MPW8 another week in wrestling: NXT & CWC, September 7, 2016

Damn there is a lot to catch up on in el Mondo de pro wrestling, so I’m going to try to keep the focus narrow and get right down to business, which was always kinda the idea to begin with.

NXT, September 7, 2016

The GOOD

TM61 VS Davari and Neese

This was a great match, indeed great use of some of the wrestlers involved in the Cruiser Weight Classic, no longer in the running to win the tournament, to add some variety and exciting matches to the program. TM61’s finisher looked strong as well as their clothesline game. Neese was impressive with quick kick combinations. The show would benefit a lot from continued use of CWC related talent in the mix

 

Asuka’s promo

Asuka speaking in English here felt more natural than when Hideo Itami took a turn the week before. This promo benefitted from ocassional lapses into Japanese to add intensity. The idea of her being a completely dominant champion was forwarded. A trick about the English skills improving, that I think would benefit both Asuka and Itami – it is said that for Japanese in particular who learn English, there is a lot of word by word translation in the mind. That could be the cause of the slower deliberate delivery. Some coach or coaches on hand (my services are available…) should instill the notion of ‘thinking in English’ to get them on their way.

 

Ember Moon VS Leah Von

I loved Leah Von’s music. Simple, a bit on a post punk or surf rock tip, stood out for its simplicity. I hope they keep it and don’t try to razzle dazzle on every track because that will get old fast. Ember Moon continues to have a very impressive look and her finisher holds a lot of anticipation.

 

Austin Aries VS Cien Almas

Aries also has some excellently suited and underrated entrance music. It goes perfectly with the notion of a big ego coming through. Cien did not connect with me here as well as at Takeover. I think the only way to go with him is take out and REBUILD. If they go for something heroic, flashy, not cool and loose like the hat and baggy ring wear they will be on the right track. That or make him a smug heel.

 

Nakamura VS Steve Cutler

 This was simply a great exhibition of Nakamura’s amazing move set. Meanwhile Joe sitting in on commentary, speaking very quietly and looking on with quiet intensity promises something more down the line with him and Nakamura.

 

Nothing all that BAD or WEIRD

 

The TAKEAWAYS

This was a perfectly good episode of NXT. A nice balance of technical matches (the opening tag) and I don’t think you ever want to have an episode without at least one of these, new talent looking strong by going over up in dominant fashion, and promo work done to develop feuds. Hopefully with more intensity as it gets closer to big show date.

It did occur to me there is something in the way of cleverness and humor missing lately compared to NXT circa 2 years ago or even last year. Perhaps some effort could be made to get back to that.

In Asuka, Ember Moon, and what Sanity could very well be like, there is a strong notion of fantastical character in the women’s division. The type that might draw in a different audience than wrestling programs often get, one that might draw the interest of young women seeking powerful role models or perhaps into comic book, anime, or cosplay scenes. This has unique potential.

 

CWC, September 7, 2016

As it gets closer to the finals there is not much to it but for the matches to speak for themselves. Here were too great ones, the first extremely sound technically, the second with a bit more flair. They were a bit less exciting than the previous week’s pair of quarter final bouts because the styles of each opponent were similar rather than different.

The GOOD

Zack Sabre Jr VS Noam Dar

This was again very unique territory for WWE programming with its focus on submissions. The story became Noam Dar working Sabre’s weakened leg while Zack Sabre jr. attacked Dar’s compromised arm. Noam sold brilliantly, showing a lot of pain and emotion, and really waking me up to his potential in this round of the tournament. He had some extremely impressive looking offense at times. There was a slight bit of feeling awkwardness regarding timing, only because they were taking their time and building what really felt close to being an athletic competition. Sabre Jr. hits these incredible moves where he jumps or lunges at Dar and in the process ties him up and works in very domineering submissions.

 

TJ Perkins VS Rich Swann

This was also a very good match, highlighting more showmanship. They actually managed to work in a sequence where Rich Swann dabbed, taking a page from Perkins’ style, and as a result Perkins got incredibly pissed off. Serious heat over a dab! Perkins’ incredible moves included sling shotting himself over the ropes into a swinging kick to his opponent on the outside with a huge arch. He also landed a great suplex combination. Swann landed an amazing variety of mid-air kicks throughout the match. A solid injury story made this a compelling match, with Perkins taking the win but showing his concern for his friend immediately afterwards. It is a great thing that both these guys are signed to RAW.

 

The NOT COOL

It is very cool that the crowd is very much into the matches, and that they had a favorite in Rich Swann, also cool. But for them to yell ‘bullshit’ after the match was a bad note to end on. The match was over, so the chant came off like that off a bunch of spoiled brats. Get into it but don’t be jerks.

—–

The stage is set for a very impressive final show this Wednesday. It will take a page from impressive NJPW tournaments where other matches are incorporated into the show – here being Gargabno and Ciampa in tagteam action. These guys make a great team and a rematch with The Revival is much anticipated, but with this being a very eventful time period for Gargano already, one wonders if intrigue will be pushed further with the more experienced Ciampa turning on Gargano in the midst of his meteoric rise?

MPW4 Another week in wrestling: NXT/CWC August 31, 2016

This was a pretty subdued episode of NXT, notable for its lack of familiar faces. It was a reminder of how many bodies were called up to the main roster in recent days. And while there are some colorful NXT mainstays still in rotation, here was a real emphasis on up and comers, a reminder perhaps that the division is about developing new talent. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a mode where appearances of the same wrestlers do not occur week in and week out. This could be a good long run strategy for keeping fans from burning out on certain talent, perhaps even increasing interest in seeing them when they tour live. It can make for a bumpy road between specials, as this episode clearly illustrates.

NXT

The GOOD

Samoa Joe

This very brief segment with William Regal and a doctor at the beginning of the show had a tinge of reality to it, as Joe was reported injured from his match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Takeover Brooklyn, yet mention was also made by the doctor of unreported injuries on Joe’s part before the match. It sets up intrigue for a rematch down the line, and sets up a plausible angle where the results of match number 1 are called into question. For now it seems like Joe will go away leaving audiences hanging on his return.

 

The Perfect 10 spot

Ty Dillinger seems to be on his way to the upper echelon of the NXT roster, getting another win and flaunting his gimmick throughout the match with audience participating rambunctiously. I could see a good next step being Ty taking on some of the more prominent heels like Aries and Rude, perhaps falling short but coming very close to victory.

Aliyah, heel you livin’

Aliyah came out to the ring for her match with Liv Tyler in some commanding ring attire, working a heel-ish look and attitude. It suited her. She used a painful-looking leg submission and smashed her leg down on Liv’s head a few times midway through, reminiscent of NJPW submission spots. The match was pretty rough, though, but potential is definitely there for Aliyah to play a brash, cocky antagonist on the roster.

 

The Revivial beat down Ciampa

The fighting between The Revival and the team of Ciapma and Gargano has arguably been the hottest thing going in NXT, and one of the best feuds in wrestling this summer. All players involved know how to work drama and storytelling into their matches and promos. Here a good old fashioned two on one beat down by The Revival made for us to want Johnny Gargano’s return from injury to come sooner than later so that we can see a rematch of their stunning battle at Takeover Brooklyn.

 

The BAD

 

Itami, you talkin’ to me?

During Itami’s promo, which had nothing but great words, there was a forced feel to it. Toward the end it seemed as though Itami could have even been reading a card off to the side. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case. But regardless it definitely should not look like it. I know all too well the challenges of Japanese learning English and delivering long phrases smoothly. They should give him a lot of practice (My services are available!) and allow, even encourage lapses into Japanese. The ore natural delivery would make up for any missed meaning in the words themselves.

 

Andrade ‘I get no respect…from Austin Aries’ Almas

Here is another English as a new language issue, and I want to emphasize it is GREAT, fantastic even that wrestlers of multiple nationalities are given a chance tio shine in NXT. Use of those prerecorded promo segments should be taken advantage of to make things come off great, though, and plenty of practice should be given. Aries was great as an obnoxious heel but Andrate seemed too timid and when he was given a chance to talk, it didn’t feel that fiery.

 

The WEIRD

Nothing weird, just an ok show with appearances by some of the main players in outside the ring roles, some new talent highlighted whose matches varied from ok to rather clunky. Some spicing up was definitely in order.

 

CWC

This was the popular tournament in prime functioning on all cylinders mode, with 2 long matches, making up half of the quarter finals, filled with great wrestling and fantastic story telling.

 

The GOOD

Gran Metalik VS Akira Tozawa

This was a great match with a lot of speed and agility on display. The two combatants’ styles varied making for interesting exchanges of moves, but both have had experience with Japanese ‘strong style’ rhythms and this match took on a lot of that, with exchanges of chops and shoulder blocks. Tozawa has such an effective manner of riling up the crowd, like in the way he runs for a suicide dive; his movements are fascinating to watch. A highlight on Tozawa’s part was breaking up a forearm exchange to land an unexpected stiff looking punch to the face. Gran Metalik’s move set looked very polished, and his unique rope walking techniques were executed smoothly. The final exchange between the two with finishing moves being reversed and kicked out of was unpredictable and plenty exciting. I hope we see more of Tozawa in a WWE ring, because his style and charisma have been entertaining throughout his matches in the tournament.

 

Kota Ibushi VS Brian Kendrick

This will surely stand among the best of the CWC tournament matches when all is said and done. With a finish that many had called from the beginning this managed to be extremely suspenseful. I was fully ready for a reversal from the expected outcome, as news was reported earlier that Ibushi, the often dubbed favorite to win, did not sign with WWE full time. In fact, looking at how this played out, one could even make a case that reporting that was a well placed plot device to make an Ibushi loss seem more possible to those following the behind the scenes of the industry.

This was a prime example of match as storytelling, based around the brilliant work of the wrestlers in the ring and commentators – Bryan and Mauro Ranallo – calling the action and giving background details to enhance the drama. Ibushi’s past previous neck injury was figured into the story, particularly when Kendrick got the advantage worked a backbreaker from on the apron outside the ring, bouncing the back of Ibushi’s head against the ring post. It looked incredible, complete with Ibushi selling it perfectly, falling straight down, face first, into the incoming ring apron and rolling to the floor like a sack of dead weight. The story of the injured neck continued, with Kendrick leading a very innovative offense. Must not forget the other story being weaved of Kendrick being a wily veteran, but one who has been away from action long enough to be an underdog throughout the tournament, but who would regain a lot by winning. This was sold perfectly by Kendrick pulling sneaky and original maneuvers like wedging Ibushi’s foot between slats in the guard rail to try to get him counted out. Throughout the match Ibushi hit his high flying moves with amazing preciseness. The timing of Kendrick’s moves, which included his patented Sliced Bread from the top (perfect considering the emphasis it has on impacting the opponent’s neck) and rarely performed moves named for us by Ranallo and Bryan, led for very believable false finishes. This match had instant re-watch value.

 

The BAD 

That this will come to an end. But hopefully an overwhelmingly positive reaction will lead WWE to continue delivering this style of programming in the future.

 

The WEIRD

The WWE’s main shows on television, RAW and Smackdown Live can rarely deliver matches with this much excitement. If they cut the volume of events and let performers build matches with stories and drama, those tv shows would regain a lot of appeal.