Category Archives: WWE

WWE NXT review (Sept. 18): Neville and Zayn vs. Kidd and O’Neil; Hideo Itami debuts

If you have $9.99 and the bravery to watch RAW every week, you know for a fact that WWE’s best show is NOT on Monday nights, and hasn’t been for a while. If you hadn’t quite figured it out, NXT provided a hell of a hint last week. NXT Takeover 2 (review here) was the company’s best show of the year to date in terms of the stuff that matters. You know, the stuff in the 20-by-20 box. (Photo gallery here)

NXT has the benefit of quarterly special events, meaning there are about 12 weeks to build to each event. So how do we follow up such a great event?

With Titus O’Neil, of course!

All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming.
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming.

Hold up … Superstars isn’t for another hour! Eh, maybe he’s just early. Nope, he has an actual reason to be here and honor us with his presence. The rationale here: NXT showed up on RAW last week? He’s gonna “take some of y’all’s time.” Very well.

Sami Zayn puts this to a merciful end. Or so we believe.

NXT 091814 Sami Zayn

After some gimmick infringement (who doesn’t mock the Omega sign and the bark), he kicks some knowledge.

I’m so glad you’re here, because you really are filling a giant void of what we need here in NXT, which is a giant buffoon who couldn’t win a match to save his life. And hey, news flash, OK? While you’re busy getting beaten up by bunnies, we’re here in NXT STEALING. THE. SHOW!

NXT 091814 Titus O'Neil

That would qualify as shots fired, right?

Titus offers to steal this show by offering the beating of a lifetime in a match.

Did someone suggest wrestling?

NXT 091814 Adrian Neville

The champ can’t wait to join in the debate here. Because if anyone wants to challenge NXT, he’s the one to defend it. Sami makes sure we’re clear Neville’s the only man to defend the show because he’s the champ (well, duh, Sami), and the man who may have actually stolen the show at Takeover 2 makes sure he has a say as well.

Tyson Kidd calls Zayn and Neville losers, with the only difference being one has a belt and the other doesn’t. Kidd then brings up a valid, shall we say, fact: Wouldn’t you do what Neville did at Takeover 2, pull the ref out of the ring to prevent a 3 count and do whatever it takes to keep the belt? Sami gets it, but said it wouldn’t really fit his moral compass. Neville informs Sami that’s why the belt will NEVER really fit on his waist.

NXT 091814 Adrian Neville Sami Zayn

That DOES qualify as shots fired.

Titus doesn’t care about all this — nor should he — so he turns the attention back to himself, just in time for the General Manager to call out a tag team match, playas!

Sorry, wrong GM.

Or is it?

“Gentlemen, please. This is a fighting show, not a whining show. So I suggest we somehow get to fighting.”

NXT 091814 William Regal

William Regal then tells us what’s best for business: All four men competing … O’Neil and Kidd vs. Zayn and Neville. Holla holla holla!

Obligatory Teddy Long joke aside, Regal has a point. NXT has been more about fighting than whining. But it was refreshing and interesting to see how some of the top NXT guys would fit in a RAW or SmackDown setting by leading off the show with promo time, and there really were no weak spots in the nearly-10-minute opening segment.

Three matches and a video package later, it’s main event time.

Good thing Titus brought his trunks and boots, or else that could’ve been awkward. Though if Cody Rhodes can defend the Intercontinental Championship in a suit, and if heel Jeff Hardy can defend a world championship in a tie with a cigarette …

(I swear I was the only mark for heel Hardy in TNA in 2010-11. Just an angsty, vicious human being. I even didn’t mind that purple custom belt until it went elsewhere.)

Anyway, back on topic. We’re still hammering home the “Zayn hasn’t won the big one” angle. After all, he hasn’t. Luckily, his partner has.

TYSON KIDD & TITUS O’NEIL vs. NXT Champion ADRIAN NEVILLE & SAMI ZAYN

Zayn starts … and Neville tags himself in after maybe 15 seconds. He’s already having a much easier time getting into the ring than last week. Armdrag and quick cover from the champ, and after he pulls Kidd into the corner, Zayn makes turnabout fair play in two forms — blind tag AND a standing moonsault as a “Better than Neville!” chant breaks out.

NXT 091814 Adrian Neville 2

Neville tags in and responds with a corkscrew Shooting Star Press. A STANDING corkscrew Shooting Star Press. Damn, son.

NXT 091814 Sami Zayn 2

Cover for 2, because he mostly connected with the lower body. Damn him for not being perfect. Headlock time, and Titus is super impatient. OK, not really. But it looks like he wouldn’t mind getting into the ring.

Neville’s ready to go outside to dive on Kidd, but Zayn cockblocks him and hits the springboard moonsault. This happened in reverse last week. Break time after a stellar 3 minutes.

Sheamus with an entertaining Be A Star spot, then Titus finally gets into the match as we return at 3:40.

One backbreaker. Two backbreakers. One nonchalant toss of his 200-pound foe. One tag to Kidd. You know, if they wanted, they could have Titus in NXT as just a freaking monster. At his size, against a top card that averaged 199 pounds in last week’s main event, he’s downright gargantuan. Anyway, Tyson works a headlock as Neville wants a tag …

NXT 091814 Adrian Neville 3

… then shifts to the front facelock.

Titus gets a tag, and he continues to just manhandle Sami. Abdominal stretch at 6:20; Neville still calling for a tag. Zayn tries to elbow his way out, but Titus hits a forearm and elbow drop to the back. Then he stands on Sami’s face. Some people probably wish that would happen to Tyson’s pretty face.

NXT 091814 Tyson Kidd 2

Tyson gets in, applies the Tree of Woe and works away, including a headlock. Goes for a guillotine legdrop, but Sami escapes. The quintessential face in peril crawls to no avail.

Ever notice how heels ALWAYS work better in a thrown-together situation than faces? It’s like they’re so evil and bad, but they’re so much better at the whole teamwork thing. He slams Sami, drags him to the corner and tags. Tyson all about working the neck, this time with his foot, then back to the headlock. Armdrag escape, but a back kick from Kidd stops him in his tracks. Legdrop to the back of the neck, and Zayn finds a neutral corner. Titus with a slap to the chest, then charges the corner twice and misses. HOT TAG TO NEVILLE at 10:50.

Kidd’s in, and he’ll get the brunt of this fast-paced attack. Standing moonsault, but Titus makes the save. Sami goes after Titus. Neville up top, but Titus pushes him off right into Tyson’s knees. All Kidd needs to do is cover, and the champ is pinned.

NXT 091814 Titus O'Neil Tyson Kidd

Time: 11:39

Technical Merit: All four men brought it, with even O’Neil getting scientific and buying into the team concept of trying to break Zayn’s neck. Kidd is the best all-around mat grappler you’ll see in WWE besides Brock Lesnar, and Zayn and Neville’s one-upmanship not only furthered the story, but was great from a maneuver standpoint. The last guy on the main roster who could’ve probably hit that standing corkscrew Shooting Star was John Morrison, and he’s been gone for years.

Artistic Impression: The friends are fighting, and the heel(s) have the upper hand as we start the three-month build for the next Takeover. Tyson Kidd really has found himself as a cocky heel chameleon who can mesh with anyone, and it’ll be interesting to see where they go with his end of the story going forward. The aftermath of this match HAS to build toward Neville v. Zayn, which is the best fresh singles match NXT could provide right now. It feels like Neville’s in a slow turn at the moment, while Zayn will be the aw-shucks babyface until the day he dies. He played the bumbling face in peril beautifully, which helped one of the better WWE tag matches you’ll see.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/4

NXT 091814 Tyson Kidd

•••

NXT 091814 Charlotte

Call me a traditionalist, but I have a problem with a champion coming out first in any situation. Even if it’s for a surprise Emma appearance. Also, welcome back, Emma!

NXT Women’s Champion CHARLOTTE vs. EMMA

Emma dances around a bit …

NXT 091814 Emma

… but Charlotte ain’t got no time for that. She does have time to grab the belt and inform us she is, in fact the champ.

NXT 091814 Charlotte Emma

Emma takes one look and swats it away. Within a minute, that earned her a figure-four headlock combination. Emma gets rolled around, then bridges into a cover. Emma continues to use her unorthodox style, then hits an orthodox kick from her back. Charlotte responds with an orthodox shot to the back, then goes up top. Emma puts a stop to that, hits an elbow, ducks a charge and rolls up. Some more dancing, and some pushes to the ground. More dancing and an Emmamite Sandwich until the champ grabs her while she’s between the ropes. The yank of the head ends up sending Emma’s feet into Charlotte’s face, then Emma hits a crossbody for 2. This displeases the champion, who hits a neckbreaker, then Darwin’s favorite finisher: Natural Selection.

NXT 091814 Charlotte 2

Time: 4:07

It’s kind of disappointing how overplayed Emma’s quirkiness is, especially in terms of her moveset. As Emma proved at NXT ArRIVAL, she’s a great wrestler. Let her dance around and be weird before and after the bell, but let her actually compete! When you have two solid athletes and only 4 minutes, they should be athletic, not being all … Emma-like.

•••

NXT 091814 Justin Gabriel

You know how some shows try to make you believe things are happening live? WWE is throwing that out the window this week, because Justin Gabriel is pulling a Thursday night double. To his credit, he’s wearing the same gear on both shows. To his detriment, he’s jobbing on both shows.

NXT 091814 Hideo Itami

OK, confession time: I’ve never seen Hideo Itami wrestle. And not just because that’s been his name for a week. I never saw him as KENTA, mainly because it took me until about May to watch anything outside WWE, WCW or TNA. Hell, I just watched the first like half-hour of my first (non-WWE) ECW show earlier this week. Thanks to a dissenting Roku 3, I’ll have to either start over or do some fast-forwarding later to finish the show.

HIDEO ITAMI vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL

Gabriel with an early headlock, then some acrobatics from Hideo. Nice leapfrog and elbow, and when Gabriel goes for a leapfrog, Hideo puts on the brakes, leaps and hits a one-footed kick to the jaw. OK, I’m on board. Hideo tries to pull Gabriel back into the ring by the hair, but Gabriel takes out the legs, re-enters and hits a double underhook suplex for 2. Hooks the arms from behind, and when Hideo tries to escape, Justin hits a knee to the side. A second double underhook attempt blocked this time, and Hideo’s kickboxing skills are on display.

Then he taunts Gabriel by kicking him in the head while imploring him to get up. Some more kicks, one from inside and one from the apron, then a springboard short dropkick. Hideo comes into the corner with a boot, then a running short dropkick. Up top, and Hideo hits the two-foot stomp for the win.

NXT 091814 Hideo Itami 2

Time: 3:39

Soon after, he has company. Some vicious high-impact offense and one Fall of Man later, the former NXT Tag Team champions are angry AND satisfied.

NXT 091814 The Ascension

Would YOU want to mess with The Ascension right now?

Anyway, Hideo’s debut? Decent. Maybe it’s because how much force would actually be applied to the point of impact, but he only got about a third of that stomp. Besides that, if you want some good, martial arts/kickboxing-based offense, he’s your man. He’s apparently quite busy in this set of tapings, so maybe we’ll get to see more.

Also, sign me up for more Justin Gabriel. If this were WCW, TNA or Ruthless Agression-era SmackDown, Gabriel would be a top heel in a cruiserweight/X Division capacity. In WWE? He’s enhancement talent with a vicious side.

•••

NXT 091814 CJ Parker

I hoped we saw the last of CJ Parker at Takeover 2, courtesy of one Baron Corbin. But here the hippie with the X-Pac heat is back.

Oh, thank God. So is Corbin.

NXT 091814 Baron Corbin

BARON CORBIN vs. CJ PARKER

How tall does Corbin have to be to weigh 285? Like, he doesn’t look jacked or anything. Just tall. Alex Riley informs us the answer is 6-foot-8. Parker actually gets about four punches in after a corner charge from Corbin, but the End of Days comes quickly and without remorse. Hey, at least CJ lasted longer this time!

Time: :41

Corbin will be a star, and within 3 months of making the main roster, I’ll probably be dissing all the fangirls gushing about how ridiculously good-looking he is. To be fair, though, he has the look.

NXT 091814 Baron Corbin 2

I may have to get my Twitter bestie/NXT and indy guru (Hi, Heather!) on the horn to discuss the extent of Corbin’s ability, since she’s seen him work more than 40 seconds at a time and she’s high on him. But, even in this tiny sample size, he’s much more vicious and believable in his couple moves so far than, say, Mojo Rawley.

Also, I LOVE the fact that he hasn’t said a word. Not like he’s had time, but you get the point. Arrive, kick ass, depart.

•••

After some shaky Big Cass camera work, we meet Carmella, a skinny Jersey girl type who wants a job. She wants to be “a fighta,” and she proves it by huffing a medicine ball into Enzo Amore‘s gut. How you doin’ indeed.

What did you think of NXT and the direction it appears to be headed? Comment below or drop a line on Twitter @jpetrie18.

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A belated NXT Takeover 2 (Fatal 4-Way) photo gallery

One essential element to the presentation of this blog is what we in the journalism business call “art”. Who wants to just read thousands of words of text without some photos to wash it down?

I watch basically every show I review on my iMac and, while taking notes, snap as many screenshots as humanly possible. It’s a hit-or-miss proposition, but often the hits are pretty good. There were enough hits during NXT Takeover 2 (full review here) that they didn’t all fit into the piece.

As a result, here’s a gallery! As always with NXT, all screencaps are taken directly from the WWE Network.

The Lucha Dragons, Sin Cara and Kalisto, led off the night as challengers for The Ascension's NXT Tag Team Championship.
The Lucha Dragons, Sin Cara and Kalisto, led off the night as challengers for The Ascension’s NXT Tag Team Championship.
Viktor brought the intensity and high-impact offense expected of The Ascension. But two days after a solid win on Main Event, he was pinned to drop the NXT Tag Team Championship belts he and Konnor held for nearly a year.
Viktor brought the intensity and high-impact offense expected of The Ascension. But two days after a solid win on Main Event, he was pinned to drop the NXT Tag Team Championship belts he and Konnor held for nearly a year.

NXT Takeover 2 Viktor 3 NXT Takeover 2 Viktor 2

The Lucha Dragons earned the upset win and celebrate with the NXT Tag Team straps.
The Lucha Dragons earned the upset win and celebrate with the NXT Tag Team straps.

•••

CJ Parker faced a mystery opponent ...
CJ Parker faced a mystery opponent …
... whom ended up being Baron Corbin. Corbin made some noise with just a couple moves in his 30-second win.
… whom ended up being Baron Corbin. Corbin made some noise with just a couple moves in his 30-second win.

•••

Big Cass signals the start of the comic relief portion of the program, featuring Enzo Amore and The Legionnaires.
Big Cass signals the start of the comic relief portion of the program, featuring Enzo Amore and The Legionnaires.
Sylvester LeFort lost his hair vs. hair match with Enzo Amore, and thought he would lose his hair. But he did what any heel Frenchman would do — bail and make his partner, Marcus Louis, take the stipulation-fulfilling punishment.
Sylvester LeFort lost his hair vs. hair match with Enzo Amore, and thought he would lose his hair. But he did what any heel Frenchman would do — bail and make his partner, Marcus Louis, take the stipulation-fulfilling punishment.

•••

This man entered Takeover as Kenta ...
This man entered Takeover as Kenta …
... and left as Hideo Itami, with an upper hand on The Ascension to boot.
… and left as Hideo Itami, with an upper hand on The Ascension to boot.

•••

Bayley challenged Charlotte for the NXT Women's Championship.
Bayley challenged Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Charlotte retained her NXT Women's Championship in another solid Takeover match.
Charlotte retained her NXT Women’s Championship in another solid Takeover match.

NXT Takeover 2 Charlotte 5•••

The most gorgeous man in wrestling ...
The most gorgeous man in wrestling …

NXT Takeover 2 Tyler Breeze 4

... with the most gorgeous entrance.
… with the most gorgeous entrance.
Sami Zayn put on another valiant effort to no avail. He's 0-3 in NXT special events, but averaging about 4.83 stars per match.
Sami Zayn put on another valiant effort to no avail. He’s 0-3 in NXT special events, but averaging about 4.83 stars per match.
On Sept. 11, 2014, Tyson Kidd was the top heel on WWE's best in-ring show. Fact.
On Sept. 11, 2014, Tyson Kidd was the top heel on WWE’s best in-ring show. Fact.
Pre-midlife crisis for Tyson Kidd? Or just a way to drown out the "Nattie's husband" chants?
Pre-midlife crisis for Tyson Kidd? Or just a way to drown out the “Nattie’s husband” chants?
A very confident (almost cocky) Adrian Neville poses with the NXT Championship as Sami Zayn waits.
A very confident (almost cocky) Adrian Neville poses with the NXT Championship as Sami Zayn waits.
Adrian Neville celebrates after retaining the NXT Championship.
Adrian Neville celebrates after retaining the NXT Championship.
Adrian Neville holds his NXT Championship belt after pinning Tyson Kidd in a 24-minute, 5-star fatal 4-way match. Sami Zayn couldn't get back into the ring quickly enough to make the save.
Adrian Neville holds his NXT Championship belt after pinning Tyson Kidd in a 24-minute, 5-star fatal 4-way match. Sami Zayn couldn’t get back into the ring quickly enough to make the save.

WWE Superstars review (Sept. 18): Wyatt Family vs. Matadores, Sin Cara-Gabriel III

This is cool.

All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless noted.
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless noted.

So is this.

Superstars 091814 Erick Rowan

And this.

Superstars 091814 Luke Harper

What’s not cool is the ear-bleeding vocal intro. Just terrible oversinging. On the bright side, we at least know this week’s Superstars will be off to a good start. So who will everyone’s favorite heel tag team face?

Superstars 091814 Matadores intro Superstars 091814 Los Matadores El Torito

Oh my God. This will be a bloodbath. Though I appreciate Justin Roberts‘ proper pronunciation on the jobbers’ intro.

THE WYATT FAMILY (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) vs. LOS MATADORES (Diego & Fernando, w/El Torito)

I think we’ve determined Fernando is starting this match. Rowan beats him down, then tags to the worker of the pair. Tag attempt at 1:15, but Fernando eats Harper’s boot instead. Gator roll time, and it feels like we’re just buying time. Headlock time as El Torito gets on the apron …

Superstars 091814 Luke Harper El Torito

… and provides a distraction as Fernando hits an enziguiri. Hot tag to Diego, who’s actually gaining momentum? Drop toehold into the ropes, and a … 619? No, just a slide onto Harper and out. Cover at 3:00, and Rowan makes the save.

Fernando and Rowan are forced outside in that order, then a Clothesline From Hell … OK, it was just from Harper … results in victory.

Superstars 091814 Luke Harper 2

Time: 3:19

That was an interesting quickie match, in that the jobber team actually handled some business. An abrupt ending, but how long did you think Los Matadores would actually hang?

•••

Superstars 091814 Justin Gabriel Sin Cara

I can’t remember who asked it, but the question was posed on Twitter: What exactly is the point of Superstars? Right now, it appears to be a Sin Cara vs. Justin Gabriel series.

The Lucha Dragon took the first matchup. The World British Super Duper Championship Wrestling champion took the second last week. This, my friends, is the rubber match. Also, kinda hope Cara comes out with NXT gold. Damn. No dice, but a NICE T-shirt of the new squad.

Superstars 091814 Sin Cara

Both wrestlers, especially Gabriel, would probably be better off working with the NXT roster. Hell, Sin Cara will be as one-half of the tag champs. The problem is Gabriel’s a tweener — a perfect fit for NXT without enough of a character, but too experienced in a WWE sense to not be on the main roster. If NXT gained that ECW/WCW popularity Triple H desires, it would be fine to just move him over. But, as a developmental show and no real character for Gabriel, it doesn’t work. At least Tyson Kidd has a pretty good heel persona to show for his efforts.

Gabriel with some new gear tonight. Not as … motocrossy.

Superstars 091814 Justin Gabriel

Can we get this man some late ’90s Shift gear? Maybe something from the iconic Jeff Emig collection? Make him wear the jersey, too.

motorcyclemuseum.org
motorcyclemuseum.org

NXT Tag Team Champion SIN CARA vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL

The battle of the high flyers is quite physical early. Cara’s just chopping the hell out of Gabriel, but a kick and an intriguing rollup turn the tide. Some punches, a corner crossbody and an apron rollup, but Cara rolls out. Gabriel ducks the kick, rollup, rollout, connect on the kick, and Cara gets 2.

This is fun. The little guys should stereotypically be running and flying and all that, but they’re unleashing strikes and kicks, and even some mat-based stuff. It’s unexpected, but it works.

Cara goes for maybe a double underhook powerbomb, but Gabriel blocks and reverses into a back bodydrop. Back to throwing hands in the corner, but Sin Cara hits a sitout slam for 2.

First real high risk comes from the masked one off the top at 3:00, but Gabriel dropkicks him in the gut. Both men down, and it’s break time.

We return around 3:45, and it’s rest hold time. Gabriel releases, but only to destroy Cara’s back with an impactful kick combo and a stomp his foot on the throat. Kinda looked like Sin Cara tapped there. Mask removal gimmick time to no avail. Vertical suplex follows, and Gabriel rolls through into an arm hold. Sin Cara reverses and goes for a German, but Gabriel lands on his feet, then a kick to the gut and a lariat. Interesting cover — knee to the chest and a leg hook — for 2. Russian legsweep? No, abdominal stretch, with an elbow into the side for good measures. The luchador back bodydrops out, rejects Gabriel’s corner advances twice, then rolls him through into what looked like a single-arm powerbomb.

Pair of springboard crossbodies after some rest, then a somewhat clumsy headscissors. Kick from the apron, then a senton for 2 as Gabriel grabs the rope. Smart move, and Sin Cara is perplexed.

Gabriel hits a punch, a kick and an elbow, then a not-so-hot moonsault for 2. One thing he can hit, though, is the 450 … only he won’t get the chance, because Cara crotches him.

Cara goes for the top-rope Frankensteiner, meaning this is almost over. Gabriel rolls Cara through for 2, but Cara flips Gabriel and gets 3. Not bad, gentlemen.

Superstars 091814 Justin Gabriel 2

Time: 9:15

Technical Merit: I loved what they did with this match, but the execution got a little spotty at times. *insert Sin Cara joke here* Credit, though, for the attempt.

Artistic Impression: It’s cool to see a miniseries like this, even though you either have to be a hardcore fan or maybe have no life to find it. The past two matches have been solid, and you feel the story build with different elements of the second match coming into the third, especially with the finish. The question is whether a story with these two men is something people want to see.

TOTAL SCORE: **

WWE Main Event review (Sept. 16): Ziggler vs. Miz (w/stunt doubles), Big E. vs. Rollins

There’s no RAW review this week, and there probably won’t be for a while. You put together a crappy show, the fans will refuse to watch. The ratings, apparently, already prove this. I might even skip Night of Champions in protest. Hell, I skipped Battleground and survived.

There also won’t be a Midcard Report, The Champ’s most “over” offering, this week. Why? To cleanse the palate.

I didn’t watch RAW for the reasons above, but plenty of people did. As a result, WWE needs something to help these unfortunate fans try to forget. With Main Event almost always being at least halfway decent, we’re running an ME review early, with Superstars later in the week.

•••

Of course, with Main Event, we start with wrestling. And we start with the Intercontinental Champion! We also start with … multiple jobber identity crises.

Main Event 091614 Dolph Ziggler R-Truth R-Ziggler
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless otherwise noted.

Yes, a choreographed, staged athletic simulation has not one, but now two, stunt doubles. On the bright side, we have Damien Sandow Mizdow in a rivalry involving the Intercontinental title. However, not sure I can handle guys like Sandow and R-Truth, who can both do some decent work in the ring, being gimmicky copycats because they apparently can’t get over on their own.

Main Event 091614 The Miz Damien Mizdow Sandow 2 Main Event 091614 The Miz Damien Mizdow Sandow 3

If this match works, it’ll be in spite of, not because of, this whole “stunt double” bit.

Intercontinental Champion DOLPH ZIGGLER & “R-ZIGGLER” vs. THE MIZ & “DAMIEN MIZDOW”

At 3:15, I’m finally able to get the “stunt double” rant out of the system and try to “CALL THE DAMN MATCH!” Sandow hits a lariat on Dolph and tags to Miz. Miz commits gimmick infringement on Ziggler (you know, more than there already is in this match), but Dolph regroups, goes for the superkick, knowing Miz will duck, and rolls him up. Miz kicks out and tags, and the stunt double eats the dropkick. Sandow much better at this wrestling thing than his boss, and he gets the advantage heading into the break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK, tries to take this match seriously

We’re back at 5:35, and Miz locks in the vicioius Cleveland Nose Hook while riding Ziggler. Unfortunately, the CNH is illegal, so he resorts to a headlock. Dolph side suplexes out, and the stunt doubles tag in. Truth with the Stinger Splash, then a series of punches in the corner. Miz creates a distraction on the apron, and Sandow gets aggressive. Miz wails on Ziggler from the floor, and eventually tags in. Knee to the dome and a cover.  Front facelock at 8 minutes as Michael Cole reels off some of the IC lineage. I’m sure this is a high point right now. Miz releases the hold to have a go at Ziggler, which simply allows Truth to hit a back bodydrop. Tag to Sandow, and he’s back on the offensive. Chinlock time, and Truth strikes his way out. Reaches for the tag, but a drop toehold, a drag and a tag to Miz.

Meanwhile, Ziggler can’t wait to get a shot at Miz, and apparently Truth decides he’ll get some shots in. Running corner lariat, though, from Miz, then a weak axe-handle sort of thing from the top. Front facelock again, then the tag to Sandow. Vertical suplex and cover at the 11-minute mark. Series of knees to the head and chest, powerful whip into the corner, and he looks like he’s going for a slowed-down version of that running lariat, but Truth cuts him off in the middle. Hot tag to Ziggler at 12:15.

Splash/neckbreaker combo caps the initial surge. Fame Asser blocked, and Miz hits half the Reality Check. Backslide , cover and reset, and Ziggler’s second attempt is successful for a 2 count. After some angry deliberation, a front facelock from Ziggler. Skull-Crushing Finale is blocked. Figure Four blocked into a cradle, and Ziggler goes for the DDT. Miz blocks, but Truth gets the blind tag. Miz tosses Ziggler out, and Truth hits the DDT, but Sandow breaks up the cover. Damien knees Dolph off the apron. Truth appears to botch the Zig Zag on Sandow, and Miz, the legal man, hits the Finale to triumph.

Main Event 091614 The Miz

Time: 14:03

Technical Merit: Ziggler and Sandow are great wrestlers, so that part was good. Miz does enough to get by. Truth didn’t really appear to know what he was doing at the end, and he was the recipient of a lot of rest holds. He also looked pretty blown out well before the end. It won’t sound that way in the next paragraph, but this was a good match.

Artistic Impression: I like that the Intercontinental Championship has a story line. I don’t like the “double stunt double” bit. It kind of made sense for Sandow, who was imitating people anyway, and it’s funny because he’s better than Miz. But why the hell does Dolph Ziggler, the best salesman/stuntman in the company, need a stunt double? Just let R-Truth come out as himself and an insurance policy.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

Renee Young asks Seth Rollins whether losing to Roman Reigns on RAW is a “setback”. Rollins raises the briefcase and, namedropping Dean Ambrose‘s disappearance, etc., scoffs at this idea.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins

He’ll use brain over brawn to beat Big E., then his brain will tell his foot to curbstomp Reigns’s dome into any surface that suits his purpose Sunday.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 2

His purpose appears to either involve not enough hygiene or too much. He’s on the Bo Dallas Hair Hydration System, and he’s a few weeks away from the Edge Is Back Beard. Seriously, that man had facial hair blessed by the Canadian gods themselves when he had time to grow it.

Unfortunately, we have to wait for that match, because it’s Brie Mode now. Yay. Consider the clear stolen gimmick from Marshawn Lynch‘s Beast Mode to Brie Mode, this is yet another reason to hate the Seattle Seahawks. You know, besides the ones their fans give you already. 

Main Event 091614 Brie Bella

This makes me unhappy. This also means promo time with Nikki Bella. And the term “voluptuous derriere.”

Main Event 091614 Nikki Bella Renee Young

Besides that actually awesome line, can this get worse?

Oh yes. Yes. It. Can.

Main Event 091614 Cameron

BRIE BELLA vs. CAMERON

Brie works the arm at :45, showing some semblance of wrestling. A clumsy-ass drop turns into a half-crab, which is escaped pretty easily. Cameron uses the rope as an impact weapon … Brie sells it … and Cameron covers. Properly, this time.

Weak headlock, cover, painful-looking suplex, then the legdrop cover. Again, properly this time as Cameron informs us, “Yeah, I know!”

Main Event 091614 Brie Bella Cameron

Girl, you didn’t know a day before, and it’s your damn job!

cagesideseats.com
cagesideseats.com

Yeah, I’ll count that. I’ll count it as another reason to mock your stupid ass until you mericfully get future endeavored.

Brie with a semi-decent lariat and some short dropkicks at about 3:00. Then that stupid “BRIE MODE!!!” leads into a missile dropkick. Cameron appears to set up “Girl, Bye,” but Brie hits the X-Factor for the win. Considering Brie gets X-Pac heat in this house, that’s SO fitting.

Time: 3:53

Like one of the Divas matches last week, luckily the 5-minute rule applies here, because this was bad. They appear to try — well, Brie does, anyway — but it’s just not there. Cameron’s gotta go; her only benefit is pulling off the “racy schoolgirl” look … which basically EVERY WOMAN WITH A PLAID SKIRT can pull off.

Main Event 091614 Cameron 2

Brie does absolutely nothing for me from an in- or out-of-ring standpoint. At least she didn’t talk this time.

•••

JBL declared the main event would be a good one. We’ll see whether Big E. delivers; he certainly has the ability.

Main Event 091614 Big E

Rollins simply doesn’t have bad matches if he can actually do anything about it.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 3

On another note, THERE’S A FREAKING STING DVD SET COMING OUT NEXT WEEK. Finally.

BIG E. vs. SETH ROLLINS

Canned “You Sold Out!” chants about a half-second after the bell. Nobody actually cares about that anymore … you know, except the marks still hung up on The Shield. Big E. doesn’t care about that; he cares about winning the match, and Rollins isn’t pleased with the early proceedings.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 4

Rollins goes to the classic heel tactic of ducking through the ropes to get a break, then cheap-shotting his way to an advantage. That worked until Big E.’s shoulder and his right fist turn the tide. Shoulder charge to the midsection in the corner. Make that two. Vicious right into the corner, then Rollins hits three right elbows and goes for the suplex. Blocked twice, then Seth goes for the crossbody. Not so much. Big E. catches and hits a chain of three backbreakers before the cover. Rollins audibly calling spots … that one must’ve involved being knocked outside. Big E. bounces Seth’s head off the table, tosses him into a barricade, then presses him back in.

Seth’s springboard attempt blocked, but he does hit a face-first dive outside just before the break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Back at 7:00, and Rollins continues his control, this time in the ring. Chop block to the back of the knee, then he slaps on the headlock. Big E. powers out, but misses the lariat and eats a kick. After a cover, Seth locks in the vicious Double Ear Lock, then pulls Langston into the ropes. Kick, kneedrop, back to the headlock. Big E. powers out and knocks Rollins back-first into the corner twice, but Rollins reverses on the third attempt and charges in. After a reminder that brains beat brawn, brawn hits a uranage. Then a lariat of sorts. Then another. Then the belly-to-belly. Rollins hits a couple more kicks. But another belly-to-belly, and the Warrior splash for 2.

Both men down around 11:30. Rollins elbows Big E., dances around a bit, kicks Big E. from the apron, then TAKES THE SPEAR ONTO THE FLOOR. Big E. rolls Rollins back in, knocks him down, and ditches the straps. Big Ending? Nope, Rollins slips onto the apron. Kick, re-entry, duck the shoulder charge, then post Langston in the other corner. That sets up the Curbstomp. Done.

Main Event 091614 Seth Rollins 5

Time: 14:08

Technical Merit: This one was raved about on Twitter, and it was … OK. The style contrast helped, but it seemed a bit slow and repetitive at times. Then again, when did we last see Big E. go 14 minutes on TV? I know it’s been a while for me. Cool spot with the spear to the floor, but otherwise pretty average.

Artistic Impression: Even as Big E. built steam, there was never the feeling he would win the match, mainly because WWE is having Rollins go over on basically the entire midcard at this point. Cool to see, though, that Rollins can go in and work well with almost anyone, which will bode well when he carries a belt, instead of a briefcase, in the future.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

•••

OK, so that wasn’t all that great either. But fear not, wrestling fans: This week’s episode of Ring of Honor (which will be reviewed Thursday) is apparently everything we’ve ever dreamed of, and there’s always WWE’s top show on Thursday. I’ll give you a hint: This guy is the top heel on the top show.

NXT Takeover2 Tyson Kidd 2You know, unless they’re slow-turning their champion. But hey, don’t you actually want to know what happens on NXT?

NXT Takeover 2 review (Sept. 11): Adrian Neville takes the Fatal 4-Way, and the Match of the Year

With the first NXT special event, we didn’t know what to expect. We hoped for great, but thought we’d see pretty good.

I wrote a headline that night that said, “THIS is wrestling”.

There was no way to follow that up, right? I mean, Cesaro came down to help out, and so much of the talent in the title matches got the call to the big leagues. Three 4-star matches later, including the best women’s wrestling match WWE has probably ever had, NXT Takeover put the “developmental” brand above the flagship in terms of in-ring quality.

So now the bar is set impossibly high for Round 3 on Thursday night. The first few matches are definitely solid, but not quite up to par. Granted, every hole on this course is a par-2 instead of 3, 4 or 5. But when I took a quick break before the main event, I thought, “Well, this Takeover is good, but the main event must deliver.”

Holy crap, did it ever.

Not only was the Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Championship WWE’s match of the year, but there’s no group of four men on the active main roster who could come close to topping it. In terms of ability? Maybe. But they’re not hungry enough to put on a contest of that magnitude.

In NXT, we’re seeing a shift away from SuperCena (and SuperReigns, at this point) and supernatural sports entertainment characters, and toward focused, determined, technically gifted PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS. I have friends in Florida, and I’m jealous they can partake in the atmosphere live, whether it’s a house show or TV. When it shows up on Thursday nights, it’s like an Attitude Era crowd was crammed into a fieldhouse and placed around the WCW cruiserweight roster of the late ’90s.

It’s to the point where I don’t want to see NXT guys get called up unless it’s in bulk. I want these men to compete at Full Sail again in three months, because when you put Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn with Hideo Itami (Who? You’ll see), Kevin SteenPrince Devitt and maybe/hopefully others … you’re getting unparalleled pro wrestling. If I’m in WWE, and I want to hone my craft to the best of my ability, I either want to be in NXT or be working with NXT talent as soon as it’s called up.

I knew of Kidd for years, but as a basically WWE-only guy for so many years, I didn’t know Zayn, Neville or Breeze before I flipped on NXT earlier this year. I now know them as three of the finest workers under the banner of the premier promotion in the world. There was passion you don’t see on RAW, SmackDown or Impact. There was in-ring work the main-roster guys either aren’t able, willing or allowed to replicate. There was intense drama for the entire second half of a 24-minute event. And there was a champion who, against three opponents who would deserve the belt in a heartbeat, showed why he’s carrying the brand.

Anyway, I’m burying the lead. Here’s why the show was so good.

•••

All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network.
All photos are screenshots from the WWE Network.

Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!

Well here’s a good way to start an event. Considering how much matching attire Kalisto and Sin Cara have, methinks they’ll be a pair for a while. I just don’t expect them to become champions tonight … because, well, The Ascension.

NXT Takeover2 The Ascension

THE ASCENSION (Konnor & Viktor, c) vs. THE LUCHA DRAGONS (Kalisto & Sin Cara), NXT Tag Team Championship

Obvious points of emphasis here: The power-speed dichotomy, and the synergy of the new team vs. the team that has held the belts for nearly a year. Cara showcases the speed with about three springboard moves, but Viktor knocks him into the barricade, tags to Konnor, and the big man elaborates on Viktor’s handiwork. Back in the ring, and Sin Cara’s newest tattoo may be Konnor’s bootprint on his chest. Big fan of the ground-and-pound here, and it appears The Ascension is pacing itself for a longer match.

NXT Takeover2 Viktor Sin Cara

 

Meanwhile, Kalisto is begging for the hot tag. Viktor nearly powerbombs Cara out of the ring, but he bounces off the ropes and hits a headscissors. No tag, however, and when Konnor gets in, Sin Cara just isn’t prepared for the onslaught.

NXT Takeover2 Konnor Sin Cara

Two kicks from Sin Cara, but he can’t break free. Maybe an enziguiri? Not so much. Some elbows? Nope. Konnor bull rushes Cara into the corner and tags, but Sin Cara slips over and gets the hot tag to Kalisto at 5:25.

Top-rope crossbody, springboard corkscrew, and a sunset flip catch powerbomb for 2. Oh, and Kalisto hit two slides on Konnor during that. Jesus. Cara dives onto Konnor outside. Kalisto hits another headscissors onto Viktor, who dips out. Kalisto dives onto The Ascension, who catch and toss Kalisto, only he (kind of) lands on his feet on the ramp. Sin Cara follows with a successful suicide dive. Back in the ring, and Viktor hits the lariat. That sets up the Fall of Man? Nope, Sin Cara cuts off Konnor. Kalisto hits his finisher …

NXT Takeover2 Kalisto Viktor

… and the upset is complete!

NXT Takeover2 Kalisto Sin Cara 3

Time: 7:36

Technical Merit: Quality match with the contrasting styles. Everything looked good, and there were counters when necessary. Great logical move by Sin Cara to cut off The Ascension’s finisher, and it opened up possibly the only way for the champs to lose. It was clean and made sense.

Artistic Impression: Cool story with the smaller underdogs winning. Guess this clears the way for The Ascension to … well … ascend!

TOTAL SCORE: ***

•••

Related to nothing else, Byron Saxton can rock a damn suit. Take notes, gentlemen. That’s style.

NXT Takeover2 Byron Saxton Tom Phillips

After a nice Adrian Neville video package, it’s time for our next match …

… which involves this clown.

NXT Takeover2 CJ Parker

His opponent? Not a clown. He falls more under badass. If you ask my Twitter bestie (I see you, Heather!), there probably are some other glowing descriptors.

NXT Takeover2 Baron Corbin

C.J. PARKER vs. BARON CORBIN

Collar-and-elbow. Advantage Corbin. Lariat. Powerful, POWERFUL finishing maneuver. Done.

Baron F-ing Corbin, ladies and gentlemen.

NXT Takeover2 Baron Corbin 2

NXT Takeover2 CJ Parker 3

Time: :30

If you must use Parker, get him out as quickly as possible. I like it.

•••

A super-arrogant video from Tyson Kidd, then … a hair match? I missed far too much many episodes.

Clearly Sylvester LeFort is The Legionnaires‘ candidate, seeing as he has the *much* higher quantity of hair, on his chest and his head.

To be fair, Enzo Amore might look better with a shaved head. On another note, HOW YOU DOIN?!

NXT Takeover2 Big Cass Enzo Amore

Amore sounds like a young DDP. Kinda looks like a young DDP if he had about four too many disco biscuits, too. OK, that last part’s a stretch. But Enzo would’ve been a NICE addition to the Jersey Triad.

SYLVESTER LeFORT (w/Marcus Louis) vs. ENZO AMORE (w/Big Cass), Hair vs. Hair Match

Semi-related note: I tried cutting my own hair with a brand-new clipper set when I was 21. I was all good until I tried to clean up the back. Ended up about halfway up the back of my head. Had to shave it all. Was scared as hell, but it looked good, and I’ve more or less kept it since. Methinks whomever loses this match either knows or at least thinks he’s got a good head. I feel like LeFort could pull it up. Keep the beard, the chest hair, all of it. But just take it all off the top.

Anyway, back on topic. Nothing too memorable to note in the first 80-85 percent of the match. Enzo leads with the jab, but gets distracted by Louis, and LeFort hits a lariat for 2. Louis and Big Cass get into their own battle outside while LeFort looks on, and Enzo gets the rollup.

NXT Takeover2 Enzo Amore Sylvester LeFort

We’ll see about my LeFort theory.

NXT Takeover2 Sylvester LeFort 2

Time: 5:37

Technical Merit: Good thing there’s a stip, because that match was boring as hell. Nothing really happened.

Artistic Impression: The background story is good. The characters are great. But that match sucked. Then LeFort bails! Guess Louis has the better-shaped head. Poor execution with the bucket, though. Now Louis won’t have eyebrows or arm hair either.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*

•••

The most gorgeous vignette of the night follows. Complete with a Beauty Shot montage. Also, thanks for #Uggo, #Hobbit and #NattiesHusband.

Every outfit I wear matches gold.

That’s the fashion sense a true champion needs.

Hi, Jojo!

NXT Takeover2 Jojo

And hello, Mr. General Manager!

NXT Takeover2 William Regal

And konbanwa, KENTA!

NXT Takeover2 Hideo Itami KENTA 2

Thank God … they gave him good music. That’s been a worry in WWE lately. (See: Ambrose, Dean; Rollins, Seth; Cesaro, Antonio). And he gave himself a good suit. Well done! The man’s always impeccably dressed when he’s near a ring. I can appreciate that.

And he’s cutting his promo in Japanese. I love it. Transitions to English … and transitions to Hideo Itami as a tribute to one of his heroes.

NXT Takeover2 Hideo Itami KENTA 3

And, I guess, transitions to an Ascension interruption?! And he transitions to the floor.

“Yeah, we’re in a bad mood.”

Konnor demands a rematch, but there’s one problem … Hideo’s still standing.

NXT Takeover2 Hideo Itami KENTA 4

And literally kicking The Ascension out of the ring. And grabbing a chair. This is freaking awesome. Even Regal’s enjoying it.

NXT Takeover2 Hideo Itami KENTA 5

•••

I’ve never given an NXT match a negative rating, but if Mojo Rawley wins this next match, I just might.

NXT Takeover2 Bull Dempsey

Bull Dempsey? He’s a little more legit. By a little, I mean a lot. Mojo at least comes out swinging.

BULL DEMPSEY vs. MOJO RAWLEY

Dempsey fulfilling my wishes early, then Mojo gets an elbow up and hits a double-leg. That’s at least a wrestling move. Also a wrestling move: A 300-pound man hitting a diving headbutt. That’s it.

Time: 1:11

Just for fun, he gives us another.

NXT Takeover2 Bull Dempsey 2

… BULL! … BULL! … BULL! Let’s get him against ROH’s Moose Ojinnaka this minute. Or maybe Silas Young in a battle over who’s the manliest? I could go either way here.

•••

We revisit the hair situation. Again, like a true Frenchman, LeFort retreats. That leaves Louis to fend for himself. That leaves Louis’ head to be exposed to the universe.

NXT Takeover2 Marcus Louis

There’s potential. He just needs to finish the job and he’s got a good look!

•••

We move from hair gimmicks to hugs. I’ll take it! Cool video package hyping Bayley as the sympathetic, happy-go-lucky babyface … and a possible future champion.

NXT Takeover2 Bayley

This might be the best entrance attire I’ve ever seen. That’s fringe that’ll make The Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage jealous from above. I freaking love Bayley.

The champ? She looks more than ready to go. If this were Jim Ross, he’d mention Charlotte noticeably slimming down from her last PPV match to give her more speed and endurance. Plus, well, she’s a Flair. Gotta be able to go 60, right?

NXT Takeover2 Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (c) vs. BAYLEY, NXT Women’s Championship

“Bayley’s gonna hug you. Bayley’s gonna hug you. Bayley’s gonna hug you.”

Charlotte offers a handshake, but the challenger won’t have it. I get the feeling this will be less of a technical battle than last time and more of a traditional sports-entertainment affair. Though Bayley shows some nice pace and keeps the pressure on the champion. A backslide is viciously blocked into a neckbreaker. That looked painful from the champ.

Charlotte drops the knee a few times, and a cover 2 minutes in. Choke in the ropes, and the figure four headlock follows. Always a great sequence because it’s never just the headlock.

NXT Takeover2 Bayley Charlotte

Bayley bridges for 2, but the champ keeps it locked in. Bridge again, and the champ finally breaks on the kickout.

Stomps to the gut in the corner, but Bayley responds in kind. Charlotte slaps her, then drops the shin over the neck. Not quite a choke, and it’ll set up the finisher well. It’s not a Flair match without a chop exchange, and we get it. Back to the figure four headlock, and the champ rolls around to add some impact to the hold. Charlotte throws in some strikes to the head, but Bayley isn’t ready to submit just yet. Charlotte hooks the legs for 2, then Bayley with a rollup. Another rollup blocked, and the champ goes for the figure four leglock, but Bayley rolls her up again. Dropkick from the champion, and we’ll take a breather after a quick exchange.

ANOTHER Bayley rollup at 6:45, then Charlotte goes with a knee to the gut. Cover to no avail as the Bayley chants get louder. She’s taunting the challenger, which only means Bayley will respond … with a whole lot of forearms and a shoulder charge in the corner. Charlotte turns the tables, tosses Bayley’s legs through the ropes and yanks her head down. Now she’s up top … ? Not quite. Bayley with some punches and forearms, maybe a slap, and she hits the hurricanrana from the top at 9:00.

Slow cover, and a strong, urgent kickout. Belly-to-belly blocked into a creative rollup for 2, and Charlotte seems to go into another rollup, only she rolls Bayley’s head right into the bottom buckle. Damn. Charlotte goes up and does the moonsault  — a little too well, since she landed perfectly without making contact — but Bayley kicks out.

NXT Takeover2 Bayley 3

She won’t kick out of Natural Selection, which may be the best finisher name in NXT.

NXT Takeover2 Charlotte 2

Time: 10:40

Technical Merit: A much different match than the last NXT special, but this one worked. Bayley did what you’d expect from an underdog, getting some spurts of momentum and going for numerous quick rollups. Charlotte’s just better, and she showed it. Bayley’s time will come.

Artistic Impression: From the video package to the start of the match to the end, you pulled for Bayley. Not just because they set it up that way, but because Bayley made you believe she could pull it off. The drive to win was there throughout, and it made for a fun, emotional match that was possible to get behind.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

Wait a second … Sasha Banks is in the house for a bit of bullying. Needless to say, the champ’s making the save here.

NXT Takeover2 Charlotte 4 NXT Takeover2 Sasha Banks

Seems like a decent code of conduct: Keep the beatings between the bells. Plus, Bayley earned a sliver of respect this evening.

•••

The point of Sami Zayn‘s video package: He hasn’t been able to win the big one, but he doesn’t think about that. It’s his time.

Oh, another thing: Hideo’s in the ring next week.

NXT Takeover2 Hideo Itami KENTA 7

I’m tuning in. You’re tuning in. We’re all tuning in.

•••

It’s main event time, which means they’ll get almost 30 for this. Apparently the gorgeous one picked the blue gear for the occasion.

NXT Takeover2 Tyler Breeze 2

The arguably best man in the match, and the one with undoubtedly the worst music, is next. If I didn’t think he’d be an asset on the main roster like yesterday, I’d give him the belt.

NXT Takeover2 Sami Zayn

Tyson Kidd has honed in on an actual character, which we’ve never really seen from him. He looks the guy whose butt you want to kick, and whose butt you possibly could … until he locks you in something and you cry like a bitch.

NXT Takeover2 Tyson Kidd 2

Random fun fact from Neville’s video to start: He’s undefeated in 2014. Bonus fun fact: He’s very confident, almost cocky. We’ll see whether that means anything as the match progresses.

NXT Takeover2 Adrian Neville

The men in this match are 205, 197, 200 and 194 pounds. Chew on that for a second. In Vince McMahon‘s company, a “pay-per-view” main event averages 199 pounds per man. This is the future. Also, 1996 Eric Bischoff is VERY aroused right now.

ADRIAN NEVILLE (c) vs. TYLER BREEZE vs. TYSON KIDD vs. SAMI ZAYN, Fatal 4-Way Match, NXT Championship

It doesn’t take long for all four men to move out of the ring. We tease a Zayn-Neville moment, but the heels break that up. All four move back out for another round. At 3:00, Zayn finds Breeze’s phone and uses it in two ways — a weapon, and a selfie.

NXT Takeover2 Sami Zayn 3

Kidd finally kills the pair-off routine by attacking Zayn, but Zayn goes reverse STO into a Koji clutch in the ring, and Breeze breaks it up. Neville takes Breeze up the ramp, which doesn’t seem smart … and Kidd chop blocks the knee from behind. All four go to the ramp, and Kidd and Breeze hit a tandem vertical suplex on Neville on the stage. The problem? All three men feel it. Breeze goes for a suplex on that ramp, but Zayn blocks. Kidd and Breeze hit ANOTHER tandem suplex, this time to Zayn on that steel grate ramp. Kidd seizes the opportunity and gets Sami in the ring, and Breeze joins him as we continue the classic “heels team up” portion of the program. Kidd rams Zayn into Neville, who falls from the apron to the floor, and the double-team continues.

“Nattie’s better!” chant at 7:00. Neville again attempts to enter, to no avail. Tyson hauls off in the corner, then Tyler pulls him out for some double-team work. Breeze covers, much to Kidd’s chagrin. One Kidd kick later, the heel alliance ends at 8:00. Neckbreaker and cover for 2. Neville AGAIN tries to get in, but Kidd kicks him off the apron. Headlock time as Zayn gets the crowd behind him and hits a jawbreaker. Lariat from Kidd.

Holy crap, Neville gets in! But not for long. Kidd throws him right back out. This is my favorite part of the match.

Kidd keeps striking Zayn repeatedly, then the guillotine legdrop with Sami hanging between the ropes and a cover. Tree of Woe at 10:30. Neville’s next attempt is thwarted, and Kidd goes to the apron to hit a HUGE kick. Zayn looks punchy, which means he’s about to get a head of steam? Nope, just some more knees to the dome in the corner. Snapmare into a chinlock. Meanwhile, Breeze has been selling that kick for about 4 minutes. He’s my new favorite to win.

NEVILLE MAKES IT IN at 12:30, goes back out, then FINALLY gets some offense. Breeze decides it’s his turn, only for Zayn to knock him back outside. Neville does the outside dive version of a cockblock, cutting Sami off and hitting a springboard moonsault onto the heels.

At 14:00 we’ll finally get Zayn-Neville. The champ gets the early advantage and goes for a handspring move, but Zayn clumsily blocks it. That looked a little botchy. Or a lot. Cover, and Kidd breaks it up. Kidd and Neville up top, and Zayn goes for Kidd, but Kidd launches him into Neville, who is dumped outside. Tyson tosses Breeze, then a hell of a swinging neckbreaker for 2. The snap on that was fantastic. Kidd goes for the Sharpshooter, but Zayn blocks. Rolling sequence and another attempt, but no dice. Enziguiri on the apron connects, but Zayn blocks the springboard elbow with his knees. Breeze comes in with a Beauty Shot on Zayn, a superkick on Kidd and a dropkick on Neville, who came in from the top rope. Damn. Covers on Neville and Kidd for 2 apiece.

We reset at 17:00, and Breeze is first up. He takes Neville up. Kidd joins Breeze.  Zayn makes it a quartet, and adds a powerbomb to the double superplex … and Kidd still kicks out.

“This is wrestling” indeed.

Zayn gets revenge on Kidd for the entire first half of the match, then runs right into Neville’s boot. Could be Red Arrow time, but Kidd stalls. Basic moonsault on Zayn … but Breeze pulls him out and covers Zayn!

… for 2.

NXT Takeover2 Tyler Breeze 5

Rest break at the 20-minute mark. Breeze gets up and goes for the Beauty Shot on Zayn, but Zayn ducks and Kidd blocks … into the Sharpshooter.

NXT Takeover2 Tyler Breeze Tyson Kidd

Breeze goes for the rope, but Kidd pulls him back to the middle. Neville grabs the arm so Breeze literally can’t tap out, and Zayn finally breaks the hold.

The stage is set for the babyfaces at 22:00, and they trade staggering blows. Back kick from Neville, but on the next charge, Zayn back bodydrops him out, then hits the exploder suplex on Kidd into the buckle. Instead of following up on Kidd, he dives and puts Neville into the front row.

NXT Takeover2 Adrian Neville 3

Zayn dives through the ropes in the corner and hits the DDT on Breeze. Helluva kicks Kidd back in the ring. 1 … 2 …

And NEVILLE pulls the ref out.

NXT Takeover2 Adrian Neville 4

Hey, it’s within the rules, of which there are none. You protect the belt by all means. Zayn tries to do something about it, but eats a superkick. Neville runs up top, hits the Red Arrow, hooks the legs and retains.

NXT Takeover2 Adrian Neville Sami Zayn Tyson Kidd

Time: 24:10

Technical Merit: This is what we expected. Each had chances to show their stuff, and there were all kinds of moves to advance the narrative — finishers, submissions, crazy combinations, a four-man superplex spot, even some unsavory tactics from a babyface champion. Even had some false finishes that have ended 3- and 4-way matches for years. Great match.

Artistic Impression: This had it all. Unsavory tactics. Brief alliances. Several WTF moments. Sami Zayn getting angry. Tyson Kidd dominating the first half. Tyler Breeze damn near winning multiple times. Zayn getting robbed. And Adrian Neville doing absolutely anything to keep the gold around his waist. You legitimately didn’t know how it would go, and had I not kept track of the time, I would’ve thought the match was over maybe a half-dozen times beforehand. All four men came in with distinct, well-built personas, and most importantly, they brought it in the ring.

TOTAL SCORE: *****

Can I change my scale? As emotional and great as Zayn vs. Cesaro was to kick off ArRIVAL, this just had so much more depth from a creative and competitive standpoint.

Better yet, can we just do this again? Like … now? I’ll grab the popcorn. And the rum. Cheers, my friends.

What did you think of the show? What do you think of NXT’s direction? How will these guys translate on the main roster? Something something something NXT related? Comment below, or follow The Champ on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE Midcard Report (Sept. 9-11): Rollins vs. Swagger, plus Cesaro and The Ascension

If you’re as disenchanted with the WWE product every week as I am — and judging by Twitter, you are — it gets better than RAW. No, I’m not just talking about NXT Takeover, which will get a thorough (and likely glowing) review from the champ later this evening.

Main Event is consistently better than RAW. You get three or four matches, only one of which is usually a dud, and you don’t have to deal with the Bella Twins or John Cena or anything that seems to drag on and give the “same old stuff” feel. Cena showed up that one time, but it doesn’t happen often.

Not only was Main Event better, but if you skipped through the RAW recaps … Superstars was better. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but there was a good match hidden in there this week that made it worthwhile for at least a few minutes.

These shows are why the Midcard Report exists: To shine a light on the competitors and matches that don’t get seen too often, as well as to remind people it gets better than what you’re seeing. If you don’t like it, then just go watch Nitro. Hell, I’d rather watch that than RAW anyway. #nWo4Life

•••

We kick off the midweek with “breaking news” in the form of two Night of Champions matches:

Main Event 090914 Seth Rollins Roman Reigns Main Event 090914 Randy Orton Chris Jericho

Gotta say I like both of those, especially the second one. Randy Orton has been somewhat handcuffed by facing Roman Reigns in the recent past; now he gets someone who has chemistry with him AND ability. Chris Jericho may not be the best in the world at what he does anymore, but he’s still damn near.

Anyway, it’s promo time with the other new NOC combatant, Seth Rollins. Apparently it’s a new episode of “Where Are They Now?” with The Shield.

Main Event 090914 The Shield
All images are screenshots from WWE programming.

They were dominant, and they put WWE on notice. But where’s Dean Ambrose, the unstable, unrelenting one? Well, he made a fatal error by going head-to-head with Rollins and getting curbstomped twice. Excellent use of college dormitory furniture!

Main Event 090914 Dean Ambrose

Rollins brings up a valid point: Ambrose himself probably doesn’t know where he is. Another one, to me anyway: Who cares?

Moving right along to Reigns, and a jealous moment from Rollins. All he heard is Roman this, Roman that, Roman is the future of PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING. That’s all caps because you don’t hear it in WWE anymore. Frankly, Roman is all we hear about now. I guess it’s Seth’s fault, because he’s taking credit for creating him and leading him to success. But his future is obsolete, and Seth will destroy what he created.

RAW 090814 Roman Reigns 2

You know, if he can avoid being impaled by steel cage spikes.

Oh yeah, there’s one more segment to this promo, which is just verbal masturbation. He says he’s the future, and he’s the future World Heavyweight Champion.

Main Event 090914 Seth Rollins 2

Apparently Jack Swagger (?!?!) has had enough. Zeb Colter rationalizes this bit by saying Rollins isn’t a great strategist, but rather someone who wants to talk about his enemies from far away and is too scared to do anything about it.

Main Event 090914 Zeb Colter Jack Swagger

Zeb’s more than willing to see, through Swagger, whether Rollins is a coward, or a Real American. I guess it works for the latest round of “Seth Rollins needs someone to wrestle.”

Main Event 090914 Jack Swagger

SETH ROLLINS vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter)

Rollins is hot out of the gate, with his right hand, educated feet and quick moves giving him an advantage for about 15 seconds. Swagger’s shoulder deals a pair of crushing blows as Rollins regroups.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

We’re back at about 2:10, and Rollins is back outside. This time, Swagger joins him and uses his power edge to introduce Seth to numerous hard objects. Rollins speeds up and outsmarts Swagger, and he gets a chance to stomp and choke away in the corner. Nice lariat from a man with about a 50-pound disadvantage, then he uses Swagger’s own arm as a weardown weapon. He tosses Swagger into the corner, charges into him with the elbow and waits for Swagger to rise. Maybe he shouldn’t have, though, because Jack catches Seth from the second rope and hits the belly-to-belly. Pair of shoulders from the Big Show/Erick Rowan collection, then the big boot and the Swaggerbomb. Takedown and cover for 2. Jack tries to gain some ride time, but Seth escapes and scores with a kick. Now the elementary, yet effective, fists to the back of the head. Enough of those will neutralize someone, right? Nope. Swagger is unfazed, and with some persistence, slaps on the Patriot Lock. Rollins squirms around and finally finds the ropes. He tries to leap over, but Jack just catches him, deposits him in the corner and goes for Kurt Angle‘s traditional toss from the second rope, but no dice. Seth hits the knee to the head, then the curbstomp. He’ll sell the ankle a bit, but he will do so victoriously.

Main Event 090914 Seth Rollins 3

Time: 8:59

Technical Merit: Both men can work, and they work pretty well together for this being a one-off.

Artistic Impression: Seth is an interesting case. He’s a great wrestler, and he has the Money In The Bank briefcase, but he looks vulnerable in every single match, no matter the opponent. It seems like it would help everyone look good, but it’s at a risk of making himself look bad when he needs to be built up really strong.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

•••

Be very, very quiet. Slatergator are hunting wabbits! No, seriously.

Main Event 090914 Titus O'Neil Heath Slater

Apparently Titus O’Neil wants to catch Adam Rose‘s bunny in an attempt to enhance his chances of winning matches. Sound strategy, I think! After all, Bugs Bunny ruined a LOT of Elmer Fudd‘s plans.

After the next match, Slatergator tries to catch the bunny, to no avail. Titus catches Heath instead.

Main Event 090914 Heath Slater

So without the rabbit neutralized, Titus must march on against Rose. Yay.

TITUS O’NEIL (w/Heath Slater) vs. ADAM ROSE (w/The Rosebuds)

Titus is squashing Rose for the first 1:15, but then the bunny runs in … or hops in. Slater opts for a sneak tactic, climbing under the ring and trying to catch the rabbit, who hits an enziguiri?! His workrate is better than Rose’s! Anyway, Rose pushes Titus into Slater and gets the rollup to help this mercifully end. I’m so FREAKING sick of Adam Rose.

Main Event 090914 Titus O'Neil 2

Time: 2:01

•••

Main Event 090914 Cesaro

Who wouldn’t buy one of those Cesaro towels? Are they for sale? I need to look this up. I’d use a set.

Oh my … we’re about to feel REALLY sorry for Zack Ryder. Nice brotee, though.

Main Event 090914 Zack Ryder

CESARO vs. ZACK RYDER

Cesaro shoulder block, but Ryder gets back up, and gets the early advantage with a flapjack AND a dropkick. But that’s shortlived. Cesaro trips Ryder up on the apron, and the left knee pays for it. Stomp on the chest, then a spinning toehold when we’re back inside, but he misses a short dropkick in the corner intended for the knee. Ryder hits the Broski Boot and a splash to the outside, but the left knee is still hurting. He goes for something off the top rope, but Cesaro hits the swing and turns it into a SICK submission hold, a modified clover leaf.

Main Event 090914 Cesaro Zack Ryder

It’s academic.

Time: 2:22

Main Event 090914 Cesaro Renee Young

Now it’s promo time, and Cesaro calls out Renee Young for sounding surprised he beat Ryder. Young then says she’s not, and Cesaro makes The Champ lose it for about a solid minute.

“Zack Ryder is a former United States Champion. Who are you to doubt Zack Ryder?

That’s right. Cesaro gave him the El Dandy treatment. Considering Bret Hart‘s classic promo had to do with the U.S. Title, which Ryder held and Cesaro is pursuing, that’s absolute gold.

I’m just bummed Cesaro didn’t call him a jam-up guy. Cesaro declares himself just better than Sheamus. More educated, more interesting, “WAY” better looking, and most importantly, better in the ring. Everyone knows it. The man’s rightHe won’t just be the King of Swing; he’ll be the King of Wrestling. I can get on board with that. So can a lot of people.

Main Event 090914 Cesaro 3

CESARO PROMO: ***

We got to see Cesaro be funny, drop in a WCW Easter Egg and state facts. His in-ring work overshadows his wit, but the latter is totally there, and we’re witnessing it now.

•••

Now THIS is a Main Event main event!

Main Event 090914 The Ascension

The NXT Takeover hype machine rolls on, this time with the Tag Team Champions. Considering it’s the main roster, it’ll be nice to actually know who’s getting squashed this time around. Well, have a 50-50 chance, anyway.

NXT Tag Team Champions THE ASCENSION (Konnor & Viktor) vs. LOS MATADORES (Diego & Fernando)

That entrance was AWESOME. Great new video, and the strobe lights actually have that strobe effect in the larger arena. Viktor starts against … who cares which one? Double shoulder dive after the tag, but Konnor actually takes a drop toehold, a slide while on the ropes and a senton from the apron. He kicks out at 1, carries the other Matador into the ring and tags to Viktor, who just destroys the jobber’s upper body. More double-team work, and a weardown hold ensues. It’s weird hearing Michael Cole talking about NXT wrestlers. Matador wants a tag, but he gets a lariat instead. Tag back to Viktor, and we’re basically just waiting for the Fall of Man at this point. Hot tag for the matadors, but he misses a dive from the corner. Tag to Konnor, and we get what we’ve waited for.

Main Event 090914 The Ascension 2

Time: 3:59

These guys might be the best tag team in WWE. They’re a 180 from The Usos, who I wouldn’t mind seeing take on The Ascension in a 2-on-2 setting for the sheer contrast of high-flying flash vs. straight-up ass-kicking. They’ve squared off once before in a 6-man tag, and Konnor and Viktor looked great when they actually had a challenge.

•••

First time seeing this Superstars intro, which includes a LOT of John Cena, Reigns, Orton and Sheamus.

Then we start the night with … Naomi.

Superstars 091114 Naomi

That seems like false advertising.

I’m surprised Summer Rae and Layla didn’t come out with a little person dressed like an animal. Is that still a thing or no?

NAOMI vs. SUMMER RAE (w/Layla)

Naomi’s in control until … Layla’s dancing distracts her while on the apron? Well then. I mean, Layla can be a distraction, but …

Superstars 091114 Layla

Anyway, whole lot of dancing around at 1:30, then a whip and the leg choke in the corner. Weardown hold from Summer, via pulling Naomi’s left arm in front of her mouth, and Summer “lets” her escape with some hair pulling. More conventional headlock this time and some spot calling, and it’s time for the babyface comeback? Nope, the slowest and worst set-up heelkick ever. Summer’s back to the headlock like she’s Randy Orton or something. Naomi gets out and it’s two dropkicks, back suplex, face into the mat and cover. Layla goes for the distraction again, only Naomi slips out and Summer has to hit the brakes. Bridge pin from the “veteran” Naomi, and we’re out.

Superstars 091114 Naomi Summer Rae Layla

Time: 4:33

I’ve started a 5-minute rule … gotta go 5 to be rated. This match should breathe a sigh of relief, because that sucked. Summer doesn’t really work as a heel, because she can’t believably control a wrestling match, especially against someone with actual talent. Had the roles been reversed, it would’ve had a better chance of working.

Superstars 091114 Naomi 2

•••

On Superstars, this is something to be hyped about.

Superstars 091114 Justin Gabriel Sin Cara

Get two small guys in WCW, they actually get some time (and take advantage of the time) to make it worthwhile. My faith is fleeting in this situation.

Also, this passes for a scintillating SmackDown tease.

Superstars 091114 Mark Henry Rusev Lana

Yeah, might skip that show this week. Again.

Anyway, after a bunch of RAW recaps, we get the luchador against the World British Super Duper Championship Motocross Wrestling Champion. That’s what I’m assuming, since he has the whole motocross/wrestling crossover thing going.

Superstars 091114 Justin Gabriel Sin Cara 2

JUSTIN GABRIEL vs. SIN CARA

I forgot about the mood lighting until it came back on. Sin Cara wins the first minute and works Gabriel’s arm until he gets to the rope. Once free, Gabriel is more interested in using his forearms and pulling on Cara’s mask than actually trying to prove the “best high flyer” claim the announcers are discussing. Sin Cara pleads his case with an armdrag from the top, a dropkick, and a springboard moonsault onto a standing Gabriel from the apron. He tries to springboard back in, but Gabriel pushes him down, then hits a corkscrew splash onto the floor.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Back at 3:40, and Gabriel has a hammerlock applied and is trying to tee off on Cara. A release German will help him as well, and he covers for 2. Russian legsweep follows …. then a submission? Maybe he learned something from Tyson Kidd after all!

Superstars 091114 Justin Gabriel Sin Cara 3

Since it’s not Tyson Kidd applying it, Sin Cara escapes, only to get punched in the face and kicked in the gut some more. Then the spine. Then the spine again. Gabriel goes for the German, but Cara reverses and hits his own release suplex, flipping Gabriel on his face. Cara picks up the pace, hits the headscissors and flips into Gabriel in the corner. He goes up top, but no dice. Gabriel hits the Frankensteiner, then a springboard moonsault for 2. Gabriel? He’s not very pleased. Cara? He’s not very awake.

Superstars 091114 Sin Cara

Now Gabriel sets up for the … spear? Not sure, but Sin Cara goes for the rollup. Nope, a roll-through into a powerbomb. Not bad!

Gabriel hits a DDT at 8:10, then climbs the ropes, but Sin Cara hits the enziguiri. Frankensteiner blocked, and Gabriel gathers himself and hits the 450 for the win.

Superstars 091114 Justin Gabriel

Time: 8:49

Technical Merit: A different side of Gabriel in a rare situation as the bigger guy, and it actually worked. He’s believable as a vicious, striking technician when in the ring with other cruiserweights. Sin Cara was Sin Cara … nothing mesmerizing, nothing terrible. Just some dude who hits a couple high spots.

Artistic Impression: Gabriel showed some negative emotions, which is good. He’s working heel. He’s supposed to be frustrated if he doesn’t get the pin. It came off well, and it put into doubt whether he could actually win the rematch. This match was considerably better than I expected.

TOTAL SCORE: **

WWE RAW “Season Premiere” review (Sept. 8)

Yes, this post has a warning: It might suck, because the show might suck. It also might suck because what “sucks” and what doesn’t may differ from person to person. Though can we agree Roman Reigns and The Bella Twins suck yet? If you don’t, just step away and come back for the Midcard Report later this week. They’re far from immune from my venom, even if Reigns claims to have an antidote. (That’ll make sense later.)

Anyway, I skipped RAW last week, and I should’ve skipped the week before. But the wife’s out of town, and I’m bored, so let’s give this a shot!

•••

So we’re starting with a steel cage?

RAW 090814 Steel Cage
All photos, unless otherwise noted, are screenshots from WWE programming on Hulu Plus.

And Chris Jericho?

RAW 090814 Chris Jericho

AND Bray Wyatt?

RAW 090814 Bray Wyatt Family

You have my attention. Nobody needs to “save” anyone tonight, boys. Just get in the cage and get it done.

CHRIS JERICHO vs. BRAY WYATT (w/The Wyatt Family), Steel Cage match

We’re going vintage steel cage rules here — you can get out, or you can beat the opponent in the ring. Bray goes for an escape about 90 seconds in, but otherwise the usual deliberate, brawling style from him. Jericho is energetic and impactful, snapping off a dropkick and hitting a nice enziguiri in the first 2 minutes or so. They’re selling the contrasting styles. Y2J’s first attempt comes when he climbs the buckles after being whipped in, but Erick Rowan and Luke Harper were waiting. Plus, well, Bray pulled him down. First use of the cage as a weapon comes at 3:45, when Bray tosses Jericho. Also the first…

…COMMERCIAL BREAK.

We’re back, Wyatt’s on the floor and Jericho’s heading up top. He starts to climb over, but the Family is ready to welcome him. Jericho has other plans, and after a shrug, he does his best Jimmy Snuka impression.

RAW 090814 Chris Jericho steel cage

Not the cleanest splash in the world, but when you’re that high, the crossbody WILL be effective if you make contact. Also, Jericho said on Instagram he hadn’t done that since about 1993, which may be how/why he’s selling the right knee. It’s not enough to keep him from crawling to the door, and basically everything except the feet make it out. Wyatt’s just brutalizing Y2J in an attempt to keep him in, then he finally goes to the right knee five times and rolls out.

Hulu time: 7:26

Technical Merit: Anytime there’s a cage dive, it’s a good thing. Also sold the speed/power dichotomy nicely, and the knee injury was used effectively.

Artistic Impression: This angle has to end somehow, right? If this is it, it ended well, especially with the post-match beatdown with more knee shots and Sister Abigail.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

•••

RAW 090814 Dolph Ziggler

The Intercontinental Champion has a microphone, and he’s referring to The Fappening. Attention? Retained.

Apparently, nobody should’ve been victimized by the iCloud hack spree. Well, except for one D-lister in his Target trunks.

RAW 090814 The Miz

And with a razor.

RAW 090814 The Miz 2

And…we’re not sure yet, because the D-lister and his stunt double are on the premises to threaten that Dolph Ziggler will never work in this town again. Ziggler doesn’t care about Baltimore too much, so we find out it’s a spray tan.

RAW 090814 The Miz Damien Sandow

RAW 090814 The Miz Damien Sandow 2

I love it! Damien Sandow Mizdow doesn’t, though, since he does The Miz‘s stunts, like taking a dropkick and the Zig Zag.

RAW 090814 Dolph Ziggler 2

It’s little things like this that make wrestling fun — and make a belt matter. It’s topical and funny, and it helps the build between two solid characters (three if we count Sandow) continue.

•••

You know what’s not funny, and not supposed to be? This guy.

RAW 090814 Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman wants to say things to John Cena‘s face, so he’ll get the chance.

 

RAW 090814 John Cena Paul Heyman

Heyman leads off by brown-nosing Cena, of course. Then he offers to tell Cena how to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions. Cena responds by burying The Undertaker for not being heard since Mania while he came back in a week, and insults Lesnar’s intelligence by offering a “Never Give Up” towel the champ probably can’t read.

Paul E. tells Cena that being Cena is his downfall. He lives for chants, but Brock doesn’t hear them. Heyman’s insider tip to beating Lesnar: Give up … and give in. Embrace the hate. Feed off the “Cena sucks” chants. Shut the fans up. Maybe heel on the Ravens a bit, because it’s Baltimore. Heyman believes Cena can give in to the hatred, but Brock doesn’t. Then we get the usual suspense spot where Cena weighs the options, ultimately tells Heyman to shut up and says he’ll never change. “Be John Cena, repeat, be John Cena, repeat,” etc. Then he drops Make A Wish and the military in there so you can’t hate him. But he does it with passion, so you really can’t hate him for now.

 

It’s tough as a fan, because Cena clearly buys into what he’s selling, and so do so many other people. But SO many don’t. It makes people buy merch, but it also makes people change the channel, or just “forget” to tune in. If there’s anything WCW taught us, it’s that you can’t just trot out the same aging hero in the main event every week and expect people to flock to the TV, computer, phone, etc. I get he’s a stopgap measure, but after this match, he needs to go away for a while or fade into the upper midcard, mid-to-late-2000s Shawn Michaels role where he makes everyone look good (and was somewhat outlined here).

•••

We get Jericho in the training room, and we expect the beatdown. But we don’t expect it from Randy Orton.

RAW 090814 Randy Orton Chris Jericho

If only this didn’t feel like being jerked around into thinking Orton will finally be the dastardly heel we’ve wanted to return for about 4 years, only to be disappointed yet again.

•••

Seth Rollins is in action, and though I love Dean Ambrose not being around, it seems Rollins is searching for something to do. This week, the United States Champion isn’t busy either. He even has enough time to swat the briefcase out of Rollins’ hands.

SETH ROLLINS vs. United States Champion SHEAMUS

We apparently can’t find a way to talk about the match in the ring, except for an “Ohhh!” after a high-impact move from the Irishman. Sheamus controls the proceedings for nearly 2 minutes before Rollins gets some shots in, but then the rolling senton and a dump outside precede the ambulance … no, it’s just Cesaro in a suit.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Rollins is still bumping around for Sheamus when we get back, which I guess is a nice way to build up one of your champions. Irish Curse followed by a kickout, then a shot to a “scouting” challenger, who grabs the belt.

RAW 090814 Cesaro US Title

Don’t worry, he’ll put it back. But that’s enough for Sheamus to be distracted from applying White Noise and make him susceptible to a rollup. Then, after a tug-of-war for the belt, a kick to the back. Then the Curbstomp, which is sold horribly. Like bad enough where the announcers paid attention and said he didn’t get all of it. But it was enough for the win.

Hulu time: 4:25

Technical Merit: Pretty basic, but just terrible selling of the finisher. That’s bad, and that’s on the man taking the move.

Artistic Impression: It made Sheamus look good, and it made the U.S. Title angle seem semi-important. But how are we supposed to believe Rollins is an evil corporate badass if he’s getting his ass kicked like that? It’s not even like a chicken heel element … he’s just getting beaten until he gets help.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

Cesaro’s scouting trip, needless to say, is over. Unless you count seeing how effective the Neutralizer is in real time and judging the weight of the belt itself “scouting”. I’ll allow it.

RAW 090814 Cesaro US Title 2

•••

Now we get to see how WWE handles xenophobia this week. Oh, it’s by Lana butchering the national anthem and telling us we’ll fall to Rusev‘s might, then playing the Russian anthem. Doesn’t count unless Nikolai Volkoff‘s singing it. Now the announcers feign anger and disdain. What a lovely segment.

•••

RAW 090814 Roman Reigns

Oh crap. Reigns has a live interview. He’s asked what Orton meant by the whole “making an impact on the season premiere” thing.

“I don’t know what he meant. But I do know one thing. He’s the Viper, and he’s got the venom. *cocks fist* Believe that.”

That, my friends, will be your world champion in seven months. He’s garbage in the ring, and he’s worse on the stick. Maybe this is how the Internet Wrestling Community would’ve treated The Ultimate Warrior back in the day, but at least Warrior knew how to speak, even if it didn’t make sense, and he had some good matches here and there. Roman Reigns has shown us NOTHING that makes him remotely viable as a main-event talent. So he looks good? Cool. You know who looked even better, and had a better moveset? This guy.

Chris Masters

At least Chris Masters could lock on a hold. Get it? Masters? Lock? Master Lock? And dress like an athlete.

•••

The Bellas are absolutely terrible, though Nikki is less so, and Jerry Springer is on this show 15 years too late. Luckily, though, we get to learn where they inherited their acting prowess — their parents! Oh, great, Brie’s yelling again. Screw this. I’m out.

The lack of an on-screen champion or perceived-to-be-credible stars leads to filling time somehow. And, with Total Divas back on, why not cross promote, right? Well, pardon the profanity, but it’s stupid fucking bullshit when this fucking mockery of our intelligence ends up on my TV screen every week. It’s why I skipped last week. It’s why I should’ve skipped this week. It’s not good television, and I don’t see how anyone can actually think it is. It’s not cheeky and fun, like the Ziggler-Miz segment. It’s not passionate, like the Cena-Heyman promo became. It’s not entertaining, like, you know, a wrestling match. It’s shitty, and it’s taking away from men AND women who can provide more compelling air time in the ring or out.

•••

Oh crap. Reigns is in the ring. But hey, it’s a SummerSlam rematch! So there’s that.

RANDY ORTON vs. ROMAN REIGNS

Credit to Reigns for adding a vertical suplex to his arsenal. I think I counted two lariats and that suplex before the break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Orton in control, slapping on the headlock for an extended period of time. It’s boring, but I love it every time, probably because he’s not afraid to keep it locked in just … a bit … longer … to add to his heel cred. Hey, I think Reigns used punches AND a kick this time to power out. Side suplex variation, and now both men down. Samoan Drop, because he’s probably contractually obligated as a member of the Anoa’i line, but Orton thwarts the momentum shortly after with the quick powerslam. We’ll get the hangman rope DDT next … nope, a right hand and the dropkick from the floor. Leaping clothesline for 2. Orton gets a cover by dodging Reigns in the corner and rolling him up, then another with the inverted backbreaker. Another powerslam, this time catching Reigns from the second rope, but 2 again. Hangman rope DDT finally follows, and a bit of hardway color below Orton’s lip. Time for the RKO? Blocked and “SUPERMAN PUNCH RIGHT ON THE JAW! RIGHT ON THE BUTTON!” Hey, Hogan’s legdrop was more effective. Orton calls for the cavalry, which includes Rollins, Kane and some production crew, and we mercifully get a DQ as the steel cage comes down (and the accompanying music is on cue).

Hulu time: 9:17

Technical Merit: On one hand, it’s a Randy Orton match. On the other, it’s a Roman Reigns match.

Artistic Impression: These two men just don’t click. Both men need something new to do, and quickly. Orton is one of the best, but even he can’t make Reigns look believable. If he gets the belt, he’ll be the worst worker to carry a world title since The Great Khali, and he had an excuse — he’s freaking 7-foot-3.

TOTAL SCORE: *

There’s far more action after the match than during. Rollins almost gets impaled as the cage comes down, then reaffirms the wrestling fact that if you dive off the top of the steel cage, you’ll now hurt your knee. Though Jericho DID invent that. Reigns got some licks in, but it’s the customary Authority beatdown, complete with vicious chair shots from the Viper and a Curbstomp onto the chair after Rollins says Reigns owes him his entire career. Which looks about right at this point.

RAW 090814 Seth Rollins Randy Orton Kane

•••

If you’re patient enough to make it this far, you’re wondering, “Why u no haz NXT match?” It wasn’t on the “action-packed” 90-minute version on Hulu Plus. But fear not! There will be NXT blogging on Thursday night.

What did you think of RAW? What did you think of the blog? Is The Champ just a grumpy smark who needs to lighten up? Sound off in the comments below, or on Twitter @jpetrie18.

RAW 090814 Roman Reigns 2