A video package of The Shield's history on WWE developmental's internet streaming HuluPlus program airs over audio and clips from their promo last week and Corey Graves' interruption of same.
Leo Kruger defeats Justin Gabriel
in approximately seven and a half minutes via submission
- Wait a minute. Didn't this match just happen (checks back through the NXT section of cSs) on March 20th? Yep. Sure did. Weird.
- This dates back to Kruger's assault on Gabriel's injured International Airstrike partner, Tyson Kidd. It makes sense that they would rematch, as Justin is still without his revenge since he lost the first match-up last month. But it's weird because there hasn't been so much as a mention of it in the intervening shows, and the announcers (Tony Dawson and a returning William Regal, who explains his feud with Kassius Ohno by saying "sometimes you have to do these things" and a smile) don't mention it either.
- As if to say "No worries, mate" (South Africans don't say that...do they? D'oh!), Leo and Justin set out to give us another good, if similar, contest. It is lacking the back story of Gabriel being pissed this time and settles into a context-free contest of each man working a body part and going for submissions. The high flier starts with a double wrist lock that he holds though a couple of flips, the larger man sets his up with elbow strikes to the chest and neck area.
- Another reason I love Leo Kruger - I'm a sucker for a good spinebuster:
- Really though, if we have a ballroom dancing heel, why can't we have a former mercenary/big game hunter?
- Sorry, this match is so similar to their last one that my mind drifted. They trade offense: kicks and leaps from the Capetown Flier, strikes and slams from LK. Gabriel slaps on a pretty convincing looking Fujiwara armbar that heightens the drama, but his countryman manages to get a foot on the ropes to force the break.
- After a stiff kick to the jaw, Justin heads up top for the 450 splash, but Leo catches him and delivers a head butt to his solar plexus. Gabriel slides under a second rope suplex attempt, but can't get a roll-up, instead getting two boots stomped into his chest. Kruger gets him in his inverted key lock submission and the daredevil is forced to tap.
Kruger is up 2 - 0 in this series. If they remember that they're having a series.
The first of two identical commercials for next week's "Clash of Champions" show run, and they're still saying that Antonio Cesaro is the United States champion and that his match with Adrian Neville is for the strap. All I know is I'm still salty.
Nifty WrestleMania Axxess segment that focuses on the NXTers. Not surprisingly, the most time is given to The Shield and Big E Langston, and with the latter and Seth Rollins really coming across as stars. Rollins' talking about how three years ago he bought a ticket to 'Mania gives you a hint of his promise as a babyface mega-star.
They need to let Langston talk. He comes across very confident yet relatable. And he rocks the Cesaro tee. That guy is alright by me.
This video is full of stuff. For my fellow ink heads, Roman Reign's sleeve was done before April 7 as it's visible in all of its glory at the signings here. Sami Zayn can be seen tagging with Adrian Neville in a match at the fan event. The divas get a bunch of time and Paige, Summer Rae and Emma all seem to pretty over with the fans.
And watching the backstage footage of Big E and The Shield getting ready for their matches on Sunday, and seeing the mixture of nerves and accomplishment they experienced - I got chills.
Paige delivers one of the best interviews I've seen from her, talking to Renee Young about her issues with Summer. As she's threatening to break all of her bones so she can't run from her anymore, Ms Rae sneak attacks her from behind.
An interesting vignette focuses on Graves where he talks about his father telling him that "everyone is destined to lose and born to fail". Between this and his being cast opposite The Shield, they're working on creating an anti-hero babyface from the ground up. Seeing as how trying to turn CM Punk into one didn't work, I'm all for this approach.
Emma defeats Bayley
in approximately three minutes via submission
- The Emma-lution will be televised. Girlfriend is a hit at Full Sail Live. She was originally presented as a heel, but her deluded, clumsy club dancer character is just too charming. I could see her being the Santino of a fully stocked women's division. They do have to change her match set-ups a little; as a heel she lost when she paused to dance, now they're working her "moves" into her finishers.
- Bayley seems to be the more polished of the two workers (Emma is Lance Storm-trained, but, as Davina Rose, B is the veteran of a few Shimmer tapings, among other things). She doesn't really have a character though, and the crowd does seem confused on how to react to her. She has the technical highlights here with a facebuster and a double leg nelson pin attempt.
- Emma is working towards her own "moves of doom". One is a Tajiri-esque tarantula. The other is an Indian deathlock, and the Australian's twist on it is to do her dance before bridging back to apply pressure. This gets her the victory.
Bray Wyatt defeats Yoshi Tatsu
in approximately one minute via pinfall
- Not sure I can get multiple bullet points out of this one. But I think I just did...
- As we so often say, it's the little things. While stretching out in the corner, Wyatt leans all the way back to glare at Tatsu upside down with a creepy grin. To his credit, Yoshi doesn't crap himself.
- YT gets in a couple of strikes before he starts getting slung and splashed around like a rag doll. Bray hits his swinging reverse STO finisher twice (but only kisses his head the first time), taking the time to pin him in between. Dawson calls the maneuver the "Sister Abigail", which...might be THE GREATEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE.
Post-match, Bray sits and draws Yoshi's lifeless body to him, stroking his hair while the Family enthusiastically brings him a microphone. This was a message to everyone in the back that he is the "eater of worlds" and that "no man on two feet is greater than" him.
Seth Rollins defeats Corey Graves
in approximately nine and a half minutes via pinfall
- There are twelve lumberjacks, so it's not exactly shoulder-to-shoulder out there. I think we've seen one or two as jobbers on the show before, and a few I recognize from the roster pages on the web. Throughout the contest, they take their job as to roll anyone who comes out immediately back in to the ring. Which is interesting - I can't recall ever seeing a lumberjack match with impartial parties manning the floor.
- The former NXT champion is in charge for most of the match, like a good heel should be. When Graves goes on the offensive, it's usually to attack the left leg. This starts with a kick to the thigh after Rollins gets hung up on the top rope while coming back in to the ring, rather than face the crowd outside of it. Corey slams him without releasing the leg, but gets straight poked in his adam's apple so that Seth can regain control.
- Much of Rollins' offense is knee-based. Nothing wrong with that, I just hadn't noticed it (outside of the flying one) before. He delivers a steady diet of them, and kicks, and backbreaker variations. He uses a body scissors mid-ring for a rest break.
- Graves starts a comeback by bouncing off the ropes to deliver a boot to the face that the hound of justice sells like a cannon shot. Unfortunately, he gets drawn into being dropped head first onto the middle turnbuckle. He regroups with a series of blocks and lariats, forcing Rollins' to roll out - a distraction he uses to go for the flying knee. Graves dodges that and wrenches Seth's knee, setting up for the 13th Step. Rollins slips under the bottom rope again, allowing him to get in an elbow and head back up top. But Graves busts out a dragon screw leg whip and then lands a gourdbuster - could be an upset!
- SHIELD! So much for their night off. Ambrose battles through a couple of guys while Reigns takes on what looks like ten men in a cool visual. While the referee is distracted, Dean clotheslines Graves on the apron. The savior of misbehavior stumbles into Rollins' standing shiranui (his wiki calls it "Skywalker", which is cool but not the greatest thing I've ever heard) and eats the pin.
This feud between Graves and The Shield vexes me. Graves seems to be being groomed as our next NXT champ, but I don't think anyone is going to buy him beating the squad that has taken out Randy Orton, Sheamus, etc, etc.
I'm also scared that the increased presence of workers who are Raw and Smackdown regulars, along with things like the wwe.com addressed NXT page that Rancho pointed out is being promoted via twitter:
Take a look at the new NXT website for the latest news and media of our NXT Superstars and Divas wwe.com/shows/wwenxt— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 17, 2013
means that our little island of cohesive storytelling, women with developed characters and ten minute matches is about to be boarded by the USS Clusterfuck out of Stamford, CT.
But, let's fret about that later. Like next week, during "Clash of Champions".
For now, we had a nice A- edition of NXT this week. Diva stories were advanced, Bray Wyatt creeped us out and we got two solid matches.
What do you Cagesiders think about the present and possible futures of WWE's developmental flagship? Comment away!