Not much going on with the HuluPlus streaming show this week, right? Anything you want to talk about? No? What's that?
Sami Zayn defeats Curt Hawkins
in approximately four minutes via pinfall
- Haven't seen the former Edge-head in quite some time. He's got short hair now and seems to be wearing a homemade Aces & Eights kutte. My favorite NXT announce team, Tony Dawson and William Regal, inform us that he is now referring to himself as the Prince of Queens (New York) and remind us that he is a former tag team champion. Makes you realize just how much Team Hell No's reign elevated those belts when you see the parade of former titleholders jobbing on this show and Superstars...
- So, this Zayn character? I like him. The crowd at Full Sail is clearly 'smart'...the "Olé" chants start before Hawkins trinatron has been cleared. In terms of the entrance and body language, he's pretty much Generico without the mask: slapping hands on the way in, running the apron with his head down, jumping into the ring and throwing his arms out to the side.
- That trend continues in the match. After the opening lock-up and Curt pushing Zayn to a corner, Sami comes back with a series of arm drag takedowns and then chops his opponent to the corner. Hawkins comes back with a LOUD bicycle kick.
- Regal talks about how Zayn "lights up a room". I'm much more curious about his character/gimmick than I am his ringwork. I mean, we know that's going to be great. Can he really just be doing "maskless Generico who talks"? That's kind of awesome. Can he get over with it? I wouldn't bet against him. And if he does, it will actually restore some of my faith in the WWE Universe. Maybe we'll be able to have babyfaces that don't act like the alpha dog in a middle school locker room some day?
- SZ pops Hawkins up for a drop kick that earns a near fall, but Hawkins grabs him off a run and slams him down for a two count of his own. Curt's frustrated - they've been playing up that he thinks having to face the newcomer is beneath him. Pride comes before the fall. And the fall here is a fantastic tornado DDT that Zayn hits after running up the ropes in the corner. Suggestions on a name for that finisher, Cagesiders?
They run their Corey Graves promo video as a reminder that he's in the main event with Bray Wyatt later on in the show.
And then Antonio Cesaro is out. Has he essentially been sent back down to the minors? He has appeared on every set of taped shows for the last, at least three months, I think. Hmmm. He sporting the beret and sunglasses look, and Regal talks up his background as a member of the Swiss military. Sir William also mentions having wrestled him on the European tour - somebody get me some footage of that bad boy, stat!
Antonio Cesaro defeats Yoshi Tatsu
in less than a minute via pinfall
No bullet points here. The former United States champ no-sells some kicks, then hits Swiss Death and the Gotch Neutralizer.
Cesaro launches into the same promo he gave on Raw a few weeks back after beating Zack Ryder. But he emphasizes the point about no one on NXT being in his league so hard that you know something is going to happen. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I shrieked like a little girl when that something went down.
Sami Zayn is back out to call Antonio on his boast. As I mentioned last week, there's a cocky edge to the character that I really like. And it's something he would do (mostly) non-verbally as Generico when he got pissed or just to signal the end of a contest. But it's exciting to see him do the same thing a different way as Zayn.
He responds to the Swiss Superman in Arabic, before basically saying, "oh, that's not one of your five languages? How 'bout French?". The two go back and forth en français while Sami gets into the ring. They ring the bell...
THEY'RE GONNA DO THIS RIGHT NOW!?!?!?
Sami Zayn defeats Antonio Cesaro
in approximately five and a half minutes via pinfall
- Good old chain wrestling at the beginning. AC torques both arms and has the Quebecer in a pinning predicament, but Zayn beautifully bridges out of it before cartwheeling himself over to the ropes. He uses those to ricochet his lower body back down to the mat and push Cesaro to the floor. They take it to commercial just so we can catch our breath.
- Back on even ground when we return. Cesaro viciously whips SZ into a corner. Zayn sells it like death while Antonio taunts the crowd by screaming, "You like Sami, huh?" The newcomer tries to flip the Swiss, but gets both boots stomped into his chest for the attempt. That and a clothesline that turns him inside out both earn two counts for AC.
- The face makes a quick comeback with a heel kick and an elbow strike counter, but the former US champ isn't having much of it. After getting stacked up for two, he catches a crossbody attempt from Zayn and transitions it seamlessly into a backbreaker. That and a charging European uppercut both almost end it. After working the body with punches, Cesaro lifts Zayn from a prone position on the mat into vertical suplex position in a power move that's nearly as impressive as the deadlift superplex. Unfortunately, Sami slips out the back and the stack up is successful this time.
- Cesaro is shocked, and then livid. He attacks after the bell, eventually laying Zayn out with a neutralizer. Regal calls it retribution - it was a good way to accomplish a few things. Antonio pretty much dominated the match and stands tall at the end. The former El Generico is obviously someone WWE is high on, and he gets over his experience on the world stage as the means to strategizing his way to two wins over former champions on his debut show.
Renee Young is set to interview someone backstage when Emma crashes the segment. Turns out the interview was supposed to be with mai gurl Audrey Marie, and...it seems a little mean-spirited to air this right after they future endeavored the woman. I guess exposure is exposure, but this doesn't even lead to a match - it could have easily been replaced with another promo or something.
Regardless, Emma is great as her character. When Audrey calls her dancing "stupid", she asks if that's some new hipster way of saying "totally cool" and responds to a threat to "take her out" with "great, can we get something to eat? I'm starving." It sounds better when she does it. I think this segment was to 100% confirm that Emma is someone they want us to cheer now, since the audience started doing it around her second appearance on NXT anyway.
Good luck and Godspeed, AM.
I really wish they would release the Bray Wyatt hype video they show next. Folks who don't watch this show need to see it so they can be prepared for his ultimate call-up. People's heads are gonna explode if they aren't immunized first.
Mason Ryan defeats Enzo Amore
in approximately one minute via pinfall
- Enzo is a cross between Robbie E, Little Guido and Santino Marella. So basically every Italian stereotype rolled up into one jobber. He gets some mic time and uses it to say things like, "baddaboom, I'm the realest guy in the room". It does not sound better when he does it.
- Ryan looks a little less ridiculously ripped. Hopefully it's for good and not just because he's off-cycle. I doubt I'll ever be able to take him seriously, though.
- This is our second total squash of the night. Amore doesn't get any real offense in, but does get thrown down by his head, pulled into a lariat and then hit with a torture rack swinging neckbreaker. That finisher is pretty sweet. I liked it when Tomko did, I still like it with Ryan. Maybe I could take him seriously some day.
Stephanie McMahon will be on NXT next week for a "major announcement". Methinks the developmental Divas are getting a belt to fight over.
We're also reminded that there will be a battle royal to determine the #1 contender to Big E Langston's title next week. I think only Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville are confirmed participants; I bet we can have some fun speculating on the others.
Bray Wyatt defeats Corey Graves
in approximately seven and a half minutes via pinfall
- Corey Graves fashion update! The camouflage vest conveys badassery much better than acid wash or leopard print. I even like "Filth Parade" in the Sex Pistols font on the back. And burgundy skinny jeans with suspenders are still skinny jeans with suspenders, but it brings a little flair that works - especially as they are undeniably pushing him as a lone wolf técnico now.
- Bray is out with his strap-holding kinfolk. No mic, unfortunately, but he is still wearing his mask. Dawson states that it is because he broke his nose in the loss to Chris Jericho a couple of weeks back. They get into it pretty quickly, and there's an early bit that I love where Wyatt cowers away from punches by Graves, but then laughs at him. Everything is a mindfuck with this guy.
- Corey takes the big man down with a drop toe hold and clamps on a front facelock. Bray manages to suplex him from within the hold, and Graves maintains it through the landing. Wyatt loses his mask while squirming free, and the savior of misbehavior immediately kicks him in the face. I don't know if that was set-up or improv, but it speaks well of both guys in-ring savvy. The abbadon drops out to fix his face. He manages to land some punches upon his return to the ring, but Graves hangs him up in a rope-assisted head scissor figure four. The referee forces the break, and a devastating Wyatt crossbody kicks us to commercial.
- The eater of worlds is in control when we come back. The announce team is hyping Graves as someone not afraid to get into fights that he knows he'll lose, like taking this match with the tag champs at ringside or his battle with Seth Rollins and The Shield last month. I love him in the ring, I like this character that others are talking about him having - now I just want to see him tell me more about his character outside of the "my dad was a pessimist so I have tattoos" speech.
- Corey manages to pull the ropes down and dump Bray to the floor. Wyatt side-steps a baseball slide and throws him into the steel steps. He rolls him in, splashes him to the corner and dances him to the middle of the ring for Sister Abigail. Graves reverses to a roll-up for two, then hits a crossbody off the ropes that again knocks the mask off of BW. He throws hands at Bray's face, and then spears his knee to set-up his submission finisher.
- A finisher that used to be called the 13th Step, but is now called Lucky 13. Because...babyface.
- Luke Harper and Erick Rowan jump up on the apron, forcing the leader of the filth parade to break the hold to chase them off. He then takes the knee out from under Wyatt again and locks on Lucky 13. Bray looks ready to tap when Rowan distracts the ref, allowing Harper to hit Corey with an elbow drop. Bray sells the effects of the submission hold, but manages to get up to hit Sister Abigail for the win.
- After the bell, Bray summons his boys to beat down his felled opponent, but here comes Kassius Ohno for the save! I don't know why I'm excited for more of good guy KO, but I am. He clears the family off of Graves, but eventually falls to the numbers game. Erick throws him into his "brother"'s discus clothesline before he gets his own helping of Wyatt's finisher. Bray strokes the hair on his dazed head while grinning at the camera as we fade out.
A definite return to form for NXT this week after a middling episode last week. There's a lot to be excited about in WWE developmental. This show could have had more in-ring action, but the two non-squashes were great even if they left me wanting more.
A-, and probably only not higher because they dissed mai gurl.
I critiqued Corey Graves and Sami Zayn debuted - I know that at least the regulars must have a ton of comments. You know where to put 'em (hint: it's just below this).
Thanks for reading and see you next week.