Thursday again! Hurrah! Thursday is NXT day, NXTians, and I hope you’re ready for it to come at you with a fuller throttle than a Charlie’s Angels film sequel. What’s happening this week, you ask? Lots! Lots and lots! Kofi Kingston will appear once again to battle the Bulgarian Brute Alexander Rusev and make us all ponder just why he beat the WWE World Heavyweight Champion clean on Raw on Monday. The Man That Mother Nature Forgot To Make Good Looking Adrian Neville will take on the Man That Mother Nature Definitely Remembered To Make Good Looking Tyler Breeze, in a desperate attempt to put this all behind him and refocus on Bo Dallas. Elsewhere, Mojo Rawley brings his hype machine to town – but will it be enough to overcome the NXT Champion? And CJ Parker will make me see red with rage again! My favourite! Shall we?
The NXT Review: 15/01/2014 – The One With The Flabby Belly
Jan 16, 2014 - 11:00:00 AM
The NXT Review: 15/01/2014 – The One With The Flabby Belly
Oh, hang on, it’s Triple H! Here’s the COO of the WWE making another appearance on NXT, presumably to announce something. As usual, he is rapturously received by the NXT Universe as he says how exciting it is to be in the WWE Universe because of the WWE Network which is super exciting – I for one cannot wait for it. But The Game is here for one reason and one reason only – to announce the live episode of NXT on February 27th! I am crazy excited for this episode, and if you’ve read ahead at all (which I’ve just done to put together the match pictures for the next few weeks) they are building this thing up to be a one hour pay per view, of sorts. Get hype!
Adrian Neville vs Tyler Breeze
Man, Tyler Breeze. Tyler Breeze, man. What a guy. Can you name one other wrestler in the WWE who could pull off glittery, skin tight, lime green tights? And tasselled furry boots? Crumbs. After the events of four weeks ago where Breeze, in all likelihood, cost Neville the NXT Championship, this is a bit of a grudge match – hopefully a competitive one, too, because neither of these guys should be losing right now. Let’s get it on!
A massive ‘Breeze is gorgeous’ chant goes up as he skirts an early lock up, and when Neville comes in again he strikes with a boot to the midsection. Neville manages to roll out of the ensuing side headlock and take down his opponent with a shoulder block, and he then strikes with a head scissors takedown that sends him to the outside. The Geordie looks to fly, but the model on the outside squeaks and bails on him just before he can take off – but Neville uses the ropes to spring himself back across the ring! There’s a standoff, and Breeze looks to charge but the former PAC ducks and locks in a rear waistlock, only to bite an elbow in the jaw. Tyler momentarily has the advantage, slamming his rival into the turnbuckle head first, but Neville blocks a second attempt and returns the favour! ‘Not the face’ chant the NXT Universe, as Neville marches in and teases punching him in the jaw. With Breeze covering up in sheer panic that his good looks might get rearranged, the Man That Gravity Forgot bicycle kicks him in the chest instead, but an attempt to slam him face first into the turnbuckles is blocked and Breeze again momentarily has the upper hand, striking with some forearms, but Neville ducks one and then lands some chops across the chest. Before he can really ride the wave of momentum, however, Breeze cuts him off with a knee to the midsection and throws him to the apron before hitting a picture perfect springboard dropkick – something new from Breeze at last! That’s what I wanted to see from him in this match, a more varied arsenal, and hopefully that’s a hint that the second half of this match will offer even more. So far neither man has really had a prolonged period on top, which is giving the match a quick and natural feel as each guy gets cut off when a window opens in their defence.
Breeze gets Neville back in the ring and locks in a chinlock, keeping his high flying opponent grounded. When he gets to his feet, it looks like Neville will break free but the Gorgeous One just knees him in the gut and then stomps him down in the corner, which gets him a two count. The Model checks himself in his iPhone, but that failure to follow up immediately on his advantage allows Neville to get his breath back, and the Geordie hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker when Tyler runs in. He blocks a kick, retaliating with one of his own and a low dropkick for a two count and Breeze is reeling now, using the ropes to hold himself up in the corner. Breeze ducks an onrushing and sends him to the apron with a back body drop, only for Neville to land on his feet! He goes for a springboard dropkick, but Breeze meets him with one of his own off of a spectacular leap, it has to be said, and goes for the cover…1…2…no! Not enough! Breeze is frustrated now, pounding on his rival on the mat before lining up the Beauty Shot in the corner…but Neville ducks it! Big roundhouse kick in the corner from Neville, and he leaps up to the second rope and goes for a Phoenix Splash but misses! Wow, super impressed that Neville can do that off of the second rope, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. Shame he came up empty, and Breeze has the chance to win in the same way that Dallas did, pinning his opponent off of a missed high flying move…but Neville kicks out! Breeze goes for the Beauty Shot…but Neville has it scouted and catches him mid-move, converting it to a power bomb! What a counter…1…2…no! Breeze now just kicks out! But he’s in position for the Red Arrow now, and Neville looks to hit it! Breeze clambers to his feet and grabs the leg of his opponent to stop him, but he gets kicked off…no, he crotches Neville on the top rope! A ‘let’s go Breeze’ chant from the crowd and he is looking for a top rope hurricanrana…but Neville holds on to the ropes! Red Arrow! Neville wins!
That was a really good match – the momentum never stuck with one man for too long, something I like to see, and there was some terrific action in there. My only complaint is that the ending sequence was a little too slow – I don’t know whether Breeze was knocked a little doolally after the power bomb from Neville, but it seemed to slow the match right down. It worked, though, and was a good sequence for sure. The reversal of the Beauty Shot into a power bomb was gorgeous, as was Neville’s second rope Phoenix Splash. I certainly saw a little bit more from Breeze here than I have before, a few different moves that hint at a real quality wrestler under the character, and he looked strong enough in defeat for it not to really matter that he lost. Neville looks strong coming out of this too with some extra resilience than he’s sometimes had to show, and if he can keep adding little things to his offense he’s going to be quite a handful in the future. I really, really hope he gets a call up to the main roster and the opportunity to strut his stuff on the biggest possible stage – he will take peoples breath away.
CJ Parker vs Jason Jordan
CJ Parker has been off of TV since last October and yet is still the worst thing to ever exist in wrestling. And, I mean, there’s a lot of shit in the history of wrestling. But in a world where Max Moon was a thing, CJ Parker trumps the lot. In fact, to be honest, I don’t even think it’s a bad gimmick – done well, it could be alright. But this is essentially someone having sat in front of Woodstock once and gone ‘yeah, hippies, that’s what they do, they dance funny, don’t wash and take magic mushrooms’. That’s the gimmick. Except without the mushrooms, obviously. It’s messed up even more by the commentary team just constantly saying the most generic hippy things possible on commentary, like ‘CJ Parker wants to spread love everywhere’. Jesus. Jason Jordan, on the flipside, is completely without gimmick beyond ‘athletic dude’, bouncing into the ring and pulling off a standing backflip. He gets put over on commentary with that thing that JBL is constantly saying about Randy Orton – ‘if you built a Superstar from the ground up it would look like *insert name of Superstar here*’ – which…oh, forget it, I don’t even want to talk about how JBL basically has a list of ten things he has to say every show. Although I will provide a JBL bingo card to whoever wants one – ask below and I’ll post it next week.
Parker wobbles his knees before the initial lock up, but it’s Jordan who powers him down to the mat with a rear waistlock take down and gets him into a series of pinning situations. He eventually runs into the ropes and Jordan gets caught up on the top one, having to break the hold. Parker connects with a scissor kick to the jaw and then the facepalm (not the Third Eye, stop trying to make Third Eye happen Tom Phillips) to give him the win.
Screw you CJ Parker.
Mojo Rawley vs Bo Dallas
Mojo and his super hyped attitude charge the ring and slap hands with the fans, who he is over as rover with. It’s funny, because I don’t think he’s really shown all that much to warrant a big reaction since debuting but he’s incredibly over. I mean, he’s not even had a storyline yet, just turned up and killed people with his arse. Dallas is the most hated man in the WWE today (at least, assuming the NXT Universe is a microcosm of the WWE Universe which…I guess it sort of is and isn’t), as delusional as ever – this match is happening as part of the new Bo Dallas Initiative to give young and hungry talent a chance to shine. I didn’t hear about this on my Bo Dallas newsletters! Sign me up. Sign me up right now. PremiumSaltine pointed out in the comments recently that Mojo has a flabby belly and now it’s all I can notice – he looks like that dude on the beach that thinks he still has ‘it’ but in reality has let himself go a bit. Funny how Ohno supposedly got put in the doghouse for his look and yet here’s Mojo getting pushed despite looking equally, if not more, out of shape around his middle. Then again, the same could be said about Bo Dallas who has pretty much the least muscle definition I’ve ever seen on a man.
Mojo encourages the crowd to chant ‘no more Bo’ before he completely overpowers the NXT Champion to a rapturous reception. He then shoulder blocks Bo to death, the champ just tumbling completely out of the ring, and Dallas is rocked here, looking tentative to re-enter the ring. When he does, Rawley cuts him off, American Football style, so Bo just escapes to the apron where he, apparently, can get counted out. Is that a rule I didn’t know about? I thought the apron was fine. Believe it or not, a duelling chant of ‘let’s go Mojo’ and ‘let’s go Bo’ starts up in the crowd, as Dallas finally outwits his opponent with a kick to the knee and some hard forearms. He connects with an elbow in the corner and has Rawley down on one knee with more fists…but Rawley pops up and hits more shoulder blocks to put Bo down! Body avalanche in the corner! And another! And as he looks for the Rear View Dallas bails out of the ring. Mojo flings him back in and looks for another body avalanche, but Bo dodges and gets a roll up and, with a handful of tights, it’s enough to put away the master of hype.
That…er…was kind of nothing, really. Not a very good match, at all, and the most notable thing was Bo totally heeling it up by ducking Rawley as much as possible, even if that’s just the most logical thing to do in the situation that you’ve got a big guy running towards you who’s going to hit you with his backside. Doesn’t really change anything for either guy, although a vague argument could be made for Rawley having a chance at Dallas again as he technically cheated to win. Still, not good guys. Not good at all. I still believe that if your champion is going to win, you might as well make it a title match. Not every title match needs some big storyline build up or anything, and if they just said ‘Mojo wanted a shot, Bo agreed’ I’d be down with it.
Kofi Kingston vs Alexander Rusev
Alexander Rusev’s social ambassador or translator or whatever Lana introduces him to mass ‘what?’ chants, and he makes his slow and steady way to the ring as the Bulgarian national anthem plays in the background. Somebody, and I don’t know who because vocally Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton both essentially sound like nega-Michael Cole, says that the match these two had two weeks ago was ‘fantastic’ because that’s what announcers are told to say about everything. ‘Hey, remember when Booker T and Buff Bagwell clashed on Raw in 2001? Wasn’t that fantastic?’ Nope. Anyway, here’s Kofi to some mild applause, booming his way to the ring in blue and yellow and looking like an Arsenal away kit. Oh, let’s just do this.
Rusev forces Kofi back to the corner, but he uses his speed to escape, and the the attribute gets him out of a test of strength and into a side headlock. Kingston goes for a takeover, but Rusev just blocks it with brute strength. The Bulgarian takes multiple kicks from his opponent before catching one and just shoves his smaller rival down before barrelling through him with a shoulder block. Kingston ducks Rusev coming off the ropes, then leapfrogs him twice before hitting a jumping back elbow and shaking, but not knocking down, his bigger opponent. Kofi leaps into the Bulgarian Brute in the corner, but Rusev is just like ‘yeah, whatever little guy’ and throws him halfway across the ring. He Randy Orton stomps Kingston, circling and kicking him now and again until he lets him get up and thrusts his shoulder into the gut of the Ghanaian. The ref holds Rusev back, and that allows Kingston to hit a kick to the gut and a forearm, but an attempt at an Irish whip just ends up in Rusev pulling him into his knee. Rusev is working the midsection of his opponent with shoulders and kneed, and then he grounds him with that nerve hold on the shoulder that he used in their last match. Every time Kingston fires back, Rusev returns to the midsection – until he throws his opponent to the ropes, and then Kingston sends him to the outside! He looks for a baseball slide, but Rusev just sidesteps him and hits a kick to the belly. Man, this is slow and methodical from the Eastern European, who now looks to whip Kingston into the steel steps…but Kingston leapfrogs them! He flies back with a leaping forearm, and looks like he’s fired up now!
He gets Rusev back in the ring and locks in a chin lock, but Rusev eventually powers out of it, pushing Kofi into the corner. Kofi dodges him rushing in, but when he mounts him the corner the big Bulgarian just powerbombs him to the mat. That gets him a two count, and Rusev talks some smack to his felled rival, throwing him into the corner again before kicking him in the midsection again and again. Rusev foolishly does the Ryback arm thing, you know, the pumping motion, and the crowd are bored enough by this slow pace to chant ‘feed me more’ at him as Kofi mounts a mini-comeback that just gets cut off. The Brute rests Kofi across the middle rope and hits multiple forearms across the face, followed up by elbows and a headbutt on the mat that get him a two count. I’m pretty sure everyone at Full Sail has now lost interest, as a Mexican wave goes around the crowd. Kingston battles back with a head scissors and slaps Rusev’s chest and connects with a dropkick to take the big man off his feet, but as he tries for a crossbody Rusev catches him and hits knees to the kidneys. The Bulgarian Brute goes for a Samoan drop, but Kofi reverses into a crucifix for 1…2…nope, Rusev kicks out. Kofi gets a kick in on Rusev and goes for a springboard crossbody, but Rusev plucks him out of midair and now hits the Samoan drop for a two count. Kofi ducks Rusev charging into the corner and hits the SOS! 1…2…Rusev kicks out! Rusev > Orton! A kick now from Kofi to Rusev, and another as he bounces off the ropes, but the big man ducks a third and just body blocks the shit out of his opponent. That’s enough for another two count, and Rusev shows some frustration as the crowd does the Fandango. Kofi finally pulls something back from the crowd because everyone recognises the boom drop, and he lines up Trouble in Paradise, but Lana runs interference like she did two weeks ago. Kofi, however, is wise to it and dodges Rusev running in! Trouble in Paradise connects! Kofi wins!
I actually didn’t mind that match as much as it seems the people in attendance did – it was a touch on the slow side, but not exactly bad. I think that it’s kind of the problem with bigger guys, especially in a heel role, because their job is to throw little people like Kofi around and just pound them into the mat if they can. It’s not like it was anywhere near as bad as Rawley vs Dallas, fortunately, but I’m not going to wax lyrical about it for weeks on end exactly. I did quite like the fact that Kofi reversed a couple of the moves that Rusev had hit on him two weeks ago. I guess you would go and scout your opponent out again if you’d lost the first time round, so there was a nice sense of logic there. Without those, it would have just been a longer version of their first match, with longer holds and more jumping around, so it needed those spots in it to really work as a match. It was pretty much just someone bashing the strike button on their controller until they get a chance to a signature move, then hoping it doesn’t get reversed so they can immediately hit the fiery finisher and win, though.
NXT MVP: Adrian Neville!
With Neville vs Breeze being the best match on the night, there was no doubt in my mind who this was between. It’s just a case of who, and for my money the victor gets the spoils – Neville expanded his moveset this week and shone, for me. If he can continue to just gradually grow his moveset, he’s destined to make a big impact should he be promoted to the main roster.
15/01/2014 – Adrian Neville
08/01/2014 – Hunico
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
Really, this week was kind of the opposite of what preceded it. Last week was so much fun, if a little bit rough around the edges, but this week wasn’t really very fun and a little bit rough around the edges. Outside of Breeze vs Neville, there’s little here that I’d revisit – the middle two matches were just completely uninteresting and the main event, whilst better than those, was still nothing to write home about – it was average at best really. Kind of disappointing, but in the next few weeks, as they build towards the first ever live NXT episode, the product should get strong again.
On we go, then, and we’ll try our best to forget this episode happened. Nothing has been announced for the show next Wednesday, but the spoilers suggest we should see Alexander Rusev and Adrian Neville again, as well as Antonio Cesaro and Sami Zayn. We’ll just have to find out, won’t we? Come back next week, NXTians, same (ish) bat time, same bat channel, and meanwhile stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Goodbye!