This week’s episode of NXT was a vast improvement on the week before. Mainly because a lot of the contests were made to feel important, even if they were essentially enhancement matches. Having William Regal on commentary also helps, as he is probably the best commentator WWE has in terms of getting talent over to an audience whilst being entertaining at the same time.
NXT Championship Match: Bo Dallas © vs. Antonio Cesaro
This match was set up at the start of the show, with Renee Young interviewing NXT Champion Bo Dallas. I was actually pleasantly surprised with Dallas’ promo, he seemed confident and has worked hard on his character over recent weeks. It would seem WWE is planning on turning him heel, as he really plays up that butter wouldn’t melt act, whilst also referring to his “Bolievers” which is incredibly annoying. If WWE is planning to continue to keep him face, I really can’t see Bo getting over with this kind of style. Antonio Cesaro turned up a produced another solid promo involving his new “We the People” gimmick, however there was no Zeb Colter in sight. The match was set somehow and Bo told Cesaro he would never forget his name before smiling a big goofy grin.
The crowd was behind Cesaro for the majority of the match up, but once again I was surprised with Bo’s performance. Obviously being in the ring with a talented performer like Cesaro was always going to help, but Dallas seemed to put in a lot of effort throughout to make this a credible contest. Cesaro controlled the early going with some amateur wrestling holds, whilst Bo did a good job of selling. A clever moment early on saw Cesaro work up the crowd into thinking they were going to get a big kick to Dallas’ back, only for Cesaro to apply a headlock. Leo Kruger also came out to ring side early on to watch the match, I’m still not sure if a Dallas/Kruger rivalry will work at this moment in time and it would take a major twist for me to get more involved in the story.
Dallas continued to kick out of every that Cesaro would throw at him, including a Gutwrench Superplex, which really helped to make Dallas look a lot tougher than he has in the past, although the little offence he got in during the match didn’t make him look much of the Champion. There was also a dangerous looking moment, when Dallas went for a Belly-to-Belly superplex, but seemed to release Cesaro too early, which could have been fatal for Cesaro. Dallas still needs a lot of work to polish up some of these moves if he wants to step up to the big time. The ending saw Cesaro attempt to clothesline Dallas only for the NXT Champion to side step and send him crashing into Kruger. Dallas then hit his Belly-to-Belly throw finish to pick up the pinfall victory and retain the title. It was a disappointing ending to the match, which deserved a better finish than this, whilst Dallas’ finish still looks incredibly weak.
After the match, Kruger began to beat down on Dallas hitting him with a vicious looking neckbreaker, before Cesaro ran in and hit Kruger with an uppercut. Cesaro then continued to beat on Dallas himself before Kruger came back and the two sided together to beat on the NXT Champion. The save was inevitably made by Sami Zayn who came charging down to the ring to take down Cesaro. Dallas and Zayn eventually got rid of the heels, before Dallas celebrated with his championship. Will Dallas’s association with Zayn help him get over with the crowd? Probably not, they’re cleverer than that. Would turning on Zayn some point down the road get him major heat with the crowd? Almost certainly.
Best of the Rest (in the World)
The NXT’s Women’s Championship tournament reached the semi-final stage this week with Paige facing Alicia Fox. Whilst Alicia has been lost on the main roster for a while now her matches over on NXT have been pretty good and this was another decent match against NXT standout Paige. With some extra definition of Fox as a character she could be a vital asset to the WWE Diva’s Division. Paige on the other hand seems to have her character nailed on, with the Anti-Diva thing working well in all aspects of her game, the idea of long running feud between her and Diva’s Champion AJ Lee is surely something WWE has on their minds for the future, and if not they should have.
The match was a see-saw battle with a lot of back and forth throughout. The wrestling was strong for both Diva’s and both made it seem like they wanted to win the Women’s Championship. Paige eventually picked up the victory with a Paige turned after Fox had run into a kick to the stomach. It was a decent ending, but could have been built up further with a few more near falls. With Paige advancing, and the other semi final featuring Summer Rae and Emma, it has to be said that Paige is clear favourite to become the first ever NXT Women’s Champion, which can surely only help to continue her development.
Elsewhere Xavier Woods faced off against Scott Dawson, managed by Sylvester LeFort. It would seem, due to the commentary, that Garrett Dylan has been dropped from the group as there was no mention of him at all throughout the match. This seems an odd decision by WWE for me, as Dylan and Dawson seemed to work well as a team. The match was another decent, if not maybe a little short contest, with both men looking good throughout. Xavier Woods certainly has the ability to get over with an audience and his character is extremely likable, he could probably slip straight into a mid-card slot on the main WWE roster. The dynamic was played upon well with Dawson slowing Woods down by working on the face and head, including a painful looking rope hung face plant, before Woods managed to gain some separation and pick up the victory with Lost in the Woods.
Renee Young interviewed Corey Graves and Adrian Neville backstage about Kassius Ohno’s injuries suffered at the hands of the Wyatt Family last week. Graves and Neville did a good job of the interview, asking William Regal to join with them in the fight against the Wyatt’s. The only thing I can see holding Adrian Neville back in WWE is his Geordie accent, which some American viewers might find difficult to understand. Otherwise both Graves and Neville have shown tonnes of talent in and out of the ring and both will surely be making big splashes in WWE at some point in the future.
Tremadog’s own Mason Ryan was in action not once but twice on the show. Firstly, facing off against Enzo Amore. Amore cut a nice charisimatic promo before the contest, putting himself and friend Colin Cassady over well, Amore is certainly entertaining on the microphone and I can see his “SAWFT” catchphrase getting over well with the “WWE Universe”. After Ryan quickly dispatched of Amore with a punch, Amore sent in Cassady claiming “he wasn’t ready”. Cassady faired a little better than Amore but it wasn’t long before Ryan picked up the win with a new finish, similar to Ted DiBiase’s Dream Street. Ryan looked powerful, but Enzo Amore came out looking like more of a star to me.
Liverpool’s Andy Baker had his NXT debut this week in an enhancement match against Conor O’Brian, who was accompanied by Ascension team mate, Rick Victor. The match didn’t go particularly long with O’Brian hitting a flap jack, followed up with a Leg Drop to the back of the head for the victory. O’Brian hasn’t really shown me much in the ring on NXT so far, and I’d like to see him get some opportunities in longer matches on a regular basis soon. As for Rick Victor, I’m still not quite sure if he quite fits with O’Brian and whether WWE would have been better off having them stay apart, I’ll wait and see though.
1. Bo Dallas has some potential if handled correctly.
2. Paige is most likely to win the NXT Women's Championship, after two victories over main roster Diva's.
3. With Paige, Adrian Neville, Mason Ryan, William Regal and Andy Baker there was a lot of British talent hanging around NXT this week.