Zim's WWE NXT Review: Luke Harper vs. Kassius Ohno, Leo Kruger vs. El Local, Alexander Rusev vs. Sylvester Lefort, Mojo Rawley vs. Tye Dillinger (f/k/a Shawn Spears), and The Ascension in action
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired November 6, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped October 10 at Full Sail University
A "WWE .com exclusive" video showed Sylvester Lefort confronting the mystery woman who has courted Alexander Rusev. She spoke to him in Russian and said that Rusev is her client now… The opening video played… In the arena, Sylvester Lefort made his ring entrance as the commentators: Tom Phillips, Renee Young, and the dreadful Alex Riley, checked in with viewers. They briefly discussed Rusev attacking Lefort the previous week before the mystery woman made her way onto the stage and introduced Alexander Rusev. Before the bell, Lefort offered Rusev a big wad of money, but Rusev simply seethed until the bell rang.
1. Sylvester Lefort vs. Alexander Rusev. Right out of the gate, Rusev crushed Lefort against the ropes. He stuffed the money into Lefort's mouth and forced him to submit with the Accolade.
Alexander Rusev beat Sylvester Lefort in about 0:15.
The mystery woman smiled at ringside as Rusev stood tall in the ring. They showed a replay that was virtually as long as the match, before Rusev and the woman went to the back…
Backstage, Bayley and Charlotte were interacting. Bayley "woo'd" and Charlotte said "you're not my dad." Summer Rae and Sasha Banks approached and actually apologized to Bayley for snapping her headband, and they presented her with a new one. Bayley was sold. Charlotte however, was hostile. Charlotte made some comment to Summer about not needing another stepmother, insinuating that Summer would marry Naich, which is pretty hilarious. Charlotte said they run around like they own the place, but they don’t. The BFF's sweet-talked Bayley and said they could really *use* a girl like her to help her take out the trash (Charlotte). Charlotte went at them but Bayley held her back and told her to breathe…
Scott Stanford hyped the main event of Kassius Ohno vs. Luke Harper. He also hyped the return of Leo Kruger, coming up next… [C]
Zim's Zag: I've discovered via the Twitter that Scott Dawson tore his ACL, which is the reason for this out-of-nowhere dissolution of the Legionnaires. I like Rusev with the woman better than with Lefort anyway, but the act needs to show more to really engage me. In the Divas promo, Charlotte came across more heelish than the BFF's did. She was the low part of the segment because otherwise, Summer, Sasha, and Bayley are pretty good in their roles on NXT.
Back in the arena, El Local made his entrance. The lights cut out and Leo Kruger made his entrance. Tom Phillips mentioned that Kruger's match with Antonio Cesaro four weeks ago lit a fire under Kruger, but there was no mention of the post-match attack. Missed opportunity to follow-up, IMO.
2. Leo Kruger vs. El Local. Kruger missed the Slice right out of the gate but hit a hard spinebuster for two about 10 seconds in. Kruger continued his attack with knee strikes and quelled a hope spot for Local. A short time later, Kruger connected with the Slice. He yelled "Kru-Kru-Kru," and again A-Ry said he was saying "Ta-Ta-Ta." I don’t get this guy. Anyways, Kruger hit three snap suplexes and on the third, he floated over into a double underhook with bodyscissors. Local quickly tapped out.
Leo Kruger defeated El Local in about 2:10.
Post-match, Kruger celebrated and encouraged the crowd to chant "Kru-Kru-Kru…"
The commentators threw to a replay of Paige accidentally hitting Emma two weeks ago, and Emma accidentally hitting Paige last week. They then went to another (not so) "WWE.com exclusive" clip of the two arguing backstage after last week's incident. Emma said it was an accident and Paige accused her of taking the shot as payback for the week prior. Paige told Emma to keep away from her or she would rip her face off. Emma said there was something seriously wrong with her… [C]
Zim's Zag: Decent showing from Kruger, but he's already shown that he's capable of so much more. He celebrated and acknowledged the crowd more than he ever has after the match, so I think he's a babyface now. The backstage drama was what it was; basic but effective in progressing the program.
Back in the arena Travis Tyler and Troy McClain were already in the ring. One of them may or may not be Barry Horowitz. NXT tag champs The Ascension made their entrance next.
3. The Ascension vs. Travis Tyler and Troy McClain in a non-title match. The Ascension isolated Tyler the entire match. They hit their usual offense and finished Tyler off with the Fall of Man high/low. Funny botch/poor display, when both members of the Ascension slid out of the ring after hitting their finish, before Victor realized he was the legal man and scrambled back in to get the pin…
The Ascension beat Travis Tyler and Troy McClain in about 1:45.
Scott Stanford hyped the main event, Kassius Ohno vs. Luke Harper… [C]
Zim's Zag: The NXT tag division is essentially non-existent at this point, and the one tag team they do have can't remember who the legal man is on the finish? NXT has been relatively uninspired lately, but nowhere is that more evident than in the tag division. Unfortunate.
Back in the arena, Mojo Rawley made his Ultimate Warrior-esque entrance. Alex Riley said he has everything it takes to succeed in the WWE. I disagree. His opponent, Tye Dillinger, was already in the ring. A very welcomed face to see on NXT, Dillinger is the former Shawn Spears who was recently re-signed by WWE.
4. Mojo Rawley vs. Tye Dillinger. Early on, Dillinger connected with a chop and heeled it up, only to turn and realize Rawley was unfazed. Dillinger was able to take control with a Russian leg sweep and kept the upper hand with heel antics and good-looking offense. Mojo kicked out before a one-count and came back a short time later. He drove Dillinger into the corner and hit a weak looking Stinger splash. He hit the butt-butt and followed up with the Earthquake splash for the win.
Mojo Rawley beat Tye Dillinger in about 3:20.
Steam shot down from the rig above the ring as Rawley celebrated his win… A Raw Rebound aired… Scott Stanford hyped the main event coming up next… [C]
Zim's Zag: They've begun airing these Rebounds in recent weeks and it's maddening. I watch NXT to get away from the shit storylines on the main shows. Anyways, Mojo was Mojo. Dillinger got a fair share of offense and looked good in defeat. He is regarded by some of his peers as one of the most underrated heel talents currently in wrestling, and that was evident by the little things shown here that he does really well. It's unfortunate that a talent as green and limited as Rawley is being featured over a talent like Dillinger, among others.
Back in the arena, Luke Harper made his entrance to a big ovation and an arena full of people swaying their arms back and forth. There isn't a thing in WWE that compares to the Wyatt's at Full Sail. Kassius Ohno made his entrance next and was all business.
5. Luke Harper vs. Kassius Ohno. Ohno dropped Harper with a single-leg dropkick out of the gate and continued to go after him with chops and strikes. Harper took control about a minute in and began to wear Ohno down. He worked his typical offense, with the Harper twist that manages to make everything he does captivating and believable. At the five-minute mark, Ohno reversed a charging Harper and connected with a rolling elbow that rocked Harper and sent him to ringside. Ohno followed up with a dropkick through the ropes going into the final break of the show. [C]
As the show returned, Ohno connected with a running senton for two. Ohno reversed a whip into the ropes by flipping over them and landing on the apron, but ate a big boot from Harper and took a hard bump to ringside. He made it back into the ring an instant before the countout, but Harper remained in firm control. Ohno got a good near-fall on a rollup out of nowhere, but was dropped a moment later by a hard shot from Harper. Harper settled into the gator roll, with Ohno working his way back to his feet.
Ohno hit the ropes, but Harper met him there with a hard body attack and then followed up with a decapitator in the ropes. Harper still wasn't going for pinfalls, he was simply toying with Ohno. Harper ran the ropes, but Ohno caught him with a single-leg dropkick off adjacent ropes. Ohno fired up with repeating rights and took Harper down with a clothesling. He charged in the corner and connected with a hard elbow, and then followed up with a diving blockbuster off the top turnbuckle for a near-fall.
A short time later, Ohno ran into the Truck Stop swinging side slam from Harper for a near-fall. Harper stalked Ohno from the corner and connected with his running big boot for another good near-fall. Harper charged across the ring and crushed Ohno in the corner. He set up for the discus clothesline, but Ohno struck with another rolling elbow out of nowhere. Harper crumpled, but was able to kick-out before three. Ohno wore Harper down with boots to the head, but Harper caught Ohno running the ropes and put him down with the discus clothesline for the win.
Luke Harper defeated Kassius Ohno in about 13:00.
The crowd applauded the match and went back to swaying to Harper's music. A set of replays showed the near-falls and the finish. Harper made his way up the ramp and Ohno sold disappointment at ringside, but refused the referee's help and walked to the back under his own power to close the show…
Zim's Zag: Good main event, but nowhere near as good a match as these two are capable of putting on. This is two clean losses to Harper in a row for Ohno, so I'm not sure what constitutes a rematch, but basic storytelling says that Ohno has to get his comeuppance at some point, so here's hoping for a blowoff match that proves to be the best one yet.
Overall, this was a pretty middle of the road show with a main event worth watching. The current state of NXT doesn't have me entirely satisfied right now. The tag division is non-existent, the feuds feel slightly stale and uninspired, and the in-ring quality of the shows have been down from previous months. Not having Sami Zayn, Bo Dallas, and Antonio Cesaro hindered this set of tapings more than I would’ve anticipated. Regardless, if you're not watching NXT I recommend dedicating an hour of your week to it. It's really a refreshing change of pace from the WWE brand.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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