The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT 2.0 – 09.14.21

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT 2.0 – 09.14.21

Hey, it’s not like they could make the product any more ice cold, so might as well try a reboot.

LIVE from the CWC, where it’s now like…

SO MANY COLOURS. Look, we can’t all have 16K 120” ultra-Plasma TVS that can handle this kind of saturation, maybe they should tone it down a bit. Maybe go with a nice black and gold theme and dim the lights a bit?

Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix & Wade Barrett

Apparently the NXT title was vacated by Samoa Joe over the weekend on Twitter, because that’s a thing that happens now. Regardless, tonight’s main event is a four-way for the belt, and we get comments from the competitors. But LA Knight’s promo is interrupted by someone who looks and sounds a lot like Rick Steiner. So they shall wrestle next.

Bron Breakker v. LA Knight

What kind of a stupid name is “Bron Breakker”? Here, let me fix this for you: His name is Rechsteiner. REX STEINER. It literally took me five seconds to come up with that one. Meanwhile they dress him like Rick Steiner, acknowledge that Rick Steiner is his father, and then run him through the NXT Name Generator 2.0 and come up with “Chucky Chuzzwasser” or whatever the fuck this name is supposed to be. What’s the backstory, that he had a friend who played a lot of Tekken and he wanted a name that sounded like it could be in one of the crappier sequels? Anyway, the arena looks much better and cheerier now, and not like a claustrophobic escape room, so there’s that. Knight slugs away in the corner, but Breakker hits him with a clothesline and throws him around with a pair of suplexes. “This is a dog-faced gremlin mentality right now!” Oh god it’s starting already. I should have made myself a drink before starting this. Knight hits him with a kneelift to take over and follows with a neckbreaker out of the corner. Breakker makes a comeback and gets a belly to belly and press slam for the pin at 3:38. This was fine, and you had to figure they’d start with putting over one of the new guys. **

Imperium v. Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen

The new geeks sound like a bro country duo, with their hit singles “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Guitar But I Feel Like A Million Dogs” and “The Guitar Where Your Heart Should Be”. Now streaming on Spotify! Mostly in Alabama. Anyway, the crowd isn’t terribly impressed with the rednecks even as they get some shine on Imperium and Jensen manages to roll up Aichner for two. But then he goes to the top and gets distracted by Bartel, allowing Aichner to hit a double arm superplex for the pin at 3:55. This didn’t work very well. *1/2

Meanwhile, Hit Row tells us all about B-Fab and how fab she is.

B-Fab v. Katrina Cortez

Why is Cortez wearing a mask if we already know her name? B-Fab puts the boots to her in the corner, but Cortez makes a brief comeback and tries to go up, only to get booted down and Fab finishes with a neckbreaker at 1:15. But then Legado del Fantasma interrupts as I guess this feud is still continuing through the reboot. So Elektra Lopez challenges her to a fight, but they shall not do it right now.

Meanwhile, Austin Theory returns just in time to join the wedding party for Dexter Lumis, and he brings the Priest with him, in this case Damian Priest, who Gargano clarifies is not a real priest.

Carmelo Hayes joins us with someone named Trick Williams who I don’t know if we’re supposed to know or not. So Hayes announces that he’s got the juice now, and called his friend, who is not only bout it, but bout it bout it. But Trick already has an issue with Hayes, because Hayes doesn’t miss when he shoots. But then they appear to make up. Maybe I’m old but I have no earthly idea what this interview was supposed to be about. Anyway, Duke Hudson comes out and talks some shit, so Trick attacks him in the ring and Carmelo joins in and seems to turn heel, which of course gets him cheered. Again, am I supposed to know who Trick Williams is? They just throw this new character in there and act like everyone watching hangs out at the PC or something. Also, they know that their primary demographic for this show is even older and grumpier than me, right?

Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter v. Gigi Dolan & Jacy Jayne

Big brawl to start and the K’s double team Dolan in the corner, and Kacy gets a flipping legdrop for two. Kacy goes to an abdominal stretch while we get an inset of Kool Kyle working out in the back, but Pete Dunne attacks him and lays him out. Kayden comes in and they quickly go for the finish on Jayne, but Mandy Rose runs in for the DQ at 1:55. She poses dramatically at the hard camera with newly dyed hair, but Sarray runs out as well and they all yell at each other as we take a break.

Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter & Sarray v. Gigi Dolan & Jacy Jayne & Mandy Rose

So we pick it up with Kacy getting worked over in the heel corner and Rose chokes her out on the ropes. Dolan gets a clothesline for two and chokes out Kacy on the ropes and HERE COMES THE ZOOMS AND CUTS. Oh great. Rose gets a slam for two and here’s where I really notice the main roster presentation as Rose does a bodyscissors and we cut, cut, cut, cut, cut with a new angle every half-second. Jayne gets a senton for two, but Kayden gets the hot tag and dropkicks Dolan in the corner before rolling up Rose and superkicking her for two. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Carter gets two on Rose and people are running around yelling, but Rose hits Kayden with a boot for the pin at 6:08. This whole thing felt right out of the main roster. But like everything else so far tonight, at least it was kept short. **

Ridge Holland v. Drake Maverick

So before the match starts, Mr. Regal announces that Kool Kyle is out of the main event, and someone named Von Wagner is in. Von looks like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, by the way. This is like a whole show full of Cousin Olivers. Holland completely squashes Maverick, smashes him in various ways, and powerslams him for the pin at 1:48. It should be noted that Drake has someone named Grayson Waller at ringside with him. I don’t know why or what function he serves or who he is. But he’s there.

Meanwhile, Tommaso Ciampa is ready to take Goldie back tonight.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Tony D’Angelo is here and doing a mafia gimmick. We’re doing mafia gimmicks again? OK then.

The Creed Brothers v. Local Talent

The Creeds are apparently large amateur wrestlers who manhandle people. And they do that, although one of the guys gets a dropkick on Julius, but that just makes him mad and he finishes the guy with a clothesline after a suplex at 2:49. A very entertaining squash. And then Malcolm Bivens introduces THEIR female member, Ivy Nile, and Kushida interrupts and wants a Cruiserweight title match with Roderick Strong next week.

NXT title: Pete Dunne v. Tommaso Ciampa v. LA Knight v. Von Wagner

Everyone slugs it out and Ciampa goes to work on Dunne with forearms, but Knight saves and Ciampa tosses him out. Dunne takes Ciampa down and works the arm, but Wagner breaks that up and puts Dunne down with a clothesline as we take a break. Back with Knight working a chinlock on Ciampa, but Ciampa comes back with a double clothesline on Dunne and Knight. Wagner gets involved and Knight gives him the DDT, but Ciampa gets Willow’s Bell on Knight for two. Dunne saves from the outside, so Ciampa dives onto everyone outside. Back in, Dunne snaps the fingers on Ciampa and hits the Bitter End, but Knight saves. Wagner gets an Angle Slam on Knight for two and Knight is somehow busted wide open. Ciampa and Dunne double-team Wagner and take him out before trading knees, but Dunne goes up and Knight pops up with a superplex before Wagner slams Knight for two. Ciampa saves and hits Knight with the Fairy Tale Ending, and retains the NXT title at 10:16. Not who I would have expected to get the belt but that’s fine I guess. *** Von Wagner looked completely out of place in there, which is no shock I’m sure.

And we finish with the marriage of In-Dex. But first, an interlude from Jesse Baker!

So we’ve had a scene with Johnny holding an axe

We’ve further established that Dexter carries one with him as his weapon of choice in his jacket pocket

So how long until Johnny Gargano steals Dexter’s axe and uses it to clumsily cut off Tomaso Ciampa’s rubbish beard and kickstart Gargano vs Ciampa III: Johnny’s Farewell Tour edition? Which in turn leads us to Dexter Lumis beating Tomaso for the belt to avenge Johnny when Johnny loses his final match, which is a “If Johnny can’t beat Tomaso, he will be exiled beyond the WWE’s Central Finite Curve?” bout to make Johnny’s departure leave a big impact and fuel Dexter’s ascension to the top of the NXT ladder?.

Anyway.

Johnny freaks out because Austin Theory doesn’t have the rings, but Ikeman Jiro does. And then we get a funny bit where the priest asks if anyone objects, and everyone in the gallery puts up their hand, at which point Dexter flashes a hatchet under his jacket and they all rescind their objection. Indi’s vows, where she calls him “a stalker with a well groomed mustache” who never loses a staring contest, is also good stuff. Dexter’s vow is a thumbs up. But the priest is horrified by this, so Dexter chokes him out, and Beth Phoenix of course is ready with her online ordained minister license and she takes over. And Dexter finally does speak, saying “I do” as the big payoff as Beth explodes with happiness. This was tremendously wacky and the best thing on the show by far.

Meanwhile, Ciampa is watching the wedding on the screen backstage, but Bron Breakker stops by and they have a meaningful staredown to end the show.

Well this was definitely completely different.

The Good:

Visually speaking, it was much more interesting than the dank garage that was the old CWC, as everything is lit up like an incandescent bulb and splattered with colour. It’s much easier to watch from that end.

The matches were kept short, sometimes overly so, and everything moved fast so it never got boring like the old NXT did.

You need to mix in new characters from time to time because the old cast was getting stale, to say the least.

The Bad:

There just wasn’t anything in the matches or the characters that compelled me to continue watching next week. The whole reason I dropped the show is that I didn’t have any emotional investment in the characters, and carrying on most of the same storylines doesn’t help. I still don’t care about Legado del Fantasma v. Hit Row or whatever the Diamond Mine is supposed to be, and this didn’t change it. If you’re gonna blow up the show, blow up the show and move on.

As I said, introducing new characters is good. However, this show introduced, what, SIX brand new people in the span of a single two hour show? All with generic NXT Name Generator names, all just dropped into the show with no backstory or introduction? Like who the fuck is Von Wagner and why should I possibly care about him being in the main event out of nowhere? It’s a weird mix of really high level guys and then completely green guys and it’s kind of a car crash here. It feels like this needed a couple of weeks of buildup.

And finally, the presentation, while visually improved, veered completely into Kevin Dunn territory again by midway though the show, with the zooming and the headache-inducing cuts, and that’s just not what I want out of an “alternative” to the main roster shows. I think 2.0 referred to how many times per second that they switched camera angles in that women’s match.  It’s basically just WWE-Lite as it stands.

Overall, I appreciate the effort to do something newer, but it’s a no from me, dog. Unless this gets like 250 comments and does big numbers on the blog, in which case I WILL DENY EVERYTHING.