Although I watch NXT on a weekly basis, I kept recaps of WWE's developmental brand to just the live specials, as I wanted to focus on covering the flagship programs of other promotions such as TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor.
But I've had a change of heart recently and will cover NXT's weekly television offering from here on out.
As much as Monday Night Raw can frustrate myself and many others on a regular basis, NXT is so refreshing to watch. It's refreshing because it follows a simple and consistent model of storytelling and character development. Although it is a simple approach to present wrestling in 2015, it is very effective.
The best part is that NXT is doing anything new or revolutionary. It has merely adapted things that have always worked in pro wrestling to the 21st century.
One of those troupes that always work is the use of squash matches. For those not in the know, a squash match is basically a match between a known star and an unknown whereby the known commodity dominates — or squashes — the unknown wrestler.
Wrestling television shows used to be full of these, but went away during the ratings war of the 1990s between WWE and World Championship Wrestling.
However, NXT uses these types of matches to perfection, as it has helped the promotion build up stars. Those stars are then put on a collision course with other stars. Those stars eventually collide on the live specials.
This week's episode of NXT was a prime example of this type of wrestling booking.
The show opened with a match between Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger. Corbin manhandled Dillinger and won the match in relatively easy fashion, as he is getting ready to take on Apollo Crews at NXT Takeover: London. Neither Crews nor Corbin have lost recently, making their clash feel important.
The next match was between Nia Jax, someone NXT hopes to make into a star very soon, and Blue Pants, someone who is a star, but only because she's a very lovable loser. No matter how much Blue Pants loses, the fans will still love her.
Guess what happened. Jax squashed her, as Jax is being built up as the next challenger for Bayley's NXT Women's championship. Later on in the program, Jax attacked Bayley during a backstage interview. The storytelling is very simple, yet very effective.
James Storm made another appearance in the NXT arena this week and won a laugher over Adam Rose. This was essentially a squash match to help get Storm on a higher level.
After that, it was Emma's turn to look credible, as she defeated Liv Morgan. Emma needs every ounce of credibility, as the dangerous Asuka challenged her to a match at NXT Takeover: London.
The main event was a glorified squash, as Samoa Joe, the No. 1 contender to Finn Balor's NXT championship, beat Tommaso Ciampa.
The booking of this match was near perfect. Although it came at the expense of the very talented Ciampa, the sole purpose of the match was to make Samoa Joe look like more of a credible threat to Balor at NXT Takeover: London. That mission was accomplished.
Ciampa managed to get some offense in, but this was mostly Samoa Joe showcasing his viciousness. Unlike WWE, where it would have Samoa Joe probably flat-out beat Balor in order to gain credibility, NXT has Samoa Joe lay out Balor in a couple of angles and showcase his aggression against someone else — someone that has some credibility of his own.
At the end of the day, it only increased my anticipation for the match on Dec. 16.
The only match on the card that wasn't a squash was the tag team encounter between Jason Jordan and Chad Gable and The Vaudevillains.
This is where the importance of keeping track of wins and losses becomes so important. Since The Vaudevillains have been NXT Tag Team champions, they automatically have the credibility of being a successful tag team.
Jordan and Gable have strung together quite a few wins as of late and are clearly on the ascent. Since The Vaudevillains have had their time at the top of the division and Jordan and Gable are on the rise, it made sense to cycle down The Vaudevillains and move Jordan and Gable up to the proverbial ladder. What better way to do that by having Jordan and Gable beat The Vaudevillains?
That's exactly what happened on NXT this week, as Jordan and Gable beat their opposition clean as a sheet. In WWE, their win wouldn't matter and they would probably lose to The Vaudevillains the very next week.
But on NXT, it does matter and you can expect Jordan and Gable to be the next in line for a shot at the NXT Tag Team titles once the current champions, Dash and Dawson, and their current challengers, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady are have settled their dispute. Also, The Vaudevillains didn't shake hands after the match, adding another wrinkle their characters.
By the way, it was officially announced that Amore and Big Cass will challenge Dash and Dawson for the titles at NXT Takeover: London. Also happening on the program was another vignette hyping the return of Sami Zayn, who has been nursing a shoulder injury.
This week, we relived his victory over Neville to capture the NXT championship late last year.
With all of that said, here are the full match results:
- Baron Corbin def. Tye Dillinger
- Nia Jax def. Blue Pants
- James Storm def. Adam Rose
- Jason Jordan & Chad Gable def. The Vaudevillains
- Emma def. Liv Morgan
- Samoa Joe def. Tommaso Ciampa