Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Sami Zayn debuts in impressive fashion, Bray Wyatt vs. Corey Graves, Antonio Cesaro vs. Yoshi Tatsu, Enzo Amore will crack you up, and a potential internet-breaking feud kicks off
By Zack Zimmerman
May 22, 2013 WWE NXT on Hulu Plus
Taped April 21 at Full Sail University
The opening video played… The show opened with Curt Hawkins making his entrance as Tony Dawson and William Regal checked in on commentary. Out next was Sami Zayn (f/k/a El Generico), set to make his in-ring debut. He showed some fun charisma on his way to the ring.
1. Curt Hawkins vs. Sami Zayn. Some fans sang “Ole” while both men locked up. Zayn punked Hawkins early and followed up with some of his signature arm drags. He chopped away in the corner, but Hawkins caught him with a good-looking Pele Kick for a two-count. Hawkins settled into a chinlock briefly and the crowd got behind Zayn, who fought out and fired up with clotheslines and a back suplex.
Zayn ran the ropes and caught Hawkins with a flapjack dropkick for a two count, but Hawkins hit the Upside-Down Frown for a two count of his own. Some brief back-and-forth action ended with Zayn taking a hold of Hawkins’ arm and running up the turnbuckle into a big Tornado DDT. Zayn scrambled into the cover and scored the win.
Sami Zayn beat Curt Hawkins in about 4:15.
A replay aired and the announcers put Zane over nicely. He made his way up the ramp and said “We’re gonna get to know each other pretty well…”
Scott Stamford hyped the main event of Corey Graves vs. Bray Wyatt… A Corey Graves vignette aired…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Solid debut for Sami Zayn. He came across as a likeable performer with an exciting moveset and contagious charisma. It’s funny to see him try to resist his body’s urge to throw up his finger and yell “Ole!” I have a feeling the chant is going to follow him for a while, I just hope it doesn’t become an albatross. It’s a shame WWE can’t find something meaningful for Hawkins, he’s very talented.
Back from break, Antonio made his entrance with his jacket, beret, and aviators. Yoshi Tatsu, having miraculously made it through the recent talent cuts, came to the ring next.
2. Antonio Cesaro vs. Yoshi Tatsu. Cesaro went to work briefly, but Tatsu fought back with a running crossbody and a dropkick. He followed up with some kicks, but Cesaro threw him in the air and cut him down with the Very European Uppercut. Cesaro promptly followed with the Neutralizer and got the pinfall.
Antonio Cesaro beat Yoshi Tatsu in under 1:00.
Cesaro took a mic and said that he doesn’t often ask to speak, but when he does it’s because it’s important. He asked if that was the best competition he could have. He said there’s nobody on Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Superstars, Slam, and especially not at NXT who can hold a candle to what he does. He started to speak in German, but was interrupted by Sami Zayn.
Zayn said that he doesn’t think the people agree with Cesaro and told Cesaro that he’s looking too hard for something that is right in front of him. He spoke in Arabic, and then in French, and finished by saying “If its competition you want, its competition you’re gonna get, homeboy.” Cesaro invited Zayn to make his day, and the referee called for the bell to start the impromptu match.
3. Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn. Cesaro used a quick fireman’s carry takedown and took control of the arm. They worked the Tony Charles which ended with Zayn hitting a seated-springboard armdrag and Cesaro rolled to the outside to take a powder. [C]
Back from break, Cesaro hit a shot to the gut and dropped Zayn across the top rope. He repeatedly whipped Zayn into the turnbuckle and got a two-count before settling into a chinlock. Zayn tried to counter with a sunset-flip, but Cesaro hit a jumping double-stomp to the chest for another two-count. Cesaro followed up with a stiff short-arm clothesline for yet another two-count, before going back to the chinlock once again.
Zayn ducked another clothesline and caught Cesaro with a jumping heel kick. He used an O’Connor roll which was good for a two-count of his own. Zayn hung Cesaro up on the top rope and dove at him with a crossbody, but Cesaro caught him and flipped it into a backbreaker for a good near-fall. Cesaro charged into the corner with a nasty sounding running European uppercut, but Zayn managed to kick out again.
Cesaro wore him out with shots in the corner and Zayn crumbled at his feet. Zayn tried to catch Cesaro in a surprise small package, but Cesaro deadlifted him up into suplex position. Impressive. Zayn slipped over the back, rolled Cesaro up, and scored the surprise win.
Sami Zayn pinned Antonio Cesaro in about 5:00.
Zayn sold utter jubilance and the announcers put it over as a wicked upset. Cesaro was shown brooding before attacking Zayn from behind. He wore Zayn out with punches and finished with the Neutralizer. He stood over Zayn and posed while the announcers continued to hype that Zayn has made history with two wins on his debut night…
Backstage, Renee Young was about to introduce a guest when Emma interrupted. Renee said the interview wasn’t with her, and Audrey Marie entered because it was with her. Emma called her “Amy” and “Alicia” and suggested she try the dance to get some of her stress out. Audrey said nobody likes that stupid dance, and Emma just figured stupid must be the new hipster word for cool.
Audrey warned her “Get out, or I’ll take you out.” Emma asked if she would take her out to get something to eat. “Just leave now!” Audrey said. Emma danced her way off the set and jabbed Audrey in the head by “accident.” Rather than attack Emma like a wrestler would, she just said “Oh. My. God” like would happen in real life…
Scott Stamford hyped the main event of Corey Graves vs. Bray Wyatt… A Bray Wyatt vignette aired…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Good showing from Cesaro and Zayn. They are both capable of much more, but this match told the right story. Cesaro looked super aggressive and dominant, while Zayn played the resilient underdog and had the crowd behind him. The port-match attack assured that we’ll see more to come from these men, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier about that. The backstage segment was a basic-but-good match setup. Emma continues to be my guilty pleasure character on NXT.
Back from break, Enzo Amore made his entrance with a mic. He introduced himself and proclaimed himself a “certified G and bona fide stud.” He called the other NXT wrestlers fake tough guys. “Everybody’s real until a real situation shows up. Everybody’s a G until a G walks in the room. Bada-boom, realest guy in the room.” He closed. Out next was Mason Ryan, who’s body has once again transformed shapes and may be bigger than ever.
4. Enzo Amore vs. Mason Ryan. Ryan threw Amore across the ring with a big biel and followed up with a hard short-arm clothesline. He slung Amore over his shoulder, dropped him down with Snake Eyes, and ran him over with another clothesline. “He’s done!” Ryan said. He picked Amore up in an Argentine rack and swung it into a neckbreaker for the win.
Mason Ryan beat Enzo Amore in about 1:30.
A replay of the aired of the finish and the announcers mocked Amore while putting Ryan over. “I’m gonna break em all, I don’t care.” Ryan said at the top of the ramp…
Scott Stamford hyped the main event coming up after the break…[C]
Zim’s Zag: How many times can they try with Mason Ryan? Nothing against the guy, but he’s approaching Ezekiel Jackson-status with the number of re-starts. He didn’t look bad in his short appearance here though. Enzo Amore is hilarious. He looks like he’s trying to be serious, while he’s shown to be a total goof and gets wiped out in just over a minute. He delivered his intro promo with surprising charisma and confidence though. They may be able to have some fun with Enzo Amore in this role.
Scott Stamford hyped that Stephanie McMahon would be making an historic announcement next week on NXT. He also hyped next week’s battle royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship…
Back from break, Corey Graves made his entrance to the audible delight of some females in attendance. The announcers talked about him like he had the full support of the crowd, even though he never really made a face turn. The eerie bassline and best music in wrestling signaled the entrance of Bray Wyatt, who was still wearing the protective mask and was accompanied by NXT Tag Champions Harper and Rowan. The camera panned to a section of fans waving their arms melodically to the music. #Wyatting is alive and growing.
5. Corey Graves vs. Bray Wyatt. The announcers revealed that Chris Jericho had broken Wyatt’s nose in their match, hence the temporary protective mask. Wyatt tossed Graves across the ring and did his possessed back arch while Harper could be heard at ringside rambling “yeahyeahyeah.” Wyatt ducked a punch but got caught with a drop-toe hold and Graves jumped on with a front facelock. Wyatt hit a suplex on Graves, but Graves didn’t relinquish the facelock.
Wyatt eventually shoved him off, but took a dropkick that knocked his mask off. He rolled to ringside to regain composure and re-don his mask. Back in the ring, Wyatt got the upper hand briefly but Graves caught him in the Helter Skelter hanging necklock. A short time later, Wyatt laid Graves out with that wicked running crossbody to take control…[C]
Back from break, Wyatt was wearing Graves down at ringside before tossing him back into the ring. Wyatt dropped some elbows before settling into a submission hold. Graves fought out and dropped the top rope, sending Wyatt tumbling to ringside. Graves went for a baseball slide, but Wyatt evaded and shoved Graves into the ringsteps. Wyatt trapped Graves and stomped away before scoring a two-count back in the ring.
Wyatt crushed Graves in the corner with the running splash and then danced around the ring with him. He set up Sister Abigail, but Graves reversed into a surprise rollup for a two-count. Wyatt’s mask fell off again and Graves hit his own running crossbody to even the odds. They worked back to their feet and traded punches with Graves getting the upper-hand. He hit a big knee strike and went low with a chop-block to the knee.
The Family tried to interfere, but Graves knocked both men off the apron and hit a dropkick to further damage Wyatt’s knee. Graves applied the Lucky 13 submission hold (formerly the 13th step/Fuller Leglock), but Rowan jumped up on the apron again, enabling Harper to drop a big elbow across Graves. With Wyatt free from the hold, he quickly lifted Graves and drove him down with the Sister Abigail for the pinfall victory.
Bray Wyatt defeated Corey Graves in about 8:30.
Post-match, Wyatt cradled Graves’ head before taking a seat in the corner and sending The Family to continue the beatdown on Graves. Kassius Ohno made the save and dropped both members of The Family before attacking Wyatt, who seemed content with the situation and didn’t move, merely covered up and endured the shots until Rowan got back to his feet and attacked Ohno from behind. He whipped Wyatt into a Discus Lariat from Harper and Wyatt finally rose to his feet again. He had The Family lift Ohno one more time, only to drive him right back down with the Sister Abigail. Wyatt sat with Ohno’s head in his lap and then led his monsters out of the ring to close the show…
Zim’s Zag: Good back-and-forth main event with everyone playing their roles particularly well. Graves looked good and was shown to be capable of hanging with Wyatt, and only lost because of The Family’s nefarious actions. I really like the way The Wyatt Family’s dominance has been portrayed in recent weeks. It’s fitting, believable, and sets up storyline possibilities with babyfaces going for retribution.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you aren’t watching NXT, now is the time to get on-board. It’s consistently the best weekly hour of wrestling available and the talent and storylines seem to be ever-improving. The Wyatt Family’s dominance is the most compelling storyline going right now, and with the impressive debut of Sami Zayn propelling him into an instant feud with Antonio Cesaro, the coming weeks should be quite entertaining. There are certain storylines which aren’t necessarily featured every-single week, but those stories are still only beginning or simmering and can be refreshed with one video package. This is a highly, highly recommended show, especially for fans of the former El Generico who have the chance to see his WWE-alter-ego’s progression begin in appropriate fashion.
Throw any comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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