Review: NXT 12/06/2013
This week's NXT put the rest of WWE to shame. Where Raw can bore you to death for three hours at a time and never feature any real action, NXT somehow condensed four entertaining matches into fourty five minutes. No fat, no filler, all business.
Kicking things off was a rematch from several weeks ago, Antonio Cesaro vs Sami Zayn. For casual viewers, this was simply a main roster superstar looking for some payback against a rookie who scored a fluke victory. However, for anyone with knowledge of the independent scene, this match was a real treat, featuring two Ring of Honor alums plying their trade like only they know how. Forget this being a developmental show, Cesaro and Zayn were so polished throughout the course of this match, Vince McMahon could've booked it on Raw or Smackdown without a moment's hesitation. These two are future World Champions and their feud officially has me hooked. Cesaro, clearly frustrated with his initial defeat, came after Zayn like a bull in a china shop. The sheer ferocity of Cesaro's offense didn't give Zayn much room to maneuver, but the former El Generico picked his spots well. Most notably, his over the top rope dive and an insane Destroyer. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough to put the Swiss-natural down, landing a nasty uppercut on a mid-air Zayn and taking advantage of his opponent's impaired senses to hit the Neutralizer. I can't stress how impressed I was by this match and I foresee big things for both parties.
Next up, there was tag team action with Scott Dawson & Garrett Dylan vs Baron Corbin & Travis Tyler. Before either team hit the ring, manager Slyvester Lefort cut a brief promo, declaring Dawson & Dylan to be the next NXT Tag Team Champions. I'm not entirely sure how Lefort's pompous French gimmick lines up with the trailer park trash of Dawson & Dylan, but the team themselves made a convincing argument for a title shot, as they systematically destroyed poor Travis Tyler. Dawson & Dylan made impressive use of their corner, rarely straying to the other side of the ring. On commentary, William Regal was making comparisons with the Four Horsemen and it's hard to disagree. This was a clear squash match, with the opposing team landing barely an iota of offense. Tyler took the majority of the beating and rightfully so, as his look and move set were utterly atrocious. Corbin wasn't much better, getting the hot tag late in proceedings and fumbling an action as simple as an Irish whip. Eventually, Dawson & Dylan hit a double team combo of a spinebuster into a double axe-handle, at which point a pinfall was a mere formality. I was highly impressed by the winners, but sorely disappointed by the one-sided nature of the contest. I'll be interested to see how the team fares against actual competition.
In the first round of a tournament to decide the new NXT Women's Champion, we had Bayley vs Alicia Fox. This was my first exposure to Bayley and I was immediately taken aback at just how wide-eyed and innocent the girl came across. Those facets are difficult to convey, but she managed them with aplomb. Her character is simply happy to be there, regardless of what happens in the course of the match. Exemplified by her handshake with former Divas Champion Fox, which resulted in the most awkward forced hug in the history of stalking. Bayley had Fox pinned in the corner and wasn't about to let go. Strangely, none of this was the actual wrestling match! Alicia took control relatively early and rarely let up. There was a momentary comeback, when Alicia offended Bayley's fangirl sensibilities, rousing the crazy woman inside. But this was quickly shot down with a worryingly sloppy scissor kick from Fox, which gave the former Champion the pinfall and advancement in the tournament. I've never been a fan of Fox and this match did nothing to change my mind. She's always struck me as one of Vince's ill-prepared glamour models, but even they would out-do Fox with some of the moves performed here. Frankly, I'm far more interested in seeing new talent progress in this Championship tournament, not down-on-their-luck divas. Fingers crossed Paige makes short work of her in the Semi-Finals.
Last but not least was our NXT Title match, Big E Langston vs Bo Dallas. Largely played as a David vs Goliath battle, I'm beyond amused that this David is actually bigger than his Goliath. Bo Dallas stands at an intimidating 6'1, towering over poor Big E at 5'11, yet Big E is the one treated like the monster. The match was dominated from start to finish by the self-proclaimed 'Master of the Five Count', hitting a number of impressive power moves on the ailing Dallas. When the challenger would finally make a comeback, it was a nigh-impossible feat to topple the planted Champion. On the surface, this title defense was mere exercise for Langston, playing out almost identically to his past victories. The only difference this time being Dallas' loosening of a turnbuckle, which the hyperactive man-child used to great effect, ramming the Champion into the corner multiple times, before hitting a powerslam for the fluke victory. Despite solid booking, the finish was performed rather poorly on Dallas' part. He fumbled with the turnbuckle for an extremely long time and still couldn't get it entirely off, necessitating the repetition of Langston's blow to the head. Going forward, Dallas will make for a massively different NXT Champion compared to the likes of Seth Rollins and Big E Langston. Where the former Champions had the benefit of natural talent raising them to the top of the roster, Dallas is an immediate underdog, holding the title merely through the luck of the draw. How long he can hold onto the Championship remains to be seen.
8 out of 10