Five Matches Set for NXT Takeover: Rival

nxt rival
WWE has completed the card for NXT’s fifth live WWE Network special, Takeover: Rival. The event will air February 11th. If you haven’t yet checked out an NXT special event, be sure to tune in for this one as all of these events have been excellent so far.

Below is the current card for the big show:

NXT Championship Match
Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn

NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way Match
Sasha Banks v. Bayley v. Becky Lynch v. Charlotte

Match to Determine the Number One Contender for the NXT Championship
Finn Balor v. Adrian Neville

NXT Tag Team Championship Match
Buddy Murphy & Wesley Blake v. The Lucha Dragons

No DQ Match
Baron Corbin v. Bull Dempsey

WWE Announces Prince Devitt Signing; Will Report to NXT

devittWWE has announced the signing of Fergal Devitt, which has been rumored for months. Devitt will report to the WWE Performance Center today and will begin in NXT.

Devitt has competed in several promotions, including New England Championship Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and – most notably – New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is a three-time former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and a six-time former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He also won Best of the Super Juniors in 2010 and 2013 and was ranked 38th in the PWI 500 in 2013.

For those unfamiliar with Prince Devitt, below are some clips of his in-ring work and famed entrances and attire.

(Image via Bleacher Report)

Video: Paige Debuts on Raw, Wins Divas Championship

NXT fan favorite Paige debuted on Raw last night, interrupting AJ Lee’s promo and earning an impromptu Divas Championship match. Paige won after countering the Black Widow finisher into the (poorly executed but that’s okay) Paige Turner. It was a cool moment in a night filled with them, and another indication that the emphasis on new talent is continuing in the WWE.

Quick thoughts on this week’s episodes of WWE Raw and NXT

I’m a few days late this week with my recap of Raw, so I’ll just mash it together with my NXT thoughts. Honestly, there was really nothing at all about this week’s Raw that I was particularly impressed with. It was kind of a letdown show after the cliffhanger from last week involving the NXT group, now known as The Nexus.

That’s partly due to the absence of Wade Barrett, who reportedly has left the country due to work visa issues. Hopefully they’re resolved soon because the group just isn’t the same without him.

The show was especially light on wrestling this week, even though the main event eight-man tag match went longer than expected. I don’t need to see anything more from Vladimir Kozlov or Santino Marella, and especially not the two together. Their match would have been much better suited for Superstars. And does anyone care that Ranjin Singh and The Great Khali are apparently splitting. That’s a total waste of screen time that could be much better used to enhance guys like Zack Ryder, Evan Bourne, The Usos, etc.

The more I think about it, I can’t find anything good at all about this show. Even the ending segment, which was meant to build anticipation for the Money in the Bank match at the PPV, was done poorly simply because it felt like it should have happened on the go-home show, not a program weeks before the event.

As for NXT, there wasn’t much good about it either. We saw the return of the rookie challenges, which this week featured a keg carrying challenge. Yawn. At least the right guy was eliminated, as Titus O’Neil was given the boot.

Thoughts on the season two premiere of WWE NXT

Fresh off the “NXT Invasion” angle, WWE kicked off season two of the program Tuesday night. We learned a little more about the rookies, saw two short matches, and got to re-live Monday’s drama.

– The pros and rookies brawling to end the show was a good way of furthering the NXT Invasion storyline. It gets across the point that the pros aren’t going to let the rookies disrespect them or try to “take over.” My bone to pick with it, and the whole show really, is Matt Striker. It just doesn’t make any sense for Matt Striker to be lecturing the rookies as if he’s been a five-time World Champion. Either way, it was effective in showing that there is tension in the locker room.

– I was impressed with Eli Cottonwood, not so much from a personality standpoint, but the guy gets around pretty well for someone his size. Compared to The Great Khali he looks like Rey Mysterio.

– As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, Percy Watson is like the new Johnny B. Badd. Watson, though, did show a lot of personality, as did Alex Riley.

– Michael Cole briefly mentioned that he “was able to get away” when the NXT rookies were attacking on Raw, so it will be interesting to see if he is involved somehow, or it was all just a coincidence. As Twitter pal @oldiesmike pointed out, Cole avoided answering when Josh Mathews questioned him further about the incident.

A look at season two of WWE NXT

WWE announced that season two of NXT will begin next Tuesday. The roster of rookies and pros was also announced and the format has been slightly changed, with the “WWE Universe” being able to vote online. Those results will count for half of the vote, with the other half coming from the pros.

The rookies (with their pros in parenthesis) are listed below:

Husky Harris (Cody Rhodes)
Eli Cottonwood (John Morrison)
Percy Watson (MVP)
Titus O’Neil (Zack Ryder)
Kaval (LayCool)
Lucky Cannon (Mark Henry)
Michael McGillicutty (Kofi Kingston)
Alex Riley (The Miz)

– First, what the hell is up with some of these names? Husky Harris, Eli Cottonwood and Lucky Cannon are names straight out of the wild, wild west. Husky Harris is the son of Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.) and the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan. I didn’t have a huge problem with them changing his name because it fit his character, which seems to be like his uncle, Barry Windham.

Michael McGillicutty, however, is the son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig. He has been wrestling as Joe Hennig in FCW but WWE decided to change his name to something that does not fit at all. I understand WWE wanting to have control over the names of their performers and wanting to differentiate second- and third-generation performers from their parents, but that’s a little much.

– I’m most excited for Kaval and Joe Hennig. Kaval, or Low Ki, has been wrestling for years. You may remember him from ROH, TNA and his stints in Japan. He is certainly the most accomplished among the group and is this season’s Daniel Bryan. The difference, though, is that Michael Cole seemed to really be into Kaval.

– I don’t mind the pairing of Kaval and LayCool. Mind you, I might crap all over it after actually seeing it, but I think it might create an interesting dynamic.

– Eli Cottonwood is listed at 7’2 and is a former collegiate basketball standout. Cottonwood, whose real name is Kipp Christianson, played at St. John’s from ’93 – ’97 and was named twice to the All-Big East team.

– College football fans may be familiar with Titus O’Neil, the former Florida Gator who played defensive end under his real name, Thaddeus Bullard. Percy Watson is a flamboyant character, reminiscent of Johnny B. Badd. Alex Riley seems to be able to talk the talk and has been in FCW for about three years, so hopefully he can work in the ring too.

– The turnaround is rather fast for a new season to begin but I’m excited to see what the young guys have to offer. Hopefully WWE has worked out the kinks that plagued season one and the next incarnation will be more entertaining.

WWE NXT season finale review

Wade Barrett was the winner of the inaugural season of WWE NXT, which wrapped up with last night’s episode. The show featured a triple threat match between finalists Barrett, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel. We were also informed that season two of NXT begins next week with the Pro’s Poll counting for half of the votes and fan voting on contributing the other half of the vote.

– I thought Otunga would win the “competition” because he had ready-made title matches where he could challenge either R-Truth or John Cena and it would make sense. Last night, though, was Otunga’s weakest effort yet. We all know he doesn’t have as much in the ring as many of the other rookies, but his promo was horrible.

When he and Barrett were allotted 60 seconds to talk smack to one another, Otunga focused the whole thing on Barrett’s teeth. Not only is that an incredibly overdone stereotype of Englishmen, but the jokes weren’t even funny.

Barrett, on the other hand, came across as smooth as silk during his mic time, as usual. WWE made the right choice by having Barrett win, but I’m wondering who he will challenge for a title. In my post yesterday, I mentioned he could possibly challenge R-Truth for the US strap as “revenge” for Truth beating Barrett’s pro, Chris Jericho, on Raw. Or maybe they’ll go another route where a storyline isn’t built in.

– The triple threat match was well done in that there was a lot of one-on-one action. At first I scratched my head, but it made sense for Barrett to steal the pin from Gabriel in an elimination style match since each man was trying to show the pros what they were made of.

– It was hilarious when William Regal said Otunga married well but then added that he had seen Otunga’s wife and he didn’t marry that well. CM Punk also chimed in, “Yeah, he’s only here because of his wife.”

– I didn’t quite get the bickering from the pros on the stage as Matt Striker was trying to announce who the winner of NXT was. It dragged on and just got annoying.