The Good, the Great and the Awesome from NXT 7/10/14
This year has seen NXT rise to prominence thanks to the advent of the WWE Network. At the same time, it has gained recognition as one of the best wrestling shows on television.
The simplicity of the stories, the old-school wrestling booking and the connection fans have with the characters makes it one of the most enjoyable programs WWE produces. The hour-long format also makes it much easier to watch than some of the main roster shows.
The June 10 episode proved why fans are flocking to the developmental brand. It featured a phenomenal main event that pitted NXT champion Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn against Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel while also furthering the top angle involving the tension in Kidd's marriage to the lovely Natalya.
It also solidified Summer Rae as the top contender to former protege Charlotte's NXT Women's Championship thanks to a big win over the lovable Bayley.
Bull Dempsey continued to make waves courtesy of a victory over Angelo Dawkins while Sin Cara made his return to NXT, potentially setting up a run similar to that of Kidd and Justin Gabriel as WWE attempts to make the most of its highly talented roster.
For the very best of this week's broadcast, enjoy the latest edition of the Good, the Great and the Awesome from June 10.
Bayley vs. Summer Rae
While Summer Rae was nowhere near as impressive as she has been in other outings for NXT, her match with Bayley was a fine way to both kick off the July 10 episode of NXT and establish a new No. 1 contender to Charlotte's NXT Women's Championship.
Bayley continued to prove why she is the most underrated Diva in all of WWE, feeding off a hot crowd and turning in a strong performance against her main roster opponent. It was Summer's night, however, as she fought out of a Bayley-to-Belly Suplex and scored her biggest win in months.
The win sets up a battle between former friends and BFF teammates sometime in the near future. Summer Rae was responsible for the attitude change in Charlotte, convincing the second-generation Diva to turn heel and join Summer and Sasha Banks to create the first female trio in NXT history. Charlotte learned a great deal from Summer, who became her mentor and helped her navigate through the choppy waters of NXT.
Now the student is faced with a situation in which she must defeat the teacher if she wishes to continue on her meteoric rise to the top of women's wrestling. Charlotte has proven herself against some of the sport's top stars this year, defeating the likes of Paige, Emma and Natalya to reign atop NXT.
To stay there, she must prove she can hang with one of the most conniving and cunning Divas on the roster. If she can do that, there may be no limit to the success Charlotte can achieve in her career. A loss, however, could be damaging to her psyche and set her back significantly in her attempt to follow in her father's footsteps.
It is a simple story that NXT has managed to tell very well, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jason Albert and Renee Young on commentary. That simplicity make its much easier to follow and will only benefit the match that much more when it finally occurs.
CJ Parker Snaps
This year has been an interesting one for CJ Parker.
He started 2014 as the Moon Child, a character straight out of the 1960s and Woodstock. He was all about peace and love and appeared to have been hanging out with Cheech and Chong before every event. He was mellow and laid back, and the fans hated him for it.
The character did not click, and Parker fell into obscurity in NXT. He remained a presence on the show but was oftentimes left bumping around the ring for the likes of Mojo Rawley rather than establishing himself as any real threat to the NXT Championship or even a spot further up on the card. It was not working, and his future in WWE's developmental territory was in doubt.
Then, as management had done with Bo Dallas when he earned the wrath of the NXT Universe rather than its adulation, Parker was turned heel. He became disenfranchised with the fans and told them as much. "Sometimes I lay awake at night and think about how much better our planet would be without the NXT Universe," he said in one promo, earning further disdain from the audience.
Parker would appear in the crowd, holding up signs that promoted greener living. Gone were the smiles and the mellowness. In its place was a look of disgust. The former Moon Child was not a happy man, and it was evident both in the way he carried himself and the look on his face as he made his way through the sea of people in the NXT Arena.
Recently, the more aggressive and bitter Parker began a program with Xavier Woods, a main roster star who has struggled mightily to gain traction on Raw and SmackDown. Despite the rough start to his WWE career, Woods is a popular star among the NXT faithful and the perfect choice to help get the new Parker character over.
Thursday night, Woods rejected Parker's attempt at an apology, recognizing the insincerity of it. Unfortunately, his unwillingness to Parker's offer of peace resulted him suffering a hard kick to the back of the head.
"I didn't want it to be this way!" Parker screamed to an unconscious Woods, ending what was a very effective old-school wrestling segment. It was short, to the point and accomplished what it set out to, which is to further the ongoing story between the young stars.
The new and improved environmentalist gimmick is already more over than anything Parker has done to this point in his career and will benefit him in the long run, just as a program with someone as talented as Woods will. There is definitely a limit to what Parker can achieve unlike some other NXT talents, but do not be surprised to see him enjoy a much more expanded role on the show if he can capitalize on this latest opportunity.
Management clearly likes him if he was able to make it through the major blunder that was his last gimmick.
Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel
Not only was the wrestling great in Thursday night's main event tag team match, the storytelling was exceptional as well.
Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel worked effectively as heels despite neither performing in that role since 2011. They isolated Sami Zayn, cheated when the opportunity presented itself and bumped around for NXT champion Adrian Neville when he got the hot tag and exploded into the match.
Speaking of Neville, his bump from the top rope after Kidd's dropkick prevented the Red Arrow was scary and the type of thing he needs to watch out for if he wants to avoid injury and continue his impressive title reign.
The finish of the bout helped further the storyline involving Kidd and wife Natalya's somewhat rocky relationship.
A reversal by Zayn sent his opponent crashing into his spouse, knocking her from the ring apron and sending her to the floor with a big thud. Zayn, concerned for the former Divas champion's well-being, turned his attention to the third-generation star. Kidd, however, saw an opening and capitalized on it, worrying more about a win than his wife and what could have been a very real injury.
The way Kidd celebrated after the match only enhanced what is becoming one of the best heel characters in all of wrestling. The former WWE tag team champion has done a masterful job of reinventing himself in NXT, doing everything he can to make the most of the opportunity that has been given to him. He is incredibly unlikable in his new role.
A jealous husband who is envious of the success of his wife, he has now taken to using her as a pawn in his plan to win the NXT title when the opportunity presents itself. Despite sweet-talking her in backstage segments, his actions speak volumes, and the NXT Universe sees right through it.
If played correctly, Kidd has the chance to challenge for the NXT Championship one last time, win it and become the heel champion that the entire brand is booked around.
No one would have imagined that five months ago, which is a testament to both Kidd and NXT management's booking of the character.
Aiden English and Simon Gotch may not make for a team that will be wildly successful on the main roster but who cares? They are incredibly entertaining and set NXT apart from any other WWE production.
This week featured a great comedic pre-taped segment that helped fans get a better understanding of the character while also providing a touch of fun to an otherwise serious broadcast.
Gotch and English are the best option to knock off The Ascension and capture the NXT Tag Team Championships at this point. They are over, have the potential to carry the division when Konnor and Viktor finally make their main roster debuts and can prove quite marketable if the effort is put in by WWE's merchandising team.
A very real breakout act for NXT if handled correctly.