the main event. He’s referred to as the “One Man Southern Rock Band”. How very specific. Jim Ross joins commentary for the main event for reasons. Justin Gabriel is out last. Since the main event is about to begin, we take the break now.
But, no. We fade to black and then immediately come back and the match starts. Okay, then.
Match #5: Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel
Maybe if I followed the whole “Nexus” thing this match would mean more to me. Commentary plays it up as a big deal, but I just could not get into it at all. We get a 50/50 match until Gabriel tries a springboard and Slater hits the ropes to counter it. This sends Gabriel to the ground, hard, and he starts to sell the neck. Slater goes on a neckbreaker run but can’t seal the deal. Gabriel mounts a few comebacks, but Slater quells them with more neck attacks. Eventually, we’re in the corner with Slater attempting some sort of neckbreaker off the ropes. Gabriel pushes him off twice and then hits what Ross calls a “hurricanrana” but looks more like Gabriel falls over Slater, lands, and hits a DDT. It’s not super pretty, but it gets the 3 count. Sort of. This finish looks really weird which doesn’t add much to the match.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – This match didn’t really work for me and the awkward finish was just icing on a middling cake of a main event.
We quickly go off the air on Justin Gabriel celebrating his victory in the ring.
See you next time when evil foreigner Antonio Cesaro (w/ murse) takes on American Alex Riley. Oh boy!!