General time constraints and an overload of wrestling product over the last week have me feeling as burnt out as CM Punk. Add to that the lackluster streak of shows that everyone's favorite WWE developmental program has been streaming to us via HuluPlus, and we've got to mix things up around here a little bit.
So I'm "live" blogging NXT! Sort of. I probably won't be able to help myself from waxing philosophically about Derek Bateman's facial hair and stuff, and I will make liberal use of the pause button on my Roku player, but I'm going to bring you the action as I see it, ladies and germs.
As young Tom Cruise learned, sometimes you gotta say "what the..."
FLASHBACK! We're brought up to speed with a video package (not quite as good as one you might see on Raw, but the minor league version of that - it's good) of the escalating hostilities between Kassius Ohno and William Regal over the last three weeks.
SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA - Rex and Mike were just asking me on this week's Off The Top Rope podcast (available on iTunes and at fine purveyors of audio everywhere) if they were going to continue with the group's promise to regain Seth Rollins' NXT championship from a month or so ago. Maybe we're about to find out.
There are three guys that look suspiciously like jobbers waiting in the ring as Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Rollins make their way through...the...curtain and folding chair area of Full Sail Live. The entrance loses a little something in the (ahem) smaller venue.
Brad Maddox is here scouting for Team Brickie again. So rejoice, Brad Mad-Men and Women. The rest of us will puzzle over his appeal some more after we figure out the vagaries of NXT-WWE continuity.
The Shield versus Scott Dawson, Axl Keegan and Percy Watson
The black-clad trio surrounds the ring in their familiar fashion. They slide in and pair off with their competitors as fists fly. They're doing shaky cam as the announcers flip out about the bell not having rung. The hounds of justice clean house and I guess this was all just a set-up for some mic time.
Which is totally sweet.
But no! The bell rings as Ambrose and Rollins drop to the floor and roll Dawson (I think it's Dawson) back in to a waiting Samoan warlord. And we are going to have a match.
The big man head butts Scott D (it is Dawson!) to the corner and tags his partners. They run serial drop kicks on him before the former NXT champ assumes his role as the legal man. A quick bit of offense before he tags in Dean, who drops elbows, makes faces and taunts the other team and the crowd.
Maddox is pretending that he didn't realize he wasn't sitting with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. Really, I might find it more entertaining if it wasn't distracting from the work The Shield and their victims are doing in the ring. He does say that The Shield makes him uncomfortable due to their history.
Dawson makes a tag to Keegan while Ambrose is being cocky, and the big man manages to get in a little bit of offense before he's laid out. This leads to a nice spot where Dean wrenches on a knee lock and rolls to his back, leaving Axl elevated off of his knees so that Rollins can hit his flying knee drop on his prone chest and neck area.
Roman charges across the ring to take out Watson and beat him down at ringside, 'cause, I guess he hated the Showtime character from the second season of NXT on SyFy.
This leaves Keegan alone with Rollins, who slaps the mat while waiting for his opponent to get up. As soon as he does, he nails the sick standing sliced bread finisher that I've only seen him use on this show. He should use it more often.
Damn, that dude is awesome.
The Shield wins in approximately two minutes via pinfall when Rollins pins Keegan
Ambrose rolls Dawson in after the match for the triple powerbomb. The smarks in Florida want another one.
Each man gets a second on the mic, with Seth stating that they will forever own NXT.
Corey Graves comes on the trinitron. He doesn't believe in The Shield. I know that I get some flack for critiquing his wardrobe, but dude has leopard print panels sewn into his cut-off denim vest. I already have a tough time buying him as a challenger to these men who have taken out the likes of Randy Orton and Sheamus, but does he have to shop at Forever 21?
Next week, he will take on whichever of member of the group shows up to face him one-on-one.
Ambrose looks as surprised as I am. Rollins says that he'll handle this himself.
Tony Dawson (no relation) is backstage with Summer Rae to ask her why she ran away from Paige last week. She wasn't scared, she forgot her curling iron was on backstage. She does the demanding to be called "the first lady of NXT" thing.
Renee Young gets a quick interview with Emma. This is the first we've seen her talk, and it's okay. She's got a really slight Aussie accent. Her time on NXT has been, according to her, similar to the debut of Lady Gaga or Madonna. It's Renee and our loss that we don't dance along with her Emma-lution.
So what if you got bumped off of WrestleMania? You're on the internet, baby!
The Funkadactyls versus The Bellas
Phillips calls this a 'Mania rematch - damn taping schedules and booking on the fly and what not.
Naomi has added to her ass-based offense with a headscissor in the corner rump shake on the top of her opponent's head maneuver. Name that one, Kain!
Then she hits Brie with the "rear view". Figure it out.
Cameron tags in and jaws with Nikki, allowing her sister to blindside her and get a tag. They work some quick tags and keep the lighter-skinned 'dactyl isolated in their corner.
The twins went to wrestling school while they were away. They're not really good, but they're not the walking accidents they were before they left. Nikki (I think) flips Cameron with a couple of armbars before going to rest holds. That's understandable - it has been almost two whole minutes of match time.
Irish whip reversed into a neckbreaker creates an opening, but Nikki is too fast and takes out Naomi before the tag can be made. They do a tandem leg flip on Cameron, one of them rolls out to restrain her partner while the other covers for three.
The Bellas defeat the Funkadactyls in approximately three minutes when the one with implants (I think, they're doing a really good job of disguising those) pins Cameron
Backstage, Tony D is going to get us a few words with Kassius. Who's wearing this:
I love that guy.
He can't hear out of his left ear due to Regal's sneak attack on him last week. He runs down a list of William's accomplishments before dropping in the kiss my ass club. After tonight, we won't see or hear from the Real Man's Man ever again.
IN TWO WEEKS, it's NXT Clash of Champions! Four titles on the line: AJ versus Kaitlyn for the Diva's title, Adrian Neville versus Antonio Cesaro for the United States championship, Maddox versus Big E Langston for the NXT belt and Bo Dallas versus Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental strap.
I sense a rise in HuluPlus subscriptions. I mean, who doesn't want to see Barrett - Dallas!
Seriously, how far have the secondary belts fallen? I'm pissed, even as I mark out for Neville - Cesaro. Don't get me started on the women. I'm glad we'll see AJ - Kaitlyn, but on NXT?
After some 'Mania rewind stuff, Renee anxiously approaches Regal in the back. Ohno has unlocked the villainous doors in Regal's head. He hopes his children forgive him for what they're about to see him do.
My word, if Regal - Ohno gets 15 minutes I am going to be a happy freaking camper.
Commissioner Dusty Rhodes has announced that Rollins and Graves' bout next week will be a lumberjack match.
Kassius Ohno versus William Regal
Early on these guys are both acting as if they don't want to have to do what they're about to. It's a nice touch. This feels personal; their performances are adding a layer to that by doing something other than coming out fuming.
Both men are sporting black trunks, and there are dueling Let's go Regal/Ohno chants from the NXT Universe.
KO chops the veteran, but then Regal begins to surgically work holds and pressure points in a slow, mat-based attack.
Maddox does tone down his antics on commentary, but I wish they were still bringing Jim Ross in for these main event type matches. Even subdued Brad talking about cereal and Regal going after the "leg/arm" is not what this calls for.
Vintage Regal! He repeated rubs his boot in Kassius' face while arguing with the referee. He's clearly enjoying himself. Ohno relies on rope breaks for relief, and finally gets the upper hand on one when the ref has to pull the former King of the Ring away from his victim. A slide through the second rope onto the floor by the hipster leads to a commercial.
The younger man is in control when we return. He's focusing his attacks on Regal's temple - the psychology being that he is either concussed or has some ear damage that's effecting his balance.
Regal leverages himself out of a stretch and attacks Ohno's hands and fingers with stomps and, just, it looks like he's trying to break them.
Kassius slips a hand crank and kicks Regal in the head. He takes the opportunity to work on his own hand, and he's really selling it like William broke a few digits.
The Villain gets his head snapped off the ring post, and Ohno charges and strikes him in the temple a few more times while he's still in that position.
That young knockout kid tries for his Kassius Krunch submission, but his injured left hand won't let him! His attempts for other holds are thwarted, and Regal hits an exploder suplex out of nowhere and then looks to put his opponent in the Regal Stretch. He seems to lose his balance, though, allowing Ohno to hit a big back body drop for two.
A groggy Regal stumbles around the ring as Ohno circles his prey. A head kick nets another near fall. Kassius loads up for an elbow, but William counters with a forearm of his own and then a running knee to the head!
William Regal defeats Kassius Ohno in approximately fifteen minutes via pinfall
Huh - I guess this feud isn't over then? Maddox is reporting that he will make sure that Raw Managing General Supervisor Vickie Guerrero knows Ohno's name by the end of the week, so maybe this is just a case of 'heels have to lose in pro wrestling' and he's about to get called up?
KO is selling being KO'd, and Regal is still wide-eyed and trying to work his jaw as if it's broken. The show closes following a really, really good match.
The early action was a little light, and there's still a lot of WWE in my NXT. But when that's The Shield boys and beautiful women, I can be more forgiving. The show seems a little confused on its mission with Rollins in the main event next week and the upcoming Clash of Champions show, but if it can deliver with action like this it will still be worth a watch. I don't know if it's doing enough yet to get ready the wave of call-ups after the pending wave of call-ups, though.
Regardless, this was a blast. Maybe it's the live blogging, or how it finished strong, but I'm going with A for my grade.
What'd you all think of the show this week? If you didn't see it, why not? You can get about seven months of HuluPlus for the price of one WrestleMania.
Let me know what else I can do to convince you, or tell me how much you love Corey Graves' fashion sense, in the comments below.