It's me, Shanna Harris, and I'm ready to give you another laundry list of reasons why you should be watching NXT. I make no bones about the fact that NXT is my favorite WWE show, and this week I'm skipping the snappy intro's and getting right into the NXT action.
This episode starts off with an appearance from none other than Paul Heyman.
Heyman says he's there specifically for the purpose of finding the next 'Paul Heyman guy', a short list that at one time included CM Punk, and now includes Brock Lesnar and our current WWE Intercontinental Champion, Curtis Axel. Paul also mentions that he is blown away by the talent in NXT, and that while he appreciates the ECW chants, he's not here for the past. He's here to prepare for the future. He also says that the very next Paul Heyman guy is backstage, or the very next Brock Lesnar! (Let's hope he isn't talking about Corey Graves)
Paul says that one of the talents backstage could be the very next Curtis Axel, and suddenly, Curtis appears! Heyman goes on to proclaim that there's not a man in the sunshine state ready to take the Intercontinental title away from Curtis. I think we all know what's coming, don't we?
None other than Big E Langston makes his way to the NXT stage, and he's got a microphone! Big E Langston offers himself up as a challenger for the IC title. Curtis accepts, but not without trying to weasel his way out of the match. With a little meandering from the champion about which show the title should be defended on (Christmas or Thanksgiving is preferable for him) Big E tells Curtis to put the title on the line tonight and prove that he's man enough to hang in NXT.
With all that said, Big E walks down the ramp and our first match of the show begins.
Match 1: Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) vs Big E Langston Intercontinental Championship on the line.
One of the things I love about Big E is he is a true presence. From his singlet down to the fact that he had people screaming "I need 5" at him without him having said a word, the man is ready for the main event. He sells his opponents moves well and sometimes look vulnerable, but you know that at anytime, Big E can come back and hit that big ending. When he clotheslines Curtis, it looks vicious and brutal. Big E is, for lack of a better way of putting it, is a big train moving at high speed with no brakes. Curtis Axel took some punishment in this short matchup, but I wish it could've gone on a little bit longer. I'm also slightly annoyed at the DQ ending, but we can't have it all in wrestling, can we?
Match ender: Paul Heman hits E in the back and causes a DQ.
Move of the match: Curtis Axel forearm's to the back of Big E Langston. Now, I'm sure you're thinking "forearms? who cares?" It's not so much the impact of the arm to the back that makes it so good, but it's the way that Big E flopped face first into the mat after Curtis hit him with it. And he did it hard. It looked painful, and while some people seem to get hit with moves and kip right back up like nothing happened, I appreciate a big man that can sell a move. Short matches on Raw tend to not have any big moves, but Big E made it look good enough for me to go "ouch"
Winner by DQ: Curtis Axel
Meanwhile, backstage: The always lovely Renee Young invites Sami Zayn in for a chat. Renee reminds Sami about his battles with Bo Dallas, and the war that's currently going on with Antonio Cesaro. Samy says that his issue with Bo is on the backburner, but his primary concern is with Antonio Cesaro threaning to expose him as a "canadian or arab" Samy reminds Antonio that he beat him when Antonio was busier talking than wrestling, and that Sami is proud of who he is and where he comes from. Sami says that since Antonio is so reluctant to wrestle him again despite the outstanding offer of a match, Sami will offer him a 2 out of 3 falls match to settle the score. Will Antonio accept the offer, or cower away?
All in all, a very strong interview from Zayn. I want to see that 2 out of 3 falls match!
Match 2: Mason Ryan vs Scott Dawson (w/Sylvester LeFort)
I'm hesitant to call any match on this show awful considering some of the matches I've been privy to over the years, but I have big problems with Mason Ryan. In a sea of talented and hungry up and comers, Mason Ryan stands out in the worst ways. He's a big man that can't move trying too hard to be the tough guy that isn't cool anymore. In a wrestling world where The Wyatt Family exists, having big muscles and yelling doesn't necessarily cut it anymore. Mason got no reaction from a crowd that was hot for Big E just moments before, and when he laid waste to the interfering Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, he got ZILCH. Nobody cheered or moved and he continued to do the strong man I'LL TEAR YOUR HEAD OFF stuff to zero reaction. Which means he can't make a crowd react. Ouch.
I'm sorry that Dawson had to lose to this guy, because Mason Ryan isn't going anywhere big anytime soon.
Move of the match: Mason attempting to toss Dawson out of the ring via the top rope after the match and failing enough for me to notice.
Winner: Mason Ryan
Match 3: Paige vs Summer Rae NXT Women's Championship match
Raw Summer Rae is fine and dandy, but NXT Summer Rae is my new favorite. She is so over the top and so evil that I just can't help but love her. A good heel like her always tends to win me over after awhile. Summer flips that blonde hair better than anybody on the current roster, and it's a shame that her wrestling ability isn't quite as good as her heelish persona is, otherwise I'd have Summer Rae on the brain all the time.
In any event, this match for the title has everything I love about ladies in NXT. Real stories, heated rivalries and matches that last more than 3 or 4 minutes. Nothing about the NXT women is overwhelming, and every women's match I watch on this show is like getting a cold drink of water after a prolonged walk in the desert.
While the Raw ladies regularly embarrass me, the ladies of NXT are one of the best things about this show. Why is it that NXT does such a great job booking these women and making them interesting, while Raw women aren't cared about at all? It baffles me that this show is a WWE show sometimes, guys.
Move of the match: Summer Rae block Paige's big boot attempt by catching her foot, throwing it down hard, and Paige plants face first into the mat.
Meanwhile, backstage: Renee welcomes WWE Diva's champion AJ FREAKIN LEE OMGGGGGGGGGG. Sorry, fangirling. Anyway, Renee mentions that AJ will be here at NXT next week defending her championship, and asks AJ if she has any idea who she'll be facing. AJ says she likes things to be unpredictable and that she could face anyone! The camera man, the boom guy, even Renee herself. While Renee is busy trying to beg off that idea, coming in for a nice firm hug from behind is none other than Bailey, who doesn't know a thing about respecting personal space. Renee walks off during the hug, and Bailey is left alone to make friends with AJ.
Bailey says she's been following AJ everywhere (Her car, the locker room, and backstage to hear her voice) and asks AJ if she can wrestle her next week as a challenger for the Diva's championship. AJ accepts! Bailey comments that she has no idea why everyone calls AJ crazy and gives AJ a big hug, while AJ makes crazy eyes and angry faces behind Bailey's back.
Great backstage segment to set up the match for next week. Bailey is weirdly adorable. That's all I've got.
During the break: In revenge for putting her out of the NXT women's championship match tonight, Emma ran to the ring after Paige defeated Summer Rae and attacked her. The NXT women's division is an aggressive one, folks.
Match 4: Corey Graves, Xavier Woods and Adrian Neville vs The Shield So, here's the deal. Love The Shield and Xavier Woods. Meh on Adrian Neville, and HATE Corey Graves. The stay down stuff drives me absolutely insane. Balling your hands into knuckles to show tattoos on your fingers should not in any way be a taunt that a wrestler does. Literally, all Corey Graves has to do is yell STAY DOWN enough times and that might get it over. It's a thoughtless gimmick. Unfortunately for Corey, he doesn't have much going on besides that stay down thing.
I can't figure out why I don't really like Adrian Neville. He has all the tools to be a big star. He's fast, clean and quick. He's also a good hand in the ring. But something is missing vital is missing that makes me actually like him. Perhaps he's not relatable, or perhaps the presence of Corey Graves brings him down in my eyes, but it's truly a shame. Neville's got it, but he needs to find that little extra to be a big star.
In any event, this main event is a must see. Tony Dawson described The Shield as being pushed to the limit in this match, and I agree. It started off slow, but eventually built into a frenzied finish. If there's one reason to watch NXT, it's this. The "This is Awesome" chants after the match are surely the icing on the cake. I cannot mention enough that you are missing out on some great wrestling action by not seeing this.
Move(s) of the match: Xavier Woods's hurricanrana to Seth Rollins and Seth Rollins throwing Xavier Woods backfirst into the turnbuckle, follow by a spear from Roman Reigns.
Winners: The Shield
Meanwhile, backstage: In the last few seconds of the show, Renee Young appears and announces Antonio Cesaro.
Renee asks Antonio if he accepts Sami Zayn's challenge for the two out of three falls match for next week. Antonio accepts and says he'll do whatever it takes to take out Sami, but it's not long until Sami attacks Cesaro and has to be pulled away from Antonio by security.
And sadly for me (and all of us), the show fades to black. After being disappointed by Raw this week, watching this show is another reminder of why I enjoy wrestling so much. You are not going to find a more enjoyable wrestling experience in any other WWE program than NXT. NXT is one of a kind. A diamond in the rough. The cheese on my pizza. Okay, I'll stop.
But in all seriousness, make NXT part of your week. It's good for you.
Want to read my 140 character rants on wrestling? Look no further than my twitter @AbsoluteSmark.
I'll most likely pop up on the site for Summerslam predictions and other coverage, but after that, I'll be back for more NXT!
Until next time, internet.