Montage of the women's championship tournament, culminating in UFC-style talking heads interviews with the finalists. I can't tell if it's how high I am on Emma or what, but I sense some heel-ish-ness from Paige.
Tom Phillips and Raw General Manager Brad Maddox (although I think that hasn't happened as of this taping, and isn't mentioned) will be our guides tonight.
Paige defeats Emma
in approximately eleven minutes via pinfall
to become the first NXT Women's Champion
- BOOO! Sorry, I'll try to restrain my inner mark and give you an accounting of the match itself.
- The ladies come out to dueling chants from the crowd, but it does seem that everyone is dancing along with the Aussie while only about half of the crowd screams along with the Brit. Emma's rise from comedy heel to fan favorite has been pretty amazing to watch and she deserves a big push coming out of it.
- I was a little worried at the outset, as they started out moving very deliberately - conscientiously positioning themselves to make sure they don't screw up instead of establishing a rhythym together. Before the break, Emma does a couple of her signature spots (the stack-up following sliding through her opponent's legs in the corner, Dilemma in the ropes). I don't know if it was the Lance Storm trainee settling in to calling the match, or if both women's nerves wore off with some adrenaline, but business picks up from there.
- The Anti-Diva is in control when we return from commercial. A vicious takedown off a whip leads to what Phillips calls a Perfect-plex and Maddox calls a fisherwoman's suplex. The bridge wasn't crisp, but the move did impress. She puts the boots to the dancer and tries to cover several times but can't get the pin. Emma reverses a whip and then when Paige tries to slide through the ropes in the corner like her opponent would, E slams her to the mat by her hair.
- They get rest-holdy for a while in the middle, but they also land some stiff looking and sounding strikes. And one of the "rest" spots is Paige's cloverleaf with her knee to the back of the head (Wikipedia calls it the RamPaige), and it looks like it hurts.
- After some roll-up attempts that were very similar to the finish of Emma's match with Summer Rae in the semi-finals, E fails to lock on her version of the Muta-lock as the Diva of Tomorrow escapes to the apron. She catches the blonde by her hair and delivers several knees to the face through the ropes before heading up top. Emma gets to her feet and slaps Paige, then goes up and hits a SUPERPLEX from the second rope!
- The raven-haired lass gets her foot on the ropes to nullify the subsequent pin attempt, and after a referee's count lands a kick to E's gut, then one to her face, to set up the Paige Turner and claim the belt.
That was the best WWE women's match I've seen in ages, and I'd put it in the conversation with the TNA Knockouts best efforts of late. If you're on the fence on women's wrestling, watch the last seven or so minutes of this one. If you're still not convinced that women can "fake"-fight their way to telling a great story, I don't know what to tell you.
A mix of other Divas from the tournament and other women on the NXT roster make their way down to applaud their new queen. And Motörhead plays as Paul Levesque comes down to
glom some of her heat congratulate the inaugural champ. Seems like that should have been his wife, considering how Stephanie McMahon announced the tournament, but whatevs.
Just when I was about to fast-forward to the next break, assuming I was about to get the usual "Don't Try This At Home" video or some such, we get a black screen informing is that the following is the opinion of Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro.
In the segment of the century for anyone who ever said, "that name sucks - let him be Generico", or " they could explain the ole' chants really easily", the Real Americans explain that they have done some research on Sami Zayn (if that is his real name) and a background check came up empty. They believe him to be an illegal who used to work under a mask. Antonio will make his life in and out of the ring a nightmare, because you "don't mess with Cesaro".
Tyler Breeze defeats Angelo Dawkins
in approximately one and a half minutes via pinfall
- Breeze is the artist formerly known as Mike Dalton's male model gimmick that was teased last week. That segment didn't do much for me, but I got a kick out of this squash (despite the short match time, this was over five minutes, mostly of Tyler preening in character). Hailing from his "seasonal home" in Milan, he incessantly takes selfies during his entrance and got the crowd against him by delaying the match's start with his antics.
- Dawkins is announced at 280 pounds. And that is way too big to have your offense consist largely of roll-up attempts. I'm just sayin'.
- The heel doesn't do much but club his opponent with fists and forearms and stomp him with kicks - the latter in response to having been struck in his face. After the stomping, he takes a few more pics with his phone before landing a two legged spinning heel kick for the win.
- Like Fandango, the gimmick probably isn't going to land him the main event at Mania. But it's a lot of fun and if he stays committed to it, he can make a decent run of it. As Brad Mad says, "FINALLY, a male model in NXT".
There's another promo for the new Ascension - now with 100% more Rick Victor! More talk of reducing heroes to ashes. These guys need to focus more on being a batshit insane Legion of Doom/Road Warriors for the 21st century and less on stuff that sounds cooler when Bray Wyatt says it.
The Ascension (Conor O'Brian and Rick Victor) defeats Aiden English and Mickey Keegan
in approximately two minutes when Victor pins English
- The commentators acknowledge Victor's previous history as a normal human being on the show, and act as if he is O'Brian's first partner. I'm okay with not acknowledging that the cop-punching Kenneth Cameron ever existed, but having Rick be a "convert" takes away from the supernatural weirdness and compounds the "just like every other faction with a cause" problem.
- The newest Ascender handles most of work against English. Despite having been given very little on-screen reason to, I like Aiden. It's definitely his Chikara-like character and style - I can't be the only one that sees it when Maddox calls him "John L. Sullivan's time lost grandfather".
- Victor moves quickly and his offense looks good, in what little we see of it here. Apparently he's got Calgary roots and is Hart-trained, so that's no big surprise. He and Conor have several tandem moves they show off here, including a high/low that leads to the end for AE (Keegan was never tagged in).
Next week, it's NXT champ Bo Dallas and that filthy little furrener, Sami Zayn, against the unbelievable might of Leo Kruger and Antonio Cesaro. An aside: when does this Zayn - Cesaro 2 out of 3 falls match that everybody keeps calling the greatest match ever happen? I avoid spoilers, but mofos have been talking about that match on Twitter for a month already.
Sheamus defeats Luke Harper
in approximately ten and a half minutes via pinfall
- This is revenge for the Irishman inserting himself in the tag team title contest last week. The crowd seems pretty "meh" on the Celtic Warrior, which is no big surprise as we've established the Full Sail Live crowds to be a bunch of smarks. No microphone for Bray, but he and Erick Rowan do accompany Wyatt's "General" to the ring.
- Standard, if well executed hoss fight. Both men are agile for their size, so this is a quick paced, brutal affair. The Family does their usual good work: Harper checks with Bray for coaching a couple of times, Rowan tries to interfere and gets smacked down by Sheamus almost every time. The former WWE champ works this almost character-free. It's weird...he comes to life at the end with his usual antics, but presents very little emotion until then. I have to say, I prefer it to the mugging he usually does on Raw and Smackdown.
- Harper slips out of an attempted White Noise and connects with a sitout spinning side slam for a near fall. The big man misses a splash attempt from the second rope and Sheamus connects on a rolling senton for a two count of his own.
- After some clever teasing of an aerial assault by the Great White, Luke ducks a Brogue Kick and turns the Celt inside out with his discus clothesline. I really thought Sheamus was gonna do the job there, but he manages to twitch his shoulder off the mat with the referee at two and a half.
- Bray's "First Son" lands an avalanche in the corner, but takes too much time making eye contact with his leader and saying "Yeahyeahyeahyeah" back and forth with the crowd. His second charge is right into a foot. After Sheamus fights off Erick one last time, he connects with White Noise followed by a Brogue Kick for the win.
Post-match, Wyatt is seen laughing from his rocker. The redbeard pulls his partner from the ring as Bray gives Sheamus a golf clap and Phillips speculates that he may be scheming some future revenge on the Irishman.
Good show, but the opener should have been the main event and, looked at as a whole, it was entertaining but not momentous. Grading it against other episodes of NXT, I'll go with B+. It started as an A in the first fifteen - twenty minutes, but lost some momentum in the second half.
What do y'all think? What's next for Emma and The Wyatts - a group of talents who feel a little too big for the developmental program's stage right now? And will a certain luchador return from the orphanage to battle Zeb Colter's favorite European?