Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Clash of Champions edition features four Title matches, Antonio Cesaro vs. Adrian Neville, Wade Barrett vs. Bo Dallas, Kaitlyn vs. AJ, and Big E Langston vs. Brad Maddox
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired April 24, 2013 NXT on Hulu Plus
Taped March 21 at Full Sail University
NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes welcomed viewers to an event near and dear to his heart, "NXT Clash of Champions…" The opening video aired… Byron Saxton announced that the first match was for the United States Championship.
(Former) U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro made his entrance, and a banner ran across the bottom of the screen to clarify that this match was pre-taped before Cesaro lost the Championship to Kofi Kingston. He took a mic and told the crowd to shut their mouths. He said he was the "longest reigning champion in WWE right now." He demanded a standing ovation, and promised to be a champion for a "long, long, long, long…" Just then Adrian Neville’s music hit and he made his entrance. Tom Phillips announced that Neville’s Tag Champion partner Oliver Grey would be out six months with a torn ACL. Both men got full Championship introductions.
Zim’s Zag: This is the first major issue we’ve seen with correspondence of timing and storylines. It’s no mystery that NXT is taped in three to five show bunches, but I’m sure there were some viewers who may have been thrown off. It’s a bush league issue that shouldn’t occur with any regularity. P.S. At least Cesaro didn’t yodel.
1. (Former) U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Adrian Neville for the U.S. Championship. Neville shot in with a schoolboy early, but Cesaro quickly overpowered Neville and let out an old-school-Claudio "Heyyy!" Neville caught Cesaro in a small package, but Cesaro again got the upper hand and settled into a chinlock. Neville fought back and sent Cesaro to the floor with a huracanrana. Back in the ring, Neville went for another pinning combo before Cesaro dropped him face-first onto the top turnbuckle…[C]
Back from break, Neville fought out of a chinlock with a sunset-flip but Cesaro drilled him with a jumping double stomp for a two-count. Cesaro hit several knee strikes before settling back into the chinlock. Neville eventually escaped and attempted a back-slide. Neville went to the top rope, but Cesaro caught him with a great looking backbreaker for a near-fall. Cesaro mounted and fired away with punches as the crowd chanted "Hey!" with each strike. He told them to shut up and settled into the chinlock again. Neville fought out and dropped the top rope, sending Cesaro to ringside. Neville followed up with an amazing top-rope springboard moonsault to the outside. Back in the ring, Neville nailed a springboard dropkick for a good near-fall and followed up with a standing shooting star press for another two-count.
Cesaro shot Neville off and popped him up, catching him in powerbomb position. Cesaro looked like he wanted the powerbomb but Neville rolled through and Cesaro went with it, forcing a scary looking huracanrana that Cesaro took right on his head. Neville hung on for a very convincing near-fall, but was visibly frustrated with himself when Cesaro was slow to get back up. Cesaro charged at Neville in the corner, but Neville reversed with a kick and a moonsault tilt-a-whirl DDT for another good near-fall. He went up top looking to finish it, but Cesaro caught him with a big jumping European uppercut and caught the falling Neville directly into the Neutralizer for the win.
Antonio Cesaro defeated Adrian Neville to retain the U.S. Championship in about 9:00.
A replay showed the uppercut and neutralizer finish… Scott Stamford hyped that the Divas Championship would be on the line after the break…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Very good match that wasn’t quite as good as it could’ve been for several reasons. Cesaro continues to work a (HHH-inspired) slow, methodical style. Neville’s movement brought this match up a few notches, but his speed and miscommunication led to a scary close-call with Cesaro. That said, this match was about as entertaining as anything you’ll see on NXT.
Byron Saxton announced the next match was for the Divas Championship, and a sparkly graphic with Tinkerbell sound effects confirmed it. AJ’s music hit and she made her entrance to one of the best ovations I can recall hearing from the small studio audience. Kaitlyn made her way to the ring to a smattering of boos and a whole lot of non-reaction. Both ladies got full championship introductions. AJ got big "Yes!" "No!" chants for Kaitlyn.
2. Divas Champion Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee Kaitlyn extended her hand and AJ reciprocated, before slapping Kaitlyn in the face. Kaitlyn quickly took control until she charged at AJ in the corner, but missed, hurting her shoulder. AJ worked over the left arm while the crowd chanted "AJ!" She used a beautiful bridging "back-hammer," different from a hammerlock according to William Regal, to further damage the arm. Kaitlyn tried to break free, but AJ dropped her with an armbar takedown to maintain control. Both ladies traded surprisingly-stiff strikes with Kaitlyn coming out on top.
AJ eventually jumped to the top rope, but Kaitlyn sloppily rolled through her diving cross body attempt and planted AJ with an inverted DDT. She made the cover, but AJ was able to kick out at two. AJ dropped the middle rope and Kaitlyn toppled to ringside. Kaitlyn made it back in the ring, but AJ latched on with a sleeper hold briefly. Kaitlyn broke free, but AJ hit a spinning back kick to take Kaitlyn down to a knee. AJ followed up with a Shining Wizard for a very convincing near-fall. AJ began to look deranged as she mounted and pummeled Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was able to shove her off and quickly took advantage of the separation, striking with a spear for the win.
Kaitlyn defeated AJ Lee to retain the Divas Championship in about 5:00.
The commentators put over Kaitlyn’s finisher and said that there isn’t a Diva who’s been able to kick out of it yet…
Backstage, Tony Dawson introduced "Y2J" Chris Jericho. Jericho complimented Dawson’s fashion and said that the whole NXT facility was incredibly well organized and professional. "If these Superstars can’t make it here, they’ll never be able to make it at all." He said that Dusty Rhodes gave him the option to choose his opponent for next week. Just then, Bray Wyatt interrupted, saying he could help Jericho with that. "Oh, where are my manners? My name is Bray Wyatt, people call me the Eater of Worlds."
He said that he’s noticed a change in Jericho, but he can make Jericho someone people fear again. "All you have to do is take my hand, and carry the chains for the Wyatt Family. What do you think about that?" Jericho said that it looked like Bray had been eating some worlds. He warned Wyatt not to "eeevvvveeerrrr" interrupt him again. He said that he’s been watching Wyatt and he knows Wyatt is good. He congratulated Wyatt on winning the prize of facing the six-time World Champion and nine-time IC Champion. Jericho promised that if he loses, he’ll join the Family. "You can call me Crazy Uncle Jericho, whatever you want." He said that next week, it would be the biggest match in NXT history: Wyatt vs. Jericho. Wyatt calmly accepted and strolled away, seemingly satisfied…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Wow! Let’s go in order: First of all, that was the best five minute Divas match I can recall in recent years. I know some people don’t want to see AJ wrestling regularly on TV, but realistically she’s probably the best female worker in the company. Her facials, moveset, and selling ability are unlike anything we’ve become accustomed to from the Divas. The backstage segment wasn’t quite Jericho at his finest, but Wyatt held his own and Jericho was able to build Wyatt up in the process of challenging him. I can’t help but feel like the stipulation is a dead giveaway of the finish, but it should be a great match next week.
Big E Langston made his entrance, but the crowd didn’t seem to respond very strongly to his efforts to start a "Five!" chant. Brad Maddox made his way to the ring with no music nor video wall. He had a mic and gave a self introduction. "Weighing in at 295 pounds, and chiseled. Your new NXT Champion: Brad Maddox… Brad Maddox."
3. NXT Champion Big E Langston vs. Brad Maddox for the NXT Championship. Maddox begged off and then charged at Langston, but Big E sent him flying. Maddox poked Langston and threw a punch, but Langston answered by running him over with the E Train. He dropped his straps and hoisted Maddox over his shoulder, delivering the Big Ending for the win.
Big E Langston defeated Brad Maddox to retain the NXT Championship in about 1:00.
Post match, Langston delivered his finisher a second time and made his own five-count. The crowd chanted one more time and Regal compared them to the crowds that used to attend hangings and beheadings. Langston obliged by retrieving Maddox. Maddox begged iff from his knees, but Langston dropped him one more time and made the five-count with the full support of the live crowd…
A video packaged recapped the history between Wade Barrett and Bo Dallas, beginning at the Royal Rumble and continuing with Dallas’s victory the following night… Backstage Tony Dawson introduced Bo Dallas, who entered with his stuck-on smile and said "Whats up, man?!" He said that Barrett underestimates him, but Shawn "Michael", Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, and Randy Savage were all underestimated IC Champions. He said that tonight is all about the "Bo Barrage."…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Bo Dallas is simply unbearable. Not to mention he hasn’t appeared on Raw in three months and this feud seems to have been long-since abandoned. Standard stuff from Langston; there isn’t much else to say until we see some sort of in-ring or character development from the guy.
Byron Saxton announced that the following match was for the Intercontinental Championshop. Eve’s…er… Bo Dallas’s music hit and he made his entrance. Wade Barrett was out next and both men received full championship intros. Loud boos and "no-more Bo!" chants when Dallas was introduced. Mixed reaction for the incumbent champion.
4. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. Bo Dallas for the Intercontinental Championship. As soon as the bell rang, a louder "No more Bo!" chant broke out. Both men traded stiff shots early on before circling each other intensely. Barrett took control until Dallas struck with several quick pin attempts. Dallas landed a dropkick and Barrett rolled to ringside to take a powder. Back in the ring, Barrett struck with several quick back-elbows and began to wear Dallas down.
Barrett hit a suplex for a quick two-count, before settling into a chinlock which started a "tap" chant. Dallas fought out, but Barrett hit a big knee to the gut and a boot to the face for another two-count. Dallas worked his way back with some deep arm drags and punches. He clotheslined Barrett out of the ring, and the show cut to its final break while the crowd continued to be all over Dallas…[C]
Back from break, Dallas had Barrett in an armbar, much to the audible dismay of the crowd. Barrett fought back and hung Dallas up on the top rope. He motioned for Dallas get up and dropped him with a big boot for a near-fall. Barrett draped Dallas over the top turnbuckle and wore him down with shots, finishing with a big running knee that toppled Dallas to the floor. Barrett got him back in the ring and earned a near-fall before settling into a surfboard stretch. Again, another "tap" chant. Barrett hit his shuffle back kick and followed up with a pumphandle drop for another near-fall. Barrett hung Dallas up in the ropes and repeatedly hit knee strikes, finishing with a big boot that sent Dallas to the outside once again.
Barrett taunted and received a big pop and "Barrett" chants in response. He suplexed Dallas in from the apron before hooking in a camel clutch. Cue "tap" chants. Dallas eventually escaped and dropped Barrett on the top turnbuckle. Dallas fired up with his come-back combination and reversed a pumphandle slam into an inverted DDT for a near-fall. Dallas went for a springboard bulldog, but Barrett hung onto the ropes and sent Dallas crashing. He hit the Winds of Change for a good near-fall, as the crowd chanted "Let’s go Barrett!"
Barrett turned his elbow pad red, but Dallas ducked the Bull Hammer and drove Barrett into the mat with the springboard bulldog. Dallas made the cover, but Barrett was able to kick out before three. Barrett tried to set up Wasteland, but Dallas escaped to the top rope. He dove at Barrett, who caught him with a glancing Bull Hammer elbow which was good enough for the win.
Wade Barrett defeated Bo Dallas to retain the Intercontinental Championship in about 11:00.
The commentators put over that Dallas could only get better from the experience he’s gained. Dallas continued to sell the Bull Hammer, as Barrett made his way up the ramp. The commentators reminded viewers that Y2J would be wrestling next week before signing off…
Zim’s Zag: Solid main event. Bo Dallas isn’t a bad worker, but he’s bad at everything else. His charisma is awkward, his smile is maddening, and his character is a vanilla goof. Hopefully the crowd’s response will tell NXT creative that it’s time for a change or its time for Bo to go away for a while.
This show was largely irrelevant to current storylines and being NXT, there was no doubt as to what the Championship results would be. However, the Superstars managed to work hard and entertain regardless. I’m tired of Big E Langston’s act as champion; it’s time for a believable challenger to be built up and a proper program to start. Overall, this was a show filled with very good in-ring action in three of four matches and had an enticing hook to tune in next week for Jericho vs. Wyatt. I’d highly recommend checking out the first half of this show if you have access, and maybe stick around for the second half if you have the time.
Throw any comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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