Zim's WWE NXT Review: Antonio Cesaro vs. CJ Parker, Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev, Adrian Neville in action, and Bo Dallas' banner raising ceremony
By Zack Zimmerman
Aired January 22, 2014 on Hulu Plus
Taped January 8, 2014 at Full Sail University
The opening video played… In the arena, the camera settled onto the commentators Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Tensai WCW-style with their backs to the arena. Saxton said that Bo Dallas has been NXT Champion for 224 days, and tonight, he celebrates that momentous occasion. They then threw to the new/returning ring announcer Eden (a/k/a Brandi Rhodes) for the opening contest.
Adrian Neville made his entrance to a good ovation and showed a bit more fire than usual. Once in the ring, he shook hands with his opponent who was already waiting. The man was wearing a cowboy hat and leather vest, and was announced as Wesley Blake.
1. Adrian Neville vs. Wesley Blake. A loud "Let's go Neville" chant broke out to open things up. Neville showed off his athleticism through the opening minute before slowing things down with a grounded keylock. Blake worked back to his feet and whipped Neville towards the corner, but Neville springboarded and backflipped over Blake, staying in control.
Neville connected with a missile dropkick from the middle rope and continued the offense with chops, but when the crowd chanted "one more time" at Neville, Blake briefly took control. It looked like Neville called that on the fly. Nice touch. A short time later, Neville made his comeback. He hit a spinning kick to the gut, a sliding dropkick, and then connected with the Red Arrow for the win.
Adrian Neville beat Wesley Blake in about 4:15.
As usual, the slow-mo replay showed the Red Arrow again and Neville celebrated his victory as the commentators recapped that he was back in the NXT Title hunt…
Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed the B.F.F.s: Summer Rae, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte. Taylor asked Charlotte where she had been since she turned on Bayley. Charlotte said that she's been enjoying the life of a B.F.F. "Limousines, jets, you know, the things we do in my family." Charlotte asked who cares about the cat-lady Bayley. She said life isn't about hugs and headbands; life is vicious and it'll knock you down if you let it. She said that’s why she left the "nobody" and joined the "somebodies".
Summer Rae said that 2014 is the year of the B.F.F.s, beginning with her match against Natalya later in the show. She said we're going to see the rise of the B.F.F.s and the total destruction of a dive – "if you can even call her a diva" Summer quipped to close… [C]
Zim Says: Better promo than I would've expected from Charlotte. At least in this instance, she appeared to bring her game up to the level of the B.F.F.s. The match was essentially a showcase leading to Adrian Neville's re-assertion into the NXT Title picture, and it was a nice display as such. He showed some good ring sense with the heat spot he appeared to call. I don’t think a cowboy gimmick has legs in 2014, but Blake was fine here.
Back in the arena, Xavier Woods made his entrance. He did the thing where he leans backwards into the crowd, but nobody in the front row seemed like they cared. A replay from two weeks ago showed Alexander Rusev beating Xavier Woods after Kane made the match to punish Woods. Back live, Lana introduced Alexander Rusev who made his entrance for a rematch. He's transitioned from his leather skirts to the black trunks he's been wearing on WWE live events.
2. Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev (w/ Lana). Woods tried to wear Rusev down with leg kicks, chops, and a dropkick before Rusev took control. Rusev hit multiple leg kicks of his own before hitting a hard one to the chest for a two-count. The crowd tried to rally Woods and he began to fight back. He hit a running missile dropkick that took the big man off his feet and followed up with a Shining Wizard for a two-count of his own. Woods ran the ropes, but ate a jumping heel kick from Rusev. Rusev applied the Accolade and Woods tapped immediately.
Alexander Rusev defeated Xavier Woods in about 2:40.
Rusev kept the Accolade locked in until Lana instructed him to release it. He stood over Woods briefly before Lana snapped her fingers and Rusev re-applied the hold. Woods was in trouble when Sin Cara's music hit and he ran to the ring. He hit a sloppy headscissors that sent Rusev to ringside and by the time Rusev got back in the ring, Sin Cara was aiding Woods back up the ramp. Rusev and Sin Cara traded words, with neither one likely understanding the other…
Scott Stanford hyped Bo Dallas' banner raising ceremony for later in the show. He also announced CJ Parker vs. Antonio Cesaro up next… [C]
Zim Says: The match was decent for the short amount of time it got, though it didn’t follow Rusev's usual pattern of dominance with the babyface fighting from underneath. Woods got a fair share of offense throughout, but still made Rusev look good. Sin Cara vs. Alexander Rusev wasn't something I saw coming, but it's another example of NXT creative going back to basics to create storylines around the sport of wrestling, and I will never be against that.
The Moonchild made his psychedelic entrance, and to the surprise of nobody, he got no response. Antonio Cesaro made his entrance to the biggest pop of the show and got nearly the entire arena to do the "We the people" line with him.
3. CJ Parker vs. Antonio Cesaro. A loud "We the people" chant broke out and Byron Saxton tried to spin it as the fans chanting "William Regal" because of his match with Cesaro several weeks ago. What an insult to viewers' intelligence. The two men traded armlocks early until Parker went for a back senton, but Cesaro got his knees up and took control. He grounded Parker with a chinlock until Parker fought back to his feet and started to make a comeback.
Parker hit his outside crescent kick and followed up with the double-knee strike in the corner. He went to the top rope and connected with a high crossbody for a two-count. Parker used an airplane spin, which elicited boos from the crowd. However when he set Cesaro down, the move had made him dizzier than Cesaro. Cesaro then got a double-leg on Parker and performed the Cesaro Swing, much to the delight of the Full Sail crowd. He finished with the Neutralizer and scored the pinfall.
Antonio Cesaro pinned CJ Parker in about 3:30.
Cesaro got another arena-wide response to his "We the people" line Before Sami Zayn's music hit and he hobbled onto the stage with the aid of crutches. Zayn said 2014 was off to a rocky start. He said that the time he's spent healing has given him time to reflect on his 2013, and said that it was the best year of his career. He said that one match in particular did a lot for him and the crowd picked up a "match of the year" chant.
Zayn said that his loss in that match was the one blemish on his year. He said that in case Cesaro isn't good at reading between the lines, this is him asking for a rematch. The crowd broke out in a loud "Yes!" chant before Cesaro left the ring and approached Zayn. As he passed him on the stage, he simply answered "No," and then made his way to the back, leaving Zayn standing on the stage…
Scott Stanford hyped that Bo Dallas' banner raising ceremony was still to come… [C]
Zim Says: The post-match promo was a nice foundation for the story leading into Cesaro vs. Zayn on the live NXT special and I'm looking forward to how it plays out from here. As for the match, Antonio Cesaro is one of the last people I would’ve put CJ Parker in the ring with at Full Sail, especially if the goal is to get Parker over as a babyface. Cesaro is one of the crowd favorites month after month. Parker is not. The match was fine, as any Cesaro match will be. It just felt like it meant nothing and accomplished nothing.
Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed The Miz onto the set. She asked how it felt to be at NXT. Miz said it's "Awe-some." He said they might just have to an edition of MizTV, when CJ Parker walked across the set talking about how bummed he was. Parke said he doesn’t get it, the people keep booing him. Miz said he can see why, he just interrupted the most must-see WWE Superstar of all time, and that's disrespectful. Parker said Miz must have a huge carbon footprint from all of the toxic gas he spews. Parker slapped Miz and said "consider that an environmental notice" before leaving the set in a hurry…
Zim Says: … Perhaps I was wrong about the last match accomplishing nothing. It's interesting to see Parker acknowledge the crowd's rejection and I'm curious to see where he'll go with it. I also imagine that the Full Sail crowd would crap harder on Parker vs. Miz than any other possible matchup.
Back in the arena, Renee Young joined Phillips, Saxton, and Tensai on commentary. Young said she was there to add some estrogen to the mix. Natalya made her entrance flanked by Bayley. An "NXT Backstage Exclusive" (no-longer a "WWE.com (not so) Exclusive") showed Nattie cutting a brief promo on Summer Rae. She said that she hopes Summer has a great chiropractor after feeling the Sharpshooter. Nattie said that her New Year's resolution was "to get hungry and forget my manners." Back in the arena, Summer Rae made her entrance along with Sasha Banks.
4. Natalya (w/ Bayley, an appetite, and no manners) vs. Summer Rae (w/ Sasha Banks). The two traded holds and counters to open the match. Nattie used a snapmare and hit a dropkick to the face, but Summer came right back with a spinning heel kick to take control. Summer settled into an Indian Deathlock and continued to target the leg of Nattir until Nattie launched Summer out of the ring and made her comeback moments later. She hit a snap suplex, missed a spinning clothesline, and then caught Summer in the Sharpshooter a short time later for the submission win.
Natalya forced Summer Rae to submit in about 2:55.
Natalya and Bayley celebrated in the ring as Sasha helped Summer backstage…
Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. They were both wearing shirts with a pointing finger and the word "SAWFT," and Amore was still in his leopard print wheelchair. Taylor asked for an update on Amore's injury, and Amore said that before he broke his leg, he liked to live life on the edge. He said after the injury, he decided to jump. The only difference between him and most people is that he can fly. Taylor seemed bewildered and asked when we could expect to see him back. Amore felt like he'd already answered that, so Big Cass stepped in and said that he was making a full recovery and he'll be back in no time.
Aiden English walked on set and dismissed Taylor. He said as he recalls, he beat Colin Cassady in a match. He said their singing contest was a draw, after Cassady "mysteriously tripped and fell." Cassady said he's taken cheap shot after cheap shot. English began to sing, so Cassady walked off set and Amore rolled his wheelchair over English's foot on his way off set…
Scott Stanford hyped Bo Dallas' banner raising ceremony, up next… [C]
Zim Says: That wasn't one of Amore and Cassady's more memorable promos. I do like that they're keeping Amore relevant in addition to finding ways to keep Cassady busy and growing. The ladies' match was good. I would’ve liked to have seen them get more time, but I presume we haven’t seen the last of this program and there are greater things on the horizon. Oh, and my god: As decent as the four commentators may be individually, a four-person booth is something wrestling fans' nightmares are made of. Less is more guys (and gal), really.
The now-longest reigning NXT Champion Bo Dallas made his entrance. Once in the ring, he thanked the fans for their ovation as they chanted "No more Bo." Bo said that their reaction is a big part of the reason they're able to celebrate this occasion. He said every time the fans chant "Let's go Bo," it gives him so much strength and helps him fall asleep at night like a warm blanket. Funny. He said that NXT officials have decided to celebrate the longest reigning NXT Champion in history.
"No, no, no," he said, "I'm not talking about Seth Rollins. Not Big E Langston, but yours truly: Bo Dallas." He said he didn’t ask for this but he would humbly accept, just as the crowd broke out in a loud "Pocahontas" chant. He said he wanted to thank his third cousin Charles, his sister's college roommate, and of course, his fourth grade history teacher for being in the crowd to support him. He said without any further ado, the time has come. He asked for a drum roll, and a small banner dropped from the ceiling to the left of the stage that said "Bo Dallas NXT Champion 224 Days." The crowd booed, and on commentary Tensai implored Bo to act like he's been there before.
As Bo was celebrating, Adrian Neville's music hit and he made his way to the ring. Bo guessed that Neville wanted to be the first to congratulate him. Neville said he wasn’t there for that reason, but he was there for a reason. He said that on behalf of himself, everyone there, the Full Sail students and staff, and the whole WWE, "Hmm… Uhh… Shut up!" Neville paused, which allowed for a loud "He's a wanker" chant to pick up towards Bo. Funny. Neville said that Bo may feel like he has the privilege to come out and annoy everyone, but Neville's there to take that privilege off Bo's waist.
Bo said that the only title shot Neville earned was by beating a nobody, and that took him a whole 4:45 to win (referring to the Beat the Clock challenge, and apparently ignoring the fact that Neville had to beat Sami Zayn after they tied in the Beat the Clock). Bo said he's a champion, and it wouldn’t even take him that long to beat Neville.
Just then, Triple H appeared on the tron. He said that both men make good points, but it's up to someone like him to settle the dispute. He acknowledged that Neville's last shot at the title didn’t come to a conclusive finish, and said that Bo had just made a bold statement. He said that Neville will get his shot at Bo Dallas and the NXT Championship if Adrian Neville can last 4:45 without Bo beating him. He said this was Bo's chance to make him a Bo-liever. Bo looked concerned and Neville looked supremely confident. Triple H concluded that the (potential) title match would take place on the Feb. 27 edition of NXT which will air live on the WWE Network.
5. Adrian Neville vs. Bo Dallas in a 4:45 Beat the Clock match. Bo had to wrestle in a button-down and pants. Neville frustrated Bo early and sent him to ringside within the opening minute. Neville hit a kick to the head from the ring apron, but Bo yanked the ring skirt and Neville crashed hard to ringside. Neville made it back into the ring an instant before the countout, but Bo took control from there, working frantically to try to score the early win. Bo wore Neville out with elbows in the corner and went for another pinfall after a simple bodyslam, but Neville kicked out.
Bo began to slow down and mythodically hit elbows to Neville's head, but Neville began to fire back with kicks, including his spinning gut kick and the sliding dropkick. Neville wasted some time before going up to the top rope, and Bo was able to roll safely to ringside. With 20 seconds left on the clock, Neville simply remained on the top rope for several seconds before evading a last-ditch effort by Bo and tossing Bo to ringside as time expired.
Adrian Neville lasted 4:45 with Bo Dallas to earn a shot at the NXT Championship.
Neville celebrated and the commentators recapped that the title match would take place on the live Feb. 27 episode on the WWE Network. Bo went for a cheap-shot spear on Neville, but Neville moved and Bo went crashing into the ringpost. With Bo down, Neville went to the top rope and hit the Red Arrow. He self-counted the pinfall and the show closed with Neville standing over Bo, holding the NXT Championship high…
Zim Says: I like the result and the post-match angle, but I didn’t particularly like the execution of the match. A lot of that is due to the constraints of working a Beat the Clock format match, but it leaves some psychology gaps. They did play into Bo being the chickenshit heel and had Neville look strong, so the result is what it needs to be. Until now I hadn’t considered the idea of Neville winning, but the post-match bit did a good job of presenting the visual. Though I suppose that could've been his moment, with Bo finding a cheap win in their title match. Ok, I'm over-thinking this. Let's wrap it up.
Overall, this was a good first show from the most recent set of tapings. Adrian Neville stood out with a new level of fire and I expect we'll see a lot of him in the run up to the Feb. 27 show and beyond. None of the matches had enough time to comment on, but they laid out things for upcoming storylines and matches, as these first episodes often do. There's never been a better time to familiarize yourself with NXT; you don't want to go into its network run cold! NXT airs clips and even full episodes on the FREE side of Hulu, so catch up! Thanks for following along!
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.
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