This week's WWE NXT started with a video package introducing the never-ending Redemption season. Heavy focus on Titus O'Neil dominating the majority of the first 21 weeks. Two Weeks Ago: things turned interesting when Bateman and Young conspired to take out Titus from the competition.
Arena: Todd Grisham introduced the show and noted they're in the famous college basketball arena, Rupp Arena. Grisham then sent it to the ring for Matt Striker to introduce Titus O'Neil, who came out sans Hornswoggle. Each man had a mic for this exchange. Striker asked Titus to respond to the alliance against him. Titus said he thinks it's cute and, quite honestly, he's dominated from start to finish. He said he's not worried about them, their mommas, their grandparents, or any other family relatives.
Some random music interrupted to bring out D-Young and Derrick Bateman, who slowly dropped a mic in front of his mouth to run down Titus. Bateman noted he beat Titus last week, which drew an unimpressed smile from Titus. As Young and Bateman entered the ring, Titus told Bateman there's no way he could beat him in singles competition without help. Young stepped up and said Titus has spent too much time pandering to the audience. Striker interjected that it's smart strategy since the fans make up 50 percent of the vote. Young said he doesn't care because he doesn't need a Pro nor the audience because he's doing it all by himself.
Bateman made some weird noise to interrupt. He said Titus has reached the top of his Suck Ceiling and it's time for him to go. Titus said he's tired of the talking, so let's have a tag match tonight. Striker got the crowd fired up for a tag match before Young called out Striker for hyping Titus. Young and Bateman then conversed on who should be Titus's partner. Bateman said they've decided to take out the most annoying, trite, and bothersome person on this whole show: Matt Striker. Striker wanted nothing to do with it, but Young told him it's time for him to get taken to school. Titus stepped in front of Striker to say they're going to put wood to their behinds and also...make it a win! Titus did his dog-bark as Striker sold concern over this match assignment.
Up Next: Kozlov vs. JTG.
In-ring: JTG came out first for the opening match of the show. JTG's music played again, then Kozlov came out dressed like an MMA fighter mixed with Floyd Mayweather mixed with JTG mixed with Slam Master J mixed with Jacob Novak post-makeover. Kozlov did the whole routine mocking JTG as they continued to stretch for time.
1 -- JTG vs. KOZLOV
Kozlov completely dominated early on, toying with JTG while having fun with his costume. JTG then punched Kozlov in the mouth, which turned happy-fun-time into Kozlov-beats-up-JTG time. Kozlov knocked JTG into the corner and they cut to break
Back from break, JTG was in control and executed a flying dropkick. Kozlov's undershirt became torn up in the process of JTG working him over. Kozlov, with some blood on his nose, suddenly got that crazy look in his eyes and made his full comeback. Kozlov eventually finished off JTG with the Iron Curtain for the pin and the win. JTG's music hit and Kozlov did some dancing to celebrate. He wasn't done, as Kozlov grabbed Grisham's cell phone ringside. Kozlov, with big MMA gloves on, managed to take a picture of himself planking on JTG's lifeless body.
WINNER: Kozlov at 7:40. It is what it is with Koz. As Greg Parks said in his real-time Twitter stream, it's WWE's version of trying to make Lance Storm or Dean Malenko seem interesting. I guess it beats Kozlov vs. Hunter for 15 boring minutes in the ring.
Raw Rebound: Punk on why he returned, Triple H playing the suit role, Hunter booking Cena vs. Punk at Summerslam, and the eventual lame conclusion to Raw with Punk seeming like just another guy trading musical numbers with Cena.
Announcers: Grisham and William Regal discussed the Cena-Punk match and Grisham slipped in the standard pop culture reference of the show that ESPN is talking about this match. Regal predicted Punk will win.
Arena: Tyson Kidd's music hit to bring out Kidd for a promo to get his heat back after losing the pole match to Yoshi Tatsu last week. After a replay of Kidd's post-match attack on Yoshi, the crowd booed Kidd, who told him they should all be on their feet applauding him for eliminating Yoshi's music, Yoshi's toys, and Yoshi himself. Kidd said he comes from a long line of respected competitors including Brian Pillman, British Bulldog, and Bret Hart. Kidd said they all succeeded through hard work and sacrifice, not worshiping action figures. In his WWE, there's no room for playing with dolls or Yoshi Tatsu. "In my WWE, there's only room for Tyson Kidd," he said. Regal said he's on the verge of being a huge star in WWE.
Up Next: Titus and Striker against D-Young and D-Bateman.
In-ring: Random music sounding like trashcan lids slamming together brought out Bateman and Young for the main event. Hornswoggle's music then brought out Titus, flanked by Hornswoggle and A.J. Swoggle and A.J. were costumed to look like ten-year-old Jack and Jill. Matt Striker then came out dressed like he hasn't wrestled in four years.
2 -- TITUS O'NEIL (w/Hornswoggle and A.J.) & MATT STRIKER vs. DERRICK BATEMAN & DARREN YOUNG
Titus worked against his fellow Rookies for the first 90 seconds before Striker tagged in and aggressively went after Bateman. Regal said it's an old thing where you always bring your gear to the building because you never know. Striker executed a dropkick as Grisham knocked Striker's win/loss record. Meanwhile, Hornswoggle wanted a sip from the 7-Eleven cup sitting on the announce desk. Swoggle then grunted and moaned, according to Grisham, as Grisham suggested Swoggle could be a jockey because he's so small. Regal noted he's a bit flummoxed. "Heh?" Swoggle asked. Grisham mercifully went to commercial with Bateman on the floor following a clothesline from Titus.
Back from break, Swoggle and A.J. were playing games with food as Regal tried to get them to leave him alone. Meanwhile, Striker and Young traded holds as Striker tried to turn back the clock. The heels then settled into an extended beating on Striker, while taunting Titus in the process. The crowd became angered as Regal noted the lactic acid is starting to build up in Striker to slow him down. Grisham added he saw Striker put down three pieces of chocolate cake at catering earlier today. The announcers eventually threw a question A.J.'s way, but cut her off when Striker nearly scored a sudden pin before D-Young cut him off again. A.J. kept talking as Swoggle looked on with puppy-dog eyes. Regal asked them if they need the number to his therapist.
At 10:25, Striker finally made the hot tag to Titus, who cleaned house with clotheslines over and over again. Titus then executed a powerslam on Young for a two count as Young visibly called a spot mid-cover. The action broke down moments later, then Young found himself in harm's way taking the sky-high bomb from Titus for the pin and the win. Ringside, Swoggle and A.J. clapped it up while Titus hugged it out with Striker in the ring. All four then celebrated in the ring as Regal said all of the kids are overjoyed at this joyous occasion. Grisham said it's like the finish of a Lifetime movie. Greatest Line Ever. The four continued to celebrate in the ring as the show ended.
WINNERS: Titus & Striker at 11:18. Oh, NXT. Regal made this watchable with his latest dose of superior commentary. Nothing on this show matters and, yet, they continue to stall for time until the next elimination/conclusion of the show.
PWTorch contributor Benjamin Tucker's Instant Reaction
Overall Score - 3.5
When I need to get to sleep fast, I just watch NXT. Sure, it was nice to see Matt Striker back in action, but the tag match was average, the previous match was sub-par, and the promos from the Rookies and Tyson Kidd were not very good. The only saving grace of the show is still the Grisham-Regal commentary, but since I was there live, I didn't even get to enjoy that.
I know the Rookies are trying hard, but the show is hard to watch with the material that they're given, and they need more time to progress in the ring. If there is one other positive aspect of the show this week, it's that the Rookies did get a bit more focus. I just wonder what WWE is waiting for on when to end this show. Despite a few solid moments (like Striker's return to the ring), the show was as dull as usual.
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