Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn two-out-of-three falls, AJ Lee vs. Bayley for the Diva’s title, Dolph Ziggler in action, CJ Parker makes his in-ring debut and video-loves all over Tyler Breeze
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired August 21, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped July 12 at Full Sail University
A great video package recapped the history (in NXT) between Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro, which will culminate on this show in a two-out-of-three falls match… The opening video aired… In the arena, the camera panned the crowd as Tom Phillips and Alex Riley checked in on commentary.
The Diva’s Title graphic popped up as Bayley made her entrance for the opening contest and her first shot at gold in WWE/NXT. A video recapped last week’s awkward backstage exchange where AJ agreed to give Bayley a title match. Champion AJ Lee’s music hit and she skipped her way to the ring to a big pop. Both ladies got full championship introductions in the ring.
1. AJ Lee vs. Bayley for the WWE Diva’s Championship. AJ had a tough time reading Bayley as she awkwardly approached for a hug. When she got close enough, AJ whipped her to the mat and went on offense. AJ hit two neckbreakers and then went to work on Bayley in the corner.
AJ settled into a cravat in the middle of the ring; Bayley tried to fight out, but AJ took her down with a hard elbow for a two-count. Bayley dodged a stinger splash in the corner and then got the hug she was looking for earlier. As she hugged AJ, she repeatedly slammed AJ backwards into the turnbuckle. Funny spot for Bayley’s character.
Bayley charged and caught AJ in the corner before planting her with a bodyslam for a two-count. Bayley ran the ropes and dropped a knee for three more successive two-counts. She went up to the second rope and connected with a diving back elbow for yet another near-fall on Diva’s Champion AJ.
AJ was slow to get up and was holding her mouth, which visibly concerned Bayley. Bayley approached AJ to check on her, but got caught with a spinning back kick to the gut. AJ hit the ropes and connected with the shining wizard for the win.
AJ Lee beat Bayley to retain the Diva’s Championship in about 4:30
After the match, AJ appeared a bit shaken as she clutched her title closely and made her way back up the ramp…
Backstage, Tyler Breeze was checking himself out in his phone. A hot young lady was walking by and Breeze stopped her, “Hey, do you want to take a picture…” as she began to smile and say yes, he cut her off, “…of me?” She was disappointed, but agreed anyway. As Breeze prepared himself and got into Blue Steel mode, CJ Parker popped up behind him, making faces and holding up fingers behind Breeze’s head. Breeze took his phone back and when he saw the picture, he got half-mad and half-started crying. He ran away whining that “They’re ruining my entire life.”
Scott Stanford hyped the main event: Cesaro vs. Zayn two-out-of-three falls… [C]
Zim’s Zag: The Divas match was competent, but not remarkable. Both ladies are really in-tune with their characters and this was a good display of that, but the in-ring work wasn’t top-notch. I’m intrigued to see how this program between Breeze and CJ Parker shapes itself. Both guys are slightly cartoonish (like the backstage segment), but both have potential as well.
Back from break, the team of Ron Hicks and Michael Zaki were introduced and were already in the ring. The lights cut out and the arena turned blue as The Ascension made their well-produced entrance for a tag team bout. Zero reaction for the duo.
2. The Ascension (Conor O’Brian and Rick Victor) vs. Ron Hicks and Michael Zaki. O’Brian opened with his rolling headlocks and then forced his knee into the jobber’s throat. Rick Victor tagged in and hit a double-palm strike before he went to work with chops and uppercuts in the corner. He used a judo takedown and tagged in Conor O’Brian. They hit a double catching hiptoss slam and a short time later, hit their running high/low for the win.
The Ascension beat Hicks and Zaki in about 1:30.
Their lighting took effect as they posed in the ring and a replay aired of the slam and the rather weak looking finisher…
Scott Stanford hyped the main event: Cesaro vs. Zayn two-out-of-three falls. He also hyped that coming up next would be the debut of the new and improved CJ Parker… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Same old stuff from the Ascension. Time to step it up and actually try to do something with them, or as my Limey friend Gutteridge would say, abandon the gimmick. Hope isn’t all lost, but it’s certainly wandering away.
Back from break, Baron Corbin was introduced and was already in the ring. Jimi Hendrix-esque music hit and a psychedelic video wall accompanied the entrance of CJ Parker, who was billed from the Moon Child Commune. He and his dreads danced on the stage, down the ramp, and in the ring like he was on the greatest acid trip ever.
3. CJ Parker vs. Baron Corbin. Parker’s zen carried into his mannerisms during the match. About a minute in, Corbin was in control and was working Parker over in the corner. Parker got his boot up and started a comeback with a clothesline. He charged at Corbin in the corner and hit a high running double knee strike. He danced a bit and caught Corbin with a palm thrust before finishing the match with a falling DDT.
CJ Parker beat Baron Corbin in about 1:40.
Post-match, Renee Young entered the ring for an interview with Parker. She asked where CJ had been, and CJ replied “It’s more like, where haven’t I been?” He said he finally found what he’s looking for. Renee asked who CJ Parker was, and he said “I’m just me, and you’re just you.” He said people may call him a hippie, but he’s just a guy who goes with the flow and has a little fun. Renee asked if by fun he meant photobombing other wrestlers, but CJ said that bomb was a little too harsh, he said it was more like “video lovin’.”
Zigglander - er - Tyler Breeze’s music hit and he stormed to the ring. He took the mic and in his best Zoolander voice, asked “Really? Really, CJP?” He blamed CJ for ruining his gorgeous picture, as the picture from earlier popped up on the tron. CJ said he didn’t see anything wrong with that picture so “chillax, hotboy.” Breeze condescended CJ and called him a Lenny Kravitz wannabe. He shoved CJ and when CJ cocked back to punch Breeze, Breeze dropped out of the ring and backed up the ramp. He said CJ is ruins his life every single time, so please stay out of his pictures…
A hype video for Dolph Ziggler aired and Scott Stanford revealed that he would be in action coming up next… [C]
Zim’s Zag: CJ Parker is fun in the ring and I honestly don’t think his hippie character flies that hard into the face of WWE being PG. I’m really up-in-the-air on the program with Parker and Breeze. On one hand, I really like the dedication to the characters and I feel like with the right creative and the right intensity, this feud could be fun and establish both guys. I’m concerned, however, that it will be written in a way that highlights the goofy aspects of the guys involved rather than allowing them to settle into their characters and get comfortable as believable acts. Time will tell.
Back from break, Alexander Rusev made his entrance with no video wall and generic symphony music. He was billed from Bulgaria and broke a wooden board with Ziggler written on it over his knee. His gear is a leather version of Samoa Joe’s ‘Nation of Violence’ shorts and I hate it so much. Dolph Ziggler’s music hit to a huge pop and Ziggler hit the stage rearing and ready to go. Total case of big fish small pond, where Ziggler looked (and presumably felt) like a complete superstar.
4. Dolph Ziggler vs. Alexander Rusev. In his only good line of the night, A-Ry pointed out that since this is Rusev’s NXT debut, he’s got nothing to lose facing a former world champion. Ziggler shot in for a quick rollup early, but only got a one-count. Rusev had slight control a short time later, but the Show Off showed off and strutted around the ring to a great reaction.
They locked up and Rusev overpowered Ziggler, but Ziggler came right back with a perfect dropkick. He hit the ropes and went for a crossbody, but Rusev caught him and held him against the ropes, where he landed repeated knee strikes to Ziggler’s ribs before the referee’s five-count. A short time later, Rusev charged at Ziggler in the corner and hit a hard running shoulder to continue the work on the mid-section. Ziggler countered a rear waistlock with a stunner, then caught Rusev with a stinger splash and a running dropkick for two. Ziggler hit the ropes, but Rusev followed closely with a hard body block for a two-count of his own.
Rusev was slow to pick up Ziggler, so Ziggler hit a quick kick to the leg and followed up with the fameasser for another two-count. Ziggler went for the Zig Zag, but Rusev held onto the ropes and connected with an impressive spinning heel kick for a near-fall. Rusev dragged Ziggler to the middle of the ring and went up to the top rope, but missed the diving splash. Ziggler nailed the Zig Zag and scored the pinfall.
Dolph Ziggler beat Alexander Rusev in about 6:20.
Ziggler celebrated his win to a good reaction…
Scott Stanford hyped the main event coming up next…[C]
Zim’s Zag: I think the same match could’ve fit into a five minutes, but it was a solid showing. Rusev looked pretty good in his debut with a fair share of offense, but working against Ziggler is a pretty huge benefit. I’m interested to see where Rusev will land coming out of this.
A video package showed highlights of NXT at SummerSlam Axxess and it was hyped that they would air an exclusive inside look on next week’s show…
Sami Zayn made his entrance to a good reaction and appeared to be in the best shape of his career. Antonio Cesaro was out next, no flag this week. As Cesaro made his way to the bottom of the ramp, Zayn flipped over the ropes and wiped Cesaro out at ringside. They brawled briefly before Zayn threw Cesaro back into the ring. Referee Jason Ayers checked with Cesaro, got the nod, and called for the bell.
5. Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro in a two-out-of-three falls match. Zayn charged at Cesaro in the corner and hit the yakuza kick. He quickly rolled Cesaro up and got the three count.
Sami Zayn scored the first pinfall in about 0:07.
Cesaro made it back to his feet, but was quickly knocked to ringside my a clothesline from Zayn. Zayn followed and sent Cesaro crashing into the ring steps. Zayn continued to get the better of Cesaro at ringside and connected with a high running heel kick for two back in the ring. Zayn mounted Cesaro in the corner and went for ten punches, but Cesaro countered. The two continued to ho hold-for-hold until Zayn surprised Cesaro with a high diving crossbody for another two-count.
Zayn charged at Cesaro, but Cesaro dropped him face-first into the top turnbuckle and took control. Cesaro wore Zayn down with shits into the corner and locked in his sleeper. Zayn tried to fight out, but Cesaro scooped up the legs and planted Zayn with a powerbomb for a two-count. Cesaro went right back to the sleeper and quelled another attempt at a comeback by Zayn. Cesaro hit his double-stomp for another two-count.
Cesaro invited Zayn to hit him, and Zayn started to fire back with forearms. Again however, Cesaro kept the upper hand by dropping Zayn with an over-the-shoulder suplex. Cesaro connected with yet another stomp and then scooped up Zayn for the stalling gutwrench, but Zayn reversed into a sunset flip for a quick pin attempt. Cesaro charged but missed Zayn in the corner, and Zayn hit the ropes and took Cesaro down with a perfect running hurricanrana for another two-count.
Cesaro came right back with an awesome bridging fallaway suplex for a two-count of his own. [C] Cesaro stalked Zayn and went back to the sleeper. A-Ry continued to ruin things with his commentary. He said Zayn and Cesaro are the same size. Really, A-Ry? Zayn countered out and got a quick two-count on a rollup. Zayn fired away at Cesaro and hit a big flapjack dropkick. He charged at Cesaro in the corner, but Cesaro met him mid-ring and hooked in the sleeper again. He synched it in tight and Zayn began to fade, so he tapped out before too much damage was done.
Antonio Cesaro won the second fall by submission in about 8:00.
Zayn was slow to get back up, selling the effects of the sleeper as the crowd chanted “Let’s go Sami.” Cesaro charged at Zayn in the corner and nailed a running European uppercut for a good near-fall. Zayn rolled to the apron, but Cesaro hung him up and went to the middle rope. A-Ry totally ruined the spot by saying he’s seen Cesaro do it before, when we haven’t. Shut up, A-Ry. Cesaro hoisted Zayn up from the apron over into a superplex. Great strength spot. Zayn kicked out before three, but was in bad shape.
Zayn attempted a small package, but again Cesaro’s freak strength was able to deadlift Zayn up and over, where Zayn was able to score another near-fall on a rollup. Zayn connected with another yakuza kick in the corner, but Cesaro was able to kick out before the three-count. Both guys were slow to their feet, but Zayn connected with a running Yoshi-tonic for a good near-fall. Cesaro rolled to ringside, and Zayn did the same in the far corner of the ringside area. He charged towards Cesaro, dove through the bottom and middle turnbuckles, and drilled Cesaro with a tornado DDT. Vintage Generi… Great spot. Cesaro beat the count-out and kicked out before three back in the ring.
Zayn took the arm of Cesaro, ran up the turnbuckle, and went for his swinging DDT, but Cesaro stopped him mid-swing and powered him up above his head. Cesaro launched Zayn up and caught him coming down with a great Very European uppercut. Zayn was rocked and Cesaro wasted no time following up with the Neutralizer for the pinfall.
Antonio Cesaro defeated Sami Zayn in about 13:30.
Cesaro celebrated and a lengthy series of replays highlighted the excellent main event. Cesaro was pumped up and got a great response to his “we the people” line. Everyone was standing and Cesaro stood over Zayn as the crowd chanted “match of the year” at the two competitors. Cesaro ‘kicked dirt’ at Zayn as the show went off air.
Zim’s Zag: That was the best match in the year-long run of NXT, so in that aspect, it was indeed the match of the year. Both guys are so familiar with each other and their work together is just incredible to watch. There was great logic used in the falls and stories were told within each fall as well as an overall story to the match. I know they billed this as the blowoff and Zayn will likely move into the NXT Title picture, but I really want to see more matches from these two down the road. This match is a must-see.
As a whole, this show was paced nicely and featured some really exciting things for regular NXT viewers. The characters need to settle, but Tyler Breeze and CJ parker are a great addition to a roster that was becoming stagnant. AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler working competitive matches gives some rub to two NXT up-and-comers. The Ascension was forgettable in the midst of everything else happening, but a lot of people still like their work a lot. Those things alone make for a good show, and with a main event as stellar is this, I’d call this (with no due respect to Miz) the most must-see episode of NXT yet.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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