Between October and November I had a rough couple of months, so let’s be honest, I was anxious to get back in the saddle and writing about NXT! And then this episode happened. Five matches, which is never bad, but three of the matches fell into the two-three minute range. There was no real storyline progression except for an Ohno/Kidd feud being teased for the future. I’d be fine with just matches if two had not been a showcase for another guy and a “debut” for two men that have yet to prove themselves. Not making it to the list for matches is Axl Keegan vs. Bo Dallas, because… Bo Dallas.
4. Gavin Reid vs. Roman Reigns
At only 2:10 the match didn’t do much but show that Reigns can still move in the ring and this is why he’s a great asset to Shield while Reid where’s ring gear that looks like it had seen the washing machine a few too many times as it was faded and a bit lackluster. Reigns, of course, wins against Reid after a show of his moveset and then decides to cut a promo, taking the microphone from Saxton. Reigns gets ghetto-fabulous on us and only licks his lips twice during this promo, but still. You’re Samoan. No need to act like you wish you were teasing Hunico’s character when speaking. The Usos did that when they first came up as well, crotch grabbing and slouching their way through promos. It’s been done, and Reigns is better than just another wanna-be gimmick.
3. Corey Graves vs. Yoshi Tatsu
At just under three minutes I expected, since it’s Tatsu, a feat of quick movements and what Tatsu does best, which is the happy, frenzied, kicking. Instead, about thirty seconds in, Graves lands a blow to Tatsu’s knee and that appears to be about it for Tatsu. Again, this match is another showcase, this time of Graves, but more on his brutality as a skinny, tattooed, jackass than as a wrestler. It’s a character that he molds into well, and for this it’s why it’s ahead of the last match. That, and it was still Tatsu in the match. Still, I would have liked to have seen more wrestling style from the both of them before Tatsu’s knee was mutilated. In story, of course.
2. Tyson Kidd vs. Leo Kruger
My own expectations of what this match should have been probably ruined it a bit for me. The match was a lot of good spots and then rest holds while waiting for the next one. Someone else said, “I can’t help but think if this match was shorter it would have been better,” and I agree. If they had been given five minutes instead of nine minutes would they have cut the rest holds and just smoothly transitioned from move to move? I know both men can, and they are entertaining to watch, in ring psychology alone, but I’d rather have a short match that does a lot than a long match that is reminiscent of a Raw match. Raw is Rest Holds. At the end of this match Ohno comes out and attacks Kidd, possibly setting up a new story line. I’m also reading too much into Regal being the one who helps Kidd out of the arena.
1. Michael McGillicutty vs. Antonio Cesaro
Despite my not being a fan of Cesaro I had to admit at the end of the episode that this was my favorite match. It did what the other matches failed to do. Sure, there was a rest hold or two, but there was less of a wait between moves than Kidd and Kruger had, and McGillicutty just seemed to be enjoying himself as he took down his opponent repeatedly. Yeah, I also loved this was a feat of strength more for McGillicutty even if he ultimately lost. The crowd was fully behind Michael, chanting his name (Michael, not McGillicutty) and he seemed to enjoy the interaction between them. If I had to recommend one match from the episode, it would be this one.
Finally, Brandon Traven was able to show up on my television, and it was against Brodus Clay. Evil.
4. Kassius Ohno
I don’t say the match because, one, I’m not a huge Steamboat fan and the match wasn’t bad, but not entirely the most impressive thing. Ohno, however, was pure brilliance. From the match, to the after match, to his moment with Ricky Steamboat, the man knew how to play the character. “The Dragon’s Mad! The Dragon’s Mad! What are you going to do? Armdrag me?”
3. Audrey Marie vs. Paige
Maybe Audrey Marie is growing on me? Or maybe Paige is just that good. Either way I enjoyed watching the two of them together, but Paige is the more brilliant athlete, and character, and deserved to win this match up.
2. Percy Watson vs. Leo Kruger
Leo Kruger is the reason I started watching FCW in the first place. We saw him as a dark match at a Smackdown show and I went, “Okay, he’s incredible,” and tuned into FCW the very next episode. I’ve watched him evolve and this new character he’s fit into works with him, for him, as him. Percy Watson still is fun to watch in the ring, but he’s more graceful than he looks like he’s hurting anyone, and seems to have no direction for his character. Still, the three minutes of this match were a step above the other three minute matches (or less) of the episode.
1. The Usos vs. Ascension
8:23 of pure fun and with the right ending. I’ve never seen the Usos work so well off of a team before, which is odd to me, but they are fabulous against Ascension. Ascension, meanwhile, get to put on a show after their “awe-inspiring” entrance. Better to let men wrestle and establish they are a force to be reckoned with than what WWE did before, and does with other talents, which is establish them by having them flat out destroy someone. That does not show me their skills. Ascension and Usos have a few great spots and manage to tell a story of absolute loathing of one another. The fight begins as the bell is ringing, they can hardly contain the need to destroy, and it doesn’t slow down until Kenneth wins it.
Yeah, just hopping right into this one!
4. Primo vs. Titus O’Neil
That hurt to type. My fingers begged me not to type. The voices screamed, “But Kofi is better than O’Neil, go with Kofi!” And I could not. Because for some asinine reason instead of using one of the man men they have that does not get used, ever, they put Kofi Kingston up against Rob Cabildo. Who? You got me! That means, on principle, I had to go with Primo and Titus, despite the fact that without the guidance of the NXT writers and, you know, any coaching at all really, Titus is back to being completely awful! And then AW, don’t get me started on his having a microphone so I get to listen him telling Titus about getting wood on him when I would rather be listening to Mathews (yeah, I said it). Number 4 this week is almost arbitrary. Kofi and Rob put on a better match, but how dare they use someone else when others are fighting for a spot on television? ARGH! At least there was Primo. At least.
3. Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
We’ve seen this match up recently, and frankly the other match was better. This wasn’t bad, it was a solid match, but considering I’m comparing it to the last one it falls short. Ryder’s still at his plateau, Swagger is aching to do more, and it makes a good match. Apparently Ryder’s charisma beat out Swagger’s mat technique, though (Striker…) as Ryder won the match with a Rough Ryder.
2. Antonio Cesaro vs. Alex Riley
Yup, this was the better match of all four. Riley wants it. Riley’s come around. Stop putting him in dark matches and give the crowd what they keep screaming for, and oh do they keep screaming when Riley comes out. Cesaro, while I don’t think he can cut a promo, was just about wrestling in this episode and that was perfect. Cesaro and Riley were a great match up and it’s something I haven’t seen before, so good for them!
1. Scott Stanford
Come on, do I have to keep telling you why every week? Besides the fact that he’s not Mathews or Striker, and Striker when he’s not trying is almost as incoherent as JR was on this week’s episode of NXT. So, instead of telling you, again, how incredible the man is, how he calls the match and tells the stories, and that he pays attention to what is going on, enthusiastic, and…
Oh, here are his top lines of the week:
“Oh that Bob Barker, always one of my favorites.”
“Now back here on #Superstars, the action already fast and furious.”
“This guy only knows one speed. Full speed ahead for Alex Riley.”
“And you get the extra bonus of Aksana bouncing around.”
“Both guys just itching for a win.”
“That’s his Lil’ Jimmy, you can’t take that away from him.”
“Swagger lands on the kiester.”