NXT got a cold open this week as the lovely Renee Young interviewed Bo Dallas. Antonio Cesaro interrupted the interview, setting up a NXT championship match for tonight’s main event. After the opening crawl Paige beat Alicia Fox to advance to the finals of the NXT diva’s title tournament. Conor O’ Brian beat poor unfortunate Adam Baker. Backstage, in an interview with Renee, Adrian Neville and Corey Graves asked William Regal to replace the injured Kassius Ohno and help them beat the Wyatt Family. Xavier Woods then beat Scott Dawson, in a match that was way better than it had any right to be. After that Mason Ryan beat Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy is rapid succession.

In a hell of a main event, Bo Dallas beat Antonio Cesaro to retain the NXT title. After the match shenanigans ensued and Cesaro and Leo Kruger beat the crap out of Dallas (though Cesaro did give Kruger a nasty uppercut for accidentally costing him the match). Sami Zayn came down to even the odds and the heels were tossed out of the ring.

Got that? Let’s blow some s**t up then, critically speaking.

This is a match Paige should be having:

Hey, remember earlier on in the diva’s title tournament when Paige fought Tamina and sucked it up the entire match before picking up the win at the end? Yeah, that wasn’t the best way to show that Paige is a “good wrestler” and able to compete with the divas on the main roster. This match against Alicia, however, allowed Paige to go back and forth with a former diva’s champion (for whatever worth that actually has) and look like a competent woman ready for the NXT diva’s title and the big leagues beyond it.

The Ascension really is immortal, isn’t it?

Rick Victor came out with Conor O’ Brian for this week’s Ascension squash match, making this the fourth iteration of this group. No really, let’s count em.

1. Conor O’ Brian, Kenneth Cameron, Epico and Raquel Diaz, of all people.

2. Conor O’ Brian and Kenneth Cameron.

3. Conor O’ Brian all by his lonesome.

4. Conor O’ Brian and Rick Victor.

Four different variations of Conor O’ Brian in a cool jacket over I don’t know how many years. It makes you wonder who it is that keeps trying to make this gimmick happen.

Xavier Woods and Scott Dawson are impressive?:

On another positive note, Xavier Woods and Scott Dawson decided to have a decent little match tonight instead of another squash. It was probably the most impressive either of them have looked in singles competition so far. Considering Woods is a mess of a character and Scott Dawson is the less famous member of a generic redneck team, that isn’t saying much I guess, but tonight’s match revealed that both men have promise.

Seriously, Scott Dawson has promise. Who knew?  

Enzo Amore could be the most important person in the room:

I have only seen Enzo Amore on NXT twice but holy crap does the dude demand attention and create good situations for other people. He is the entire reason anyone gives a crap about Mason Ryan right now on NXT. The fact that he’s smaller and amazingly obnoxious will probably force him into a managerial role but he’s so freakin’ good at it that I don’t see why that would be a problem. Seriously, watch this episode and the last one he was on and tell me this guy doesn’t have a future in the WWE.

Either nobody told the bookers Bo Dallas is a heel or he’s John Cena:

Bo Dallas. Oh boy. Where I do begin?

When Bo started showing signs of a heel turn by adding little dweebish, egotistical tics to his smiling, happy babyface persona, I thought it was a smart way of evolving his character to deal with the NXT crowd’s obvious disdain for him. Except he hasn’t really turned heel at all. He’s still a champion presented as a good guy, fighting sneak-attacking, bad-sport heels like Antonio Cesaro and Leo Kruger. He just has these little tics to acknowledge the men in the audience that hate his guts.

I suppose in thinking further about it, I’ve just realized that Dallas is acting as both a face and a heel at the same time, and therefore giving both sides of the audience a reason to react to him. I can’t decide whether that’s brilliant or incredibly stupid.

But hey, how about that main event!?:

Regardless of my hatred for and confusion over Bo Dallas’s character, he does share another attribute with John Cena besides splitting audience opinion, the capability to have good matches or bad matches depending on his opponent and situation. Tonight, against Antonio Cesaro in a big, fancy, ring-introductions championship match, he had one of the best matches of his career. Hell, let me put it this way, it was even one of the best matches of Cesaro’s career.

One flurry of offense stands out above the rest. Bo Dallas was going for his rope-run bulldog (one of his better moves) when Cesaro crotched Dallas on the top rope. Antonio then drug Dallas a good foot along the rope in that position before climbing up the turnbuckle and gut-wretch suplexing the poor dude out of his boots. But that was just one sequence. You’d have to watch the whole thing to appreciate how well Dallas and Cesaro meshed together.

The post-match action was also great, with just enough change-ups on the usual formula to keep things interesting. Obviously the bad guys beat down Bo Dallas to bring out Sami Zayn and push both feuds forward, but Kruger attacking Dallas only to get absolutely clobbered by Cesaro for costing him the match was a total surprise. They made nice a minute later, but that initial strike really kept me guessing. It also helped the segment that both mean really beat the crap out of Dallas but that’s probably only because I’m a bad person.

So what did you think of NXT this week? I thought it was one of the strongest episodes we’ve seen in a while. I really recommend you check out the whole darn thing.