A good Divas tag match pits the future against the present when NXT takes on WWE. Will The Ascension keep Corey Graves’ NXT Tag Title belt? Sami Zayn seeks revenge on the other Real American, Jack Swagger.
Match 1: Bayley & Charlotte vs Alicia Fox & Aksana
Winners: Bayley & Charlotte via pinfall
So two NXT Divas vs two WWE Divas (well, technically). Interesting.
Bayley starts it with Aksana and is thrilled that the crowd is behind her. Aksana offers a hug but delivers a knee to the gut, then hits a side slam on the over-innocent Bayley. Aksana crawls around Bayley and lollipops her with a kick, then drops a pair of elbows for a nearfall. Fox tags in and hits a dropkick for two as Charlotte cheers her partner on. Fox takes Bayley to the corner then hits her northern lights suplex for two. Aksana tags back in and boots away at Bayley, then tags Fox in for one of her own. Back to Aksana and Bayley gets tossed to the mat. Aksana quickly stops Bayley’s attempt to fight up from the mat and keylocks her. Bayley elbows up but gets floored by the stronger Aksana again. Bayley is thrown to the turnbuckle yet again, then choked (which Charlotte points out quite audibly) by Aksana’s boot. Bayley grabs Aksana in a tight hug and takes her over in a belly to belly, allowing tags to Charlotte and Fox. Charlotte comes out of the gate with Charlotte’s Web, then flips out to the apron and takes the old Flair top rope toss spot, rolling to her feet and hitting a clothesline for two. Charlotte takes Fox up in a fireman’s carry and Bayley tags herself in, which apparently makes Charlotte drop Fox. Bayley apologizes and gets taken to the opposite corner – Fox tries a yakuza kick and takes out Aksana, leading to Bayley cradling Fox for the win.
Lefort, Rusev and Dawson are in the back talking about someone’s hair. Lefort wants revenge on Mason Ryan and says that he and Dawson have Rusev’s back. Rusev breaks a “Mason” board over his knee and Lefort is giddy…because they’ll make MONEY. And go to Sizzler, which is Dawson’s favorite. Ok, I’m sold on this one.
Match 2: Rick Victor vs Corey Graves
Winner: Corey Graves via pinfall
Victor still has one of the NXT Tag Team Title belts, which is what Graves will end to get back tonight.
Graves throws his vest at Victor and takes him down at the legs, then puts the boots to him. Victor is taken to the opposite corner head first and Graves lights him up, only to walk into a boot to the injured ribs. Graves chokes Victor in the ropes and trash talks O’Brian, leading to an exchange of strikes in the ring. Victor runs into a back elbow but kicks out at one. Graves begins to work on the leg but ends up with a front chancery. Victor powers up up and pressures Graves into the corner, aiming at the injury. Graves manages a suplex and a two count, then punches at a kneeling Victor, pausing to show him his STAYDOWN knuckle tats (yeesh). Victor misses a clothesline and Graves hits a crossbody, which takes more out of him. O’Brian laughs about it from the floor and Victor goes back to the ribs with boots, then blatantly raking the face of the Tag Champ. They trade rights until Victor catches a kick from Graves and he gives him the old Jeff Hardy twistykick. Victor elevates Graves and drops him rib first on the top rope and he tumbles to the floor, leading to commercial.
Back to action, Victor drops a jumping elbow and gets two. Graves fights out of a corner with a flurry and eventually Sting’s punch/backfist bit. He then hits a shortarm STO (A-Ry thinks this is a clothesline and that bugs me so much more than it should) and a fistdrop. Graves signals for a chop block before Neville literally sprints across the ring and mule kicks O’Brian off the apron, followed by a plancha (yes, this is still a singles match). Victor takes advantage of the distraction and tries a fireman’s carry move, but Graves rolls it into a small package to win it.
Sasha Banks is putting on makeup and Summer Rae steps in to stir up trouble. Summer tells Sasha she can be relevant if she makes an impact next week. She continues that Paige thinks she’s better than the divas. Summer says all 90 pounds of Sasha Banks should unleash her “inner rage”. The fact that Summer cannot keep her hair out of her face through this whole speech is hilarious to me.
Meanwhile…Renee Young calls in Paige for a chat. Paige doesn’t care what Summer Rae is up to. She defines “Anti-Diva” – Paige is here to beat people, not be a model. She suggests that Sasha ask Summer what it’s like to be in the ring with her.
Match 3: Alexander Rusev vs Mason Ryan
Winner: Alexander Rusev via pinfall
Lefort, in an NXT-gold jacket, calls in Rusev, who has another Mason plank of wood.
The two giants lock up and break, then exchange strikes and whips until Ryan hits a back elbow, a boot and a shoulder to get some momentum going. Rusev hits a spinning heel kick off the ropes that levels Ryan, then drops headbutts on him. Rusev traps Ryan for some Al-Snow headbutts then hits a body attack on the ropes for two. Rusev delivers some kicks in the corner, but Ryan dodges him running in from the opposite side. Ryan grabs Rusev’s face, then jabs at him and hits a clothesline in the corner, then the opposite one. Ryan comes off the ropes and hits a boot to the face, drawing Dawson to the apron. Dawson gets hip tossed in, then clotheslined back out and Lefort gets on this time. Ryan is distracted and gets ambushed by Rusev in the corner, then taps out Ryan with the Camel Clutch.
Leo Kruger is in the back, cackling, with Xavier Woods on the ground clutching his neck. Yep, that’s it. Guess that will be a rivalry moving forward.
Match 4: Sami Zayn vs Jack Swagger
Winner: Jack Swagger via submission
Swagger goes right after Zayn, who unloads on him in the corner, even choking him with his boot. Swagger kicks him in the knee cap then runs him over with a shoulder block, then another. Zayn answers back with a dropkick and takes Swagger to the corner. Zayn with chops in the ropes and a forearm for good measure. Swagger kicks out at one, then sends Zayn to the ropes, only to elevate him and eat a dropkick. Swagger bails to the floor and Zeb warns him about the incoming Zayn, so Zayn bails out and does a little flipamagoo off the top rope to show off for the crowd (LOUD Ole chant) as Swagger regroups. Zayn eventually gives chase to the floor and swats Swagger around with right fists. Swagger takes a couple headers into the apron and Zeb runs interference and distraction – Swagger levels Zayn with a clothesline as he gets back in the ring. Swagger delivers knees to the gut in the corner, which leads to commercial break.
Back in, Zayn hits Blue Thunder for a very near fall on Swagger. Swagger stands it up into the Patriot Lock, but Zayn resists. Swagger rolls Zayn backwards and to his feet, grabbing and landing the gutwrench powerbomb for a two. This time, Swagger manages to cinch in his Patriot Lock and Zayn tries to fight out. Zayn manages to reach the ropes and Zeb tells Swagger to focus. Swagger stomps Zayn and tries a Swagger Bomb, but he gets the knees up, then hits the yakuza kick in the corner for another nearfall. Zayn punches and clubs away at Swagger, then calls for the top rope and heads that way. Swagger stirs and cuts him off, but Zayn continues to fight. Swagger tries a run up belly to belly, but Zayn counters into a sunset flip powerbomb for yet another very close two count. Bo Dallas comes down to ringside to “cheer on Zayn”. Zayn jaws at him and then stumbles back into Swagger, who puts him back in the Patriot Lock and finishes him.
I don’t quite get the ending there – Charlotte apparently can’t be tapped on the back without dropping what’s on her back. All was forgiven when Bayley gets the win in an entirely competent Divas tag match. Glad to see Bayley shining in a match like this. And kudos to Charlotte for taking daddy Ric’s famous top rope spot and making it her own. It was inevitable that Bayley would use a belly to belly and I’m glad to see it. Good stuff all around.
That was one of the best performances I’ve seen out of Graves. Glad to see Graves’ partner have his back and help get his title belt back. This will be a future NXT Tag Title match, as it should be. Graves is expanding his repertoire a bit, but he shouldn’t be calling for a chop block like it’s the freakin Sweet Chin Music. Also, don’t do that “showing the guy your knuckles” thing while you’re beating him up. All in all a fun match.
Rusev using that spinning heel kick completely negates Tyler Breeze using it as a finish, so something has to give on that one. Dirty or not, having Rusev tap out Mason Ryan is a big thing in the world of NXT. Guy is a monster and he’s wildly athletic; if they can get him to cut a decent promo and just hone his craft a bit, he’s WWE bound.
Damn…that was a fun match. The crowd was fully invested in all those near falls. Shame that Zayn has to play the buffoon babyface who falls for a distraction, but that will end up being the build to a title match for he and Bo. Appropriate build throughout the match with Zayn not just tapping out to a surprise ankle lock that he stumbled into, but tapping out after having his leg hurt earlier in the match. Even I was pretty well convinced that sunset flip powerbomb might finish it, and that’s a good sign. WWE must realize what they’ve got in Zayn, which is why he’s floating close to the NXT title already. And that’s a good thing.
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Tags: aksana, alicia fox, Ascension, bayley, charlotte, conor o'brian, jack swagger, mason ryan, NXT, sami zayn, sylvester lefort, WWE