Zim's WWE NXT Review: Contract signing between Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas for live NXT title match, The Miz vs. CJ Parker, Tyler Breeze vs. Colin Cassady, Bayley vs. Sasha Banks, Corey Graves returns, and The Ascension in action

Posted in: WWE TV Reports
Jan 31, 2014 - 10:50 AM

By Zack Zimmerman

Aired January 29, 2014 on Hulu Plus
Taped January 8, 2014 at Full Sail University

The opening video played… The show opened with the camera panning the crowd as they chanted "NXT." The now-longest reigning NXT tag champs The Ascension made their entrance. The commentators said their title reign stood at 190 days. Their opponents, ROH's Q.T. Marshall and his partner, were already in the ring.

1. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mike Cuellari and John Icorino. The Ascension singled out Cuellaro, and for some reason the crowd was chanting "yah" with each Ascension strike. Action began to drag and the crowd chanted "This is awesome." Icorino tagged in and ate a hard clothesline from Viktor and a wicked diving clothesline from Konnor. A short time later, they hit a nicely timed Fall of Man for the win.

The Ascension beat Mike Cuellari and John Icorino in about 2:20.

The crowd chanted "yah" for the champions and a replay showed finish. Tom Phillips must enjoy our analysis here, because he finally acknowledged that the NXT tag division "has been virtually non-existant," and called it The Ascension's "scortched Earth policy…"

Backstage, Sylvester Lefort was holding auditions to find a new client. First up was Cal Bishop, who was an All-American and two-time PAC-12 Champion. Lefort shook his hand but asked what was wrong with his ears. Bishop said they were cauliflowered from amateur wrestling. Lefort said there was no way he was putting ears like that on TV. "Next," he yelled…

Scott Stanford hyped the most unanticipated main event in NXT history: CJ Parker vs. The Miz. He also hyped that Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas would have their contract signing tonight, and hinted that Neville would have a stipulation in store for Bo… [C]

Zim Says: The Ascension looked fine, but the scorched-Earth policy sucks. Interesting to see Cuellari back for another try-out and his partner took some nice bumps. I'm not sure what either of their futures holds however. Is Sylvester Lefort's new gimmick being the voice of the cosmetic aspect of the business?

Back in the arena, Tom Phillips, William Regal, and Alex "Adamle Bad" Riley discussed the upcoming NXT Championship contract signing. Riley said that Adrian Neville would get to choose the stipulation, time, and place of the match. Of course, Triple H announced last week that the match will take place on the February 27 episode of NXT live on the WWE Network. Nice try, A-Ry.

Corey Graves made his entrance for the first time in the past several months after suffering a concussion in his best of three falls match against Adrian Neville. Once in the ring, he said that forgiveness is a coward's way out of a fight. He accused Adrian Neville of trying to end his career and said he would never forgive Neville. He said he had a message for Neville and everyone else: "Stay… Tuned" he closed, with a twist on his usual catchphrase. Camacho made his entrance on a chop shop bicycle for singles action.

2. Corey Graves vs. Camacho. Graves hung back in the corner before several seconds before locking in a grinding side headlock on Camacho for about thirty seconds. Camacho knocked Graves to ringside, but Graves hit a dragon screw leg whip in the ropes. Graves landed several punches before applying Lucky 13. Camacho screamed in pain and tapped seconds later.

Corey Graves forced Camacho to submit in about 1:20.

Graves held the hold for several seconds after the bell before backing off and looking coldly down at Camacho. Regal put him over and Graves showed off his "Stay Down" tattoo…

Backstage, Devin Taylor welcomed Antonio Cesaro onto the set. She recapped that Cesaro had rejected Sami Zayn's rematch challenge last week and asked him why. Cesaro said he shouldn’t have to justify himself. He said he already beat Zayn and nobody would even remember that match if it hadn't have been for Cesaro. He said that Zayn is walking around on crutches and called him delusional for thinking he had a chance with crutches when he couldn't beat him at 100 percent. He said he had better things to do than explain this, and walked away…

Scott Stanford hyped Bayley vs. Sasha Banks up next… [C]

Zim Says: Fine return squash for Graves. It appears as though he'll be moving back into a program with Adrian Neville, so I'm curious whether they go with that as the next NXT Title feud or if Bo retains on the live show and Neville moves back down to Graves. As for Cesaro's promo, it was completely logical and to-the-point. This is playing out precisely as it should, and I'm enjoying it thus far. Predictable is not bad when it leads to something predictably good.

Backstage, Sylvester Lefort's next audition walked in and Lefort liked what he saw. The man introduced himself as Sawyer Fulton (now with a bleach-blonde buzzcut) and Lefort asked him where he was from, but he didn’t answer, he just stared into Lefort's eyes. Lefort mentioned the audition, and Fulton asked "What audition?" He continued to stare; I thought he was going to go in for a kiss, but Lefort asked him to leave before he could. He slid his hand across Lefort's when releasing the handshake before leaving…

Back in the arena, Bayley made her entrances accompanied by Natalya. Renee Young joined the commentary team. She won major points with me by shaking Regal's hand and just giving A-Ry a pat on the shoulder when he went for a handshake. Sasha Banks was out next, flanked by Summer Rae and Charlotte.

3. Bayley (w/ Natalya) vs. Sasha Banks (w. Summer Rae and Charlotte). Bayley tried to go right after Charlotte twice but apparently forgot how to get out of the ring, so Sasha jumped her from behind and took control. The crowd chanted for Bayley but Sasha slowed things down with a straight-jacket hold. Bayley broke free and began to fire up around the two-minute mark. She hit a stinger splash and a running reverse elbow, then went up to the second rope. The BFFs distracted Bayley from ringside and Natalya attacked them. Sasha went for a rollup from behing but Bayley managed to kick out. She connected with the Belly-to-Bayley and scored the pinfall…

Bayley pinned Sasha Banks in about 2:50.

Scott Stanford hyped that Tyler Breeze would be in action next.

Zim Says: Another competent but forgettable match from the ladies. I really want to see them get five minutes on a regular basis. I also want to see this program between Bayley and the BFFs to pick up a little bit; it's starting to drag with Bayley is getting her retribution slowly and forgettably, bit-by-bit every couple of weeks. Also, I have no Earthly idea what they were going for with Sawyer Fulton, it was weird. Not interesting weird.

Back in the arena, Big Cass made his entrance solo and got a decent reaction to his "S-A-W-F-T: Sawft" line. Tyler Breeze made his full entrance next and the crowd was into it. Breeze stalled and Cassady did the Sawft line a couple more times to try to get the crowd behind Cassady and against Breeze. After a while, Cassady slid to ringside and a fan handed him a phone. He proceeded to walk around the ring taking selfies while the crowd chanted "This is awesome." Fun stuff.

4. Colin Cassady vs. Tyler Breeze. Breeze took control right out of the gate with kicks to the gut, but Cassady fired back with two right hands that dropped Breeze. He pumped his fist as the fans spelled out "S-A-W-F-T" and they all yelled "Sawft" as he delivered a club to the back. Cassady hit a bodyslam and an elbow drop but Breeze kicked out at one. Cassady hit a running boot to the face for a near-fall when Aiden English appeared on the big screen.

English said that they like to call themselves "certified Gs, but everyone's a G until an Artiste walks in the room." He opened the door behind him to a room where Amore was in his wheelchair on the phone. Amore said he was talking to a "female beneficiary" but English cornered him and the door shut. Amore could be heard yelling for Cassady as Cassady looked on from the ring. Breeze hit the Beauty Shot and scored the pinfall.

Tyler Breeze beat Colin Cassady in about 2:25.

Cassady left the ring quickly towards the back to check on Amore… Scott Stanford hyped CJ Parker vs. The Miz coming up next. God help us… [C]

Zim Says: I didn’t like the way the match played out. Cassady is really showing a lot in terms of character development and connecting with the fans, but they're defining him down with losses like this. Obviously this plays into his feud with English and isn't a clean loss, I just think there's something in Cassady worth protecting more than they are. Tyler Breeze is a fun act to watch, but he's starting to feel slightly irrelevant without a focus or storyline.

Backstage, Colin Cassady was searching for Enzo Amore and found him with little trouble. Enzo said English was gone, and went on a rant about his skin looked sticky to the touch and he had a weird look in his eye. Amore said he threatened to "kick his hind end." Cassady reminded him he was in a wheelchair and said he wouldn't be kicking any hind end. "That's true." Amore admitted. Funny.

Cassady said English isn't the only one who can play games, "and we ain't talkin' chess." They went on a tangent about different games. Cassady concluded that he was going after English. He asked what kind of man threatens a guy in a wheelchair. Amore answered a dude that’s "S-A-W-F-T," and Cassady showed good intensity when he stepped in and closed "Sawft…"

Zim Says: Man, their promos are a nightmare to transcribe. I can't do their comedic timing and subtleties justice through text.

Back in the arena, the commentators talked about something and I didn’t listen because it's the easiest way not to get angry with A-Ry. CJ Parker made his entrance. The Miz was out next to the delight of several women and nobody else. Regal said he just wants to "punch his face in at every opportunity."

5. CJ Parker vs. The Miz. Miz slapped Parker in the face and hit chops around the ring before Parker fired back with chops of his own. Miz fought back and hit several punches in the corner, which got a pitiful count from maybe five people in the crowd. Miz hit a dropkick and knocked Parker to ringside before getting a two-count with a sunset roll back in the ring. Back on their feet, Parker connected with his jumping crescent kick for a two-count, and got another following his running double-knee strike in the corner.

Miz fought out of a chinlock and fired up with clotheslines before hitting a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. The commentators talked about the crowd's rejection of Parker and Miz began to target Parker's leg. Parker attempted a diving crossbody, but Miz rolled through and applied the Figure-Four, forcing Parker to submit.

The Miz defeated CJ Parker in about 4:40.

Miz celebrated up the ramp as Parker showed frustration in the ring. Regal said he was impressed by Miz, but still wanted to punch his face in…

An NXT Backstage Exclusive showed the roving reporter ask Sami Zayn for a reaction to Antonio Cesaro denying his rematch. Zayn said Cesaro had every right to say no, but he's not going away that easily. He said this thing between him and Cesaro wasn't over to him. He asked Cesaro to come to the ring next week and say no to him face-to-face…

Backstage, Sylvester Lefort was still in his office when Mason Ryan walked in. Sylvester was pleased, despite their semi-recent history. Ryan shook Lefort's hand and said he'd work for him if Lefort could beat him in a match next week. Ryan smirked and left Lefort looking nervous…

Scott Stanford hyped the NXT Title match contract signing up next and questioned what stipulation Adrian Neville would have for the champion…

Zim Says: Miz vs. Parker wasn't as bad as I would've expected, but the crowd didn't really care. I'd imagine the loss will further play into Parker's turn to the dark side, so it'll be interesting to see how the character evolves from here. I'm not overly excited about the idea of Ryan and Lefort together, but I won't knock it until I see it.

Back in the arena, Renee Young was in the ring and she introduced the challenger Adrian Neville. Neville entered in a pink Polo, black slacks, wrist tape, and what appeared to be his wrestling boots. Ugh, indieriffic. NXT Champion Bo Dallas was introduced next, but he didn't come out. The crowd chanted "Yes!" when they realized he wasn't coming. Funny. Neville said it wasn't a surprise Bo wasn't there, but it doesn't matter because he still has his match. He asked Renee for the contract, signed it, handed it back, and requested that she get Bo's signature when she finds him.

Neville was ready to leave when Bo's music hit and he came out in his gear. He said he didn't want Neville to think he didn't come to the contract signing because he's scared. He didn't want Neville to think he was scared to lose his title. He said he wasn’t scared; he's just getting very, very tired of Neville. He said he'll sign the contract on his own terms. He told Neville to grab a chair, grab the girl, and take a seat, because he's going to show them why he's the NXT Champion. He called out his opponent and Danny Burch made his way to the ring.

6. Bo Dallas vs. Danny Burch in a non-title match. Bo worked over Burch without taking his eyes off Neville. The crowd chanted "tightie-whities" at Bo for his trunks and Bo continued with slow, methodical offense. Burch tried to fight back, but Bo put him back down with a hard back-elbow. The crowd chanted "Bo-ring" before Bo planted Burch with a snap double-arm DDT and scored the win.

Bo Dallas beat Danny Burch in about 2:20.

Post-match, Bo ordered Neville to bring his contract in the ring. Neville got in Bo's face and then handed him the contract, which Bo signed. Bo said he'd see Neville on the 27th and flashed a big smile. Neville looked down at the contract, and Bo dropped him with a right hand. Bo left the ring and taunted the crowd, when all of a sudden Neville took him out with a dive through the ropes. The show closed with the two brawling up the ramp and onto the stage…

Zim Says: Strange segment. Bo was good here and Neville was fine, but he looked really dumb for looking down at the contract with Bo standing right in his face. That was not a good way to make Neville look like a competent babyface; it just makes Bo seem smart. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the match and hope they give it plenty of build in the next couple of weeks.

Overall, the biggest thing to reflect on is the fact that we survived The Miz vs. CJ Parker. Let's all take a second and be thankful that it's in the past and something we never have to revisit again. Aside from that, there was too much going on to make anything stick on this show. The segments with Amore and Cassady were entertaining, the ones with Lefort: not so much. None of the matches went more than five minutes and none of them are particularly worth seeking out. I also come away from this show forgetting that Corey Graves is back, which is not a good thing as he should be one of the talking points of this episode and should be positioned as a threat and a top-level player. I'll never recommend against watching NXT, but I have more negative thoughts on this show than positive ones.

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @InVasionZim or; always happy to discuss.

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