The show opens with one of those WWE.com exclusive clips that holds such a special place in all our hearts. This one features Sylvester LeFort and the mystery blonde who has appeared around Alexander Rusev’s matches over the last couple of weeks.
LeFort is clearly in the dark two as he tells the woman that he doesn’t know who she is. He asks what is wrong with Rusev as he has never had a problem with him and always paid him well. The blonde fights back in Russian, much to the dismay of LeFort.
Opening sequence hits.
We re-join the LeFort as he is making his entrance to the ring. We get an introduction to the announce team, who welcome us to the show. This week we have Tom Phillips, Alex Riley and Renee Young. Regal-less shows mess with my emotions.
The announce team inform us of yet another WWE.com exclusive (how do they get such great access to WWE talent?!), Slyvester LeFort is no longer representing Alexander Rusev.
The once mute Russian blonde stands on the ramp, mic in hand. She speaks some Russian and the only thing I can decipher is that she is introducing Rusev. Think Alberto Del Rio being introduce by Vladimir Putin.
My my, we are learning things this week! The graphic displayed on Rusev’s entrance informs us that the mystery blonde’s name is Lana.
As both competitors stand in the ring, Rusev does his old looking like a beast thing. A very anxious looking LeFort pleads with both the referee and Rusev, money in hand.
Sylvester LeFort v. Alexander Rusev
Rusev is cleary not accepting any ploy from LeFort as he launches him into the ropes, as the bell rings, and meets him with a bulldozer-like collision. Rusev stands over his opponent and roars to the crowd.
Rusev locks in the Accolade and stuffs the money into LeForts mouth. LeFort taps.
WINNER: Alexander Rusev
Squash matches don’t come much more squashier than that!
We head backstage to Bayley, Charlotte and a headband. Bayley gives a Ric Flair WOOO, much to the annoyance of Charlotte. This annoyance is exacerbated by the arrival of Summer Rae and Sasha Banks.
Summer and Sasha have bought Bayley a new headband, which seems to have goe down well with the latter. Charlotte seems less impressed and bickers with Rae and Banks.
Summer says that Banks is soon going to be like her; on Raw, SmackDown, international tours and countless pay-per-views. She continues that they could really ‘use’ a gilr like Bayley (I think I see what’s coming, folks!).
We get some hype for Kassius Ohno v. Luke Harper, coming up later in the show. Leo Kruger is also coming back on this edition.
We come back to the arena to the entrance of El Local, which to you and me is Ricardo Rodriguez in a mask. He is up against the returning Leo Kruger. I have missed this crazy mutha trucka!
El Local v. Leo Kruger
We get underway with Local ducking a clothesline from Kruger and managing to get in a solid kick and a few punches. Kruger pushes him away and into the ropes and then hits an awesome spine-buster. This earns him a two-count.
Kruger takes out his frustrations by bouncing Local from rope to rope, hitting a couple of knees and finally dropping him with an elbow. He tries to follow up on Local in the corner but the South African is met with a boot to the face. He does, though, manage to get right back on top.
Kruger hits Local with a vicious clothesline and follows up with a snap-suplex. Make that two snap-suplexes and a submission hold. El Local becomes the second wrestler of the night to tap out.
WINNER: Leo Kruger
Bit of a nothingy affair to get Kruger back out there. Seems a little odd to have both squash matches one after the other but this one had a little more length and offence from the opponent (only due to the face that LeFort never even got a move in.
We head to a clip from 2 weeks ago, when Paige missed Sasha Banks with a clothesline and ended up hitting Emma instead. Then a clip from last week showing Emma acciedentally decking Paige.
We head to unseen footage from last week. It is, you guessed it folks, a WWE.com exclusive! The two Divas are arguing and Paige accuses Emma of getting her own back (a reference to the old kids show in the UK? She’s a little young but I’m choosing to believe it anyway!). The Anti-Diva warns the Australian to keep away from her, to conclude the argument.
We head back to the ring to a chant of ‘Let’s Go These Guys!’, as an unknown tag-team are in the ring. Anyone else smell our third squash of the week? Turns out that the guys names are Travis Taylor and Troy McLain.
The latter grabs the mic and says, “hi, I’m Troy McLain and you may remember me from such squash matches as those against…….” OK so that didn’t really happen. It totally should have. You had your chance WWE. You had your chance and you blew it.
The Ascension, or squashers numero tres, make their entrance to this seemingly themed edition of NXT.
Travis Taylor & Troy McLain v. The Ascension
The Ascension kick things off with a belly to back, some shoulder thrusts and a quick tag. Conor O’Brian continues the dominance with a series of take-overs. A tag brings Rick Victor in, who inflicts a clothesline and makes another tag.
A double-team from the Ascension leads to yet another tag. Dizzy yet? I know I am. Another double-team. The match concludes with the Ascension’s finisher, ‘The Fall of Man, and a 1-2-3.
WINNER: The Ascension
The squash prediction came true. Who’da thunk it?
“The Hype Man” Mojo Rawley makes his energetic entrance to the NXT arena. His opponent, Tye Dillinger, is already in the ring, which is always the sign of good jobbing. Can you smell it again? Surely not 4 in a row?!
Tye Dillinger v. Mojo Rawley
The bell rings and the two lock up. Dillinger gets in a Flair-esque chop but to little effect. Dillinger is mowed to the mat with a shoulder block. He does however escape being slammed and gets in a Russian leg sweep. He follows this up with a choke on the middle rope. He tries a couple more chops but once again they have little impact.
Dillinger counters to stay on top and uses a take-down, knee to the back and a submission hold. The crowd get behind Mojo and he manages to escape. Dillinger somehow though remains in control and gets a pin that didn’t even achieve a one-count.
Mojo manages to get in the slam that Tye escaped from earlier in the match and then slams the mat, Orton style. He then gets into what I presume to be some NFL football position (I’m English, you’ll have to allow for my ignorance). Mojo charges at Dillinger and carries him into the corner.
He whips Dillinger into the opposite corner and follows him into it with a Stinger splash. He runs back to the original corner, think Daniel Bryan, and then back toward Dillinger, concluding with another splash. Mojo hits the ropes and then hits Dillinger with the jumping ass to the face that Naomi uses. Mojo hits his finisher which is essentially the same move as the last but is ass to chest whilst the opponent is prone instead. Mojo gets the cover and the win.
WINNER: Mojo Rawley
Light-years from a classic encounter but a far greater match than has been shown thus far in terms of competitiveness. We now head, for whatever reason, to a recap of Raw. Safe to say that I skipped it. Up next though is our main-event, Ohno v. Harper.
Before that though, we get some hype for next week. Charlotte & Bayley v. Summer Rae and Sasha Banks. Cory Graves v. Adrian Neville in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Even if I wasn’t expected to write an article every week, this is reason enough to tune in next week.
Harper comes out to the main-roster edition of the Wyatt Family entrance but without the Bray, “we’re here”. As I was just thinking how much I enjoy the Wyatt Family entrance music, the NXT arena read my mind and begin swaying from side-to-side.
Ohno comes out quickly but looks intense and Phiilps informs us that Ohno is back and looking for revenge against the Wyatt’s.
Luke Harper v. Kassius Ohno
Ohno gets in a quick dropkick and then the two trade some early blows. Ohno comes out on top, getting Harper into the corner and getting in some offense. The two continue to take turns at taking a shot at the other before Ohno is victim of a back-body drop. As a result, Harper begins to take control of proceedings.
After a period of Harper dominance, Ohno looks to be making a comeback but it is cut short. As Harper continues to be in control, he gets Ohno by the neck, into a submission hold. Ohno manages to escape but only as far as the corner before Harper catches up with him with some shoulder thrusts and a vicious slap.
Harper sends Ohno into the ropes but as he hits them, he clings on and prevents himself from springing back toward Harper. Harper runs toward him but Ohno dodges and connects with the Rolling Elbow. Harper is just sent the outside though and manages to stay on his feet, to the shock of the announce team. Ohno hits a kick to the outside and Harper finally goes down. We head to an ad-break.
As we come back, Harper is grounded and Ohno hits a back-splash. Ohno goes for the pin but Harper kicks out at 1. Harper counters an Irish whip and ends up kicking Ohno to the outside. The ref’s count gets to 9 before Ohno makes it back into the ring.
Harper is straight onto him with three elbow drops and a pin, which earns him a two-count. Harper’s offence continues and culminates with him standing over his fallen opponent.
Harper sends Ohno into the corner but Ohno manages to escape the attack that follows. Ohno manages a quick roll-up but only gets 2. Ohno is soon sent back down to the mat.
Harper goes down to grab hold of the fallen Ohno and ‘gator rolls’ him, a move that I kind of dig. Ohno finds himself with is top-half on the apron and Harper holding his lower half inside the ring, in a wheelbarrow like position. Harper drops back and Ohno is slingshot into the ropes.
Once Ohno is back up, the two hit the ropes at the same time and Ohno manages to rock Harper with a dropkick and the big man drops to a knee. Harper attempts a clothesline but Ohno ducks and then gets in a slap and some punches. Harper pushes Ohno away, into the ropes, but Ohno gets in a bulldog type manoeuvre before playing to the crowd.
A dazed Harper staggers around the ring as Ohno goes up top. Neck breaker from the top rope connects. Pin leads to a two-count.
Harper gets in a tilt-a-whirl side-slam, which earns him a two-count of his own. Harper goes into the stalks his prey from the corner and awaits him rising to his feet. Once Ohno is up, Harper connects with a big boot. Another near-fall for Harper.
Harper hits an attack in the corner and drags Ohno to the middle of the ring. Suddenly, Ohno breaks free and hits another Rolling Elbow. This time Harper hits the deck but manages to kick out at 2.
Harper begins to rise and Ohno kicks him a few times on his way. Ohno hits the ropes and sprints toward Harper but he is met with a powerful clothesline, which earns Harper the win.
WINNER: Luke Harper
So from the length of that match alone, this was no squash. An interesting finish, I had expected Harper to dominate but Ohno to steal it.
Overall, for me, this was a pretty forgettable edition of NXT, with the exception of the main-event. We had three squash matches in a row, a largely irrelevant match and then a solid, enjoyable match from Harper and Ohno.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen more from the Divas. Although their stories did somewhat progress, they have been my highlight over the last few editions and I therefore noticed there absence from contributing anything significant.
That being said, I am very much looking forward to next week. Especially since we will get to see Neville and Graves in that best out of 3 falls match. That though, sadly for all of us, is 7 long days away.
In the meantime though, you stay classy, San Diego. And thanks for stopping by. But mainly, stay classy.
– By Richard Thompson