The Good, the Great and the Awesome from NXT (5/1/14)
The Man Who Gravity Forgot took to the air to successfully retain his NXT Championship this week as Adrian Neville knocked off Brodus Clay in a hard-fought No Disqualification match.
Neville, who had his teeth knocked out by Clay on last week's show, was determined to get revenge and successfully defend his title. He did just that and continues to surge in 2014.
Bo Dallas, the man he defeated for the title, has had significantly less success since NXT Arrival back in February. This week, he dropped a match to Tyson Kidd that, had he won, may have elevated him back to title contention.
Instead, it continued a downward spiral for Dallas as his days in NXT come to an end.
New rivalries are on the horizon, as Adam Rose and Camacho seem destined to clash while Mojo Rawley and Aiden English are prepared to become familiar with one another in the coming weeks and months.
The Divas took center stage as the Women's Championship tournament kicked off. Natalya and Sasha Banks advanced, setting up a second-round match between them and leaving fans to wonder who else will join them next week.
With this week's show in the books, here is a look back at the best of the best from NXT.
Mojo Rawley and Adam Rose have dominated competition to this point in their NXT careers, but beginning with Thursday night's show, it appears as though both competitors are headed for legitimate rivalries that could help evolve their characters.
Rawley had his post-match celebration interrupted by "The Artiste" Aiden English, who insulted the former college football star and tried to steal his spotlight at the same time. Mojo withstood an attack by English and cleared him from the ring.
English is an above-average ring worker whose character is the polar opposite of the energetic, fun-loving Rawley. As a worker, he can help bring Rawley along in matches longer than the typical squash matches the frenetic star has competed in thus far. As a character, he will hopefully be able to draw more out of Rawley than simply "I don't get hyped, I stay hyped."
As for Rose, his program with Camacho figures to be much shorter. Given the fact that he is debuting on Raw this Monday night (May 5), his days in NXT are numbered. Thus, the feud with Camacho will be a short one that likely culminates in a win for Rose sometime in the next month.
Still, it provides a new element to Rose's act other than the party-loving South African who squashes his opposition in quick order.
Women's Championship Tournament Matches
The first round of the NXT Women's title tournament kicked off this week, as Natalya squared off with Layla and the BFFs' Sasha Banks met a familiar foe in Bayley.
Sasha and Bayley's match, the first Divas bout of the night, showcased two women with a history of working together and a very apparent chemistry delivering a physical contest. Bayley showed a new aggression as she battled her rival, going as far as to steal Sasha's open-hand back slaps and use them on her.
Sasha responded by wearing down her opponent and controlling the middle portion of the contest. Bayley fought back, but a Backstabber and crossface combination ended Bayley's night and quest for the Women's title.
The Boston native needed a win in the worst way after losing a long string of matches over the last few months, and this week's victory saves her from being perceived as the jobber of the NXT Divas roster. At least for now.
In the second women's match of the evening, main-roster competitors Natalya and Layla did battle for the right to face Sasha Banks in the semifinal round of the tournament. Their match was shorter and followed a more basic outline. Layla controlled the match, but Natalya fought back and applied the Sharpshooter for the win.
Layla looked very good in what was the longest match she had wrestled since returning just over a month ago, and it is somewhat disappointing to know that she has become an afterthought as the dance partner of Fandango. Still, she put up a decent fight before falling to her fellow Total Divas cast member.
The win sets up what could be a solid match between Banks and Natalya, especially now that the former has introduced a strong submission finisher.
Could that make their bout a submission-based match?
Tyson Kidd vs. Bo Dallas
The night's first bit of action featured the resurgent Tyson Kidd taking on former NXT champion Bo Dallas, who suddenly finds himself in the midst of a losing streak as he prepares for his main-roster debut.
Kidd, ever resilient, withstood the attack of a determined Dallas to score a victory following the Blockbuster.
It was a big win for the Canadian as he attempts to climb into title contention in NXT. Kidd has long been one of the more respected ring workers, but he never quite had the opportunity to prove himself in an expanded role on Raw or SmackDown. Now, with a large audience of viewers thanks to the WWE Network, he has that opportunity.
It is up to him to seize it.
As for Dallas, he continued his losing ways and once again lashed out against his Bo-lievers.
Adrian Neville vs. Brodus Clay
One of the greatest rivalries in WCW was between Sting and Vader. Those two competitors provided fans with stellar in-ring action, delivering classic matches on a regular basis thanks to a big man-little man formula they perfected while working together. Thursday night on NXT, Adrian Neville and Brodus Clay adapted that formula and used it to better their match.
Neville wore down his monstrous opponent early, but the size and strength of Clay proved too much. The former Funkasaurus took control and appeared well on his way to an NXT Championship reign. Unfortunately for him, Neville refused to quit, fought back and ended Clay's title dreams with the Red Arrow.
It was an impressive win for Neville, who was portrayed as an underdog to his larger and more imposing opponent.