Episode: NXT #185
Recorded: 22 January 2016
Aired: 24 February 2016
Duration: 4:17 minutes
Fighting time: 2:58 minutes
This match certainly wasn’t one of the best technical matches of the year. It wasn’t even a real match because the real fighting time was barely three minutes. But if you are a believer in the Dean Ambrose credo of “wrestling is fun”, then this was the funniest match I’ve seen in those first two months of 2016 and because of this I had to include it into this little collection of Best NXT Matches of 2016. Tommaso Ciampa and Bull Dempsey were still able to tell a story, not just going for it senseless for three minutes. And that’s basically the difference between WWE and NXT. If you’ve got a three-minute match in WWE, you know you won’t miss anything at all if you are using it as a bathroom break. If you’ve got a three-minute match in NXT, you can basically miss the most funniest match of the year.
The most important fact about this set-up besides the match itself certainly is that this was one part of Bull Dempsey’s farewell tour from NXT. He was released together with Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis on 5 February 2016 and now tries to make a name for himself on the Independent circuit as Bull James. I think his latest Bull Fit gimmick worked well for him but he was just a comic character now and no serious competitor for any championship. Now he’ll have more freedom to try different things and different styles, learn different things from other people. Good luck to him.
Now, his short match against Tommaso Ciampa had some great slapstick spots. Right at the beginning, Bull Dempsey made a lengthy entrance to thank most fans in the first row and did his Bull Fit routine, including the jumping jacks. When the bell rang, Bull Dempsey still was in great mood, doing some jumping jacks and tried to get match ready while Tommaso Ciampa looked on. And on. I actually admired him for keeping the serious face and really didn’t break kayfabe. Now Bull Dempsey tried to pull off his tee shirt but needed help from the referee. When he was finally ready to fight, Tommaso Ciampa applauded him sarcastically. While I was already rolling on the floor laughing.
And the silliness still went on when Bull Dempsey did another set of jumping jacks. But Tommaso Ciampa insisted to finally start the match and both men somehow connected with both hands. But just for Bull Dempsey to do some jumping jacks together with Tommaso Ciampa. At this point I really lost it. Even more when Tommaso Ciampa briefly seemed like he enjoyed Bull Fit.
But that didn’t last long. Actually, Tommaso Ciampa obviously played the heel character with mocking Bull Fit, kicking and stomping at his opponent and finally made his opponent to tap out to his arm bar bridge.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
As much fun as I had with and during this match, I also thought about possibilities and the future wrestling career of Bull Dempsey. He might have been unfortunate that a similar stature to himself arrived in NXT in Kevin Owens. And it was clear that Kevin Owens was the far better wrestler and talker and heel character. Bull Dempsey was first used as a monster heel. But even in this match when he throws out his ten punches series, you can see that those are very weak. He already wrestles for more than ten years but I’m still not impressed by his in-ring wrestling work. So, he might learn different skills on the Independent circuit but with already being a wrestler for so long, I doubt that he’ll get much better.
Maybe he should go for more comedy stuff. He’s actually very funny and able to connect with crowds this way. The Bull Fit gimmick isn’t that bad either if he can bring some more depth to it and maybe some more seriousness. Who knows what’s coming along his way. And it doesn’t need to be his last appearance in NXT. Somehow I can feel that there’s something about Bull Dempsey that didn’t make it to the daylight yet.
And I also wonder what’s the plans with Tommaso Ciampa. I really like this guy and his style. But winning just those short matches isn’t really progress. Apparently he’s still a free agent and only signs appearance contracts, still wrestles on the Independent circuit like EVOLVE, so he isn’t given a major storyline or bigger matches against more important opponents. Still, winning matches and working slightly heelish might be an indicator that NXT has got an eye on something. Whatever it is, I always enjoy watching Tommaso Ciampa in NXT, so I’m looking forward to his coming matches.