Zim’s 3/21 WWE NXT Review: Stellar show features Adrian Neville vs. Luke Harper, Leo Kruger vs. Justin Gabriel, Paige vs. Bayley, and a must-see segment from Kassius Ohno and William Regal
By Zack Zimmerman
NXT on Hulu Plus
Taped February 21 at Full Sail University
A video aired recapping the Wyatt Family and Neville/Grey feud. It was announced that Adrian Neville would take on Luke Harper in the main event… The opening video played… Justin Gabriel made his entrance more slowly and focused than usual. He was followed by Leo Kruger.
1. Justin Gabriel vs. Leo Kruger. Regal spoke about how the two men grew up and trained together. He didn’t mention that they both trained with Gabriel’s father however. Both men traded headlocks in the opening minutes. Gabriel whipped Kruger across the ring by his hair until Kruger hit a throat thrust and took control…[C]
Back from break, Kruger had Gabriel grounded with a hammerlock and continued working the arm. They hit heads coming off the ropes and worked back to their feet trading strikes. Kruger hit a double-A spinebuster for a near-fall. He signaled that it was over and went for his submission, but Gabriel reversed. He hit a big back kick off the middle turnbuckle for a near-fall of his own. Gabriel appeared blown up but hit several kicks finished with a spinning reverse roundhouse. He hit a blue-thunder bomb and got another good near-fall.
Gabriel went up for the 450, but Kruger rolled across the ring. Kruger pulled Gabriel’s arm down across the top rope and hit the cricket bowler lariat to the back of the head. Kruger hooked in his mounted top wristlock, but Gabriel managed to make it to the ropes; great false finish sequence. Kruger got Gabriel back to his feet and hit a legsweep armbreaker before locking in his finishing hold for the win.
Leo Kruger defeated Justin Gabriel in 10:00.
The announcers put Kruger over as he celebrated his victory… Backstage, Renee Young introduced Audrey Marie and ran down her recent history with Sasha going back to the ‘Secret Admirer’ letters. Audrey said she’s been quiet lately because it’s always calmest right before the storm. She said Sasha knows she’s coming, and there’s nothing Sasha can do about it… Scott Stamford hyped the main event of Neville vs. Harper…[C]
Zim’s Zag: This was the best NXT match in recent memory by leaps and bounds. They kept a great pace, had a story, and told a story. Both guys worked in spots with believable false finishes that kept it exciting. Gabriel has shown that he’s a good hand, but I’m completely sold on Leo Kruger now. He just needs a name for his submission because I want to type London Dungeon every time I see it.
When the show came back, William Regal stood mid-ring with a microphone. He said that last week, he let his emotions get the better of him. He said that he’s always tried to be a professional and he owed someone an apology. He asked Kassius Ohno to come out, and Ohno obliged. Regal said that they’ve known each other a long time and he doesn’t want Ohno to lie awake at night like Regal does because of all the liberties he’s taken with people. Regal offered a humble apology and extended his hand.
Ohno didn’t shake, but spoke instead. He said that he’s idolized Regal since Regal stepped onto US soil. He spoke about how vicious and ruthless Regal was in the ring. Ohno said that 10 years ago, he and CM Punk traveled halfway across the country just to learn from Regal for a week. Ohno said that he’s followed in Regal’s steps: done the camps in England, the tournaments across Europe, and stayed in dojos in Japan. Ohno said that Regal made sure the right people saw his footage, and now he’s in NXT.
Regal said that he brought Kassius here because he sees incredible things for his career, that he’s put his time in and deserves it. Ohno agreed, but then took the turn. “You’re in the twilight of your career; I’m on the rise… I don’t need your advice! I DON’T WANT YOUR CAREER!” he yelled. He called Regal the once-proud villain, who now laughs with the crowd, while the crowd laughs at him. He said that Regal has no legacy; a 30 year career and the only thing that people will remember is “that time you got on your knees and put your lips to Vince McMahon’s a..” Just then, Regal punched Ohno in the face and dropped him. Ohno rolled to ringside and sold shock while Regal stayed in the ring looking angry and conflicted…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Just fantastic. This promo has me looking more forward to the program between these two than any story on NXT has. The two have the history to tell this story and after a slow build, this was a stellar launching point.
New NXT Diva Bayley (f/k/a Davina Rose) stood in the ring. Paige made her entrance to the usual big reaction.
2. Bayley vs. Paige. Paige showed good athleticism when she reversed an armbar, but Bayley took over quickly and worked Paige’s bad shoulder. Bayley rolled Paige up, but Paige kicked out and hit a kick great looking kick to the gut. She whipped Bayley into the corner and stomped away. Bayley went for a boot out of the corner, but Paige reversed with a unique takedown. Paige locked in a kneeling cloverleaf and got the submission victory.
Paige beat Bayley in 2:30.
Summer Rae ran to the ring and jumped up on the apron, but quickly backed off when Paige saw her. Paige invited her into the ring, but Summer headed back up the ramp… Scott Stamford hyped the main event up next… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Short match that didn’t serve as much more than an enhancement match for Paige. She continues to impress and is the most over person with the live crowd in the NXT arena every week.
Scott Stamford hyped a “Road to Wrestlemania NXT Special” for next week’s show… Adrian Neville made his entrance solo. The Wyatt Family came out next and stood at the top of the ramp until Wyatt sent Harper to the ring.
3. Adrian Neville vs. Luke Harper (w/ Bray Wyatt and Eric Rowan). Neville charged and hit a stiff dropkick right as the bell rang. He fired away with shots, but Harper dropped him with a single punch. Harper went for a back suplex, but Neville flipped and landed on his feet. He wore Harper down with kicks and elbow strikes. Harper lifted Neville and dropped him across the top tope and then hit a back suplex side slam and made the cover. Neville kicked out and Harper looked around wildly as the show went to its final break…[C]
Harper stayed in control and dropped Neville with a headbutt. Harper dropped the elbow and then bizarrely rubbed his head against Neville. He settled into a chinlock and his typical look changed to angry and maniacal. Neville tried to fight back, but Harper hit a throat thrust and a kick to the face. He made the cover and got two, then hoisted Neville onto his shoulder with a Jesse Ventura backbreaker hold, which Regal attributed to Bruno Sammartino. Neville elbowed his way out, but Harper took his head off with a big boot. Harper made six pin attempts, all two counts.
Neville fought back with a shoulder thrust and elbows, then hit the rope-hang kick on Harper. Neville went up and hit a missile dropkick for a two count. On the outside, Rowan walked closer to the ring and Neville took him out with a big flip over the top. Harper charged, but Neville dropped the top rope. Neville followed up with a top rope springboard moonsault to the outside. He got herper back in the ring and hit a tilt-a-whirl DDT, but didn’t make the cover. He ascended the top rope, but Wyatt distracted the referee while Rowan distracted Neville, allowing Harper to pull him off the turnbuckle. Harper followed up with a discus clothesline and got the pinfall.
Luke Harper defeated Adrian Neville in 8:00.
After the bell, the rest of the Wyatt Family entered the ring and stood over Neville. Rowan and Harper lifted Neville to his feet,but Oliver Grey entered the ring and went after Wyatt. The numbers advantage quickly came into play, until Bo Dallas ran in and evened the odds. The babyfaces eventually cleared the Family from the ring and the six men faced off from the ring and ramp as the show closed.
Zim’s Zag: Good match with the right finish. There were some exciting high spots and Neville is adapring to this style well. Harper’s offense looks vicious. His facials manage to make a chinlock entertaining, that’s saying something. I don’t like that Neville seemed to get the better of both Family members until Wyatt interjected himself, because I think the Family should look like monsters. I do like this feud though, and appreciate that all of the heat is still on the Family at this point. The post-match stuff was alright, but I would’ve been much higher on it if Dallas had lost last week so the Family had all momentum and the closing angle could’ve been used as a symbolic visual momentum shift.
Overall, this may have been the best episode of NXT to date. There wasn’t a thing to complain about here. The opening match was (by NXT standards) fantastic, the Regal/Ohno exchange was stellar, Paige looked good and her angle continued, and the main event featured great action with an angle-progressing finish. I was thoroughly entertained for 42 minutes and am very much looking forward to the continuation of the all the stories featured. A highly, highly recommended show to anyone who wants to see the best of what WWE’s developmental system has to offer.
Throw any comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @zzimm22; always happy to discuss. Thanks for reading!
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