Kassius Ohno vs William Regal
taped 03/21/2013, aired 04/10/2013
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States
(reviewed 05/29/2019) Don’t love this nearly as much as I did six years ago but that doesn’t mean it’s not great. Most of my complaints come from Ohno’s booking in this first NXT run, as he’s not nearly so active or controlling here as he would be at basically any point in his career after 2004. Granted, he can only beat up a 40+ year old dude at the verge of retirement so much, but in a general sense he feels like a guy who’s pulling punches when he doesn’t want to and doesn’t really need to. Not a fan of that feeling. Thankfully Regal’s stellar performance makes up for a lot of that. In a lot of these late career matches I’ve talked up the guy’s selling and he’s once again masterful here, letting his head droop off the apron after getting kicked in the temple or staring a thousand yards behind the camera. I’m not sure if I’ve ever bought into a guy staggering around to connect with a move with his last dregs like I do with late stage Regal. It’s not all wobbly selling either, as he still manages to take some mean bumps when he needs to. When he’s still got his wits about him he’s great too, digging into Ohno’s digits with what has to be the best handwork WWE had ever seen up to this point. Ohno’s always been fantastic at selling that and together they make for some pretty harrowing moments that I wish this crowd got into more. They’re into the veteran by the end, thankfully, where Regal’s somehow able to cut off a rolling elbow with a short forearm before connecting with the Knee Trembler and falling into the cover like a drunk tripping into bed.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Really, really don’t like how long it takes this already too-short match to get going nor do I like how it feels like Ohno’s fighting at half his ability, both of which look pretty bad in comparison to Shawn/Taker’s pacing and enthusiasm. Still, there’s nothing in Shawn/Taker that convinces me that those men are fighting at the end of their ropes like Regal’s stunning efforts here do. When I factor in how much I appreciate the parts of Shawn/Taker that do land the difference between these matches isn’t all the much, but the end result of Regal’s retirement tour sticks with me more than Hamlet in Houston.
VERDICT: Slightly better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25