This week's edition of NXT was another strong outing for WWE's developmental facility, with a number of top WWE stars appearing on the show each week seemingly becoming a regular occurrence, the opportunity to face off against wrestlers with main roster experience can surely only be a good thing for the NXT wrestlers.
Six Man Tag Team Match:
NXT Tag Team Champions
Corey Graves & Adrian Neville & Xavier Woods
After last week's disappointing United States Championship match between Dean Ambrose and Adrian Neville, where Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns saved Ambrose's United States Championship reign, before Corey Graves and Xavier Woods made the save for Neville, this bout was set for this week's main event. I felt like after last week's Neville vs. Ambrose bout, this match really had to deliver in a number of areas, whilst the technical skills of Neville and Ambrose is certainly not in doubt the pacing of last week's contest didn't feel right to me at all, so that was the main thing for me heading into this one, we've seen The Shield can have fantastic six man tag team matches on Raw, Smackdown and Main Event against the likes of WWE Champion John Cena, Daniel Bryan, WWE Championship Money in the Bank Winner Randy Orton, Mark Henry and The Usos, but how would that translate to NXT?
Luckily, it translated very well, with the six men putting on some very strong six man tag team, that was captivating from the kick off. Corey Graves spent most of the bout being dominated by Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns, as we built to the hot tag. Graves is beginning to grow into his new face role on NXT, with his selling of his Shield beatdown really drawing me into the match, in a section that needs good selling to keep the attention of the viewer. The interesting thing for this match was the dynamic that it presented, we're used to seeing on hot tag during a Shield six man tag, which Daniel Bryan made an artform a couple of months ago, but here we had two wrestler capable of playing that role in the shape of Adrian Neville and Xavier Woods. So whilst Neville did get the first hot tag, it didn't take long for The Shield to get the upperhand and build for another hot tag to Woods, which worked very well.
After a near fall for Woods on Rollins was broken up by Reigns, the match headed for conclusion. Unfortunately, two awkward looking spots took a way some of the shine of the bout, with Neville and Reigns suffering from some miscomunication, before Ambrose botched the suplex to the outside on Neville, that should have seen both men fall to the floor, but didn't. Luckily, some nice work from Rollins and Woods kept the match going, with The Shield eventually picking up the victory, with a Buckle Bomb/Spear combination that saw Roman Reigns pick up the victory for his team. It was disappointing to see some of the spots not quite pay off, as that closing sequence could have been even more exciting, but the ideas were good, and the finish was creative, which is good to see from The Shield after months of teaming together.
It's been great to see The Shield on NXT over the last three weeks, after they've sort of been put on the back burner in main WWE storylines, as of late. They've certainly done a lot to help the fledgling team of Neville and Graves who are beginning to look like a solid tag team unit, even if they are a bit of an odd couple. However, I think the person who has gained the most of their presence is Xavier Woods. Whilst Woods has been impressive in numerous contests on NXT over the last few months, they've been few and far between and he hasn't really had a story to get involved in. Therefore, placing him here, not only shows that NXT sees him as a top name talent, but gave him the oppurtunity to show what he can do when there is a true purpose to his matches. He looked very good throughout the match, going toe to toe with Seth Rollins, and hopefully Woods will continue to show NXT why he deserves to be in this kind of position in the future.
Best of the Rest (In The World)
Elsewhere this week on NXT, Paul Heyman made his first appearance on the show, with a strong promo putting over the NXT locker room, as he was apparently scouting talent to be the next Paul Heyman guy. Having someone of the calibre of Heyman, not only put over the NXT talent so strongly, but essentially break character to do so, it elevates the entire NXT roster instantly and was a classy move by Heyman. With Heyman bringing out Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, Heyman went on to say that no one in Florida would be man enough to challenge Axel for his Intercontinental Championship on the show. With former NXT Champion Big E Langston's music hitting the NXT Arena jumped to it's feet, with Langston cutting a solid promo challenging Axel. Langston's delivery is different to most in WWE, he seems to take his time and really think about what it is he is actually saying, but most of all he's entertaining whilst doing so.
The bout between Axel and Langston was an entertaining contest, that saw Langston dominate for the most part. Axel did get some offence in but only manage to gain the upperhand for a short period after some sneaky tactics. The face role certainly suits Big E better than his current heel role on regular WWE television, as he looks far more comfortable playing to the crowd, and seeing him lay into some like the undesirable Axel is gives the WWE fans something to get behind, it would great to see this translated to Raw and Smackdown soon. The end saw Langston steamrolling Axel, and we all know that when a wrestler takes the straps of singlet down it's all over, and so did Paul Heyman as he entered the ring for the interference and to give Langston a disqualification victory, meaning Axel retained the title. Langston delivered a post-match beat down on Axel, finishing him off with the Big Ending, before the return of the crowd please five count. WWE don't have a lot of talent that is better suited to being face rather than heel, but in Big E Langston they might have just that.
The Intercontinental Championship wasn't the only title on the line this week, as Paige defended her NXT Women's Championship against long time rival Summer Rae. It was a little disappointing that after rivalry that had built up so well over the last few months, that this bout only went for about four minutes. Whilst Paige's victory over Emma was a fantastic match, I'm not sure if WWE should have gone for Paige vs. Rae and given the match the same amount of time. Summer Rae works well as a heel, working the crowd well and looked pretty good in the ring in this one. The bout ended with Paige dominating and hitting the Paige Turner to pick up a pinfall victory and retain her NXT Women's Championship. What happened in the ring was sound and a good watch, but the rivalry desreved more. With Emma attacking Summer Rae post-match, it would seem that Paige vs. Summer Rae is over for now, who will step up to face Paige for the title next?
The Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro feud contiued this week with both men being interviewed backstage by Renee Young. Firsty, Zayn spoke to Young, putting over the competitive rivalry well, before challenging Cesaro to a two out of three falls match for next week's main event. Despite years working under the El Generico gimmick, Zayn has taken to this role well, his relaxed promo style is a refreshing change to the often shouty world of WWE. With Cesaro accepting Zayn's challenge with a slightly cartoonish promo which closed the show, Zayn took the momentum by attacking Cesaro, having to be pulled away by officials. The Two out of three falls match next week, could quite possibly be the most anticipated match on NXT, the rivalry has benefited by some simple old-school style booking, and I'm for one am certainly very excited for next week.
Mason Ryan was also in action this week, with the former New Nexus member taking on Sylvester LeFort's protege Scott Dawson. With Ryan working over Dawson for the majority of the match, Ryan's rivals Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady came down to ringside to try and cause a distraction. It didn't work particularly well with Ryan sending Dawson crashing onto Amore and Cassady with a gorilla press. Unfortunately, it didn't look great, with Dawson landing awkwardly due to Ryan not getting enough on the throw. Ryan went on to pick up the victory after a Cobra Clutch Slam. I'm still not convinced with Ryan and this match didn't really change that, he seems to be more style than substance, with the other four men involved in the match being a lot more entertaining to watch.
Divas Champion AJ Lee was also on the show, as she was interviewed by Renee Young about her Divas Championship defence on the show next week. With AJ saying she hadn't chosen her opponent yet, she ended up in a tight embrace with Bayley. With Bayley talking about it being her dream to challenge for the Divas Championship. AJ was clearly uneased by the situation, she agreed to give Bayley a shot at the title next week. There was a clear chemistry between AJ and Bayley and it made for an entertaining segment, hopefully their match next week will be as entertaining.
What did I learn from this week's NXT?
1. Xavier Woods got the most out The Shield's return to NXT.
2. Big E Langston needs to be turned face!
3. Paige and Summer Rae had an exciting rivalry for months, but the pay off was dissapointing. I doubt the same will be true of Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro next week!