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By Mike Johnson on 2013-05-30 10:15:00

The 5/29 episode of WWE NXT was sort of a transitional episode to bridge the gap between major storyline episodes.  Thus, it was solid, but not the strong blowaway style episode that we saw the week prior or with the "Clash of Champions" themed shows.  It was also obviously the farewell appearances for a lot of since released WWE developmental talents, although they obviously didn't know it at the time. 

So, what worked?  What didn't?  What did we learn?  Read On!

What Worked:

*The layout of the Battle Royal.  This was one of the more entertaining Battle Royals that we've seen in some time.  There were three stories told over the course of the match, as opposed to it being The Titanic, where everyone's jumping overboard.  The first story was that Mason Ryan is an absolute beast, ripping the ring apart by tossing 8-9 guys out in rapid succession.  Ryan is presented and protected well here.  Then, when he was finally eliminated, it was a big moment from Adrian Neville and rightfully so.  The second story saw Kassius Ohno and Corey Graves both want to get their hands on Bray Wyatt, who was able to outsmart them and get them from behind right after they tossed Connor O'Brian, thus adding additional interest and issues leading into a tag match set for next week.  Finally, the back and forth between Bo Dallas and Neville, former partners, as they struggled to win the match was just a joy to watch.  Great stuff and a quality main event.

*Big E. Langston in the ring.  Langston shows far more charisma in the ring and looks far more brutal and confident in NXT then he does on Raw.  His "master of the five count" works well since it's so fresh and no one has tried to do the deal since the glory days of King Kong Bundy.  He came off like an explosive star.

*The Wyatt Family.  Their tag match was designed to make them look brutal and strong and it worked.  It's been some time since we've seen a real monster tag team in WWE (Throwing out the Brothers of Destruction and LOD, we are left with....Kamala & Sika perhaps?) so this could really be the start of something special when they hit the ring on Raw.  Sawyer Fulton and Travis Tyler, in their NXT TV debut, may as well have been Johnny K-9 and George South because they had no chance at all, beyond a short offensive front.

*Scott Dawson and Garrett Dylan's finisher.  The spinbuster into sit-down axehandle off the ropes was really an inspired sequence.  The rest of their debut was solid but the finish was really spectacular.  We'll need to see more of DSquared as a team to really make a judgment call, but the introduction was fine.

*Connor O'Brian.  His short but explosive sequence in the Battle Royal was more impressive than his run on the previous season of NXT.  Good to see him evolving.

*The NXT Divas title is coming.  This is a good move that should lead to some more cohesive storylines and competition for the females in developmental.  The belt looks really sweet, too.

What Didn't:

*Big E. Langston on commentary.  As strong as he looked in the ring, he didn't exude the same confidence or any sort of charisma behind the mic.  That's something he's going to have to work to bring out of himself, since so much of the WWE main roster product is talking and exhibiting yourself to the audience.

*Emma.  She's a great looking woman but the dancing bit feels a little like it's still in development and isn't all there yet.  If she's supposed to be a raver chick, then they need to go full out with the costuming and with the personality.  I really like the entrance with the bubbles, however.  They have something there, but it's just not there yet.  Maybe in time, but not yet, especially since it was impossible for the viewer to know if she was a babyface or a heel, something that Audrey Marie has to take some responsibility for as well.

*Sylvester Lefort.  The Frenchman manager bit is old school for sure and I can appreciate that, but we needed something more to understand who or what he was all about - and why we should care he's managing Scott Dawson and Garrett Dylan.

*The announcing.  Tom Phillips and Brad Maddox didn't click at all.  Maddox was trying way too hard to get his own personality over and it prevented him from gelling with Phillips.  Phillips was OK but the pair didn't come across like the cohesive storytellers that William Regal and Tony Dawson did the night before.

*Sawyer Fulton

What We Learned:

*Big E. Langston is a dangerous man.  At one point, he shot Derek Bateman into the air, bringing him down in a frightening bump head-first.  It was impressive and the message was clear - don't make this man angry.

*If WWE wants to release you, they are probably going to kill you off first.  Aubrey Marie, Brandon Traven, Derek Bateman, etc. were all booked into positions to lose right before the decision was made to release them.  If anything, in hindsight, this shows how far in advance the decision to drop them was  actually made.  Hell, Sakamoto and Briley Pierce were even the first tossed from the Battle Royal!  So, the lesson to be learned here is that if you aren't in a major storyline and they have you booked to lose or be knocked down a peg during the last hour of the NXT tapings, rent, don't buy.

*WWE executives can't just spit it out.  Stephanie McMahon's announcement of the WWE Divas title tournament came off so long-winded thanks to all the corporate double-speak and buzz words she was using.  Imagine if you are a 10 year old kid trying to watch this?  Sometimes, the WWE culture of showing that "we aren't wrestling" goes so far off the track in trying to prove themselves that they lose the thread.  Less is more.  It's OK to say, "We are adding a new championship because we want something for the women to strive for - because they deserve it."  They do.  So say it!  Fans can relate to that more than they can the verbiage that was used in the official announcement.

Next week!  NXT Divas title tournament and the Wyatt Family vs. Corey Graves & Kassius Ohno.  See you in seven.

Mike Johnson can be reached at and can be followed on Twitter at

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