Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Flair For The Inzayn: Sami Zayn, Charlotte, Adrian Neville (WWE NXT 2014)

Hey yo Stud Muffins & Foxy Ladies,

I tried to come up with a  funny way to introduce just how much fucking snow there is right now in Boston, but then is absolutely nothing funny about the personal Hel I am currently living in. Ragnarok is coming. 

How come she did not fall from the sky?

Sami Zayn is coming and ain't nobody going to stop the best damn pure babyface on the roster besides Daniel Bryan Zayn is on a quest to prove that white meat, underdog babyface is not dead in the water. Whether it was as a plucky upstart against Cesaro or finally getting the monkey off his back defeating Adrian Neville to win the NXT Championship, Zayn is making it cool to be good again. Against Adrian Neville at the December NXT Special, the match was humming along just fine and I was enjoying it as another great Zayn selling performance with some cool spots thrown in like the Dragonrana. Then at the end of the match, something special happened. The crowd was so invested in the Sami Zayn character that they cared that he not only won the match, but how they won the match. When Zayn stood above a prone Neville with championship belt cocked and ready, the crowd chanted in unison "NO!". It restored my faith that real babyfaces could still exist in this often jaded, cynical wrestling universe. They did not want Zayn to compromise his morals or take shortcuts to win the title. They wanted a Sami Zayn that was true to himself and won on his own merits. They got just that when Sami Zayn defeated Adrian Neville clean in the ring to win the NXT Championship and prove that he can indeed win the big one.

However, this is not where Zayn best showcased his talents as one of the great potential future WWE superstars. It was on the very first NXT live special on the Network in the very first match against Cesaro that Zayn shined brightest. He proved that even in a loss that sometimes you can come out looking like a million bucks. He gave a heroic underdog babyface performance of the ages against the arrogant bully, Cesaro. He craves that respect from Cesaro and earns it the hard way, but never saying die and always moving forward. Sami Zayn has been the cornerstone of NXT and development as a star has been the hook.

Lately, Steve Austin has been on a kick of asking people pro wrestling or sports entertainment. NXT is pro wrestling to WWE's sports entertainment. Recently, I have noticed some more WWE-centric and indy traits bleeding into the NXT product, which disappoints me. However, those first two or three NXT special just exuding pro wrestling to me. It was a promotion built on wins & losses, pride & respect, fun characters, video packages that fleshed out characters and explained matches. Recently, where have those video packages been for Finn Balor and Hideo Itami? Early on, I loved the packages that chronicled who Bo Dallas, Tyler Breeze or Tyson Kidd were. Take Bo Dallas for instance. On the main roster, he was an annoying knock off of Tony Robbins. If you watch NXT Arrival, you realize how they just took one small facet of the character "Bolieve" and totally abandoned the entire character. That was a champion who delusionally believed he was beloved. I loved his response to "No More Bo" that they wanted to "know" more about Bo Dallas. NXT did a great job fleshing these characters out and perhaps there is no better example than in their flourishing women's division.

Every corner of the internet seems abuzz with NXT Women's division and how it is a paradigm for the what main roster's women's division could be. It begins and ends with how the NXT women are promoted. They are treated seriously and usually as the semi-main event fight. They have unique, interesting characters that are striving to win the championship. Even though, my favorite women's match was between two ladies that would soon leave for the main roster, Paige & Emma, the women's matches have been the most anticipated for me personally. I am not what you would have called a women's wrestling fan until NXT. There has been a lot of hype around Charlotte/Natalya, which I think is a bit over-blown from a purely in-ring perspective, but there is no denying its importance. It could be a harbinger of things to come and turning point for how women are viewed in WWE. It was promoted and treated  as serious fight with important consequences and the second most important match on the card behind the NXT Championship match. The announcers and the crowd were equally invested in the outcome and  it has continued in all of Charlotte's matches. Charlotte, much like her father, has redefined pro wrestling only she has done it for women. Her athleticism and confidence has made people take notice. It needs to be mentioned she has the best entrance music in wrestling today. She has had good to great matches with Nattie, Bayley and Sasha Banks and just gave a great performance this past week in the fatal 4-way. She is the perfect anchor to build a division around. She has all the offense to be a great babyface, but has the attitude and size to be a heel. Matches against Paige and Nikki Bella are on the top of my dream match list and that's not something I would thought I would have said just a couple weeks ago. 

We can't talk about the women's division without talking about my favorite character in wrestling Mmmm you maybe gorgeous, Tyler, but you take a backseat to the Boss. I was super pumped that she won the NXT Divas title this past week as she definitely deserves it. She has her gimmick down pat and she is just a badd bitch. Calling Charlotte "generically basic" and trash talking the entire division has been the highlight of these NXT specials. I really enjoyed her match against Charlotte because of how pure her heel performance was early when so many heels are afraid to be hated, Sasha Banks revels in it. I look forward to many title defenses and after Bayley showed some incredible fire in the fatal 4-way, I can't wait for them to hook up.

The year 2014 was a breakout year for NXT as WWE's developmental/alternative brand. I hope they continue to focus on wins and losses and unique characters that are motivated in the ring by who they are and the context of the story. That is pro wrestling and I hope NXT keeps it alive.

Match Listing:   

Cesaro vs Sami Zayn - NXT Arrival 2/14 ****1/2
Cesaro best heel performance. Zayn rocks as the never say die face. A Matter of Respect. MOTYC.

NXT Women's Champion Paige vs Emma - NXT Arrival 2/27/14 ****
FIGHT! Paige was vicious, just gnarly kicks. Emma is underrated. Best women's match of the year.

Charlotte vs Natayla - NXT Takeover 5/29/14 Vacant NXT Women's Championship ***1/2
A statement on what the division could be. Felt too much like an exhibition.

NXT Champion Neville vs Zayn vs Kidd vs Tyler Breeze - NXT Takeover 9/14
Decent action, but loved the finish. Finish sets up Zayn vs Neville perfectly. 

NXT Women's Champion Charlotte vs Sasha Banks -NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14 ***1/2
Sasha Banks is Da Boss! Great heel performance early. Finish stretch went too long. 

NXT Champion Adrian Neville vs Sami Zayn - NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14 ****1/4
Sami finally wins the big one in grand fashion with an incredibly dramatic finish. NXT on fire with finishes!

Cesaro vs Sami Zayn - NXT Arrival 2/14

NXT is where pro wrestling lives, baby! Where has this Cesaro been on the main roster? No, it is not completely booking's fault. I am taking that bully mentality and those violent heel tendencies. Cesaro is damn great wrestler, make no mistake about it, but he has the same problem that many midcard heels on the main roster have. They do NOT do anything heelish in the context of the match. This is why "This is awesome" is so prevalent because there can't be good without evil and no one is evil in the ring. On this night, Cesaro was a total, unmitigated, unadulterated prick. Zayn is the consummate babyface. He is the lovable underdog character that you believe can win, but know it is not going to be easy. You know he is going to leave it all in that ring and you will never be disappointed by Zayn win, lose or draw.

Watch the two out of three falls match first, before you watch this match. Ok, you watched it now, good. Unlike most modern WWE series of matches, this series actually builds layers on top of other matches. The only WWE series that comes close recently is Cena/Lesnar. The beginning of this match was probably my favorite beginning to any match of 2014. It was just so perfect. Zayn has proven from the previous matches that his best chance to elude Cesaro with his quickness, but now being familiar with Cesaro he is combining his natural elusiveness with actual scouting experience. Cesaro shows him up early with his power and gives him a playful slap to the back of the head that gets a rise out of everyone. Cesaro goes for the Giant Swing, but Zayn eludes it with a armdrag to the outside. Zayn goes flying out onto Cesaro and it is fastbreak offense that gets the crowd rocking. Cesaro nips in the bud by catching Zayn off the top and into a backbreaker. Cesaro is just in total bully prick mode throwing Zayn around on the outside and he looks to use the post, but Zayn yanks Cesaro into the post with his feet. Zayn looks to repeat his awesome dive through the turnbuckles, EUROPEAN UPPERCUT! HOLY SHIT! Cesaro had it scouted. Now, we get Cesaro going back to the post and wrapping around the post. Cesaro working the knee was incredible and some of his best work in the WWE. Zayn is killing it selling, but also mixing in hope spots. I loved the whiff on the enziguiri triggering the single leg crab. I love sequences like that. His next spot was for Zayn was his split legged moonsault caught by Cesaro and slams him into the ramp. Damn! That was actually credible countout finish tease and you really feel Zayn's grit and determination to return to the ring.

Zayn's first big score is the Exploder into the turnbuckles. I agreed that Zayn needed to get hit some offense at this point in the match, but I thought it was a bit too easy for Zayn and felt more like it was his turn than him earning it. Cesaro goes back to the knee to cut off Zayn’s string of offense and applying a leg wrench using his neck as a fulcrum. Then you move to another interesting aspect of the characters. Cesaro starts to get a little cocky and Zayn takes advantage with roll up out of the Giant Swing. I love how Zayn fights during the Swing; it really makes for an awesome visual and puts over Zayn’s character. During a sloppy Cesaro cover Zayn slides Cesaro over for a two count. Cesaro almost more pissed at himself for letting that happened, crushes Zayn’s head with a double spot that had me popping like crazy. Zayn has another burst of offense using a hurricanarana off the top to set up his Yakuza Kick (I could not understand what Zayn’s name for it is.). Zayn won the first fall of the last match with that move. 1-2-NO! OH shit, you just gave Cesaro your best shot and that has to take a lot of wind out of your sails. Cesaro starts to obliterate with European Uppercuts and Zayn is just rocked, but won’t stay down. Zayn  has one last burst of burst and the fists start flying. He throws a wicked German. Can he pull it off? I love Zayn’s selling with him holding his mouth, fighting through the pain and showing great fire looking for that Yakuza Kick, but Cesaro demolishes him with a big boot. Cesaro throw him up and European Uppercut only get one, but Cesaro will not be deterred and hits a roaring European Uppercut and Neutralizer for the win!

Zayn and Cesaro just crushed it out there. If there is any NXT match as good as this, then hot damn I am going to be in for one helluva run. Cesaro showed some of his best character work here as an arrogant bully. Zayn’s story of craving that respect and proving himself by defeating the main event bully made for a great hook. He fought to the very end, but eventually succumbed to Cesaro. Then Cesaro comes back to the ring and gives him that respect in the form of a hug. This is a perfect representation of how to get someone over by losing. Everyone came out looking better from this masterpiece. ****1/2


NXT Women's Champion Paige vs Emma - NXT Arrival 2/27/14
Sorry Nattie/Charlotte, this is the women's match of the year for me. Paige is so good at intensity compared to the rest of the women's division. I was watching the match with Brie from this past week's RAW and Paige looks like the only one on the roster male or female who cares if she wins or loses. Poor Emma, I maybe biased because I think she is super cute, but I really like her as a wrestler. I think she was really good as the underdog in this match. Paige gets right up in Emma's face and piefaces her. This is definitely the hottest start to a women's match in quite some time. I loved Paige's dropkicks to midsection. I really wish she would bring back her midsection work. Emma is looking for that slingshot, but Paige blocks into the chinlock, which kills the match a bit. I love the Paige spot where people catch her foot and she takes a header. Emma gets the first part of the Emmalock with the slingshot, but Paige counters. Again, Emma takes out Paige's base, which makes sense since Paige is a giant. She is a long drink of water. Emma runs through some good babyface offense that riles the crowd like the Dilemma and Emmamite Sammich. I really loved the surfboard especially Paige's selling. Paige rocks Emma with an elbow on the apron out of desperation, but Emma still in control and hits a powerbomb. Emma is slapping Paige around, fuck I love this. This feels like a fight! Paige hits a wild slap. HOLY SHIT KICK TO THE MIDSECTION! Page Turner, but it only gets two! Paige debuts the Scorpion Crosslock to get the submission victory.
This was just a gnarly fight between two badass women. I loved this match. There was nothing cute. It was a bomb throwing sprint. Paige was going to destroy Emma's midsection and Emma looked to take out Paige's base. Emma got off a nice string of offense, but did not have enough in the tank. Paige was able to hit a wild slap and wicked kick to the midsection. Women's match of the year. Damn what a fight! I am so pumped for Paige vs Nikki. ****


Charlotte vs Natayla - NXT Takeover 5/29/14 Vacant NXT Women's Championship
I can understand why this match is being pointed to as what the women's division can be if probably promoted, why it is being lauded as the greatest women's match in WWE canon and a turning point for women being taken seriously under WWE umberella. This is not just a match that is being trumpeted by as a means to canonize (thanks Charles) this as a great/historic match; it finished #20 in Voices of Wrestling poll for 2014. WWE took the women seriously and in turn so did the pundits. I think that is the strength of this match more than anything than they did in the ring. This is the first women's match since Trish/Mickie/Lita that felt like it had a big fight feel. You had the Nature Boy going crazy at ringside cheering on his daughter and the stoic Hitman coaching up his niece. The announcers treated the match seriously and the crowd was fully invested in the outcome. I was at the Royal Rumble during what I thought was a really good Bellas vs Nattie/Paige tag match where you could hear a pin drop and no one gave one fuck about the match. The crowd is crucial in developing that atmosphere they wanted for this match. Honestly, this match felt like an exhibition to me. I think the cool story for a while was Nattie's submission ability against Charlotte's length. Yes, Nattie could grab the holds, but Charlotte was too damn long for Nattie to be able to hold her in those holds. Still, the match lacked quality transitions. I am a huge fan of chain wrestling that gets chippy and we get that with some nice slaps and then Charlotte smoking her with a spinning back chop. RIC FLAIR IS HYPED! He is all over the fallen Nattie, Wooing in her face after he she had that audacity earlier in the match. Then Nattie is just running the ropes and taking control. This is my next problem with the match. Women need to accentuate their positives and hide their weaknesses like any other wrestler. So just because men run the ropes, does not mean you should. Nattie with her little legs looks ridiculous when she is trying to run the ropes and Charlotte has to wait for her. This is something I noticed about the Charlotte/Banks match is that Charlotte is so athletic that she is showing up her fellow women. She can run the ropes and do convoluted sequences and look badass. Making Banks do those sequences or making Nattie try to keep up by running the ropes exposes both competitors. I like the figure-4 headlock a lot and Nattie trying to escape only to have Charlotte roll through showed how Charlotte's natural length thwarted Nattie. Then you get bullshit like Charlotte hitting a dropkick only for Nattie to hit a butterfly suplex. I liked the Charlotte Flair Flip into Nattie blasting her off the apron with a forearm. Nattie should focus on strikes, submissions and throws and forget about running. Charlotte whips her off the apron in a nasty bump. Then Charlotte misses the moonsault and Flair losing his shit. Flair should be her full-time manager, he adds a lot to this match.  Nattie applies the Sharpshooter, but Charlotte reverses into the Figure-4. This was the worst figure-4 sequence I have ever seen and actively detracted from the match for me. Charlotte applied it and just because Nattie rolled through onto her back does not mean she is applying pressure. From there, they just start no-selling it and look confused. Then they trash talk and it is like somebody needs to start selling because this looks ridiculous. I am surprised they did not have Nattie properly reverse the pressure because that is actually a Sharpshooter (is just a standing reverse figure-4) and it would have been a counter that got a big pop. Anyways, Charlotte hits Bow Down to the Queen a way better name than Natural Selection to win the match. I feel like Paige/Emma had way more intensity and Charlotte/Banks had more interesting character work. Both of those matches felt like struggles. This match just felt like they were showcasing what women's wrestling could be rather than looking to win a match. ***1/2 


NXT Champion Adrian Neville vs Sami Zayn vs Tyson Kidd vs Tyler Breeze - 
NXT Takeover 9/14
Overall, I tend to like NXT crowds they remind me of ECW crowds where they are smart and play along. I think the best representation of this was the double chant of "Nattie's Better!" "That's a fact!". That might be the most creative and appropriate chant ever. I love chants that exist to get under the heel's skin like Paula and are sorely missing in today's current product. The NXT crowd really nailed it with that one. While they did chant "CM Punk!" "999" and then "This Is Awesome" during the finish, they can't do any wrong in my eyes after the awesome double chant.

So talking about the crowd as the opening may seem pretty damning for the content of the match, but I thought this was a pretty good fatal 4-way. Everyone plays their character really well, the spots were fun and the finish was great and really sets up the next show. Before we get there, lets talk about the match. Early on the best spot is Zayn getting one up on Breeze and then taking a selfie, which is a fun early spot. Kidd/Breeze take out Neville and Zayn with double suplexes on the entrance ramp. I like Kidd's selling on those suplexes let's you know how much damage is really dished out. The best part of the match up until the finish was Kidd playing King of the Mountain on Neville. He was relentless keeping Neville out of the ring and I loved it. Breeze standing on Zayn's head is something we need to see more out of him. Kidd vacillated between being awesome and boring. The slap exchange with Zayn was great, but then he would lock on a chinlock. There is the right time for a chinlock and a wrong time. It really feels like he is squandering his isolation advantage (loved that term from either Byron or Tom). Finally, Neville breaks into the match and it does not get nearly the reaction it should have based on the King of the Mountain earlier. The announcers let us know that Neville and Zayn are friends. Neville steals Zayn's thunder doing top rope Asai Moonsault onto the two heels. We get the Zayn/Neville teaser that the crowd eats up. I really like Kidd shooting Zayn like a dart up onto Neville who was on the top rope and it is a nasty bump. I liked that spot a lot. Zayn is looking for a Yakuza Kick, but is intercepted by a Beauty Shot from Breeze. Breeze was slotted in the Rollins opportunist role and did a fine job, but nothing spectacular. He can't get the pin and that leads to Tower of Doom. Renee asks "What do you call that? Have you ever seen that before?" "Tower of Doom and Yes I have in every multi-man match featuring midcarders post-2002". Now Zayn cant get the pin. Zayn eats a foot from Neville and takes a Shooting Star Press. Breeze throws Neville out and looks for pin, but cant get it. He takes an eternity to follow it up. He squanders his opportunity and Kidd applies the Sharpshooter. Neville stops Breeze's hand from tapping and Zayn breaks it up. Zayn goes for his big tear. Neville takes a HUGE bump to the outside, Zayn dives through the post onto Breeze, YAKUZA KICK TO KIDD! HE IS GOING TO DO IT! 1-2-NEVILLE PULLS OUT THE REF! Gold is a powerful force. Zayn is in shock and Neville cant seem to believe he did it himself. Zayn eats a superkick and Neville hits the Red Arrow on Kidd to win.
Breeze was mostly a non-factor and had some decent moments as the opportunist. They showcased Kidd early as the main heel and he demonstrated some violent tendencies and loved King of the Mountain. Then he is sort of disappears and eats the pin. Neville and Zayn were the stars and did great in their roles. Zayn as the underdog babyface just does all the right things, he pops the crowd early with the Breeze selfie, then selling with Kidd and that absolute tear that just has everyone rocking. Neville was the frustrated champion. He was constantly undermined at first with the King of the Mountain, then Zayn being catapulted into him, Breeze stealing the Shooting Star Press. I would be frustrated too that I am the champion and I just can't get anything going. Here I am about to lose my damn title, but I never really got  a chance to kick ass and I would just lash out and grab the ref. Great build up to that moment and him snapping. He really sells it like "I can't believe I just did that." I have been liking these NXT shows, but I think what has been missing is the hook for the next show and now i am just itching for Neville/Zayn. The match content was fun, but that finish really makes the match for me. ***1/2


NXT Women's Champion Charlotte vs Sasha Banks -NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14

It was love at first sight for me and The Boss. I could just tell from her mannerisms that she would be a Sleeze Favorite, then she called Charlotte, "generically basic" and I knew she could do no wrong. However, this Lady (She ain't ratchet!) from Titletown, USA (Home of Winners such as the New England Patriots, John Cena, and Myself, the First Ever Winner of the First Ever Pro Wrestling Trivia Internet Podcast, Brainbuster), is no slouch in the ring and most importantly is not afraid to heel it up. Whether it was getting into Charlotte's face like who ya think ya are or taunting Charlotte with Woos making me laugh like heidy heidy ha, Sasha Banks was wrestling this match like a Flair. Hell, she even had the Flair transition of using the outside and corner to your advantage. Ric Flair is perhaps the greatest corner wrestler of the time. It was in the ropes that Flair was at his most dangerous because that is a break in the steady-sate action of wrestling and he was used these transients to get one-up on his opponents. Here, we see Sasha bait Charlotte to the outside, yank hair from the corner (never turned you back on an opponent, Charlotte, love how Sasha made her pay for the lapse in focus), or the the drop toehold in the corner. The announcers were on point noting these elements of Sasha's game plans, kudos. What they missed and this where Bobby Heenan really would have shined is that Sasha Banks was not just taunting Charlotte by using the chop and the figure-4 headlock, she taught Charlotte those moves! That was one of the cruxes of the video package. Heenan would have been right on top of that and BANG! We would have gotten the will you stop from Gorilla. One last thing, I dug from Banks early on, when Charlotte looked to regain the advantage, we saw Sasha tackle her into the corner and deliver double knees in the corner. it showed a desperation and violence mixed together. It was a wrestler that knew their grasp was tenuous at best. I liked Charlotte using her natural strength to overcome Sasha. Charlotte is an interesting case. I don't if she would be better suited as a heel or face. I liked her as a heel in the Bayley match a lot, but I feel like her natural gifts and moveset would make her a babyface. I think starting off as a heel and maturing into the face is always the safest route, but I could see her going either way. Towards the match got all move trade-y and athletic and stuff. I have seen it all folks, a strike exchange in a WWE-sponsored women's match. That damn fucking sequence is going to follow me to my grave. I thought I was safe, but they went and pulled it out. Admittedly, I liked Charlotte shortening the ring up on the tackle to end the exchange. Charlotte's moonsault into a somersault senton was very, very impressive. There were a couple other spots, but I was disappointed they abandoned a great narrative to hit MOVEZ~! Certain people would say that would be the most Flair thing to do. :P That being said it does play into the fact that in an athletic match Charlotte would smoke Sasha so once Charlotte could set her pace and implement her gameplan it was over for The Boss, but constant move trading took away from any sort of hot crescendo. Anyways, first half of this match Sasha Banks wrestled this match Like A Boss and the best pure heel performance in a WWE ring since Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam. The second half is not bad, but it is forgettable, but the story hook is eschewed for moves. ***1/2  


NXT Champion Adrian Neville vs Sami Zayn - NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14
NXT crowds are far from perfect, but for this match they were undoubtedly perfect. This match goes from a normal MOVEZ~! match to a great match and a star-making performance for Sami Zayn because this crowd was totally invested in the Sami Zayn character. They also proved me wrong. The past couple of years my confidence had been shaken that babyfaces could exist in this cynical, jaded wrestling climate.  When Sami Zayn had the chance to blast Neville with the championship belt, they all chanted "NO!" in unison throughout the segment. They cared about how Zayn won the match and that meant a lot to me. It restored my faith that real babyfaces can still exist in this world. The pop for his victory would have been the feel good moment of the year if not for the amazing Daniel Bryan story that began the year. 

The match also represented something that I personally fear the growing homogenization of American and Japanese wrestling. The match felt like a very good Pro Wrestling NOAH main event circa 2009, more than a big time WWE match. You had these moves alone: Split Leg Asai Moonsault, Kawada Kicks, a convoluted Blue Thunder Bomb, Koji Clutch (called by the announcer as that!), Dragonrana, Half Nelson Suplex, and Exploder into the turnbuckles. Of course, the most telling sign was the strike exchange. It was such a barrage of moves that I felt that the humanity of the match sometimes was stripped from it. The Zayn story was sometimes lost in getting to next spot. Kudos to the crowd for never faltering and always making this about Zayn with their constant exhorting of Zayn and Ole Chants. Besides the finish, I liked the beginning of the match the most because it exploited the more interesting parts of the story: Zayn's confidence and crowd dynamics.

Neville was doing all the little things to mitigate Zayn's crowd advantage and stop him from getting out of the gates hot. The chain wrestling was very entertaining and a great way to bottle Zayn up. Then he would get into his heads with the front handsprings to show him up. Neville gets too cocky is caught with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Zayn goes on that early fast break run with a split leg Asai moonsault. There is a weak transition that allows Neville to get back on top. Again, Neville is bottling Zayn's excitement up with a reverse chinlock and kneedrops to the face. Again, Neville cocky hits some playful kicks to the face before the Kawada Kicks. Zayn hits a nice swandive to the outside. I liked how Zayn was not letting Neville breathe and forced his advantage. After this, it got a little move trade-y. The setup for the Powerbomb was lifting from Japanese in a very good way. I liked how Neville had to use a forearm sledge, withstand a Zayn counter, and kick him in the head to hit the powerbomb. That is pro wrestling at its best, having to earn that move. As much as I may be complaining, I marked out for the DRANGONRANA~! I just think it would have looked even cooler if it was not surrounded with other standard big spots.

The ref bumps were perfect and returned the match back to the story. The crowd was on point telling Zayn to not worry about the ref only to eat a thrust kick and the Dragonrana. The crowd was so pumped for that kick out. Then again during the aforementioned "Should I blast him with the belt or not?". The crowd pleading with Zayn not to do it only for Neville to sneak in with the roll up. These were great false finishes. Zayn winning with the Yakuza Kick was a spectacular moment after not being able to win the big one during his career. He pulled out all the spots in this one and still held himself to his moral code. It was nice to see fellow Quebecois, Kevin Steen (now Kevin Owens) and Pat Patterson celebrate with him. Even Nevilled embraced Zayn. However, just as they were going off the air, supposed best friend Kevin Owens threw Zayn down on the back of his head on the ramp and then brutally powerbombed him on the apron (that's just Indy, :) ). I thought these NXT shows needed a big angle to hook you into the next show and this was perfect. ****1/4 

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