This week started off with the revisited Name that Song challenge from season 2. This is quite an entertaining challenge, I must admit, but I also prefer challenges with something of a closer relationship to what the performers do. Incidentally, AJ won it – though performance in these challenges can’t really be critiqued, the win-loss results do speak, it would seem, to who the WWE are getting behind. On that basis, Naomi and AJ are the front-runners.
Alicia Fox took on Naomi in the first match of the night in what was, until the end, a solid match. Naomi was, as you might expect, very athletic in the ring, looking at least equal to Alicia – a highlight of hers being a really well executed step-up enziguiri. The end of the match, however, was sloppy. The first noticeable thing was Naomi’s cross-body to Alicia. That looked as if Alicia was supposed to catch her, but she didn’t. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt here though, as it may have just been her way of avoiding it. What is indefensible though is her botched finishing move. She’s inconsistent in executing it well anyway, but her first attempt was ridiculous, and her second was nothing great either. Kudos to Naomi for helping to improvise a finish to the match. That’s the sort of talent that makes you a valuable asset, especially as a newcomer.
We had another talk the talk style challenge where AJ and Naomi, characteristically, came across well. Naomi with her Danielson-esque rant at Cole which got her over well, and voiced what a lot of fans are thinking: Why is he being such an ass about NXT and running it down? That sort of dynamic is dynamite for getting over as a face. AJ also cut a really good ‘personal ad’ promo in which she seemed to really be herself. At first, I worried that her nature was all characterisation to get her over as a humble girl; cute, geeky, and normal. It really does seem now, in the wake of her online presence, though that she is simply being herself. A person like that, who can wrestle too could be a huge deal in women’s wrestling. Kaitlyn was uncharacteristically awkward when talking, just stopping almost. Aksana got over her immigration angle, but is no great talker (or English-speaker), and Maxine delivered a solid but uninspiring speech, again pertaining to Hornswoggle. At least she is getting over best as a heel.
Naomi then went on to win the power of the punch challenge.
Our main event saw AJ take on the hugely troubled Aksana. Throughout the night, Aksana had been visibly troubled by her immigration predicament, and had sold it in a way which was much more sympathetic than usual. Even in this match, she had simply lost all confidence in herself; this is an idea that I really like for a wrestler – visably and audibly having no self-confidence while in the ring (as opposed to the announcers simply speculating on the subject). AJ, though she was playing a supporting role, showed some real in-ring skill – as you might expect given her extra experience. AJ beat Aksana with a roll-up, further extending her lead (at least in statistical terms) from the pack. The real story of the victory was Aksana’s dejection. Goldust, seeing his rookie – that he’s clearly close to – in distress promised to do anything he could to relieve her worries, and eventually offered to marry Aksana. Now, this is very interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, no doubt a rejuvenated Aksana will be tearing up the NXT field in the coming weeks. What is more, this further layers their already strange ‘goldustian’ relationship of unusual closeness. There is a hint of potential abuse of position from Goldust here, and it will be interesting to see how he treats Aksana now she is his fiancé. This is good for Aksana because now, like Kaitlyn, she has a genuine storyline to become involved in which is such a boost to any career of a newcomer.