WWE NXT plays host to a visiting dignitary on this week's episode of the HuluPlus exclusive show. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, and his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, will be appearing at Full Sail Live.
A fact that we're reminded of early and often. Seriously, you'd think it was a WWE Films production or something.
There's still plenty of action to be had in NXT's usual fifty-minute run time. Tony Dawson and William Regal are here as usual to guide us through it.
Kassius Ohno defeats Derrick Bateman
in approximately four and a half minutes via pinfall
- It's Daniel Bryan's former mentee, Kaitlyn's kayfabe ex-boyfriend and two-time old school NXT runner-up - Derrick Bateman! No sign of USA Guy. T-Daws informs us that he is 87% recovered from his recent knee surgery, a bon mot that even gets a chuckle out of noted wrestling hater, missus 1rude.
- Ohno is still displaying a truck stop brawler physique beneath his hipster warm-up top, but the yellow trunks remain a thing of the past. For which I, at least, am grateful. But he's not a "fattie", and I still love him.
- Regal spends most of his breath during this match talking up Kassius' global experience and discussing his admiration for that young knockout kid. Also of note during this segment, an "Olé, Olé, Olé" chant broke out. Maybe someone spotted Rami Sebei at gorilla position?
- This is largely about putting KO over and teasing Regal's involvement with him. Bateman tries to show off some quickness but looks kind of winded. Ohno looks crisp. His offense featured a nifty senton/spinning senton combination. A stiff kick to the face that the announcers play up as having knocked Derrick out ends it.
After getting his hand raised, Kassius locks a crossface variant on his prone opponent. Our British color man can't take any more of this hooliganism and storms to the ring and pulls him off. While Regal checks on Bateman, Ohno grabs him and catches a solid ring hand with his mug.
The two glare at each other in shock as the younger man exits. The former King of the Ring will apologize for his unprofessional behavior later when he returns to the booth.
I'm not sure if they're telling a story where Regal will come out of retirement to put the former King of Wrestling down, or one where Ohno slowly draws William back to villainy. But I like it.
Renee Young interviews Bo Dallas about his match with Bray Wyatt. They discuss his loss to the Wyatt Family in the tag tournament and Bray's attack on him from a few weeks back. He then vows revenge like a good little babyface.
Summer Rae defeats Emma
in approximately four minutes via pinfall
- The Lance Storm-trained Aussie is out first with her inept dancing and bungled ring entrance. Still works for me. She's not playing to the fans or anything, so I guess this is heel vs heel. That bugs me a little (there's not a lower card good girl to feed to Summer here?), but it's better than the blank canvas they often treat the women's characters as.
- The former Lingerie footballer has a ton of potential. This character is nothing new - it's basically Michelle McCool's gimmick - but she works it well. I hope this is just the starting point for her and not her peak, because with some evolution I think she could really connect with the audience.
- Emma's definitely more green, but she's not called on to do much more here than sell and bust her embarrassingly hilarious dance moves. The psychology centers around damage done to her leg when Rae bounces it off the bottom rope during a series of snapmares. This allows the almost six foot tall blonde to contort into a bunch of Stacy Kiebler-esque positions while working leg-based submissions like the Indian deathlock.
- Summer mocks Paige with a scream, telegraphing what follows, before hitting a spinning roundhouse to ground her opponent for a three count.
The returning anti-Diva storms the ring post-match and chases the victor out. Paige shrieks that she is back and "summer session is over". Uh, here in 'Murica, we call it summer school, lassie.
One half of the NXT tag team champions is with Renee Young to update us on his partner's condition following his attack at the hands of the Wyatt Family last week. Adrian Neville tells us that Oliver Gray will be fine, but the family won't. He asks Commissioner Dusty Rhodes for a match against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan next week, saying that he'll take anyone as his partner.
The NXT champ is backstage with Matt Striker. The latter's presence, combined with the different set, leads me to believe that this was filmed at a Raw or Smackdown taping. That's probably only interesting to me, though. Big E Langston says that his victory over Conor O'Brian will be, among other things, delicious.
Bo Dallas defeats Bray Wyatt
in approximately nine minutes via pinfall
- Bray preaches his way to the ring. Something about a world with no clocks where the women protect the young and Bo Dallas' willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. I can't decide if I want his promos to someday have a point or if I want them to remain William Faulkner stream of consciousness pieces.
- The story here is that Dallas is really, really mad. I like that they're going territories-era babyface with him. And he's bigger than he seems (almost as tall as his brother) and moves really well. But he still doesn't do much for me.
- Both Rotundas do the little things well, work tough on each other and sell one another's offense like gangbusters. Bray especially nails a sadistic look on his face during rest holds and the lacksadaisical way he covers, since he would just as soon inflict more punishment as win.
- Side-story alert: Regal continually rebuffs Dawson's attempts to talk about his career throughout this match. Methinks they may be telling a William Munny story.
- Wyatt stuns Dallas and then starts the waltz that signals the end. But he takes too long. Bo elbows out, then pounces off the ropes for his belly-to-belly finisher for a surprising win.
The loser of the match smiles as his conqueror backs up the ramp, and you can probably guess why. Harper and Rowan club him from behind and work him back into the ring. The Rumble tournament winner actually manages to power both men off of him, but that only allows Bray to finish what he started by hitting the long kiss goodnight (that's what I'm calling his swinging reverse STO...this week anyway).
One last interview, as Young is with Justin Gabriel. Bit of a strange one, as Gabriel talks about how he used to read in the papers about Leo Kruger's history in South African militias and how it had messed with his head. Eh, it keeps their feud in mind.
The Champ! Is! Here! Well, a champ, anyway. Ricardo announces Del Rio to a nice pop. He's wearing a Real Madrid knit scarf, which he gives to a little girl at ringside. Another Jolie Madchen is born.
He gives a nice off-the-cuff callback to his recent rudo past when he says, "I'm not sure if you remember this, but my name is Alberto Del Rio". He puts over the NXT roster, saying that there are future WWE and World Heavyweight champions backstage right now.
Which is the cue for NXT alumni Antonio Cesaro! The Swiss Superman says that he doesn't know about there being future champs backstage, but he knows that the greatest United States champion in history is right here. And he wants a match with Del Rio to determine the best champ in WWE today!
Just when I think an episode of Main Event has broken out, Dusty shows up to let us know that no one makes the matches around here but him, daddy. And if Antonio wants to face a champion, the Dream has one backstage with nothing currently on his plate!
Antonio Cesaro versus Big E Langston
ends in a No Contest after approximately five and a half minutes due to interference
- As excited as I am to see Antonio...they didn't have anybody else for this? I'm not thrilled with the mid-card titleholders as enhancement talent philosophy being extended to NXT now, too. Cesaro should beat Langston clean, no questions asked. I knew from the bell that he'd be protected somehow, but anything other than 1 - 2 -3 seems unacceptable.
- I want to like Big E. When they let little bits of what I assume is his real personality peek through, the character seems like it could be a lot of fun. But every match of his I've seen is feats of strength as weak looking offense, unconvincing acting and no-selling his opponent's attacks.
- This is no exception. The US champ delivers his usual excellence, and the main show of strength he delivers - dead lifting Langston from the mat by grabbing him around the waist and tossing him halfway across the ring - only serves to make the NXT champ's moves look stagey.
- A sleeper almost takes the powerlifter down, until he gets out of it, because STRONG. This sets up E for his knees, E train, Big Finish series, but Corey Graves runs in before he can hit the last move.
Graves is quickly shrugged off as Cesaro bails and exits to wherever Del Rio went earlier. There must be a VIP Lounge for WWE guys somewhere on the Full Sail campus, I imagine.
Just as Langston is set to deliver his finisher to the tattooed one, Conor O'Brian hits the ring! He and Corey work together to stomp out the champ. The show closes as Tony Dawson frantically wonders aloud "what does this mean for the NXT champ?"
Apologies for the 5,000 word recap, but they sure did cram a lot into this episode. Problem is, I'm not sure how much of the big stuff worked for me. I'm not a huge fan of the continued Bo Dallas push, and having Langston look stronger than Cesaro just pisses me right off.
But it did manage to keep all of the storylines in play, which is probably the main thing I love this show for, even if the ring work outside of the Rotunda brothers clash left a lot to be desired. Let's call it a middle-of-the-road C.
How was it for you? Does Cesaro showing up in Florida make you want to watch or just remind you that they could be doing more with him? Where do you think Regal - Ohno is headed? Do these jeans make me look fat?
Sorry, that last one was for my better half. Anyway, thanks for reading and I look forward to jawing with you in the comments!