8/22 Gutteridge's WWE NXT Review: Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn in a best of three falls match, AJ Lee vs. Bayley for the WWE Divas Title, Dolph Ziggler vs. Alexander Rusev, CJ Parker vs. Baron Corbin
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT on Sky Sports 3
Taped July 11 in Winter Park, Florida
[Q1] Before titles, a video recap of Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro’s feud aired...
After titles, the graphic for the Divas Title played as Bayley made her way down to the ring. Following a quick video recapping AJ and Bayley’s run in last week, AJ came out to a nice pop. The introductions were handled in the ring...
1. AJ Lee vs. Bayley for the Divas title. Alex Riley and Tom Phillips are on commentary. I’m so gutted JR and Regal aren’t calling Cesaro vs. Zayn. Bayley wanted a hug to start the match, but AJ grabbed her head and shoved her to the mat. AJ had all of the early going, until she showboated too much before going for a corner splash, which allowed Bayley to side step her. Bayley got her hug, but utilised it to shove AJ into the turnbuckle a few times.
A corner clothesline and a body slam got Bayley a two count, as did a flying back elbow. AJ looked to have hurt her mouth, which lead to Bayley fussing over her, only for AJ to kick her in the stomach and nail her with the Shining Wizard to retain her title...
AJ Lee defeated Bayley to retain the Divas title in 4:22.
AJ quickly grabbed her title and left up the ramp...
Gutt Reaction: Bayley looked like such a goof. I know she’s meant to be a child like character, but fans won’t get behind her if they know theres a chance she’s going to throw away every match. The match was instantly forgettable.
Backstage, Tyler Breeze was admiring himself on his phone. A woman walked past and he asked her to take a picture. When she stood next to him, he said he wanted her to take a picture of him. As Breeze prepared himself, CJ Parker appeared behind him and proceeded to pull funny faces. He ran away when Breeze got his phone back. Breeze got annoyed because someone “photobombed” him, and he walked away saying “they’re ruining my entire life”... [C]
Gutt Reaction: A quick Goggle search revealed that CJ Parker is also the name of Pamela Anderson’s character on Baywatch. If WWE isn’t concerned by slight name infringement, then why not actually rename Breeze “Tyler Zoolander” (even if the film nerd in me has to point out he resembles Owen Wilson’s character Hansel more)? The “ruining my life” line actual stood out as something new. A hyper sensitive model type could be funny. There is hope yet.
[Q2] The Ascension were on the ramp when we returned. Guess we’re going to have our faith tested before we get to the good stuff later in the show. They’re opponents, jobbers Ron Hicks and Michael Zacky, waited outside the ring...
2. The Ascension vs. Ron Hicks and Michael Zacky. Conor O’Brian started with his rolling headlock on Zacky, before tagging in Rick Victor to start the usual Ascension quick tags. The pair didn’t wait long before taking out Zacky with a running high/low combo and getting the 1-2-3...
The Ascension defeated Ron Hicks and Michael Zacky in 1:35.
Conor O’Brian shouted “We! Will! Rise!” as the blue mood lighting filled the arena...
Gutt Reaction: At least it was quick. We’ve had more than a years worth of Ascension squash matches, and they are still not entertaining. The Ascension are also no more over with the crowd. I’m so ready for an abandonment of this gimmick.
CJ Parker walked onto the stage with a new hippie inspired video and song. He also danced like he was off his tits (read: high). This ought to go down well in PG WWE. Tom Phillips said Parker looked like “Predator after being hit over the head with a Jackson Pollock painting”. I didn’t know Phillips told jokes! His opponent Baron Corbin was already in the ring...
3. CJ Parker vs. Baron Corbin. Parker carried the hippie mannerisms into his match, at one point flashing the peace sign. Corbin didn’t seem phased, looking to take control with a shoulder block. He took Parker to the corner, but Parker managed to kick him in the face when he charged. Parker placed Corbin in the corner, and following a running double knee attack, put him down with an open hand uppercut. Parker picked Corbin up and dropped him with his new finisher, a kick-out headlock drop...
CJ Parker defeated Baron Corbin in 1:39.
Following the match Renee Young got in the ring to interview Parker. She asked where he had been, and he said it was more a question of where hasn’t he been. She asked exactly who is CJ Parker, and he said he may be called a “hippie”, but he sees himself as just man who goes with the flow, and has a little fun. Renee asked him about his photobombing of Breeze, and he told her “bomb” was a harsh word. He preferred the term “video loving”.
Breeze’s music hit, and he quickly walked to the ring. He shouted at “CJP” for ruining his picture, which was shown on the big screen. Parker said he didn’t see anything wrong with it; he was just having a good time. Breeze asked if they were all joking now, because the only joke he could see was the “Lenny Kravitz wannabe” stood in the ring with him. Breeze shoved him, but ducked out of the ring when Parker threatened to throw a punch. Breeze backed up the ramp and told Parker to stop ruining his life...
A Dolph Ziggler hype video aired. His match is up next... [C]
Gutt Reaction: I really can’t decide if this feud has comedy potential. I am usually a big fan of delusional, over the top comedic characters like a Santino Marella, and both men here seem to be angling for that. But it requires a lot of skill to make it work, and neither man sold me here. No one cuts their best promo straight after a match, but Parker seemed a little awkward. Breeze was better, but still felt a little too much like every other model character we’ve seen. If he really tries to push his somewhat feminine aspects, it may just work.
[Q3] Alexander Rusev walked out for his NXT debut. The Bulgarian national walked out with a piece of wood with “Ziggler” written on it. He got in the ring, and after removing his long leather skirt, he smashed the piece of wood over his knee. Ziggler ran onto the stage looking pumped, and he received a monster reaction from the Full Sail crowd...
4. Dolph Ziggler vs. Alexander Rusev. A “that was awesome” chant broke out immediately, before they even locked up. The Cult of Full Sail can be easy to impress. The first two minutes was all stalling from Ziggler, as Ruzev kept motioning for a test of strength. Ziggler tried to hit Rusev with a crossbody, but Rusev caught him and hit him with knees to the ribs before dumping him to the outside. Rusev threw Ziggler back in the ring, and hit him with a low shoulder tackle in the corner before applying a bear hug.
Ziggler escaped with a jawbreaker, and picked up the pace with a corner splash and a dropkick. Ziggler shot Rusev to the ropes, but Rusev recovered quickly to hit Dolph with a running body check. He slowly picked Ziggler, but this time Ziggler recovered quickly to land a Fame Asser. Rusev kicked out at two from the following pin, and when Ziggler shot him into the ropes again, Rusev took him out with an impressive spinning heel kick. Ziggler kicked out, but stayed down after the pin. Rusev decided to go to the top rope, but Ziggler rolled out of the way of the big splash. Ziggler took advantage and hit the Zig Zag...
Dolph Ziggler defeated Alexander Ruzev in 6:12.
Ziggler played to the crowd as the commentators put over both men ...
Gutt Reaction: I initially questioned the logic of having Rusev’s first match on NXT be against a guy like Ziggler, but the match went on for a surprisingly long amount of time, and Rusev had more than his fair share of offense. He certainly has a unique look, but some of his pre-match ritual was a little corny. I’ll give WWE this, though – the athleticism of their bigger guys (Wyatt, Clay etc.) is improving year by year.
Sami Zayn was out first, but before Cesaro could get in the ring, Zayn dived over the ropes on to him. Zayn threw him into the ring, and the ref checked on Cesaro before ringing the bell...
5. Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Cesaro pulled himself up in the corner, only for Zayn to hit him immediately with a big boot and score the first fall with the quick roll up...
Sami Zayn pinned Antonio Cesaro in 0:04 to win the first fall.
Zayn clotheslined Cesaro to the outside, quickly following him and throwing him into the steps as the “Ole!” chants started. Once they were back in the ring, Zayn tried several times to get another quick pin, coming closest off of a flying crossbody. He tried to send Cesaro to the corner, but Cesaro launched him up high to send him crashing into the turnbuckle. Cesaro pounded on Zayn a little before we went to the last commercial... [C]
[Q4] Both men were in opposite corners when we returned, but as Zayn charged, Cesaro launched at him and locked in a headlock. Cesaro did his big swing spot before putting Zayn on the mat, and Zayn surprisingly tapped...
Antonio Cesaro submitted Sami Zayn in 3:30 to win the second fall.
Zayn sold the effects of the headlock in the corner before Cesaro ran at him and hit a vicious European uppercut. Zayn rolled to the outside, and tried to fight off Cesaro, but Cesaro dropped him across the ropes, and then performed a superplex while Zayn was still stood on the apron in a cool spot. Zayn kicked out at two, and Cesaro picked him up by the throat and started shouting at him. Zayn tried to stem the tide with a few quick roll up pins, but it ended in a stalemate. Following one last quick pin attempt, this time a beautiful victory roll, Cesaro rolled to the outside.
Zayn exited the ring on hard camera side of the ring, with Cesaro getting to his feet near the ramp. Zayn ran and dived between the bottom and middle rope, catching Cesaro with a tornado DDT. Awesome. Cesaro only just managed to beat the 10 count to get back into the ring. Zayn tried to finish the match with his springboard DDT, but Cesaro caught him, powered him up above his head, and launched him up for the Very European uppercut. Cesaro quickly picked Zayn up, hit the Neutraliser, and got the decisive pin...
Antonio Cesaro won the 3rd and final fall to defeat Sami Zayn in 9:31.
The crowd gave both men a standing ovation, and chanted “match of the year” as Cesaro celebrated and NXT came to a close...
Gutt Reaction: Wow! I’m hard pressed to remember a better match in NXT history, especially with the action following the second fall. Both men brought a lot of energy, and the crowd were right to give them a standing ovation at the end. It’s rare to see a match with one spot you have never seen before, but there were at least three in the last quarter of this one show. Zayn needs to be on the main roster before the turn of the year. Also, creative think Cesaro needs to be in a mid card tag team with a gimmick that makes no sense?!? Wake the f’ up!
The pre-amble was a little dull, but didn’t outstay its welcome. You need, NEED, to see the main event of this show. The match has been hyped since the tapings by a lot of well respected people, and it more than lived up to its billing. I suspect NXT will gain a lot of fans thanks to this match.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on the article, add me on Twitter - @DazatheG
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