By John Moore
Roderick Strong Documentary Part 2: Part 1 of the documentary was focused on the tragedy in Strong’s life and the sad parts of his childhood; this one was vastly different in that it was based around the joy of his life and his motivation. I don’t want to overhype this video piece, but for me it was one of the best things that WWE’s produced in recent memory. For one, Roderick Strong for years has come off as the generic boots and trunks wrestler with the generic sports jacket, a badass generic wrestler though. This video piece made him out to be a human being, but not only that. He came off as a human being with a heart of gold. This video also got a hit for pulling a tear out of me. Let’s see if it pulls a tear out of you.
Women’s Number One Contender Battle Royal: I was afraid that this was just going to be a clustermuck of quick eliminations with no stories being told. To sum it up, your typical Smackdown number one contenders battle royal. It started out as such with quick eliminations and random women that haven’t been introduced to the television audience. There were some indie names in there like Rachel Ellering and Candice LaRae. The match actually got solid when the field was widdeled down to everyone that got a televised entrance. Nikki Cross in particular came out looking strong with her dominance in this setting. The finish was cheap, but it worked well to develop Asuka’s more heelish tendencies. That’s the key with this episode, development.
Hideo Itami vs. Kona Reeves: Speaking of development, Hideo Itami looked really good here in an enhancement match and for the second week in a row NXT seems to want to protect the larger Kona Reeves. This was probably Itami’s first televised match in a while but he’s carrying himself differently than the last time he was making the rounds. Hideo Itami, when he debuted, would have more of a traditional wrestlers moveset and when he executed his moves he would play to the crowd in a very indie-wrestler kind of way. Itami carried himself like a kickass star with more of a stoic demeanor, yet when he does yell it is more passion vs. playing to the crowd. He started to do this when he was destroying the cruiserweight division (for some reason) right before his most recent injury, but it showed up well here against the larger Kona Reeves. The key for Itami right now is to avoid a serious injury. Maybe the direction here is to do what Daniel Bryan didn’t do with the same moveset, and refine it to remove the parts that target his most injury prone areas. Like focusing on kicks and removing shoulder blocks.
Heavy Machinery vs. Ricardo Watts and Hector Kunsman: Yet another squash match for the Heavy Machinery duo, but these haven’t gotten old just quite yet. Heavy Machinery should be squashing things, that’s what heavy machinery does. Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight are very brotastic, but not as annoying as someone like Robbie E or Mojo Rawley. These two are more lovable bros. We also got a new wrinkle in their characters when we found out that Tucker Knight was the talker of the group while Otis lets out comical chants. Another positive from this hit comes from Tucker Knight delivering a mission statement on how HM have their sights set on the NXT Tag belts and aren’t just messing with the bottom of the card just for kicks.
Killian Dain vs. Danny Burch: Another quick match, but under the allocated amount of time, both wrestlers ended up looking good. The problem with the initial Dain introduction was NXT put him in Sanity in the middle of nowhere and he just started helping them overwhelm people in numbers situation as opposed to a one on one encounter. This was the type of match that Dain needed to showcase that he is this big man who can move pretty well for a guy with his frame. What’s also cool is that throughout the night with them being viscous yet fighting fair, Sanity looked strong throughout the night with Dain at this spot and Cross in the main event slot.
None: While not a masterpiece of a show, this show did its job well in forwarding many simultaneous story threads. If you look at the show from top to bottom there was development to the Tag Division, Women’s Division, main event division, and all of the various flushed out characterizations given to members of the roster who haven’t had a chance to characterize themselves. One thing missing was that standout TV match, but those should be saved for PPV/Network Specials, so the negative is a moot point.