(02/27) Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn

Full-Sail University (Winter Park, Florida)

The first ever live NXT special and the first ever live special on the WWE Network kicked off with (presumably) the final match in the series between Zayn and Cesaro. The match was a strong kickoff to an important program. I am unsure that it is the high-quality MOTYC that some are making it out to be.

Cesaro and Zayn are natural opponents. Cesaro has strong power offense (and strong offense in general). He is also a good base. Zayn is a great seller and an impressive high-flyer. Zayn’s selling compliments Antonio’s offense. Cesaro’s base-abilities serve as a compliment to Zayn’s high-flying. You saw that on display in all of their matches, this one included. Zayn ate Cesaro’s uppercuts very well, both on the spot where Cesaro cut off his through the rope dive with an uppercut and on Cesaro’s normal “throw into an uppercut” move. Like always with Zayn, his selling in between moves was top notch. Cesaro handled Zayn’s flying well – the top rope hurricanrana, early lucha arm drag, and dive included. They are as much of complimentary wrestlers as any duo in WWE today.

Where the match tripped up was from a pacing standpoint, I thought. Zayn went into beat up-selling mode very early in the match which threw off the flow a bit. The match meandered around some at different points with Cesaro in control. That is a general weakness of Cesaro’s. He has these great, high-impact offensive spots but when he is charged with leading the offense for the parts in between those big spots, he is hit or miss. I felt he was a tad more miss here.

To that end, the match would have benefited from shedding about five minutes. They could have accomplished the same in that time but more efficiently & effectively and without the need for so much Cesaro offense in between big spots.

The ending stretch-run was strong, although I am not a fan of the kicking out at one-spot. It is less of a selling issue for me and more that it seems entirely unnecessary. The kick out did not get a particularly huge reaction and it feels like the same thing could have been accomplished by kicking out at two, then doing the whole fired up babyface routine before being pinned soon after. What did the one-count kick out do for Zayn? It didn’t seem to add anything and is just a poor gimmick.

This was a strong match and a well-worked opener, but I am not seeing the classic that some others are seeing.

High Impact | Watch It | Quality & Hype

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