Zim's WWE NXT Review: NXT Rewind edition headlined by William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro, promos from The Wyatt's, The Shield, Paige, Big E Langston, Bo Dallas, and Sami Zayn, highlights from the year that was, and the NXT Match of the Year
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired December 25, 2013 on Hulu Plus
Taped November 21 at Full Sail University
The opening video played… A camera panned the empty Full Sail Arena before Renee Young welcomed viewers from the production area where the hard-cam sits. She said she would be hosting a recap of this past year at NXT. She spoke briefly about the WWE Performance Center and threw to a very corporate video package on the WWEPC…
Back in the arena, Renee said that NXT has become the foundation of WWE's talent and threw to a video package of NXT's products. The Wyatt Family, The Shield, Fandango, Xavier Woods, Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, and Big E Langston all received spotlight segments in the piece…
Backstage, Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston said that this year had been a whirlwind for him. He said he went from being "just a guy," to "the master of the five-count," to the NXT Champion, to making his WWE debut, to making his first WrestleMania appearance, and winning the Intercontinental Championship. He said he couldn't have done it without the support of the NXT Universe and their maniacal "Five!" chants. He closed by promising that this was just the beginning [for him]… Scott Stanford hyped William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro in the main event…
Antonio Cesaro cut a promo for the main event. He said that out of the small crop of world-class technical wrestlers, Regal was the only one he ever truly respected. He said Regal's ruthlessness and evil genius was an inspiration for his career. He said that he was truly thankful for Regal reaching out and helping Cesaro get a job with WWE, but he said Regal always knew this day would come. He said there is only room for one of them, and that one is the younger, stronger, far-better man… [C]
Zim Says: Good promo from Cesaro. We don't hear him talk all that often and he has a slight tendency to misspeak when he does, but this clip did everything it needed to do in the run-up to the main event. Langston's promo was better than what we usually see on WWE TV, but it didn't stand out as being particularly good either.
Back in the arena, Renee Young was in the ring and said that is where all of the magic happens at NXT. She said it's time to give credit to the men and woman who were crowned champions this past year. She reminded viewers that NXT has introduced two new titles in 2013 with the Women's and Tag titles, and threw to a recap of Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey beating The Wyatt Family in the finals of the NXT Tag Title Tournament to become the first champions...
Back in the ring, Renee mentioned that a win over The Wyatt Family, who are now on Raw and Smackdown, ensures that the futures of both Neville and Grey are bright. Renee then reminded viewers that Stephanie McMahon introduced the NXT Women's Championship earlier this year as well, before going to a recap of Paige beating Emma in the finals of the tournament to become the first champion. The video closed with a crying Paige saying that was the greatest moment in her life…
Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed NXT Women's Champion Paige and asked what was going through her mind during that match. Paige said that Emma is just a dancer to her, but she does respect her because she has some moves in the ring in addition to her moves outside the ring. She said Emma has given her some of the hardest fought victories in her career and she is forever thankful, but quipped that she still hates her.
As for her title, she said it proves that she is the best NXT Women's wrestler, because that what she is: a wrestler. She warned the Divas, mentioning AJ by name, that sooner than later, she would be the most dominant Anti-Diva in WWE. She promised to make history "… as a wrestler." Paige left the set and before Devin could introduce the next guest, Bo Dallas popped on set and said there was no need to introduce him, because he's the NXT Champion. Great delivery.
Dallas said he knows everyone wants to hear him talking about winning the no.1 contender's battle royal and going on to defeat the unbeatable Big E Langston to shock the world. He reminded everyone how important it is to Bo-lieve. "Bo-lieve in yourself, and more importantly Bo-lieve in me" he added. He said that winning the NXT Championship birthed him into becoming the man he is today. He said he became a champion of life and gave everyone a reason to Bo-lieve. Before Devin could throw to the video clip, Bo interjected "Devin, I got this. Roll the footage…"
After the video package, Scott Stanford hyped a segment on the future stars of NXT up next… [C]
Zim Says: Decent interview from Paige. She's not as great on the mic as she is in the ring, but just her mentioning a potential clash with AJ Lee leaves me optimistic that there are bright times ahead for the ladies of NXT/WWE. As for Bo, another great interview from the champ. I have turned around so strongly on him due to the way they've positioned his character and the way he portrays it. Six months ago, Bo was a babyface with go-away heat. Now, with a few tweaks by Bo and the correct approach by creative, he's become what of the highlights of NXT on a weekly basis.
The Wyatt intro played and Bray cut a promo, flanked by Harper and Rowan. He said that this world is defined by the brave men and women who are willing to stand for a cause. He said The Wyatt's crusades began at a place called NXT. He said that in their short reign there, there was not a man, woman, or child that didn't recognize the name with Wyatt. He said they reigned like kings, with the motive being "down with the machine." He said they took that motive to the WWE where they have defined monsters and turned heroes into victims. He said it was all for the cause that began at NXT: "down with the machine…"
Back in the arena, Renee spoke about the unique array of talent that is the present of NXT and the future of WWE. A video package spotlighted Aiden English (punny), Mojo Rawley, Bayley, Tyler Breeze, Alexander Rusev (and Lana), Sasha Banks, Corey Graves, and Sami Zayn…
Renee said that with the reputation of NXT growing every week, WWE Superstars and Legends always want to be a part of it and see what the future holds. She threw to a video package that recapped the 2013 appearances of Damien Sandow, Christian, The Bella Twins, Santino Marella, Paul Heyman, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena (who said "Sawwwwft" and it was awesome), The Big Show, Sheamus, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, AJ Lee, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels…
William Regal cut a promo for the main event. He said that he was in the late Autumn of his 30 year career and he's been pondering the legacy of William Regal. He said he's a vicious, sadistic, and spiteful fighter, and he's also been a unique entertainer. He said he never accomplished the one thing he coveted the most, the World Heavyweight Championship, but admitted that's been his own fault. He said however, "that to the people who really know, he's always been a second-to-none world-class technical wrestler."
Regal continued that that was until Antonio Cesaro came along. He said he knows that even on his best day, Cesaro is ten times the man and wrestler that he's ever been. He said Cesaro knows it and that's what this is about. He said his only hope of surviving the match, let alone winning, is a miracle. He said he's not worried, in fact, hes relishing the thought. He fired up and said he's going to compete with every drop of vile and venom that I've got left, and if this is the end, than I honestly can't think of a more noble way to go than to be beaten by the ultimate competitor…"
Scott Stanford hyped that they would announce NXT's match of the year next… [C]
Zim Says: Awesome promo from Regal. He put Cesaro over big time but gave people a reason to rally behind himself, while still showing bits and pieces of the fiery villain he can be.
Back in the ring, Renee Young said that Michael Cole called the following match the best he's seen in the past five years. Suddenly static took over and The Shield appeared backstage on their handheld cam. Dean Ambrose said they've proven to be the most dominant unit in sports entertainment by winning matches and championships. He said they've proven to be the most destructive force in sports entertainment by taking out superstars from The Undertaker to The Tock to John Cena. He they're good at destroying, but before they destroyed, they built; they built NXT. Seth Rollins said that it was The Shield's 2013 that paved the way for their future victims, guys like Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Bo Dallas, the Ascension, and Corey Graves. Reigns said that when and if they make it to the big show, The Shield owns that yard. "Believe in that and believe in The Shield…"
Right where she left off, Renee Young continued that the match was set up following Sami Zayn's debut win over Curt Hawkins when Zayn answered an open challenge that Cesaro made, and Zayn won. The match of the year is the 2-out-of-3-falls match between Antonio Cesaro and Sami Zayn. A lengthy video package recapped the worthy winner of the MOTY honors. They managed to edit around most of A-Ry's match-ruining commentary and did a good job of conveying how epic the match was…
Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed Sami Zayn and asked what it was like to compete against Antonio Cesaro. Zayn answered that it was very difficult. He said Cesaro was a beast as everyone just saw. He said that it was an honor to be mentioned in the match of the year breadth, but the fact that he came out with the loss still irks him and his mind it'll never really be over between him and Cesaro. He shifted and said that his focus now is the NXT Championship and Bo Dallas. In the meantime, he said he's dealing with a roadblock named Leo Kruger. He said that the talk of 2-out-of-3-falls matches gave him an idea, and he proposed a 2-out-of-three-falls match between himself and Leo Kruger for next week's show to start the New Year off with a bang…
In the arena, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Tensai welcomed viewers to the NXT Rewind main event. Byron Saxton spoke up and called Cesaro a bully. He added that he hopes Cesaro gets what he has coming to him. Tensai said that the two work similar styles in the ring, and said that this would be a potential match of the year. Antonio Cesaro made his entrance first and he got a loud response to his "We the people" line. Howard Finkle handled the ring announcements again this week, which is always a great positive addition to a big match. William Regal was out next to a big pop and a loud "Regal" chant broke out.
1. Antonio Cesaro vs. William Regal. Cesaro worked the arm in the early going. After Regal kipped-up and took control, a "You've still got it" chant broke out. High five to the one lady in the crowd who countered with a "He never lost it" chant. [C]
Back from break, Cesaro tried to counter an armlock with a headscissors in a unique spot, but Regal kept the upper hand for the time being. They traded technical holds and counters highlighted by a great looking cut-throat bow and arrow lock that led to a loud "this is wrestling" chant. The scientific sequences continued on the mat before it broke down into strikes.
With Cesaro seated in the corner, Regal nailed him with back kicks while appealing to the referee. As the referee admonished him, Cesaro rose up and hit a chop block that Regal sold like a gunshot to the knee. Cesaro zeroed in and targeted the leg as the show went into its final break. [C]
Back from break, Cesaro was firmly in control. He removed Regal's knee brace and continued his attack on the leg. Regal showed some fight, but Cesaro locked a stretch muffler. Regal eventually made it to the ropes and went for a rollup and a backslide that Cesaro escaped, but Regal dropped him with a hard forearm. Regal started to fire up with European uppercuts, but Cesaro retaliated and dropped Regal with a single uppercut.
Cesaro then fired up and hit ten rapid-fire European uppercuts on Regal. (Another spot to add to his babyface repertoire). Cesaro performed the Cesaro Swing, but mocked Regal and talked trash rather than going for the win. Cesaro eventually set up the Neutralizer, but Regal countered out and hit a knee drop to Cesaro's arm that Cesaro sold big-time. Cesaro charged for an uppercut, but Regal kicked the other arm and tripped up Cesaro before going to work on both of Cesaro's arms.
The crowd rallied behind Regal, who continued his assault with an exploder suplex before going to the corner to set up the Knee Trembler. He sold the leg and wasn't able to deliver the move, allowing Cesaro to strike with a hard headbutt. He went for another headbutt, but Regal kicked him in the head and Cesaro crumpled. Regal stumbled to Cesaro and went for a tiger driver, but Cesaro flipped Regal over. Regal managed to hold on and transition to a near-Regal Stretch, but Cesaro made it to the ropes before it was fully applied.
Regal walked right into a rare dropkick from Cesaro and Cesaro acted like he popped his shoulder back into place. Cesaro hit the ropes and came down with a jumping double-stomp to Regal's head, and the place went quiet as Regal laid limp on the mat. One or two twisted fans chanted "one more time," but everyone else bought into the story of Cesaro maybe going too far.
The crowd chanted "Regal" and Cesaro slowly lifted Regal's limp body to set up the Neutralizer. Cesaro did a great job of showing confliction and dropped Regal rather than continuing his attack. He stood by Regal until Regal showed signs of life and tried to climb back to his feet using Cesaro. At that point, Cesaro hit the Neutralizer and scored the clean win.
Antonio Cesaro defeated William Regal in about 16:05.
The commentators were still solemn, but they quietly marveled about the match before a replay of the double-stomp and Neutralizer aired. Referees helped William Regal up the ramp, as Cesaro followed closely behind. Halfway up the ramp, Cesaro turned Regal around and stood face-to-face before extending his hand. Regal shook his hand and the show closed with a nod of respect between the two.
Zim Says: A technically splendid match that told a believable, captivating story and built to a satisfying finish. With the post-match bit and the way the crowds (particularly Full Sail) have taken to Antonio Cesaro, I wouldn't be surprised if this is how they test the waters for a Cesaro babyface turn. William Regal played his part brilliantly. As much as I enjoy his commentary, he's someone who still belongs in the ring because he's one of the most gifted storytellers in wrestling. Along the lines of Regal vs. Ohno, Zayn vs. Cesaro, and Zayn vs. Neville, this match belongs on the special tier of the top matches NXT has presented.
Overall, there isn't much to analyze on this show aside from the main event. The video packages and 2013 recaps were well-done and a nice refresher of some of those memories that might've slipped the mind. Whether you've been watching NXT since the beginning, hopped on-board along the way, or just want to familiarize yourself as the likelihood increases of NXT airing on the WWE Network, this is a good way to reflect on the first full year of NXT in its current incarnation.
As this is my last review of 2013, I'd like to thank those of you who support Dot Net and read or listen to the work we do (whether you agree with us or not; opinions are great, eh?). I hope your holidays were enjoyable and I wish you all the best in 2014.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim; always happy to discuss.
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