Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Big E challenges Seth Rollins for the NXT Championship, third generation stars team up to face Primo and Epico, the Wyatt Family impress, Paige in action, and Adrian Neville (a/k/a PAC) appears
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired 1/9 WWE NXT on HuluPlus
Taped 12/6 at Full Sail University
The show opened with a video package recapping last week’s episode where The Shield interfered in the NXT Championship match between Seth Rollins and Corey Graves. Big E's music hit and they backed down. NXT GM Dusty Rhodes announced the main event for tonight's episode; Seth Rollins to defend the Championship against Big E Langston... The opening music video played...
As the show opened, the team of Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson were making their entrance together. William Regal and Tom Phillips checked in on commentary. Then, the eerie strums of Bray Wyatt's entrance theme began to play and he came to the stage, mic in hand.
He claimed that he can give meaning and strength to those who are weak and frail if they unite behind him. He said that people who unite behind him are his family. He brought out his Family, Luke Harper and Eric Rowan, who dragged out a rocking chair so Wyatt could watch from the stage. "Make me proud, boys" Wyatt said, before sending them to the ring....
1. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Eric Rowan) vs. Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson. The Family opened up with a physical beat down on Tatsu before he quickly tagged in Watson. Watson hit a quick flurry of offense, but Harper distracted him from the apron, allowing Rowan to regain control. Regal pointed out that for two men who seem mental and not right in the head, they are very proficient and dangerous in the ring. The Family worked frequent tags on Watson and kept him isolated with their intense yet methodical brawling style.
Finally, Watson made it to his corner for what should've been the hot tag, but there was no reaction for Tatsu. Tatsu gained the upper hand but still, crickets for his offense. The crowd seems as mesmerized by the two bearded strangers as they are by Wyatt.
Watson came into the ring as the illegal man and ate a stiff big boot from Harper, but that allowed Tatsu to hit his roundhouse kick which only staggered the big man. Tatsu went to the top rope, but Harper dodged the diving wheel kick. He followed up with a big running splash in the corner and a discus lariat to finish Tatsu off. Harper's eyes did not divert from Wyatt during the pinfall...
Luke Harper and Eric Rowan defeated Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson in 4:30.
Wyatt cracked a creepy smile of satisfaction and approval from his rocking chair and the men made their way back up the stage. They stopped just short of Wyatt as he looked over them proudly, before following him to the back like (heavily drugged) ducklings following mommy duck... [C]
Zim's Zag: The way Harper and Rowan play these characters is just so spot on. They are so creepy and intriguing when transfixed on Wyatt, and seem like monsters in the ring. The scruffy beards and dirty clothes look every bit the part. And Wyatt is totally convincing and believable in the role. This is perhaps the best act going on NXT right now.
Rookie Australian Diva Emma made her way to the ring for her debut. She did some sort of dance and skinned the cat to enter the ring. She took offense when her music was stopped. Then, the familiar flashes of lightning struck across the video wall and the NXT arena came to life for the Anti-Diva Paige, who Regal referred to as the "enchanting raven-haired lady" and the "leader of the anti-Barbie army"...
2. Emma vs. Paige. Paige was all business and took control from the onset. Emma quickly gained control however, and hit a nice running dropkick before targeting the knee of Paige. Emma kept repeating the same awkward dance and crowd responded with a "you can't dance" chant. She continued to work the knee of Paige and locked in a half crab. Paige fought out of it, hit a great looking shuffle kick to the gut, and landed the Paige Turner for the win... [C]
Paige defeated Emma in 2:30.
Zim's Zag: Solid debut for Emma, but most of the divas they debut lose to Paige and disappear back onto live events. Paige has a lot of potential and is over huge with the fans. If Sara Del Rey is working with her, then the sky is the limit. Here's hoping that a few other competent divas come around and WWE could have a solid women's division, should they so choose.
When the show came back, DGUSA/DG/Evolve standout PAC was on camera backstage. "My name is Adrian Neville," he said, "and they call me 'The Man That Gravity Forgot.' When I make my debut on NXT next week, you're going to find out exactly why." He said this in his heavy cockney accent...
Zim's Zag: I caught onto PAC at the tail end of his indie career, but saw enough to know that he has the potential to be a superstar high flyer who could significantly re-popularize and redefine the cruiserweight style in WWE. His issue has been lack of confidence on the mic and he sees his thick cockney accent as a drawback, however he appeared very confident in the few lines he delivered here. Keep an eye out for Adrian Neville.
Primo and Epico made their entrance as a video recapped last week’s events. Bo Dallas beat Epico in a one on one match, before Primo got in the ring and the Colons had Dallas cornered. Michael McGuillicutty hit the ring to make the save, which is strange considering he's been a heel since the inception of the new NXT...
Zim's Zag: Apparently there is a trickle-down effect from WWE to NXT as far as weak babyface turns go. It seems to be becoming a forgotten skill how to execute a strong face turn.
Bo Dallas and Michael McGuillicutty made their entrance to McGuillicutty's theme for a tag team matchup. The announcers said McGuillicutty explained that he respected Dallas, they're both 3rd generation superstars, and he wasn't going to watch a two on one attack and not step up. They're trying I guess...
3. Primo and Epico vs. Bo Dallas and Michael McGuillicutty. Early in the match, the fans chanted "We want Rosa!" McGuillicutty worked a side headlock on Primo then hit a chop to the chest, which prompted Primo to rush back to his corner and make the tag. Some more side headlock and a chop for Epico, who quickly tagged Primo back in. McGuillicutty retained control with, you guessed it, a side headlock!
Primo shot him into the ropes but he came back with a big running cross body for a one count, then reapplied the side headlock. Primo broke out, but McGuillicutty hit an arm drag and went right back to that trusty headlock. Dallas was shown smiling on the apron as the fans chanted "Headlock! Headlock! Headlock!" Primo forced the headlock back into his corner, allowing Epico to tag in and briefly gain the upper hand before eating a McGuillicutty dropkick. That was good for a one count, but the fans popped big when McGuillicutty went right back to the side headlock as the show went to break. [C]
Back from commercial, Bo Dallas was in the ring going for a pin cover on Epico. Dallas went to a rear chinlock which didn’t receive the reaction of the headlock, before dodging a dropkick and hitting an atomic drop as the crowd chanted "we want headlock." Epico took control when Dallas went for ten punches in the corner. He brought Dallas back to their corner and tagged in Primo, who hit a nice running back senton to the outside with Dallas draped across the ropes and then followed up with a slingshot hilo.
The Colons hit an aided dropkick and Epico was back in for his team. He locked in a headlock of his own and taunted the fans. The Colons worked Dallas over in the corner with the ref distracted, and then Primo tagged back in. He hit a leg drop which got him a two count before making the quick tag out, and then back in shortly thereafter.
Dallas reversed a double team attempt and took Epico out with a dropkick. He crawled through Primo's legs and got the hot tag. McGuillicutty came in firing with right hands, a strong clothesline, and a vicious snap Saito suplex. He followed up with a big running elbow strike to a seated Primo and went for the cover. Epico broke up the near fall and then fended off Dallas to the outside, before being clotheslined to the outside himself by McGuillicutty. Primo took advantage and hit a quick Backstabber on the distracted McGuillicutty for the win.
Primo and Epico defeated Bo Dallas and Michael McGuillicutty in 11:00.
The announcers made it seem like this wasn't the last time we'd seen the pairing of Dallas and McGuillicutty as the Colons celebrated their way up the ramp... [C]
Zim's Zag: Jeez, who needs a strong babyface turn when you've got the most over, crowd pleasing move in NXT, the side headlock. Seriously, it's worth watching this just to see the crowd reaction to McGuillicutty and the headlock. You could tell the guys in the ring were getting a kick out of it as well. Not great action in this one, but the fans were solidly behind the babyfaces and that's always a positive.
Seth Rollins made his entrance to no music and a solid green video wall which simply said SHIELD in black letters. Big E Langston's music hit and the crowd popped and responded with "five!" chants in a seemingly Pavlovian response...
Zim's Zag: I often wonder how bad it tastes when he walks through the big chalk cloud he throws up. Just saying.
Byron Saxton stood mid ring and announced both men in standard championship fashion. The fans finally booed Rollins after seeming on the fence last week. Not sure if more credit goes to the Shield or to Big E, but it remained that way all match. Jim Ross gave a good buildup to the main event and Regal did his part as well...
4. Seth Rollins vs. Big E Langston for the NXT Championship in a no-DQ match.
Rollins made movement early as Big E stood strong mid ring. After a futile attack, Rollins hit a seemingly effective chop block on the big man and tried to take control, but was quickly overpowered. Big E charged the corner but Rollins evaded, sending Big E shoulder first into the ring post. Rollins tried to capitalized again, but Big E military pressed him over the top rope to the floor with ease. "Five!" Chants filled the arena until Ambrose and Reigns jumped Langston from behind and sent him crashing into the steel steps. The Shield helped Rollins to his feet as the show went to commercial... [C]
Back from break, Rollins was laying in forearms and boots to Big E and then settled into a figure-four necklock. Big E fought to his feet with Rollins still latched on, emphasizing his freakish strength, before dropping down with a big electric chair drop. Langston hit five vicious knee strikes and finished off with his running body attack, running right through Rollins and then through Reigns and Ambrose who had jumped onto the apron. He lowered his straps and looked to deliver his finisher, but the Shield prevented him from hitting it. They laid Langston out in the ring before three virtual NXT nobodies hit the ring and got beat down for their efforts. The next wave of wrestlers, virtually every babyface in the locker room, hit the ringside area and with the huge numbers advantage, dragged Ambrose and Reigns away from ringside and into the back.
Back in the ring, Rollins looked concerned and quickly hit his Skywalker shiranui, but Langston kicked out and the crowd erupted into the "five!" chant. Rollins looked to hit it a second time, but Langston caught him mid-flip in perfect position for his finisher. Rollins flailed and tried to escape, but Langston drove him into the mat with The Big Ending. Langston made the cover and scored the pinfall...
Big E Langston defeated Seth Rollins to win the NXT Championship in 6:00.
Langston looked shocked and overjoyed as the ref handed him his new title. Not exactly in line with his character, but a first championship is understandably emotional. The wrestlers who fended off the Shield came back into the ring to celebrate with the new Champ for a short time. They cleared out as the ref strapped the belt around Langston's waist and he hit the turnbuckles. After a replay of the finish, the show wrapped up with Big E at the top of the ramp with his new championship around his waist. He raised his arms and a fog machine shot up the letter X behind him. Jim Ross questioned what's next for Big E Langston after this historic night...
Zim's Zag: Clearly this was taped before Big E's main roster debut, so questioning what was next seemed a bit off, but it's nothing major. As for the main event, it was action packed and booked very well, with the momentum believably shifting back and forth leading up to the finish. It didn't do anything to show me that Big E has anything more than a few power moves, but he oozes enough badass charisma to overlook that for now. Rollins made movement and took hard bumps for the big man. I really like the little things, like him trying to fight out of the finish rather than just playing dead fish after getting caught. Very entertaining main event.
Overall, a rather middle of the road show headlined by a very exciting title match and title change. Two matches were slightly disappointing and the only thing that made the other match better was the fantastic character portrayals of the Wyatt family. I would consider the only other real highlight the on-camera debut of Adrian Neville, which has me very excited for next week’s episode.
Hit me up on Twitter @zzimm22. I just started using it, so make it more fun!
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