They did warn us last week that this would be a "special" episode of NXT on HuluPlus.
But I both didn't know what that meant and blocked it out. It comes back to me like a WMD from Big Show when the "Coming Home" WrestleMania XXIX video rolls before Coheed & Cambria, though.
Natalya is making her way to the ring to the confused reaction that comes from being a face when you hang with an Indian Giant and an Irish little person but a heel when you wrestle other women. The announce team has been changed up for the "Road to Wrestlemania Special", too. Tom Phillips introduces to us to William Regal and good old Jim Ross.
And Howard Finkel is in the ring! Okay, I'm warming up to this. The Fink has seen better days, and could probably use some help evening out the Just For Men in his goatee, but he brings a different feel right from the jump. (Sorry Byron Saxton) This match if for the WWE Divas Championship!
Kaitlyn defeats Natalya
in approximately seven and a half minutes via pinfall to retain the WWE Divas Championship
- I'm not sure why a women's championship match is on NXT, or how it promotes WrestleMania, but let's go with it. This was set-up when Natty beat AJ on Saturday Morning Slam. I'm not sure if it's good or bad that the Divas have their own continuity, but it largely exists on the B/C/D shows...
- Mat-based, feeling out process to start. There's a cool series of rolling pin attempts that mixes grappling, flips and bridge attempts that's almost straight out of an independent match.
- There are dueling "Let's Go" chants from the crowd, but the Canadian is playing bad girl-lite. She's working the heel role in the contest without doing anything overtly underhanded. A snap suplex and abdominal stretch gives her the lead heading into the second act.
- The champ's offense is stiff looking. She goes on the attack with a series of strikes culminating with a nasty looking European uppercut and a nice gorilla press gutbuster. Natty manages to dodge a spear attempt before locking in a sharpshooter.
- Thank goodness for JR. He makes you believe the belt could change hands here, even though the challenger never really manages to sit into the submission maneuver. Kaitlyn makes it to the ropes a couple of times and throws Natalya head first into the turnbuckle when she finally breaks the hold. Both women sell being groggy, but the champ gets her wits about her first and hits a charging Punjabi Princess with the spear for the victory.
The pair shake hands and hug post match. Okay. That was a really good WWE women's match, but that's relative praise. It always felt like Ms. Neidhart was slowing herself down to allow Kaitlyn to keep up. Divas matches rarely come across as unchoreographed, and while this one told it's story well and got over the champ's strength, it was no exception.
Tony Dawson is backstage with the World Heavyweight Champion, Alberto Del Rio. This is a decent interview that lets ADR mix pissed off with confident (it ends with the wink), but when he runs down the history and motivations behind his feud with Swagger it only serves to highlight how ridiculous it is. I sure hope he can get back to his underdog character after being shoehorned into this "hot" angle.
CJ's favorite Rock - Cena video package airs next.
Brodus Clay defeats El Local
in approximately two and a half minutes via pinfall
- Whoever decided that El Local's entrance theme should sound like music from a Univision variety show is a genius in my book.
- Holy crap is Brodus Clay a horrible wrestler. Seriously, take away the hot women and the dancing and he's not even a convincing hoss. I get that he does all the splashes because he's big, but why does he head butt people in the solar plexus?
- Ricardo tries. He lands a couple of enziguris, including one where he springboards from the second rope, and works in a "grounding the giant" chop block and drop kick to the leg. But this is a squash so that some kids can come dance in the ring.
Static-y screen heralds a new shaky cam video from The Shield. This one looks like they're at a Pep Boys, and is different because they seem to be letting Roman Reigns talk a little more than usual. Justice, etc, Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show will be sacrifices and the revolution begins on April 7th. I still enjoy the heck out of these boys, but I hope something new happens on April 7th or 8th.
Locker room spot with Dawson and John Cena, which is pretty much everything the internet wrestling community (IWC) hates about Cena. He starts off with bad jokes and teasing the interviewer about his clothes. Then he gets serious about how his life crumbled last year, Rock has never failed at anything (Stone Cold would probably disagree, but...) and WrestleMania is his chance at redemption. More jokes about whether or not Dawson can do the People's Eyebrow before getting intense to quote the lyrics of his entrance theme. Seriously.
A shot of the three man announce booth leads us to our our NXT -centric developments of the week. Phillips informs us of a championship match between Big E Langston and Conor O'Brian scheduled for next week. JR starts to discuss Cena's speech and his match with The Rock when a berserker Kassius Ohno appears and attacks William Regal from behind.
It takes four referees to pull him off, and as he's dragged backstage he's screaming "Who do you think you are?" at the downed commentator.
Geno's favorite Undertaker - Punk video graces our screens.
Randy Orton defeats Damien Sandow
in approximately ten minutes via pinfall
- So we've reached the Main Event part of the show. Sandow reminds us that snakes are symbolically aligned with evil, so tonight he will be fighting for all that is good in the world. The usual verbal excellence from our savior.
- Announcer-wise, we're down to just Ross and Phillips. JR sells the Ohno - Regal beef as only he can. Phillips is as bland as can be, but at least he calls moves. And correctly!
- Fast-paced action to start off, as both men catch the other while running the ropes. The Duke of Decency bails a couple of times to stall Orton's offense, but eventually gets caught on the floor with a clothesline to take us to the break.
- They must have been calling his one on the fly. Randy misses a knee drop and Ross starts talking up a knee injury just as the Viper leaps to both feet to hit a suplex. After tossing the third generation star out of the ring to counter a draping DDT, Sandow throws him into the ring steps. Following that Orton uses his arms without issue even as the commentators play up the damage. JR and Phillips cover well, though.
- The combatants trade two counts. Damien gets his off of a side Russian leg sweep and cubito aequet. Orton's follows a second rope superplex; he then lands a series of strikes before catching a boot to the face and falling victim to a neckbreaker for another near fall. Randy's moves of doom come quickly after that, and the inevitable RKO sends the crowd home happy.
Orton certainly encourages and soaks in the adoration. Not sure what that bodes for rumors of a heel turn, but he'll have to do something dastardly to convince folks to boo him and his finisher.
That ended up being a decently fun show, but not what I want from NXT. It felt more like a house show, and I can't in good faith grade that any better than a C-.
I also have to question the whole purpose of this show. Nothing that happened here sold me on the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV). And is anyone who watches NXT unaware of the stories for WrestleMania?
Hopefully the developmental talent at least got a chance to do an entrance with Finkel while he was on campus.
How about you, Cagesiders? Anything here pique your interest in either this show or the one coming on April 7th?