This week’s NXT started out by again by addressing the rebellion by the season 1 rookies. Hopefully this storyline will get NXT the viewership it deserves. MVP acted as the leader of the pros, and explained last week’s attack as an ‘initiation,’ and payback for the discretions of those rookies that preceded them. This was all well and good in itself, but for me, it seperates the current NXT season from the storyline, making it seem more and more like a RAW-exclusive story. When it all started, my hope was that it would pervade the whole company: RAW, Smackdown, NXT and even FCW. It may well do, after all, Undertaker’s attacker(s) could be an NXT rebel, and the current rookies could eventually join forces with the previous ones. If not that, or something like it, then it will slightly mute the whole idea of an ‘invasion’ or a ‘rebellion.’ After all, surely a real invasion wouldn’t be limited to RAW.
There then followed the first singles match of this season, between two of the most promising rookies this eason: Kaval and Alex Riley. I must admit, i’m not a big fan of the ‘buzzsaw’ style, but Kaval carries it well and naturally. While his style didn’t necessarily gel with Riley’s, they told a good match-story and were given time to show off their talents. It was a match with genuine drama, with quite a few near-falls, which helped both get over as strong and strong-willed. I’m not a big fan of Kaval’s finisher though. His stomp from the top rope is no doubt quite brutal, but a bit too simple to get over as a believeable and special full-stop to a match. I quite liked Alex Riley’s though, a kind of swinging cutter. In the end, it was Riley that went over, which there is nothing wrong with, but I do hope they don’t put Kaval on a losing streak like they did with Daniel Bryan last season. While I liked it, I have no interest in seeing it repeated, especially given the similarities between the two (with Cole even talking about him as if he is weird, again, like with Daniel Bryan).
Though it didn’t really match the quality of the singles match, it was interesting to see Michael McGillicutty and Lucky Cannon in the ring for the first time. The match was ok without being spectacular, until McGillicutty hit his finisher for the win, a quick, sudden snap neckbreaker. It might not sound particularly special, but for a neckbreaker, it was deserving of being a finisher. In the post-match reaction, Cody Rhodes took centre-stage.
One of my favourite aspects of NXT is the opportunities it also provides for the ‘pros,’ as well as the ‘rookies,’ to shine. It gives people like MVP and John Morrison, who are on the bubble of being main eventers, the opportunity to show of their talents as protagonists rather than mid-carders. This week, Cody Rhodes was the one that took the opportunity to shine. Admittedly, we wasn’t brilliant on the mic, but he got his character over nonethless. After being challenged by Lucky Cannon after berating him, Rhodes played a classic heel, talking big but holding back. At this point, I was glad to see that Rhodes would be in next week’s main event, but it was after that that he made his real mark. He was asked by Matt Striker what we could expect from Cody Rhodes, to which Cody responded by a surprise attack on Striker, knocking him painfully off the stage. Perhaps this could lead to an interesting feud of sorts with Matt Striker, who has been in the wars (literally) as of late. Since leaving Legacy, Rhodes hasn’t been able to assert his character (though he does have a good look), but hopefully now he’ll be able to use the platform of NXT to characterise himself more. The suggestion from this episode is that Rhodes is someone whos actions are genuinely unpredictable and even sociopathic. As long as this manifest in just a series of sneak attacks (like with the very unimpactful Archer and Hawkins), Rhodes could really flourish on NXT.