4/25 Gutteridge's WWE NXT Review: Clash of the Champions - Wade Barrett vs. Bo Dallas for the IC Title, Antonio Cesaro vs. Adrian Neville for the U.S. Title, Kaitlyn vs. AJ for the Divas Title, and Big E Langston vs. Brad Maddox for the NXT Title
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT on Sky Sports 3
Taped on 3/21 in Winter Park, Florida
[Q1] Before titles, Dusty Rhodes welcomed us to the Clash of the Champions themed night, and said the concept was very close to his heart. He said he had assembled four great matches just for the NXT Universe...
Gutt Reaction: Surely if WWE is a “universe” now, then NXT should be a solar system? Or would it be a galaxy? I want some constellation transparency here, damn it!
Todd Phillips welcomed us to the show, and immediately introduced the US Title match. As Antonio Cesaro made his entrance, a ticker appeared at the bottom of the screen, saying that the match had been taped weeks ago. Good cover for an unfortunate situation with the title change to Kofi.
Antonio grabbed the mic, and said he was the longest reigning champion in WWE. He said the audience should give him a standing ovation every time he appears on NXT. As he called himself the greatest US Champion ever, and claimed that he would be champion for a long time, Adrian Neville music played to cut him off. They did the introductions in the ring...
1. Antonio Cesaro vs. Adrian Neville for the U.S. Title. Antonio kept Neville grounded after nearly getting caught by sneak pins early on. Neville seemed to stem the tide with a dropkick, but when he charged Cesaro in the corner, Cesaro flapjacked him face first into the top turnbuckle.
Following a Don’t Try This at Home video, Cesaro once again had Neville grounded. Neville got up and tried for another pin, but Cesaro kicked out, before proceeding to catch a flying Neville and deliver a backbreaker for a two count. Neville escaped yet another headlock, and managed to send Cesaro to the outside. He hit a springboard moonsault on Cesaro on the outside, before hitting a couple of dropkicks and a standing shooting star press back in the ring for a two count of his own.
Following another pin attempt out of a hurricanrana, Neville went to the corner and delivered a tornado DDT out of a moonsault. Wow! He went top rope again for the corkscrew shooting star press, but Cesaro cut him off with a boot. Cesaro hit a European uppercut, before picking Neville off the top rope straight into the Neutraliser for the pin...
Antonio Cesaro defeated Adrian Neville to retain the U.S. Title in 8:12.
Regal put over both men following the bell... [C]
Gutt Reaction: A good match, even if the finish was never in doubt. Two talented performers won’t always have a good match, but here the two styles meshed well, with Cesaro’s ground and pound making Neville flurries of offense look great. WWE must be hoping someone teaches Neville how to cut a promo, because they can’t seem to find a high flyer who can talk (See: Sin Cara, Evan Bourne, Justin Gabriel etc.).
[Q2] AJ was already in the ring when we returned, as Kaitlyn made her entrance...
2. Kaitlyn vs. AJ for the Divas Title. The two girls shook hands to start, but AJ immediately slapped Kaitlyn. AJ absorbed some early offense and targeted the left arm of Kaitlyn. She tried to put Kaitlyn away with a crossbody, but Kaitlyn rolled through and hit a reverse DDT. AJ kicked out at two, and when Kaitlyn tried to spear her when they stood back up, AJ sidestepped her and sent Kaitlyn to the outside.
Kaitlyn got back in the ring, and AJ jumped on her with a sleeper hold. She released it to hit a shining wizard, but Kaitlyn kicked out at two. AJ lost her temper, and started pounding on Kaitlyn, only for Kaitlyn to throw her off into the ropes and hit a spear on the rebound. This allowed Kaitlyn to get the 1-2-3...
Kaitlyn defeated AJ to retain the Divas Title in 5:16.
Gutt Reaction: The match didn’t fill me with confidence for this feud on the main TV shows. I still maintain it’s the best Divas story to go with in the division right now with the two girl’s history together, but both ladies are still somewhat green. They are far from the worst I have seen, but unless the story is told very well, this may not be the feud to relight the Divas division after all.
[Q3] Big E Langston came out for his title match to a quieter reaction than usual, but the audience picked up again when he started the “five” chant. Brad Maddox came out to no music, and doing his own introduction, where he said he weighed 295 pounds “chiselled”, and then said his name twice ala Ken Kennedy/Anderson...
3. Big E Langston vs. Brad Maddox for the NXT Title. Big E started off with a big back body drop, and didn’t let up from there. He hit the running body check, then laid Maddox out with the Big Ending for the squash win...
Big E Langston defeated Brad Maddox to retain the NXT Title in 1:11.
Big E hit the Big Ending a second time for the five count, as Regal criticized the crowd for wanting more from Big E, saying they were like a ‘crowd at a hanging’. Maddox slowly left the ring, only for Big E to throw him back in and do his routine again...
Todd Phillips introduced a video recap of Wade Barrett’s feud with Bo Dallas. Backstage, Tony Dawson interviewed Dallas, and asked how he felt about his match tonight. Dallas said he was underrated, but so were Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage at some point in their careers, and they both held the Intercontinental title on their way to the top. He concluded by saying tonight will be the start of the “Bo Barrage”... [C]
Gutt Reaction: Hard to criticise a match involving three moves. I’ve been told Brad Maddox is actually fairly good in the ring, but he seems to be being lumped in the same category as Santino was early on in his run – the comedy, no hope heel. But Santino was actually, you know, funny, so I don’t know if Maddox can pull it off as well.
[Q4] Bo Dallas got a small reaction, but the audience popped for Wade’s entrance...
4. Wade Barrett vs. Bo Dallas for the Intercontinental Title. Regal said the Intercontinental title has always been a stepping stone on the path to a world title. I wish that were so these days. Dallas tried for several pins before Wade rolled to the outside and we cut to a promo for next week, hyping Chris Jericho appearing on the show. Good hook for the hardcore fans that I presume make up 90% of the TV audience of this show.
Wade focussed on his striking game when we returned, culminating in kneeing Dallas in the ribs while Dallas was hung across the top turnbuckle. He worked over the midsection of Dallas on the mat to keep up the pressure, leading to a pumphandle slam and a two count. After kicking out of another pin off a vertical suplex, Bo caught a break with a kick out of the corner. He started the hit and run offense with clotheslines and a crossbody, before countering a pumphandle slam into a reverse DDT for a two.
Bo tried for a bulldog off of the ropes, but Barrett threw him off and hit the Winds of Changes. The crowd started chanting “Knock him out Barrett, knock him out” as he wound up for the Bullhammer elbow, only for Bo to side step it and hit the bulldog off the ropes for a close two count. When both men got up, Wade tried for Wasteland, but Dallas escaped by climbing onto the top rope. As Dallas took off, Barrett hit him with the Bullhammer in mid-air, and picked up the win...
Wade Barrett defeated Bo Dallas to retain the Intercontinental Title in 9:40.
Regal said he hoped viewers appreciated the great matches the show featured tonight, before Phillips hyped Jericho’s appearance on the show next week as NXT went off the air...
Gutt Reaction: All the champions retained on the weeks old pre-taped show?!? Get out of town! Admittedly, the bookend matches were entertaining, although this was the weaker of the two. Bo has skills, but he seems to spend most of his matches either selling or hitting a hot streak of moves, which is a style that only works when used in moderation. Maybe more time on the NXT roster, which he seems to be getting after getting pulled from TV pretty quickly, will help address this lack of variety.
A sleepy mid section, coupled with predictable finishes, made this a less than exciting episode of NXT, but the opening and closing matches had good moments in them. It was a nice change of pace, with almost no time for promos, but I can’t say anything related solely to NXT was advanced in any way. Give the opening match a shot, but I’d wait until Jericho shows up next week to watch a full episode if you don’t have the time.
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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