The Good, the Great and the Awesome from NXT 4/3/14
One week after a special episode of NXT entitled "Vengeance," another budding rivalry would write its latest chapter as Sami Zayn squared off with Corey Graves in the night's main event.
After suffering a head injury two weeks ago, there were many questions surrounding Zayn's health and whether or not he was really capable of taking on a competitor as cold and calculating as Graves. Those questions would be answered when the talented ring workers clashed in the show-closer.
Brodus Clay returned to television with a dominant victory over Xavier Woods, then turned his attention to an unexpected competitor. Who would Clay target and, more importantly, why?
Emma took on Sasha Banks as she tried to avenge a loss to Banks' BFFs teammate Charlotte from a month ago. Would the second-generation Diva provide a distraction at ringside, allowing Banks to score a victory or would Emma overcome the numbers game and pick up a big win heading into her first WrestleMania?
Tyler Breeze and NXT Tag Team champions The Ascension were also in action as WWE presented its next generation program exclusively on the WWE Network.
What parts of the show excelled?
Find out now.
Emma vs. Sasha Banks
One week after NXT Arrival, Charlotte defeated Emma by feigning injury. This week, Emma had the opportunity to get a measure of revenge against the BFFs when she took on Sasha Banks.
Emma mocked Banks early but ended up paying dearly for it as the Boss of NXT unleashed her fierce offense on the Aussie and took control of the bout. Emma fought back, capitalized on a miscommunication spot from the heels and scored the submission win with the Emma Lock.
The match served very little purpose outside of getting Emma her win back. Banks loses again, which may become a problem in the future, and the focus on commentary was more on Charlotte than anyone.
The fact that it was a fairly solid match was enough to land it in this week's article.
Tyler Breeze has been one of the most entertaining characters in all of NXT for months, but he has been very one note during that time. He has leaned heavily on the supermodel gimmick and creativity has really done nothing to enhance or evolve the gimmick.
That changed this week as he unleashed a more aggressive side of himself on poor Yoshi Tatsu, who has fallen so far as to being a jobber in NXT. The intensity Breeze brought to the match was a nice change of pace and the commentators did an excellent job of selling the fact that Breeze was less worried about protecting his face and as a result, was able to open up his offense and win more matches.
An aggressive Breeze opens up more opportunities from both in-ring and character standpoints.
No More Funking Around
Brodus Clay's win over Xavier Woods was not noteworthy on its own. After all, Woods has jobbed to just about everyone possible in NXT as of late and a loss to Clay, who has not been on television in months, is not all that surprising.
What was surprising is what happened after the bell when Clay grabbed a microphone and addressed the NXT fans. He blamed WWE for taking everything away from him, including his gimmick. He vowed that he was going to be the one taking from now on, beginning with the NXT title held by Adrian Neville.
Few could have expected that, with the talented roster of Superstars that NXT has, Brodus Clay would be the guy positioned as the first real challenger to Neville's title. That does not mean it is a bad thing. In fact, Clay could use some repackaging before winding up back on the main roster shows, and if that comes as part of NXT and by working a program with Neville, then it could be for the best.
A monster like Clay allows Neville to take big bumps on defense and, conversely, a big heel makes Neville's offense look that much more impressive.
It may not be the most conventional feud but it should make for some very interesting matches, at the very least.
Sami Zayn vs. Corey Graves
The main event of this week's show was the culmination of a month-long rivalry between Zayn and Graves that began when the latter called out Zayn, who had been the talk of the wrestling world following an instant classic against Cesaro at NXT Arrival.
It bit Graves as Zayn scored the pinfall victory. The loss ate away at the Pittsburgh native, who struck out and injured Zayn by shoving him head-first into the steel post. It concussed Zayn and kept him out of action until this week's bout.
Zayn, despite telling anyone that would listen that he was fine, exhibited signs that his head injury was still affecting him and Graves capitalized. He took a very cerebral approach to picking Zayn apart, using headlocks and hard strikes to the head to exploit the injury. Zayn responded by swinging wildly and flashing a vacant look on his face more than once.
Eventually, Graves locked in Lucky 13 and the referee called for the bell, refusing to allow Zayn to go any further.
The match was superb and Zayn's portrayal of the injury was phenomenal. Graves wins the match and gets to gloat about putting Zayn out of action but the Canadian competitor has an argument that he never really gave up, opening the door for a rematch sometime in the near future.