This week's NXT was always going to struggle to live up to last week's episode, after Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro put together a classic two out of three falls match, and it was no surprise when it didn't. By no means was this bad show, with a lot to like, including the newly heel NXT Champion Bo Dallas and a decent enough main event between Conor O'Brian and Adrian Neville, but it's going to be a while before a match on NXT even comes close to Zayn vs. Cesaro.
NXT Tag Team Champion
with Rick Victor
The main event of the show pitted NXT Tag Team Champion Adrian Neville against The Ascension's Conor O'Brian. The match was put together following the pre-titles sequence of the show that featured Neville's partner and fellow NXT Tag Team Champion Corey Graves speaking to Renee Young only to be interupted by The Ascension's Rick Victor. Victor cut an average and cliched promo about how the time of The Ascension was now, I guess he means in terms of the NXT Tag Team Championship but that was specifically stated. With Graves' showing his trademark attitude he was ambushed by O'Brian with a punch to the back of the head. O'Brian then proceded to hit Graves in the chest with a metal girder that was part of the NXT interview room set. This didn't really work for me, as whilst the attack looked brutal and the girder looked genuinely painful, it didn't really fit with the Ascension's dark gimmick, with O'Brian spurting the words “Stay down, Graves” in a ridiculously over the top voice removing any ounces of darkness from The Ascension in this opening segment.
The bout took on a simple dynamic, with Neville using his speed early on to take control of the match, but once Victor had caused the distraction, O'Brian dominated from that point. O'Brian looks very good when in control, he has a great look and works the gimmick well when in the ring. He feels like a bit of a diamond in the rough for me, I think if WWE protect the character and allow him to develop and improve as a wrestler, which he will if he continues to go up against the likes of Adrian Neville, then he could work very well for the company, however if they follow the trend of how they've been using most bigger built wrestler over the last few years, he'll be a comedy face dancing around the ring in lingerie before you can say Giant Bernard.
The bout was pretty short only about five minutes of the television time, which isn't really enough for a main event match on television, but they did manage to fit in a nice faux comeback for Neville and a near fall for each man before they went to the finish. After Neville had moved out of the way of a charging O'Brian sending the bigger man into the turnbuckle, Neville hit a back suplex for a two count, with the footage looking badly cut together for some reason. Neville then went to the top rope and hit Red Arrow for the pinfall victory. It was a very strange ending and felt very sudden, I'm really not quite sure what happened, but obviously there was a botch somewhere down the line that caused them to cut the match, but at the same time Neville still went straight from a near fall to his finisher which isn't something you see a lot of in WWE. Personally, I would have like to see this bout go another five minutes or so, which I think both men are capable off, and certainly needed a more satisfying finish.
After the bout, Victor came back in the ring and The Ascension began to double team Neville. Graves tried to make the save, now complete with bandaged ribs, before The Ascension destroyed him too, finishing him off with their Spinning Elbow/Sweep Kick combination finisher. With The Ascension finishing the show standing tall in the ring, it looks like they have to be next in line for an NXT Tag Team Championship match, which can surely be only a few weeks away. NXT is pretty low on tag teams at the moment, since The Wyatt Family were moved to the main roster and they split Scott Dawson & Garrett Dylan up, they could really do with creating a couple of new pairing to make the division look competitive. It can also only be a matter of time before they split Neville and Graves up and have them feud, seeing as their team was born more out of neccesity than anything else and they seem to protect each other out of obligation rather than an actual like for each other.
Best of the Rest (In The World)
Elsewhere on NXT, Renee Young conducted an in ring interview with Sami Zayn. After last week's epic Two out of Three Falls encounter with Antonio Cesaro I was interested to see what Zayn had to say and where WWE would be moving with him from here. Zayn did a good job with his promo, getting himself over as a humble and extremely likeable guy, I think it is literally impossible not too like Sami Zayn, his character at times feels like it has been plucked straight from a Rom-Com, with his interaction with Young typifying that feel. Zayn mentioned the possibility of receiving a NXT Championship shot, something which I've talked about a few times in my NXT reviews with Zayn seeming like the logical option for the next NXT Champion after his impressive run of matches with Cesaro, as well as bringing a lot of attention to the show with the feud.
Of course, current NXT Champion Bo Dallas had something to say about this and headed on down to the ring himself. I know it's fashionable amongst wrestling fans to be negative about Bo Dallas for a number of reasons, but his heel promos actually quite good. Yes, he probably get's under a lot of peoples skins, but he is supposed to, he is a heel. When he's coming out saying people don't care about Zayn because he lost and they want to watch a winner like him, you can just feel the internet getting ready to reach for it's collective pen of rage and that's great. WWE is really learning how to play the internet correctly, which is something they've struggled to do for years with Daniel Bryan's feud with The McMahon Family on Raw being the most obvious example of that. With Dallas stealing from The Simpsons (Are you saying Boo, or Boo-urns?), the pair were interrupted by Zeb Colter. After some nice back and forth between Colter and Zayn, Colter's Real American stablemate Jack Swagger attack Zayn from behind, before hitting a Gutwrench Powerbomb. I'd expect a short feud between Swagger and Zayn, just to allow a little extra time for the Dallas and Zayn feud to truly build to a satisfying conclusion.
After Emma had given a decent interview to Renee Young, she went on to face rival Summer Rae. After both women had had great matches with Paige on NXT in the past, I expected at least a decent match here. Unfortunately, that wasn't what we got and the match felt like your average women's match you might see on Raw or Smackdown. Whilst both played their roles well, the bout was pretty sloppy, with a number of notable botches, including a strange moment with Rae trying to set Emma up in the ropes, only for Emma to fall off them. Emma went on to pick up the victory via submission with the Emma-Lock. It wasn't a terrible finish, but it would have been better to see the submission brought into the match earlier on to really build to that finish. After the match, Rae attacked Emma once again from behind, before throwing “bubble solution” in her eyes, signalling that this feud might not be over yet. However, backstage in a conversation with Sascha Banks, Rae signalled that she was done with NXT, whilst also sowing the seeds for a Sascha Banks heel turn in a nice little scene.
After a backstage disagreement, a match was made between Sylvester LeFort's protege Scott Dawson and the charismatic Enzo Amore, who would now appear to be working as a face. Both LeFort and Amore, who was accompanied by Colin Cassady, both cut good promos building up the match nicely. Whilst the match didn't exactly set the world alight, it was a nice foundation, especially considering Amore's limited wrestling experience, with Dawson working him over nicely for most of the match playing a good heel role, until Amore made a comeback with an impressive head scissors takedown. It was here that Alexander Rusev, who we saw last week against Dolph Ziggler, attack Cassady, causing the distraction for Amore, and allowing Dawson to hit what looked like a version of the Angle Slam to pick up the pinfall victory. It would seem that Rusev will be joining LeFort's faction, and I think he will be a nice addition to the group that was screaming out for more members. I can only speculate that they will begin a build toward a feud between Rusev and Mason Ryan.
CJ Parker and Tyler Breeze finally locked it up in the ring, in what was a disapointing contest. Parker's character is in desperate need of some more mic time to help bring some flesh to the characters bones, and Breeze isn't in a much better situation. There's potential in both characters but without the extra dimension it's hard to get behind or against either character. The match was focused almost entirely on Breeze's phone, with the phone playing a big part in the finish. Breeze used the positioning of the referee to hit Parker with the phone and pick up the pinfall victory. The ending took too long to set up, with the referee taking sometime to get into position. I guess we'll be getting more from this feud in the future, but unless we start seeing some dimension in the characters and more wrestling it's going to be difficult to start feeling engaged by either Breeze or Parker.
My final thoughts on this week's NXT.
1. NXT still needs more tag teams.
2. Sami Zayn vs. Bo Dallas should be a red hot feud for NXT.
3. The only thing that would have made Zayn vs. Cesaro better last week? William Regal on commentary.