As NXT opens, we see Heath Slater backstage. He is talking to Dusty Rhodes, asking for a title shot against NXT Champion Seth Rollins. Vicki Guerrero joins the conversation, siding with Heath. She claims she is at NXT to see the future stars of WWE, implying that she may manage them one day.
Dusty does not give Slater a title match. Instead, he tells Slater that he must prove that he's worthy of a title match, and sets him up with a non-title match against the champion.
We then cut to the arena where Brodus Clay is making his way to the ring for the first match of the evening. His opponent is Camacho. The commentators that will guide us through this episode are Tony Luftman and William Regal. Matt Striker is handling the ring introductions.
Brodus Clay vs. Camacho (televised match length 3:54)
The Funkasauras takes control of the match early on, exploiting his size and strength advantage. After a few minutes, Camacho is able to retaliate, even hoisting the big man up for a Samoan drop. Control of the match goes back-and-forth a couple of times before Brodus finally gets Camacho down, hits the Splat running splash and takes home a victory.
Per usual, there is a post-match in-ring dance party with the Funkadactyls and some of the kids from the audience.
Immediately following the match, we see a vignette for Paige. She says she's not a "diva," she's a fighter. We find out she will be competing later in the evening. It's not until a little later in the show that they announce Paige and Audrey Marie will team up against Layla and Alicia Fox.
We go back to the arena where Byron Saxton is interviewing Richie Steamboat, who "has not been cleared to wrestle tonight" due to injuries he supposedly suffered during last week's six-man tag team match. He calls Kassius (which he pronounced KASS-ee-us, intentionally I believe) Ohno a coward for hitting him from behind.
Of course, this prompts Kassius Ohno to interrupt the interview. He has four things to say. He corrects Richie's mispronunciation of "Kassius," says that Richie is just upset because Ricky wasn't a good father, says that he is moving on from Steamboat to try to become NXT Champion, and finally gives Richie a towel so that he "can throw it in."
As we head to a commercial break, Kassius is headed to the ring for his match. He is facing the recently-returned Trent Baretta.
Kassius Ohno vs. Trent Baretta (televised match length 6:49)
Trent uses his speed and quickness to take the advantage very early in the match, but it does not take long for Ohno to take control. After being dominated for a few minutes, Baretta manages to get Ohno out of the ring, then hits Ohno with a running somersault from inside the ring over the top rope. As they remain outside the ring, Ohno regains control of the match and takes things back inside the ring.
This ebb-and-flow continues throughout the match, Baretta using his speed and quickness, Ohno using his strength and brutality. It showcased both men's abilities very nicely. The match ends when Richie Steamboat comes to ringside. He has Ohno's towel in hand, throws it at Ohno to temporarily blind him, allowing Baretta to get the win.
Before we go to commercial break, we find out the women's tag match will be next.
Paige & Audrey Marie vs. Layla & Alicia Fox (televised match length 5:03)
If it were up to me, Paige and Audrey Marie would be on regular WWE programming, and the team of Layla and Alicia would be confined to NXT. Unfortunately, it's not up to me. The commentators are really playing up the idea that the NXT Divas have to show that they're as good as the WWE Divas so that they can move on up, career-wise.
Paige and Alicia start off the match for their respective tag teams. I know that I generally come down hard on Alicia, but she looked pretty solid as the match began. But it only lasted a few minutes before both Divas tagged out. Layla and Audrey were surprisingly solid as well. Perhaps the future of the WWE Divas division isn't as bad as it is often projected.
As Layla makes the tag and Audrey continues to be punished by Alicia, Regal brings up a good point: this may be the only time in WWE or NXT history that two British females are in the ring at the same time.
DD BONUS: Can you think of any instance in WWE (or NXT) history that proves Regal wrong? Has there ever been a time when two British females were in the same match?
I was genuinely (and pleasantly) surprised at the number of near-falls and pinning combinations that we saw all throughout this match. If every WWE Divas match was this solid, the division would get the same level of respect as the TNA Knockouts, and big-time players like Beth Phoenix and Gail Kim wouldn't leave WWE for greener pastures.
Paige seemed to be in control of Layla near the end when Audrey blind-tagged herself in. Paige laid Layla out before leaving the ring. Audrey went for a lazy cover, which Layla managed to reverse and get the pinfall victory for her team.
Backstage, Briley Pierce interviews Seth Rollins, asking about his main event match against Heath Slater. The promo was alright, but not at the level of a bona fide WWE Superstar. Essentially, he calls Vicki old and says that Slater's 15 minutes of fame is up.
We see a quick vignette for Bronson. It reminded me of the vignettes we'd see for Brodus Clay before they threw the Funkasauras swerve. He is up next.
Bronson vs. Lincoln Brodrick (televised match length 1:07)
Despite the fact that Lincoln Brodrick is built like David Otunga and Bronson is built more like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Bronson basically pounds on Brodrick for about a minute before making him tap out with some sort of leglock submission that looked to me like a modified Figure Four.
Backstage, Ohno is pissed that he lost, destroying one of the Full Sail University classrooms. He stares into the camera but doesn't say a word. He's holding the towel that cost him his match earlier in the show.
Back in the arena, Antonio Cesaro is on the mic. He basically just talks trash about the US before telling the audience that he is their champion. He then requests that everyone stand for "the national anthem." Once the reluctant audience begins to stand up, Cesaro calls for the Swiss national anthem. Before it can be played, Tyson Kidd interrupts.
As Kidd comes to the ring, he makes fun of Cesaro's "man purse," and then tells the US Champion that he wants a shot at the belt. They mix it up for a few seconds before Kidd sends Cesaro out of the ring. Cesaro rips off his shirt and Kidd invites him back into the ring. At that point, of course, Cesaro just leaves without ever answering Kidd's challenge.
After the commercial break, Vicki gives Heath Slater an introduction not unlike the one she gives for Dolph Ziggler. As always, Jim Ross joins the commentary team for the main event.
Seth Rollins vs. Heath Slater (televised match length 6:47)
The opening minutes of the match are a little slow, as the two men feel each other out and try to take the early advantage.
Being a very proud resident of Des Moines, Iowa, it's my duty to bring to attention any mention of "The Hawkeye State." It was nice to hear Jim Ross say, "Seth Rollins [is] from the state of Iowa, one of the states known for their amateur wrestling." Sure, it's not that big of a compliment, but we take what we can get.
The match remains fairly even until Slater gets sent to the outside and takes the opportunity to confide in Vicki Guerrero. This sends us to a commercial break, and when we return, Rollins has control of the match, which has moved back into the ring.
As Rollins climbs to the top rope, Vicki does her job and serves as a distraction. It gives Slater a chance to take control of the match again, which he does. He remains in control until he attempts a powerbomb. Rollins escapes, lands a brutal kick to the back of Slater's head, then hits a high-impact finisher, the name of which is unknown to both JR and Regal.
Prediction: It won't be too long (another year or so) before they bring Bronson up to the major shows, but his current gimmick won't be any more successful than Tensai's gimmick currently is.
Question: Is it a good sign or bad sign that NXT seems to be featuring more and more guys that have already made it to Raw and SmackDown? Does making appearances on NXT mean that WWE feels you have something you need to improve on? Or should it merely be seen as a treat to the talent and fans of NXT?