Last week’s episode wasn’t much to write home about, so hopefully WWE NXT 07/25/12 has a little more to offer. All we really gleaned as a preview is that Alex Riley will be taking on Cesaro (w/ murse) due to a backstage altercation involving Aksana. It seems a little bleak. Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 07/25/12 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever? Is this the week the signature intro changed? Is this some post-production tinkering after the fact? Quite a bit of the footage towards the end looks dated compared to what we see currently in the “Then. Now. Forever” open. So maybe? Standard NXT credits and we’re taped from Full Sail.
Byron Saxton welcomes us to the show and William Regal joins him for commentary. Hey, it’s Bo Dallas and Derrick Bateman. They’re randomly a tag team and are out for the first match. Johnny Curtis (currently Fandango) and Michael McGillicutty (currently Curtis Axel) are out next.
Match #1: Bo Dallas & Derrick Bateman vs. Johnny Curtis & Michael McGillicutty
A standard tag match. The story they’re apparently telling here is that Curtis and McGillicutty are a well-oiled tag team machine (even though we haven’t seen them tag before) and Dallas and Bateman are trying this whole tag thing out. It doesn’t go well for Dallas and Bateman. Bo ends up in peril for most of the match but eventually Bateman gets the hot tag. Bateman gets tripped up by McGillicutty, who is on the outside, and this distracts Bateman long enough for Curtis to hit him with his finisher. Nothing absolutely memorable here, but everyone seems to do a good enough job telling the story they were booked to tell. Also, Regal alleges that John Cena told him that “Derrick Bateman is the strongest man at NXT”. So, despite taking the loss here, Bateman has that going for him.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I may be wrong, but I get the feeling this match has almost zero future implications.
Post-match, Bo Dallas looks a little annoyed that Bateman got distracted and ate Fandango’s finisher.
Later tonight? “Divas” action between Sofia Cortez and Natalya.
Also later tonight? Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre.
Up next? Alex Riley vs. Antonio Cesaro.
Back from break, Cesaro (w/ Aksana and w/out murse) is out for his match. Wow, Cesaro’s NXT music is bad. His random “sirens and low bit rate synth guitar” theme he had before “The Bar” is better than this. Jim Ross randomly joins commentary because this is 2012 NXT and that tends to happen. “Say it to my face” hits and Alex Riley is out to an insane baby face reaction. Man, “A-Ry” is over at Full Sail in 2012. Even Aksana is impressed and is seen checking him out during his entrance.
Match #2: Antonio Cesaro (w/ Aksana) vs. Alex Riley
Meh. Riley gets in a few spots but this match is otherwise a Cesaro squash match. Compared to what I’ve seen in recent years, this is far from “peak Cesaro” and he feels really restrained here in 2012. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s still Cesaro and is still awesome – but it’s a far cry from the crazy stuff we’ve come to expect from him. Cesaro busts out a few abdominal stretches, but all it takes is a brief distraction from Aksana on the apron and Cesaro is hitting the Gotch Neutralizer for the win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Riley is crazy over but they give him almost nothing to do. It’s kind of weird to see. Cesaro looks like current Cesaro turned up to about 6 out of 11. Not bad, but nothing really special.
A super loud and overdriven Byron Saxton voice over tells us that Briley Pierce is backstage with a newcomer to NXT. Oh hey, it’s Kassius Ohno who isn’t exactly new since we saw him work a match a few weeks ago. Ohno cuts a heel promo while never really looking at the camera saying that he is a dangerous man and is at NXT to inflict pain. His catch phrase is apparently “My name is Kassius – I hurt people”. The whole detached nature of this reminds me almost exactly of early Baron Corbin promos at NXT. Weird.
Meanwhile, Matt Striker is in the locker room with Drew McIntyre. For whatever reason, random crowd chatter sounds are mixed over this interview which is an… odd… choice. Matt implies that critics are saying that Drew’s time has passed and guys like Rollins are the future. Drew cuts a promo saying the word “talking” a lot and that “tonight, the talking ends”. It’s not the best promo and he’s clearly gotten miles better at them since then. It also didn’t help that they mixed the crowd noise so loud as it was really distracting.
Natalya’s music hits and she’s out. Sofia Cortez is out next. Hey, Nattie vs. Ivelisse – this should be good!
Match #3: Natalya vs. Sofia Cortez
Man, this was not good. This really felt like a “Divas match” and at times it felt like both women wanted to break out and do some spots but weren’t supposed to. Nattie spanks Sofia at one point and the match just sort of ends after Sofia gets a 2 count on a roll up. Nattie rolls out of the ring and kneels on the floor randomly saying “I hate you” and “I’m not getting back in the ring”. Count out.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Even with the post-match “angle” this makes absolutely zero sense and just looked awkward and bad.
Post-match, Sofia goes to leave and Nattie rolls in and slaps her in the Sharpshooter. Of course, Nattie takes forever to release the hold as heels doing beat downs do. After finally releasing the Sharpshooter, Nattie says “I hate you” as she stands over Sofia. Saxton sells this as Nattie “snapping” and positions this like it’s a huge heel turn.
The Ascension rises… next!
Back from break, The Ascension are out for their high production entrance. It’s still Konnor and Bram at this point. They’re facing Dante Dash and Dylan Garrett. Good luck, boys.
Match #4: The Ascension vs. Dante Dash & Dylan Garrett
Dylan Garrett’s entire contribution to this match is getting shoved off the apron in the first spot of the match. Yep, Conor just walks past Dante Dash and knocks Garrett off the apron. From there, we get the expected dismantling of Dante Dash by The Ascension. After a suitable amount of stomping and double team spots, The Ascension end the torture of Dash with the Fall of Man. I’m not sure if the finisher is named yet, but that’s what they did.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Ascension squash at NXT is acceptable.
Post-match, The Ascension get their production lighting effects as they pose in the ring.
Meanwhile, another Big E Langston hype vignette airs. This one is about how he trains specifically to “beat down” his “victims”. He also lets us know that life is about “getting paid” and Big E Langston isn’t “paid by the hour”. Bad Ass Big E debuts next week.
Back from break, headbanger Seth Rollins slam dances his way to the ring. Jim Ross rejoins commentary because “reasons” and calls Seth a “Heavy Metal Enthusiast”. Drew McIntyre is out next. Seeing his entire presentation on this episode really hammers home how much the guy has improved in recent years.
Match #5: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Not bad for a main event. Seth attempts to use his speed against the larger, stronger McIntyre. It works for Rollins as first and he’s ducking and dodging all sorts of attacks from Drew, but McIntyre eventually uses some of his power moves to wear Rollins down. The finish comes after Rollins misses with a moonsault and lands perfectly to eat a big boot from Drew. McIntyre hits the Future Shock DDT for the win. A bit on the short side, but easily the best match on this episode.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Drew looks pretty good here, but it’s amazing to see how far he has progressed since 2012.
Post-match, we go off the air on Drew McIntyre heading to the back and Saxton telling us that GM Dusty Rhodes has a huge announcement on next week’s show!