Renee Young (who is wearing too much make-up these days - I get that you're under the lights, but let that natural beauty shine through!) welcomes us to an empty Full Sail Arena for NXT Rewind. And you know what that means...
First, there's a package hyping the opening of the Performance Center. Then, we get one for all of the developmental talents who have made it onto the main shows in the past year.
Intercontinental champion Big E Langston gets a segment to run down his accomplishments from the past year - including referencing the five count not once, but twice - and thanking the fans. I really wish they would let him be a little bit more of the sarcastic goofball we get on Twitter and in shoot-ier interviews.
Then it's the Swiss Superman, who cuts a promo hyping his showdown with William Regal later in the show. They are running a virtually identical angle to Kassius Ohno vs. Regal: the young heel respects The Villain's evil genius, thanks him for his assistance in rising to the top of the NXT card and then vows to take out his mentor. And I'm totally fine with that.
Back to montages, as we run down British Ambition (what's up with Oliver Grey's rehab, anyway?) over The Wyatt Family in the tag tournament final and Paige defeating Emma in the Women's tournament. A new head shot of the only Women's champ that NXT has ever had shows her crying and calling the title win the greatest moment of her life.
An enthusiastic Devin Taylor is backstage to talk to The Anti-Diva. Paige cuts her standard promo, which is to say, one that confuses me. She respects but hates Emma. She spits some fire that will thrill her fans about coming to the main shows to destroy the Divas (including a mention of champ AJ Lee), but it comes across sounding much more heelish than I think was intended.
The improving Devin continues her parade of champions with Bo Dallas. He cuts her off, claiming there's no need to introduce the champ and then talks about his Bo-lievers as an introduction to "the moment that gave everyone an opportunity to Bo-lieve" - when he defeated Langston to become the third champion in NXT history.
Back from commercial, Bray Wyatt gets a few words from the family shed about how they took down the machine in Florida and promises to do it to the larger WWE machine.
I've got a fever, and the only prescription is...More Montage! First, for the "future stars": Aiden English, Mojo Rawley, Bayley, Tyler Breeze, Alexander Rusev & Lana, Sasha Banks, Corey Graves and Sami Zayn. That's followed by a quickly cut one of main roster stars and Legends who have visited Full Sail this year. I don't remember many of these (there's a Damien Sandow/John Cena one that looks like it was a lot of fun), so I guess these are occasionally dark matches/segments.
William Regal cuts a phenomenal promo about how he's in "the late autumn" of his career, and his biggest regret is never having won the world heavyweight championship. That's his fault though, as he had a knack for getting himself in trouble (alluding to his Wellness violation that cost him his last rumored HHH-dictated push?). He puts over Cesaro, saying that he'd need a miracle to beat a man who is ten times the wrestler he ever was. While he doesn't think that a miracle is forthcoming, it will be a noble end to go out at the hands of a competitor like Antonio.
Renee is back to introduce the NXT Match of the Year, when The Shield cuts into the feed from their lair. Great stuff, especially from Dean Ambrose, that manages to serve as a hype for the guys in developmental and a promise that they'll always be better than those that follow in their footsteps. Basically, this delivered what Paige was trying to do earlier.
Afterwards, Devin greets Sami Zayn. SZ says that while he will always be proud to have been in that match, he'll also always be disappointed to have been on the losing side of it. While he's focused on taking Bo's title, first he has to deal with Leo Kruger. And the footage of his two-out-of-three falls match from the summer gives him an idea for next week...
But enough talking, NXT. Bring out Howard Finkel for the main event!
Antonio Cesaro vs. William Regal
- The Fink, and the announce trio of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Tensai means this was filmed along with last week's show, I reckon. Saxton naturally plays up his connection to the match (Regal rescued him from being bullied by AC one week, and then failed to when he was used as bait the next) and the whole trio manages to not distract from the in-ring action.
- Very technical to start, but in a way that sets up the psychology. Cesaro is trying for some of Regal's signature sadism, working the fingers, while The Villain proves to still have some agility as rolls through some armbars and wrist locks. Antonio gets to show some strength as he tries to go for a pin with nothing but wrist control, and the veteran proves up to the task by bridging to thwart the attempt.
- A knee to the mid-section allows Regal to cravat Cesaro, and he even leverages the pressure from his back with a surfboard variation. That sets up one of the more impressive things we've seen from the Swiss Superman, when he suplexes the Brit from his knees!
Regal is fired up after that and lands several punches in the corner. But Cesaro chop blocks him from behind on the referee break, and then snaps his knee over the side of the ring before the match heads to its second commercial break.
- The young heel works over the knee in inventive and painful-looking ways, including wrapping the bum joint around his neck and lifting Regal up by it. The former Sir Steven manages to reverse into a backslide pin attempt, which provides an opening for a lariat and a European uppercut, but Cesaro just responds with ten Europeans of his own (aside: why is it that no one has labeled the European uppercut an "E.U." yet?).
- Cesaro Swing amps up the damage to Regal's knee, but when the younger man goes for the Neutralizer, William flips him and drops a knee on Antonio's bicep. A well-placed boot to his other arm means that The Real American has no feeling in either arm, and then the match gets really fun.
- Regal can't manage to execute his Knee Trembler, but his leg buckles. AC, however, is limited to head butts and leg-based offence for the duration. After a head strike is met with a knee, he ties his opponent up with a double chickenwing. But Cesaro uses his legs to lift him up and bridge back for a near fall. While locking in The Regal Stretch, Antonio gets to the ropes to force a break.
- Off that break, the Swissman nails a huge dropkick, and follows with a leaping double stomp to the head. He shakes out his arms and tries for a Neutralizer, but lets the veteran drop - not because he can't do it, but because he seems concerned for his mentor. When Regal refuses to stay down, Cesaro makes the decision to end it, and lands his finisher with conviction.
Cesaro defeats Regal in approximately sixteen minutes via pinfall
As Regal is being helped to the back by the refs, Antonio turns back to offer his hand. The Brit takes it, and we fade out on the Code of Honor. Could this be the start of the Cesaro face turn?
Hard to get too excited about forty minutes of clips and promos. But I can't not heap praise on a lengthy classic from two all-time greats.
How would you review the NXT Year in Review, Cagesiders?