Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Neville and Graves defend their NXT tag titles vs. The Ascension, Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Santino Marella and Emma, Kassius Ohno’s in ring return vs. Luke Harper, and the Bo Dallas Invitational
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired October 2, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped September 12 at Full Sail University
A video package hyped Fandango’s appearance on the show… The opening video played… The camera panned the fans chanting “NXT” before Fandango and Summer Rae danced their way to the ring. Fandango had a bit more flare to him than usual. Emma’s music hit and she danced onto the stage. Renee Young approached her with a mic and asked if she had a partner. Emma answered that she had the best possible partner she could ever have. Santino Marella’s music hit and he got a good pop.
He and Emma awkwardly hugged on the stage, and they miscomunicated on how to walk to the ring, eventually settling on a power walking EMMAlution dance. Emma awkwardly skinned the cat, and Santino followed suit, with a little help from Emma when he couldn’t quite make it. Renee Young joined Tom Phillips and Alex Riley on commentary for this match and the fans were chanting “this is awesome” at the funny entrance.
1. Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Santino Marella and Emma. Santino climbed the turnbuckle to wave to the crowd, and almost fell over the top to ringside. He sold embarrassment until the crowd chanted “one more time” and he timidly made his way back up for a big pop. Fandango did some fancy footwork and shook his butt at Santino, so Santino rebutted with some not-so-fancy footwork of his own and the crowd let Fandango know he got served. Funny stuff.
Things finally got more serious and Fandango took control with a knee to the gut. A short time later, Santino went up and over Fandango in the corner and almost struck with the Cobra, but Fandango rolled to ringside. Emma entered the ring and helped Santino modify the Cobra into the EMMAlution and the two danced around the ring… [C]
Back from break, Fanndango briefly took control before Santino came back with several judo throws. Santino and Emma high-fived, which the referee interpreted (rightfully so) as a tag. He eventually got Santino out and Emma in, only for them to make the tag right back. They high-fived again, constituting another tag. They made the same mistake a third time and Fandango was furious. They almost did it again, but thought better of it. Great spot.
Fandango had enough and dropped Santino with a right hand before going to work on him. Fandango got a two-count off a suplex as the commentators strayed from the action in the ring. Another funny spot came when Emma went after Summer for slapping Santino, meanwhile Santino broke free in the ring and went for the hot tag, only to flop face-first when Emma wasn’t there to receive it. Fandango stayed in control and went up to the tope rope for his leg drop, only for Santino to roll across the ring. They repeated the spot several times until Santino managed to get a near-fall with a backslide.
Santino kipped up and made the hot tag to Emma, who quickly went after Summer and locked in the DilEmma , and then followed up with her running crossbody in the corner. Santino gave Emma the cobra sleeve and was showing her how it worked, before Summer took Emma down with her rolling DDT. The two briefly broke out in a catfight until Emma whipped Summer into Fandango, which actually flipped him into the ring and the referee said it was a tag. Santino and Emma hit hiptosses and headbutts in unison before Santino struck with the Cobra and scored the pinfall on Fandango.
Santino Marella and Emma beat Fandango and Summer Rae in about 10:00.
The crowd gave a very good post-match reaction. Santino and Emma celebrated in the ring as a replay showed the finishing Cobra strike. The camera settled on Alex Riley, Tom Phillips and Renee Young for a short time as they discussed the match… Scott Stanford hyped the NXT Tag Team Title match between Graves, Neville, and The Ascension later in the show. He also hyped Kassius Ohno’s return match against Luke Harper, coming up next… [C]
Zim’s Zag: What a fun match! Not everyone enjoys comedy in wrestling as much as I do, but that’s how it’s done. Fandango and Summer are great foils to a comedic duo like Santino and Emma, as they’re capable of being funny heels without trying to outshine the babyfaces. The crowd was totally behind Santino and Emma and they ate it up. Very enjoyable 10 minutes.
Somewhere blue, Connor O’Brian and Rick Victor spoke as video clips showed their win over Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady last week. O’Brian vowed that they would take the NXT tag titles where they belong, their home. Victor said “The heroes will fall, and we will rise…”
Back in the arena, Kassius Ohno made his entrance. He looked to be in great shame and was as amped up as he’s ever been. The Wyatt’s music hit and the crowd popped for the return of the homegrown favorite. Luke Harper made his way to the ring as virtually the entire crowd swayed back and forth to the best music in wrestling. There’s a visual I really miss.
2. Kassius Ohno vs. Luke Harper. Harper went right after Ohno, super physical from the get-go. He tossed Ohno to ringside once, but when he tried to do it again, Ohno flipped over the ropes and landed nicely on the apron. He quickly re-entered the ring and staggered the big man with a high single-leg dropkick, but got caught with knees in the corner, and Harper regained momentum with a hard back elbow.
Harper worked Ohno over before settling into an aggressive looking chinlock. Ohno freed himself by running Harper into the turnbuckle, and then fired away with shots. He hit a big kick to the head that knocked Harper to ringside and followed up with a running dropkick through the ropes. Ohno got Harper back in the ring, but as he hit the ropes, he ate a huge big boot from Harper. Harper stalked Ohno in the corner and crushed him with a splash before following up with the discus clothesline for the win.
Luke Harper beat Kassius Ohno in 3:00.
Harper’s eyes bulged as he stood over Ohno. A replay showed the big boot and the clothesline before Harper stoically left the ring…
Backstage, Enzo Amore was standing with Colin Cassady. Amore said they were “as close as Siamese twins to becoming number-one contenders for the NXT tag team titles” before Dawson and Rusev caused them their first loss as a team. Cassady said that Dawson and Rusev had been spending too much time at the taco stand, noting that they weren’t eating hard tacos. Cassady carried on while Amore tried to figure out what other types of tacos there were. Cassady called Rusev the “big mush” and said his mother is disappointed that he goes in the ring with no shoes and wears a skirt. Amore said he needs to put some shoes on before it finally dawned on him: they’d been filling up on “S-A-W-F-T: sawwwft tacos.” Cassady said sometimes he worries about Amore, before the two walked off the set…
Scott Stanford hyped the Bo Dallas Invitational, coming up next (which is not the case, in fact)… [C]
Zim’s Zag: I would’ve liked to see that one go at least another three-to-five minutes, but that was about as good of a match as you can get out of three minutes. Ohno looked good and worked hard in the moments he had to shine. I’ve been one of Luke Harper’s biggest proponents as long as I’ve been covering NXT, and this match was a great example of why. Everything about the guy is true to his character and his work is always entertaining and believable, even his chinlocks. The Amore-Cassady pairing is growing together really nicely, that was a fun backstage exchange.
A vignette for Mojo Rawley aired. He said that ‘hype’ is the most powerful force in the world. He said it can transform someone from ordinary to super-human. He said that he doesn’t “get hype,” he “stays hype.” The graphic revealed that he would be debuting next week…
Back in the arena, The Ascension made their entrance. The champs were out next, starting with Adrian Neville, followed by Corey Graves. They bumped fists before entering the ring together. Referee Jason Ayers displayed the title belts before calling for the bell.
3. The Ascension (Rick Victor and Connor O’Brian) vs. Adrian Neville and Corey Graves for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Neville showed great agility and athleticism early getting the upper hand on Victor. About a minute in, Victor hit a jumping shoulder tackle before tagging in O’Brian. He ran through Neville with his repeating shoulder blocks and briefly kept control. Neville escaped a suplex attempt and made the tag to Graves, who came in firing on O’Brian. He hit a jumping mule kick, but ran right into a high flapjack from O’Brian before the Ascension began making frequent tags and continued to work over Graves… [C]
Back from break, Corey Graves got a hope spot with a running crossbody, but he wasn’t able to make the tag, as he was selling his ribs. O’Brian tagged in and hit a big leg drop for two before settling into a legscissors. Rick Victor re-entered the match and continued to methodically work over Graves for the next couple minutes. A few idiots in the crowd chanted “you can’t wrestle,” and I’d like to think they were chanting it at themselves. Eventually, Graves evaded a charging Victor, sending him shoulder-first into the ringpost and allowing Graves to make the hot tag to Neville.
Neville went to work on Victor with kicks and back elbows, before knocking O’Brian off the apron with a dropkick. A dropkick for Victor also sent him to ringside, and Neville followed up with a big no-hands flip over the top, wiping out both members of The Ascension. Neville got Victor back in the ring and hit a high springboard dropkick for a near-fall. Neville executed his up-and-over handspring, caught Victor with a high round kick, and climbed to the top rope.
Neville leapt off with the Red Arrow, but O’Brian pulled Victor out of harm’s way. Graves made the save after a believable near-fall following the crash and burn, and then dragged Neville to their corner where he tagged himself into the match. He stalked Victor for the chop block, but Victor hit a single-leg high knee strike on the charging Graves. O’Brian tagged in and the duo hit their high/low. He covered Graves and scored the clean win.
The Ascension defeated Corey Graves and Adrian Neville to win the NXT Tag Team Championships in about 10:30.
The Ascension’s lighting hit and they held up their titles as the show went to its final break… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Good tag match. It was a bit slow and formulaic at points, but the story was solid and Neville looked really good here. I like The Ascension winning, as they’ve been portrayed so dominantly over the past few months that it brings the question of who can take the titles from them. The NXT tag division is relatively shallow at the moment, so I’m expecting a lengthy, dominant run from the duo. I’m also looking forward to what’s next for Neville and Graves.
Back in the arena, NXT Champion Bo Dallas made his entrance. He took a mic and welcomed everyone to a historic night, the first ever Bo Dallas Invitational. He said he was giving the young, up-and-coming superstars the opportunity of a lifetime. He reminded viewers that anyone who beats him will earn a shot at the NXT Championship. “Enough with the talking, its Bo time,” Bo closed. His first opponent made his way to the ring (I apologize for not knowing his identity, feel free to hit me up on twitter if you know). Before the bell rang, the crowd started a loud “let’s go this guy!” chant.
4. Bo Dallas vs. This Guy. Bo shook his hand and the guy got a quick near-fall with a schoolboy rollup right out of the gate. The crowd popped big and a loud “this guy” chant broke out. Dallas took control with a kick to the gut and fired away at the guy with strikes in the corner. He let the guy get to his feet before hitting a spear and scoring the pinfall.
Bo Dallas beat This Guy in about 1:10.
Dallas patronized the jobber briefly and took the mic back. He said he feels great and he barely even broke a sweat. He offered for anyone else to come out and enter the Bo Dallas Invitational. Leo Kruger’s music hit and the crowd popped. He made his way to ringside as the crowd chanted “Kru,” until it was interrupted by The Real Americans’ music. The crowd popped big for Antonio Cesaro, who is over big-time with the Full Sail crowd. Cesaro and Kruger argued over who was going to enter until it broke down and they went to work on each other. Cesaro knocked Kruger from the ring, only to be knocked out by Bo Dallas. Dallas stood tall until El Local’s music hit. A peculiarly pasty and skinnier El Local ran into the ring, and the match was underway.
5. Bo Dallas vs. “El Local”. Dallas charged at Local with a spear, but Local jumped right over him, sending Dallas face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Dallas pulled himself up in the corner, only to eat a big yakuza kick. Local made the cover and scored the win.
“El Local” beat Bo Dallas to win the Bo Dallas Invitational in about 0:15.
El Local celebrated and the crowd began a loud “Ole” chant as Dallas was still down, visibly shaken. The crowd chanted “si” as El Local unmasked to reveal himself as Sami Zayn. Dallas flipped out and rolled to ringside as Zayn celebrated in the ring to close the show.
Zim’s Zag: If Zayn was the only wrestler banned from the Invitational, I’m not sure why it makes sense that just because he was wearing different gear, the win will count. That said, they may work to it next week, and even if not, the idea of Zayn getting a well-deserved title shot is enough to look past a slight gap in logic.
This was a really entertaining show. The opening match was a lot of fun, the tag title match gave fans a fix of competitive in-ring action, and the Invitational served its purpose and moves things one step closer to Zayn vs. Dallas, which feels like the most anticipated title matchup NXT has promoted. Check out this show if you have the time, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable hour of wrestling.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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