An eight man tag pits some of NXT’s best prospects against…other wrestlers. Sami Zayn takes on a former Tag Team Champion and Aiden English serenades us all.
Match 1: Sami Zayn vs Curt Hawkins
Winner: Sami Zayn via pinfall
Hawkins pressures Zayn to the corner then misses a big right fist as Hawkins’ recent loss to Zayn on the road is talked up on commentary. Zayn tries a rear waistlock, but Hawkins throws him down for a front facelock, which is quickly turned into a Zayn hammerlock. Hawkins to his feet and he moves Zayn to the corner to break. Zayn is up and over in the opposite corner off a whip, then hits his trifecta of arm drags. Zayn catches a Hawkins boot and then chops him. Zayn takes him to the next corner and heads up to rain down the ole 10 punches. At 9 and a half Hawkins throws him off, but runs into another right hand for a two count. Zayn with a snapmare next, which he transitions to a crucifix for two. Hawkins finds himself in a chinlock and uses a jawbreaker to escape. He tries a scoop slam, but Zayn is up and over and they trade waist locks until Hawkins sends him to the ropes and hits his swinging scoop slam for one. Hawkins stays on him on the mat then chokes him in the ropes. Hawkins’ turn for a snapmare and he follows with a kick to the spine and another one count. Hawkins tries his hand at a chinlock and Zayn fights up, only to get shouldered down. Zayn is quick up to his feet to answer with a calf kick for a two count. Hawkins begs off and throws Zayn to the apron, then delivers a knee and drives him to the ring post. Zayn is on the floor as NXT heads to commercial.
Back in, Zayn is fighting off a suplex attempt in the ring but the stronger Hawkins still lands it for a two count. Hawkins is back to the chinlock and Zayn fights up quickly. Off the ropes, Hawkins trips him then delivers a boot. Another chinlock before Zayn gets to his feet and hits the ropes which ends in a double clothesline. Both men are up at the same time and exchange simultaneous right hands. Zayn explodes with a pair of clotheslines, then a pop up dropkick. Hawkins ends up in the corner and dodges the Yakuza kick, but runs into a boot. Zayn pops to the top rope for a cross body and a two count. Hawkins shoves Zayn off and hits a pele kick but Zayn gets the shoulder up at two. Hawkins hits an Implant DDT after ducking a clothesline and gets another near fall. Zayn pulls himself up in the corner and gets a boot up on the approaching Hawkins, who counters Zayn’s attempt at a knuckle lock (and assuredly the big tornado DDT) and lands an elevated facebuster for yet another two count. Hawkins starts to sell some desperation and pulls off his pads and gloves, slapping Zayn with them. Hawkins is begging for Zayn’s best, which fires him up. Hawkins heads to the ropes and Zayn chases with a Yakuza kick, then hits the elevated tornado DDT for the win.
Match 2: Aiden English vs Michael Culawry
Winner: Aiden English via pinfall
Aiden says he’s the only true “artiste” to cross into wrestling and serenades the crowd while in a spotlight as he makes his way to the ring.
Aiden pressures Culawry into the corner and slaps him. English sends Culawry to the ropes and delivers a knee to the gut, then boots him in the face. Now a short arm clothesline and stomps to the head. English pounces on him and punches him, then hits a jumping leg drop. English follows up with a Cobra Clutch variant on the Side Effect to win it.
English gives an encore of his entrance.
Bo Dallas hangs up his phone with his S-eating grin, leaving a message on the Bo Dallas hotline. Renee wants to know what Bo thinks about Zayn’s victory. Bo thinks the win was nifty, but hey, when is the last time Hawkins won a match? Bo says he doesn’t decide on contenders, but will have a suggestion on what to do next week.
Match 3: Adrian Neville, Corey Graves, CJ Parker & Xavier Woods vs The Ascension, Tyler Breeze & Leo Kruger
Winners: Adrian Neville, Corey Graves, CJ Parker & Xavier Woods via pinfall
Neville starts it off with Victor, who immediately shoulders him down. Neville nips up and arm drags Victor into an arm bar. Quick arm wrench and a tag to Graves to continue it. Parker tagged in now and he goofily elbows the arm. Woods now and a second rope axe handle on the arm. Neville to complete the cycle and a top rope double stomp to the elbow. Victor immediately pressures him into his corner and tags Kruger in. Neville rolls out of an arm wrench and drops Kruger face first on the mat, then tags Woods in. More arm wrenches by Parker and Woods, then Neville back in and Graves in and arm wrenches and you get the idea.
Back to Neville to continue working on the arm of the hunter. Woods tags in again then Parker tags in again then Graves tags in again and it’s still work on the arm time. Kruger tries a hip toss, but Graves lands on his feet and hits a dropkick and an arm drag. By all rights, Kruger’s arm should be dead for the rest of this match. The crowd begs for “one more tag” to get Neville back in, but Kruger manages to get O’Brian tagged in to stomp on Graves, then snap his neck and tag Kruger back in. O’Brian elevates him and lets Kruger take a shot as the crowd now begs for Breeze. Kruger sends Graves to the corner then delivers a forearm and a boot. Victor tags in and keeps the pressure on Graves. Kruger’s turn and a loud chop mid-ring. Graves rolls away and tags Woods in who lays forearms into Kruger, then a front dropkick and a nip up. Honor Roll time then Kruger regroups on the floor with the heels. Graves and Parker with double baseball slides, then Woods and Neville hit stereo planchas.
Back from a commercial, Victor has Woods grounded in a surfboard. Woods gets psyched up, but Victor hammers him and tags Kruger back in to stomp away. O’Brian’s turn for some Regal-style back kicks, which really only work when the ref is looking at you. Breeze tags himself in, much to the delight of the crowd then hits one right hand, gets punched in the gut and tags in Kruger. Kruger grounds Woods with a headlock as his team begs for him to make a tag. Woods stands up with Kruger on his back but can’t quite make it before Kruger settles him back down. Woods hits a jaw breaker to make some space but gets booted by Kruger. Breeze is tagged in and starts to drop knees on Woods then gets a one count. Breeze takes another shot to the gut and dives to tag in O’Brian. O’Brian locks in a body scissors and shimmies across the mat to keep Woods away from his team. Breeze is in for the third time and Woods blocks and reverses a suplex. Breeze’s team demands a tag and we get one on both sides. O’Brian and Parker tag in and Parker unloads. He hits shotgun knees in the corner then a Harlem side kick. Victor breaks up the pin but gets taken to the floor with Graves. O’Brian hits a full nelson slam and Neville breaks it up now, only to be tossed out by Kruger. Kruger gives chase then O’Brian flapjacks Parker. Breeze tags himself in and pins Parker for two. Breeze says he’s got this and gets smacked in the mouth by Parker. When Breeze looks to tag out again, all his partners leave him hanging and Parker nails him with a palm strike. Woods hits Lost in the Woods, then Graves clips the knee and Neville heads up top for Red Arrow the win.
No surprise, a Sami Zayn match is fun as hell to watch. Hawkins is another WWE guy that gets a bum rap – He’s extremely capable in the ring and just needs a bit of reinvention to emerge as a good mid card talent. Glad to see Zayn doesn’t just dominate, but it takes some firing up for him to unleash and take the chains off. Zayn is working to earn an NXT title shot, since that’s what Dallas has demanded from him. I can’t see it being more than a couple shows before he gets one.
I liked English as a jobber and he’s way more fun with a personality. Hard to see if this song will last him throughout the gimmick or if perhaps he’ll have variants on more olde-time tunes which could give it a lot more longevity.
Gotta say, for a guy who took 6 shots to his elbow joint, Victor recovered pretty damn quickly early on in this match as did Kruger. But hey, that’s pro wrestling. This one followed the old 8 man tag formula pretty closely, but that’s not at all a bad thing. Everyone got to see some action and land some signature offense, the heels showed that they don’t want to put up with Tyler Breeze’s horse pucky and Adrian Neville gets to show off the amazing Red Arrow. Breeze is in a place where he can be a comedy jobber or a comedy heel and either one can suit the gimmick in a productive fashion.
Now I really wish I had tons more to write for you guys, but this was a pretty “by the books” episode of NXT. They can’t all be barn burners, but starting from next week, things are about to change quite a bit…
COO Triple H will have an announcement regarding NXT’s future – I think we all know what this is by now.
Also, Tag Team Turmoil to determine the #1 contenders!
As always, if you like what you read here, let me know in the comments or on twitter @sbfantom. I sincerely would like to hear what people think and strike up some conversation!
Tags: adrian neville, aiden english, Bo Dallas, Corey Graves, curt hawkins, El Generico, NXT, PAC, sami zayn, The Ascension, WWE, xavier woods