Recap of the battle royal to determine the #1 contender to Big E Langston's title- especially Bo Dallas eliminating Adrian Neville - gets tonight going with the proverbial "big fight feel". Champ and challenger stare each other down as we head into the intro package.
It's recap-a-looza! The usual well put together piece reminds of us of Sami Zayn's excellent debut, defeating former WWE tag team champion Curt Hawkins before interrupting and upsetting former United States champion Antonio Cesaro. Methinks their rematch is probably next. Me is right, and me is excite!
Antonio Cesaro defeats Sami Zayn
in approximately ten minutes minutes via pinfall
- Tony Dawson (who is back on commentary with William Regal after a few weeks off) introduces Zayn as being Syrian. They've played up his multi-ethnic background, but this was the first time I've heard that listed as his primary nationality. The entrance remains identical to Generico's and makes me realize how influential that part of the package can be. The exuberant, heads down running of the apron immediately makes you want to cheer for the guy - how can you not get behind someone so goofily excited to perform?
- Cesaro is out in the outfit he has been using of late. He's all business as he whips his sunglasses off and throws them before going straight a Sami before the bell. The newcomer has been gutted on the barricade and wrapped around the ring post before the referee can officially start the contest.
- At the bell, a big European uppercut immediately leads to a nearfall. Zayn attempts to chop his way back into the match, but strikes are met with strikes and SZ is selling the overall beating really well. He dodges a charge and goes straight for some ground and pound, furthering the personal nature of this fight for both men.
- The pre-commercial sequence sees the ginger reverse a European attempt into a backslide for a two count, followed by Cesaro hitting his spinning backbreaker for two of his own. This is largely the theme of the match - a pissed off Antonio gets in most of the offense but can't put away the gritty Zayn, who uses his technical acumen to nearly win with every opportunity he can create.
- This match is too dope for me to keep up with. I'm just going to list cool stuff that happens (and probably get some moves wrong - this is almost an indy match with the number of intricate maneuvers, near falls and false finishes. But at no point does it feel as contrived as too many lower level duels are): Regal puts over Cesaro's gutwrench suplex as the best he's ever seen, Sami dumps Antonio with a head scissor and lands a flawless senton plancha, there's a spot where Zayn top rope dives into a European uppercut, Sami reverses a powerbomb attempt into a frankensteiner...
- Just go watch this match.
- We get our first tease of a yakuza kick from the generic one's new character, but Cesaro gets his own boot up to counter. A Neutralizer attempt is countered into a roll-up for two, but after a tight chin lock causes the French-Canadian to visibly fade, the Swiss hits his finisher for the win. Antonio slaps the woozy Zayn after the bell, and screams in his face until multiple refs pull him away.
Backstage, Renee Young is set to interview Bayley. This is the first time we've seen her speak or get much more than a jobber entrance. She stands off camera until RY coaxes her to the microphone, and then she is adorably awkward. She likes robots, wants to know if Young thinks she's pretty and invites her to play robots or Jenga after she defeats Alicia Fox. It's basically a more childlike, babyface version of AJ. What's impressive and encouraging is (1) that she seems completely committed to it and (2) that it's actually a character! Every female on NXT has a character that isn't just "pretty girl who hates other pretty girls" or "crazy girl that wants boys".
The same Leo Kruger promo from last week airs. It's a great piece, but, ummm, where is he?
Scott Dawson & Garrett Dylan defeat Baron Corbin & Travis Tyler
in approximately four and a half minutes minutes via pinfall when Dylan pins Corbin
- Slyvester Lefort leads the rednecks out (Corbin and Tyler await them in the ring). He says some stuff in, I think, French, before introducing Dawson and Dylan as the next NXT tag champions. He also has an annoying laugh that he does in between every phrase that was, at least here, actually annoying and not heelishly, getting under your skin annoying.
- Dawson (announcer Tony, not wrestler Scott) provides more back story for D² - they grew up in the same trailer park, and Lefort discovered them at the CMT music festival. They are not referred to as D² tonight, but I'm always on the lookout for different ways to refer to guys, so expect it to stick here. Dawson (wrestler Scott, not announcer Tony) seems pretty short; Dylan a little, but not much, taller. I don't want to get into any height arguments here, but the roster page lists Scott at 5'10" and Dylan at 6'1"...and that seems generous.
- Tyler is described as a former all-state football player. He takes almost all of the beating here. D²'s offense is brutal looking, in a good way. A lot of kicks and slams, rapid tags and intimidating body language. Regal compares them to the Andersons, particularly saying that Garrett reminds him of Arn - and that's a really good way to get in this reviewer's good graces. I do like the team a lot more when they're kicking ass more than chugging BBQ sauce. Not sure why they need Lefort, but I'll give it time.
- A kick and a clothesline allow Travis to get a tag. Former NFLer Corbin lands a shoulder block, but a blind tag allows the good old boys to hit their tandem finisher, "Southern Pride", which is a spinebuster by Dawson followed by a drop double axe-handle into a pin by Dylan.
A pre-tape segment has Corey Graves confronting Adrian Neville, demanding to know why he has a match against Bray Wyatt next week rather than him. This leads to Kassius Ohno barging in to ask the same question. Then, the trio is greeted by a right villain...
Regal gives the group a talk about how much he admires the Wyatts, and that Graves especially should know from his dealings with The Shield that you have to do something to counter the numbers game. Corey and Kassius begrudgingly agree to corner Adrian next week.
Strong work by all four men. I could get behind a vicious babyface stable of these guys led by Sir Steven. Or a cop movie where Ohno is a straight-laced detective, Graves is his crazy partner, Neville is their nebbish CI and Regal their cranky captain. Whichever they want to do first.
After Adrian and Corey leave, Kassius thanks Regal, vows to repay him and gives him a little bow. Regal has a cunning smirk on his face as we fade out.
Alicia Fox defeats Bayley
in approximately three minutes minutes via pinfall
- Bayley's music is weird, but it's in that bubblegum poppy vein that WWE seems to favor for all of it's women these days. Her trinatron looks like the Powerpuff Girls-meets-Wonder Woman. She has a baby triceratops on her ring pants. Dawson puts over her "wide-eyed innocence". I like it.
- Adhering to the code of honor, Alicia reluctantly accepts B's hand. The developmental diva pushes it further and hugs the former champ, pushing her back into the corner. She goes for a second hug, but gets elbowed for it and then whipped into the opposite corner.
- Foxy dominates the first half of the match, punctuated with the bridging suplex that Regal loves so much. She disrespects Bayley and slaps her, causing the young woman to snap and go on the offensive. I really like how the geeky kid schtick co-exists with a "Bayley's gonna kill you" streak. Alicia is flipped across the ring and nailed with a drop knee to the chest for two.
- Sweet exploder suplex from B earns another nearfall, but the veteran rolls under the ropes to compose herself. The rookie plays right into her hands when she goes to retrieve her, and gets nailed with a scissor kick. One-two-three and there goes my theory about only NXT ladies advancing out of the first round.
- I hate the outcome, but the story made sense - Bayley looks like a threat who got outsmarted by a more experienced competitor. And they can't have Summer as the only heel in the semi-finals.
Bray Wyatt wants us to understand some things. Our fathers lied to us, and we can not be whatever we want to be. And William Regal is putting his life in very, very real danger every time he crosses Bray's path. He's declaring war on NXT before leaving for the bigs, and while he's waging that war, we'll all ask "who will survive, and what will be left of them?"
If William Regal leads the NXT troops in a feud against the Wyatt Family I AM GOING TO MARK THE (% OUT!
In a very Raw move of them, we get the battle royal video package again as a lead-in to the main event.
Bo Dallas defeats Big E Langston
in approximately eight and a half minutes minutes via pinfall
to become the new NXT Champion
- Dallas comes out to a muted but not overly heated reaction. The crowd pops for Langston, who is still high five-ing the crowd despite his main show character being acknowledged. I still think his new music is a big step backwards. Anybody hear "Can't Keep Still" playing during the NBA Social Media Awards commercial that ran during Game 3 of the Finals on Tuesday night? I'm just saying...
- Byron Saxton does his best Buffer impersonation to start us off. It begins as your standard Langston match: the challenger tries to knock down or out-strength him and Big E is amused. The coolest thing here is that after Bo does some dodging and leaping, E matches him and even leaps clean over him at one point. More of super-agile Big, please.
- Dallas gains momentum with a kick to the knee and by pulling down the top rope to dump Langston to the floor. He tries for the beatdown when Big E slides back in, but ends up getting thrown face first off a turnbuckle. After some more punishment, he gets pulled into a lariat for a nearfall.
- After a couple more two counts, the crowd starts their "no more Bo" chants. Dawson even acknowledges that he is not a Full Sail favorite. Another example of X-Pac heat no longer existing, as at least he's getting a reaction, and the bookers seem willing to make the most of that.
- The challenger fails to fell the champ with three consecutive clotheslines, but does land a knee to the chin to set-up his rope-climb bulldog. The resulting two count serves to motivate Langston, who sets into his moves of doom (and if anyone should have a five moves of doom, it's the master of the five count). I like that he is counting five on his mid-section uppercuts and high knees now, too.
- Langston gets Dallas up for the Big Ending, but Bo manages to grab the ropes. In a cool bit of storytelling, the younger Rotunda exposes the top turnbuckle while fumbling for an escape in a way that makes it unclear if he meant to or not (I mean, of course he did, but he executed it such that he will have plausible deniability). He slips out and knocks E into the exposed metal twice, catching him on the rebound the second time to hit his still lame, still nameless finisher and become the third NXT champion.
After the match, Langston is pissed, but rolls out and leaves the stage to the new champ. Regal is describing it in babyface terms as an underdog victory, and I'm really enjoying the covert heel turn that Bo has been slowly unveiling over the past month. I'm not super-hyped for his reign, but I'm curious to see this character develop.
This was a real return to form episode for the developmental flagship. I'm tempted to take out my "it's still real to me, damnit" reaction to the outcome of the women's match and the main event on its grade. But a great match, a good one and lots of story advancement is worth an A.
What do you think, dear readers? Excited for the new champ or are you chanting "No Mo' Bo"? Predictions for the women's tourney? Are you on Team Regal or Team Wyatt?
Give us your thoughts and observations below!