WWE NXT 01/23/13 is another mysterious episode as we got no announced matches or previews on last week’s show. I know I’m pretty “wrestled out” after the weekend and you probably are too – so let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 01/23/13 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Cold open on Shawn “HBK” Michaels dancing around the NXT ring. An announcer who doesn’t really sound like Tony Dawson tells us that Shawn is here for a monumental announcement. The crowd chants for HBK and eventually he speaks. HBK is here, because Dusty isn’t here tonight, to announce a tournament to crown the first NXT Tag Team Champions. Finally! HBK says that winning the tag titles is a springboard to a terrific career. If Full Sail isn’t down with that, Shawn has two words for you! Full Sail fills in the blanks. Oh, Attitude Era.
Standard NXT opening credits and we’re taped from Full Sail. Tony Dawson welcomes us and puts over the announcement from HBK.
Bray Wyatt’s music hits and he doesn’t rant over the top of it this time. Wyatt is out (w/ Harper (w/ Rowan (w/ Bray’s rocking chair))) and we learn the Tag Team Tournament is starting right now. Regal finally speaks so he’s on commentary again with Dawson this week. Yoshi Tatsu’s music hits and he’s out with Percy Watson.
Match #1: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. Yoshi Tatsu & Percy Watson (NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament – Round One Match)
What you expect will happen here – happens here. Tatsu and Watson get in a modicum of offense and this is really here to establish Harper and Rowan as monsters. The finish comes after a hot tag to Watson. Rowan and Tatsu fall to the outside and Harper uses the confusion to hit a Discus Lariat for the win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Nothing super special. It seemed overwhelmingly obvious that the Wyatt Family would be winning here.
Next, Dusty is somewhere backstage with Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman. Dusty is “not here this week” but he is (?) since we don’t get an “earlier this week” tag for this segment or anything. Dusty is putting over Riley and Bateman as “the best talent” and puts them in a tag tournament match against Ohno and Kruger next week. Graves shows up and takes issue with Dusty screwing him out of his NXT Championship rematch and now refusing to let him be in the tag tourney. Riley calls Graves “circus boy” and the future EC3 makes circus music sounds. They leave and Dusty puts over the circus music thing. Dusty continues on to tell Graves that no one backstage – not even Jake Carter – wanted to team with Graves so that is why he’s not in the tournament. Dusty decides to put Graves in a match with Jake Carter tonight. Graves tells Dusty to go find Carter and let him know that Graves’ path to the title goes through Carter. So, I guess Dusty IS there tonight.
Later tonight? More tag tourney action as Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey take on 3MB – which is Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre (w/ Jinder Mahal shown in his old gear).
After no break, Alicia Fox’s music hits and she’s out. Sasha Banks is out next. Tony keeps calling her “The Small Package – Sasha Banks” and I’m so glad that nickname did not stick because it’s terrible.
Match #2: Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks
This match is notable for two things. One, for Dawson asking Regal what a chinlock is called and Regal responding that if Dawson doesn’t know that he probably shouldn’t be doing commentary. Two, for Sasha Banks getting what I believe is her first win on NXT TV. Banks picks up said win after countering a body slam by Fox into a roll up for three.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Definitely not as great as I imagined this match would be on paper, but we’re still early on in the whole “revolution” thing.
Next, a Paige hype video airs.
After that, we meet Renee Young for the first time. She’s backstage with Aksana. Renee mentions that Aksana will be facing Paige next week. Aksana accuses Paige of stealing her look – but making it trashier. Aksana continues to say that 2013 will be her year. Next week, Aksana will be “in” and Paige will be “out”.
Later tonight? Neville & Grey vs. Slater & McIntyre.
Next, a hype video for Conor airs where he declares himself the true Ascension and warns us that he will rise. I guess Kenneth Cameron got fired.
Back from break, Jake Carter’s music hits and he’s out. Regal mentions that Carter is returning from injury. Graves gets new music and he’s out next.
Match #3: Jake Carter vs. Corey Graves
Another match with not much to it. It’s a pretty slow affair until Graves hits a chop block and slaps on the Lucky 13 – still called the 13th Step at this point. Carter taps almost immediately.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Another average match, but Graves’ promo afterwards was good.
Post-match, Graves cuts a promo saying he’s an outcast at NXT and he’s used to it. If he can’t be in the tournament, he’s declaring anarchy on NXT. He finishes by threatening Alex Riley.
Later tonight? Big E Langston vs. Axl Keegan.
Up next? The much hyped second tag team tournament match of the night.
Meanwhile, Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty are hanging out in the locker room. Bo is skeptical of McGillicutty, but Michael says that 2013 is a new year and it’s time for a new attitude. McGillicutty eventually convinces Bo he’s on the up and up and tells him that they’re going to beat Primo and Epico in the tournament next week.
Next, 3MB are out (w/ out Jinder Mahal). I’d never really seen 3MB before and watching Drew McIntyre play air guitar is pretty surreal considering his current character’s demeanor. Neville and Oliver Grey are out last.
Match #4: Drew McIntyre & Heath Slater vs. Adrian Neville & Oliver Grey (NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament – Round One Match)
Easily the best match on the show. It was wild seeing someone the size of McIntyre working with Neville towards the start of the match. 3MB end up isolating Grey and attempting to wear him down. Grey eventually hits the hot tag to Neville who goes on a short run that ends with him hitting Drew with the Red Arrow.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Neville hits the Red Arrow. Enough said.
Post-match, we see the replay of Neville hitting the Red Arrow two more times.
Back from break, Axl Keegan is already in the ring and we learn this will be a non-title match. Good luck, Axl. Big E Langston is out last.
Match #5: Axl Keegan vs. Big E Langston
Big E’s entrance lasts longer than this match.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Big E squashing people and doing the 5 count was fine during the build up of his character. Now that he’s the champ it seems a little excessive for him to still be doing this.
Post-match, Big E goes for a second Big Ending but is interrupted by Conor O’Brian on the Titantron. Conor says it only takes a three count to take Big E’s prized possession. In two weeks, Conor hopes that Big E will be there for the awakening. This entire time Big E has been holding Keegan in the Big Ending position. After the lights come back up, Big E hits the Big Ending and gives the five count. And then another Big Ending and five count because Full Sail demands it.
We go off the air on Big E posing on the stage.