1/24 Gutteridge's WWE NXT Review: Tournament to crown first NXT Tag Team Champions begins, Big E Langston vs. Axl Keegan, Jake Carter vs. Corey Graves, Shawn Michaels appears
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT on Sky Sports 3
Taped on 1/10 in Winter Park, Florida
[Q1] Before titles, Shawn Michaels was shown already in the ring, posing for the crowd. A loud HBK chant started, and Shawn eventually made them quiet down. Michaels said Dusty Rhodes wasn’t here tonight, so he was asked to announce the start of a tournament to crown the first NXT Tag Team Champions.
Someone tried to pass Michaels both titles, but then he asked how he was meant to hold two titles and a mic. He grabbed one title and said the winners of the tournament should go on to be big stars. "As someone who was once in a tag team, I know these titles can be a launch pad to bigger things." He signed off with the "and if your not down with that..." line before leaving the ring as the titles rolled...
Gutt Check: Yeah he didn’t do much, but I wasn’t expecting HBK to be on the TV show at all, so this was a good opening. My thoughts on the need for tag champs on a one hour show however are not so positive, as I feel it will be very hard to juggle two separate championship divisions on such a short show (with constantly changing rosters). Long term planning is going to be a nightmare, but I may be wrong.
After titles, Tony Dawson welcomed us to the show before Bray Wyatt walked out onto stage, without a mic. Eric Rowan and Luke Harper walked out behind him with the rocking chair, and the two members of the Wyatt Family made their way to the ring. Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson are their opponents, and they both ran past Wyatt without looking at him...
1. Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson vs. Luke Harper and Eric Rowan in a NXT Tag Team Title Tournament match. After Tatsu and Watson got the better of Rowan with their speed for the opening minutes, Rowan caught Tatsu during a crossbody and gave him a rib breaker. This allowed the Wyatt Family to isolate Tatsu, keeping him grounded with strikes and rest holds. Harper tried for a suplex when Tatsu was on the apron, but Yoshi escaped and tagged Watson.
Watson reeled off a couple of dropkicks, took Rowan off the apron, and looked to put Harper away with a spinebuster. Rowan broke up the pin, and was subsequently taken to the outside by Tatsu. As both legal men got to their feet, Harper hit Watson with a discus clothesline to get the win...
Luke Harper and Eric Rowan defeated Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson in 4:56 to advance in the NXT Tag Team Title Tournament.
Wyatt smiled from his rocking chair, and was eventually joined by his team on the ramp...
Dusty Rhodes was shown backstage talking to Derrick Bateman and Alex Riley. He said he is full of great ideas, and booked Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger vs. Bateman and Riley in the Tag Tournament for next week. They liked the idea, but were interrupted by Corey Graves.
Graves complained that he never had a fair match for the NXT Title, and he wasn’t even in the Tag Tournament. Riley got in his face and said "If you’re feeling froggy, then jump, circus boy". Err, OK. Bateman and Riley left, and Dusty said the reason he wasn’t in the Tag Tournament is because nobody wanted to team with him, not even his previous tag partner Jake Carter. Dusty said if Graves wants to prove himself, he’ll go one on one with Carter tonight. Graves told Rhodes to find Carter, and tell him that tonight is the start of his (Graves) road to the NXT Title... [C]
Gutt Check: I don’t think Rowan and Harper have much in the way of chemistry as a team. They both look like singles guys, and seem awkward in double team moves. They are also very much in the shadow of their ‘mentor’, as they don’t have any character outside of ‘homeless guys’. And I guess Dusty Rhodes is here tonight, despite what HBK said. Graves being spotlighted as a singles guy during a tag team tournament tells me he’s possibly being positioned to take Big E’s NXT title so Big E can go on the road full time.
[Q2] Alicia Fox made her entrance, and got described as ‘foxy’ and ‘diva-licious’. Ugh. Sasha Banks was out second, and Dawson said her rise has been ‘meteoric’. I think Tony needs to change his parameters for what constitutes a ‘meteoric’ rise...
2. Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks. Fox got the first close count from a Northern Lights suplex. She looked to wear Banks down with a headlock, but Banks escaped with a monkey flip and picked up the pace. Following a springboard arm drag, she went for a roll up, but Fox planted her with a wheelbarrow slam. Fox picked her up for a body slam, but Banks managed to turn it into a pin attempt, and got the 1-2-3...
Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox in 3:23.
Regal complimented Banks’ ‘perfect’ counter to get the win, before we quickly cut to backstage...
New NXT correspondent Renee Young introduced herself, and then brought in Aksana. Renee asked Aksana how she felt about her match with Paige next week. Aksana said she didn’t know why Paige was all the rage in 2012, but in 2013, Paige is out, and she is in...
The Ascension music played, and Conor O’Brian was shown in a Tebow type pose. He stood up and said he was the true ascension, and he will rise... [C]
Gutt Check: Oh I thought we’d seen the last of the Ascension!! The Divas match was very non-descript, but it showed more athleticism than most female matches we get these days.
[Q3] Jake Carter was already in the ring when Corey Graves walked onto the stage...
3. Jake Carter vs. Corey Graves. There seems to be something up with the audio of the arena tonight, as both the crowd and the ring are quiet. The early going was balanced, until Graves slowed the pace with an arm lock. Carter escaped and looked to regain a foothold with a clothesline, but Graves recovered quickly from it and hit Carter with a chop block. He locked in the 13th step, and Carter held on for a while before tapping...
Corey Graves defeated Jake Carter in 3:05.
Graves grabbed a mic and aired his anger at being screwed out of an NXT Title match and the Tag Tournament. He said because of this, he is declaring anarchy on NXT, and promised Alex Riley the next time they meet, Riley will "stay down"...
Gutt Check: I really can’t put my finger on what is stopping getting fully behind Graves push. I think a longer match will help me appreciate his submission style more, as it does with people like Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio, but in these quick matches, his offense boils down to one or two strikes and a lot of holds. Still, the ‘anarchy’ idea has potential, as I don’t know exactly what it entails.
Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre of 3MB made their way out for their Tag Tournament match. Jinder Mahal did not join them before their opponents Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey came out ...
4. Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey vs. Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre in a NXT Tag Team Title Tournament match. The match started to go the way of the British pair before the commercial break, when Grey sent Slater to the outside. Grey missed with a baseball slide, but ducked a punch from McIntyre, forcing him to punch Slater and then get taken out by a diving Neville. [C]
[Q4] McIntyre had got back into the match when we returned, isolating Grey. After Slater tagged in and hit a heel kick, the ref pulled out gloves and looked to be trying to check on Grey. I couldn’t spot any blood, but Grey managed to tag Neville before the ref got to him, as McIntyre tagged in for 3MB. Neville immediately picked up the pace, pulling off a cool double head stand after diving over an onrushing McIntyre. He hit McIntyre with a kick from the apron, and after punching Slater off the side, he hit his corkscrew shooting star press to make his team advance...
Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey defeated Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre in 9:34 to advance in the NXT Tag Team Title Tournament.
They replayed the finish several times in slow motion as the commentators talked in awe of the move. We cut to a Royal Rumble hype video centred on Rock and Punk...
Gutt Check: I can see this tournament coming down to Neville and Grey vs. Kruger and Ohno (I have not read the spoilers from the tapings), based entirely on Neville’s ability. If Grey can come to fold a bit more in the next match, they seem like a logical pair of a ground and pound-er with a high flyer, which is historically a good mix. Neville’s athleticism is amazing, but it sometimes comes off as a little ‘showbiz’. The double head flip was cool to see, but it makes it hard to suspend my disbelief and see that as a logical choice a wrestler would make.
Axl Keegan was already in the ring, eagerly awaiting his pay check when Big E puts him away in 10 seconds. Big E got a good pop for his entrance...
5. Big E Langston vs. Axl Keegan in a non-title match. Axl tried to punch Big E, but Langston shrugged it off and took Keegan out with a running body check. He went for the Big End straight away...
Big E Langston defeated Axl Keegan in 0:54.
The big ‘one more time’ chant started, and Big E smiled before hoisting Keegan up for another Big End. Before he could drop him, the lights dimmed, and Conor O’Brian appeared on the Tron.
O’Brian said it will only take 3 seconds to take Langston’s title. He said in two weeks, he hopes Big E is present for ‘the reawakening’, where he will show Langston what he ‘thinks of a 5 count’. He broke in to an evil laugh, and the lights came back up. Keegan got dropped, and Langston did the 5 count. He repeated the process again before leaving up the ramp and bringing NXT to a close...
Gutt Check: Of all the people, in all the world, to act as Big E’s holding pattern while Graves racks up the wins, why O’Brian? Not only was the main event lousy, we now have to look ahead to what I can only hope is another Big E squash in two weeks.
An entirely skipable NXT this week. I’d say seek out the Neville and Grey vs. 3MB match, but if you saw Neville’s match with Sakamoto last week then don’t bother. At the very least they have set up a good few weeks of TV with the tournament idea. It worked well when they did it for the NXT title, but this may falter if all the teams look and work like thrown together singles guys.
Thanks for reading. If you had any comments or thoughts on the show or this review, add me on Twitter via @Dazatheg
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