1/23 Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Shawn Michaels starts the NXT Tag Title Tournament, Wyatt Family vs. Tatsu and Watson, Neville and Grey vs. 3MB, NXT Champion Big E Langston in action, and “Ascension” to contention of the returning Connor O’Brien
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired January 23 on Hulu Plus
Taped January 10, 2013 at Full Sail University
The show opened cold as Shawn Michaels was entering the ring. Commentator Tony Dawson kept the introduction short and said that HBK was here to make a “monumental announcement.” Shawn took time to acknowledge all the fans and they started an “H-B-K” chant.
He wasted no time in asking a ring attendant to hand him something and he displayed one of the brand new NXT Tag Team Title belts. Very simplistic design: NXT written vertically with ‘Tag” on one side and ‘Team’ on the other. Shawn announced that tonight would mark the start of the tournament to crown the first tag team champions. He said that the championships are a springboard to bigger and better things, “and if you’re not down with that, we’ve got two words for ya…” he concluded… The opening theme then played…
Bray Wyatt’s music hit and he led his Family into the arena. Rowan set the rocker on the ramp so their patriarch could watch on. Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson came out next to get the tag team tournament started.
1. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erik Rowan) vs. Percy Watson and Yoshi Tatsu in a Tag Team Title Tournament match. Watson and Tatsu had control early which exposed a very awkward style of selling from Rowan. Rowan worked back into the corner of the Family and they made frequent tags, working over Yoshi Tatsu and taking firm control. Watson finally got the hot tag and hit a furry of offense, finishing with a big spinebuster, however Rowan broke up the count. Tatsu took himself and Rowan over the top rope with a clothesline, allowing Harper to come out of nowhere with a discus lariat on Watson for the victory.
The Wyatt Family defeated Percy Watson and Yoshi Tatsu in 5:00 to advance in the Tag Team Title Tournament.
The instant the bell rang to end the match, the eyes of Harper and Rowan were glued on Wyatt. They showed great pride in the sickening look of satisfaction Wyatt gave them as they smiled twisted smiles around the arena from the ramp…
Zim’s Zag: Not a very good match at all. The good part continued to be the outstanding characters in the Wyatt Family. Regal did a good job on commentary of getting across that regardless of how bizarre the Family may seem, they understand each other and that’s what makes them such a dangerous unit.
Backstage Dusty Rhodes offered Alex Riley and Derek Bateman a shot against Kruger and Ohno in the Tag Team Title Tournament next week, which the happily accepted. Corey Graves interrupted and complained that he got screwed out of the NXT Championship and never got a rematch, now he isn’t in the Tag Tournament. “If you’re feeling froggy… Jump, circus boy.” Riley said. Bateman sang the circus theme over his shoulder. Okay? They left and things got back on track.
Dusty said that he’s not in the Tag Title Tournament because nobody wanted to team with him, not even his former partner, Jake Carter. In a slight logic leap, Dusty suggested that Graves face Carter tonight. Carter accepted and said to let Jake Carter know that “my road to the NXT Championship begins tonight, with his end.”…
A matchup screen showed a match for later in the night, Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey against 3MB… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Scott Stamford called Neville and Grey the New British Invasion. Let’s hope that doesn’t stick.
Alicia Fox made her entrance as Tony Dawson called her “foxy and delicious.” Sasha Banks made her entrance next for a one on one contest.
Zim’s Zag: Fun fact: Sasha Banks previously worked as Mercedes KV on the indies and is currently one of the 300 names in the Online Gutcheck Challenge vote. Stay hot TNA.
2. Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks. Regal noted that Banks is in fact related to Snoop Dogg. “Me and Snoop are buddies, you know, yes we are.” Funny. Sasha hit a great looking hurricanrana and dropkick before Fox took momentum. Sasha came back with a monkey flip and followed up with a big lucha-style top rope armdrag. A short time later, Banks countered a bodyslam into a small package and got the clean pin…
Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox in 2:30.
Zim’s Zag: That match was more akin to a WWE Divas style match in the pacing and time it got. Banks looked impressive in the offence she landed though. Along with Paige, she could help provide a solid foundation of next generation female wrestlers, er, “Divas.”
A Paige vignette aired. She said she’s been training to be a champion since she was 13. Not to be a Diva, but to be a fighter. She said that everyone wants to know about Paige, “ But the less you know about me… The better” She closed. Great video package…
Backstage, new NXT correspondent Rene Young introduced herself and then introduced Aksana. She asked for comments about Aksana’s match against Paige next week. Aksana said that Paige just stole her look and made it trashier. She doesn’t get what all the fuss was about with Paige in 2012. But she promised that next week, “Everybody going found out, I’m in, and Paige is out.”…
Zim’s Zag: I like that this whole segment was dedicated to getting several of the female talents over. I’m not a fan of Aksana though, I think there are many better options out there that work better, look better, and speak better. Especially considering some of the rising young female talents coming through the system, I just don’t think Aksana can hang.
A matchup screen hyped the main event of Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey against 3MB… The Ascension’s music played and Connor O’Brien was somewhere that looked like a spaceship. He looked into the camera with glowing blue eyes and claimed “I am the true ascension, and I will rise.” The camera slowly zoomed out and the Ascension theme altered into a new song that sounded very similar to Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart by STP…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Glad they’re keeping O’Brien in this role. He works well with it and with such an elaborate entrance and character, it would’ve been a shame had the act simply disappeared.
Jake Carter made his return from injury as Tony Dawson called him the “Son of a Mastadon” in reference to his father, Vader. Corey Graves came out to new theme music, similar to CM Punk’s Killswitch Engage theme.
3. Jake Carter vs. Corey Graves. Regal tried to make up a reason that the two were no longer a team. He said that it was filth and debauchery “like something out of Behind the Music.” He said the only tidbit he can get away with revealing is that these two are no longer welcome in any theme park in America. Funny. Carter had the strength advantage but the veteran Graves took control. Carter got in a reverse atomic drop and clothesline on offence after that, but Graves worked over his legs, locked in the 13th Step and got the submission victory.
Corey Graves defeated Jake Carter in 2:30
Zim’s Zag: Graves is small, but he’s definitely TV worthy in the ring. Carter still appears green. Graves is positioned as a serious player on NXT, so the squash win certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. I cracked up when Dawson mistakenly referred to Graves’ finisher as the 12th step and Regal rebutted “The 13th Step is his hold; the 12th step is my life story.”
Corey Graves took a mic and complained again about how he’s gotten screwed out of the NXT Championship as well as the Tag Team Championships. “As the Savior of Misbehavior, if I can’t be in this Tournament, I’m declaring anarchy on NXT.” He closed by promising Alex Riley that next time he sees him, he’s going to make Riley “Stay down”. He showed his tattooed knuckles and it cut to break…[C]
Backstage, Bo Dallas approached Michael McGuillicutty and thanked him for the help the last few weeks, but asked why. McGuillicutty said that with a new year, comes a new attitude. “Besides, what I was doing before, wasn’t working for me. Trust me, I needed a change.” Dallas mentioned that they’ve had some issues in matches but McGuillicutty told him that’s the past and they have to focus on their Tournament match against Primo and Epico next week. They shook hands and agreed they were on the same page…
Zim’s Zag: Either McGuillicutty is really bad at giving convincing facials or they want us thinking that there’s a chance McGuillicutty is going to go heel again soon. The taping schedule makes consistency tough, this segment would’ve been better if it aired last week before their first encounter with Primo and Epico as a team. Aside from the weak explanation for the turn, I like the potential in the duo as a newer version of the WWE developmental perennial favorite “Fortunate Sons” team gimmick.
3MB members Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre made their entrance with just less than 20 minutes left in the show. They were followed by Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey. Neville looked slightly leaner than he has, appearing to have lost some of the muscle mass he packed on toward the end of his indie run.
4. 3MB (Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre) vs. Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey in a Tag Team Title Tournament match. McIntyre looked to overpower Neville but Neville out maneuvered him at every turn until McIntyre tagged Slater into the match. Neville quickly reversed and made the tag to Oliver Grey. Grey worked the left arm with a European-style offense. He got both members of 3MB on the outside and Neville showed some of his indie instinct with a dive over the top that looked a bit out of control for WWE’s style…[C]
Grey was in control until McIntyre hit a stiff kick to the ribs and tagged in Slater. The crowd responded with a chant of “We want Frostys!” McIntyre got back into the match and got a two count on a vertical suplex. The heels kept Grey isolated and continued to beat him down. Grey finally crawled through McIntyre’s legs and tagged his partner. Neville flipped over McIntyre and delivered some back elbows. He did the same up-and-over with handsprings we saw last week, but McIntyre had it scouted and knocked Neville out of the ring. Neville came back with a high kick from the apron, fended off Slater, and got to the top turnbuckle. He hit McIntyre with the corkscrew Shooting Star Press and picked up the win for his team.
Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey defeated 3MB in 4:00 to advance in the Tag Team Title Tournament.
Post match, the winners celebrated and the announcers threw to a slow motion replay of the finish… [C]
Zim’s Zag: British Airways is the most dazzling move in pro wrestling. He is so smooth, so accurate, and so in control throughout the whole move. As for the match, it was decent despite being short. There’s almost 10 minutes left in the show, so I was hoping this match would get more time. Grey looked capable and Neville got to shine and show a little more than we saw last week.
Axl Keegan was already in the ring awaiting his opponent. Big E Langston’s music hit and the champ made his way onto the stage. He now gets the steam pyro in pillars next to him as well as the X behind him. The fans were still into the “five” gimmick despite Big E having debuted as a heel on the main roster.
5. NXT Champion Big E Langston vs. Axl Keegan in a non title match. Keegan had a clear height advantage, but couldn’t knock Langston off his feet. Big E decimated Keegan with his train attack. Then he lowered the straps, hoisted Keegan over his shoulder, and finished him off with the Big Ending.
Big E Langston defeated Axl Keegan in 1:30.
The fans chanted “One more time” as Big E paced back and forth like an animal before lifting Keegan up over his shoulder again. Just then, Connor O’Brien’s new music played and he appeared on the big screen. He said it only takes a three count to take Big E’s most prized possession and he hopes that Big E is present in two weeks, “for the awakening.” He said that then, he will show what he thinks of the five-count and laughed maniacally as it faded away.
Still in the ring, Big E seemed unfazed and dropped Keegan with the Big Ending. He self counted his five-count and then did it all one more time, much to the delight of the crowd. He made his way back up the ramp and celebrated with his steam pyro as the show ended.
Zim’s Zag: This main event fell exactly in line with the rest of the show, which I will describe in the next paragraph. The usual stuff from Langston, which still seems to work with the live audience. I like Connor O’Brien and hope he isn’t just fed to Langston, as I think his character has potential.
Overall, I’m really torn on this show because it featured the exact same theme throughout. The negative in my mind, is that even though there were five matches, none of them featured particularly good in-ring work. It was a lot of the stuff we’ve seen from a lot of the people we’ve been seeing, without very much growth or change at all.
What I really liked about this show however, is that they tried to introduce a new character, introduce a new storyline, or get someone over in every segment. The Tag Team Title Tournament sets up some great matches and is creating stories within the teams chasing the gold. I like that they took an entire segment and spotlighted four divas and tried to get some stories going there. Big E works well as the dominant champion, but he is so limited I wonder at what point he reaches his ceiling with that title. I can’t recommend this show for great in-ring action, but it did a very successful job of laying the foundation and framework for the storylines soon-to-come.
Thanks for reading along! Throw any comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @zzimm22.
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