bill bodkin looks at two weeks of NXT…
Due to the publishing of our first-ever ‘PopCast’ last week and the big Oscar Sunday, we pushed back last week’s coverage of NXT. So this week we present two weeks worth of wrestling for you. No big intro this, we’re jumping right into the action…
February 20th, 2013 Edition of NXT
Bray Wyatt vs. Yoshi Tatsu
I’m a big fan of Bray Wyatt (the former Husky Harris). The son of Mike Rotundo, nephew of Barry Windham and grandson of Blackjack Mulligan really has it going on with this new persona. He’s a modern day Raven — a master manipulator, a cult of personality. His in-ring work is really solid too. In this match he completely wiped the floor with WWE main roster guy Yoshi Tatsu. I swear that guy has never gotten a fair shake. You leave New Japan to become the modern day Funaki? Woof. Say what you will about Tatsu, the dude makes everyone he works with look great and that’s what Bray Wyatt needed here. He dominated the match, showing us he’s more than just a mouth piece. I think it’s a matter of time before Bray is recalled to the roster and forms his own Wyatt Family on the main roster.
Winner: Bray Wyatt via pure decimation
Xavier Woods vs. El Local
For those who are new to NXT, you’ve seen both of these guys before. Xavier Woods is the former Consequences Creed in TNA Wrestling and El Local…well, he’s actually Ricardo Rodriguez, the ring announcer for Alberto Del Rio. Woods’ new gimmick is that of a ‘Mr. 90s’ where he makes references to 90s pop culture. It’s more a backstage gimmick than one that translates into the ring. As a Woods’ fan, he has a lot of limitations for the WWE. He’s small and he’s a high flyer, so unless he’s teamed up with someone established like Kofi Kingston or Rey Mysterio (if Rey’s even in the WWE by then), he’s going to join Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel in the opening match/squash match tier of the WWE. But until that happens watching Woods work is fun. He has a sick tornado DDT which actually finished off El Local.
As for El Local, I’ve got to say that he’s actually really solid in the ring. He’s not much of a high-flying luchador, but he knows how to wrestle and wrestle really good. He’s kinda like Konnan, back during K-Dog’s early run in WCW, he’s hefty and powerful, but has really good agility. I’m looking forward to seeing more of El Local in future episodes of NXT.
Winner: Xavier Woods via Tornado DDT
Audrey Marie vs. Sasha Banks
NXT has done a really good job of crafting strong women’s matches. This was not one of them.
Big E. Langston vs. Conor O’Brian
Here’s the thing…Big E. Langston is a one move guy. He’s terrible on the mic and there’s nothing remotely interesting about him. He’s a monster, we get it, but he should be a heel in NXT like he is the WWE. And he needs a mouthpiece to do his talking for him. And whoever thought putting Langston and O’Brian, another monster, in the ring with him to have a good match, was asleep at the wheel. This was slow and plodding and thankfully Corey Graves came in for the DQ.
February 27, 2013 Edition
Justin Gabriel vs. Leo Kruger
Almost every week on NXT (outside of the 2/20 edition), we’ve seen Leo Kruger. I didn’t get it. I mean he’s a solid worker, but he’s not the next big thing. With that being said … he did a great job this week working with the high-flying Justin Gabriel. His in-ring work was super old school — focusing on one body part and exploiting it in a sadistic, Southern heel manner. I think this shows that Kruger can definitely work with the guys in the bigs — he just needs a bit of an adjustment when it comes to his gimmick. The ‘big game hunter’ aspect just won’t jive in modern day WWE. Remember Skinner? Exactly.
As for Justin Gabriel, this was the first time I’ve ever seen him in singles action and man can this guy work. He’s got a modern look, a lot of in-ring charisma and his move set that makes me think of ECW-era Lance Storm and Jerry Lynn. In fact, if Gabriel were in old school ECW, he would’ve been super over with the crowd. He also knows how to sell his ass off, which is why he works well on the main roster of the WWE. He has an exciting edge which’ll definitely win over an opening match card. In NXT he comes off as a main eventer, sometimes a man amongst boys.
Winner: Gabriel wins probably one of the most hard fought matches our coverage of NXT with a 450 splash.
Aksana vs. Emma
Honestly, this match stunk. I mean really, really stunk. Emma has a decent gimmick, that of a clumsy dancer. It’s a decent gimmick…for NXT. How many dancing gimmicks can the WWE have on the main roster? Emma looked really sloppy this week. Aksana is a decent worker but she’s not much of a contender in the WWE…then again, who is? But being on the WWE roster, you’d think she’d be able to carry the weaker Emma to a better match. Guess what, she didn’t. She looks as amateur as Emma and it doesn’t bode well for this Diva if she wants to stay in the WWE for long.
Winner: Aksana with a powerslam
Corey Graves vs. Conor O’Brian
While last week O’Brian didn’t show much, this week it seems they took the gloves off of him and let him work. O’Brian has a solid look, but again, “The Ascension” gimmick is a little too Undertaker-esque (the supernatural aspect of the gimmick) so he, like many of the other NXT guys, will need a gimmick tweak. What was good about O’Brian in this match is he should he was very quick and he’s got a lot of power. He also can do some decent submission moves.
As for Graves — this dude is boss. He sells like a mad man. He knows how to work the crowd. And despite his relative size disadvantage to the massive O’Brian, the man can be convincing in the ring with a big man, especially when it comes to submission wrestling.
The two worked a lot of old school psychology and despite it being heel vs. heel, the crowd did get behind O’Brian. That was until THE SHIELD comes out…
Now, run-ins aren’t anything new in pro wrestling, but this was an absolute annihilation. The Shield brutally kicked the tar out of O’Brian and Graves. Roman Reigns is a real beast and his intensity sells The Shield’s beat-downs. Dean Ambrose’s peculiar style adds a sense of danger to The Shield while Seth Rollins’ athleticism and intensity adds credibility to the beat downs. These three are better than any dangerous group that’s ever been in this role before. Better than 3 Minute Warning for sure, and almost on par with the n.W.o.
This was a great way to keep both Graves and O’Brian strong and keep The Shield fresh in our minds as total beasts.