Zim's WWE NXT Review: Luke Harper vs. Sheamus, Paige vs. Emma for the NXT Women's Championship, the new Ascension tag team in action, Tyler Breeze
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired July 24, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped June 20 at Full Sail University
The show opened with a video package recapping Emma and Paige’s path to the finals of the NXT Women’s Title tournament. They included soundbits of interviews and Emma said she danced her way to the finals just like she said she would. Paige had a good quote "I’m a fighter, she’s a dancer..."
The opening video played and the crowd chanted "NXT" as Tom Phillips and Brad Maddox checked in on commentary. Byron Saxton announced that that this match was the finals of the NXT Women’s Championship tournament. Bubbles filled the stage and Emma danced her way to the ring along. Her silly dance is so over in that arena. Paige’s music hit and the crowd popped huge as she made her entrance. Full championship intros for both ladies and referee Jason Ayers held up the new title belt.
1. Emma vs. Paige for the new NXT Women’s Championship. They locked up and loud dueling "Let’s go Emma – Let’s go Paige" chants broke out. Paige got the first takedown on a hard shoulder block, but Emma had the first pin attempt with a rollup for a quick two-count. Emma used her corner dodge and slid under the ropes for another rollup attempt, then stayed in control by working a hammerlock after Paige kicked out.
The crowd rallied and Paige escaped, then caught Emma with a good headbutt. They battled over backslide leverage but Emma got over to the ropes and transitioned nicely into the DilEmma, which she had to break before a five-count. Emma played to the crowd and turned into a shuffle kick to the gut that knocked her out of the ring. [C]
Back from break, Paige was in control with a chinlock and then rolled it into a crucifix pin attempt. She ran Emma into the ropes and followed up with a perfectplex for a two-count. Paige stomped away at Emma in the corner and went for several pin attempts to no avail. Paige tried to do a dodge in the corner similar to Emma’s, but Emma took momentum by slamming Paige backwards to the mat.
Emma charged and hit her low running crossbody in the corner for a near-fall. Both women traded rollup attempts and then Emma slowed it down by settling into a chinlock. The crowd was very vocal and very split, with loud chants for each. Paige stomped Emma’s foot to escape, but ate a back elbow after she hit the ropes. The crowd was split again, and Paige managed to back Emma into the corner and hit several rapid elbow strikes. She tripped Emma and locked in her kneeling cloverleaf for a good false-finish.
Emma rolled over and was able to kick Paige away, and caught her in a small package for a believable near-fall. Emma tried for the Emma Lock but Paige escaped to the apron where she hit a quick headbutt and several hard knee strikes. Paige went up to the top rope, but Emma made it up as well and took Paige down hard with a superplex. Both ladies were down and the crowd appropriately chanted "This is awesome."
Emma went for a pin, but Paige got her foot on the rope before the three. Emma picked up Paige, but Paige broke free and hit a shuffle kick to the gut and followed with a superkick. She finished with the Paige Turner and scored the pinfall.
Paige defeated Emma in about 11:00 to become the first NXT Women’s Championship.
Paige was very emotional as she hugged her new championship belt. The Divas of NXT, minus Summer Rae, came down to the ring to congratulate her. After they were all in the ring, Triple H’s music hit and he made his way to the ring. He didn’t speak, but he raised Paige’s arm and walked her around the ring as she sobbed. He gave her a hug and left the ring as her music hit and she was left alone to soak it up in the ring...
Scott Stanford hyped that the main event of the show would be Sheamus vs. Luke Harper... Zeb Coulter and Antonio Cesaro stood in front of a Gadsden flag and cut a promo on a man they believed was in this country illegally, Sami Zayn. They said that they ran a background check and there was no record of a Sami Zayn. Coulter said that Zayn had to have come from somewhere, and he intended to find out where.
He said that he was made aware that Sami Zayn had once worn a mask, and said that people who wear masks are usually from South of the border so they can illegally immigrate under the guise of darkness. He said they think Zayn is "one of those." He said that if their assumptions are correct, they’re going to make Zayn’s life a nightmare.
Cesaro spoke and said that not only was he going to make Zayn’s life a nightmare in the ring, but a complete and utter nightmare out of the ring as well. He said he would enjoy it and warned Zayn "Don’t mess with Cesaro." Before he and Zeb put their hands on their hearts and Cesaro delivered the "We the people" line...[C]
Zim’s Zag: I would imagine that by now, most viewers are familiar with Sami Zayn’s history, so this was a really fun reference that may get rumors swirling. If there were ever a way to bring a character like El Generico to NXT/WWE, what better acts to do it with than these ones? As for the match: Hands-down the best ladies match I’ve seen on NXT. It was a well executed match by both participants and a very memorable start to the NXT Women’s Championship. Both Divas did little things that I wasn’t able to convey in my report that really took it to the next level. It was a cool moment for Triple H to come out and raise Paige’s hand, and it was obvious how much it meant to her. That said, I’m sure there will be some people who will see it as him "stealing the spotlight."
Back from break, Angelo Dawkins was introduced and was already in the ring. The lights in the arena lowered and the camera focused on a walking pair of boots that looked something like a cross between British Bulldog’s tassels and fluffies. The music and lights picked up and Tyler Breeze (f/k/a Mike Dalton) was standing at the top of the ramp in his furry vest with his hair pulled back. He had his iPhone in his hand and took selfies doing his best Zoolander "Blue Steel" impression on the way to the ring. He stalled and stalled in the corner as he continued to take pictures and check himself out.
2. Angelo Dawkins vs. Tyler Breeze. The referee couldn’t get Breeze to stop taking pictures, but when Dawkins went after him, Breeze unloaded on Dawkins. Dawkins was able to get several rollup attempts, but Breeze came right back swinging and kicking wildly at Dawkins. Breeze picked up his phone and checked his hair before connecting with a spinning heel kick for the win.
Tyler Breeze beat Angelo Dawkins in about 1:20.
Breeze went right back and picked up his phone as a slow-mo replay showed his "Blue Steel" look and the finish of the match. He continued to pose with his phone in the ring taking selfie after selfie until the referee got him out of the ring... The Ascension vignette from last week aired, with the added words "up next" at the end...[C]
Zim’s Zag: Breeze is like a hybrid of Dolph Ziggler and Zoolander. I dub him: Zigglander. Anyways, unimpressive debut, but he really got the attitude and persona across to viewers. With some tuning there is room for this act to grow into something pretty fun. We shall see.
Back from break, the new Ascension made their entrance for their first match as a team. Mickey Keegan and Aiden English were out next.
3. The Ascension (Rick Victor and Conor O’Brian) vs. Mickey Keegan and Aiden English. O’Brian ran right through English with quick shoulder blocks before tagging Rick Victor into the match. Victor wore English down in the corner with chops and uppercuts and then slammed him down with a nice arm takeover. Conor O’Brian reentered the match and they used a double straight-jacket slam to stay in firm control.
O’Brian fired up and crushed English with a splash in the corner before bringing Rick Victor back in. Victor knocked Keegan off the apron and then dropped English with a running busaiku knee. The Ascension used a double hip-toss slam and then signaled that the end was near. They hit opposite ropes and wiped English out with a high-low for the win.
The Ascension beat Aiden English and Mickey Keegan in about 1:50.
Victor held the pinfall long after the bell and both men let out a scream... Scott Stanford hyped that the main event, Sheamus vs. Luke Harper, was coming up next...[C]
Zim’s Zag: That was a promising re-debut for The Ascension. Conor O’Brian has shown trouble carrying longer matches and Rick Victor hasn’t been featured since losing in the first NXT Championship feud with Seth Rollins, but together, they are the most impressive incarnation of group we’ve seen thus far. Also, I’m not sure of the reasoning behind Harper facing Sheamus instead of Wyatt, but I’m honestly looking more forward to the match with Harper in it. He and Sheamus are two of the best, stiffest brawlers in WWE and this match should be a great hard-hitting affair.
Scott Stanford hyped that next week, there would be a tag team match pitting Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn against Antonio Cesaro and Leo Kruger...
Back from break, Sheamus made his entrance and got the steam pyro on the stage. The commentators played up that Sheamus was responsible for evening the odds and causing The Wyatt Family to lose their Tag Team Championships to Adrian Neville and Corey Graves last week. The Wyatt’s music hit and the trio walked to the ramp. Rowan set up Wyatt’s rocker and then followed Harper to the ring, where he remained at ringside for the match.
4. Sheamus vs. Luke Harper (w/Bray Wyatt and Erik Rowan). Both men locked up with neither having the strength advantage over the other. Luke Harper managed to take Sheamus off his feet first with a shoulder block and then proudly looked to Wyatt for approval. Sheamus managed to take control of the arm and was able to take Harper down with a shoulder block of his own. Harper rolled to ringside and went to Wyatt to regroup.
Back in the ring, Sheamus briefly had the upper hand before Harper took control and wore Sheamus down in the corner. Sheamus turned the tables and hit some stiff shots of his own before taking Harper down again with a hard shoulder block. Harper caught Sheamus with a throat thrust, but ended up on the apron where he took several of Sheamus’ clobbering strikes. Rowan tried to interfere, but took ten clubs for his efforts.
The distraction proved useful however, as Sheamus turned into a stiff running back elbow that sent Sheamus to ringside. Rowan took Sheamus down with a clothesline on the outside as the show went into its final break. [C]
Back from break, Harper wore Sheamus down with shots in the corner and then whipped him across the ring and followed with a splash. Rowan dropped Sheamus with a quick shot while the referee was distracted and Harper settled into a chinlock. Harper wrenched it and rambled "yeahyeahyeah" before Sheamus worked back to his feet. Both men traded hard shots, but Sheamus caught Harper with an Oklahoma slam. A short time later, they again traded hard shots before Sheamus fired up and hit his running knee.
Sheamus looked to hit White Noise, but Harper escaped and hit the Truck Stop for a near-fall. Harper went up to the second rope and dove at Sheamus with a splash, but Sheamus avoided it and hit a Finlay roll for a two-count. Sheamus went to the top rope, but Harper ducked the battering ram and a Brogue Kick attempt and nailed Sheamus with a vicious discus lariat for a great near-fall.
Harper stalked Sheamus and crushed him in the corner with a splash. He backed up and went for a second, but Sheamus got a boot up. Rowan jumped onto the apron, and Sheamus rammed Harper onto Rowan, knocking him off. Sheamus hit White Noise and backed into the corner. The crowd was solidly behind Sheamus with the "Brogue" chant as he connected with the kick and scored the pinfall.
Sheamus beat Luke Harper in about 10:00.
Post-match, Wyatt just smiled, seeming not too bothered by the match result. Wyatt showed no disappointment in Harper as they headed back up the ramp, but rather spent the remaining few moments of the show eyeing up Sheamus.
Zim’s Zag: As expected, that was a very entertaining and very physical matchup. Neither of these two men work pretty, but they’re both super believable and they look like they genuinely enjoy beating the heck out of each other. I got the impression that they’re holding off on the Sheamus vs. Wyatt match for down the road, but I’m not all that sure when or where (or even if) that matchup will take place.
Overall, I really liked this show. The Divas title match got great time and the ladies gave a great effort, the new Ascension has potential to be the best version yet, and the main event was a ten minute slugfest. The one negative was the disappointing wrestling from Tyler Breeze, but he clearly has a gimmick that he’s hooked into and as NXT has proven with acts like Emma and Adrian Neville, sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to grow into their character. There were some really prominent NXT regulars missing from the show, but I like that the new characters and the things that happened were given a chance to stand out and be memorable without being cluttered.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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