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Random Network Reviews: NXT ArRival

May 20, 2015 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: NXT ArRival  

NXT ArRival
February 27th, 2014 – Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida

When the WWE Network first launched it had some technical difficulties to say the least. Thing started to get better after a day or so and it would face a true test just a few days in with the live stream of NXT ArRival. Since becoming the developmental territory, NXT has shined. They had a very good 2013, spearheaded by Triple H being in charge, before moving into an important 2014. With their move to the WWE Network, more eyes would be on them and they would ultimately shine bright. This was the first of four NXT Live Specials on the Network that year and they always delivered. It all began here though, as the pressure was on NXT and the WWE Network to kick things off with a bang.

The show opens to the pitch black arena before it is revealed that Triple H is standing in the middle of it. He introduces the show and we get our cool new opening video for the brand. Commentary consists of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and William Regal.

Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
These two met in a 2013 Match of the Year Candidate which went Two out of Three Falls. Even after upsetting Cesaro at one point, Zayn wanted to earn the man’s respect. Cesaro overpowers Zayn while commentary puts over his recent win over then World Champion Randy Orton. Their wrestling sequence hits a peak when Sami tries a hurricanrana but Cesaro stops him midway and goes for the Big Swing. Zayn back flips out, lands on his feet and sends Cesaro outside before following with a front flip onto him. Inside, Sami goes for a cross body but is caught with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Seriously one of the best mid-air counters that I’ve ever seen. Cesaro manhandles Zayn around the ring for a bit. He goes to slam Sami’s leg into the post but is kicked. Sami goes for his gorgeous DDT through the turnbuckle but eats a MASSIVE UPPERCUT. This is beautifully playing into how well they know each other. Sick spot. Cesaro goes back to the knee since it was injured coming in, with the main point being a double stomp onto it. Zayn tries to rally but Cesaro grinds on the knee. This is the psychology that I love. Back to back dragon screws look brutal before we get the single leg crab. Sami reaches the ropes and backdrops Cesaro outside. He attempts the slingshot moonsault but Cesaro catches him with a TILT-A-WHIRL BACKBREAKER ON THE RAMP! Good lord. They tease the countout finish, which Sami plays perfectly. Cesaro charges but runs right into the corner exploder. His excellent Blue Thunder Bomb also earns him a near fall. Cesaro goes back to the knee, but Sami locks in the Koji Clutch, which is one of my favorite submissions. Cesaro is too strong though and applies a SICK stretch muffler but Sami gets to the ropes. Big Swing is countered into a rollup for two but he ends up in the Swing anyway. The fans LOVE that spot. Stiff running uppercut in the corner is followed by Zayn earning two with a crucifix so Cesaro double stomps his face. That’s messed up. They fight to the top, where Zayn tries a big hurricanrana only to have Cesaro stop him midway. He tries a second rope RI cola Bomb, but Zayn manages to snap off the hurricanrana anyway. HELLUVA KICK gets two. Cesaro comes back with uppercuts and tells Sami to just stay down but he won’t. They end up trading shots before Sami hits a big German suplex. He goes for the Helluva Kick again but runs into a big boot. A rollup gets him two as does a beautiful sunset flip bomb. Cesaro nails a popup uppercut but Sami kicks out at 1! Spinning uppercut and Neutralizer is enough to finally finish this.

Winner: Cesaro in 22:55
There was no better way that NXT could have “arrived” on the WWE Network. Cesaro and Sami Zayn are both amazing performers who not only put on an incredible athletic performance, but also told a compelling story. They played off previous encounters perfectly, hit each other hard throughout and Sami takes a beating better than anyone right now. Match of the Year candidate again. ****¾

After the match, Cesaro goes to leave but returns to hug Sami Zayn and give him the respect he clamors for. See? Sometimes a loss works just as well as a win. Zayn looks like a million bucks and got an endorsement from a guy who had just pinned the World Heavyweight Champion.

We go from the astounding to the awful with a Mojo Rawley vignette. Of all the people to come through NXT, he just may be the very worst.

CJ Parker vs. Mojo Rawley
While I think CJ Parker is decent, these two would not be on my list of guys to showcase on the first NXT Special. Mojo claims that Parker isn’t hype enough. They go through some basic exchanges before CJ totally elevates on a back body drop. Parker comes back and gets tow with a near fall. CJ plays a good heel as he trash talks Mojo, but his trunks are riding way too high right now. We’re getting Big E Langston levels of butt cheek visuals. Mojo begins his come back and finishes with the Hyper Drive, which is a jumping ass splash.

Winner: Mojo Rawley in 3:25
Not good, but it worked as a short cool down after the insane opener. Most of the credit goes to CJ Parker here as he was much more enjoyable than Mojo Rawley.

Backstage, Emma is stretching, which also involves her dance moves and looks funny. This segues into a vignette for Emma, which is something that she could have used on the main roster. It would have done a better job of getting the quirky dance gimmick over on the main roster. Instead, while there she just appeared and was a weird dancer.

The WWE always does a good job of vignettes and the one that comes now for the Ascension is great, even if the team doesn’t impress me.

NXT Tag Team Championship
The Ascension (c) vs. Too Cool

Being the dominant champions for months now, the Ascension issued and open challenge and Too Cool answered. Scotty 2 Hotty looks so odd bald. Too Cool is basically here to get in their fun stuff while the Ascension beats the stuffing out of them. Grandmaster Sexay plays the face in peril, which is fine except that I can’t really buy Scotty as the hot tag guy. The tag comes and he gets in a bit of stuff but it’s strange to see the “dominant’ team of NXT selling for two aging goofs. Scotty does the WORM, which is above the Cobra as worst finisher in history, but before his chop it’s broken up. The Fall of Man connects and that’s a wrap.

Winners and Still NXT Tag Team Champions: The Ascension in 6:41
Not a fan of this. First off, the Ascension have never impressed me much but this was worse than usual. I get the nostalgia of Too Cool, but the Ascension sold too much for them. This should have been short and to the point. ¾*

Before our big NXT Women’s Championship match, we get a pretty outstanding vignette for Paige. The “Anti-Diva” role is one that should have carried over better to the main roster. Unlike Adam Rose or Emma, her gimmick wasn’t something that just worked with the NXT crowd and could have gotten over if it was more focused on.

In the crowd, Ric Flair is shown with his daughter Charlotte, who would go on to win the NXT Women’s Title a few months later. Stephanie McMahon walks out to the ring in a bit of a surprise. She gets “you still got it” chants to which she responds “I never lost it.” Well you did for a while there Steph. Three kids will do that to you for a bit. She promotes the history that is this show and the NXT Women’s Title match.

NXT Women’s Championship
Paige (c) vs. Emma

When crowning the first ever NXT Women’s Champion, Paige and Emma were the two finalists in the Tournament and had a classic. Emma has been number one contender for like six months and has defended it more than Paige has defended the title, due to an injury. Both Stephanie McMahon and William Regal do the Emma dance. A shoving match starts things and they girls are brawling. After a kick to the gut, Paige goes for an early Paige Turner, but Emma counters into a backslide for two. Slingshot by Emma is countered into a pin, as they are wisely playing off how well they know each other. Regal does a phenomenal job of discussing this. They go to the mat for a few as commentary continues to shine. Paige backs Emma into the corner and fires away with back elbows. Emma goes for the Emma Sandwich, but Paige gets her foot up, only for Emma to catch it. She tries the Emma Lock but it gets blocked. Paige comes back with knee strikes but because she wastes time screaming, Emma takes her down. DilEMMA and Emma Sandwich get the challenger a near fall. Emma goes to wear down Paige with some submissions, because she’s an accomplished submissions worker. Paige does a fine job of selling Emma’s work. She goes for a superplex, which they used in their Tournament Finals, but Emma sunset flips over. Paige holds on, so Emma walks with her and hits a sweet sitout powerbomb for two. It earns “Better than Batista” chants which is hilarious. Paige begins her rally, with some loud sounding shots and connects on the Paige Turner, but only gets two. Nobody had kicked out of that before, and Paige sells the emotion of shock well. Digging deep into her bag of tricks, she applies the sick looking Scorpion Lock that would go on to be called the PTO. Emma is forced to submit and the crowd’s response to this move is fantastic.

Winner and Still NXT Women’s Champion: Paige in 12:54
Better than anything you saw on the main roster in recent years. Both girls played off their history well, showcased emotions and did the false finishes well. They didn’t overdo it, which a lot of matches are guilty of now. The finish was innovative and this set the tone for a string of incredible women’s matches on NXT in 2014. ***½

Post-match, the girls hug it out. The string of damn goof vignettes continues with one for Adrian Neville. Pat Patterson and Dusty Rhodes are sitting ringside to enjoy this.

Tyler Breeze vs. Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods had already debuted on the main roster and stolen Brodus Clay’s gimmick and ladies. About thirty seconds into this bout, Rusev and Lana appear. Rusev just rips both guys apart. It’s interesting to see Breeze used in his magnitude when he was in a marquee match at the next NXT special.

No Contest in 0:36
Can’t really rate this as it was used to get Rusev over as a monster shortly before his main roster debut. Lana with her hair down is always welcome. NO RATING

Our final vignette airs and it’s for the NXT Champion, Bo Dallas. Bo is fantastic in his heel role. It’s honestly amazing how he can play the cheesy face role but be a heel. I always found IRS to be unbearably dull, but his kids are magnificent at playing up their gimmicks. Shawn Michaels comes out to a big pop, carrying the NXT Title. He puts over NXT and Ladder matches before the bell.

NXT Championship Ladder Match
Bo Dallas (c) vs. Adrian Neville

Similar to Razor Ramon and Jeff Hardy before him, Adrian Neville goes under the ladder because he doesn’t believe in bad luck. He busts out some cool cartwheels and backflips early before Bo moves out of the way of a high risk attempt. Bo becomes the aggressor and does a good job of playing the straight man to the high flyer in a ladder match. This dynamic sometimes works better than having two high flyers. Bo traps Neville’s leg in the ropes so he can get a ladder. Neville frees himself, hits a baseball slide into the ladder and a plancha. Bo tries to ram the ladder into Neville’s face but misses and it slides into the ring before Neville backdrops him onto the ramp. He tries to climb but is taken down and Bo uses the ladder as a weapon. He sets it up on Adrian and climbs which is genius. Neville powers out though and Bo’s scream of terror is hilarious. Neville runs up the ladder for a tornado DDT. Shortly after, the ladder falls and just kills Neville in the skull. He rallies by sending Bo into a ladder in the corner. I’ve appreciate how they aren’t relying on high spots. Neville goes for the Red Arrow but is knocked off the top. Bo does to climb but Neville basically just leaps over him and gets near, as the crowd pops. Bo stops him with a buckle bomb into a ladder in the corner. Neville comes back though with a slam onto a ladder before nailing the gorgeous Red Arrow. He climbs and retrieves the title.

Winner and New NXT Champion: Adrian Neville in 16:02
A solid but unspectacular ladder match. They worked hard and I liked that they didn’t need to rely on many high spots, but this match didn’t wow. It was just really good and that’s all I could ask for as the belt moves to a vastly superior worker. ***¾

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
NXT had indeed arrived. Their goal was to put on a show that could put them on the map and they did just that. While the Mojo and Ascension matches were pretty lame everything else was gold. Paige and Emma put on one of the best women’s matches I can remember and we get a very good ladder match. The crown jewel here is Zayn/Cesaro as both guys went out and put on an absolute classic. Definitely a show worth watching as was everything NXT would do in 2014.

article topics :

NXT Arrival, WWE, Kevin Pantoja