WWE NXT streamed to the WWE Universe via HuluPlus in the wee hours this morning (Jan. 10) and brought with it a ton of in-ring action, capped off by a match for the NXT Championship between the only man to ever hold the belt, Seth Rollins of The Shield, and Big E Langston.
The show also served up a Divas tilt and, despite Teddy Long being nowhere in sight, not one, but TWO tag team matches.
A recap of the melee that ended last week's show kicked us off, explaining why NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes booked our main event: just as Seth Rollins was about to tap to a Corey Graves submission and lose his title, The Shield of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns attacked. The trio managed to withstand a run-in from most of the boys in the back, but scurried away, rather than face the master of the five count, Big E Langston.
It is announced that Dusty has made this a No Disqualification match. I have no idea how they're booking it, however. The fact both guys have seemingly been "called up", and now the "no DQ stip", makes it seem like Rollins could retain, even though this was probably planned as a way to take the belt off of him now that he's in the bigs.
William Regal (yeah!) and Tom Phillips (eh) at the announce table.
The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Rowan) defeated Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson in approximately five minutes when Harper pinned Tatsu:
- I'm not sure why Percy Watson is tagging with Yoshi. He's a big man who can move and seems to have some charisma. I thought he was getting over with his "Showtime" gimmick on the season of NXT that Low Ki/Kaval eventually won; but here he is, coming out to Yoshi's music and looking pretty generic.
- Nothing generic about Bray Wyatt. We finally get some direction from the group, mixing in Charles Manson with the Max Cady. Wyatt eerily explains that "alone we are weak and frail, but united we are strong, dangerous...a family". Rowan is now wearing a sleeveless mechanic's coverall. I guess the fur viking's robe wouldn't have made much sense now that he's with Bray.
- Decent tag match follows: Watson gets to show some athleticism before being overpowered by Harper and Rowan. Commentary is emphasizing how big the Wyatt Family team is, but honestly, next to each other and Watson, there's no discernible contrast. The hot tag to Yoshi helps his team and sells the size of his competitors. But after a quick flurry of chops and kicks, he's leveled by Harper... and we're out.
Paige defeated Emma in approximately five minutes via pinfall:
- Emma is out first to some weird electronic music, to which she awkwardly dances. The announce team emphasizes that she is the first Australian Diva in WWE history -- AND -- that's her whole deal, folks.
- Paige is certainly over
in the Impact Zoneat Full Sail Live. She screams, the crowd screams, the announce team refer to her as the Anti-Diva and her fans as the Anti-Barbie Army... a grand time is had by all.
- Emma works a solid match and employs a strategy of working Paige's left knee. A psychology that is shot to hell as Paige's comeback consists solely of kicking Emma with her left leg and hitting her finisher, the Paige Turner (a swinging leg slam that needs some work).
ADRIAN NEVILLE! A brief promo with the former PAC announcing that he's debuting on the next episode. His hair is a little shorter, but otherwise he looks the same. He's still billing himself as "The Man That Gravity Forgot", saying he will begin showing us why next week.
Primo and Epico defeated Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty in approximately ten minutes when Primo pinned McGillicutty:
- This is a carry-over from an earlier show where Dallas beat Epico and was saved from the cousins' two-on-one assault by McGillicutty.
- McGillicutty seems pretty popular with the crowd, who chant for his moves ("chop, chop, chop" and even "we want headlocks"). Phillips calls him Mr. Intensity; I'm not sure if that's a nickname they're trying to get to stick, or if it's just Tom running his mouth. They also talk about him being Curt Hennig's son a lot, which brings up the issue of why his freaking ring name is McGillicutty... but I think we've lost that battle. Dude looks good here though, and dominates the first half of the match against both Colóns.
- Weird structure to this match, as one of the good guys spends the first five minutes beating up both heels, then a commercial, then Bo Dallas in to play face-in-peril. Primo and Epico are a nice team, too, and could definitely be in the mix on the main shows. Dallas is still doing his "I love pain" thing here, and the announcers are going on about how the young Rotunda always loved to scrap as a kid (and, yes, they refer to him as Mike Rotunda's kid. If they start talking about it with Bray Wyatt, I will lose my mind). He eventually dodges a drop kick and makes the hot tag.
- McGillicutty cleans house and levels Primo with a lariat, but the pin attempt is broken up. Dallas and Epico brawl to the outside, and when McGillicutty goes to check on his partner, he gets hit by the backstabber and takes the loss.
Jim Ross replaces Tom Phillips on commentary for our main event (thank gawd). Byron Saxton is a solid ring announcer, and his call adds to the big fight feel.
Big E Langston defeats Seth Rollins in approximately eight minutes via pinfall to become the new NXT Champion:
- The Champ is out first with no music or compatriots. JR plays up the fact that The Shield avoided conflict with Langston last week, which is odd because it's not like they're afraid of basically the same character in Ryback on the big stage. Rollins graces us with a great condescending smirk as Langston is announced and makes his way down to the ring.
- Big E's music is sick, by the way. That's one thing that I hope follows him to the main roster.
- Rollins tries for a lock-up and a takedown, but Langston powers out and throws Seth around the ring. Some standard strong guy versus quick guy stuff follows, before Big E throws the champ to the outside via an impressive military press. Ambrose and Reigns appear to attack the challenger as we head to a break. Plenty of the little character tics we love about The Shield boys in this short segment.
- We return to Rollins kicking Langston around the ring with his partners still at ringside. He eventually locks in a kind of rear triangle choke, which leads to a cool spot where Langston lifts him up for a one-man electric chair slam. A double clothesline clears Ambrose and Reigns from the apron, but they're back in to attack before Big E can hit the Big Ending.
- The Shield fights off the NXT job squad when they try to make the save, but a second wave of more recognizable faces, like Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, chase/force Ambrose and Rollins to the back. This allows Langston to hit his finisher and become the second man to strap the NXT title around his waist.
- We fade out with a ring full of guys celebrating with the new champ, and Ross asking, "What's next for Big E Langston?".
Here's a taste of the new champ's entrance theme to get your critical thinking faculties warmed up:
What's next, indeed? This show was taped in early Dec., 2012, before the TLC pay-per-view (PPV), so it's possible they intended to let Langston have a long run as a babyface champ. Maybe they still will, or maybe we've got another mysterious heel turn and title change coming in short order.
These are some of the things that make NXT such an intriguing show. I give this episode a B+. I'd like to see the performers develop their characters more than just having the commentators tell us about them. But for lots of action from fresh faces, you won't do much better than this.
What do you Cagesiders think? Whether you watched the show or just caught up with this post, let us know in the comments below.