TripleR Presents: Oliver's Weekly NXT Review (9/4/13)
Sep 5, 2013 - 8:57:11 PM
Hello NXTians! First things first – a Mick Foley endorsed cheap plug! Tomorrow (06/09) I’ll be appearing on LoPRadio as a guest of Dem UK Boys on The Right Side of the Pond, talking to LoP’s very own Mazza about, you guessed it, NXT. Pretty sure I might be able to convert him to the ways of WWEs most minor league! So that’s tomorrow at 4pm EST, which I’m reasonably sure is 9pm BST. That will be fun! It will be a fun time!
Right, with that said, let’s get down to business. Last week – the vicious and malicious Jack Swagger attacked the kind and gentle Sami Zayn from behind with entirely no provocation. Do you think the diminutive Canuck is going to stand for that? Hell no! This week, our main event sees those two face off in what might well be an absolute barnstormer. Also, what will The Ascension have in store for our NXT Tag Team Champions? And is Alexander Rusev Sylvester LeFort’s new money maker? Let’s find out right now in…
The NXT Review: 04/09/2013 – The One Where Everyone Goes To Caesars
NXT starts with Bayley! Oh happiest of happy days, this is how I like my day to begin. Bayley’s got some wonderful theme music that really suits her character; I don’t know if I’d really noticed that before or if they’ve only recently changed it. It’s kind of really sprightly electro-pop – reminds me a lot of Helen Love, actually, which I’m totally OK with. Oh man, Bayley is just so happy, and it’s completely infectious. She’s partnered by the Nature Girl Charlotte, who greets her partner with a double high five and they enter the ring together. Tonight, they’ll be facing off against Alicia Fox, who woke up and decided to be a heel, and Aksana, who is permanently a heel because she’s from Eastern Europe. It’s true! Alex Riley does a fantastic put over job of Alicia Fox on commentary as she enters the ring, and Aksana enters in a catsuit that’s laced up the front and glitters a lot.
Bayley is going to kick things off here, and the crowd are really, really hot for her, chanting her name. Aksana offers her a hug, and Bayley is absolutely thrilled, dismissing Charlotte’s reservations on the apron and moving in…but it’s all a ruse! The Lithuanian connects with a knee to the midsection and throws her to the mat. She connects with a sideslam and then crawls around her downed opponent before going for a cover. A pair of elbow drops from the seductress and another two count, before she marches Bayley to her corner and tags in Alicia Fox. The two team up with Aksana whipping Bayley into a single leg drop kick from Fox, and the former Divas Champions ramming her opponent into the turnbuckle hard. Out of the corner now and Alicia connects with a gorgeous Northern Lights suplex and a bridge – best bridge in the business, as Regal would say – but Bayley kicks out at two again. Fun little note: Bayley has a robot on the side of her trunks. She signalled to it on her way to the ring, clearly engaging with someone in the crowd, but I’ve only just caught a good look at it.
Fox stays on her opponent, and she and Aksana are working to cut off the ring with quick tags, keeping Bayley in their corner. Aksana makes her way in and locks in a side headlock, but Bayley powers up to her feet, only to be cut off again by Aksana with a big blow to the back and a choke with the boot in the corner. But coming out Bayley ducks a clothesline and gets her hug in! Yay! Bayley gets her hug…and transitions into a belly to belly suplex! Outstanding! Come on, make the tag make the tag make the tag…Charlotte comes in, Alicia Fox comes in on the other corner but gets caught immediately in Charlotte’s Web but just wriggles out! Fox whips Charlotte into the corner but she flips over the top rope, but gets caught on the top turnbuckle in a body slam…no, somehow she front rolls her way through it and connects with a big clothesline for a two count. She hoists Alicia up and Bayley hits a blind tag, but to Charlotte’s chagrin. Fox whips her across the ring and goes for a big boot…but she hits Aksana! Bayley with the roll up…1…2…3! Bayley wins! Bayley wins! Bayley wins! She looks stunned and embraces her partner as they celebrate. As they make their way up the ramp celebrating, they both let out a ‘woo’ for the fans. Bayley finally won one!
This is exactly what women should do. I know it gets mentioned every now and again, but the women of NXT are so much better than those on the main roster, and I don’t necessarily think it has everything to do with talent – I think it’s just in the way they get their matches put together. I mean sure, every now and then you get the odd dud, but for the most part they are allowed to show that they are just the same as the men – here Aksana and Alicia are cutting off the ring as anybody would do in a tag team match. There’s logic to it all. It seems like the norm on NXT, whereas it seems more of an oddity on the main roster. The beatdown of Bayley, the hot tag to Charlotte…you could have subbed in any other roster members and the match would have been the same. Charlotte still looked a little awkward, almost like Bambi on ice at times, but she did what needed to be done. And Bayley won one! Even if she doesn’t have a finisher yet, she still won! Oh happy days! What a way to start NXT.
Backstage, Sylvester LeFort is having a little chat with his client Scott Dawson, but they get interrupted by Alexander Rusev. LeFort asks him how he is, but he answers in Bulgarian so LeFort just moves on. Tonight is all about getting revenge on Mason Ryan, who treated Scott Dawson like trash before now, and Sylvester is going to back up Rusev so that he doesn’t get embarrassed like he was by Dolph Ziggler. What is Rusev going to do to Mason Ryan? He’s going to break him like a piece of wood across his knee! Jesus, Rusev is incredible. Just an absolutely stacked beast. Once Rusev wins and makes LeFort some MONAY, he and Scott Dawson are going to Ceasars – a restaurant, I assume? – which is Dawson’s favourite, where I suppose they’ll gaze deeply and longingly into each other’s eyes across a slice of pizza and talk about their feelings. Pretty basic promo to set up the match later tonight, but it did its job. I really enjoy LeFort on the microphone, there’s something really watchable about him and he’s very entertaining. This was pretty much exclusively his promo, and he did it well. He’s kind of a bit too pretty to be a manager though – I mean, look through history. Jimmy Hart, Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, Paul Bearer, Paul Heyman…all of them were ugly as sin. Sylvester LeFort’s kind of handsome. Maybe he needs a couple of cauliflower ears or something to really make it.
Rick Victor enters, accompanied by Conor O’Brian, and it seems like when he made off with Corey Graves’ NXT Tag Team Championship he decided he could keep it, as he has it across his shoulder here. Graves’ ribs are still taped after the attack last week, but he’s been cleared by the doctors and he’s ready to fight. The tension between the teams is palpable – let’s get it on!
Victor taunts Graves with his title belt after the bell, but Graves then throws his jacket in his face as a distraction and takes him down, pounding on him on the mat. Graves is hot, and wails on Victor in the corners with punches and kicks. A little fight back by Victor is halted immediately by a blow to the midsection, and he gets whipped off the ropes into Graves’ elbow. The Hipster Barrista starts to work the leg, looking to build towards the 13th Step, but The Ascension member kicks his way out of it, although he falls victim to Graves again, who locks in a front face lock. Victor powers Graves back into the corner and finally starts to gain some traction, working over the ribs and delivering a European uppercut against the ropes, but again his opponent comes battling back, fighting off of the ropes and connecting with a suplex for a two count. There’s a good comment from Tom Phillips on commentary here – if Conor O’Brian is the bludgeon of The Ascension, Rick Victor is the scalpel. I like that – immediately marking out the differences between two teammates and showing what they bring to the table. Essentially, that’s why they’re together, one needs the attributes the other has. Graves fires off some right hands, but an attempt at an Irish whip gets reversed, and while Graves ducks the clothesline and connects with a crossbody, he really hurts his ribs, giving his rival a chance to stomp on his midsection and really take control. With Victor in charge, the pace drops momentarily, but soon the two are going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring, exchanging punches. Graves knocks Victor into the ropes but as he charges in he gets picked up and dropped on the top rope before falling to the floor.
Victor flings his prey back into the ring and starts to stomp on the ribs in the corner – he truly is showing himself to be the scalpel of The Ascension here, with almost every movement targeting the injury, whether it is blows to the side or grinding the knee against them. He’s ripped the tape off now, the bastard. Rick connects with chops and European uppercuts in the corner, then hits a gutbuster right on the ribs which only gets a two count. He continues to pound and grind his knees against the ribs, and then locks in a Camel Clutch variation, pushing the knee into the back of his opponent to increase the pressure on the ribs. Graves tries to fire up and push out of the hold, but he gets his back jumped on and then repeated stomps to the chest for his troubles. Victor taunts him now, rolling around on the canvas just out of reach, causing Graves to swing and miss multiple times before being the recipient of a double axe handle to the back, and Victor returns to that Camel Clutch style hold. Graves looks like he’s fading, getting limper and limper, but the crowd getting behind him seems to get him back to consciousness, only to wind up jumped on again and become the victim of a standing senton, but he kicks out at two. Victor charges into the corner, but Graves stops him with a boot and starts to fire back, his left arm useless but his right arm laying down some hard justice. He connects with a standing jumping knee and hits multiple chops to the face and chest of his opponent, then a big clothesline and a running fist drop! Victor’s reeling, and Graves looks to connect with the chop block to set up the 13th Step…O’Brian gets up on the apron but here comes Neville! He dropkicks the bludgeon of The Ascension to the floor and then dives over the top rope and hits a crossbody! Back in the ring, and Victor cuts off Graves charging in and looks for another gutbuster…no! Graves reverses into a small package and gets a lucky win! And he pinches back his tag title as he slides out of the ring too!
That was actually pretty enjoyable – Victor showed that he can really focus on one body part, playing the logical heel to O’Brian’s more ‘hit first, ask questions later’ kind of guy. This is the first time we’ve seen him in the ring on his own in a long time, and certainly the first time since he became O’Brian’s buddy, and he looked really good - definitely the scalpel of The Ascension. Graves showed how much fight he has in him and how he can just squeak out a win as long as he hangs in there for long enough, and I think the forthcoming match (presuming that there is one forthcoming) between these two teams could be a cracker.
Sasha Banks is backstage doing her makeup – they’ve asked her to act again, which is a worry. Summer Rae appears and asks her if she is sitting around thinking about how she can become relevant in her match with Paige next week, but Sasha thinks she’s just trying to stir shit up. Summer says that because Paige is the Anti-Diva, she thinks she’s better than them, and really wants Sasha to become relevant by beating her next week. If she were Sasha, she’d give Paige the beatdown of her life, and that the real question is whether Sasha Banks knows she has the inner rage that Rae knows she has. That’s…interesting. I see where they’re going with this, I mean I guess it’s pretty obvious what will now happen next week, but this is kind of an interesting way to approach it I suppose, with Summer sowing the seeds in Sasha’s head to make her turn heel. Could the two form some sort of allegiance down the line? We’ll have to wait and see!
Oh, Paige is backstage with Renee Young. She asks about Summer Rae getting into the head of Sasha Banks and what that means for their match next week, but Paige doesn’t know what Summer is up to. What she does know is that Sasha is good. Damn good. But she’s the champ for a reason. Summer doesn’t know what Anti-Diva means – it means she’s not here to be a cover girl, she’s here to cover girls in the ring and win, becoming the most dominant Diva to ever walk through the WWE – Paige is a fighter and is going to give Sasha the fight of her life next week. She’s a feisty one, that Paige – slightly weird cadence and phrasing in this promo, but damn does she speak well compared to some (hey Layla, how you doin’?). I like that she put Sasha over, as well as herself by saying that she’s the champ because she’s the best. It might have only been a short little promo, but look at what she accomplished – she bigged up her next opponent, made the belt seem a bit more important, dealt with a tangential storyline development, stated her future aims and promoted the match next week. That’s a hell of a lot. Good stuff.
The irresistible force meeting the immovable object! Goliath vs Goliather! Other tropes! Rusev, introduced by LeFort and Dawson, has another piece of wood with ‘Mason’ written on it and breaks it across his knee again. They call it a 2x4 on commentary but…I’m pretty sure it’s not. It’s like, 1x4 at most, and might even be thinner than that. Anyway, Ryan comes out to a nice little reaction, a few people chanting his name and patting him on the back on his way to the ring. This is going to be all about power, although hopefully Rusev shows some of that agility he did against Ziggler too.
They lock up, but neither can gain the advantage and they stare each other down. Rusev charges into another collar and elbow tie-up, but it’s actually Ryan who gains the advantage and pushes him off into the corner. Rusev flies out with a kick to the midsection and lamps Ryan in the back, but he gets telegraphed on an Irish whip and Ryan takes the advantage, eventually connecting with a shoulder block to take the Bulgarian off his feet. Ryan runs off the ropes, but Rusev ducks and comes off the ropes himself to hit a spinning heel kick, which is still incredible to watch. He only gets a two count, but he stays on the Welshman and lays into him on the mat and in the corner. The Bulgarian locks arms and hits headbutts to the chest and a bodyblock against the ropes, and Mason is reeling in the corner. Rusev charges in but Ryan ducks out the way and he eats turnbuckle! Ryan fires back now, rights to the face and then a pair of clotheslines in the corner, off the ropes he comes and he hits a big boot, but Dawson runs interference on the apron – only to get thrown in by the man from Cardiff! And then thrown out again! LeFort now runs interference, and that’s enough for Rusev to hit the body avalanche in the corner. He locks in a Camel Clutch and Ryan taps out to give him his first win in NXT!
He, LeFort and Dawson all celebrate – I guess they’re all going to Caesars! Not really much to write home about, but Rusev looks pretty impressive taking out Ryan, given the way they’ve built him up over the past months. I think his match with Ziggler was streets ahead of this in terms of quality, but combined with this they’ve already shown that Rusev is not somebody to mess around with.
Outside in the parking lot, the cameras have just caught Leo Kruger standing over a grimacing Xavier Woods! What’s happened here? Kruger is laughing to himself and calls Xavier ‘Woodsy’ as he says ‘ta ta’. Well, well, well. Looks like we’ve got a new rivalry to sink our teeth into!
Alright, let’s do this. One thing that this match is already doing is establishing Swagger as a beast – he looks nearly three times the size of Zayn, which does great things for him – he looks like a real monster, a guy with the size and ability to go places. It’s perhaps not necessarily his fault that he’s not made it as big as he should have, in my opinion, but by establishing him as almost a giant alongside Zayn he looks mighty impressive. I wonder if they could tweak his character somehow in that vague direction, make him a big guy who can just take people out. I mean, he’s pretty tall and muscular – it’s not really that much of a stretch.
Swagger starts off hot, forcing Sami into the corner, but Zayn ducks out and absolutely wails on him in the corner, causing the referee to pull him back which allows Swagger to hit a kick to the knee and take Zayn down with a shoulder block that he absolutely explodes into out of the corner. The two are setting a fast pace, as Swagger connects with another shoulder block off the ropes, but an attempt at a third goes awry as Zayn hits the mat to avoid him, then leapfrogs him and connects with a calf kick on his opponent. The crowd are popping like crazy for Zayn, and he takes Swagger back to the corner to hit a few punches to the head and an elbow. Against the ropes, he connects with a series of chops to the chest, but he seems to be trying to get some feeling back in his leg, shaking it out every so often. A quick pinfall attempt gets him only one and Swagger looks to gain the upperhand again, whipping Zayn across the ring, but again Zayn uses his agility to avoid Swagger and when he gets pushed up into the air he turns it into a dropkick! Swagger rolls outside into the arms of the waiting Zeb Colter, but Zayn won’t let up, looking to launch himself over the tope rope…but Colter and Swagger split and Zayn stops mid move, landing on his legs on the top rope and back flipping out of the move! The crowd go wild as ‘ole’ chants echo around the NXT arena – yeah, try getting them away from Sami Zayn Los Matadores. Trust me, it’s not going to happen. Swagger seeks comfort with the Founding Father again, but Zayn slips outside and takes it to him, not letting get the breather he wanted and driving his head into the apron before rolling him back in. But Colter distracts Zayn on the apron and that gives Swagger a window of opportunity to strike, which he does with aplomb, hitting a clothesline and stomping on Zayn. Swags flings Zayn into the corner and drives knees into the midsection, downing the Canuck and allowing him to hit a running knee to the head. Blimey, this is fast-paced – even with Swagger in control this is moving at a serious speed, and the fans love it.
Swagger slows the match down a little with a side headlock, but Zayn fights out and comes off the ropes…right into a belly to belly suplex, with authority! Crikey, that looked insanely viscious. Swagger throws Zayn to the apron and then drags him back in for a suplex, which seems a little pointless – why not just hit the suplex? Odd. Zayn looks beat, having to use Swagger to reach his feet again, and Swagger has no time for it – he pushes Zayn into the corner then pulls him out and turns Zayn inside out with a massive clothesline. Jesus, Swagger is looking like an absolute beast. He locks both of Zayn’s arms behind his back, but Sami finally fights back, breaking the hold and getting in a couple of chops to the chest. Swagger hits a knee to the belly and looks to come off the ropes, but our Candian hero backpedals and send him over the top rope to the outside! Over the top rope senton connects, and the crowd goes insane! Everything Zayn does is greeted with loud cheers from the crowd, the man’s super over, and they all think he’s going to pick up the win with a crossbody off the top rope but Swagger kicks out. The All American American blocks a big boot from Zayn and looks to bundle him over his shoulder but Zayn comes round into a roll up…only two! Swagger now connects with the throw over the shoulder and takes Zayn down for a two count of his own! The crowd actually seem split on who to cheer for as Swagger runs Zayn into the turnbuckles, but Sami slips over the back and connects with a Blue Thunder Bomb! 1…2…NO! Swagger just gets a shoulder up! Zayn comes in to follow up but Swagger picks the leg and goes for the Patriot Lock, but his opponent spins his way out of it…Swagger just rolls him through into a delayed gutwrench powerbomb! Zayn just kicks out! Holy shit this is hot!
The frustration is etched on Swagger’s face and he takes the straps down! Shades of Kurt Angle! He locks in the Patriot Lock, and when Zayn tries to turn it over he just wrenches it in even deeper! Somehow, Zayn scratches and crawls his way to the ropes, but that leg has got to be hurting, with Zayn unable to get back up to his feet. He’s still fighting though! He kicks and punches at Swagger from the mat, but it’s not enough – Swagger goes for the Swagger Bomb…NO! ZAYN GETS THE KNEES UP! Damn this is good shit! Swagger in the corner…Zayn puts the pain to the back of his mind and hits a big boot to the face! Only a two count! Zayn stays on top, the crowd chanting ‘yes!’ with every blow he connects with on Swagger. He signals his intentions to climb the turnbuckles and go for something risky, but Swagger gets up and cuts him off. The two fight for the advantage and it’s Zayn who gets it, connecting with a sunset flip powerbomb! ONLY TWO! Hang on, why’s the crowd booing? Oh God, it’s Bo Dallas! Bo Dallas has come out to cheer on Sami Zayn! The crowd absolutely hate him, ‘no more Bo’ has never sounded louder. Bo’s very presence is distracting Zayn as he cheers him on, and that gives Swagger a chance to pick the leg again! The Patriot Lock gets synced in and Zayn has nowhere to go! He has to tap out!
Bo looks absolutely devastated for Zayn on the outside, but his presence caused him to lose. Man, they really are working hard on this guy right now. Love it. Love everything about this. All 15 minutes of it were stupendous, Swagger looked the best he ever has done (or, at least, the best he has in a long time), and Zayn got to slightly expand his moveset again. The crowd are so into the guy it’s almost absurd. The question now isn’t so much ‘should he win the NXT Championship?’ – which he should, obviously – but ‘should he skip it completely and make it to the main roster?’. The guy will be a star. If he can put on something this good in the middle of a Raw with Jack freakin’ Swagger, imagine what he could do in the main event against Cena. Or Punk. Or Bryan. Or Orton. Or anybody. Just picture it. Now, admittedly, he gets a reaction on NXT – it’s just NXT, I know, and maybe a lot of it is to do with his indy circuit history. But I don’t think anybody who’s watched him recently couldn’t support him, even if they didn’t know his history – that bodes well for his promotion. Zayn vs Dallas is going to be off the charts based on the crowd alone, and I think that match will more than live up to expectations. I think I’ve said this before but…I almost don’t want them to take the belt off Bo. I mean, could you imagine how much heat he’d have with the crowd if he beat Zayn? It would be incredible.
Second time in three weeks, but it can’t be denied – Sami Zayn really is NXT’s MVP right now. Listen to the crowd during his matches, it speaks for itself.
04/09/2013 – Sami Zayn
28/08/2013 – Summer Rae
21/08/2013 – Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro
07/08/2013 – Enzo Amore
31/07/2013 – Bray Wyatt
24/07/2013 – Paige
17/07/2013 – Adrian Neville
10/07/2013 – Bayley
03/07/2013 – The Crowd
26/06/2013 – Emma
By Gawd what a main event! Puts everything else to shame and overshadows it completely – Zayn is on a roll, and long may it continue. That said, scratch beneath the surface and there’s a lot to be said this week – you’ve got the possibility of some friction between Charlotte and Bayley from the tag match that kicked us off, which was pretty decent. Very good to see that even the NXT women’s division can wrestle a classic style tag match. Graves vs Victor furthered the story of The Ascension vs Fly Down well, and showed both guys to have certain aspects of their characters – I loved the comparison of Victor to a scalpel on commentary, just one line that summed up everything about him and his place in the team. Plus, Graves’s never say die attitude sits well with what they’ve been doing with Neville. Only problem is that they are both now never say die guys – how long until they get called ‘Team Underdog’ or something similarly ridiculous? And Rusev vs Ryan was…well, it was two big men fighting. Nothing wrong with that, and I like the pairing of Rusev with LeFort – he was always going to need a mouthpiece, after all, so why not stick him in there. Can we start calling them Multicultural Society from here on, please? I like that.
The main even though – I am all about that. Furthering the Dallas character development and his title feud with Zayn, whilst having a great match and showing off just what Swagger can do. It was brilliant, well worth a look if you can find it online (or get Hulu completely free! Free! And you can watch every NXT episode ever! That’s right, even season 3! What a bargain!).
Next week…let me see, what’s set for next week…
With our hero Sami Zayn crushed by the Patriot Lock of Jack Swagger, will he ever walk again? And just what was Bo Dallas thinking – was he trying to help, or are his motives more sinister? What will transpire when these two come face to face? And what of Sasha Banks – has Summer Rae turned her head, or will she reject The First Lady of NXT? Will Xavier Woods have survived the merciless onslaught of Leo Kruger? All that, and much, much more next week - same NXT place, same NXT channel!
Until then NXTians, stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Agur!