You could probably call most of this week’s episode of NXT “Jobber City” (with the appropriate claps), but strangely, that’s not meant to be a pejorative. The opening match is Jason Jordan and Chad Gable’s debut as a tag team, and honestly, if I (or the average viewer, really) didn’t think Jordan was mostly boring before, I certainly would after seeing Chad Gable completely overshadow him in the ring, after already overshadowing him outside of it. Yes, Chad Gable thankfully has a great showing in his NXT debut, with his quick pace and reliance on chain wrestling (though there is definitely room for improvement) instantly endearing him to the audience. “Jason Jordan was there too,” he (and the average viewer) could say, and honestly, it sounds like something he one day will say. I realize I might be reacting too harshly to Jason Jordan, but it’s still important to note that the combination of him and Chad Gable is—and has been—a good thing. If their double team finisher is just a taste of what they have to offer, then there’s no need to worry about either of them as a team.
By the way, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan aren’t the jobbers in that scenario. Elias Samson and Steve Cultler are, rounding out a match with the most generic wrestler names possible.
Samoa Joe finds himself against his own jobber with the German new NXT signee, Axel Tischer. First of all, what a name. Second of all, if Curtis Axel still existed (or if WWE even cared enough about him to pretend he still existed), this NXT guy’s name probably wouldn’t be Axel Tischer, now would it? Third of all, luckily, it is. This is actually a far more competitive match than one would expect, and Tischer comes off looking pretty good in defeat. He could stand to tighten up his gut, even though he doesn’t have a Baron Corbin belly button, but he should at least feel good about the performance. The match itself really is nothing to write home about—in fact, Joe looks more annoyed than frustrated to be in it—but it is good for a reminder that when Joe wants to kill you, Joe is going to kill you. Just think of most of the match as Joe playing with his food, the food playing back, and then Joe devouring his food. Because once he decides it’s all over, it really is all over: There’s a Musclebuster and then a rear naked coke for all of Tischer’s troubles.
Baron Corbin has a definitively heel video package where he proves he’s deserving of a top spot by getting a tattoo. Well, I think that’s what the video package is saying when a monotonous Corbin voiceover explains how he he’s better than Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, and even Solomon Crowe. Let’s get it out of the way now: The thing about Baron Corbin’s promo, with him burying the internet darlings and promising to destroy our heroes? He’s not good in the ring, and his biggest win to date is against “just happy to Gore here” Rhyno—unless we’re talking literally, and then it’s Bull Dempsey. So learning that he was a boxing and jiu-jitsu champion actually makes me wonder even more how none of that could possible translate into some kind of wrestling talent. Look at Chad Gable, Corbin. Look at him.
Now for the stuff that really matters. Sorry for all the preamble.
In case you missed it, NXT’s top women (or Divas, whatever) are currently having the Best Week Ever in WWE. Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks all made their main roster debuts on RAW, made quite the statement, and were booked in a way that took away a lot of the worries there have been about the NXT ladies being promoted to the main stage. At least for this week. And even though I’ve made it clear how much main roster WWE had crushed my spirit, you’ve got to believe I turned on RAW as soon as I heard the top ladies of NXT were finally debuting. For the pessimists/regular main roster viewers on board, tune in next week for the destruction of all of that.
So thanks to kismet—or just plain good planning—the main event of this week’s NXT is an NXT Women’s Championship match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte. It’s not their best match-up, but at this point, it’s also impossible for them to have anything less than a “kind of great” match with each other. (I’m saying that even considering some of the sloppiness in this match’s pinning combinations.) The match is a culmination of everything the former BFFs have been through, bringing out Sasha’s inferiority complex early on, only for her to overcompensate by taking Charlotte’s moves, and then for both of them to just wrestle until one of them can’t wrestle anymore.
But how do I really know it was a good wrestling match? Because even though there’s never any real doubt that Sasha is going to retain (for a list of reasons, not just RAW), the false finishes still work to make it appear as though Charlotte has a chance of winning. I say this as a person who read the spoilers. And if you’re paying attention to the NXT crowd, even they see fit not to start a “Sasha’s Ratchet”/”No She’s Not” exchange during this match. That, surprisingly, means a hell of a lot.
Then there’s the post-match, with tears and mutual respect and catharsis. But it’s especially interesting as the match (and post-match) is played more as Charlotte’s eighth or ninth swan song than Sasha’s swan song. The commentary even points out how the belt “is in great hands,” as if Charlotte is the only one who gets to sing along to Vitamin C’s “Graduation Song” in this scenario, even though we know that to not be true. Regardless, it’s all pretty perfect. Way to go, WWE. Let’s not talk about Eva Maria.
- RESULTS: Jason Jordan & Chad Gable defeated Elias Samson & Steve Cutler; Samoa Joe defeated Axel Tischer; Eva Marie defeated our brains; Blake & Murphy defeated Sawyer Fulton & Angelo Dawkins; Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte (NXT Women’s Championship)
- I really got emotional over Sasha Banks screaming “I’m better than you” at Charlotte, because that’s the type of thing that gets me emotional.
- I’m not certain, so was that the first time Charlotte pulled a fall “just like her daddy?” If so, pretty great. If not, also pretty great.
- When I say “and even Solomon Crowe,” I really don’t mean to insult him. I really liked Sami Callihan. I just want someone to get what Solomon Crowe is all about, whatever that should be.
- I think I’m coming around on Blake and Murphy, but that’s also because I have a theory: Alexa Bliss’ fairy dust is what turned Blake and Murphy into who they are now, and once they achieved full douchebro level, she was finally willing to reveal herself as their master. Yes, their master. It’s like Pentagon Jr., only with terrible hairstyles and dubstep.
- Sami Zayn? More like Super Charming.
- I really missed Dana Brooke this week. And, come to think of it, Devin.