A return to Full Sail University promises an edition of NXT with championship implications. The main event features NXT Champion Adrian Neville, who was absent from last week’s taping, when the spotlight shone firmly on the pairing of Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd – undoubtedly two of his primary challengers. However, tonight would arguably bring his most challenging opponent yet, as he would go one-on-one with the Bulgarian Brute, Rusev, in a non-title match. After running roughshod on RAW and Smackdown, Lana leads her personal wrecking ball to Florida, and he immediately challenges the best that it can offer. But, would the Red Arrow be enough to halt the Super Athlete’s streak?
The NXT Women’s Championship will be on the line also, as Summer Rae combats her former BFF Charlotte after earning her shot by defeating Bayley two weeks prior. Will the former beau of Fandango take the precious belt from the “Nature Girl”, and possibly bring Sasha Banks back too? Also, the tag team champions Ascension will be in action, likely be demolishing the next hapless team of jobbers sacrificed to them, and Tyler Breeze makes his return to the ring for the first time since winning a No. 1 Contender’s match against Sami Zayn at Takeover, when he battles the energetic Mojo Rawley. All this and more on the only place to see the future of the WWE today.
- The Ascension defeat two local competitors
- Tyler Breeze defeats Mojo Rawley
- NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte defeats Summer Rae
- Kalisto & Sin Cara defeat The Vaudevillains
- Adrian Neville defeats Rusev by disqualification
The Ascension vs. Local jobbers
When the lights go dark and the sound of “Rebellion” blares through the speakers, you can be sure of two things. One, the NXT Tag Team Champions are in the building. And two, a couple of unknowns are about to receive a painful fifteen seconds of fame. Forgive me if I’m a little subdued during this opening contest, as though the size, strength and teamwork of the Ascension has impressed many a time, there’s only so many times you can watch them tear through no-hopers before it becomes the height of tedium. It is likely the WWE are considering moving them to the main roster, itself lacking in tag-teams, but in NXT it is an absolute wasteland, with nobody seeming fit currently to believably wrench the titles from their grasp. Konnor and Viktor have been champions an astonishing 315 days, but that can be predominantly be attributed to the fact they haven’t fought against any real competition.
Viktor begins the match with Victim #1, who places him in an arm wrench that doesn’t phase him one iota. A backdrop gets him control, until he shoves the unknown into his corner to allow Victim #2 the opportunity to experience the Ascension’s unique offence. Victim #2 appears to be the smarter of the locals, escaping to the ringside area, but Viktor tags in Konnor and they proceed to corner their prey. Scurrying back into the ring, the hapless local attempts to chop Konnor, who responds nonchalantly, throwing him against the ropes for a hard shoulder barge. The crowd’s noise level rises with every shot landed on the champions’ desperate opponent. Viktor tags in, and after disposing of the “competitor” on the outside, connect with the “Fall of Man” for the easy victory. Another two down, and the Ascension’s search for competition persists for another week. Hard to even rate this, as it was less of a match, and more of a training exercise. It serves to add to the aura of the Ascension, but they will require some decent opposition soon.
Rating – 2/5
Tyler Breeze vs. Mojo Rawley
Tyler Breeze returns to in-ring action following time off with a broken index finger. In the time he has been MIA, it is odd to remember that he is the No. 1 Contender for the NXT Championship, after defeating Sami Zayn at Takeover. He has since appeared in backstage segments where he has kept an eye on the actions of Adrian Neville, and was ready to take his opportunity as soon as he was fully healed. Approaching the ring for this contest, the King of Cuteville was still bearing the effects of his injury, his finger wrapped up heavily, meaning he would have to rely on his right hand for selfies and tweeting. His opponent, the hyped Mojo Rawley charges down to ringside for this match, and is unsurprisingly enthusiastic to perform, himself not having competed on NXT since June 19th. A victory over the No. 1 Contender would certainly be a way to capture the attention.
The bell rings, and Breeze looks to be in some discomfort surrounding his finger. He attempts to blindside Rawley, who effortlessly lifts him and forces him against the turnbuckle, causing even more pain for Breeze’s finger. Rawley discusses his opponents injury with the referee, but this fleeting distraction proves to be his undoing. Breeze’s hand might be in pain, but he shows his legs are still dangerous weapons, and as soon as Rawley turns his head his is floored with the Beauty Shot and pinned inside a minute. It is clear from this result that Breeze is not yet 100% ready for an extended match, but he is given a victory to keep his momentum and remind people of his championship aspirations. Such a rapid loss however does not look favourably on Rawley, but he is one of the few NXT roster members I personally see little potential in on the main roster. Still, every wrestling show needs jobbers.
Rating – 1/5
Charlotte vs. Summer Rae (NXT Women’s Championship)
With the first two matches lasting a grand total of seven minutes and seven seconds (including entrances), I am hopeful that the NXT Women’s Championship match is afforded a good chunk of time, especially considering the ability of the two competitors. Summer Rae, who holds the strange distinction of being a face on the main WWE shows and a heel on NXT, earned this opportunity to battle for the NXT Women’s Championship by defeating Bayley two weeks ago. Her opponent, the daughter of Ric Flair and the defending champion, Charlotte. On a side note, her remixed entrance music with elements of Flair’s theme, is strangely catchy. At least it means fans will never forget her lineage, especially when it is brought up by the commentary team every three sentences.
Summer is quick to get in the face of the champion, and this instigates a shoving match between the two women, before Charlotte ends it with a slap. Charlotte mocks the dancing acumen of Summer, which enrages the Total Diva into tackling her rival. Cue the inner Joey Styles in all of us – “CAT FIGHT!”. Charlotte, the taller of the combatants, gets the upper hand and begins to control the flow of the match. Her long legs prove vicious weapons, with knees slamming into the back of Summer, before locking them around her opponent’s neck. Summer’s early attempts of escape are thwarted by Charlotte smashing her head into the ground using her versatile legs as the show enters a break.
Returning to the action, Charlotte is still in control, Summer backing away in pain to the ropes. However, in her attempts to close the distance between them, Summer is able to force Charlotte to the outside with a hard landing. Summer chokes her against the corner, screaming “I made you Charlotte” at her former BFF comrade. Wrapping her own legs around Charlotte in a grapevine submission, Summer then turns to kicks and slaps to beat down her rival. The crowd start chanting “Boring”, and it’s hard to argue against them – this has been very uninspired thus far. Summer applies a half-Boston Crab, the contortion of the champion’s back looking especially painful. Summer then jumps on the back of her opponents head, getting a low two count – by this point the crowd has lost all interest, instead amusing themselves with a wave. Both collide in the centre of the ring, knocking both down. Summer again gets a near-fall with a high spin kick. Eventually after a flurry of chops and kicks, Charlotte knocks Summer to her knees to connect with Bow to the Queen for the victory to retain her title.
Oh boy, this match was not good at all. Ignore the length of this section, as there was plenty of action, just little of it entertaining. The amount of slaps, chokes, hair-pulling – this is what one would expect of a match between The Kat and Terri Runnels in 2000, not between two women usually so impressive. This was disappointing, and anytime it escaped the clichéd world of cat-fighting, the actual wrestling moves were poorly executed and disjointed. The crowd did not disguise their obvious boredom by the mid-point of the match, and seemed unwilling to show emotion for either nefarious combatant. One can only hope to see more from these two in the future, and maybe in time their chemistry will improve. Let’s face it, it can hardly get worse.
Rating – 1.5/5
Kalisto & Sin Cara vs. The Vaudevillains
Man, this writer could use some entertainment right now. Fortunately, there is little on NXT at the moment as entertaining as the Vaudevillains. Aiden English and Simon Gotch have shown early promise, with the correct blend of humour, personality and in-ring credentials. Also, they have moustaches, which is always a plus. Tonight, their match was instigated via a backstage skit with Kalisto, who stated that whilst his former tag team partner El Local is unavailable, he would find a new partner to take on the Vaudevillains. The luchadore finds an apt substitute in the form of Sin Cara, the masked superstar again appearing at Full Sail University following his appearance two weeks ago.
Kalisto begins the match opposite English, his speed allowing him to get a headlock on the Thespian wrestler. His diminutive stature means he cannot easily transition into a takedown, but is able to do so by springing off the ropes for assistance. English is able to break it by throwing Kalisto against the ropes, but the masked superstar responds with a headscissors arm-drag. A tag to Sin Cara gives early indications of their potential as a tag team, with Cara lifting his partner for a senton onto English. Sin Cara lands a springboard crossbody, and then unloads with punches to his head – the character certainly has demonstrated more aggression since Hunico took over the role. However, another springboard dive is countered by a dropkick.
Gotch makes his first impression on the match, putting his strongman persona to good effect. After stretching Sin Cara through a variety of submission holds, the International Sensation is able to fight back, rolling up Gotch for a two-count, but this short spurt is brought to a sudden halt with a strong uppercut by Gotch. A combo uppercut neckbreacker by the Vaudevillains gives English a near-fall. English unleashes his aggression on the luchadore, concluding with a jumping leg drop. Cara, for me, is kicking out far too quickly, no selling some of his opponents’ moves. But English’s control of the match is stopped with a roll-up transitioned into a slam. The tag is made to Kalisto, who wastes little time with a springboard crossbody onto Gotch. A roll-up into a kick is quickly followed up with a handspring kick. English breaks up the pin, but Sin Cara forces the Artiste to the outside, where he lands a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Kalisto counters a clothesline into the Hara-Kiri, which brings about a first victory for the pair of luchadores. Certainly this was a better match than the previous bouts by a considerable margin, and will hopefully kick-off a new wave of tag team wrestling in NXT.
Rating – 3.5/5
Adrian Neville vs. Rusev
The NXT Champion Adrian Neville was absent last week, allowing the spotlight to shine on Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd. Still, it is always a positive to see the acrobatic Geordie in action, but tonight may be his most challenging prospect to date. His opponent is the currently indomitable Rusev, who has swatted away any and all opponents on the main roster without much issue. The Bulgarian Brute, alongside the Ravishing Russian Lana, is a match-up that few would relish at this moment in time. However, Neville has recently shown a capability to hang with the members of the main roster, defeating the likes of Kidd, Justin Gabriel, and recently Rob Van Dam. Could he be the first man to topple the Super Athlete?
Prior to the match, Lana cuts her standard promo upholding the heroism of Vladimir Putin, stating he will live forever, as the stars of the rest of the world, including Neville, will fade into insignificance over time. Rusev’s enters the ring, his intimidating entrance ritual not phasing the champion. Rusev looks to employ his strength early on, whilst Neville counters with speed and agility. This backfires for the champion, as his attempt at a crossbody is blocked by Rusev, who holds him whilst he connects with fierce knees to the ribs, followed by a fall-away slam. Rusev asserts complete control quickly with powerful stomps, kicks and elbows. His aggression keeps the NXT Champion powerless to resist, Rusev forcing him into the turnbuckle to suffer chops and chokes.
Neville however responds to the taunts of his opponent, connecting with an elbow and kick to create some separation between the pair. A low dropkick to the knees brings the big man down, so Neville can start showering Rusev with kicks. This has some effect until a leg is caught by the brute, who then connects with a sloppy chokeslam. Neville is then hurled into the corner, but is able to avoid the oncoming crush, and connects with a springboard dropkick. Lana gets to the apron to distract the referee, and in this confusion Tyler Breeze makes his way to ringside, but is knocked away by Neville. The distraction allows Rusev to get another strong shot in, but a countered fall-away slam along with two kicks to the head leaves the Super Athlete prone to a Red Arrow. As Neville ascends the turnbuckle, Breeze scampers to knock him off, drawing the disqualification. Following the bell, Rusev does not take the disqualification loss well, as he connects with a jumping kick, and that leads to the torturous Accolade. The departing image of Rusev over Neville’s fallen body both increases the momentum of the Super Athlete, as Breeze also gets one over the champion. The DQ protects the Champion, and this short match showed promise of better for the future between the pair.
Rating – 3/5