WWE NXT is a very straight forward wrestling program with some quality matches and an introduction to new talent. This week, we were given a very special edition of WWE NXT with a classic match as well as featuring some interesting characters that demonstrated potential and left a great impression on me.
First we had a Divas Championship match between AJ Lee and Bayley. I enjoyed this bout because both women play unique characters. AJ Lee can be emotionally unstable at times and Bayley is a star struck diva who is often enamored by her peers and fellow wrestlers. This is a great character as it can lead Bayley’s opponent to underestimate Bayley’s abilities. Bayley started the match by seeking to hug AJ which appeared to bother AJ. There was some great back and forth with Bayley starting to get the upper hand on AJ. Bayley even used a bear hug to both show affection and wear down her opponent, some subtle storytelling. The finish fed off the start as Bayley demonstrated some compassion and checked in on AJ after she hit her with the knee. AJ was able to capitalize on this and pick up the victory. Bayley was impressive and AJ continues to get better with each in-ring performance. I tweeted out that the WWE NXT Divas division is a bright spot for the women’s division future as not only Bayley, but Emma, Summer Rae and Paige all look promising.
Next up we had the Ascension versus Ron Hicks and Michael Zaki. It was a typical tag team jobber match, with the Ascension dominating and picking up the victory. I like the look of the Ascension and their dark characters. I do think that Conor O’Brian and Rick Viktor should have gimmicked names similar to that of Hawk & Animal or Ax & Smash. The main roster’s tag team division has room for expansion and it will be a matter of time before the Ascension is called up to the main roster. They made need further seasoning, but it appears that this team would be far more over than Los Matadores.
There was another jobber match with CJ Parker picking up the victory. I wasn’t overly impressed with Parker. Tyler Breeze came out to confront Parker for photo bombing his cell phone picture. The only aspect I enjoyed was Breeze calling Parker a “Lenny Kravitz wannabe” and then high tailing it from the ring when Parker attempted to punch him in the face.
Next up we had special guest Dolph Ziggler compete in a match. His opponent was Alexander Rusev who had been absent for some time from NXT television. I really like Rusev’s look. He certainly looks like a cartoon brute come to life, I would say a combination of the Street Fighter characters E. Honda and Zangief. The commentators noted that Rusev has a background in both Muay Thai and Sumo wrestling. Rusev couldn’t ask for a better opponent than Ziggler who sold Rusev’s slams and hits beautifully. I was impressed with Rusev’s athleticism for a man his size especially his spinning heel kick. Rusev made one mistake, by attempting a splash from the top rope with nobody home. Ziggler hit the Zigzag for the win, but it was Rusev who stood out despite defeat. In reading some spoilers for future tapings, it appears Rusev is going to be regularly featured on NXT television which will keep me tuned in.
Our main event was the 2/3 Falls Match between Antonio Cesaro and Sami Zayn. After its original taping date, there were many who praised this match as one of the best of the year. When you have to wait a few weeks to watch a “match of the year” you place high expectations on the match it can be hard to live up to the hype. This match absolutely lived up to its praise and expectation. I strongly encourage anyone to check out this match because it was an instant classic. I will recap some of my favourite spots. I loved the opening spot of Zayn taking it to Cesaro early on and surprising Cesaro with a quick pin to which he gets the three count and the first fall. This was exciting and logical and led to Cesaro picking up his offense as he knew Zayn had come to play. The second fall was equally intriguing. Cesaro had the chin lock sinked in so viciously and convincingly. Cesaro even showcased his strength by spinning Zayn while having the chin lock still applied. This took a toll on Zayn who tapped out knowing that any more damage and he would immediately lose the second fall as well. Some other tremendous spots include Cesaro’s superplex to Zayn who was on the apron. This showcased the strength of Cesaro to hoist a man from outside on the apron while standing on the second rope (A written description does not provide the full effect, yet another reason to watch.) Zayn then hit an incredible Tornado DDT (click the image above). Zayn and Cesaro were both outside the ring. Zayn then ran/flew through the turnbuckle and bottom rope and hit a Tornado DDT on Cesaro while in mid-air, a move that defied gravity. For the final fall we see Zayn attempt what appears to be a DDT attempt or front facelock. Cesaro then hoists up Zayn and almost drops him but Cesaro’s strength is showcased here as he holds up Zayn and walks around the ring and then tosses Zayn in the air and hits his patented European uppercut as Zayn comes down. Cesaro then wastes no time and hits the Neutralize for the second and final fall for the victory. The fans chanted “Match of the Year” and gave both men a standing ovation a deserving recognition of the efforts of both men. All in all, another fun and quality wrestling edition of WWE NXT.