Commentators: Tony Dawson & William Regal
Championship’s roll call: WWE Champion: CM Punk… World Champion: Big Show… Intercontinental Champion: Kofi Kingston… United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro… Tag Team Champions: Team Hell No… NXT Champion: Seth Rollins… Diva’s Champion: Eve Torres
Michael McGillicutty vs. Antonio Cesaro: I guess McGillicutty is a babyface here? They lock up and McGillicutty picks the legs and they quarrel over an armbar. Cesaro pops him in his American face with a right hand. He chucks him off the ropes but McGillicutty slides under the legs and CHOPS him. Cesaro knees to take over and pounds away with a low head-butt; Irish whip follows but McGillicutty ducks a clothesline and gets a run-over leapfrog into a dropkick. He hits a backbreaker and gets a one count. More chops in the corner follow; a cross-corner whip is countered with a backdrop onto the top turnbuckle. Cesaro kicks a field goal for two. He works McGillicutty over with stomping and a double stomp. Cesaro applies a mat-based waistlock. McGillicutty comes back with a sunset flip; Cesaro knocks him back with a clothesline and the power gutwrench for two. Tony Dawson’s commentary is REALLY grinding on me as he is overdoing it on the emotion. He overreacts to everything; like someone going crazy at the wrong time during a football game. OH YEAH! …that’s just a three yard gain on second and seven. Cesaro gets a few kicks of disrespect and goes back to the rear waistlock. McGillicutty powers out but Cesaro reverses a whip; Michael baseball slides near the corner to break momentum and surprises Cesaro with a clothesline. He nails a nice Saito suplex and running forearm to the face, for two. He tries to whip Cesaro but he hangs onto the ropes; the Very European Uppercut stuns McGillicutty and the Neutralizer finishes. 5/10 Pretty average opening match; it was basically a Cesaro squash match as he has been on a roll since winning the US title. McGillicutty had no chance; the WWE looks like they’re testing the waters of a McGillicutty babyface run, haven’t seen that since Season 2 of the original NXT.
Here is your winner… Antonio Cesaro @ about 8:10 via Neutralizer pinfall.
Bo Dallas vs. Axl Keegan: They lock up and Keegan forces Dallas into the corner and does not give a clean break; Dallas fires back with reverse elbows and a snap-knee drop. Keegan fires back and stomps in the corner. A bodyslam gets two and then works a neck crank; he segues into a front facelock. Dallas breaks the hold but rushes into an elbow. Keegan punches away but that serves to fire up Bo and he asks for more and smiles. Dallas fires up completely with punches and then hits a hiplock powerslam. He measures him with a spear and gets the three. Post-match, Bo grabs a mic and says that he does not mind pain but respects it. He then throws out a challenge to anyone in the WWE (or NXT, I guess). He does not want “a match,” he wants “a fight.” 2.5/10 Just a squash match to get Dallas a win. They seem to be going with an “I love pain” masochistic character for Dallas, which is fine considering he was not doing much as just Bo Dallas, son of Mike Rotunda, brother of Bray Wyatt… he needs to lose the spear as a finisher though (it doesn’t work well for littler guys) to differentiate himself; that’s what this show is predominantly about: which young upstart can differentiate himself or herself from the rest of the pack and then will be moved up to the WWE main roster.
Here is your winner… Bo Dallas @ about 3:10 via spear pinfall.
Raw Rebound is shown: Ryback beats up CM Punk; for my full Monday Night Raw review, click here.
Yoshi Tatsu vs. Corey Graves: At least Tatsu gets an entrance so I can hear his music. Pre-match, Graves tosses his entrance gear at Tatsu; Yoshi retorts, throwing it up the stage, which allows Graves to attack him on the floor. Graves tosses him into the ring and the referee keeps him back to get the bell rung. Corey tries to get at Yoshi but he uses his quickness to play keep-away. Eventually Graves submarines one of Tatsu’s knees and takes over. Tatsu sells the knee like death and Graves works it over including one of those old school whiplash leg moves. Tony Dawson mentions the Great Muta as Yoshi’s idol, which may be one of the first times I’ve hear Muta’s name used on WWE television not by someone named Jim Ross. Corey keeps working on the knee; he drops knees onto it and pulls back on the leg. The commentators say that Graves is a “submission specialist” but only knows four submission holds, but does them all very well. Well, Bret Hart really only had one submission hold but he knew that one really well too. Tatsu tries a spirited comeback with armdrags and a backdrop. He hops into a kicking comeback; Graves catches him with a shinbreaker and applies the Thirteenth Step for the IMMEDIATE tapout. 5.5/10 Boy, poor Tatsu is an über-jobber now… and to think he won a pre-match WrestleMania battle royal. I like this match better than Graves’ singles debut match. He worked the leg over well (and quick), the Thirteenth Step is a cool looking submission finisher, too.
Here is your winner… Corey Graves @ about 2:50 via Thirteenth Step submission.
Gavin Reid vs. Roman Reigns: The commentators start off with the “verbal blowjob” with Reigns. You can play a drinking game every time the commentators say “it factor” hen referring to Reigns. This is pre-Shield for Reigns. It will be interesting to see when the NXT tapings catch up with the WWE and we get Seth Rollins, babyface extraordinaire, working as a heel; or if they even mention the Shield characters on NXT. Reigns pounds in the corner and mudhole stomps him. He screams in Reid’s face and hammer-tosses him cross-corner. Reigns applies a standing cravat and wrenches on it. He continues on his basic NXT rookie offense with clotheslines, punches and a leaping lariat; another primal roar and the Moment of Silence completes the squash for Roman. Post-match, Reigns tosses Gavin to the floor and DEMANDS ring announcer Byron Saxton re-announce him as winner. He steals the mic from him and then kicks him out of the ring. 2/10 Total dominance for Reigns. His O is still really basic, which is why the Shield really works for him. He can be the flashy superstar-looking character while Rollins and Dean Ambrose handle the heavy lifting in the ring as Roman develops and matures on the fly.
Here is your winner… Roman Reigns @ about 1:20 via Moment of Silence pinfall.
Tom Phillips is with Tyson Kidd; he mentions Leo Kruger beat up Trent Barreta pretty bad last week. Tyson begins to mention that his goal on NXT is to win the championship but is interrupted by hipster Kassius Ohno. Ohno makes fun of him and then takes credit for putting Richie Steamboat on the shelf. Kidd quotes Einstein in his retort: “great spirits always encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds.” He leaves Kassius a bit bewildered.
Tyson Kidd vs. Leo Kruger: Jim Ross joins for commentary. Kruger’s psycho poacher is fantastic. I also find it amazing that he keeps that deranged smile on his face throughout the entire match. I think the treble is jacked a bit too high on JR’s headset. Kruger bides his time at the bell and then attacks; Kidd reverses so Leo heads to the ropes. They lock up again; Kruger tries a waistlock but Kidd armdrags himself free. Tyson works a side headlock and armdrags into a seated keylock; Kruger counters into a head scissors on the mat as we take a surprise commercial out of nowhere (no warning either, screen just went to break). We return with Kruger holding Kidd in a full nelson. Since Kruger isn’t Billy Jack Haynes, it does not elicit a submission. Kidd stomps Leo’s feet to break and staggers him with a kick to counter a backdrop. He tries a high crossbody but Kruger ducks and Kidd bounces off the top rope and tumbles to the floor. Kruger wants to head out to capitalize but the ref keeps stopping him; he just heads out the other side to retrieve Kidd. Back in the ring, Kruger takes over with punches and rapid-fire sledges. He hits a nice snap-suplex, for a nearfall. Leo returns to the full nelson; he then hits a back suplex. Tyson rolls onto the apron to break momentum but Kruger nails a baseball slide to knock Tyson to the floor. Kidd beats the countout but runs afoul of Kruger in the ring with punches to the face. I wonder if Kidd’s on/off tag partner, Justin Gabriel, will face Kruger next, giving us, probably the only all-South African match up in WWE history. He drops a knee and gets a one count. Kruger reapplies a seated full nelson. Tyson tries to use the foot stomp move again to break. Kidd then flips out of a backdrop and hits a reverse spin kick; the comeback trail is met and Kidd kicks away. He hits a reverse enziguri and low dropkick. The rope-assisted dropsault sets up the pendulum kick which allows Kidd to try the springboard elbow drop but just like Damien Sandow on SmackDown this past week (which happened after this was taped), Kruger gets his knees up to block. Kruger cackles in the corner and hits a running clothesline, apparently called Slice, for two. William Regal informs me that the move’s name derives from cricket, which is one of the few sports I cannot figure out. Kruger heads up top but Kidd rips a ‘possum page out of his mentor Bret Hart’s book and walks up the buckles for a top-rope armdrag. Tyson thinks pescado but Kruger ducks so Kidd morphs is offense and nails a running knee on the apron. He tosses Kruger back in and looks for the springboard move again but Leo gets the boot up; Tyson came prepared this time and stomps short and goes for the Dungeon Lock for the immediate tapout. Post-match, Kassius Ohno attacks Kidd from behind. He and Kruger double up on him and nail a nice tandem version of both their finishers together: roaring elbow into Kruger’s End. William Regal, of all random wrestlers, leaves his announce position to pull Kidd to safety and help him to the back. Ohno looks on confused. 5/10 Not bad for a main event but I was expecting more. The finish came out of nowhere too; Kidd just snagged him in that Dungeon Lock and Kruger put up zero fight and tapped out.
Here is your winner… Tyson Kidd @ about 12:45 (broadcast) via Dungeon Lock submission.
OVERALL 4.5/10 Very mundane show; just average. It was not a bad show, nothing popped, like something usually does on this show. The two marque opening and closing matches were none too special and the cream filling was just squash matches. The most entertaining match was Corey Graves’ squash match, which is never a good sign where a squash match is the best part of the show.
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