Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Neville and Graves challenge The Wyatt Family for the Tag Titles, Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Leo Kruger to determine no. 1 contender, and Charlotte’s debut (w/ Ric Flair)
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired July 17, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped June 20 at Full Sail University
The opening video played… The show opened directly into Leo Kruger’s entrance. Tony Dawson and William Regal were on commentary. Antonio Cesaro was out next carrying his Gadsden flag and doing the "We the people" shtick. The third and final participant, Sami Zayn, made his entrance to new music and a nice reaction. He and Cesaro squared off once he entered the ring.
1. Leo Kruger vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn in a Triple Threat match to determine the number-one contender to the NXT Championship. Cesaro went right after Zayn when the bell rang, but Zayn quickly took Cesaro down with his lucha armdrags. Kruger tried to get involved, but was quelled in his early attempts. Cesaro wore Zayn down in the corner, but Kruger tossed Cesaro out of the ring and continued the beating on Zayn with a hammerlock suplex. A short time later, Cesaro pulled Kruger to ringside, allowing Zayn to dive out of the ring and take out both opponents with a tope atomio… [C]
Back from break, Sami Zayn was working Cesaro over as the smarks in the crowd sang "Ole." Zayn dove off the top rope with a crossbody attempt, but Cesaro caught him and flipped it into a backbreaker for a two-count. Kruger reentered the ring and jaw-jacked with Cesaro, which allowed Zayn to get a quick rollup two-count on Kruger. Cesaro charged at Zayn in the corner, which after a quick exchange, resulted in a German suplex/T-Bone suplex combo where Cesaro was the only man who didn’t take damage.
Cesaro used his delayed gutwrench suplex to toss Kruger over the top rope, and then went right to a spinning sleeper hold to wear down Zayn. As Cesaro set up for the Neutralizer, Kruger reentered the ring and hit the Slice to the back of his head. Zayn was able to drop both men with a DDT/reverse STO combination and all three guys were down.
They slowly made their way back to their feet and Zayn had the upper hand. He got a good near-fall after reversing Cesaro’s pop-up into a hurricanrana. Zayn fired himself up and cleared Kruger from the ring, but turned into a vicious European uppercut and Neutralizer from Cesaro. As Cesaro went for the cover, Kruger reemerged and tossed Cesaro out of the ring, stealing the pinfall and the win.
Leo Kruger beat Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro to become the number-one contender to the NXT Championship in about 7:00.
Post-match, Kruger made his way up the ramp as a replay of the finish aired. Kruger stood on the stage and chanted "Kruger! Kruger! Kruger!" in celebration…
Backstage, Corey Graves approached Adrian Neville. He said that he’s not looking for a friend, but he respects everything Neville does in the ring and he realizes that the NXT Tag Titles are more important than whatever issues he and Neville have. He said it’s time to get his fix and he’d see Neville in the ring… Scott Stanford hyped Charlotte’s NXT debut against Bayley. He also hyped that Scott Dawson would be taking on Bo Dallas after the break.
Zim’s Zag: Really fun match that could’ve (and arguably, should’ve) gone longer. The pacing was hot and the action was as good as you’ll find in a seven minute match, but the number-one contendership is taken down a notch when the three top competitors don’t even get ten minutes to work. I like Kruger getting the shot, but I don’t like what the Kruger-Dallas matchup does in terms of crowd reaction. Speaking of crowd reaction, I fully expect the NXT arena to poo all over Dallas vs. Dawson. Yikes.
Back from break, Scott Dawson’s music hit and Sylvester Lefort walked onto the stage. He introduced himself, and then introduced a man who would "put gold around his waist and put money in my pocket," Scott Dawson. Dawson entered with a trucker cap, jean vest, and a flashlight. Ugh. NXT champ Bo Dallas made his entrance next. Over a dozen fans opposite of the hard camera turned their backs to the ring in protest (that’s not heat, that’s flat rejection).
2. Scott Dawson (w/Sylvester Lefort) vs. NXT Champion Bo Dallas in a non-title match. William Regal finally acknowledged the awkwardness of having Tony Dawson on commentary with Scott Dawson in the ring. That shouldn’t be happening. Anyways, Dawson did some stuff before Dallas caught him with a dropkick and a running crossbody. Dawson did some more stuff, and then Dallas fired up with his punching combination. He hit a clothesline in the corner and followed up with a running bulldog. Dallas shot Dawson off the ropes and connected with the snap belly-to-belly for the win.
Bo Dallas beat Scott Dawson in about 2:30.
Post-match, Dallas held up his title and steam shot down from the lighting rig. As the lights came back up, Leo Kruger slid into the ring and went right after Dallas. He mounted him and hit repeated punches before delivering Kruger’s End (the move Curtis "Vanilla Joe" Axel stole) to leave Dallas laid out. Kruger embraced the NXT Championship and rubbed his beard against it as the crowd chanted "Thank you Kruger." Kruger dropped the belt on top of Dallas and left the ring, exclaiming "Kruger!" as he made his way up the ramp…
Scott Stanford hyped that Charlotte’s debut was coming up next… Somewhere blue, Rick Victor cut a promo/vignette. He was carrying a golden book, wearing old-timey welsing goggles around his neck, and had deep black eyes. He said that the awakening of the future of the universe is coming. He said that they will reduce heroes to ashes. Conor O’Brian approached from behind and said "We are the Ascension," before they delivered "and we will rise again" in tandem…[C]
Zim’s Zag: Wow, what a dud match. Scott Dawson wasn’t impressive in the team and he really hasn’t been good since he went to singles a few weeks back. On top of that, the most hated man in NXT (maybe even WWE) isn’t doing anything to endear himself nor turn himself on the fans. I was really hoping he would’ve been a heel by now because the crowd’s outright rejection of him is really harmful, especially to the prestige of the NXT Championship. Also, that was the best Ascension promo since O’Brian and Kenneth Cameron first introduced themselves, while floating on top of a building (yes, really.)
Back in the arena, Bayley made her entrance and the commentators again pointed out her "bright-eyed innocence" (because that’s better than calling her "the mark"). Ric Flair’s music hit and he made his way to the ring in no apparent hurry. He spoke about how much fun he’s had in Orlando since the ‘70s, before talking about how much respect he has for the "kids" training at NXT. He called it the best place to learn professional wrestling today.
He said that tonight was special because he gets to be in his daughter’s corner as she makes her NXT debut, and closed by introducing Charlotte. She made her entrance to really bad house music and tried to be cute, but it didn’t really fit her considering she’s build like Beth phoenix. She did perform some quick gymnastic moves that showed a level of athleticism before hugging Naich.
3. Bayley vs. Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair). Charlotte hit the ropes and let out a "Wooo" as her pop smiled away. Bayley and Charlotte both showed good athleticism on quick reversals early-on. Charlotte went for a rollup where she bridged over the rolled-up Bayley for a near-fall and Dawson called it Charlotte’s Web. Bayley went for a jackknife pin, a backslide pin, and an inside cradle, none to any avail.
Flair threw off his jacket at ringside and Bayley stayed in control with a scoop suplex. Bayley whipped Charlotte towards the corner, but Charlotte took a page from Naich’s playbook and perfected it by flipping over the turnbuckle, but gracefully landing on the ring apron. Charlotte drove Bayley into the turnbuckle and followed up with a flipping neck snap for the win.
Charlotte beat Bayley in about 2:45.
Post-match, Flair was fighting back tears as he hugged his daughter and then raised her arm. He let out a "Wooo" and strutted around the ring as a replay aired. After the replay, Charlotte poorly attempted a strut of her own, but both Flairs has smiles on their faces…
Backstage, Tony Dawson (somehow having teleported from the commentary table) welcomed Sheamus and asked him about his thoughts on competing in NXT next week. Sheamus said he hasn’t been this excited since his first pint. He said he doesn’t know who his opponent is, but he knows NXT is the future of WWE. Just then, Sheamus was blindsided from behind. Bray Wyatt, accompanied by The Family, stood over him as Bray said it takes only one stone to bring a giant to his knees. He instructed Sheamus to follow the buzzards, before calmly walking away…
Scott Stanford hyped the main event was coming up next: Corey Graves and Adrian Neville challenging The Wyatt Family for the NXT Tag Titles… Backstage, a man with long-ish blond hair and a fur vest sat with his back to the camera while staring at himself in a mirror. He was being attended to by three people and introduced himself as Tyler Breeze. He said he was a model, but he wouldn’t allow the camera to get a shot of his face. He said that next week, "NXT will witness gorgeous"... [C]
Zim’s Zag: Surprisingly solid displayed by both ladies, as it was actually much better than I expected. Charlotte is still very green but has lots of athletic potential. Bayley is one of the better lady workers down in NXT, her character just makes her hard to take seriously. Time will tell if either or both ladies will grow in their respective areas in need of improvement. I’m optimistic. Quick and easy way to set up Sheamus vs. Wyatt for next week. Even though it seemed completely random, I can buy into the idea that Wyatt is in the game to take on big competition like we saw with Jericho. Interested to see Tyler Breeze’s act in the ring next week.
Scott Stanford hyped that next week would feature Paige vs. Emma in the finals of the NXT Women’s Championship Tournament to crown the inaugural champion…
Back from break, Adrian Neville and Corey Graves made their respective entrances. The Wyatt Family made their way to the stage before Bray settled into his rocker and Harper and Rowan embarked to the ring. Full championship introductions for both teams.
4. NXT Tag Champions The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erik Rowan w/ Bray Wyatt) vs. Adrian Neville and Corey Graves for the NXT Tag Team Titles. At about the 30 second mark, Graves caught Harper in the hanging triangle choke to gain the advantage. He made the tag to Adrian Neville, who hit a poetry in motion dropkick. Harper quickly took control and tagged in Erik Rowan.
Rowan missed the blind tag to Corey Graves, who caught him with a dropkick. Harper manages to tag in, but Graves stayed in control and went to work on Harper’s legs. Rowan entered the ring, but was quickly thwarted by a missile dropkick from Neville. Graves charged at Harper for his chop block, but ate a big boot instead for a near-fall. Bray Wyatt was shown looking on from his rocker as the show went into its final break… [C]
Back from break, Rowan had Graves seated in a chinlock as the crowd rallied behind Graves. Rowan made the tag to Harper who continued to work Graves over, and The Family made frequent tags over the next few minutes. Notable spot when Graves went to tag out, but got nailed with an unexpected and impressive dropkick from Luke Harper. A short time later, Graves once again scrambled towards his corner, but got flattened by the swinging side slam that Harper once called the Truck Stop for a good near-fall.
Harper charged at Graves, but he missed a big boot and toppled to ringside. As he reentered the ring, it was too late to stop the tag, so he tagged in Rowan and it was the fresh guys facing off. Neville fired up and took out both of his opponents. He dove to ringside and took out Harper with a flying hurricanrana, and then dropped the rope to send Rowan to the outside. He followed up with a picture-perfect top rope Asai moonsault onto both men and landing on his feet.
Neville got Rowan back into the ring and connected with a Phoenix Splash off the top rope (yes, a corkscrew 450). He made the cover, but Harper broke up the pinfall at the last second. Neville went back up top, but with the referee distracted, Bray Wyatt pulled his legs out from under him and he crashed. Just then, Sheamus’ music hit and he ran to ringside and took out Bray. Corey Graves clipped Rowan’s knee with a chop block, and Neville followed up with the Red Arrow for the pinfall victory.
Adrian Neville and Corey Graves beat The Wyatt Family to win the NXT Tag Team Championships in about 11:00.
Post-match, Sheamus briefly celebrated with the new champions before leaving them to soak up the glory in the middle of the ring. The two showed a slight lack of chemistry as a replay of the finish aired. When it ended, Sheamus was back in the ring raising the new champs’ hands. He once again left the ring and the show closed with Neville and Graves celebrating and playing to the crowd.
Zim’s Zag: Very good match. The Wyatts’ offense felt methodical at times, but I’m pretty sure that’s what constitutes putting heat on the heels leading to the babyface comeback, and what a comeback it was! The things Adrian Neville is capable of doing are totally breathtaking and this was by far his best display on NXT. Between Neville’s improved promos in recent weeks and stellar action like he showed here, there are a lot of reasons to have high hopes for the young Geordie.
Graves did a fine job of selling, but I feel like his work doesn’t always earn him the credit it deserves simply because its more old-school and deliberate style. I wish NXT had a division with at least three or four tag teams in contendership for the titles, rather than pairing up singles guys, but that is a blanket statement when it comes to the WWE system.
Overall, this was a really strong edition of NXT. The opening and closing matches were both great glimpses of what the future of WWE holds, though the same can be said for virtually the whole show (ok, maybe not Dawson or Dallas). If you’re not compelled to watch or haven’t watched this week’s show after reading my report, then me suggesting you watch it probably won’t make it happen either, but you should. Also, I don’t say it enough here but if you’re reading and have made it this far, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to check out something I put a lot of effort into.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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