Zim’s WWE NXT Review: Rob Van Dam vs. Aiden English, Antonio Cesaro vs. Leo Kruger steals the show, NXT title match setup between Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley debuts, and an appearance by an indie standout
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired October 9, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped September 12 at Full Sail University
A video package hyped Rob Van Dam’s appearance later in the show… The opening video played… The show opened into Leo Kruger’s entrance, which was met with a “Kru” chant from the Full Sail crowd. Antonio Cesaro and his Gadsden flag-cape were out next to a largely positive reaction for singles action.
1. Leo Kruger vs. Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro hit a huge running dropkick right out of the gate. His momentum didn’t last long, however, as Kruger took him to the outside with a clothesline. Alex Riley on commentary talked about how Kruger chants “ta ta ta,” which he doesn’t do. He chants “Kru” and ends his promos with a maniacal “ta-ta,” but A-Ry is completely unaware. Kruger and Cesaro brawled around ringside with Kruger keeping the upper hand.
Back in the ring, Cesaro took control with a shot to the gut and continued to work over Kruger. Cesaro attempted a suplex, but Kruger reversed into a snap suplex of his own. He went to work on Cesaro in the corner and hit a Russian leg sweep for a one-count. Cesaro managed to reverse a whip into the corner and dropped Kruger with a vicious running uppercut that scored a two-count. A-Ry said that Dolph Ziggler told him personally that Cesaro was a better wrestler than Ziggler. What the hell? Cesaro planted Kruger with a hard uranage slam for another two-count, before climbing up to the top rope. Before he could take off, Kruger met him up top and connected with a superplex… [C]
Back from break, Kruger knocked Cesaro to ringside and followed up with a dive through the ropes. Uncharacteristic for Kruger. Kruger got Cesaro back in the ring and put him down hard with a Double-A spinebuster. He stalked Cesaro and charged for the Slice, but Cesaro escaped to ringside. Kruger went in pursuit, but Cesaro turned the tables and bashed Kruger into the ringsteps. Cesaro hit a back suplex, dropping Kruger on the ring apron, before rolling back into the ring, looking for a countout win. Kruger made it back before the ten-count, but Cesaro tossed him right back out and used his gutwrench suplex on the ramp. Cesaro once again re-entered the ring and waited for the countout, but Kruger made it back in at nine.
Cesaro teed-off with closed fists before rocking Kruger with multiple European uppercuts. Cesaro got a good near-fall with the Alpamare Waterslide, and looked to follow up with the Neutralizer, but Kruger managed to escape. Kruger began to mount a comeback, but ran right into the very European uppercut for another great near-fall. Cesaro locked in a sleeper hold, and as Kruger worked back to his feet, Cesaro put him down with a hard short-arm clothesline. Cesaro picked him up, hit the Neutralizer, and scored the pinfall.
Antonio Cesaro beat Leo Kruger in about 11:20.
Post-match, Cesaro went up to the top rope and crushed Kruger with a great-looking diving knee drop about two-thirds of the way across the ring. Kruger sold his throat and was tended to by the medical staff as Cesaro looked on from the ramp… Scott Stanford hyped the main event, Rob Van Dam vs. Aiden English… [C]
Zim’s Zag: That was an excellent match. The crowd was into Cesaro more than Kruger, but Cesaro stayed true to his character and kept strong heel the whole match. He busted out some great looking offense from his indie days that we don’t get to see very often, so that was a cool treat. In the end, Cesaro looked like a beast, Kruger showed great heart, and there’s reason to look forward to a rematch. Well done.
Back from break, Charlotte made her entrance and was accompanied by Bayley. Renee Young joined Tom Phillips and A-Ry on commentary for this matchup. Charlotte’s opponent, female indie standout Santana Garrett, was already in the ring.
2. Charlotte vs. Santana Garrett. Both ladies traded rolling takedowns and athletic armbar reversals. Garrett used a drop-toe-hold to send Charlotte face-first into the middle turnbuckle, and followed up with a running kick. Garrett used a Russian legsweep and transitioned into a unique grounded armbar. Summer Rae and Sasha Banks made their way to ringside and patronized Charlotte. Charlotte escaped and hit several chops before getting a two-count with Charlotte’s Web. Garrett came right back with a schoolgirl for a two-count of her own, but ran right into a fireman’s carry flapjack. Charlotte followed up too quickly with a dreadful looking summersault cutter (if you can even call it that) for the win.
Charlotte beat Santana Garrett in about 3:00.
Post-match, Bayley and Charlotte hugged in the ring befre heading up the ramp. Summer and Sasha entered the ring to cut a promo. Summer said they were the “beautiful, fierce females,” or BFFs. She said they were going to run NXT and the WWE. Summer thanked Sasha for taking out Paige, but Paige charged into the ring and went right after Sasha Banks. The number’s game proved too much for Paige, but Emma eventually ran in to make the save. Summer and Sasha rolled out of the ring before Emma could get her hands on them…
A Mojo Rawley vignette hyped (ha, get it?) his debut coming up next… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Pretty poor display from the ladies here. I’ve seen some of Garrett’s work before, so I blame this on the uber-green Charlotte. She’s undoubtedly athletic, but she looks to be a step off and awkward with just about everything she does in the ring. Why isn’t Garrett under contract?
Backstage, Tony Dawson asked Summer Rae and Sasha Banks if Paige and Emma embarrassed them. Summer said they don’t get embarrassed they get even. She challenged Paige and Emma to a tag match, and told Dawson to fix his tie and get lost…
Back in the arena, Danny Burch made his entrance. The camera settled onto the commentators and Phillips said that Summer and Sasha were trying to drive a wedge in between Paige and Emma. A-Ry said that since Sasha calls herself “the boss,” he would like to see her start wearing power suits. I shit you not. Get this guy off commentary. Mojo Rawley was out next. He ran and jumped and slid all over the arena like a goof as the commentators talked about his time in the NFL with my Green Bay Packers.
3. Mojo Rawley vs. Danny Burch. Burch had control in the opening minutes, with Mojo spending most of the time selling on his back. At about the two-minute mark, Rawley fired up with shoulder blocks. He hit two stinger splashes in the corner and followed up with Iceman Parsons’ butt-butt (that one’s for you, J-Pow). Rawley ran the ropes and landed the Earthquake splash for the win.
Mojo Rawley defeated Danny Burch in about 2:30.
A-Ry tried to put over the win as Rawley winning the first match he ever competed in. So WWE puts wrestlers on TV having never, ever worked a single match before? C’mon, A-Ry…
Backstage, Paige and Emma were bickering with one another. Tony Dawson approached and informed them the challenge that had been laid out by Summer and Sasha. Emma said that she didn’t like having bubble solution thrown in her eyes, and Paige said that she didn’t like being attacked from behind by Sasha. They accepted the challenge, and then continued to bicker as Dawson left… Scott Stanford again hyped the main event of RVD vs. The Artiste… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Rawley is a modern-day ultimate warrior without the appeal. He runs onto the stage, to the ring, and all around ringside, blowing himself up before the bell even rings. He spent two of the two-and-a-half minutes selling a chinlock and then got the win with some of the most basic offense imaginable. The Earthquake splash scores pinfalls in 2013? Ugh. Unimpressive debut for Rawley.
Back in the arena, Sylvester Lefort walked onto the stage and introduced his Legionnaires, Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev. A-Ry said both men were great technical wrestlers, seemingly unaware that Dawson plays an aggressive brawler and Rusev plays a ruthless brute. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady were out next. Amore introduced them and said it felt like they were in Cheers, with Cassady filling in “…where everybody knows your name.” Cassady said there’s only one word to describe the two “sloppy jalopies” in the ring, and that word is “S-A-W-F-T: sawwwwft.”
4.Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev (w/ Sylvester Lefort) vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Cassady and Rusev briefly traded offense before Cassady tagged in Amore. Amore went for a running crossbody, but Rusev caught him and draped him over the ropes as he laid in knee strikes to the ribs. Rusev tagged in Dawson who got a two-count off a back elbow before going to work with elbows and knees. Dawson hit a snap suplex and a short-arm clothesline as the crowd chanted “sloppy jalopy.”
Dawson hit a nice teardrop suplex for a near-fall, but the pin attempt was broken up by Cassady. Rusev cleared Cassady from the ring before tagging into the match. Rusev crushed Amore in the corner with his hip attack and then hooked in the camel clutch, which he now calls the Accolade, forcing Amore to tap out.
Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev beat Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in about 2:45.
After the match, Rusev tossed Amore from the ring. Dawson set up Cassady in the corner, allowing Rusev to hit his running attack and lock in the Accolade. He eventually released the hold and the heels stood strong to close the segment…
Backstage, Renee Young welcomed Sami Zayn. The two still have the best chemistry together of anyone on WWE TV. Sayn said he was feeling great because he beat Bo Dallas last week and is now the number-one contender. He said the hard part was getting the opportunity, now he gets his shot at Dallas’ title next week. Bo Dallas walked onto the set looking troubled. “Really not cool what you did to me last week,” he said, “I thought we were friends.” Dallas said his feelings were really hurt. Zayn said he didn’t mean to hurt his feelings, that it wasn’t personal. He added that most people don’t like Bo, but he has nothing against Bo, he just wants his NXT Championship.
Dallas said that Zayn doesn’t have to do this. He suggested that they team up and go after the NXT tag titles. He said that they could rule NXT together. He extended his hand and Zayn said that wasn’t a bad idea. He admitted that Sami Zayn and Bo Dallas: NXT Tag Team Champions didn’t sound bad. “I’m in, let’s do it,” Zayn said as he shook Dallas’ hand. He then added that they’ll do that, right after he beats Bo for the NXT title. Bo pulled his hand away with a look of betrayal and said “Un-Bo-lievable” after Zayn walked off set… Scott Stanford hyped the main event, coming up next… [C]
Zim’s Zag: Mediocre tag match. There just isn’t chemistry between the Legionnaires, and it’s hard to look past. The backstage segment was good. Zayn is so ultra-likable, in perfect contrast to Bo Dallas and his character in recent months.
Scott Stanford hyped next week’s NXT Championship match between Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn…
Back in the arena, Kendal Skye introduced “The Artiste” Aiden English. English walked onto the stage and requested his spotlight. He serenaded himself to the ring to yet another new song, which is a nice touch from week to week. After he finished, Skye introduced RVD’s personal ring announcer and “numero uno amigo,” Ricardo Rodriguez. He introduced Rob Van Dam who made his entrance to a good reaction. A loud “R-V-D” chant broke out once he was in the ring.
5. Rob Van Dam vs. Aiden English. English and Van Dam traded words before English tried to go on offense, only to find himself being rolled up by RVD for a quick two-count. Van Dam used his summersault monkey-flip, with English almost landing right on top of him. Yikes. He took English to ringside with a clothesline and followed up with a moonsault off the ring apron, which of course, got the crowd chanting “E-C-Dub.”
Van Dam laid English over the aprin and hit a slingshot guillotine legdrop for a near-fall. Van Dam set up for Rolling Thunder, but English managed to roll to ringside. RVD pursued and as he got back in the ring, English kicked the middle rope, crotching Van Dam. He dropped several knees and hit a nice suplex for a one-count. English settled into a chinlock as RicRod tried to rally the crowd. Van Dam fought back to his feet and reversed another suplex attempt into a small package. English kicked out, but ate a high round kick from Van Dam a short time later.
RVD fired up with clotheslines and connected with a superkick which set up Rolling Thunder. Van Dam leapt up to the nearest top rope, and A-Ry said he’s never seen RVD hit the Frog Splash from this far, because A-Ry has clearly never watched a single RVD match in his life. This freakin’ guy! Anyways, RVD hit the Five-Star Frog Splash and scored the win.
Rob Van Dam pinned Aiden English in about 5:30.
RVD celebrated with RicRod before replays showed the finishing sequence, with a particularly good slow-mo shot of the Five-Star. The commentators thanked viewers and signed off…
Zim’s Zag: Decent match. RVD spent more time on offense than I would’ve liked to have seen, as it doesn’t feel like English got much of a rub from the match. There isn’t much else to say, the match was little more than an RVD showcase to send the Full Sail crowd home happy at the end of that taping.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad show. The opening match was absolutely worth seeking out, with the rest of the show coming up a bit short in the ring. Plenty of angles were advanced: the NXT title match next week, the divas tag, and the heat between the Legionnaires and Amore & Cassady, so they continue to do a good job of hyping upcoming shows. The worst part about this broadcast was Alex Riley’s commentary. It’s no secret he wasn’t a fan before entering the business. He still doesn’t have a grasp on the logic, history, or nuances of pro wrestling, nor what makes for a good commentator. He really isn’t improving at all. If you’re able to tune him out or aren’t as bothered by awful commentary as I am, then check out this show if you haven’t already. At the very least, be sure to catch the opening match.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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