WWE NXT Report for Jan. 23 – Shawn Michaels Appears

Shawn Michaels is in the ring to start the show, and after his usual pandering to the crowd, announces the start of the NXT Tag Team Championship tournament. Loud chants of ‘HBK! HBK! HBK!’ right through the NXT Arena. Right on cue Michaels says, “if you ain’t down with that, we got two words for you,” to which the crowd finishes, “suck it!”

Cue the NXT open.

Bray Wyatt is out, but unfortunately he doesn’t cut a promo. He introduces his family for the first match of the tag tourney.

[Match #1]: Yoshi Tatsu & Percy Watson vs. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Wyatt looks on from his rocking chair while Watson and Rowan start off. William Regal struggles to remember Percy Watson’s name, showcasing how memorable this tag team is. Rowan gains the advantage with a kneelift, a couple of forearms and a shoulder knockdown. He hits the ropes but gets caught with a leg lariat as Watson takes control. Watson works on the arm with an armringer and tags in Tatsu, who comes off the top with an elbow to Rowan’s arm. Tatsu continues to work over Rowan’s arm before Rowan lands a forearm of his own. The two work to the corner as Tatsu lands a kick, then jumps up to the second turnbuckle. He leaps over Rowan and hits the ropes to go for a cross body block but is caught with a backbreaker. Rowan hangs on and sets Tatsu up on the top rope and tags in Luke Harper. The two pummel Tatsu in the corner, and after a couple of quick tags and chops, Harper delivers an interesting looking shoulder block. Harper then grounds Tatsu with an ugly rear chinklock and rides him on the canvas before Tatsu fights back, but is bull rushed into the corner as Harper tags in Rowan, who hits a scoop slam. Rowan goes for a pin and gets a 2 before applying a neck crank. Harper is tagged back in and hits a headbutt, but Tatsu reverses a suplex and gets the hot tag to Watson, who leaps into the ring and hits a pair of beautiful dropkicks, a clothesline and a spinebuster before getting a 2. All four men hit the ring, and Tatsu takes Rowan to the floor with a clothesline, which allows Harper to hit a sick lariat to Watson and cover for the win.

Winners [via Pinfall]: The Wyatt Family (4:54)

NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes is in the back talking to, of all people, Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman and offers them an NXT Tag Team Championship tournament match against Leo Kruger and Kassius Ohno next week. Corey Graves interrupts to say how he keeps getting screwed on NXT and how he never got a rematch for the NXT title after the Shield got involved. Riley puts on his tough guy face and calls Graves ‘circus boy,’ then leaves. Rhodes tells Graves he wasn’t in the tag tourney because no one wanted to be his partner, not even Jake Carter (his former FCW Tag Team Champion partner for those who don’t know him). Rhodes then tells him to prove himself against Carter in the ring.

[Match #2]: Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox

Fox drives a knee to Banks’ midsection and sends her repeatedly into the turnbuckle face-first. Banks responds with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and a dropkick for a quick 2-count. Fox heads to the apron and kicks Banks in the head, then rolls in and floors her with a dropkick for a 2 count. Fox sends Banks into the corner, hits a bridging suplex for 2 and applies a reverse chinlock. Banks gets to her feet but Fox trips her, goes for a pin and gets a 2. Another reverse chinlock from Fox but Banks fights to her feet and hits a monkey flip, then connects with a knife-edge chop and a couple of clotheslines. A Sin Cara-esque springboard arm drag is next, but as Fox goes for a bodyslam but Banks counters and rolls through for the win.

Winner [via Pinfall]: Sasha Banks (3:24)

A Paige promo video airs. Cut to new NXT correspondent Renee Young who interviews Aksana for some reason. She says 2013 is going to be her year and that Paige will find that out next week when the two meet.

A promo for Conor O’Brian plays, who is now apparently a single competitor. O’Brian, still in his Ascension gimmick, says that he is ‘the true ascension’ and ‘he will rise.’

[Match #3]: Corey Graves vs. Jake Carter

Carter, the son of Vader for those who don’t know, gets the commercial break jobber entrance before Graves hits the stage for his entrance. The two tie up as Graves applies a side-headlock, but Carter reverses. Graves backs Carter into a corner and hits a punch, Carter reverses and delivers punches of his own. Carter hits the ropes and drops Graves with a shoulder tackle before going back to the side-headlock. Graves reverses with a back suplex and drops multiple fists and elbows before covering and getting a quick 2. Graves then applies a reverse hammerlock with a chinlock but Carter fights back to his feet, hits an inverted atomic drop, hit the ropes and delivers a quality clothesline. Carter sends Graves to the buckle, charges in and misses and Graves hits a chopblock, then immediately applies his Thirteenth Step submission finisher for the win.

Winner [via Submission]: Corey Graves (3:09)

After the match, Graves gets on the mic and reiterates how he keeps getting screwed and that he hopes management is watching because he is declaring anarchy in NXT. He then turns his attention to Alex Riley, saying the next time he sees him he’ll do the same thing as everyone else – ‘stay down.’

[Match #3]: Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey vs. 3MB (Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre) in an NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament Match

Neville and McIntyre starts things off with a bit of chain wrestling and a test of strength with McIntyre gaining the advantage with a takedown and a side headlock. Neville fights out with a tilt-a-wheel headscissors and kip-up. Drew comes back with a kick to the gut and slams Neville to the mat. He works over the arm and tags Slater in, who hits a straight right hand, flooring Neville. Neville fights back and grabs an armbar while tagging in Grey, who continues to work over the arm. Slater fights out but Grey ducks a clothesline and takes Slater down with a dropkick. 3MB convene on the outside and Grey attempts a baseball slide to no avail, but Neville takes to the air and drops McIntyre via a wild somersault over the top. At one point during the match, Regal compares Neville to the Dynamite Kid, which is certainly high praise for this guy. Back from the commercial break and 3MB has the advantage, with McIntyre hitting a suplex on Grey for a 2. 3MB works over Grey in the corner before Drew hits a clothesline that floors Grey. Slater is tagged in and hits a superkick for 2. Slater applies a reverse chinlock but Grey reverses with a back suplex and looks for the hot tag and gets it. Neville is in like a house of fire as he flips over the ropes and hits a pair of clotheslines but McIntyre finally catches him with a jab in the corner, which knocks him to the apron. Neville connects with a kick that drops McIntyre, and after dispersing of a charging Slater, ascends to the top and hits his jaw-dropping Corkscrew Shooting Star Press for the win, which gets the biggest pop of the night from this crowd and even a ‘that was awesome’ chant.

Winners [via Pinfall]: Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey (9:13)

[Main Event]: NXT Champion Big E Langston vs. Axl Keegan

Keegan is already in the ring as Big E., the only NXT wrestler who gets pyro during his entrance, approaches. Keegan attacks at the start but Langston no-sells. Keegan then tries to hit the ropes, but Langston charges and runs him over. Langston pulls the straps down and drops Keegan with the Big Ending gutbuster for the quick win.

Winner [via Pinfall]: Big E Langston (0:54)

After the match, the crowd chants “one more time!” and Langston goes for another Big Ending, but the lights go out and Conor O’Brian appears up on the big screen. O’Brian says it only takes a 3 count to take Langston’s most prized position and in two weeks O’Brian hopes he’ll be present for the “awakening.” He adds that he will then truly show Langston what he thinks of the five count. Langston seemingly could care less as he drops Keegan with the Big Ending anyways and gets a 5 count. The crowd again chants ‘one more time,’ to which Big E. obliges, dropping Keegan for a third time. Big E. then celebrates on the ramp as the show ends.

Overall thoughts: Michaels’ appearance was nearly as useless as Christian’s at TNA’s Bound for Glory last year, though it made me miss him being around. To me, the Wyatt Family (or Ohno and Kruger) seem like the favorite to win this tournament, but it should be an enjoyable tournament regardless. I like that Riley is (finally) back from injury, but teaming with Bateman could lead to sure death. Graves is an interesting ‘tweener’ character and both of his promos on this show were somewhat strong. Hopefully he gets a push, because if Big E.’s call-up continues then need someone to step up. Neville is an absolute star in the making and his move set would look great on the main roster. If you haven’t seen Neville’s Corkscrew Shooting Star Press, you’re definitely missing out because it is truly awe-inspiring. Big E. is incredibly over with this crowd, but with his recent call-up it will be interesting to see what happens. Good episode because it wasn’t bogged down with low-tier WWE midcarders as this show has been in the past.