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By Mike Johnson on 2014-01-24 13:23:45
From an in-ring wrestling standpoint, the 1/22/14 edition of WWE NXT was down a notch from the last good several weeks, but they did advance a number of storylines heading into the 2/26 live WWE Network special. I didn't feel this was an episode you needed to go out of you way to see however - not unless you wanted to check out the angles for yourself.

What Worked:

*Antonio Cesaro vs. CJ Parker. Cesaro looked really good here and the story that Parker used an Airplane Spin only to find out that Cesaro was unaffected due to the Big Spin making him immune to the effects was great. A nice showcase for Cesaro.

*Sami Zayn challenging Cesaro. A nice start of a storyline that will obviously end with a rematch of the 2013 NXT Match of the year. I look forward to it.

*Wesley Blake. Blake looked solid in his loss to Adrian Neville, including one hell of a European uppercut. It was nice to see an old school Texas cowboy character as well. I'm not sure that he showed he's going to be a future player on the main roster but he was fine in his debut.

*Natalya vs. Summer Rae. Another solid outing for both women. I really think Rae is going to end up a massively successful heel talent for the company. There's something about the way she presents herself in NXT that reminds me of the type of villain that Sherri Martel and Francine represented during their respective runs in the business.

*Enzo Amore and Big Cass backstage with Aiden English. Amore is going to be a great character on the main roster. Unlike a lot of guys who play wrestling characters, he completely immerses himself and is Enzo when he's on "camera." His nonsensical verbal responses to everyone else, his body language, hell even the wheelchair he was in was perfect for that character. He's quickly become one of my favorites. Cass has really come into his own and broken out of his shell in the last few weeks and is starting to find himself on the mic. English has a gimmick that could end up a one-note joke on the main roster or might end up the modern day equivalent of the Honkytonk Man as the showtunes singing pro wrestler. They were all very good here and the bit where Enzo ran over English's foot at the end made me chuckle out loud where a lot of wrestling comedy makes me sort of roll my eyes. Loved this.

What Didn't:

*The Beat the Clock Challenge. I actually really liked the idea of the Bo Dallas banner raising ceremony as an angle and hope that until Dallas loses the title, we see a new digital banner with the current number of days that he's held the championship as I think that would be really funny. Dallas' delivery in his promo was great, although I continue to wonder how this character will translate to the main roster. Adrian Neville confronting Dallas made sense as well, but once Triple H popped up on the Titantron and forced a quick Beat the Clock thing into the segment, it went way off the rails. For one, Neville didn't beat the champ to set up his title shot on the live special as much as he ran the clock down at the end. It seems to me a surprise win with a small package would have made a bigger splash to show that Neville had Dallas' number going into the title shot. Plus, Dallas spent way too much time not doing anything when he should have been the champion hurried over the short clock ticking down. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the Wrestling Cares Association events, but to me, the clock gimmick was poorly used here.

*Alexander Rusev vs. Xavier Woods. This was just OK but really suffered from the show having a lot more segments on it than usual. They could have had a great match but instead never got out of first gear. That was disappointing to see.

*CJ Parker's turn. Did Parker just turn heel during that segment backstage with The Miz? Did they really just have that bad of a segment back and forth, face to face? This sets up a future bout on NXT for sure but a really unfulfilling segment that didn't showcase either in a strong light.

*Charlotte on the mic. It's amazing to watch the backstage BFFs promo and see that the daughter of Ric Flair is the weakest of the trio. She still has a long way to go in terms of finding herself in the ring and on the mic, a longer way to go.

*Devin Taylor backstage. She seems far too wooden so far in her run as an announcer. Hopefully WWE can have Renee Young work with her on this.

What We Learned:

*Adrian Neville is an awesome flyer. His Red Arrow looks damn amazing, especially in slow motion. He had some really good moments on this show.

*Sin Cara is a man of justice. Cara hit the ring to save Xavier Woods, which obviously sets up a showdown against Alexander Rusev down the line. While Cara was out there doing the right thing, I liked that he and Woods still showed fear of Rusev by escaping the ring instead of running him off. That's how you get a babyface over as a hero without killing the villain's momentum.

Mike Johnson can be reached at and can be followed at @MikePWInsider.

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