Gutteridge's WWE NXT Review: Year in Review show featuring a look back at all the major events on NXT over the past 12 months, as well as the main event of William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro
By Darren Gutteridge
WWE NXT on Sky Sports 3
Taped November 21 in Winter Park, Florida
[Q1] After titles, we were greeted by Renee Young, who was stood in an empty NXT arena. She introduced the theme of the show as a "2013 in review" episode, before introducing the first video, which recapped the opening of the WWE Performance Center...
The video featured Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Sheamus talking over footage of the various parts of the Center, including the seven rings they have built, as well as the weight room and various media areas...
Young then talked about how NXT has become the foundation of WWE, producing wrestlers who are now mainstays on the main roster. She then threw us into the second VT, a sizzle reel of all the NXT graduates this past year...
The Wyatt family were up first, starting off with footage of them in NXT before moving to footage of them on Raw and Smackdown. A similar style was used to highlight The Shield, Xavier Woods, Fandango and Big E Langston. It also weirdly featured footage of Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow...
Cesaro was shown backstage, and said that William Regal was the only guy from the group of "World class technical grapplers" he admired that he truly respected, because he was a ruthless, evil genius. He called Regal an inspiration, and thanked him for helping him get a job in WWE, but Regal also must have realised that one day, there would come a time when there was only room for one of them, and that would be the "younger, stronger, far better man"... [C]
Gutt Reaction: Good work from Cesaro. Surely he will be given a big singles push once the Real American team is dissolved, because he has all the tools to be a champion. This programme with Regal, as well as his feuds with Zayn and others, is why I kinda get why he was featured in the NXT graduates video (even though he didn't really break through on the show). Sandow, however, has been barely featured on the show at all. That was an odd choice, considering they could have focussed on Summer Rae, or to a lesser extent Curtis Axel (who was kept ticking over on NXT just as Johnny Curtis was before he became Fandango).
[Q2] Young, now stood in the ring, talked about the two titles that had been created on NXT this year – the NXT Tag Team Titles, and the NXT Women's Title. She then introduced a highlight video of the match that lead to the crowning of the first NXT Tag Team champions, which took place on the February 14th episode. It pitted Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family. Neville won the match (which I described at the time as "not the barn burner I hoped for, [but] an entertaining main event") with a Red Arrow...
Young said the victory was massive for the two Brits, and both had bright futures. She then transitioned to the introduction of the other new title this year, the NXT Women's Title, and the match between Paige and Emma that would decide who would be crowned the inaugural champion, which aired on the July 25th episode. The match, which I called "pretty good" but "predictable", was won by Paige...
We cut to a backstage set, where Paige sat on the right side of the screen next to a superimposed NXT logo. She called the title victory the best moment of her life, before tearing up...
We then cut to the usual backstage interview set, where Devon Taylor said "what an amazing match we just saw" (that we didn't technically just see). She introduced Paige, and asked what was going through her mind during the match. She said that although Emma will always just be a "dancer" to her, she does now respect her. She said Emma gave her her hardest fought victory, and thanked her for that, before adding "but I still hate her". She called herself the best women's wrestler in NXT, but she wanted more, and issued a warning to AJ and the rest of the Divas that she would, sooner rather than later, become the most dominant anti-Diva ever to walk through the WWE. She vowed to make history as a "wrestler".
Devon thanked her as she left, and went to introduce Bo Dallas, but he barged in and said he needed no introduction. He said he knew everyone wanted to hear about the hardships he endured beating Big E for the NXT Title, but he wanted to talk about his "Bo-Lievers". He told them to "Bo-Lieve" in themselves as well as in him. He called himself a "champion of life", and said he had given everyone a moment to make them "Bo-Lieve". He told "them" to roll the footage. The footage was another highlight package, this one based on Dallas' match with Big E for the NXT Title...
Renee Young was stood back up by the stage as she talked about NXT's growing reputation. She said current roster guys, as well as legends, all wanted to be a part of the show, and she introduced a video highlighting all of their visits to the Full Sail arena...
The video featured appearances from Christian, The Bellas, Santino, Paul Heyman, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, Big Show, Sheamus, RVD, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, AJ, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. There were glimpses of an in-ring skit featuring Cena, Sandow, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady that looked funny, but unfortunately never aired. If ever there was a time to air that, it's on this episode!
Backstage, William Regal said that he was in the "late Autumn" of his 30 year career, and that he had recently been pondering his legacy. He called himself a vicious fighter, and a unique entertainer. He stated that the only thing he didn't accomplish was the one thing he wanted the most – to hold the World Heavyweight Title. He admitted this was his own fault though, as he has a knack for getting himself in trouble, but despite that he has always been a second-to-none world class technician. He claimed that Cesaro changed that opinion when he came along, as Cesaro is ten times the man, and ten times the wrestler, that he has ever been. He claimed that Cesaro knew that, and all of this was about Cesaro's intense desire to prove it.
Regal said he needed a miracle to just survive, but he wasn't worried about his plight. He was, in fact, relishing it. "If this is the end, I honestly can't think of a more noble way to go than by being beaten by the ultimate competitor"... [C]
Gutt Reaction: That (awesome) promo shows why Regal was a no-brainer when it came to making the jump to commentary. Regal himself has admitted that he has never been a big draw for whatever reason, but he can cut a promo that ticks the most important box – it grabs, and holds, your attention. Once he smoothes out the creases in his commentary style (he can still break focus with his humour, and he isn't the smoothest guy in the world), I'd have him over ANY colour commentator working for WWE today. I at least hope he wouldn't firebomb everything, as JBL is prone to doing these days.
[Q3] Renee Young started to introduce Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn, saying that Michael Cole called it the best match he had seen in the past 5 years, but the screen started to cut out, before cutting to The Shield stood backstage. Dean Ambrose said that The Shield proved to be the most dominant and destructive unit in sports entertainment in 2013. He said before that, though, they "built" NXT. Seth Rollins said they paved the way for all of the boys and girls who will soon make the jump to the WWE and become their next "victims". Roman Reigns concluded by saying that when they make they jump, they need to remember that The Shield own the yard, and they aren't giving it up any time soon. He finished with a "Believe in The Shield"...
Back in the arena, Young spoke about the build up to the 2 out of 3 falls match, which aired on the August 22nd episode, before introducing ... a highlight package of it?!? Really? Sigh. The phenomenal match was won by Cesaro, who scored the third fall off of a Neutraliser...
Devon Taylor once again exclaimed "what an incredible match we just saw". I think she meant "wish we just saw". She introduced Zayn, and asked what it was like to compete against Cesaro. He called Cesaro a beast. He said he was honoured to be mentioned as a candidate for Match of the Year, but it still haunts him that he lost. He said because of that, it will never truly be over between him and Cesaro, but right now he is focussed on the NXT title. He called Leo Kruger a "roadblock" that he must get past first. He challenged Kruger to a 2-out-of-3 falls match to begin 2014 the right way. Zayn left, and Devon introduced the main event...
Gutt Reaction: Are you kidding me? I was OK with letting the previous match packages slide, as I expected to get treated to the Zayn/Cesaro classic in full. I get that many fans would have already seen it, but would they really be annoyed if they had the opportunity to see it again? Also, no mention of Zayn's other match of the year candidate with Neville?
The commentary team for the main event -Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Tensai - introduced themselves. Saxton said the match was about redemption, and he hoped Regal beat the "glorified bully" Cesaro. Tensai said the match had the potential to be match of the year. Howard Finkel handled the introductions, introducing Cesaro first, and Regal second, with both men getting big pops...
1. William Regal vs. Antonio Cesaro. The two set off with chain wrestling, which gave Regal a chance to show off some nice kip-flips. Cesaro was controlling Regal's wrist as we cut to a UK Tour promo...
The pair went for a few more minutes without breaking their hold of each other, with both men attempting submission and pins. Cesaro eventually threw Regal off following a double arm crossface with a bridge, and the crowd started a "this is wrestling" chant. The two started another chain sequence, which ended with Cesaro giving Regal a delayed snapmare from his knees. They went to the corner, where Regal fired back with punches, before giving Cesaro a few sly stomps while shielding the refs view. Cesaro retaliated with a running chop block, which caused Regal to scream in pain as we went to the final commercial... [C]
[Q4] Regal was back in control when we returned, giving Cesaro a few European uppercuts. Cesaro, however, quickly regained his dominance with a running European uppercut of his own. He hit Regal with a chain of 10 European uppercuts before throwing him around with the Cesaro swing.
Cesaro toyed with Regal as he recovered on the mat before slowly picking him and positioning him for the Neutraliser. Regal countered with a backdrop, and dropped a knee on Cesaro's arm. The commentators questioned whether Cesaro still had feeling in his arm as Regal attacked it viciously. The crowd rallied behind Regal as he threw Cesaro overhead and seemed to be setting up for the Knee Trembler. As he began to run, however, he favoured his knee and bailed out. He instead put Cesaro in a Pedigree position, but Cesaro powered out and backdropped into a pin position, only for Regal to kick out while maintaining the double arm hold.
Regal tried to transition to the Regal Stretch, but Cesaro got to the ropes before he applied it fully. Cesaro scrambled up and hit a dropkick. He favoured the arm, and seemed to be trying to pop his shoulder back into place before delivering a double foot stomp to the back of Regal's head. Regal took a while to start moving while Cesaro stalked him. Cesaro eventually picked up Regal's dead-weight, but as he put Regal in position for the Neutraliser, he looked hesitant. He let Regal drop back to the mat, but Regal soon started to crawl up Cesaro's leg. Cesaro relented, and quickly put Regal down with the Neutraliser for the 1-2-3...
Antonio Cesaro defeated William Regal in 12.35
After the match, referees were helping Regal to the back. He stumbled, and Cesaro caught him and helped him back up. As Regal turned to face him, Cesaro offered a hand shake. Regal accepted, and shook his hand as NXT went off the air...
Gutt Reaction: Not everyones cup of tea, but I enjoyed it a lot. Kids raised on the fast paced product of today may not have been very entertained early on, but it's a style I remember from the early days of my time as a wrestling fan, and this was a fun walk down memory lane. I was worried they were going too close to mimicking tropes from great retirement matches of recent years, such as Flair's at Mania 24, and HBK's at Mania 26 (having said that, if you're going to imitate any, imitate the best), but fortunately they didn't actually have any "I'm sorry, I love you" lines etc. when it looked like Cesaro was in two minds about ending the match. If that is Regal's last match, and at this point I think it should be, he went out well, and he couldn't have wished for someone better to give the "due" to than Cesaro.
I've gone back and forth on my feelings for the episode. On the one hand, I'm miffed that they didn't give the good matches of NXT this past year their due diligence. A highlight package for Zayn/Cesaro comes nowhere near giving it the attention it deserves, and no mention of Zayn/Neville is an even bigger sin. An idea would have been to say that there will be full length versions of all the years biggest matches on YouTube, as then I would get over my only real negative of the show. Other than that, the promos were good, the main event was great, and while some of the packages were duds (the Performance Center one was very bland and corporate), or inadvertently exposed us to segments we didn't see (the Cena/Sandow skit, a skit featuring Show, JBL and Dusty, and a Peep Show with Christian etc.), they did highlight the good strides NXT has made this year.
And for a full conclusion of 2013 in NXT, be sure to check out the annual NXT awards, coming soon!
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on the article, add me on Twitter - @DazatheG
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