Tag Archives: Xavier Woods

Watch, Skip or Skim: Spoiler Alert with “Angry” Andy (12/11-12/13)

Over the course of seven days, there’s a lot of wrestling on TV. But only some of it is actually worth watching. That’s where Spoiler Alert comes in: we break down the spoilers of all of WWE’s pre-taped shows to let you know what you should watch, and which segments and full shows you should skim or skip. This week, Andy sits back and enjoys the build to Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

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(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Curtis Axel d Dolph Ziggler in what is probably a pretty good match.  As long as they keep Curtis away from the mic, this should be really excellent.  Axel is solid in the ring, but needs someone to make him look like he’s the second generation stud he’s supposed to be.  Dolph Ziggler is definitely the guy for the job.

Natalya d Alicia Fox.  They’ve been building Nattie up for a credible run with the Divas title, so this is probably little more than a quick squash.  It doesn’t hurt that Alicia has improved over the years.

Xavier Woods & R-Truth d Tons of Funk when Brodus Clay starts arguing with Tensai.  Woods continues to get face time with the fans, Brodus continues his heel turn, and the match ends in a logical, inoffensive way.

WATCH this show. Everything is story-and-character based.  All of it matters.  And it looks like the action should be pretty good, too.

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(spoilers via ProWrestling.com)

Kaitlyn d Aksana.  Man, they sure made a point to kill Kaitlyn, didn’t they?  If you find either of these women attractive, then enjoy the show.  The wrestling itself won’t be so pretty.

Los Matadores d 3MB. Yes, again.  This time, 3MB was represented by Jinder and Drew.  We’re sure El Torito did something the kids will enjoy.  That’s the last of the nice things I have to say for this show.

SKIP THIS SHOW. Just do it.  You’ll thank me.

WWE-Smackdown

(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Daniel Bryan d Luke Harper & Erick Rowan by disqualification, in a 2-on-1 handicapped match. Bray attacks, but Bryan fights him off with a running knee.  Bryan stands tall… which means he doesn’t have a chance at TLC.

The Real Americans d Goldust & Cody Rhodes in a non-title match.  I’d be totally ok with Cesaro and Swagger playing the role of the Quebecers in 2K14 version of the Bret/Own split.  They’re two very talented, very HUGE men, who are both fantastically underrated in the ring.  They’re also joined by one of the best managers in wrestling today… so why not strike while the iron’s hot?

Bad News Barrett talks about the Slammy Awards.  I’m ok with this.  People are complaining, but they’re establishing a new character.  Let them establish him before you demand he wrestle the same match, against the same midcarders, that made you sick of him the first time around.

Mark Henry d Damien Sandow by countout, with Intercontinental Champion Big E. Langston on commentary.  I’d guess he didn’t get to see too much in this scouting mission.

John Cena makes an appearance, to talk about his TLC match with Randy Orton.

Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins d The Usos. Punk appears on the titantron after the match, guaranteeing victory at TLC.  Maybe he hired a sniper.

Big Show d Ryback again.  This time, they continued brawling, along with Curtis Axel and Rey Mysterio.  I smell a filler tag match for TLC…  oh, and a tag team nobody asked for: Mysterio and Big Show.

Kofi Kingston v Alberto Del Rio never happened, because Del Rio has a concussion.  That, and Miz came out to give Kofi the Skull Crushing Finale.  I guess that’s better than watching Del Rio beat Kofi for the hundredth time.

Randy Orton and Triple H  kiss and make up after what happened in Raw’s awesome closing segment.

WATCH THIS SHOW.  WWE is clicking on all cylinders heading into TLC.  They’re putting on quality matches, and booking to logical storylines.  Watch and enjoy it while it lasts.

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Andy’s Angry: Breaking Down Brodus and Remodeling the Midcard

It’s always amazing to see how much certain wrestling fans truly hate their theatrical sport of choice.  If they’re not getting what they want, these fans explode about what WWE should be doing.  When they get exactly what they want, they complain that the angle is being hot-shotted, or just botched in general.

Take, for example, the midcard.  Fans have long cried out for a need to rebuild the midcard, and to make the matches matter.  Give the guys a reason to fight, instead of just having them fight.  You may have noticed, lately, a lot of tag guys and lower card guys are actually getting over, and it’s not a coincidence.

People also cried for new talent.  The Shield, The Wyatts, Cesaro, Fandango, and so many others say hello.

2 weeks ago, WWE attempted to rebuild a floundering mid-card tag team, while also introducing and establishing a promising new talent.

And it was brilliant.

A week after he was introduced to the mainstream audience, Xavier Woods came out with Brodus Clay’s dancers – and his theme song.  A few days later, Big Brodie was PISSED that the young guy was stealing his gimmick – and his spot on the show.  It immediately established Woods as a relatable underdog, and set the wheels in motion for a long overdue Brodus Clay heel turn.  It also set up a series of matches where Clay gets to finally work like the big man he is, and let the crowd get behind Xavier.

So naturally, the internet drops trou’ and declares this a big ol’ steamy pile of wrestlecrap.

Are you kidding me?

I didn’t see many complaints about Woods, but man do people have a problem with Brodus Clay.  In particular, people hate him for declaring himself a “main event player,” in comparison to a rookie like Woods.  Apparently, these folks would rather have Clay declare himself a jobber, or a failed comedy gimmick, than try to sell himself and sell the feud.  And since when do heels have an accurate opinion of themselves? Part of what makes them heels is the disconnect between reality and what they say reality is.

Which makes me  think that the people complaining have never actually watched professional wrestling.  Story lines like this one are almost literally Wrestling 101, and everything that is right about the business:  It uses established undercard monsters (Clay and Tensai) as a platform to introduce a new character (Woods)  using a clear and obvious size disparity and they’ve attached him to an established babyface (Truth) to make sure the fans cheer the new guy by association.  Even if it didn’t do all that, it would still be using two babyfaces to take two floundering guys, and give them new life as bad ass heels.Whether or not the internet likes it, this angle is already a success.

Not only does it work, it shows that WWE could take its “future future endeavors” list and create some midcard stars. There are a bunch of unused (or underused) guys who have been on TV – who could be used a lot better.  In no particular order- David Otunga, JTG, Ezekiel Jackson, Mason Ryan, Ricardo Rodriguez, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Evan Bourne…

Let’s start with JTG.  Right now, he’s dead in the water, but it wasn’t always that way.  He was OVER as a member of Cryme Tyme.  And he’s been off TV long enough that you could easily revive the gimmick, and retcon his miserable singles run.

There’s only one problem.  His former tag team partner thinks he’s an actor now, and isn’t coming back.  My solution?  Since Mason Ryan would be busy with my next idea, I’d team him up with Ezekiel Jackson.  JTG did all the work in the original team, and let Shad take the hot tag.  That would work just fine here.

And if you’re trying to recapture Cryme Tyme magic in 2014, give them a high-powered attorney who keeps them out of trouble. There’s a certain Harvard Law grad floating around who could use something to do.  Unless Mr. Hudson Otunga is busy, that is.

Just like that – you’ve got an undercard tag team that, if nothing else, could be used to build teams like The Real Americans and Tons of Funk for tag title shots.  And you’ve given them a Teflon gimmick with a charismatic manager to boot.

Zack Ryder has a segment of fans that love him.  Right or wrong, they’re going to chant “we want Ryder” at live events—especially in the northeast.  So cash in on it, using some other talented guys with nothing to do.

How? The FBI.

ECW fans will remember the original incarnation of the Full Blooded Italians.  They’ll also remember that half the stable wasn’t Italian.  Hell, some members weren’t even white.  But that didn’t stop the group from parading around as a family of tough-guy Italians.

Re-use that formula here, but with Ryder leading a group of quasi-Long Island douche bags.  Curt Hawkins is still under contract, right? Evan Bourne could easily fit the bill, given enough hair gel.  Mason Ryan could be the group’s muscle.  Better yet, Zack’s famous cronie The Big O is coming along quite nicely in NYWC.  And a fake-Italian/guido stable would be far more productive than anything else Yoshi Tatsu is up to.  Team them up as the L.I.E., and  make it stand for whatever you want it to.  Then feud them with Santino.  Sell a lot of t-shirts.

A lot of people love Ricardo Rodriguez.  He’s funny, he’s charismatic—and he can work.  The only problem is, it’s been established that he’s little more than a punching bag in a bowtie.  Now, in fairness, WWE did set him up for a future return and legitimate run, saying that he was moving to the WWE Performance Center to learn how to wrestle.  But I have a better idea.

Use Ricardo Rodriguez as your next masked luchadore.  Call him anything BUT El Local.

Give him a gimmick, a back story, and the chance to get over as a legitimate wrestler.  If it fails… he’ll always be Ricardo Rodriguez.

Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel were a good little “London & Kendrick” kinda tag team, until Kidd got hurt.  Now he’s back, and neither guy is doing squat.  Team ‘em up and let ‘em go.

No, seriously, that’s it.  Just let these guys wrestle.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Of course, not every gimmick is going to work out.  Sometimes, a silly rapper gimmick turns into the biggest superstar in wrestling.  Sometimes it’s Slam Master J and nobody remembers you at all. Maybe Bad News Barrett turns into a main event gimmick.  Maybe it’s a “Just Joe” afterthought.  Who knows?

Not everyone makes it to the top.  But you can be a success without being number one and it wouldn’t hurt to give some guys a chance to grow as performers and connect with the crowd.  It certainly isn’t hurting Brodus Clay, Tensai, Xavier Woods and R-Truth to have a shot at something meaningful.  The proof is in the crowd reactions, and given enough time, the merch sales.  And WORST case scenario, every roster needs  a 3MB.

I hear and read a lot of complaints about Cena and Orton staying on top of the show, a decade after they took over.  You want that to end?  Someone else needs to get a shot—and everyone has to start somewhere.

So stop complaining, and enjoy the ride.

@AndyMillerJMS

Watch, Skip or Skim: Spoiler Alert with “Angry” Andy (11/27-11/29)

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Over the course of seven days, there’s a lot of wrestling on TV. But only some of it is actually worth watching. That’s where Spoiler Alert comes in: we break down the spoilers of all of WWE’s pre-taped shows to let you know what you should watch, and which segments and full shows you should skim or skip. This week, WWE lays the groundwork for some questionable storylines, and hopes you can stomach a holiday-themed Smackdown!

Main Event

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 (spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Alberto Del Rio d Dolph Ziggler

I’d be willing to bet this is a pay-per-view quality match.  These are two of the most talented guys on the roster, even if they’re not in the roles they should be.  Del Rio needs someone who can make him look like a vicious killer, and Ziggler sells like a madman… this is good booking.

Damien Sandow d Santino

Reports say this one is a simple squash, which is unfortunate for Santino.  That said, Sandow really needs some wins, and a loss will never hurt Santino.  That said, I’d rather see this match get 10 minutes on Raw, with the same outcome.

TRIPLE FREAKING H makes a rare Main Event appearance.  The King of Kings cuts a promo backstage, saying he wants one WWE Champion, and to unify the belts.  I like this, because it’s something important happening on an “unimportant” show, completely separate from the immediate legitimacy Triple H’s presence already adds to the show.

Kofi Kingston d Fandango

This match can only serve one purpose- to further the feud between Kofi and The Miz.  Hopefully The Miz is on commentary (said no one, ever) so he can help push the feud on the mic.

SKIM this show.  Del Rio-Ziggler should be great.  The Sandow match is totally inconsequential.  Triple H will be a special “A-Show” treat on the C-program, and Kingston-Miz is a solid mid-card feud in the making,

SUPERSTARS

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(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Hey, remember Superstars?  Apparently, it airs Fridays on Hulu Plus.  This week’s show  was taped before Raw on Long Island, which means the crowd had to be REALLY hot for…

Zack Ryder d Fandango

Long Island loves Zack Ryder.  If he’s not on the show, the crowd chants “We Want Ryder!” all friggin’ night – so WWE got his appearance out of the way early.  If these guys are smart, they went Memphis for this bad boy.  The crowd is going to be hot either way, and it’s early in the show – take it easy and use the crowd to tell your story.

The Usos d The Real Americans

A friend at the show said this match was really good.  Considering who’s involved, I have no problem believing it.  Hopefully the crowd is just as good.

SKIM this show.  Watch or skip the opener, depending on your feelings on the guys involved.  But there’s no excuse to miss The Usos vs Cesaro & Swagger, on a show where they probably spent 15 minutes having an awesome match.

SMACKDOWN

WWE-Smackdown

(Spoilers via LordsofPain.net)

Randy Orton & Renee Young are in the ring, forcing Nick to watch the opening segment. (Editor’s Note: He’s right.) Orton brags about Survivor Series but walks out when asked about TLC.  Apparently, we won’t be talking about that OTHER World Champion.

Vickie Guerrero is hosting a Thanksgiving-themed eating competition backstage.  If this doesn’t end with her wearing a face-full of mashed potatoes, then I just don’t know wrestling anymore.

Mark Henry d Curtis Axel.  Quick match, with Big E Langston and Ryback ringside.  I hope this is leading somewhere.  4-way for the title at TLC?

Titus O’Neil wins the eating competition.  Millions of drumsticks, millions of drumsticks.  For some reason, victory here earns him a match against Antonio Cesaro, later in the broadcast.

Los Matadores & El Torito d The Plymouth Rockers

Get it?  Because it’s Thanksgiving.  Prepare to watch a midget bull take out three dudes dressed as pilgrims.

Tons of Funk d R-Truth & Xavier Woods

Apparently, Brodus Clay was upset that Woods stole his theme song, back-up dancers, and spot on TV.  The only way I’m ok with putting the floundering joke of a babyface tag team over the fresh talent from NXT will be if Clay and Sweet-T are turning heel.  But even then, there’s nowhere for them to go.  They’re not surpassing The Shield, The Wyatt Family, or The Real Americans.  They need to legitimize Woods – not have him squashed by the fat jobber tag team.

Bray Wyatt says Daniel Bryan is safe with him.  He says Bryan entered a man, but will leave a monster.  I’m ok with this.

CM Punk and Renee Young are in the ring.  Nick turns up his TV.  The Punker says he hasn’t heard from Daniel Bryan since he was kidnapped by the Wyatts.  He says he doesn’t know why The Shield attacked him on Raw… but thinks maybe they’re following orders from The Authority.

Antonio Cesaro d Titus O’Neil by DQ, when Darren Young interferes.  Yes, the heel won by DQ when the face tag partner interfered.  After the match, Titus pukes in JBL’s cowboy hat (HE ATE TOO MUCH.  GET IT?), and puts the hat on Michael Cole’s head.  Then he pukes on Zeb.  Little kids go nuts.  Everyone else reaches for the remote.

Goldust & Cody Rhodes d Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns in a tag title match.  The Rhodes boys win by DQ when Dean Ambrose interferes.  Punk comes out to clear house with a chair.  Then Vickie Guerrero comes out, and channels the spirit of Teddy Long.

Goldust, Cody Rhodes & CM Punk vs The Shield ends in a no contest when the lights go out.  The Wyatts are in the ring when they come back on.  The Usos and Rey Mysterio come out to even the odds.  Vickie comes back out once again, Playa, leading to….

Goldust, Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio & The Usos d The Shield & The Wyatt Family.

This cluster-f ends when Mysterio hits the 619 on Erick Rowan, who then eats a GTS from CM Punk.  Crowd goes home happy.

SKIM this show.  The tag team gauntlet of exponential growth sounds fun.  The Tons of Funk-Truth/Woods angle could turn into something.  Same with the IC title picture.  Everything else sounds like painful holiday show filler.  DVR is your friend.

@AndyMillerJMS

NXT Scouting Report 9/11: Rest-Hold Theater

NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces. But its primary goal is to make future superstars who will one day grace our televisions on Raw. Each week we’ll scout the “minor league” talent in each segment and decide if they’re ready for the big leagues. This week: Can Leo Kruger establish himself as NXT top heel? 

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev

What the hell? I wasn’t expecting 20 minutes of heart-pounding action, but five minutes and a funky finish left me with some serious tag-team blue balls. I love almost everyone involved here (I’m coming around on Scott Dawson) and we some nice character beats from each wrestler, but I wanted much more. Enzo spit some verbal Jersey trash and got a nice SAWWWWFT chant going. Rusev went with the double-labeled board for maximum crackin’ action, and Dawson and LeFort continued to be the oddest couple in NXT.

But just when the match starting cooking, with Rusev and Dawson debuting some sweet tandem moves, the rarely enforced five-second rule for tagging in and out was called for some reason. And it suuuucked. The crowd was confused, Tony Dawson was confused, and William Regal, all knowing god of wrestling, could barely explain what had happened. These guys deserve so much better, and if they wanted a bigger, main-event type match between these teams down the line, they could have given us a clearer DQ finish to bring the heat up. Everyone here was solid – but that ending killed the atmosphere.

Verdict: Main Event worthy.

Bo Dallas Promo

For all the positive things Oblivious Bo can do, this segment was an example of how easily things can go off the rails. A lot of what he said worked well to continue his character’s evolution, like volunteering to mentor the veteran Zayn, mentioning “this business” like he hangs with Trips, and his amazing smile that never wavers. Problem is, the crowd decided they wanted none of what Bo was selling – and not in the fun “fuck you heel” kind of way. They chanted over and around him, and really didn’t reacted to anything he said. I’m not sure if this was an example of “X-Pac Heat,” but it sure seemed close to it. Any reaction is success for a performer, but when the crowd isn’t’ listening at all that’s might be a sign of trouble. I still endorse the character direction, but this was a step back.

Verdict: Main Event worthy.

CJ Parker Interview with Renée Young

Parker explains his feud with Tyler Breeze through hippie mumbo-jumbo while the Renee nods and holds her nose. Breeze then ambushes the interviews by attacking Parker, taking a selfie over Parker’s beaten body. A quick and simple segment, lots of characterization, with a strong heel moment. NXT doing it right.

Verdict: Smackdown! worthy.

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Paige vs Sasha Banks (non-title match)

Paige is not ready for Raw just yet. She’s better then everyone currently on the main roster sans AJ Lee, but that’s just not good enough for what she can accomplish. When she gets called up she needs to be a revelation to that division, not just out-class the E! contingent. To truly be the “Anti-Diva,” we need to see a lot more consistent presence, attitude and execution throughout her performances. She has her moments of pure rage and viciousness, like those brutal knees on the apron, but when she’s not in rage mode she wears this smirk that throws off the illusion. I want the Paige that Regal describes, the lady that will straight eviscerate every woman in her way. We see it briefly in her matches, but it needs to be her whole existence.

Still, this match was better than the stuff we get on them cable shows, so I can’t complain too much. I did get a little curious why Sasha Banks was stuck on the headlock of doom – it seems they wanted her to look strong but she didn’t have much else to give. Hence five minutes of rest-hold headlockin’ that would make Curtis Axel proud. But she did look better than I’d seen her before, and Paige needed a roll-through quick pin to steal the victory. Add a post match sorta-heel turn beat down and it’s an eventful night for the women’s division.

Verdict: Smackdown! worthy.

Summer Rae & Sasha Banks backstage segment

Might want to cool it on these Summer/Sasha segments. Woof. Stella Adler is rolling in her grave.

Verdict: Community theater worthy.

Leo Kruger vs. Xavier Woods

First, I thought Leo Kruger’s work here was great. Any and all limb target for wrestlers with submission finishes will always work for me. His relentless abusing of Woods’ left arm, which Woods did a fine job of selling, did a nice of conveying Kruger’s “hunter” mentality. All good character fun. It’s time for Kruger to shine as the top heel in NXT, and I’ve seen enough to think he’s got what it takes. He’s legit creepy and off-putting, and he’s ring work gets better every week.

I thought this was Woods’ best match in a while, and Regal and Dawson pointed out how much more serious he was coming into this matchup. His arm injury selling was a highlight, I loved the fury of punches he unleashed on Kruger with just his right arm towards the end of the match. But his “Honor Roll” is terrible and needs to flunk out of his repertoire. You thought “Trouble in Paradise” took too long to develop? “Honor Roll” is the Chinese Democracy of signature moves. Poor Kruger had to stand there like a statue waiting for Woods to do a silly roll into a jumping clothesline.

Unfortunately, the real star of this match was Kruger’s endless armbar he employed to wear down Woods throughout the match. Normally I wouldn’t mind too much, as I’ve already praised Kruger’s ring work here targeting the appendage. But after sitting through Sasha Banks’ headlock stuck-on-pause, it was a curious choice to feature so much extended rest-holdin’ in one hour-long episode. I love me some ground game, but it can be a bit much if featured on the two biggest matches of the show.

Verdict: Superstars worthy. 

Matthew Timmons runs the stat-centric WWE website Kayfabermetrics, and can be harassed on Twitter @matthewtimmons.

NXT Scouting Report 9/4: The Sami Zayn Show

NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces. But its primary goal is to make future superstars who will one day grace our televisions on Raw. Each week we’ll scout the “minor league” talent in each segment and decide if they’re ready for the big leagues. This week: can Sami Zayn keep his amazin’ match streak alive?

Bayley & Charlotte vs. Alicia Fox & Aksana

A serviceable women’s match the further establishes Bayley and Charlotte as quality fan-favorites in NXT. Bayley completely stole the show as usual, and I’m pretty sure she had the 2nd biggest ovation of the show. Her adorable reaction to getting a fan-made sign was priceless, and her  “hugplex” was devastatingly cute. The quick pinkie shake between her and Charlotte before the match began was adorable and a nice way to show some camaraderie between the two. I also was pleasantly surprised by Bayley’s more subdued reactions during the match. They could easily let her slip into a one-note, fawning idiot, I’m glad she’s playing cute and not brain-dead.

Aksana continues to be terrible and Alicia Fox didn’t do much to impress me, but it was still light-years ahead of that triple-threat garbage WWE put on last Monday night. The finish was a bit of a hot-mess, but overall it was still a fun match. It can only help the “upper” division having Diva’s spend time in Florida with Sara Del Rey and company. I’m impressed with NXT’s commitment to the women’s division, opening the show with a ladies tag-team match is something you’ll never see on Raw.

Verdict: Smackdown! worthy.

Sylvester LeFort, Scott Dawson and Alexander Rusev Promo

And you thought Cesaro hanging out with Swaggs and Colter was weird. Is this the strangest threesome in pro-wrestling history? A gas-station attendant, a Bulgarian Muay Thai fighter, and a French bottle-tan spokesmodel/pro wrestling manager? Well, if anything can bring three random weirdos together, it’s the love of cheap steak and all-you-can-eat shrimp.

Verdict: Main Event worthy.

Corey-Graves

Rick Victor vs. Corey Graves

I should just link to the greatest album review of all-time and let it speak for me. But I’m a serious wrestling journalist (despite what Cody Rhodes thinks) so I’ll give you fair take on this match.

Corey Graves sucks. If this guy makes it to the main roster I’ll eat my hat. He doesn’t do anything special, and for a guy his size that makes no sense. He needs to bring something unique to the ring to make up for his unimposing look – maybe sell the shit out of everything a la Ziggler or Rollins or learn some sick high-flying moves.The man stomp-punches, shows off his knuckle tattoos, and the announcer sell him as a “submission specialist.” That’s it. How can you tell somebody to “stay down” when they’ve kicked your ass for seven minutes? Yeesh. Side note: As much as it pains me that Los Matadores are siphoning Not-El Generico’s “Ole” chant before he hits the main roster, I love that Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel pepper their CM Punk feud with shouts of “stay down.” Sorry Corey!

I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to stick him in the ring with the ultra bland Rick Victor. Victor’s been serviceable tagging in The Ascension, but left naked here in a singles match we get a jobber with a receding hairline and black eye contacts. I legit laughed that Tony Phillips excused Victor not knowing what the fuck to do in the ring as “being deliberate” and “having no wasted motion.” The man carries zero of his gimmick into the ring, and that’s not going to cut it after what Bray Wyatt gave the NXT universe.

No energy, no urgency, no dice. Fast-forward is your friend.

Verdict: Barely house show worthy.

Summer Rae manipulates Sasha Banks

Thespians, emote! I love Machiavellian Summer Rae antics, waging psychological warfare on Paige through her opponents to remain Queen of NXT. She’s been beaten physically by the Women’s champ, so it makes sense she’d regroup and attack with a different strategy. Depth to women’s feuds, how about that! Bonus points for Summer almost saying “relevance” every time she tried to say “relevant.” Good saves!

It’s too bad Sasha Banks could be out-acted by a piece of plywood. I want to see Summer screw with Bayley’s head. That would be fun television.

Verdict: Superstars worthy.

Renée Young Interviews Paige

A simple “I’m a fucking fight-ehha” promo from Paige. Oh man that accent, sometimes I close my eyes and…

Ahem. This was a short, sweet and necessary mission statement from our Women’s champ to remind us who’s wrecking shop next week. Extremely hard for any segment with Renée and Paige to score anything other than Raw worthy.

Verdict: Raw worthy.

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Mason Ryan vs. Alexander Rusev

If you’re trying to sell me on Mason Ryan being a legit monster strong man, putting him in the ring with Alexander Rusev is a terrible idea.  Rusev is an athletic 300-pounder who moves like a cat, meanwhile Ryan runs like the canvas is covered in marbles, and his muscles might be fake, Giant Gonzalez style. Watch the sequence where Ryan runs the ropes, Rusev ducks a clothesline then lays Ryan out with a spinning heel kick. The contrast in ability is unmistakable, and I’m not sure who can take Ryan seriously after this match.

Rusev looks as good as he can against a stiff like Ryan. What a stark difference from wrestling Dolph Ziggler two weeks ago. But if he can look solid against two entirely different wrestling styles, that bodes well for his long-term future. Teaming up with LeFort and Larry the Cable Wrestler, however,  makes little sense outside of “he needs a mouthpiece,” and I don’t like a guy that talented needing distractions for victories. Let the Bulgarian beast smash.

Verdict: Main Event worthy.

Leo Kruger lays out Xavier Woods

I approve of this development. NXT does all the little things right, and in a 30-second segment a new feud is born. Is it really that hard to pull this off on the big shows?

Verdict: Main Event worthy.

Sami Zayn vs. Jack Swagger

I feel guilty how much I love Sami Zayn. Before he arrived in NXT, I only had a passing knowledge of the existence of El Generico. Admittedly, I’m one of those fans who didn’t pay much attention to the independent wrestling scene pre-Pipe Bomb. So now not only do I get these amazing NXT matches, I get to dive into YouTube and Vimeo and binge on the greatest hits of El Generico.. So much awesome at the same time! The only thing I can compare this to is when I discovered Queens of the Stone Age and then found out about this band named Kyuss. Once you get that taste, goddamn it’s insatiable, and having such a rich back catalog is a godsend.

Zayn versus Jack Swagger may not have reached the epic heights of the Cesaro matches, but it was still one of the best NXT bouts of the year. Zayn’s ability to work the crowd into a frothy frenzy is already Raw worthy, and I wonder how long WWE will keep him down in Orlando. If he can pull off Swagger’s best match of the year, what could he do for guys like Ryback?

The highlight of the match (for me) was Zayn’s sick running corner big boot that Swagger ate like a champ. That turnbuckle cam reply shot of Swagger getting smashed was just tremendous; I think I replayed it about eight times. Somebody .gif that shit. I’ve watched enough Generico matches now to know that’s a staple, and it was glorious here. It came right after a brutal Patriot Lock sequence that Zayn sold hard. We’ve seen so many guys tap out in two seconds, it was great to see Sami fight out of it (well, at least the first time) and sell it like a devastating submission finisher. All around an awesome sequence.

My only quibble with the match was the ending. I understand that Swagger is a main roster guy so he can’t stay and feud forever. That means Zayn’s contempt for Bo Dallas needs to ramp up – but distraction finishes suck the air out the room so fast. The match was too good not to have a definitive ending – unless we’re getting Zayn/Swagger II down the line. Begrudgingly, I’ll admit I’m ready to see Zayn whip Bo Dallas badly now, so this booking did work me on a emotional level. You win this time, pro wrestling tropes.

Verdict: PPV worthy.

Matthew Timmons runs the stat-centric WWE website Kayfabermetrics, and can be harassed on Twitter @matthewtimmons.