NXT recap & reactions: A New Era

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NXT returned to us last night (June 19) with first episode from the latest set of taping. You can find the results at the live blog here.

The Undisputed ERA open the show. Adam Cole vows to remake the NXT Universe in an “Undisputed Image.” They reveal an Undisputed-centric NXT opening that is very good. He reiterates their past goal to claim all the gold.

It’s the Velveteen Dream that interrupts them… first at least. Soon after, Matt Riddle interrupts as well. Then Tyler Breeze joins the party. This obviously sets up a 6-man main event.

They really went for that interrupt trope that Sean predicted in his preview. It was still a good time though.

Before they even got interrupted, the ERA cut a classic ERA promo, including a new NXT opening to solidify that this is the Era of Undisputed. (I think I like it better than the real opening.) They’re so good at these characters, complete and utter douchebags that we all kind of like. The crowds love them, and they’re harder and harder to boo. However, it’s not something that is taking away from the stories at all. NXT books knowing that the ERA are never going to be treated like full villains so don’t make the stories dependent on that.

This segment was also a stark reminder on how great some of the characters in NXT are. Dream, Bro, AND Breeze? Those are some fantastic persona and make sense as a team in that way. But in another way, these egos are way too big to function as a team.

Plus, Dream handed Riddle his only loss and defeated Breeze in his comeback match, so it was a bit weird to see these guys so eager to team up. (And that played into the match itself later on.)

Damian Priest def. Raul Mendoza

This was a good debut for Priest.

I saw a small bit of Punishment Martinez in Ring of Honor so I was somewhat familiar. And he was pretty good there. But he just looked much better here in this short bout.

Some of that, probably a good portion, is just that NXT has a better production value than ROH. You’re bound to look better in Full Sail where there’s more focus on presentation. The NXT brass took time to come up with Damian’s new look and probably rehearsed his entrance plenty. In that sense, it’d be an issue if he didn’t look better presented here. But it’s the type of thing that just gives a talent a leg up.

Having Raul Mendoza as the opponent sure helps too. He shines in every match he’s in. He’s so talented that it’s to the point that maybe he shouldn’t be in these matches because sometimes, the match ends and he’s the one people remember.

Who this doesn’t bode well for is Riddick Moss, who debuted a new gimmick against Mendoza and lost to him. At that time, it could have been surmised that maybe that was due to an upcoming push for Mendoza. But here is his back as enhancement talent. That’s not a good indication of what they think of Moss.

William Regal announces the NXT Breakout Tournament, featuring PC talent who haven’t been on TV. Winner gets a title shot of their choosing.

This is a great idea. There is a ton of talent in NXT right now not being used, many of them already seasoned and don’t need time to work their craft at Florida house shows before coming on TV. This gets them on TV and introduces a crop of talent to a wider audience.

With guys who we used to know such as Shane Strickland, Trevor Lee, and ACH just to name a few, this should be quite the event.

Plus, tournaments rule.

A Mia Yim video package is played, going over her early life and life before NXT. She promises to protect those in the locker room who need it when it comes to Shayna Baszler.

It’s a good sign that Mia is getting the video package treatment when she doesn’t have a feud. Her win over Bianca Belair puts her right below the women’s title scene. With the Io Shirai/Shayna Baszler feud maybe getting blown off next week in a steel cage, could we see her in the championship picture soon?

Xia Li def. Taynara Conti

Your developmental match of the week was very… developmental.

One of the things that you notice in these matches with those early in their development is they look like they are trying to put on a wrestling match. That is instead of looking like two people out there fighting. There were plenty of points in this match where that was evident, where you could see them thinking about what they needed to do. But that’s all part of developmental.

Xia looks like she may be the first of the two to be seen out of these developmental matches and into a small feud. I don’t envision it happening right away, but I’m more curious to see how she’d look against a more experienced opponent. It’s more obvious you’re watching someone figure things out when they’re working with someone also trying to figure things out. That is as opposed to wrestling a vet like Candice LeRae who could help cover that up.

Undisputed ERA def. Matt Riddle, Tyler Breeze, & Matt Riddle

Tyler Breeze was knocked into Velveteen Dream who then took the End of Heartache from Roderick Strong, who picked up the win for this team.

This ending makes perfect sense.

Now Strong has a win over the North American champion, presumably leading to a chance to win that title down the line. That could set up the Undisputed holding all of the gold as Adam Cole promised. That looks to be the big story in the black and gold brand. And to think we’re not that far removed from when we thought they ERA was done for.

It also was a bit of a flub for the babyface team, who were never primed to be too coherent. So there’s reasons for those guys to feud, at least a rematch between Dream and Breeze, if they want to go there.

Was this an essential match? Probably not. It may be worth tuning into check out because it’s almost a stupid amount of talent in that ring. Seeing some of the best wrestlers and best characters in the business all mixing it up in one match is something we don’t get to see all the time. And while the future is always there, we all know what can happen to talent on the main roster. (Hell, one of these men is a case study for it.)

If you missed this match, it’s not essential you seek it out. It doesn’t have in your face story implications, though the subtleties are there. But if you are 10 minutes and want to watch some wrestling, you could do much worse than this match.

This wasn’t a bad episode, but after two weeks of buying time until the new taping, I expected this to be a meatier episode. Sure there was the Undisputed stuff (which was fun but even then, not THAT essential), a developmental match, and enhancement match, and some videos. Hopefully next week will pick up in regards to the substance with the Women’s title match.

Grade: B-

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