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We see the usual intro, then we go to ring announcer Byron Saxton, who says that Tyler Breeze has entered the building.
Lana comes out on the rampway and introduces Alexander Rusev for our opening match.
"The Bulgarian Brute" Alexander Rusev w/Lana vs. Kofi Kingston
Crowd chants for Kofi as the bell sounds. Rusev with knees to the ribs and a gut shot to start. Gut kicks in the corner, followed by the series of knee strikes while lifting Kofi up. Samoan Drop for a nearfall. Kofi fights back, but Rusev with another gut kick. Kofi with a series of kicks and forearms, but Rusev mows him over with the running body block for a nearfall. Rusev goes for a big splash, but Kofi moves out of the way. Rusev runs into a back elbow, then double boots by Kofi. Kofi with 2 double chops, followed by a dropkick and the Superman clothesline. Kofi fires up and hits the Boom Drop. Kofi sets for Trouble in Paradise, but Rusev backs into the corner. Rusev misses a clothesline and Kofi hits the double-jump top rope crossbody for a nearfall. Rusev drives Kofi into the corner, but runs into the Pendulum Kick. Kofi heads up top, but Lana gets on the apron to distract him. This allows Rusev to slam Kofi off the top.
Rusev locks in the Accolade and Kofi taps.
Winner: "The Bulgarian Brute" Alexander Rusev by submission (The Accolade)
Rusev stands tall over the fallen Kofi afterwards.
THOUGHTS: Heading into this match, I had read live spoiler reports from these tapings that this match was abysmal. Looking at it live and in living color, it wasn't anything special, but I will say it was solid. Rusev's in-ring presence and his uniqueness with the Muay Thai knees definitely sets him apart from anyone else on NXT. Lana has been a great addition to the act as a valet as well. Finally, Kofi is Kofi at this point, so you already know what you are gonna get with him. But overall, solid opener.
Backstage, Devin Taylor interviews Sylvester LeFort. Devin asks LeFort about him holding auditions for a new client. LeFort says he first wants to wish the best to Scott Dawson, who had his leg broken by Mojo Rawley, but now, I want to find a new client. So, first in line. Bull Dempsey walks in. LeFort says Bull is too fat to work for him so goodbye. Dempsey leaves as LeFort says he is looking for a bigger-than-life Superstar. All of a sudden, Mason Ryan walks up behind LeFort. LeFort asks if Mason is here for the audition, to which Mason has no idea what LeFort is talking about. LeFort says that with him, you can make a lot of "MONAY", showing off a hundred dollar bill. Mason takes the bill and stuffs it in LeFort's mouth before walking off and calling LeFort an idiot. LeFort is upset by this as we go to commercial.
THOUGHTS: Love me some Sylvester LeFort, but the stuff with Dempsey & Ryan came off very awkward. A miss here in my book.
NXT Women's Title #1 Contenders Match: Natalya vs. Emma
Natalya with a side headlock takeover to start. Emma gets out with a headscissors, Natalya kips out of it. Chain wrestling between the two until Natalya with a fireman's carry takeover into an armbar. Natalya works over Emma's arm as the crowd does dueling chants for both women. Natalya with a takedown for a 1 count. Natalya goes up and over, but Emma with an O'Connor Roll for a nearfall. Emma motions that she almost beat Natalya, to which Natalya responds by driving Emma into the corner. Emma avoids a charge and goes onto the apron. Emma slides under Natalya's legs, Sunset Flip for a nearfall. Emma locks in the Dil-Emma in the corner, but Natalya avoids the Emma Sandwich. Emma charges in, but runs into Nattie by Nature by Natalya for a nearfall. Abdominal Stretch applied by Natalya, while also pulling back on one of Emma's legs. Emma fights back, but Natalya slams her down. Natalya then locks Emma in Pin-Up Strong, an old move Natalya utilized in the Divas of Destruction tag team with Beth Phoenix a few years ago. Emma gets out, but Natalya with a slam. Natalya goes for a leg drop, but Emma moves out of the way. Emma misses a clothesline and Natalya takes her down. Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter, but Emma counters it with an inside cradle for a nearfall.
Emma applies the Emma Lock and Natalya taps.
Winner and #1 Contender to the NXT Women's Title: Emma by submission (The Emma Lock)
Emma celebrates her win afterward as Natalya is not happy. Natalya then raises Emma's hand and proceeds to do Emma's wacky dance with her.
THOUGHTS: Different to see a very technical-based match from the women's division, but when you have two that can work that style in good fashion, its not that surprising in hindsight. Good to see Emma switch to the regular Tarantula for the Dil-Emma, the original version came off too contrived for my taste. Was a little taken back by the out-of-nowhere submission finish, but thought they put on a pretty good match.
Back from commercial, Renee Young is in the ring to introduce the upcoming sing-off between Aiden English and Colin Cassady. English comes out first, asking for his spotlight. English says that tonight, he saves his vocal talents for the main stage, the ring. Colin Cassady comes out last for the sing-off, to a good reaction by the crowd.
Renee says the winner of this sing-off will be crowned by the NXT Universe. English will go first and he asks for his spotlight once more. English says he will start the evening with a little opera italiano. English sings a little ditty in opera italiano. Cassady goes next and starts to sing, but stops. Cassady then sings "Oh Aiden boy, your pipes, your pipes are fairly. You tried to sing and sounded like you coughed. And here I am, my ship is always sailing. You are SAWFT!"
Renee asks the crowd who they thought sounded best. English gets booed, Cassady gets cheered. English says these people are wrong. This is my show and I demand another opportunity to prove my superiority. Cassady says for English to go again. English sings "How dare you cheer for him? You people, you have no taste. This fool in front of me, its more than I can stand."
Cassady goes again and sings in the tune of "My Girl" the following. "I've got SPOTLIGHT on NXT. Aiden English's voice, the worst there could be. Well, I think you suck, all these people think you suck. We all think you suck, you suck."
All of a sudden, English chopblocks Cassady and stomps away at him. English yells again that this is his show. The crowd chants for an encore, but English yells that they won't get one. English stands tall on the rampway as roses are thrown at him while Cassady is left fallen in the ring as we go to commercial.
THOUGHTS: So dumb, so stupid, but I loved EVERY SECOND of it. The biggest thing to come out of this is that finally, English has a feud that viewers can sink their teeth into rather than him coming out, doing his singing and beating a random jobber. Looking forward to what English and Cassady can do with each other going forward as it brings a different dynamic of a feud to this show.
"Prince Pretty" Tyler Breeze vs. "The Colossus of Cardiff" Mason Ryan
LeFort comes out before the bell sounds, allowing Breeze to nail Ryan with a series of right hands and kicks in attempt to take the bigger Ryan down to his size. Elbow to the back of the head, but Ryan comes back with a hot-shot, sending Breeze across the top rope throat-first. Ryan then goes outside and wipes out LeFort with a clothesline.
Ryan gets back in, but Breeze surprises him with the Beauty Shot for the upset win.
Winner: "Prince Pretty" Tyler Breeze by pinfall (The Beauty Shot)
Breeze celebrates his win afterwards.
THOUGHTS: WOW, that was fast. Kinda surprised by the outcome based on the previous push of Ryan a few months back. Yes, Breeze is the bigger commodity at this point, but Ryan was still being seen as this walking-tall babyface killer a few months back, now he loses in a minute to Tyler Breeze? Very odd booking here.
Next week, its the NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension vs. Hunico & Camacho in a Tornado Tag Match.
Before our main event, ring announcer Byron Saxton says that Tyler Breeze has left the building.
Main Event in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match: "The Big-Game Hunter" Leo Kruger vs. Sami Zayn
"OLE" chants for Zayn before the bell. Kruger instantly hits a running forearm as the bell sounds and sends Zayn to the outside. Kruger goes out after Zayn and hits a series of back clubs. Zayn sent head-first off the apron. Back in, Kruger gains a nearfall. Kruger then sends Zayn back outside and goes out after him. Kruger with forearms, then again sends Zayn head-first off the apron. Zayn sent back-first off the apron. Back in. Kruger gains another nearfall. Big uppercut sends Zayn to the outside. Kruger again goes out after Zayn and hits a series of chops. Kruger then slams Zayn on the outside. Back in, Kruger gains another nearfall. Kruger with a series of uppercuts, sending Zayn into the corner. Kruger charges, but Zayn catches him with an Exploder into the turnbuckles.
Zayn charges and connects with the OLE Kick to win the first fall.
Sami Zayn wins the first fall via pinfall (The OLE Kick).
Back from commercial as Zayn & Kruger battle on the turnbuckles. Kruger blocks a superplex and sends Zayn all the way to the outside. Zayn barely gets back in before the 10 count, where Kruger greets him with a DDT, but Zayn kicks out! Kruger cannot believe it. Kruger stomps away at Zayn and chokes him with his boot. Kruger taunts the crowd, but Zayn fights back. Zayn blocks being whipped, but Kruger with more stomps. Zayn again blocks being whipped, but Kruger with another big uppercut. Zayn sidesteps a backdrop and hits 2 clotheslines, followed by a dropkick. Zayn fires up and hits the Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Zayn goes to head up top, but Kruger stops him. Kruger with a draping Ego Trip variation, but Zayn kicks out again! Kruger goes for the GC3, but Zayn quickly gets to the ropes. Zayn with a shoulder to the ribs from the apron and heads up top, but again Kruger stops him. Kruger heads up with Zayn and hits a series of back clubs. Zayn now blocks a superplex and knocks Kruger off the ropes. Zayn goes for a crossbody, but Kruger moves out of the way. Kruger this time locks in the GC3, but Zayn is able to crawl and reach the bottom rope! Kruger unloads with a series of right hands and talks trash to Zayn. Kruger with more right hands, but Zayn fights back. Zayn then runs into a spinebuster by Kruger. Kruger removes his shirt and sets for the Slice. Kruger goes for it, but Zayn catches him with a Flatliner.
Koji Clutch applied and Kruger taps.
Sami Zayn wins the second fall via submission (Koji Clutch)
Winner: Sami Zayn in 2 straight falls
Zayn celebrates his win as we go to credits.
THOUGHTS: With reports that Kruger has completely changed up his character to a Russell Brand-esque persona and a whole new name, it made sense for him to lose 2-0 as a way to blow-off the Leo Kruger "hunter" character. Thought Kruger & Zayn had another good match with one another and it was the best match on the show. Also loved Zayn busting out a new submission to his arsenal with the Koji Clutch. In a company where the upper-tier guys have both pinfall and submission finishes, good to see Zayn delve into having that in his moveset as well.
Overall, NXT's 1st show of 2014 was a good, solid affair. Nothing you have to go out of your way to see, but as always with this show, its a good, enjoyable one hour of wrestling that is by far the best hour of wrestling the WWE produces out of their weekly programming.
Would love your feedback on the 1/1 WWE NXT, please comment below if you watched the show. ‘Til next week everyone, have a good weekend!