As the NXT Pros prepare to reveal their standings in the coming days, the NXT Rookies compete in a pair of tag team matches…
Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel (with Christian)
Skip Sheffield & Wade Barrett (with William Regal)
(Winners via pinfall: Slater & Gabriel)
Daniel Bryan & Michael Tarver (with Carlito)
Darren Young & David Otunga (with CM Punk, Luke Gallows & Serena Deeb)
(Winners via pinfall: Young & Otunga)
This was a hard show to assess, as it was right in the middle of a binge watch for me, and the episode itself was something of an afterthought for WWE. All eyes were on Wrestlemania, and that was clear as day throughout these 45 minutes. So from a viewing perspective, trying to burn what I was watching to memory was quite challenging.
The winners of the opening match surprised me, with Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel overcoming the much larger and stronger Skip Sheffield and Wade Barrett. Given how he was been built up, Barrett has more defeats to his name that I’d expect at this point, especially when you consider that this victory gave Slater a 4-0 win record to date.
The pairing of competitors in the main event confused me, because instead of the logical combination of two faces versus two heels, WWE gave us a face and heel versus a face and heel. More baffling was the decision to put David Otunga and Darren Young together, given they’ve faced off twice in the competition already and Young’s recent win over him came as a result of CM Punk’s sly interference on Young’s behalf. Like with many angles on NXT so far, we once again appear to be missing some payoff, which is the second time in five episodes now for Otunga.
I imagine the teams were set up how they were to allow for Michael Tarver to unintentionally cause Daniel Bryan to suffer another defeat. Tarver’s ringside arguments were entertaining, and were something you couldn’t have done with Young as Bryan’s partner. Ultimately, it looks like the intention was to somewhat protect Bryan in defeat, but given he has lost all five matches he’s competed in now, I’m not sure there’s much protection that can help him at this point.
The match was solid, and ticked enough boxes. I’m waiting for NXT to hit it out of the park with a main event, as we haven’t seen that since the first episode (read our review).
The next episode will see the first rankings revealed, and that should hopefully inject a bit of new energy into this show. We are also only a few episodes away from the introduction of the weekly challenges, many of which were dire (from memory), but will be enough to make this show feel different and fun.
Match of the Night
Daniel Bryan & Michael Tarver vs. Darren Young & David Otunga