Our show begins with a recap of Damien Sandow's challenge to Big E Langston last week, and a reminder that their match for the NXT championship will be tonight.
Fellow Regal-ites, I bear bad news. Tonight's announce team is Tom Phillips and Brad Maddox. Ser William is not with us...I has a sad.
A quick word on the always controversial Brad Mad: his act is severely toned down in this episode. He and Phillips provide solid if bland commentary throughout. The Assistant to Managing General Supervisor gets in a couple of bon mots, but I think his appearance tonight will be a bit of a disappointment to everyone. Detractors will bemoan the absence of Regal; fans will wonder where the atonal comedy stylings they're used to have gone.
On with the show...
Summer Rae defeats Natalya
in approximately six and a half minutes via pinfall
- This starts out very slowly. And it's very clear which of the two is familiar with multiple grappling holds.
- Summer is like Naomi, except for all of her offense is leg-based instead of posterior-based. The other difference between the two is that Naomi is a decent pro wrestler. It's all head and neck scissors, stretches where she uses her legs for leverage, kicks, etc. She's a very limited worker at this point. She does a good job of compensating with her character - I especially like the wicked witch laugh she's using in this one, but...I hope she stays a valet on the main shows.
- Neidhart gets in a flurry with a nice double leg upkick and a spinning clothesline for two. Rae then asks for a timeout and offers Natty her hand in apology. You'd think a second generation superstar would know better, but the Punjabi Princess gets dumped from the ring for her sportspersonship. As she climbs back through the ropes, Summer hits what might be the worst looking enziguri I've ever seen. It still nets a near fall.
- The only non-leg based move Summer executes is a DDT, but that looks to be mostly Nat - it's a really set-up spot where "the first lady of NXT" jumps into her opponents arms and pulls her down to the mat head first. There is no reason this match should be as long as it is; it's quite bad.
- The Paige appearance we've all been expecting occurs at the six minute mark, and doesn't really play into the finish at all. The Anti-Diva comes out and jumps on the apron while Natalya is locking in her fourth or fifth (or sixth) attempted Sharpshooter. Summer kicks her off, she bounces of the ropes and the brunette, then Rae rolls her up for a schoolboy and the W before Paige chases her off.
The moment we've all been waiting for: Renee Young...who is backstage with a wrestler who will make his NXT debut next week, Sami Zayn!
I've got a few thoughts on this 30 second promo. But before I share them, I will be employing the following mantra, and I suggest you do the same: don't freak out, don't freakout, DONTFREAKOUT.
Okay. He sounds great. I never would have expected that a French Canadian who has pretended to be Mexican for the last ten years would speak flawless, unaccented English. He looks good, if a bit generic. There's a handsome, clean cut, worldly vibe to his appearance.
But, I don't really get the character. If you've followed his twitter, this is in the same vein - apparently unironic positivity and graciousness. For example, he compliments Young on her wardrobe several times. In addition to that though, Zayn looks to be confident with an undercurrent of arrogance. If he's a sweetheart who becomes a monster and/or heels it up in the ring, this could be a lot of fun.
We'll start to find out when he faces Curt Hawkins next week.
Up next is a SICK Bray Wyatt hype video. I really hope they release a version of it on it YouTube or somewhere, because the converted will love it and those not already in the Family will sign-up after seeing it.
That leads in to the eater of worlds himself strolling out for a match. He's got a bit of a new look - a white plastic face guard and a leather butcher's apron. Not sure if he broke his nose and needs to wear the mask, so he decided to incorporate it into his character or what, but it works.
You see, Chris Jericho got him thinking last week. This is the face of the monster that he is - the eater of worlds. And you can't hurt that monster, because he's already dead.
It's hard to explain, but it's glorious.
Bray Wyatt defeats Danny Burch
in approximately two minutes via pinfall
- Burch is billed from London and Phillips describes him as an East London brawler. Don't we already have a bare-knuckled Brit? He's got a decent, no frills look: bald, black jacket with plaid interior, red and black unitard. He's also hear to do the job.
- Wyatt does the creepy upside-down stare thing from his corner before the bell. Danny gets in a few European uppercuts and punches to the mid-section before we cut to the chase.
- It's partially because it's new, but it's also because it all fits - Bray's "five moves" work. Mid-ring crossbody off the ropes, drag opponent to corner, work the body with punches, running splash, waltz lifeless body to the middle, Sister Abigail.
- He lifts the mask for the pin and to celebrate after the bell with his boys.
We're backstage for another weird segment with Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville. The main purpose here is to announce a battle royal in two weeks that will determine the #1 contender for the NXT title. But they're also kind of, sort of teasing tension between the tag partners and maybe a Dallas heel turn? Bo is acting like a dingbat with a positive attitude (he quotes John Cena here) with whom Neville is blandly exasperated.
Anyway, they're both in this upcoming battle royal.
Conor O'Brian defeats Briley Pierce and Sakamoto
in approximately two and a half minutes via pinfall
- Sakamoto and baby Ziggler get the jobbers entrance while O'Brian does the full Ascension schtick. Maddox pays lip service to the "strange friendship" that has developed between Tensai's former lackey and Pierce.
- Not too much time is wasted before the Japanese takes a full nelson slam and Pierce gets a big boot when he runs in for the save. Briley then takes Conor's nifty rolling headlock takeovers and then bumps from a delayed standing vertical suplex into a tag.
- The partners work the leg and get the big man down, but he mostly no sells a storm of punches and then whips them into each other in a corner before smothering both with a splash. A tandem Russian legsweep facebuster ends it, as O'Brian pins both men with a throat hold.
- The most exciting part of this match is that someone was listening to me! While the big man poses, a mysterious figure appears on the stage wearing black contacts and with red-tinted steampunk goggles around his neck. A quick scan of the NXT roster page reveals a couple of possible suspects; I'm just excited that we'll be getting another team gimmick and a way to use O'Brian that doesn't expose his limitations.
Tony Dawson sits down with Corey Graves for a typical Graves interview. The Pittsburgh native gives this speech - about his father motivating him by being kind of a dick, and he's a tough loner, and his opponents will "stay down" - quite well, but it's the only promo he gives.
Bray Wyatt interrupts to remind us of his beef with Kassius Ohno from last week and start something with Graves. The "greatest war in the archetype of mankind" is going on right outside Corey's door, and he doesn't realize that NXT already belongs to the Wyatt family.
If they want to feud Bray with everyone else on the roster, that's a-okay with me. This also seems to be nudging the Savior of Misbehavior closer to the babyface side of the tweener spectrum. Graves v Wyatt is next week.
Big E Langston defeats Damien Sandow
in approximately twelve minutes via pinfall to retain the NXT championship
- E is now using the same entrance theme that they use on the main shows. R.I.P. "I Can't Keep Still"...I'll always love you best. Also, the discussion about Big E's cheeks from Raw reminded me - the ring gear he rocks on NXT has much more a boxers kind of lower half, as opposed to the bikini fit that disturbs the production crew and many viewers on the big stage. I don't think it's a fair trade, but if losing the old theme means he can also lose the banana hammock...
- Poor Damien Sandow. I guess Antonio Cesaro isn't the only alleged HHH guy that Vince McMahon finds boring? It's pretty clear from the word go that he's not winning the NXT title, so he's just here so he can say that he's lost at least once this year on every show WWE produces?
- Another slow starting match, as they emphasize the psychology of the Emperor of Enlightenment trying to figure out how best to deal with the champ's strength. It doesn't matter much, as he gets slammed to the mat and then dominated for the opening third before he rolls to the outside for a breather.
- Big E does his own delayed standing vertical suplex (and honestly, O'Brian's looked better) before missing a charge into the corner that allows Sandow to take the lead. Damien largely controls the middle portion with strikes and rest holds, briefly broken up by Langston hitting a power move like a striking spear. In each instance, Sandow reasserts himself with a drop kick or a double axe handle, though.
- After powering out of a shoulder stretch, E nails a belly-to-belly suplex that forces the referee to commence a double count-out. Both men make it to their feet by seven, and Langston goes for a Big Ending only to have it reversed into an evenflow DDT variant. After a side Russian leg sweep, the champ rolls out from under an elbow of disdain attempt. When he gets up, he lowers the straps, but Sandow grabs him for a spinning neckbreaker and this time connects with the Cubito Aequet that earns a two count.
- The Lord of Literacy attempts Terminus, but Langston fights it off and pushes him into the ropes. When he catches him on the rebound, he is able to hit the Big Ending and get the win. At the crowd's behest, he uses his finisher again and counts five by his ownself.
The main was okay, but lacked any real drama, at least for me. I also get a little bored with Langston's offense in these longer matches.
Not as good as recent efforts - I'm giving this week's NXT a C+ grade. And based on match quality, it should probably be lower. But whoever made the decision to put Bray Wyatt on-screen every ten minutes is a wise individual.
Thoughts, Cagesiders? Praise Bray, fret for Generico, defend Divas - that's what the comments are for.