WWE.com exclusive guy catches up with Antonio Cesaro to get his thoughts on his run-in with William Regal last week. The Swiss Superman tries on a bad British accent in an effort to speak to Regal in "a language he will understand", and he's then approached by Leo Kruger. The South African is interested in becoming a Real American (I guess he's in Florida legally), and Antonio is willing to talk to Zeb Colter for him if the hunter does something for him in his upcoming match with Sami Zayn. Unfortunately, the dastardly duo turn their back from exclusive guy so we can't listen in on their scheme.
Women's championship match kicks us off!
Natalya vs. Paige (c)
- They do a nice job of setting up the in-ring story of future star proving herself to veteran, as the pair trade takedowns, reversals and roll-ups in the early going with a nifty suplex out of a hammerlock from the former Divas champ thrown in.
- The larger narrative is all over the place and a bit distracting. It's symptomatic of the larger Total Divas problem where sometimes Natty and her fellow cast members are heels because they're on a reality show, except when they're faces because they're on a reality show. The announcers (Byron Saxton, Alex Riley and Renee Young) seem to want to paint the Canadian as a heel, even though her on-screen actions don't back it up.
- Here's your weekly dose of commentary analysis...I still don't like Renee at announce. There's a minute-long digression into Miley Cyrus just as the match is headed for the home stretch. While I agree with Ms. Young that Bangerz has some dope tracks and chuckled when she said that she'd like to see Young and Saxton twerk, I'd rather hear about that in an interview segment or skit. This show really misses her in that role, too, as a lot of the backstage stuff that used to be a real highlight of NXT is now just kind of there.
- Apparently, during the commercial break Paige tried to shake her opponent's hand and Nat took the opportunity to put a wrestling move on her. So Paige is mad and goes all Daffney on her. Who shakes hands mid-match? As far as the action goes, it's pretty good if a little deliberate. For example, when the Anti-Diva does her trapped-in-the-ropes-knees-to-the-midsection spot, Natalya catches her leg, steps back through the ropes while holding it and then whips her down with it. Why would Paige not try to get her leg free while all that was going on?
- Business picks up following a double crossbody and both women answering the referee's count at seven. The blonde gets nearfalls with sit-out slam and her spinning clothesline, but the Sharpshooter is nicely countered when Paige rolls through and sends Natty's head into the turnbuckle. When the challenger makes it to her feet, the champ hits the Paige-Turner to retain.
- Post-match, they hug it out in defiance of the picture commentary had been painting. It's a nice moment, though, as the Brit does seem to be legitimately honored to have worked with Ms. Neidhart and tearily thanks her.
Paige defeats Natalya in approximately nine and a half minutes via pinfall to retain her Womens championship
Alexander Rusev is getting some counsel from Lana when Tyler Breeze rolls up to thank the Bulgarian for the assist before his match with Kassius Ohno last week. His manager shoos the model off, but not before Breeze gets in a couple of unreality era slams about KO being "an uggo" and a little fat.
I don't have Devin Taylor to kick around this week, but Dan Devone is back for another round. He's certainly...there...to talk to Mojo Rawley. Mojo doesn't get hyped you guys, but he does get interrupted by Sylvester Lefort and Scott Dawson. I thought they were gone (especially the Frenchman), but here they are, trying to recruit a new Legionnaire and generally not being funny. Dawson lands the line of the night, though, when Rawley responds to his challenge with his catch phrase and Scott asks Lefort if it's French, since he doesn't know what it means.
This guy vs. Aiden English
- Aiden has some spiffy new tights. Unfortunately, his song is not one of his better efforts.
- Neither the production or announce teams bother to tell us the jobber's name, so if anyone recognizes him, let us all know in the comments.
- The booth is too busy with thespian/lesbian wordplay throughout the match to do much else. A-Ry seems to be acting a little heel-ish here, I think. He's the only member of the team that doesn't like English. But since The Artiste wrestles as a rudo while getting treated like a face, I don't know if that means Riley is turning or not.
- Neckbreaker, suplex, Director's Cut, encore. I do enjoy the schtick, but this needs to go somewhere. Breeze is showing a lot more character and workrate range within a similar gimmick than what we've been given of AE to date.
English defeats That guy in approximately one and a half minutes via pinfall
Mr. Cesaro heads out, but unfortunately it's not to start a feud with The Actor. He's here to apologize to Byron Saxton for his actions last week. While the mark in me screams "don't do it!", they shake hands. But Byron's just not into the "We The People" chant, so Antonio gives him a right thrashing while looking for Regal to show up to the make the save. When The Villain fails to appear and Saxton pleads ignorance as to his whereabouts, The Real American slaps the taste out of his mouth and storms off.
Faceless exclusive dude catches up with Sami Zayn while he's taking off his boots. Sami gives Adrian Neville props for defeating him last week and promises to come after whoever wins tonight's NXT title bout. But not before Leo Kruger blindsides him and kicks his likeable ass a little bit.
Tom Phillips takes over for the incapacitated Byron Saxton on play-by-play.
Tyson Kidd vs. Leo Kruger
- They take the time to remind us that this match has roots back in the South African's feud against his countryman and Kidd's tag partner, Justin Gabriel. Kruger menacingly assaulted Tyson fresh off of surgery while he was delivering a promo designed to capitalize on CM Punk having referred to him as a "workhorse".
- The Dungeon grad comes out quickly, utilizing a variety of kicks to ground The Hunter. Kidd is working him over in the corners, but Leo gets a knee up on a charge and begins to methodically attack the surgically repaired knee. They throw a commercial break in here and, for what is already going to be a short match, it really breaks the flow.
- Natty's hubby gets in a couple of slick pin attempts, but mostly this match is about Kruger working the knee. He eventually locks the Canadian is his family's finishing move, but before he's forced to tap to the Sharpshooter, Zayn appears at ringside. LK breaks the hold and steps to him, allowing Kidd to flip him into a pin for the victory.
- I guess they're going to use Leo to rebuild Sami for another title shot. That match (or matches) will be great, but Kruger as the gatekeeper to bigger things makes me sad. Almost as sad as I am that there was no Spinebuster in this one.
Kidd defeats Kruger in approximately five and a half minutes via pinfall
Sin Cara Hunico and Camacho are hanging out in alley because that's what non-whites do in Vince's world. Exclusive guy catches up to them and they say things in Spanglish about coming for The Ascension, esé! Sigh...
Bo Dallas (c) vs. Adrian Neville
- The challenger starts with his usual acrobatic assault, and forces the champ to roll out and regroup a couple of times. Bo turns the tide with a dirty elbow that he connects with as the ref is trying to get a break. When they do separate, the cover flies off of the middle turnbuckle. So I guess that's just something that's going to happen now in matches featuring the longest reigning NXT champ.
- The second act of this one is a lot of rest holding. Dallas' wrestling acumen has not caught up with his character work, unfortunately. The Man that Gravity Forgot, on the other hand, looked great in comparison. He and the agents in NXT have definitely addressed earlier concerns I had about meshing his work with the WWE style.
- An avalanche and the springboard bulldog aren't enough for a three count, and when some follow-up knee strikes don't work either, Bo does a great job of looking exasperated with his character as he smiles and shakes his head to the crowd. He screams "Don't Stop Bo-lieving!" before attempted to bring his knees down on Neville from the middle rope. Adrian rolls out of the way and attacks the now sore joint.
- After some kicks to the head force a loopy champion to head to the floor again, The Jumpin' Geordie connects with a moonsault over the top. He shoves Dallas back in and slams him into position for a Red Arrow. Bo escapes out of the ring again, but gets crossbodied from the top rope for it. At the count of nine, Neville slides back into the legal area, but the champ is still out of it on the floor.
- Weird ending - I understand the reasoning, but it was unusual in that Dallas didn't seem to be heelishly taking the countout. Rather he played it like he legitimately couldn't answer the call. It's different, though, and that's good in my book.
Neville defeats Dallas in approximately seven and a half minutes via countout; Dallas retains his NXT championship
Here's the show:
I vacillated on a grade, as there was nothing wrong with the episode, but nothing that I think I'll rewatch, either. I'll go with a weak
as I remain interested and optimistic about almost everything except the tag scene, and the singles stuff I'm concerned about - mostly what's next for Aiden English and if I'll ever get the appeal of Mojo Rawley - isn't anything that derails the show.
Your turn, dear readers.