Happy 2014, NXTians! I hope your festive time was terrific and your all living up (or down, I don’t know what you get up to in your free time you cheeky little scamps) to your resolutions. Apologies that this is a few days late, what with one thing and another it's taken me a bit of time to sort this out. We've also skipped a week because the 201st episode of NXT was on Christmas Day and I didn't have time to squeeze this in around family time, but fear not if you missed it too – it was largely a recap episode with some promos cut in there. I say largely because if you haven’t seen it you missed a sleeper match of the year contender in William Regal vs Antonio Cesaro, squeezed in at the end of the show, which was gloriously brutal and well worth a watch. Sami Zayn also set up a 2 out of 3 falls match with Leo Kruger this week, which should well be a blast.
The NXT Review: 01/01/2014 – The One With Danny Boy
Jan 5, 2014 - 3:04:40 PM
And what else do we have this week? Well, Emma will face of with Natalya to be crowned number one contender for Paige’s NXT Women’s Championship – will our Dancing Dingo finally get her one on one rematch with the Norwich Nightmare? And of course, the biggest contest in years, an early contender for segment of the year I feel sure – Colin Cassady will battle Aiden English in a singing contest that I cannot wait for. Let’s do this, shall we?
The NXT Review: 01/01/2014 – The One With Danny Boy
Byron Saxton has just been informed that Tyler Breeze has entered the building! Huzzah!
Kofi Kingston vs Alexander Rusev
Here’s Lana to introduce her Bulgarian Brute Alexander Rusev! She definitely uses the words ‘aggressive’ and ‘impressive’ in her introduction, but it’s still in Russian so I have no idea what she says otherwise. Dude still needs some shoes, though. Rusev’s victim tonight? Everybody’s favourite jumping Ghanaian Kofi Kingston! I think I’m really going to enjoy Rusev killing Kingston tonight, I’d completely forgotten that they’d challenged each other a couple of weeks ago.
Rusev overpowers Kingston with knees and boots in the opening stages, leaving him on the mat and stopping from jumping on every bloody occasion possible. He rests him against the ropes and delivers knees to the kidneys, then uses his pure strength to throw him over his head into a Samoan drop, earning himself a two count. Kofi starts to valiantly fight back, but when he comes off the ropes Rusev just levels him with a body block for another two count. The ex-Jamaican dodges a body splash and then gets his knees up to halt the inrushing Bulgarian Brute and we see some fire from him now, hard chops to the chest that actually connect for once and a dropkick. Kofi’s offense often looks so appalling, especially those chops, but this time they actually sounded convincing. He comes off the ropes with a jumping clothesline and spoils it all – just run through the guy Kofi, come on! A Boom Drop connects and K Squared goes for Trouble in Paradise but gets blocked by Rusev…who gets hit with a top rope crossbody on the rebound! Only a two count, but Kingston follows up with a kick in the corner and goes to the top rope…hang on, here’s Lana for the distraction and Rusev just throws Kingston off the top rope! The Accolade! It’s locked in! And Kofi has to tap out after about five minutes.
That was…er…kind of weird, in truth. Doesn’t feel like they really got going and both guys pretty much just hit their spots and that was it. The big talking point, of course, is that Rusev has now beaten somebody who, to quote Alex Riley, ‘has done it all in WWE’. Except, you know, leave the midcard for more than five seconds. Sigh. You know the time and place, Riley, and I will fight you for your job. I don’t care if it’s the parking lot of the stadium on April 6th, I will end your career. Rusev now looks well set for a run at the NXT Championship in 2014, however, and I can certainly see him winning the belt within twelve months. Unless they never want to end Bo Dallas’ wonderful reign. I’d be cool with that too. What’s Kofi done to deserve this, though?
Oh, here’s Sylvester LeFort! Scott Dawson’s leg got broken by Mojo Rawley so LwFort is looking for a new client. First up is Bull Dempsey, who looks like a cross between Husky Harris and 2 Chainz. But he’s too fat so is rejected. Sylvester wants someone ‘bigger than life’ – cue Mason Ryan appearing to shove a dollar bill in his mouth and call him an idiot. Bloody interfering Welshmen, always curtailing open auditions. Did this serve a purpose? I have no idea. Let’s see down the line, perhaps Mason Ryan will show his face a little later on.
Natalya vs Emma
Natalya has a fan! He has a Queen of Harts sign, bless him. That old cynic William Regal is giving Natalya and Tyson Kidd’s marriage eight months, but before we can hear any more about the goings on on Total Divas our lovely Australian saviour Emma appears! She bursts through her signature bubbles and flips her way into the ring where she plays with some bubbles, infuriating the pink and black attack in the opposite corner. Let’s do this!
The pair engage in some lovely counter work to start us off, Natalya eventually gaining the advantage with an armbar and a wristlock, but Emma reverses the hold, only for Natalya to flip through and again gain the upper hand. The crowd are getting pretty rowdy with their duel chants as Natalya leapfrogs Emma in the corner…but gets rolled up for a two count! Emma celebrates with some dancing, but Natalya seems pretty pissed about it and rams her into the corner. The Dancing Dingo dodges her coming in and slides back in with a roll up for two, and then lock in the DilEmma tarantula in the ropes! She looks for the low crossbody in the corner, but Natalya dodges it and connects with a discuss clothesline for a two count, before tying Emma up in an abdominal stretch. Emma squirms her way out of it but gets slammed to the mat by her hair and then tied up in what I believe is called the Pin-Up Strong – an inverted surfboard with a double wristlock. The pain is etched on Emma’s face but she finally breaks free of the hold, only to be kicked in the ribs and bodyslammed. But she dodges a legdrop! Yes Emma! Oh no, Natalya looking for a sharpshooter…but Emma reverses with an inside cradle for 1…2…no! Emma Lock! Natalya’s tied up in the middle of the ring – she has to tap! Emma wins!
She celebrates with a dance and some bubbles, and even gets Natalya to drop her miserable facade and join in for a moment. That was pretty enjoyable, a good little women’s match with some nice technical stuff in there too – certainly a step up from the opener. And the best thing is that we now get to finally (hopefully) see Emma vs Paige again – it’s about time. The friction between those two has built and built over recent months, and I think we could see something pretty special from them when they do finally meet with the silver and pink on the line.
Aiden English vs Colin Cassady
The first ever NXT sing off! English doesn’t sing on his entrance, saving his vocal chords for the main stage, and enters with the crowd chanting his name heartily. Renee Young introduces Big Cass, who fist bumps the fans on his way down to the ring whilst sporting a rather nice, if slightly big across the shoulders, suit. The NXT Universe will decide the winner, and it’s English who will start us off with some Italian opera. He sings it beautifully, even if I do not understand what was said. Renee Young is excellent here in the Mario Lopez role, saying that English showed ‘true vocal stylings from the heart’ before asking Cassady to step up. He needs a little encouragement from Young, but belts out a beautiful version of ‘Danny Boy’ in a deep, gravelly baritone – and all the lyrics are changed to be about English. He ends by calling him S-A-W-F-T SAAAAAAAWFT! As Young asks for the results from the crowd, English gets booed for what I think is a first, while Cass wins hands down! Yes Big Cass!
Oh, English isn’t taking it lying it down, though, and demands and immediate rematch, insulting the NXT Universe and Big Cass in his second song – but the Realest Guy in the Room responds with a version of ‘My Girl’ which is called ‘You Suck’! Oh this is wonderful…and English assaults him from behind! The bastard! He takes out the knee of Cassady and leaves him on the mat. Well, if you want to get English booed properly having him go after arguably the most over person, or even duo, is probably the best way to do it. Obviously, this was essentially just a long winded set up for the assault and could have been handled in a minute long backstage segment but hell, it was a lot of fun and I had a good couple of giggles in there. Maybe I’m childish, I don’t know, but there’s something about songs with the lyrics changed to insults that always gets me laughing.
Tyler Breeze vs Mason Ryan
The last time we saw Tyler Breeze, he’d just robbed Adrian Neville of the NXT Championship by pulling Bo Dallas out of the way of the Red Arrow. Resplendent in purple, and with a matching furry iPhone cover, he pouts his way to the ring, whereas Mason Ryan charges down, businessman-like in his approach. Neither of these men has lost many since entering the NXT Arena, so it’s going to be interesting to see who blinks in this one.
Before anything can happen, Sylvester LeFort turn up and distracts Mason Ryan from the ramp! Breeze takes advantage and takes the Welshman down to the mat, knocking him senseless for a moment, but Ryan eventually pops up and drops him across the top rope on his throat, before running outside of the ring and decking LeFort with a clothesline. The distraction, however, costs him, and when he re-enters Breeze connects with the Beauty Shot and ends this one, not a minute after it started.
Oh Tyler Breeze. I love you so much it sometimes confuses me. I’m glad it wasn’t you who bit the loss here, as you are clearly destined for much better things than Mason Ryan. It wasn’t really much to talk about, and I suppose it may be to further a LeFort/Ryan storyline or something, but it kind of just feels like they wanted to give Breeze something to do before he comes face to face with Adrian Neville. It worked, but it wasn’t anything I’d rave about. Tyler Breeze has left the building.
Sami Zayn vs Leo Kruger
These two have shared the spoils in two singles matches before this, so it only makes sense to settle it in a two out of three falls encounter. Both men are actually pretty over with the crowd, enough that I think we could consider this to be a meeting of two faces, especially since Kruger has amassed quite a following now. The two charge at each other from the first bell, and it’s Zayn who gets the worst of it, Kruger levelling him with a clothesline and then throwing him to the outside, where he continues to beat him around at will. The South African throws Zayn back in for a one count, before continuing the assault on the outside again, working over the back by driving it into the ring apron. This gets Kruger a two count, and he sends Zayn to the outside again with a stiff European uppercut. Kruger eventually follows him outside and chops at the chest of his opponent, before bodyslamming him on the mats at ringside. The mercenary throws him back inside and goes for another pin, again getting a two count, and then looks for the slice – but Zayn catches him, and exploder suplexes him into the turnbuckle! Holy viciousness Batman! He nails a yakuza kick and that’s enough to gain the first fall!
Sami Zayn leads 1-0!
A fast fall, with Kruger in the ascendancy for the whole of it but getting caught just once by Zayn, which was enough to give him a quick, early pin. An interesting dynamic to the fall, really, with Kruger looking like his power game was going to completely decimate his smaller opponent – Sami looks intelligent coming out of it. Zayn looks for a superplex now, but Kruger blocks it and then flings him to the outside! A big momentum shifter there, and when Zayn gets himself in t nine the South African connects with a snap DDT for a two count. With Zayn groggy, Kruger takes control, choking his rival against the ropes and cutting off any hint of a fight back. Zayn blocks a pair of Irish whip attempts, but Kruger finally gets it on his third attempt after connecting with a European uppercut. But Zayn holds onto the ropes opposite and kicks him in the face! He nails a pair of clotheslines and then a calf kick, and with Kruger back to his feet hits a Blue Thunder bomb! 1…2…no! Kruger kicks out! Zayn makes his way to the top rope, but Kruger cuts him off as he goes to springboard in and then connects with a suspended spinning neckbreaker on the top rope! This time it’s Sami who only just kicks out! Zayn battles to the ropes to avoid a GC3, and he sends Kruger reeling with a shoulder to the gut. But again, as he goes to the top rope, the South African cuts the Canuck off, this time looking for a superplex. Zayn sends him reeling though, and looks for a big crossbody…but Kruger ducks it! GC3 locked in! Zayn’s in the centre of the ring but he’s powering his way to the ropes and breaks the hold. Kruger looks furious and pounds on the highflyer in the ropes, and Zayn can now hardly stand, trying to use the mercenary to pull himself up. Zayn’s completely woozy…but he’s firing back! He connects with punches to the head, until Kruger pushes him off the ropes and nails a spinebuster! Kruger’s looking for the slice…but Zayn takes him down with an STO and locks in a Koji clutch! Kruger’s got nowhere to go and has to tap!
Sami wins the second fall, and the match!
How often is it that you see a 2 out of 3 fals match end up at 2-0? I certainly can’t remember watching one in recent memory, that’s for sure, although I have a feeling there might have been an Angle/Benoit one that did somewhere along the line. This was quite a nicely put together match, with Zayn taking advantage of Kruger taking a little bit too long on a pair of slice attempts and just hitting a move or two to take the fall. I’d have liked a little more build towards the Koji clutch in all honesty, although with Kruger having nowhere to go it makes sense that he had to tap or pass out in it. I think these two have really shown some good chemistry over the past couple of months, but hopefully this is all put to bed now and Zayn can focus on the task of finally taking the NXT Championship away from Bo Dallas. As for Kruger, this rumoured gimmick change to Adam Rose doesn’t strike me as something particularly interesting – truth be told, there’s not a lot of information on the character out there so who knows what it will be like if he does change. Personally, I’m a fan of him as Kruger, the deranged South African mercenary, and hope he stays that way for the foreseeable future. He should be one of the first in line to take on whoever eventually triumphs over Bo Dallas right now, regardless of this loss.
NXT MVP: Emma!
I think Emma might well have won this thing more than anybody else now, which…I don’t know, I guess it sort of speaks volumes about how good she is both in and out of the ring? Or maybe just how much I love her in general? She impressed me in her match with Natalya, and in tying up the win there she looks set for a good run at Paige in the near future. Whether she captures the NXT Women’s Championship or not, she certainly is one of the leading lights of NXT.
01/01/2014 - Emma
18/12/2013 – Leo Kruger
11/12/2013 – Bayley
05/12/2013 – Paige
13/11/2013 – Corey Graves
06/11/2013 – Kassius Ohno
30/10/2013 – Aiden English
23/10/2013 – Sami Zayn
16/10/2013 – Tyler Breeze
09/10/2013 – Realest Guys in the Room
I think this week was a bit of an oddity – we had the lows of Kingston vs Rusev and Breeze vs Ryan, neither of which was especially good nor really essential to the show, but then coupled with Emma vs Natalya and Zayn vs Kruger you kind of forget those couple of shorter, less interesting matches. It’s probably only a slightly above average show overall, but the main event and women’s match are worth a look if you’re only going for the highlights.
And so, NXTians, we roll on to next week – with 2014 starting with an average episode, hopefully that’s not a sign of things to come. Next week, we’ve got confirmed a Tornado tag match between Hunico and Camacho and The Ascension, plus the fallout from the sing off this week and, I believe, the continuation of Bayley trying to take down the Beautiful Fierce Females as she squares off against Summer Rae! Bayley will save us all, guys, I know it! Happy New Year everyone, and remember to stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Ciao!