The dog days are barking, ladies and gentlemen. Claire and I are here to entertain you on those very hot days and chilly nights. She has her blog, I have these words, paragraphs and punctuation below.
Let’s talk about NXT!
The chariot goes nowhere
I don’t know what NXT is doing with Apollo Crews. First he journals and corrects wrongs as if he were The Equalizer. Then he hangs out with Diamond Mine. He then has visions in green en route to the ring as if he were Bruce Banner. His match with Roderick Strong – who was upset with Apollo hanging out with the Creed Bros. – was proof that Apollo is a fantastic wrestler looking for a great prospect.
Apollo and Roddy complement each other very well. Strength and agility vs. technique and mat wrestling always go together, but they also told a good story. It started out as a traditional wrestling match, complete with collar and elbow ties. Then it escalated into a “anything you can do, I can do better” contest, with every man competing against each other. Roddy painted Crews, so Crews painted Roddy. Crews hits a dropkick. Roddy hits a dropkick. At times it really felt like Apollo’s audition to run the Diamond Mine. Especially since the creeds appear to be more directed by Apollo than Roddy.
And maybe that’s where they need to go. Strong’s leadership is the opposite of his namesake. More importantly, they’re dragging this diamond mine out way too long. I say it every week, and the fact that I do it means we need that closure button ASAP. This also gives Apollo direction. He can play all the great matches he wants. And for the record, he won that match, overcame a bad lower back, and changed his offense just enough to make up for it.
But right now it’s a ship without a rudder. Compare that to Dolph Ziggler’s recent stint in NXT where he won the NXT Championship. Or Natalya’s stint, which involved creating a new star for the brand and telling the entire division to step up. Now quickly state Apollo’s purpose. Don’t think too much.
There are a lot of creative shifts going on in WWE right now. duh right? Maybe that will even out in time, but the winds of change need to blow through Florida fast, fast, and in a hurry. Apollo and Roddy tore down the house this week and easily delivered the best match of the night. Now give us something new for Apollo in relation to the Paint Splat brand: Swipe through.
This crowd will only chant his name for so long. If you want them to keep singing, give them a reason to care. Because going green before the game and not explaining it, right?
Neither does Grayson Waller.
Zoey is on the move
Zoey Stark is on the road to success. That role continued this week in a solid match with Cora Jade. Cora was on a mission to eliminate Stark for Mandy with the promise of a title shot. And she tried. She really tried. Cora pulled out her black kendo stick at one point in the match, showing that getting the W never mattered. The focus was always on hurting Zoey by any means necessary. The second time she reached for the kendo stick, it was in Roxanne Perez’s hands. That slight distraction was enough for Zoey to finish off Cora right in front of guest commentator Mandy Rose.
Roxanne chased Cora away, which is a good thing. It’s wise to build on their eventual confrontation rather than just give it to us. The show ended with Mandy lying flat on her back after failing in her surprise attack and Zoey standing upright with the championship in hand.
Well, if you believe in wrestling against the momentum, Zoey doesn’t win at Heatwave. But I think the story points to Zoey as the one who brings down Mandy and possibly sends her down the main roster along with Toxic Attraction.
hear me roar
Nikkita Lyons’ match with Kiana James confused me a little. I liked the first portion. Kiana worked on Nikkita’s suspect knee, which not only targeted a weakened body part, but also neutralized Nikkita’s attack. Smart stuff from a wrestler who claims to be the smartest person in the locker room. Kiana even played possum when the women were outside, which resulted in Lyons kicking the steel steps and further injuring the bum’s knee. I love details like that.
But the ending upset me. Nikkita executed a very dope looking roundhouse kick with the same leg – the one with the worked over knee – to set Kiana up for her finisher. It’s a great looking move and at all other times I’m fine with it. But Kiana punishes that knee. Why not take the time to answer the question, can Nikkita complete a match without using her favorite weapon? And the amount of force required to perform that kick? Furious. The match was okay overall, but this finish left a bad taste in my mouth.
Kiana had the last laugh after the match with a sneak attack. And in one of the funniest moments this week in wrestling, Kiana was talking trash about her opponent while holding up her briefcase. Yes, her briefcase was theoretically filled with papers, pens, and notebooks. You know, for all those calculations.
It’s not a trick…
I like the idea of a rounds match but the boxing part messed up the rhythm. Still, Trick Williams and Wes Lee told a pretty compelling and simple story. Trick has Carmelo Hayes at his side seeking help while Wes overcomes adversity. The right person won (Wes) and beating Trick with his own game – a KO – was poetic. But the execution of the match lacked the coolness of the idea. There was even a moment where Trick put his foot on the rope during a pinfall, only to immediately take it off the rope. Which leads me to believe it was an accident adding to the randomness of the game.
Look, I’m just saying if I want fake boxing, I call Don King.
Grading on a curve
Arianna Grace caught a black eye from Thea Hail last week. It wasn’t intentional, but Grace wants redemption. And by that I mean she wants money. Andre Chase, who is either very cheap or very broke, said since the incident occurred on Chase U’s premises, Thea and Arianna would settle their beef in the ring. Of course, he used much more colorful language, so use your imagination and choose the naughtiest words possible.
Thea impressed in her first match. It wasn’t a long match and Arianna controlled most of it, but Thea showed a lot of promise. Her transitions were smooth, her character work was strong, and she looks like a natural babyface. Arianna was on point too, especially when she was doing all the cheap heel tricks that cheap heels know best. She cried over her eye, she went after cheap shots at every turn and even tried to smack Thea over matching black eyes.
I’m still shocked that Arianna won. But I suppose that’s part of a larger story about Thea still learning the ropes – pun intended. Fine game.
Three is a new set
Lash Legend and Pretty Deadly are a trio. How did we get here you ask? Well, that’s why I’m here.
Lash monologued about her loss to Alba Fyre with Malik Blade & Edris Enofe for about an hour. They snapped, Pretty Deadly stopped and rudely told Enofe & Blade it was rude to interrupt a lady. As fate would have it, the four men were scheduled for a tag match this week.
Briggs, Jensen and Fallon Henley showed up. Their interference actually caused Blade & Malik to use the W. D’oh! Lash Legend appeared out of nowhere, and the bike kicked Fallon into the next month. Then a victorious Pretty Deadly celebrated with Lash Legend while the losers ate their chops.
Not a big match as it was short and a bit messy, but I’m interested in the drama.
Aside from a couple of solid matches, this was an episode. There was something missing that I can’t pinpoint, but the two-hour show felt longer than Raw. We have a video segment for the NXT Championship match that didn’t wow me at all and another about Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne finding each other after losing their tag titles. meh The Joe Gacy/Cameron Grimes stuff still happens and it’s still a cheap imitation of the Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan of a few years ago. NXT usually has a flow, but it really felt like a bunch of stuff being thrown against a wall. Oh, and that final accord between Santos Escobar and Tony D’Angelo was just awkward. The image of this small table in the middle of a huge park just made NXT look and feel small. At a show leading up to their next big event, that’s the lasting image for me, and it’s a pretty horrible metaphor.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking with it. It’s your turn.