bill bodkin loves wrestling…
This week’s installment of WWE NXT was probably the best episode of the still very young 2013 season. It featured more wrestling, more character development, more personality and we’ll say it again, actual wrestling, than weeks prior. This show is becoming the best wrestling on air right now as it’s more about the in-ring work than constant yammering on the microphone (although anytime CM Punk talks, we do listen).
The show starts off with “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels announcing that there would be a tournament to crown the first ever NXT Tag Team Champions. The segment was short and sweet, but having a legend like HBK come out and announce this tournament, gave the titles a lot of importance. Throughout the show the importance of these titles was hammered home.
Yoshi Tatsu & Percy Watson vs. The Wyatt Family (Rowan & Luke Harper) w/Bray Wyatt
This was a rematch from a few weeks ago and the winners were very predictable. The Wyatts were much, much crisper in the ring than they were a few weeks ago and they sold Tatsu and Watson’s offense very well. I still think they’re a little green around the gills (Rowan in particular) but they could still be a good, big league team one day. Tatsu, as talented as he is, is Taka Michinoku 2K13. He’s got the skills but he’s just not going anywhere unless he becomes part of a heel stable. As for Watson…we saw a little more offense out of him this week, but really nothing standing out about him. In terms of a match, this was very solid. Nothing out of the ordinary, but very solid.
Winners: The Wyatts when Luke Harper hit Watson with a crazy lariat.
Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks
The tiny Sasha Banks was dubbed “The Small Package” during this match by announcer Tony Dawson (who is a super-solid play-by-play guy) and for some reason that name just works. Alicia Fox was excellent in this match, playing the big strong heel and she sold Banks’ offense like a mad woman. Banks is still a little rough, but she has Mickie James 2013 written all over her. Of course, nowhere near as good looking as Mickey, but that’s neither here nor there. Banks wins with a small package counter of a body slam giving her the underdog win. Her win wasn’t a “Horowtiz wins! Horowitz wins!” kinda underdog victory, but more like a Spike Dudley win. Solid build for her character. The victory didn’t hurt Fox at all…she is on the WWE main roster.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Backstage: Corey Graves confronts Dusty Rhodes about promises and opportunities not kept. Two other wrestlers, whom I cannot identify, tease him and call him “circus boy” and make calliope sounds. Don’t get the reference, but I got the intent. By the way, Dusty is looking old, but can still deliver on the mic when called upon.
Corey Graves vs. Jake Carter
Jake Carter is the son of Vader. He has a good look to him and plays the cocky heel well, but he definitely needs a lot more seasoning. I think we could see him in the WWE for sure. Corey Graves, who some Northeast indy wrestling fans will remember as Sterling James Keenan, is ready made for the big time. He’s a physical hybrid of CM Punk and Jeff Hardy — lean, cut and tattooed. His whole filthy punk rock anarchist gimmick is excellent and his mic work is really good. In the ring, he lets the gimmick shine through his unorthodox work. Graves finisher, the 13th Step, a variation of the figure four, is original and sick looking. I think Graves has a really bright future.
Winner: Corey Graves via submission.
Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey vs. 3MB (Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre)
This was probably NXT’s finest match to date in the limited viewing we’ve had of it. Slater and McIntyre looked like world class pros and a well oiled machine throughout the match. Not something you see on WWE TV since they’re mostly comedic punching bags. Slater hit a sick jumping super kick during this match which should definitely be a regular move seen on TV. Oliver Grey, reminds me of another WWE Brit Steve Lewington/DJ Gabriel. (Remember him? Didn’t think so.) Great physique, but no substance. He has some good mat skills, but he’s kinda generic at this point. Adrian Neville, is the star here. “The Man Gravity Forgot” had a tremendous amount of aerial offense including his famed twisting shooting star. So cool to watch. And despite their loss, 3MB looked really, really strong here. It’s something that needs to be seen on WWE TV a little more even if they’re squashing jabronis on WWE syndicated show…you need to show that these guys are legit contenders.
Winners: Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey
Big E. Langston vs. Axl Keegan
This was a complete and utter squash. Keegan had no chance and Big E. just pulverized him.
Winner: Big E. Langston
Closing Angle: Conor O’Brian, who we saw earlier with a promo about “The Ascension” which was his old heel stable in NXT, challenges Big E. to a match down the road. Big E. accepts and beats down Keegan some more.