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NXT Roundup (1.21.15): Marcus Louis as Sting



image credit - HeelDangalz

image credit – @HeelDangalz

For those of you who come here looking for an NXT episode roundup with a certain Lady J flair, I promise you’ll get what you were looking for in just one moment. Before I get to the January 21 episode of NXT, I have to address something that is currently happening on the main roster that involves previous NXT Tag Team Champions: The Ascension. The word on the street is that The Ascension is being buried up on the main roster, after calling out several old school tag teams in a promo, and then catching a beating from NWO, the APA, and the New Age Outlaws. My question for all of you out there concerned about a great and powerful NXT tag team on the main roster: what would success look like if this is burial? Sure, in a perfect world, they would be immediately thrust into the title contention and be facing off with the Usos and Miz and Mizdow. But that’s not how things work in WWE. If anything, we should be glad they’re getting to work with the New Age Outlaws at the Royal Rumble on Sunday; it shows somebody above them is still interested. In case you all forget, the last time we saw Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, they were getting their three minutes of air time at Wrestlemania XXX against The Shield. I’m not worried about The Ascension – not yet, anyway.

As for this week’s episode of NXT, I was yet again kept on my toes. The next NXT Takeover special was announced for February 11 (mark your calendars) by William Regal right at the top of the show. Afterwards, we saw Sami Zayn briefly run down to the ring, skip the bell, and unload on poor Tye Dillinger, who I’ve mentioned before I have a lot of love for and I’d like to see him get more than a beating. Space and air-time on NXT are limited, though, and I’m sure once a few more people are called up space will open up for Dillinger to show us what he’s got. Regal eventually comes out to admonish Zayn’s behavior and somehow ends up granting Zayn’s request for a match against Kevin Owens (who keeps showing up and powerbombing Zayn into stuff) at the next special. More on this later.

During his earlier announcement of the next NXT special, Regal mentions that there will be a tournament to determine the #1 Contender for the NXT Championship. This tournament is kicked off by a match between Finn Balor and Curtis Axel. Axel has only appeared a handful of times on the NXT program now, but he’s becoming a staple angry, aggressive heel. I’m not a huge fan of his but I did like his match last week with Itami and also appreciated his work this week with Balor. Both of these rising stars work best with someone on the stiff end of the spectrum, and while Axel’s ability to sell does nothing for me personally, he always manages to make his opponent look good. In the end, Balor is the one who will be advancing to the next round of the tournament.

Last week I mentioned how the women’s tag team match set a high bar for the other matches in the episode. It was a true exhibition in good form, style, and psychology. This week was that, but angrier. From start to finish, Sasha Banks’ match against Charlotte for the NXT Diva’s Championship was aggressive and nasty. I thought there was a real chance for the title to change hands until Becky Lynch got involved and Sasha was disqualified. Out comes Bayley, still wearing a knee brace from a few months back when Sasha and Becky jumped her, but she’s here and she’s sticking up for Charlotte, clearing the ring of Becky and Sasha. The referee hands her the title to pass off to Charlotte and she hesitates. When Charlotte snatches the belt from her hands, Bayley begins to fume and the crowd’s chants of “Bayley’s Gonna Hug You!” come true: belly to belly duplex on Charlotte before Regal can come out and break up the chaos. He has an announcement to make: NXT Takeover will feature a fatal four way for the Diva’s Championship in which Charlotte will defend her title against Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. Now this will be good.

After their loss to the Lucha Dragons not once, but twice, the Vaudevillains are in need of a win to get themselves back on track. Unfortunately, that win did not come in their match against Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake. Surprisingly, as we’ve not seen much of Murphy and Blake over the last few months, they definitely operated as the more unified team, quickly moving as one when necessarily, particularly in the move set that won them the match. They even moved backstage and, on a high from their win, challenged the Lucha Dragons for the NXT Tag Team Titles, which the current champs accepted. Does this mean we’ll see less of Simon Gotch and Aiden English? Will we soon have new Tag Team champs? Only time (and a quick glance at the dirt sheets) will tell.

Before I get into the Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami match in the #1 contender tournament, let me take a moment to talk about stories and how to build one. Months and months ago, back when Marcus Louis and Sylvester Lefort were known as The Legionnairres, Lefort was involved in a hair vs hair match with Enzo Amore, that Lefort lost. Unfortunately for Louis, he was the one who ended up bald. After trying to hide his shiny new dome, he gave up his disguises and came to face Tyler Breeze in a match. However, Breeze refused to fight Louis, calling him an “uggo” before brutally unleashing on him. Since then, we have seen hide nor (ahem) hair of Marcus Louis. A few weeks ago the commentary team made mention of seeing something in the crowd before Breeze’s match with Hideo Itami, but it was gone before they could identify who or what it was. Once again, just as Tyler made his entrance, something appeared just behind him. I’m sure this is a way to bring Marcus Louis back into the mix and to get Breeze involved in a legitimate feud. I’m excited to see where this goes.

Back to the match at hand, Breeze and Itami are really well-matched. They definitely challenge each other and push one another to a new level. These guys were executing moves we have never seen from either of them before. Even though I am not a fan of Prince Pretty, I can absolutely appreciate his abilities in the ring and see why he and Itami are worthy of a main event slot. This match had so many amazing moments, my favorite being a Supermodel Kick from seemingly nowhere that put a big stop in the middle of the match, which is great. Every time a match stops, you have a new opportunity for build. The only gripe I had at all was the finisher, which was not as impressive of a finisher for a match as we’ve seen from others on NXT. But, as we all knew, Itami’s style is different and he’s still learning to meld what he does best with how WWE works in general. I know he will eventually get his main event status to main event finishers as well.

Coming next week: Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd, and Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey, in the battle of stuff we’ve already seen but could potentially be better the second time around. Stay tuned!

The Lady J is bringing her personal brand of internet sass via the US capitol, where she lives with her golden doodle roommate Gizmo and cannot find a good bagel to save her life. While it may not seem very lady-like, she is actually cutting a promo on you right now.