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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

Ye NXT Chronicle 2.17.14: Wild & Young
Posted by Allenby OBrien on 02.17.2014

Greetings! Welcome to the first-ever edition of Ye NXT Chronicle. I am YOUR host Allenby O'Brien who is renowned across the 411Wrestling comment section as Ice Dagger. One of my primary motivations for applying to write on here was the recommendation of writer Sean Kelly (Awesome Ladybug Girl mark 4-life) so if you want to know who to consider responsible for this, he's your man.

(And…well…apparently nobody else applied to cover NXT so it's all up to me, I suppose.)



[Typically, this section would be me responding to YOUR questions, dear readers, that you've left me in the comments section. But since I obviously don't have any of those yet, I've decided just to do some standardised introductory questions on the basics of the developmental brand.]

What *is* NXT? Isn't it that show with the rookies and challenges?
It was indeed that show. But now it is a proper developmental promotion built up from the remains of Florida Championship Wrestling with its own home arena, titles and storylines. For whatever reason, the WWE just kept the name of its previous C-show that introduced "Rookies" to the audience…well the concept is the same I suppose. But now it's got a permanent home at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.

Okay then. So why would I want to watch it?


Okay, you deserve more than that: among other things NXT is usually a great little hour of wrestling that averages out, at least, to ‘solid' overall. The focus is purely on the performers and it's booked as such, with no excessive recaps to fill time, no shilling polls or footage that's EXCLUSIVELY ON THE WWE APP KING or entire segments glorified commercials for the sponsors*. Instead, you'll see hungry, rising stars working like they've got something to prove, face/heel dynamics that actually take heed of the audience's response, a women's division filled with so much talent that they frequently outshine the men on the show and some truly interesting, outrageous characters as people experiment with what's going to get them over and on to the next level.

* Alright, so that segment where Langston stole Teddy Long's burger was pretty good.

It's just a good old-fashioned wrestling show booked by legend Dusty Rhodes and overseen entirely by Triple H. It has the "cosy" vibe of an independent promotion like ECW, SMW or ROH but with the budget & resources of WWE behind it. Oh, and the crowd? AWESOME. It's like having on the RAWstleMania crowd on EVERY show.

In addition to this, it's a peek into the future of the WWE: both in the obvious way of its roster and the more subtle way of it being a prototype of what a WWE without Vince and having HHH leading it will look like.

And I gotta say: the future's looking pretty bright.

How do I catch-up? Won't I be confused watching a roster full of strangers?

For the most part NXT is really good with getting you up-to-speed on any background necessary without using filler. All of the characters usually make their most important traits known any time they get to cut a promo, so while you might be a little intimidated at first you'll catch up quite quickly.

Along with this, every set of tapings will usually have a couple of stars from the main roster come down to work with the developmental talent. Along with that, several main roster performers have a "second home" as regular parts of NXT: in the opening credits alone you'll spot a few familiar faces.

Plus, there's always the guys who sucked so hard tha…err, "got called up too soon" so they got booted back down to developmental on a permanent basis.

Okay, so you've heaped a lot of praise on the show. Now be honest: what're its downsides?
Well, for one, the show can be hit-and-miss on an episode-by-episode basis. Due to the nature of the tapings (4-5 weeks of shows taped in one evening) means that there is usually 1 episode that feels like a B-show with the "midcard" of NXT being prominent as the top stars of the show rest up between their appearances. The length of the tapings can also lead to the crowd occasionally getting fatigued by the end of the tapings and the last show in a set having a very exhausted audience.

At the present time, the tag division is a bit thin due to injuries so the NXT Tag Team Champions have spent most of their reign squashing jobbers. Along with The American Wolves.

Otherwise, the only real flaw with the show is actually finding a way to watch it.

So how do I watch this show then?
Ah, now this is tricky. I believe it does air in local Florida markets but is otherwise apparently non-existent in the United States otherwise. If you have HULU+ you can access it through their libraries and an article embedding that video will be posted RIGHT HERE ON 411MANIA! in an orderly fashion.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the world HULU+ is inaccessible because apparently the internet is hindered by geography.

The best advice I could give to you would be to check your local listings, starting off with around any other WWE programming on the networks you have as it is usually in the same block. Regardless of where you live, feel free to share the info in the comments section and I'll put it in next week's article.

Failing that you'll just have to WatchWrestling. through oTher aVenues.

(Am I allowed to say that?)


NXT @ Full Sail University (Episode #207: February 12, 2014)

Your announce team for this week is Tom Phillips, Alex Riley & William Regal.

Tom Phillips is the standard model for the WWE main announcer: bland, inoffensive, mildly-nerdy white guy.
> He's already better than Michael ever was.
> As in ‘Cole' not ‘Adamle'. Well…it's both I suppose.

Alex Riley was the Rookie for The Miz all the way back in NXT Season 2. His career highlights include carrying The Miz's bags, botching his own Royal Rumble elimination and cleanly pinning Miz in one of the most boring PPV matches that I've ever seen.
> On commentary he's much like The Miz except even worse. Just utterly terrible all-around.

William Regal is a long-time veteran of not just WWE but professional wrestling as a whole. On commentary, he's soft-spoken with his thick Royal British accent, so he's a treat to listen to. Quick with the wit and always offering insight that somebody with his tenure should.
> Take notes, Lawler.

As per recent tradition Renée Young has joined the commentary booth for the women's match.

Renée Young is a backstage interviewer on the main roster but is a member of the revolving commentary team on NXT. She's actually quite good behind the desk.

Renée Young is about halfway through her first sentence before she starts flirting with Mr. Regal.
> Renée says "I Choo-Choo-Choose You" to her Mr. Regal. Awesome.
Apparently this match is an "initiation" for Alicia Fox to join The BFFs. Renée doesn't think it's a good move for Fox.
> I don't think it's a good move for the faces' faces.

The Beautiful, Fierce Females & Alicia Fox vs. Natalya, Bayley & Emma

Summer Rae you'll recognise from the main roster as the dance partner of *ahem* Faaan…daaahn…goh.
> On
NXT she's a Queen B. who refers to herself as ‘The First Lady of NXT' and is leading the ever-growing faction of the [self-proclaimed] Beautiful, Fierce Females.
Sasha Banks is Northeastern US independent wrestler Mercedes KV and a cousin of Snoop Dogg. Initially she was a babyface with no real personality traits who consistently jobbed out. A few weeks of lectures from Summer Rae inspired her to turn heel and aligning with her to form The BFFs.
> Since then she's basically been a sidekick to The First Lady but has developed the far more remarkable personality of THE BOSS over time.
> Which, incidentally, made her so much hotter.

Alicia Fox is another main roster veteran who has spent some time in NXT as a heel jobber to the [rising] stars.

Accompanying Summer & Sasha is the third and most recent member of The BFFs:

Charlotte is a former gymnast and the daughter of Ric Flair.
> Don't worry, she's already a better wrestler than her brother David ever was.

Their opponents are:

Natalya is a main roster veteran and has consistently been the best wrestler in the women's division by a considerable margin.
> Naturally, her biggest push in years came from being on an E! reality show.

It's…Bayley! She's the SHIMMER Women Athletes jobber Davina Rose. She was also a jobber in NXT with the gimmick of a starstruck super-fan and never won matches until her recent feud with The BFFs.
> Her dinosaur tights are both awesome & adorable.

Emma has just recently made her debut on the main roster. She's an Australian-born woman who's been wrestling almost half her life, starting off with the Australian promotion Professional Wrestling Alliance before training further at the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary…Alberta, Canada.
> After some more time working the independents in both Australia & North America, she was signed to the WWE. Her gimmick of a bubbly, airheaded space-cadet with dance moves that are so bad, they're good has caught on huge at Full Sail and has made her the second-most popular woman on its roster.

All sorts of history here: Summer Rae has effectively been the top heel of the women's division since her first match. Emma defeated her in the semi-finals in the tournament to crown the first-ever NXT Women's Champion. After the tournament, Emma & Summer Rae had an on-again, off-again feud that included mixed tag matches and a dance battle:

NXT Summer Rae vs Emma Dance Battle

(That didn't really have any direct relevance to this match. I just wanted to put it in here somewhere.)

Bayley has the other notable feud here: she was initially BFFs with Charlotte and the two had a few matches with Summer Rae & Sasha Banks, but the two "mean girls" also made overtures of friendship to both Bayley & Charlotte. Eventually, Charlotte would betray Bayley during a tag match and turn heel, aligning with The BFFs. Since then the 3 have been taunting her, but it's only motivated her further. Charlotte has been out with an injury for a couple of months now.

Summer Rae against Emma to start, after Emma wins the 3-way Rock-Paper-Scissors match.
Collar-&-Elbow tie-up to begin with, Emma's attempt at a wristlock gets countered and Summer throws her into the corner to try a splash, but Emma dodges, goes outside and gets 2 with a bizarre sliding roll-up.
During that exchange, a brief inset graphic advertising NXT Arrival pops up.
Emma throws Summer into her home corner and tags in Nattie prompting Summer to RUN screaming into her own and tag in Sasha Banks.

The BOSS starts shoving Nattie around but immediately runs to a neutral corner as soon as Nattie starts getting angry.
Renée: "Canadian girls know how to fire it up."
Irish Whip reversal sends Nattie into the OTHER neutral corner, but she tries the corner slingshot evade over Sasha's head. Sasha, however, sees this coming, runs under her and into the corner before hitting Nattie in the midsection with a back kick. Awesome.
Neidhart with the Owen Hart wristlock escape!
> And then Nattie just DUMPS Sasha with a Sitout variation of the Northern Lights Suplex. No immediate bridge, but Nattie rolls over into a cover. Excellent!

Renée makes the mistake of indulging Alex Riley and asking him about his infatuation with Emma. WHY.
Nattie with a running stomp to Sasha's back (WHAT.) and then another run for a dropkick right to her face.
> Renée openly marks out for that exchange.
A-Ry: "I'd even take [Emma's] last name if we got married."
> Renée mocks Riley for being unmanly. HA!

Nattie gets Sasha in a headlock and travels to her home corner so that Bayley can tag in for a double-team Irish Whip and Hiptoss!
Sasha tags in Alicia Fox.
> Look out for her Scissors Kick! It'll cut your face clean off.

Bayley sends Fox soaring with a Corner Monkey Flip and it does not look like the smoothest of landings.
> Do we put a tally mark in the Alicia Botch column?
Regal: "If you watch enough of the product, you understand, somewhat, how to do it!"
> Real Man's Man puts contrarian "anti-smarks" in their place!
Irish Whip reversal has Fox take Bayley down with a gorgeous Dropkick for TWO.
Fox slaps on a headlock while Renée & Mr. Regal exchange flirty banter before the commercial break.

As we return Summer Rae has Bayley in a Full Nelson/Bodyscissors combo that she rolls over into a Camel Clutch.
Summer attempts to transition it into a Wristlock but Bayley rolls her up for TWO.
Bayley gets a hope spot with a few desperate Forearm Smashes before collapsing. Summer Rae kicks her in the shoulder so hard she rolls into the BFFs' corner.
Renée mentions that Emma is going to challenge Paige for the NXT Women's Championship on NXT Arrival LIVE! on The WWE Network, February 27.
A-Ry: "Nobody more deserving than my little Emma."
> Renée groans in disgust. So do I.
A-Ry: "You're-you're a girl, you're supposed to like stuff like that."
> Gee, can't imagine why he's single.
Renée: "I'm not one of those girls, I think it's a little bit sickening."
> moar leik A-REKT.

Summer facelocks Bayley and drives her into the BFFs' corner. Sasha tags in and just FACEPLANTS Bayley into the mat.
Renée: "I'm not the kind of girl that would like someone to take my own last name. I would like someone to just MAN UP."
> A-Ry getting B-T-F-O.
Sasha runs over into the faces' corner and forearm-smashes Nattie upside her head.
Tom thinks that Regal might be Renée's secret admirer. Regal says that there's nothing secret about it.
Renée: "Mr. Regal, what are you doing for Valentine's Day?"
Regal: "Whatever you wish, my dear."
A-Ry: "I can't believe you're looking right past me to a 40 year-old man over there."
> Regal corrects A-Ry that he's 45 and Renée puts Regal over as WILLIAM REGAL. Eat shit, Riley.

Sasha works a front facelock as the crowd rallies behind Bayley. The BOSS drags her back into the BFFs' corner and Fox tags in.
Regal talks about how his little nieces in Blackpool adore Bayley and Renée says that if she had kids, she would want them to look up to somebody like Bayley.
Fox with a textbook Northern Lights Suplex and bridges it for a nearfall.
A-Ry: "She's really cute, okay, we get that, but she's in there with a former WWE Divas Champion that is BUILT like a Champion."
> The genuine pissy bitterness in his tone is hysterical. Aww, is somebody not used to rejection?
Regal: "Alicia Fox is my favourite Diva as far as actual talent goes, as far as wrestling ability."

Bayley powering out of a front facelock as the crowd chants for her, but Fox pushes her back towards the BFFs' corner of the ring and tries a schoolgirl roll-up for 1. Fox powers Bayley into the corner and Summer tags herself in.
> Bayley is selling so well here.
Summer places Bayley on the middle rope ala the 619, stands on the apron and puts on leg over the back of her neck while striking a ballerina pose. Neat. She breaks before 5 and hip-butts Bayley in the face.

Bayley is CRAWLING to her corner, but Summer cuts her off and sits down cross-legged in front of her. Tremendous!
Summer mocks Bayley right before kicking her in the face. Summer hooks the leg on the cover but only gets 2.
A-Ry tries to make a point about The BFFs not being bullies, but strategists. He stumbles all over his words and can't even get the gender of the pronouns right.
Summer goes for a front facelock, but Bayley starts striking her way out and hits a BAAACK Bodydrop to escape. Bayley & Summer both crawling to their corners for tags, Summer tags in Fox and BAYLEY HOT TAGS EMMA!

Emma takes out Fox with a clothesline and a back elbow, before knocking Sasha AND Summer off the apron.
A-Ry: "Come on, honey!"
Renée: "You're really pushing it here, with Emma."

Alicia Fox cuts off Emma with a Big Boot. She dives into the corner to tag out, but The BFFs are still on the floor. Summer screeches "Forget you!" and the trio walk out on Fox.
Emma with a snap double-leg slam, hooks the leg and turns Fox over, so she can snap on the MUTA LOCK!
> Emma makes it her own by shimmying down as she cinches in the facelock and thrusting her hips as she has the hold applied.
Fox has no choice but to tap out.

RESULT: Emma via tapout (Emma Lock) in 8:25 [shown].
Fun match that got enough time for Bayley to show how great she is in the role of sympathetic babyface. Charlotte was ringside the whole time but was a non-factor. The others all got a decent amount of their stuff in, everything looked good and it was always interesting. It's amazing how the developmental women's division is leagues ahead of the roster stuff: unsurprising, but still amazing.

UP NEXT: Aiden English vs. Colin Cassady

Graphic for The Wyatt Family: eerily, Scott Stanford does NOT commentate over this. DEA-

Hype vignette for the LIVE! NXT Arrival show.
People featured on it include Tyler Breeze, Alexander Rusev & CJ Parker. I guess 2/3 ain't too bad.
It also has a brief highlight reel of Adrian Neville doing a top-rope Senton to the outside, The Ascension hitting Fall of Man, Sami Zayn dropkicking Antonio Cesaro & Tyler Breeze hitting The Beauty Shot.
> It also has Leo Kruger hitting a Spinebuster. UMM…

Aiden English vs. Colin Cassady

Aiden English is another guy who's been in WWE developmental for a few years usually working as a gimmick-less jobber. Recently he's become a self-proclaimed artisté who sings Broadway while dressing [and behaving] like a pretentious theatre actor. He's fantastic.

Colin "Big Cass" Cassady has been in WWE developmental for a few years but only made a name for himself after he started teaming with his real-life childhood friend Enzo and began to develop a personality, including a segment where he showed himself to be a surprisingly gifted singer. He's now one of the more over guys on the show even when Enzo isn't at ringside with him and definitely one to keep an eye on.
> If I didn't know better I'd swear that Big Cass was Edge's giant twin brother.

These two have been feuding lately: it all started when Big Cass and his best friend Enzo Amore came across Aiden English rehearsing backstage. The Realest Guys in The Room made fun of him, with Enzo claiming that Colin could out-sing Aiden any day…so naturally a sing-off between the two was booked.

Since then, Aiden got a win over Big Cass and then cost him another match against Tyler Breeze after appearing on the ‘Tron and insinuating that he would beat up the wheelchair-bound Enzo Amore.
> You can mark that moment down as the one that finally caused the NXT crowd to give Aiden heat, rather than still cheering him despite him being a heel.
Turns out Aiden just threatened Enzo but that was enough to get Big Cass angry and have him cut a surprisingly-excellent serious promo. Big Cass would then come out during Aiden English's match against Tyson Kidd, steal The Artisté's scarf & beret and costs him the victory.

Aiden politely asks for the spotlight:

Everyone's an Artist in their own way…
Everyone's got something they can sing.
At least you all can try,
But I'm the only guy who's in that ring!


Everyone's an Artist in their own way…
But I'm the only one who gets to sing.
And I'm the only one, that does it in…

Some asshat in the crowd actually yells "Change your gimmick!" at him.
At least the people waving their phones like lighters have taste.

Big Cass spells out S-A-W-F-T! while the recap plays.

They lock up and Big Cass immediately powers Aiden into the corner. Cass rears back for a punch, Aiden immediately ducks, covers his face & runs away but Cass was only faking.
Cass follows English into the opposite corner and catches an attempted kick. Cass takes him into the middle of the ring, spins him around, punches him once and then…Irish Whips him back into that corner? Huh.
Regal: "Look at his body! It's like he's carved out of onyx."
> I thought Aiden was showtunes. Not a Rock-type.

Big Cass with a Big Scoop Slam that actually looks GOOD.
> That move is usually my least-favourite in all of wrestling.
Cass covers for 1 and Aiden rolls to the apron.
> Probably not a wise move.
Cass tries to grab Aiden, but he jumps off and hotshots Colin on the top rope.
SWEET Running Spinning Neckbreaker from Aiden and Cass powers out before 2.
> I'd buy that getting elevated to a finisher somewhere down the line.

Aiden hits a trifecta of fist-drops and covers for 2. He yells "No-one embarrasses me!" as the crowd calls him SAWFT.
Aiden does a mocking kiss taunt and tries a legdrop, but Big Cass rolls out.
Regal: "Cauliflowered his derriere there. That's dreadful."

Big Cass LEVELS English with an audible right hand. Hits another one for good measure.
English crawls towards the ropes, but Cass trash-talks with "You ain't goin' nowhere, homeboy!" as he grabs him. Cass drags him into the middle of the ring and keeps his hand on the back of English's neck to keep his head down.
Big Cass goes "Let's sing a tune!" before he fist-pumps while spelling out S-A-W-F-T SAWFT. Crowd joins in, naturally.
> That makes me pine for those brief months where it looked like WWE was actually going to push Zack Ryder.

Colin's post-fist pumping CLUBBERIN' blow is…kinda unimpressive, honestly.
Big Cass just HURLS The Artisté into the ropes and he goes for a Big Boot but English ducks and "Hah-Hah!"-s at him before trying a Crossbody.
Big Cass catches him, but showboats for a little too long and English manages to float out of a slam attempt. Aiden kicks Colin in the back of his knee and DROPS him with the Director's Cut-a Snap Sitout Cobra Clutch Slam[?]–for the 3-count.

RESULT: Aiden English via pinfall (Director's Cut) in 2:21.
Solid little match: both of these guys have such LOUD personalities, so their mannerisms ensure that their matches are always fun to watch. They're both progressing quite nicely as in-ring workers, too.

Crowd is split between cheering "En-core! En-core!" and booing while giving him the thumbs-down.

After the match Aiden blows a mocking kiss at Colin before turning his back and wiping his boots at him.
A-Ry: "You know what Tom, you bright up-you brought up a great point. Every time Aiden English faces Colin Cassady-or at least in the last month-he goes after that knee! And it's always a weakness of Colin Cassady. Very smart."
> A-Ry brings the insight…that somebody else had already stated. And still manages to botch his line.
English states that "You've messed with me for the LAST TIME!" at the top of the ramp, before taking a bow.

I really hope that's not the end of the feud, since all of their segments together have been so great: but with Aiden now 2-0 over Cass there's seemingly no logical way to continue it. A match pitting Enzo against Aiden could work, but it seems that EA is still a few months away from his broken leg healing. If this is the end, though, at least this feud has finally gotten Aiden English some heat from the Full Sail crowd.

Graphic for Sami Zayn calling out Antonio Cesaro.

Sami Zayn enters and heads straight for the middle of the ring.
> Big "OLÉ! OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ! OLÉ, OLÉ!" chant.
> Zayn is rocking a Me First And The Gimme Gimmes shirt.

Sami Zayn was once El Generico and began his career as a luchador in Tijuana before spending a decade wrestling all over the world.
> He is, by far, the most popular babyface in NXT and has had some of its very best matches.

Tom relays Zayn's declaration that he HAS to beat Antonio Cesaro.
Regal: "Don't look at me for any answers. I-I-I've been well-and-truly beat by Antonio Cesaro. I actually think Sami Zayn's mad for wanting this."
> Regal is referring to the bout he had with Cesaro at the end of last year that was not only utterly phenomenal but also, most likely, his retirement match.

Zayn starts off by stating that he's not proud of how many times he's watched his 2/3 Falls Match against Cesaro and how he's been obsessing over the fact that he lost.

Zayn: "My entire career has been about moving forward. It's about moving on to the next challenge and for the first time in my career, I'm stuck. I can't. I'm stuck on a moment and the sickest part of it all is that I can't even pinpoint what that moment is. No matter how many times I watch that footage, I just can't…figure it out. Because I was a breath away, a moment away, from winning the most important match of my career and STILL, I can't figure out where I went wrong."
> Why is that cover of Running Up That Hill by Placebo playing in my head right now?

Antonio Cesaro interrupts!

Antonio Cesaro is, of course, a Real American on the main roster.

Antonio doesn't even wait for his music to cut out before beginning his promo.
> That wailing siren girl in the crowd who's been obnoxious through this entire set of tapings is going off again. At least her taste's has improved to somebody better than the likes of Bo Dallas, CJ Parker or Mason Ryan.

It's already been alluded to, but these two have been intertwined since Sami first arrived: Zayn made his debut pinning Curt Hawkins while on that same show Antonio crushed Yoshi Tatsu (yes, both of those guys are still under WWE contract) then issued an open challenge. Zayn came out and got a flash pin on Cesaro meaning that his debut show had him pin TWO former holders of titles in WWE.
> You are now remembering that Curt Hawkins was once a WWE Tag Team Champion.
Naturally Cesaro was incensed by this and demanded a rematch which he won, then slapped Zayn afterwards for good measure. So obviously a rubber match had to happen and down in NXT we do rubber matches the old fashioned way: 2/3 Falls! An incredible match ensued that Cesaro won after countering Zayn's Tornado DDT attempt into a SICKENING European Uppercut and polishing him off with The Neutralizer.
> According to Chris Hero that match was so tremendous that it even managed to make Paul E-C-F'N-W Heyman's jaw drop in astonishment. High praise considering all of the utterly insane stuff he's seen first-hand throughout his career.

Antonio pleads with Sami to stop, while he utterly ROCKS a suit that makes him look like The Most Money-Making Man.
Cesaro: "It's actually starting to sound a little pathetic, okay? But let me answer that last question for you really quick while I'm here: there was…NEVER a moment. There was, there was no breath, there was no second, there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that you could've done that would've made ANY difference WHAT-SO-EVER. That match…was ALWAYS…mine to win. Just get over it. I'm better than you."
> DAMN. Cesaro plays the arrogant heel so well.

Cesaro agrees with Sami that he's driving himself crazy by obsessing with this match.
> A pocket of the crowd starts a "One More Time!" chant, but Cesaro immediately cuts them off and tells them to let him finish.

Cesaro: "Sami, Sami, Sami. Couple of facts for you: *I* am better, than *you*. That doesn't mean, that doesn't mean, you won't, you won't have a great career. YOU…will have a great career. DOWN…here."
> Crowd immediately "Ooooohs" at that one.
Cesaro: "No no no no no no! Sami, you can beat any competitor that you want…you just can't beat me."

Cesaro alludes to their time on the indies and re-iterates to Sami that he should just Get Over It…before slyly implying that Sami views the match is a crystallisation of his entire career, his entire life: "Close…but no cigar."
> Cesaro's mocking hand gestures during this entire segment have been masterful.

Zayn: "Well, uh, thank you Dr. Cesaro for that, uh, Freudian psychoanalysis of my inner psyche, you know, you seem to know me pretty well. You know, but I know you pretty well and whether these people realise it or not, we go back a very long way. And not just to the 2/3 Falls Match and not just to my debut in NXT, I'm talking about years-and-years ago all over the world. And the truth is, and I've said before and I'll say it again, I respect you. From the moment I met you, until now, you have been nothing but a workhorse."
> Crowd immediately applauds.

Sami goes on to say that Cesaro is on RAW & SmackDown!, on live events all over the country, all over the world. That Cesaro is HERE even when he doesn't have to be here and when other people are *not* here, because Cesaro is a true competitor.
Zayn: "You'll fight anyone, anywhere, at any time and yet…you won't fight me. So why is that?"
> Crowd thinks it's because Cesaro is SAWFT.

Cesaro conveys increasing anger, as he re-iterates that he's better than Zayn and doesn't understand why Sami won't just accept it.
Cesaro: "How many more times do I have to beat you until you realise that?"
Zayn: "Just, hey! Just once! Just one more time! ONE MORE TIME! You prove it to me and you prove it to yourself!"
> What is it with Canadians and wanting ONE…MORE…MATCH?
> Crowd agrees with him though, as the "ONE MORE TIME!" chant starts up again.

Zayn: "And hey, if you beat me, you're just proving to yourself what you already know, already, which is that Antonio Cesaro's so much better than Sami Zayn. OR…maybe it won't go down like that. And maybe…maybe you're afraid? Yeah. Maybe you're afraid because you know you bring out the best in me and I bring out the very best in YOU. And maybe you're afraid that you at your very best, can't beat Sami Zayn one more time."

Cesaro laughs that off and mockingly asks that his best's not good enough, before asking Sami how "that little knee" is doing.
> The subtle, sinister change of tone in Cesaro's voice is brilliant.
Zayn says he's fine, but Cesaro asks if his knee is medically cleared with perfect insincerity.
Zayn re-iterates that his knee will be just fine and that Cesaro doesn't need to worry.

Cesaro: "I'm asking you…man…to man. Do YOU give me your word that IF I accept, to one last match, there'll be NO excuses…when I beat you…again?"
> Crowd applauds again while Sami crosses his heart, offers a handshake and gives his word.
> A "PIN-KY PRO-MISE!" chant. Tremendous!
> Zayn actually obliges and extends his pinky! Brilliant.
> Cesaro follows his lead and the "YES! YES! YES!" chant fires up.

Cesaro: "My answer…is still no!"
> Cesaro throws the mic into Sami and storms out.

The music of Triple H interrupts!

Triple H, despite whatever angle is playing out with The Authority on the main roster, mostly been a face on NXT for the last few months.
> If for no reason other than him sounding like a proud father whenever he talks about the brand.

HHH actually gets cut off by a "BEST FOR BUS-INESS!" chant only a few words into his promo.

HHH: "Here's the thing Cesaro: maybe…maybe YOU don't want this match, but it seems to me…like THEY do. And more importantly than that: *I* do."
> He's never been more candid with the audience!
> HHH is proceeding down the ramp and is moving closer to Cesaro as his promo goes on.

HHH: "And while it clearly doesn't seem like Sami Zayn's knee is 100% right now…I have it on real good Authority that it will be by February 27."
> At this point HHH is literally whispering in Cesaro's ear.

HHH: "Which means that, on February 27th, right here LIVE at Full Sail University…and LIVE on the WWE Network…Antonio Cesaro WILL face…Sami Zayn. Because THAT…is Best-for-Business."

February 27, NXT Arrival, Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro: One. More. Time.

Obviously, this match getting booked is amazing. A little miffed that HHH had to stick his nose in it, though, instead of it coming about for an organic reason. But in fairness I can't really think of a way for Cesaro to accept that challenge and have it make sense for his character to do so.
> It is also unclear if this is a straight-up singles match or another 2/3 Falls Match. I really want it to be the latter.

Replay of the graphic for The Wyatt Family.

Hype video for WrestleMania/Elimination Chamber which seems kind of tepid and wannabe-epic.
> I honestly wonder if anything on either of those cards will be as good as Zayn/Cesaro.
> DISCLAIMER: I am in no way doubting the skills of the main roster…performers. The creative team, on the other hand…

Tye Dillinger vs. CJ Parker

Wow. Talk about your highs and lows: we go from the very best of the brand to the absolute bottom.

Tye Dillinger is a former WWE developmental talent who was known as Gavin Spears during his blink-and-you-missed-it run on the main roster back in 2008.
> Somehow, his new name is even worse than his previous one. And he looks like a low-rent substitute for Davey Richards.

CJ Parker has been in WWE developmental for a few years and is unfortunately NOT the silicone-stuffed Baywatch lifeguard but is instead "The Moonchild", the world's most intolerable hippie.
> The gimmick and his portrayal of are both so, so awful that he might just be the most despised performer in NXT at this point in time.
> I am fully aware of what I just said and I completely BO-lieve it.

Parker is ostensibly a babyface but has lately been suffering a breakdown due to fan rejection. It's clearly leading to a heel turn, much like Bret Hart in 1997.
> …which is the only possible way that anybody could ever liken CJ Parker to Bret Hart.
CJ Parker receives so much disdain from the fans that the chant "PUR-PLE DYE!" in support of the jobber.

Lock-up has Dillinger & Parker trade wristlock attempts, then Tye takes CJ down with a drop-toehold and slides into a front facelock.
> Crowd applauds, cheers and chants "PUR-PLE PO-WER!" in support.
> I almost feel bad for CJ Parker. And then I remember how dreadful he is.

Dillinger floats over into a hammerlock, but Parker takes them both to their feet and escapes with a snapmare. He hits a Senton and the crowd BOOS.
CJP starts up an Airplane Spin.
> Crowd is so enthralled that they briefly start up the "BO-RING" chant, but quickly drop it for just booing. Then they drop that for silent apathy.

CJP raises his arm up to signal for his finisher and hits the Third Eye square in Dillinger's forehead. Yes. His finisher is a palm thrust to the forehead. Absolutely fucking terrible.

RESULT: CJ Parker via pinfall (Third Eye) in 1:29.
It's never a good sign when the jobber looks more impressive than the guy who's squashing him, but that's exactly what happened here. Tye showed some decent mat work, while Parker did his usual junk that wasn't getting over months ago. At least it was short.

Selfish as it is, I still think that there are dozens of former developmental or ALMOST main roster cast-offs who should've been re-signed before Gavin Spears. Perhaps you guys can suggest some developmental guys who you'd like to see back in the comments? And since Dillinger is a grey area, you can list people who made it as far as ECW on Sci-Fi or NXT Rookie status as well.
> Remember Eric Escobar?

Parker grabs the mic. Oh no.
CJ: "WHY…don't you people love me?"
> Reminds me of the pre-match skit for the Title Defense version of Super Macho Man in the latest Punch-Out!! game. And now I'm thinking that even a video game character has a better chance of making a name for themselves in WWE than CJP does.
> On that aside: the new Smash Bros. is FINALLY going to have Little Mac in it!

CJP: "Do you know what I do for you? Do you know what I do for OUR world? I reduce, I reuse, I recycle! You're lookin' at a guy who scoots around in a fuel-efficient 2013 Ford Fiesta that gets 40 miles to the gallon! Because I care…about Mother Earth. And you people, you sheeple, you BOO me…for that. I should be booing you! You're the ones meltin' my polar ice caps! You're the ones burnin' a hole in my ozone. You're cuttin' down my trees! You're poachin' all my animals! You're spillin' oil all over the place! This world's goin' down the tubes, and it's the NXT universe's fault."
> Crowd starts up the USA chant for this. Uh…

CJP: "Because you are incapable of loving. You don't love The Moonchild, you don't love the world…and you don't…love…yourselves. From this moment forward: The Moonchild don't love you…neither."
> Crowd actually cheers & applauds that one, but boos him on his way out.

This took longer than expected, but at least NXT is finally putting CJ Parker in alignment with his crowd reactions. A heel take on his gimmick is rather unique and as far as I know, unprecedented in wrestling on any major stage. I'm interested to see who his first feud is with, because the NXT roster doesn't have any immediately-obvious foil to him.
> Using the phrase "
sheeple" was a nice touch: because who DOESN'T want to boo the dickhead who says that?

UP NEXT: The Wyatt Family.

Ad for the Shawn Michaels: Mr. WrestleMania DVD. I would love to have all of his stuff in one simple package, but I own most of those matches already.
> And to think: this year we could've had the Boyhood Dream come true for Daniel Bryan. But nah, let's cater to the mid-life crisis of Big Dave instead.


Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. Marcus Louis & Jason Jordan

Of course, you recognise The Wyatt Family from their main roster run that has, so far, gone better than anybody could've dreamed with only a couple of minor hiccups.
> Daniel Wyatt anyone? NO! NO! NO!
However, before they were up there, they were down in NXT. Harper & Rowan made it to the finals of the tournament to crown the first-ever NXT Tag Team Champions but lost out to British Ambition in an excellent match. That didn't deter them, though: not long afterwards Oliver Grey went down with an injury, so his partner Adrian Neville picked a substitute in Bo Dallas.
…and in that team first's defense, miscommunication lead to the Wyatts dominating them and cleanly winning the Tag Titles. The Wyatts would hold the gold for almost 50 days before losing to Adrian Neville and his new makeshift partner Corey Graves with the assistance of Sheamus.
> It also seemed like we were headed to Bray Wyatt challenging for the NXT Championship but that never came to be. He did have a sweet match with Chris Jericho as a main event one week, but.
> Harper has also made a few re-appearances since then, feuding with Kassius Ohno. Their blow-off match was great and the promo vignette that Harper gave to hype it up was fantastically serial killer-esque.

Oh, and as for the other guys? They're jobbers who surface every once in a while. But they have music & video as well as names, so it seems like they'll get more defined roles sooner-or-later. In particular Jason Jordan has shown some impressive athleticism.

HUGE pop for the Wyatts. As far as I know their appearance was an unadvertised surprise, but even so, they've been massively over in NXT for close to a year now.
Meanwhile, jobber non-entrance for Louis & Jordan.
> So we're not even bothering with any kind of pretense, here.

Crowd is already giving the Wyatts the "WEL-COME BACK!" chant ala The ECW Arena.
Harper just manhandles Louis and shoves him into their corner so that Rowan can tag in.
> Regal says that the Wyatts are nightmares that have become real.

Rowan just pounds him down and then throws Louis overhead for the Fallaway Slam.
> HEY-YO! I've always liked that move.
Rowan continues just beating on Louis in the corner while Harper tags in. Rowan Irish Whips Harper into the opposing team's corner so he can elbow smash J-J while Rowan splashes Louis before Irish Whipping him right into Harper's Discus Clothesline.
> Louis is DEA-

RESULT: Harper via pinfall (Discus Clothesline) in 59 seconds.
S-Q-U-A-S-H. SQUASH! Jason Jordan never even tagged in…but he did get tagged by Harper.

Bray orders his Family to retrieve Jason Jordan so that Bray can hit him with Sister Abigail. Harper & Rowan pile the bodies.

Bray: "Grown men tremble…by the sounds of our footsteps! Souls cry, at the mere thought of our presence being felt! This world…has already been laid victim to ALL MY POISONS! But we have never forgotten…where we came from. NXT has, and always will, belong…to the Wyatt…Family. FOLLOW…the Buzzards."
> I don't really understand what the purpose of this was beyond big-time popping the crowd, unless we're going to see the Wyatts back in NXT more often. Still, a promo from Bray is always a winner.

A solid-but-unspectacular episode of NXT this week. Though only the women's trios match and Aiden/Big Cass were anything beyond squashes, a few angles were advanced: Emma's dominance over the women's division, The BFFs being clique-y bitches, Aiden's feud with The Realest Guys in The Room and CJ Parker's long-overdue heel turn.

Plus, the Zayn/Cesaro rematch was officially booked!

And of course, a Wyatt Family appearance is always welcome. More of that, please: maybe have them start recruiting?

Aiden English quoting Captain Hammer!
> Objectively, though: it's the women's trios match.

CJ Parker wrestling.
> Triple H stealing a bit of the shine from Zayn/Cesaro is a close second.

While the absence of all of the champions made it feel a little bit like a B-show, it was never boring…outside of CJ Parker's offense.
> Special props to the crowd for still being quite lively this week, despite this episode being at the end of a set of tapings.


- LIVE! NXT on The WWE Network
The biggest news development for NXT in recent times is the launch of The WWE Network. At the commencement of the January set of tapings Triple H announced that The WWE Network will broadcast a special LIVE! Episode of NXT on February 27 titled NXT Arrival.

So far it's only a one-off for now, but this is by far the biggest opportunity that any WWE developmental territory has ever gotten. I would imagine that the top brass (AKA: Vince) will be paying considerable attention to this broadcast of HHH's pet project and in particular use it more than ever as a gauge of who to call up to the main roster next.

- The EMMA-lution Begins!
Recently WWE shows have been pointing out that NXT superstar Emma is in the crowd, holding up EMMA-pun signs and dancing. The commentators have even name-checked her, which has led to her debut on the main roster as a partner of Santino's in a feud with Fandango & Summer Rae.

Emma made her debut on the November 28 episode of NXT and would slowly integrate the characteristics of a bubbly, wacky-dancing klutz into her persona: needless to say, like most charmingly silly things in wrestling, it has become very popular with the crowd.

I see Emma becoming a major player in the WWE women's division sooner rather than later. She's turning 25 this year, but already has over a decade of experience to make her a seasoned, well-travelled veteran who is more than capable of carrying less-skilled performers: which in her case, is basically every Diva on the WWE main roster besides Natalya & AJ. Her goofy dancing gimmick is stacks of fun, her in-ring style is unorthodox (especially compared to the usual fare in the WWE women's division) and her accent will be charming to the majority of the WWE audience.

I'll further elaborate on Emma in a future column.

- American Pitbulls have gone to the dogs
At the last set of NXT tapings in 2013, independent tag team The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie "Eddie Edwards" Edwards) wrestled on the tapings as "The American Pitbulls" Derek Billington & John Cahill responding to the open challenge made by NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension. Unlike most of The Ascension's opponents, The American Pitbulls got to use music, names & offense, with their appearance supposedly being a real-life tryout match for WWE contracts.

Unfortunately, the American canines did not receive a contract apparently due to a scary blown spot where Viktor dropped Davey Richards and he landed right on his head. Supposedly, HHH told the referee to instruct the competitors to immediately go home, but instead the match continued for a few more minutes and stuck to the planned finish. Apparently disobeying these orders cost the Pitbulls their WWE contracts.

While it's always a shame to see talent not get signed, disobeying direct instructions from the boss during a tryout match hardly gave off a good first impression. Especially since the NXT tag division is rather thin right now due to injuries and it seems that if they were signed The American Pitbulls would've been the ones to dethrone The Ascension for the NXT Tag Team Championships. But as they're both only 30, odds are we'll see them again a couple of years down the line.

I certainly hope that we do see…one Eddie "John Cahill" Edwards in NXT again.


Bo Dallas

FROM: Brooksville, Florida
WEIGHT: 230lbs
HEIGHT: 6'1"
BORN: May 25, 1990 (23 years old)
> Belly-to-Belly Suplex
> Spear
> 1-time NXT Champion (current)
> 1-time NXT Tag Team Champion (sort-of)

+ Great at bumping/selling/psychology
+ Amusing heel schtick
+ Matches are passable-at-worst, excellent-at-best

− Often flubs promos (and not in the good way)
− Unimpressive build
− ALREADY has Go-Away Heat: may struggle to get over conventionally

Bo Dallas won the very first match on the very first episode of NXT at Full Sail. So clearly the WWE has big plans for him. And it's not hard to see why: he's a 3rd-generation wrestler, the son of Mike "Irwin R. Schyster" Rotunda and the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan (which also makes him a nephew of the Windham brothers, Barry & Kendall) as well as having a brother currently on the main WWE roster. Even before the NXT overhaul, he was a 3x FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion and a 2x FCW Florida Tag Team Champion so the WWE has obviously had their eye on him for some time. Well, his entire career, actually: he's a product completely made by the WWE system, trained from Day 1 by FCW and wrestling every match of his 5-year career had under WWE contract.

You might recall him from his brief call-up last year where he entered the Royal Rumble and eliminated Wade Barrett to start a brief feud with the Intercontinental Champion…which was quietly cancelled after WWE realised that Bo was nowhere near ready for the main roster and got sent back down into developmental (where he actually had a blow-off match with Wade Barrett which I'll talk about some other time) until he was actually ready. So they've already made quite the investment into him.

Unfortunately…so far, the investment hasn't really paid off. There are quite a few guys with backgrounds and levels-of-experience similar to his that have already gone far beyond the level that he's at (SEE: the Intercontinental Champion) in far less time. Compared to several of his contemporaries Bo just seems to lag behind. That's not to say he's a bad wrestler: he's shown himself to be more-than-capable of holding his own against the best that he's been put up against. But that's ALL he does: he never seems to excel and it really just feels like he's a thoroughly average performer who can almost wrestle up to the level of top-tier workers…but not quite. He rarely has a bad match, but for the most part it's up to his opponent to determine how good his matches will be. Inversely Bo has shown himself to be able to ‘take care of' less-experienced workers, so there's always a chance he might grow into something better and being that he'll only be turning 24 this year it's not like he's lacking the time to do so.

Oh, that brother of his that I mentioned earlier? BRAY WYATT. So you can see that Bo's family legacy of excellence hasn't skipped a generation.

However, the biggest issue with Bo is this: despite only working in developmental (besides the handful of TV matches that he had on the main roster) he has already garnered Go-Away Heat from the audience somewhat akin to the reaction Cena receives from certain portions of the crowd. For a similar reason, too: Bo played a smiling, baby-kissing, fat girl-hugging babyface (like Kurt Angle during his WWF debut but without the deliberate irony) to the extent where it came off as insincere and nauseating. So the crowds in Florida started booing him. This went on for several shows until (and this is where he & Cena diverge) he actually started turning heel in a masterfully subtle way. It started out with him being chosen by Adrian Neville as the substitute NXT Tag Team Champion for his injured partner. The first title defense ended with them losing the belts to The Wyatt Family after miscommunication between the two. After this Bo won a #1 Contenders' Battle Royal for a title shot against the NXT Champion by last eliminating Neville. Bo had a match against Big E Langston, the NXT Champion, who was undefeated going into their match. Bo won the title after ramming Langston's chest into an exposed turnbuckle…twice. And then over-celebrated in cheeseball fashion.

Since that win he's been increasingly avoiding legitimate challengers & retaining his title through cheap finishes while still keeping his saccharine persona. Needless to say the NXT audience hates his guts.

The current NXT Champion doesn't feel close to a finished (or even solidified) product, but it appears that he's advanced about as far as he can in developmental and there's really not much left for him to do down there besides drop the title and feud with one or two of his successors.

At the very least, though, I have to give him props for coming back to wrestling after LACERATING HIS KIDNEY. That's insane.

Ready for WWE? Yes?

Despite the numerous complaints anybody would have about him, he's ready for a call-up. Even if it's only for no other reason than him no longer being able to get anything out of developmental. He'll be sink-or-swim on the main roster either as a genuine babyface that he was or the meta-heel that he currently is. I could see him being a consistent midcard jobber-to-the-stars but don't really envision that he'll make it far beyond that unless he REALLY steps it up.


Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro - 2/3 Falls Match {August 22, 2013}
Here it is in all its glory: and in just over a fortnight, we get to see their rematch.


Wilcox is on the Top Rope.
Hammerlock sinks the 8-Ball.
Sforcina has the all the answers with Ask411.
Dino is a Smart Mark.
Chin leads the Magnificent 7.

In his mind, this is what Aiden English was doing to Big Cass after their match.

Until NXT time…


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