3/21 Gutteridge's NXT Review: Adrian Neville vs. Luke Harper, Justin Gabriel vs. Leo Kruger, Paige vs. Bayley, and an in-ring segment featuring William Regal and Kassius Ohno
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT on Sky Sports 3
Taped on 2/21 in Winter Park, Florida
[Q1] Before titles, a video package aired, showing footage of the Wyatt Family’s attack on Oliver Grey two weeks ago, Adrian Neville’s subsequent challenge to the Family, and then hyping tonight’s match between Neville and Luke Harper. . .
After titles, Justin Gabriel came out with a serious look on his face, which was noted by the commentators William Regal and Tony Dawson. He is facing Leo Kruger again. . .
1. Justin Gabriel vs. Leo Kruger. After both men traded headlocks, Kruger took control with a throat thrust before a tour promo aired. . .
Kruger was working a wrist lock when we return, and when Gabriel escaped, he ran into Kruger and the two clashed heads. When they got back up, they traded punches, followed by chops, until Kruger took Gabriel down with a spinebuster. Gabriel kicked out at two, and Kruger went for the mounted wristlock submission move again. Gabriel turned it into a back body drop, and then levelled Kruger with a back kick from the second turnbuckle for two. He threw another barrage of kicks, and hit a sit-out spinebuster for another two count.
Gabriel planted Kruger with an STO, and went top rope for the 450 splash. Kruger rolled to the apron, and when Gabriel came to get him, he dropped his arm across the top rope. He applied the mounted wristlock, but Gabriel eventually got to the ropes. Kruger stayed on Gabriel, and drove Justin’s shoulder into his knee. Kruger reapplied the mounted wristlock, and Gabriel tapped. . .
Leo Kruger defeated Justin Gabriel in 8.55
Kruger celebrated as Regal said WWE officials will be loving the way Kruger won. . .
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Audrey Marie. Renee recapped Audrey’s history with Sasha Banks, and she asked why Audrey had been absent since losing to Banks in a tag match. Audrey said it’s quietest just before the storm, and Sasha knows she’s coming, but there is nothing she can do about it. . . [C]
Gutt Reaction: Didn’t really answer the question, did she? The match wasn’t fantastic or anything, but it was a solid opener. Gabriel has seemingly moved away from a lot of the flashy moves he showed early on, and it’s made him a more well rounded wrestler, as he isn’t going 100 miles an hour all the time. Kruger’s few, but vicious, attacks on Gabriel’s arm are much more effective than him working arm holds all match like Del Rio tended to as a heel.
[Q2] A highlight package of HHH and Lesnar’s closing segment of Raw aired. . .
Back on NXT, William Regal was stood in the ring. Regal said last week, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, and he hadn’t remained professional, which he always aims to do. He invited Kassius Ohno out so he could apologise.
Ohno came out and got in the ring. Regal apologised, and said he didn’t want Ohno to wind up like him, lying awake at night thinking of all the liberties he has taken with people over the years. Ohno moved away from the outstretched hand of Regal, and said he idolised Regal for many years. He told a story of him and CM Punk driving for miles to meet Regal and learn from him. Ohno mentioned doing the camps in England, and how Regal had always looked out for him. And now thanks to Regal showing his tapes to the right people, he’s a WWE superstar.
Regal said Ohno had put his time in, and he hopes he now enjoys some success. Ohno said he didn’t want Regal’s advice anymore. He said Regal used to be a villain, but now he kicks back and laughs with the fans, when they are in fact laughing at him instead, because now he’s just a joke. He said after 30 years, Regal will only be remembered for kissing Vince McMahon’s ass.
Regal punched Ohno, who fell to the mat and rolled out of the ring. Ohno backed up the ramp as Regal again shook his head inside the ring. . .
Another World Tour Report with Renee Young aired. . . [C]
Gutt Reaction: I was hoping we’d get something like this. While not recapping their previous reasons for hostility, this laid out the new parameters for the feud, and I like it a lot, as a student/teacher feud is always provocative. Ohno really convinced me here. He wasn’t trying to be menacing, or scary, he was simply an asshole, successfully getting under Regal’s skin. Hopefully he goes with this simplified character going forward, instead of the ‘I hurt people’ gimmick.
[Q3] Another Raw recap aired, this time focussing on Undertaker and CM Punk. . .
New Diva Bayley stood in the ring. Paige came out to a quieter reaction than usual. . .
2. Paige vs. Bayley. Bayley took early control with a mat slam, and began to work on Paige’s injured arm. Paige escaped a pin attempt, and kicked Bayley in the stomach. Paige threw Bayley to one corner, and then the other. As Bayley tried to kick Paige out of the corner, Paige grabbed the leg, tripped her, and applied a cloverleaf. Bayley tapped immediately. . .
Paige defeated Bayley in 2.19
After the match, Summer Rae tried to attack, but Paige saw her before she could get in the ring. Rae decided not to get in the ring, and left back up the ramp. . .
Gutt Reaction: I guess this was just to show the fans that Paige is back to full in-ring condition. Hopefully they now don’t fly into Paige vs. Rae ASAP, as it would be nice to see a Diva storyline given time to build slowly but surely, and these two seem to have good chemistry.
Adrian Neville made his entrance quickly, and motioned to the Family to come out. All three members came out, and Erick Rowan brought out Bray Wyatt’s rocking chair. . .
3. Adrian Neville vs. Luke Harper. Both men traded control several times in quick succession in the opening moments, until Harper flapjacked Neville onto the ropes, and hit a back suplex slam before we went to commercial. . . [C]
[Q4] Harper stayed on top with a bodyslam shortly after we came back, and applied a headlock while making guttural noises. Harper eventually got up and started dropping elbows, before lifting Neville up into a backbreaker position on his shoulder. Neville slipped out, only to be taken out with a big boot. Harper tried to pin Neville 6 times, only for Neville to kick out at two each time.
Neville crawled to the apron, and started throwing forearms when Harper came to get him. He crossed the ring to the other apron, and landed a kick on Harper, before hitting a missile dropkick for a two count. As Rowan started to approach the ring - under Wyatt’s orders - Neville took him out with a dive over the ropes. As Harper slid to the outside, Neville quickly got to the apron and hit an Asia moonsault.
Both men returned to the ring, and Neville hit a tilt-a-whirl DDT. He hesitated over the pin, and decided to go top rope instead. Wyatt distracted the ref, and Rowan managed to distract Neville long enough for Harper to recover, drag Neville off the top rope, and hit a big clothesline for the 1-2-3. . .
Luke Harper defeated Adrian Neville in 7.31
The Family climbed inside the ring, and Rowan picked Neville up. As he and Harper held him, Oliver Grey, dressed in a suit, ran into the ring. The Family swarmed him, until Bo Dallas ran out to even up the numbers. All six men brawled until the faces cleared the ring. The Family left up the ramp as NXT came to an end. . .
Gutt Reaction: Another good match that advanced a storyline. That’s more like it NXT! Considering their massive size and style difference, Harper and Neville work together uncannily well. I predicted a 6 man match at some point in the future, and this is a nice, natural way to get there. Well done all around.
This was the spike in quality I was hoping for. Two good TV matches bookended maybe the best in-ring promo exchange on NXT so far. It’s certainly picked my interest levels back up after a good three or four week slump. Hopefully, this new found quality can wash over into the rapidly declining NXT title scene.
Thanks for reading. If you had any comments or thoughts on the show or this review, feel free to add me on Twitter via @Dazatheg
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