Zim’s WWE NXT TV Review: Tag Title Tournament continues, Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty vs. Primo and Epico, Kruger and Ohno vs. Riley and Bateman, the reemergence of Mason Ryan, and a Sakamoto sighting
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired January 30 on Hulu Plus
Taped January 10 at Full Sail University
The show opened with a video recap of Shawn Michaels announcing the start of the NXT Tag Team Title Tournament last week.... The opening theme played and Tony Dawson introduces the show alongside William Regal...
Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman made their entrance together. They were followed by the team of Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger. A video recap showed the events of two weeks prior where Ohno hit the O.B.E. on Trent Barreta outside the ring, enabling Kruger to pick up the singles victory, only to have the decision reversed.
1. Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman vs. Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger in a Tag Team Title Tournament match. Bateman and Kruger squared off with Bateman getting the upper hand. Bateman made the tag to Riley, but Krueger fled back to his corner and made a tag as well. Riley kept the babyfaces in control working the left arm before hitting a nice dropkick. He went back to the arm and tagged in Bateman. Bateman hit a clothesline on Ohno and got a two count. He threw Ohno up and over the top rope and then knocked Kruger off the apron. The babyfaces stood tall in the ring as the show went to commercial... [C]
Back from break, Kruger was working away at Bateman in the corner. Bateman switch things around and hit machine-gun chops to the chest. He whipped Kruger across the ring, but missed a big knee strike allowing the heels to target the legs. Kruger dragged the injured Bateman back to his corner and made the tag. Kassius Ohno went to work with vicious offense on the injured knee before tagging Kruger back in. A short time later, Kruger tagged the back of Ohno, who was turned around on the apron completely focused on William Regal. Ohno continued to work the legs by twisting them and contorting them before getting Kruger back in again.
"Why aren't you looking at me!?" Ohno yelled at William Regal from the apron. Kruger hit a shinbreaker and tagged Kassius back in. He worked a spinning toe hold until Bateman turned it into an inside cradle for a near fall. Bateman finally got to his corner and made the hot tag to Riley. He hit a big spinebuster and followed up with a running elbow strike in the corner. He yelled "A-Bomb!" before leaping from the second turnbuckle and driving Ohno down with a modified DDT. Riley made the cover but Kruger broke it up. Bateman and Kruger took each other to the outside and Kassius got a near fall on a roll up. Riley had Ohno up in a fireman's carry, but he escaped and struck with a big boot. Kassius sank in a hammerlock Cravate and forced Bateman to tap.
Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger defeated Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman in 11:00 to advance in the Tag Team Title Tournament.
Zim’s Zag: Very good match. The heels looked dominant and smart by working the style they did, but they kept the action going to prevent major lulls. I love the vocal and physical aggression showed by Ohno when he’s on offense, it really stood out in this match. Riley looked good in the time he had to shine before submitting to a brutal looking submission hold, no shame.
A replay showed the finish while the announcers put Kruger and Ohno over as the odds-on favorites to win the tournament. When the replay ended, Cory Graves jumped in the ring and locked the 13th Step onto Riley. It took two referees before Graves finally broke the hold and looked down at Riley maniacal eyes...
A video played from earlier, when Tony Dawson interviewed NXT Champion Big E Langston. Dawson asked what the Champion thought of the pending return of Conor O'Brian. Langston said he can't wait for the "awakening" and is looking forward to hearing what O’Brian has to say about the five count. He said that if Conor keeps meddling, the awaking will be for nothing because he's going to put O'Brien right back to sleep, permanently... [C]
Unfamiliar far-east music began playing and Sakamoto made his way to the ring. He was followed by Mason Ryan; now sporting a ponytail, bigger muscles, and an excessive amount of baby oil.
2. Sakamoto vs. Mason Ryan. Sakamoto tried to get himself psyched up but he was quickly overpowered and cornered by Ryan. Ryan bieled Sakamoto across the ring and then charged at him in the corner. Sakamoto got a back elbow up and followed with two boots to the face. He dove at Ryan, who caught him with ease. Ryan dropped him down across the knee with the backbreaker and then threw him overhead with a big fallaway slam. Ryan hit a short arm clothesline and settled briefly into a nerve hold. Sakamoto got to his feet and struck with a few kicks to the leg. He hit the ropes, but ran right into a big boot. Ryan lifted him up and slammed him down with a sloppy looking Jackhammer Slam for the win...
Mason Ryan defeated Sakamoto in 2:30.
Zim’s Zag: This was short, but Ryan looked to be slightly improved in the ring. The pace was up a bit and his moves looked impactful. The long hair and bigger oilier muscles really don’t help though, just awful looking. Not to mention he appears to be the epitome of a “walking red-flag”.
Backstage, Tony Dawson asked Xavier Woods about his match with El Locale next week. Woods blew off the question, and instead directed attention to his Discman. He then pulled out a beeper, and Dawson asked him if he was serious. "Cell phone? Come on man, it's cheaper to beeper." Xavier replied. He spoke briefly about his match next week, saying that when El Locale hears the beep, he's into deep. He asked Dawson if he had a quarter for a payphone before leaving... [C]
Zim’s Zag: I was born in 1992 and get what he’s going for but this character needs to be tweaked. It might be his real life personality turned up to ten, but it doesn’t make for a compelling wrestling character. Doesn’t even make for good backstage comedy fodder.
Aksana made her entrance. On commentary, William Regal joked that he had ladies waiting for him and Tony after the show tonight. "Yours holds more water than the Hoover Dam. Mine gets her knickers on prescription." He cracked. Paige's music played and she walked to the ring with a big ovation.
3. Aksana vs. Paige. Aksana showed some surprising power in the opening by lifting Paige and setting her on the top rope before shoving her to the floor. Back in the ring, Aksana stayed on the offensive with a catapult into the ropes dropped into a backbreaker. She seductively crawled closer and settled into a bow and arrow. Paige sold the hold brilliantly and made it look painful as opposed to restful. Aksana brought Paige to her feet, but Paige began firing away with right hands. As Aksana tried to climb the turnbuckle, Paige pulled her to the mat with a slam. She locked in a kneeling cloverleaf and Aksana tapped out.
Aksana defeated Paige in 3:30.
Paige was celebrating her victory and accidentally backed into ring announcer Summer Rae. She smiled and waved it off, but as soon as Paige turned around Rae clubbed her from behind. Rae walked out of the arena by the side of the stage as the commentators sold shock and surprise...
Backstage, Renè Young reacted to what happened in the ring before introducing Sasha Banks. Banks was gushing over her victory last week over former Divas Champion Alicia Fox. Someone walked over to hand her a card and she read it aloud, "roses are red, violets are blue, I lay awake at night, thinking of you. -Your Secret Admirer". She quickly walked away, speechless... [C]
Zim’s Zag: Better than expected work from Aksana, but I still want more time for the female competitors. Not much from Paige in this one but she makes a great babyface in peril and her new submission is impressive looking. I wasn't aware that Summer Rae was a wrestler, but if she is I'm all for setting up this program, despite being a petty start.
A video package recapped events from Royal Rumble Axxess, including the NXT Tournament which was won by Bo Dallas... Bo Dallas and Michael McGuillicutty made their entrance together, followed by Primo, Epico, and Rosa Mendes. Epico's cornrows were out, which resembled a melted Carlito.
Zim’s Zag: Here's hoping the Observer's report of the pending name change from McGuillicutty to Hennig is true and it occurs promptly.
4. Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty vs. Primo and Epico (w/ Rosa Mendes) in a Tag Team Title Tournament match. Dallas hit a hip toss and Primo rolled out of the ring in frustration. When he got back in, he charged Dallas back into the Colon's corner. He tagged in Epico who hit a back elbow for a one count before tagging his cousin back in. Primo missed a jumping elbow and Dallas fought back with right hands and back body drop. He followed up with an atomic drop and continued with a running forearm smash for two.
Dallas tagged in McGillicutty and they hit a double back elbow for another two count. McGuillicutty lifted Primo for a back suplex but instead, dropped him down across the knee with a nice backbreaker. Primo hit a shot to the ribs and tagged in Epico. McGuillicutty stayed in control with stiff knife edge chops and then tagged in Dallas for a good looking combination attack. Dallas got a two count and tagged McGillicutty again. A reverse atomic drop from Dallas followed by a dropkick from McGuillicutty got them another near fall. Epico was sent up and over the top rope with a catapult as the show went into its final break... [C]
McGillicutty nailed a big running dropkick on Epico, but got distracted by Primo on the apron and was knocked out of the ring. Epico tossed him back into the ring and got a near fall off a Hilo. Primo tagged back in and kept McGuillicutty isolated. McGillicutty almost made the tag, but Primo hit a drop toehold before tagging in Epico. Epico connected with the back suplex and got a two count. Both men got back to their feet, but cracked heads coming off the ropes and slowly got to their respective corners to tag their partners.
Bo Dallas entered a house on fire, striking away with right hands on Primo. He landed a knee drop, straight out of NWA 1988, for a two count. Dallas hit a springboard bulldog out of the corner but Epico broke up the fall. Dallas took Epico out, allowing Primo to roll Dallas up with a handful of tights. Dallas was able to kick out, but Primo followed up with a spike hammerlock DDT. Primo made the cover and the commentators declared it over, however Dallas got his shoulder up at the last instant. Primo charged at Dallas, but Dallas caught him with Magnum T.A.'s belly to belly powerslam and got the pinfall.
Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty defeated Primo and Epico in 11:00 to advance in the NXT Tag Team Title Tournament.
A graphic showed the semifinal brackets for the tournament. The next round matchups are The Wyatt Family vs. Dallas & McGillicutty and Kruger & Ohno vs. Neville & Grey. Dawson mentioned that the tournament would continue next week and signed off...
Zim’s Zag: Another very good tag team match. I like the fire showed by Dallas and McGillicutty and Primo and Epico are always solid workers. There were some moves worked into the match by both sides that aren’t seen often in WWE that really impressed. Hard to judge this match compared to the first because they were worked very differently, but they were both quality matches.
Overall, a good show. The book end tag matches both went over ten minutes and were uniquely entertaining. The other features weren’t particularly great, but there were bright spots and silver linings in almost every segment. The middle of the show felt less significant compared to the great action at the beginning and end, but the middle did feature some character and storyline development and progression.
Thanks for reading along. Throw any comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @zzimm22.
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