Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter
This match stemmed from a Jack Swagger attack on Sami Zayn last week, after Zeb Colter had caused the distraction. Essentially this story was in place to allow Zayn's NXT Championship match with Bo Dallas to build up a bit longer, but it was still a nice jaunt non-the-less. It's been a while since Swagger has looked like a genuine threat to any on WWE, after falling out of favour due to his extra curricular activities earlier in the year. Personally, I think it was a real shame, obviously it was all Swagger's fault, but it did feel like at that time he had something to offer WWE and I actually did enjoy Swagger's run opposite Alberto Del Rio, with Colter working as a great mouthpiece during the feud.
The match was a very enjoyable bout, with both men looking very good throughout. Something that we haven't really seen WWE play up very often with Swagger is his size and power. So it was good to see the come into play here, with Swagger who is close to 290 lbs, really looking dominate against Zayn with some good looking power moves and some well executed submission moves. The story that would run throughout the match was Zayn attempting to get going against the bigger Swagger, Zayn did a great job of this role and it's certainly a role that he seems to relish in the ring, with some believable selling of Swagger's offence. Zayn would get in some offence, in fits and bursts, including a beautiful dive over the top rope to the outside, but Swagger would quickly gain control.
The finish saw Zayn beginning to get a role together, with a Yakuza Kick followed up with by a number of blows to keep Swagger down and it was clear that the Full Sail Arena absolutely adores Zayn, as he got a huge pop from just pointing to the top rope! With Zayn getting a near fall off of a Sunset Flip Powerbomb out of the corner, NXT Champion Bo Dallas headed down to ring side and caused enough of a distraction to allow Swagger to lock in the Patriot Lock for the second time in the match and pick up the submission victory. The interference only added to the match for me, as the short Swagger and Zayn story, simply flowed into a continuation of the feud between Zayn and Dallas. It's certainly built my anticipation for seeing Zayn finally get his opportunity with Dallas, eve more and a competitive loss to another main roster wrestler will do no harm for Zayn.
So, how long can WWE go before having Zayn get his shot at Dallas? They can only realistically keep it going for a few more weeks, as it has been boiling underneath the Zayn and Cesaro rivalry for a good few months. Zayn is also red hot after coming off the series with Cesaro, so it would be wise for the show to capitalise on his popularity by putting the strap on him pretty soon. At the same time, whilst Dallas has improved a lot over the last few months as champion, especially since switching over to a heel, but he certainly has never really felt strong enough to carry the belt around, after strong reigns from Seth Rollins and Big E Langston, and would still seem to have some time in the developmental territory before he's ready to make the step.
Best of the Rest (In The World)
Elsewhere on NXT, NXT Tag Team Champion Corey Graves was in action against The Ascension's Rick Victor, with both beign accompanied by Adrian Neville and Conor O'Brian respectively. The story behind this match was that Graves had suffered injured ribs after an attack from The Ascension last week. In the early part of the match, the rib injury was not played up as much of it should have been and it took a fair while for the match to really get going. They had a perfect moment to bring to the ribs into the match, with Graves going to lock in Lucky Thirteen, but instead of using the ribs to get out of the hold quickly, Victor just punched him in the face instead. Luckily, in the later stages of the match, they did begin to work the ribs and actually did a great job of it, with Graves putting in a solid performance selling the ribs and his difficulty breathing, this really brought the match to life for me.
The finish of the bout saw O'Brian looking to get involved to aid his partner, with Neville making the save, entering the ring and hitting a springboard crossbody to the outside, taking out O'Brian. With Graves momentarily distracted Victor attempted to go for a Gutbuster, only for Graves to reverse into a Small Package and pick up the pinfall victory. I liked the finish to this one, it worked well on the idea of Graves battling throughout the match and finally being able to pull out the victory, as well as including their partner's building towards a future title match for The Ascension. Whilst Neville and Graves both have singles victories over member of The Ascension, it would seem likely that The Ascension would be next in line for a title shot, mainly down to the fact they're the only other tag team on NXT!
WWE also continued to build towards a match on next week's show, between NXT Women's Champion Paige and Sascha Banks. Firstly, with Summer Rae once again talking to Banks about showing a nasty side, with Banks looking reluctant. Rae looked really awkward throughout the entire segment, and her performance put me in mind of a GCSE drama performance. Paige later showed her how it was done, with a solid promo during an interview with Renee Young, where Paige put over Banks well, before reminding the audience of the meaning of Anti-Diva. It was a good performance from Paige on the microphone, it's an area she definitely needs to have more time working on to help build her character on television to match what we see in the ring, but she at least has a sound foundation to build upon.
There was also an intriguing segment which saw Leo Kruger standing over Xavier Woods in the parking lot, laughing in his signature maniacal fashion. With no follow up on the show, and such as a short segment, I was left wanting to know more about what happened and see more of Kruger. I thought it was really effective way of building Kruger's character back up after his recent NXT Championship loss to Bo Dallas. I wouldn't mind seeing them build to a Woods vs. Kruger feud, with the feud allowing us to see a more serious side of Woods, as well as the potential for some interesting match ups between the two. Either way, as long as Woods isn't about to disappear from television like Kassius Ohno, I'll be happy with this.
Alexander Rusev was back in action this week against Mason Ryan. I had expected them to take a little long to build for this match, with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassasdy being involved, therefore this felt a little bit rushed. I've been quite open about not being a fan of Mason Ryan, and this match didn't change my mind, whilst he looks good when in control, the guy can't sell the save his life, so the decision to have him work as a face just befuddles me. The finish saw interference from both Scott Dawson and Sylvester LeFort, before Rusev hit Ryan with a charging attack in the corner, before locking in the Camel Clutch to pick up the submission victory. What I've seen of Rusev, I like, he's looked impressive in his match with Dolph Ziggler and came across fairly well here, as well, but I have no clue why they've given him a Camel Clutch as finisher. Does anyone from Eatern Europe or Asia automatically have to have that move as a finisher? Is written into the rule book? It would seem so.
The opening contest saw woman's tag team action with Bayley & Charlotte teaming up to take on Alicia Fox and Aksana. By far the best section of the match came between Alicia Fox and Bayley who put on some decent wrestler, with Alica Fox's Northern Lights Suplex into a bridge being the highlight for me. Charlotte didn't spend much time in the ring and the less said about Aksana the better. The finish was poorly worked, with Bayley supposedly meant to move out of the way of a boot in the corner from Fox, so that Fox hit Aksana. But Bayley didn't really move, Aksana still bumped and Bayley rolled up Fox for the pinfall victory. Some positives here, but not many.
My final thoughts on this week's WWE NXT.
1. Sami Zayn is the hottest property on NXT at moment.
2. NXT still needs more tag teams!
3. Paige needs more time on the mic to developed, but she's still better than most women in WWE.