Welcome to NXT Future Five on Last Word On Sports, where each week we analyze the latest episode of World Wrestling Entertainment Network’s hottest program, NXT and rank the five performers who made the biggest impact.
Highlights of the Night
- Solomon Crowe vs. Tye Dillinger: A fun little match to open up the show. I enjoy Tye’s new perfect 10 gimmick, although it might be too cool for a heel. Crowe makes a great unorthodox underdog and I find him very likable. His offense is inventive and fun. He just needs to find a way to connect with the crowd. When the heel you’re fighting is more popular than you, that’s a problem. Nice showcase for Dillinger who gains a much needed win.
- Baron Corbin vs. Axel Disher/Samoa Joe confrontation: The boring chants are deserved, but not at Baron. Creative needs something for him. Having him cut a promo is a good start. Having Steve Cutler try to make a name for himself was a nice touch. Having Samoa Joe challenge him is exactly the kind of showdown he needs to elevate himself to the next level, and get Joe over with the crowd as the wrestling machine he used to be. The promo between these two was simple and effective. Their brawl was even better. Corbin looked tough, Joe looked tough, and it made me want to see them lock up officially.
- Bayley vs. Becky Lynch: Having Sasha Banks on commentary helped add importance to the match. Some good chain wrestling to start. Becky worked Bayley’s arm, likely building towards her Arm Bar finish. They built a story around it, which you don’t see as much these days. As the match wore on we got to see more of Lynch’s offense, followed by a fired up Bayley on the comeback. Her never say die character works well, and the roll up pin was believable and unexpected. A very good match and well deserving of the main event.
The Future Five
5. Finn Balor: You don’t typically see the NXT Champion so low in the Future Five, but his placement is more about the high quality of others appearing this week, rather than his own skills and abilities. In fact, Balor looked damn good this week, taking out Marcus Louis in short order. A little too short for my taste in fact. While it is still quite impressive to guzzle down a man with the physical traits of Louis, I would have liked to see that match go on longer. Of course, that probably has more to do with that fact that I’m a fan of Marcus. His fast victory made him look dangerous heading towards Brooklyn, which was needed considering how the rest of his night went, which we will get to later.
4. Tye Dillinger: Being a fan of Tye Dillinger since he was Shawn Spears on the independent scene, it was great seeing him show some personality instead of being the prototypical “super athlete” character that is all too common in professional wrestling these days. His new gimmick is reminiscent of Diamond Dallas Page in his old World Championship Wrestling days, and it suits him. Tye hasn’t had a win on television for a long time, so this victory was huge for him. I am a fan of Solomon Crowe, so I would be lying if I said the victory didn’t make me a little sad, but I was much happier for Dillinger, who has worked very hard and deserves the reward for doing so.
3. Kevin Owens: Owens makes history on Future Five by holding the same spot for the fourth week in a row. While some would argue it should be the number one position, it is still an impressive feat. It is even more impressive when one realizes that Owens has spent that last two of those three weeks earning his spot without actually wrestling. Kevin has proven to be spectacular at getting under people’s skin, and this week was no different. After what some might call a humiliating interview with Michael Cole last week, Owens bounced back by attacking Finn Balor and leaving him lying with the Pop Up Power Bomb. That sent an important message to fans, and more importantly, NXT Champion Finn Balor, heading into Brooklyn.
2. Samoa Joe: Samoa Joe hangs onto the number two spot for a second week in a row, without even having a match, although what he did do was quite physical. For months on end, we have seen Baron Corbin beat up and take out opponents left and right, with no one really stepping up to serve as a true challenge to him. It was getting to the point that fans were rightfully chanting boring. All of that changed when Samoa Joe walked down the aisle. If you hadn’t seen Joe’s work until this point, then you were seeing glimpses of the Samoa Joe of old, who used to kick ass and take names without regard to who he was challenging. After a spirited challenge to the Lone Wolf, Joe engaged in a brawl that not only helped keep Corbin looking strong, but more importantly, made Joe look like a bad ass once more by choking out Corbin and leaving him lying in way that has never been done before. It was the kind of impact the Samoan Submission Machine needed and it showed what kind of emotion he could create for the NXT Universe.
1. Bayley: If you’re Bayley, how do you top last week’s emotional performance against Charlotte? You do it all over again for the second week in a row! Bayley is such an emotional favorite and it isn’t hard to see why. She just connects with the crowd in such a genuine way, and she does such a great job as the underdog that it’s hard not to cheer for her. Her recent victories have almost been a statement. She defeated Charlotte last week, Becky Lynch this week, and now she’s looking to defeat Sasha Banks. What would it say to have Bayley defeat all three members of the NXT Divas revolution that is happening on RAW currently? I’m not sure if that’s the story they’re trying to tell, but if it is, it is one I can get behind.
The quality of NXT shows are getting better and better as we get closer to Brooklyn. I find myself getting pulled into the matches and questioning if I’m looking more forward to it, or Summer Slam, which also has some good matches. With the exception of some vignettes that weren’t particularly exciting, this week’s episode was all killer and no filler. It set up a few matches beautifully for Take Over and was a really strong episode of wrestling overall. There was no set up for anything on next week’s show which makes me believe they either have some surprises up their sleeve, or nothing impressive. Here’s hoping the go home show is the former, not the latter.