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[2013-12-25-WWE-NXT] William Regal vs Antonio Cesaro

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Antonio Cesaro vs William Regal - NXT 12/25/14


This has to be one of the better Christmas presents anyone has ever given me. To think I did not get anything with Regal and Cesaro in turn! We get the big build to the match with Fink on ring announcing duty and Tensai sounding like my cousins from Dorchester on commentary. There is some announcer who is all in huff because Cesaro kicked his skinny fat ass and Regal is out avenge him. Regal basically gave this match to Cesaro as a platform to showcase himself and what he brings to the table. Don't get me wrong, it was Regal's selling during the leg work and his constant struggling that keeps them from becoming an exhibition and there is plenty Regal brings to the table. However, the match is clearly structured to make Cesaro look like the next big thing and some might say the heir apparent to Regal. The important thing to note is when I say heir apparent to Regal I don't mean carbon copy as Cesaro brings a strongman's aspect to the ring, but rather the gritty and intricate nature of how he grapples. This is demonstrated early on when he suplexes Regal while Regal is on his knees. He is just so impressive. My favorite Regal spot is he knocks Cesaro down in the corner with forearms and then distracts the ref while he mule kicks him as he is down, classic Regal. The ref continues to admonish him and Cesaro takes the advantage to clip the knee. This is where regal kicks into overdrive in order to do his part to make Cesaro. He sells that knee like he may never walk again and Cesaro is just relentless. The struggle over getting the knee brace off so Cesaro can inflict more damage is why I am a pro wrestling fan. It is all about working for every inch. Regal would usually win a battle of European Uppercuts, but it does not look good against the younger Cesaro, who puts him in the Giant Swing. I will say that move will be great when he is a babyface, but I think it is too much of a babyface move for a heel to do. Cesaro looks to polish Regal off with the Neutralizer, but Regal back drops out and in a moment of desperation drops a knee on the bicep. Now it is Cesaro turn to sell like he will never use that arm again. Regal goes after both arms and attempts to submit Cesaro via the Regal Stretch, but Cesaro escapes. Cesaro puts over how debilitated he is as he does a dropkick but with his arms wrapped around himself. Awesome! In a nasty, nasty spot, Cesaro double stomps Regal's head and Regal is just rendered motionless. At this point, the match goes off the rails in my opinion and gets way too cinematic for me. Cesaro all of sudden does not think he has it in him to finish off his "hero" and Regal does the crawl up Cesaro stop ala HBK/Taker WM 26. Cesaro hits a monster Neutralizer. To complete the cinematic experience they shale hands on the ramp. I don't necessarily have a problem with the cinematics of recent Wrestlemania matches (I liked the HBK/Flair finish), why I didn't like this one is because it felt so out of place in this match. Cesaro is a bully and Regal is going to smarten him up through a beatdown. They have a hard-fought, sporting-like contest and I wanted to see sporting-like finish then all of sudden it goes from an gritty 80s feel to the overproduced 21st century feel and it is just too jarring. Then add the handshake of respect how does that add heat to Cesaro. Unless in NXT Cesaro is a babyface, if that is the case then the finish makes more sense and I would have enjoyed the match more. Overall, the first 95% of this match is great and is a master's class in selling, working holds, meaningful spots and taking wrestling from an exhibition to a contest by struggling for everything. Great match for Regal to end his career on! ****1/4

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Very good throwback match here. Regal used his veteran experience of roughly three decades to get the upper hand early, and I particularly popped when he didn't give Cesaro a clean break, playing dirty with the ref in position not to see it. Cesaro got fucking livid after that and turned up the viciousness, showing the mean streak that made him my pick for the best North American wrestler of 2011.
Another highlight became the story of the match. Cesaro had worked on Regal's left leg, so when the former King of the Ring dropped his knees with his right leg landing on Cesaro's left arm, Regal was so damaged from the work that he couldn't capitalize right away. He went to rest on the turnbuckle, and Cesaro came charging for a nasty European Uppercut, only for Regal to get his right leg up, severely hurting Cesaro's right arm. Cesaro worked the rest of the match hardly being able to use the right arm.
They also had a beautiful European uppercut exchange IIRC, and the technical wrestling was superb. What kept this from being a great match was that they tried copying the finishing story of Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXVI, but this match no matter how good or anticipated couldn't tell that story and be as engaging, as indicated by the crowd's silence. Cesaro seemed to forget selling his right arm at the end too. Post-match, Cesaro shakes hands with Regal, signaling a potential babyface turn in the future. ***3/4

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