This week’s edition of NXT is dedicated to championships and the pursuit of the gold. At Full Sail University, it doesn’t come much bigger than the NXT Championship, and tonight the crowd will witness that title be defended. The challenger, Tyler Breeze, has finally decided to instigate the reward for defeating Sami Zayn at Takeover, and will get his opportunity to end the reign of the high-flying Adrian Neville. However, the master of the Red Arrow has been a fighting champion, with successful defences against the likes of Bo Dallas, Brodus Clay and Tyson Kidd during his run with the gold, and his determination not to relinquish it to Breeze should make for a fascinating and hard-fought encounter.
Whilst no other championships are being defended tonight, the entire card has long-term title implications. Bayley and Sasha Banks will battle for the right to face Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship after their impressive performances in the last few weeks. And the tag team tournament concludes its first round of matches, with the odd couple of Mojo Rawley and Bull Dempsey facing the dastardly Vaudevillains, and following this the luchadore pairing of Sin Cara and Kalisto take on Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy. With so much action and even more on the line, it’s best to get started with the proper recap.
- The Vaudevillains defeat Mojo Rawley and Bull Dempsey
- Bayley defeats Sasha Banks
- Sin Cara and Kalisto defeat Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy
- NXT Champion Adrian Neville defeats Tyler Breeze by disqualification
The Vaudevillains vs. Mojo Rawley and Bull Dempsey
The opening contest is the third match of the tag team tournament to determine the next challengers for the champions The Ascension. The tandem of the Vaudevillains have been entertaining fans for the last couple of months despite their heelish ways, due to their humour and flamboyance. And of course that fantastic entrance music. Opposite them is the odd couple pairing of the hyperactive Mojo Rawley, and the brooding brawler Bull Dempsey. The two powerhouses may not be best friends, but their strength and equal desire to win certainly give them a chance in this match.
Dempsey looks keen to start the match with Aiden English, but instead Rawley insists that he starts with the thespian wrestler. English is able to gain the early advantage with some uppercuts, before placing his opponent into a hammerlock. A quick tag to Simon Gotch allow the Vaudevillains to maintain the pressure, showing his strongman prowess by performing squats whilst maintaining control of Rawley’s arm. Rawley is able to force him away to his own corner, but Dempsey tags himself in and asserts control, with powerful elbows and forearms, and running his knees across the face of Gotch. Again Dempsey forces Gotch into a corner with shoulder barges, but Rawley tags back in, much to the chagrin of his partner. Rawley indicates that he’s got this, and charges towards Gotch in the corner, but English rescues his partner and Rawley hits the ring post. This is followed by the combination rolling senton by Gotch into That’s A Wrap by English for the pinfall victory, with Dempsey showing no desire to break up the winning fall. Good showing of the teamwork of the Vaudevillains, but this match was a signal for the growing tension between Dempsey and Rawley above all else. I hope the Vaudevillains go far in this tournament, as they are one of the most entertaining and unique pairings in the entirety of WWE.
After the match, Dempsey wastes little time in doing what I predicted a few weeks back when this pairing was first announced, and beats down on his fallen partner. Punch after punch connects, and he claws at the face of his ex-partner with unrelenting ferocity. Though this would normally be the actions of a heel, at least half the crowd is chanting “YES” to this activity, and when Dempsey finally seems to leave, he is greeted with chants of “Thank You Bull”. It seems the vocal portion of the audience has grown tired of Rawley’s shtick, and was grateful to see him be demolished by Dempsey. So much so that when Dempsey re-enters the ring to apply the finish with a Bulldozer slam, the pop he gets is huge. It appears this will be Dempsey’s first feud of his budding NXT career, and will likely be portrayed as a heel whilst receiving cheers due to fan apathy towards Rawley.
Rating: 2/5 (Post-Match Rating: 3.5/5)
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
The energetic and beloved Bayley makes her way down to the ring for a No. 1 contender’s match, with the winner earning the right to take on Charlotte for her NXT Women’s Championship. The bubbly brunette picked up a victory over Eva Marie last week, carrying her to an almost decent match. However, her opponent tonight is certainly a fiercer competitor, Sasha Banks. The “Boss”, as she refers to herself, has been performing fantastically in NXT. Both her character and ring skills will certainly have her knocking on the door of the main roster soon, and hopefully should make for a compelling contest between these two ladies.
Both divas square up, Banks shoving her adversary before they lock up. The catty former BFF takes early control, owning every move she connects with before being caught by a hip toss from Bayley. Cue the “Bayley’s Gonna Hug You” chants, demonstrating how over she is already. Banks takes exception to this reception, taking down her colourful adversary and repeatedly landing shots on her. Bayley responds in kind with some out-of-character aggression, which in turn leads to numerous roll-ups and pinning predicaments between the pair. Bayley refuses to relinquish a headlock on Banks in spite of her attempted reversals, but eventually she escapes and connects with a dropkick. Bayley though utilises her power, connecting with a crossbody, followed by jumping knee to a downed Banks, and ramming her rival into the turnbuckle. This has Banks desperately scrambling for a reprieve on the outside, and as Bayley reaches to escort her back into the ring, Banks yanks her legs causing her to fall hard on the back of her head.
Returning from the break, Banks remains in control, torturing Bayley in a number of painful looking stretch submissions. Her failure to bring about a tap from her opponent frustrates the Boss, who slams Bayley’s face repeatedly into the mat and kick her whilst prone. Bayley is able to escape a submission, and follows up with clotheslines before charging at Banks in the corner; once, twice, but then misses at the third attempt. Banks then connects with knees to the chest, but whilst feeling proud about that manoeuvre, is nailed with another clotheslines. Bayley attempts the “Belly-to-Bayley”, but is stopped by Banks with a slap, followed by being booted mercilessly to the outside. Throwing Bayley back in, Banks is almost caught with a small package, but then escapes another slam attempt with the backstabber, that seamlessly transitions into a crossface. However, Banks wrenches back too far, allowing Bayley to roll her up and get the victory.
Good long match between these two, showing a great deal of ability and conviction in their respective performances. Having another submission specialist diva like Banks is good, whilst the power and popularity of Bayley will hopefully transition onto the main roster, as long as WWE don’t ruin her like they did Emma. Following the match, Charlotte made her way to the top of the stage, and surprisingly raised Bayley’s hand in victory. Considering their has previously been little love lost between these two, it could indicate that the champion is looking to take advantage of the innocent naivety of her No. 1 contender to ensure that the belt remains around her waist.
Sin Cara and Kalisto vs. Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy
The final first round match of the tag team tournament is the penultimate match of the evening, as the luchadore pairing of Sin Cara and Kalisto team up once again, following their first victory over the Vaudevillains a few weeks back. Kalisto, along with former partner El Local, were the closest to dethroning The Ascension through their entire reign, and he will be hoping the experience of his new partner will go one step further. Their opposition is the team of Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy, who are paired up for the first time, but looking to make a name for themselves in NXT.
Blake starts out with Sin Cara, using his size and power to take early advantage. However, the experienced luchadore uses that size against his opponent with a monkey flip across the ring, which leaves Blake crawling for a tag. Murphy enters the match, as does Kalisto, and the masked man again uses his speed against his larger adversary. Murphy attempts a monkey flip akin to Cara previously, but gets a boot to the face for his efforts. Tag is made to Sin Cara, and a double roundhouse kick is followed by a combination senton drop. The luchadores are combining well, until Kalisto is caught with a hefty punch by Murphy. However, this shift in momentum is brief, as the petite Kalisto slips under the legs of Murphy to tag Sin Cara, who takes out both adversaries with a springboard crossbody. Sin Cara springs all around the ring with headbutts, headscissors and back elbows. A blind tag by Kalisto leads to a combo springboard dropkick and powerbomb, before scoring the victory with a sliced bread.
This was fun for the casual fan, as the pair of luchadores show good teamwork and flew across the ring. However, it was a squash match that The Ascension would be proud to have featured in, as Blake and Murphy were given absolutely no chance. I only feel sorry for the Legionnaires team that haven’t even made the tournament when Blake and Murphy were added simply as fodder.
NXT Championship: Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze
The main event is upon us, and it doesn’t get much bigger than a contest for the NXT Championship, as Tyler Breeze finally cashes in on the opportunity at the belt he earned at Takeover. The Gorgeous One has remarked on his intention to get his shot against Adrian Neville in recent weeks, notably causing his rival to be trapped in the Accolade of Rusev. But, Neville has been champion for 168 days and has fought off any challenge that has come his way. Considering the immense talent of these individuals, hopefully this will be a memorable match, and a title switch certainly isn’t out of the question.
The pair lock up, broken up by a knee to the gut by Breeze, but a arm wrench is countered by some acrobatics by Neville, into an arm drag. Neville takes a dig at Breeze when he’s clinging at the bottom rope for security, which brings about a shove in response, to which Neville replies with a number of kicks. Neville continues to take charge of the match, and Breeze in his eagerness to fight back charges toward the Geordie, only to fall out to ringside. Neville feigns diving onto his opponent, but lands on the apron, only to have his legs taken out by a swift kick from Breeze. In this fracas, Tyson Kidd slowly makes his way to the top of the stage, clearly not yet ready to give up designs on the championship for himself.
Returning from the commercial break Neville is back in the mix, landing some fast uppercuts followed by a running dropkick to the prized face of Breeze. A standing shooting star brings a near-fall, but as he springs off the top rope he catches a dropkick from Breeze. The pair trade shots as the pace of the match quickens, with Breeze getting the advantage, finishing a flurry with a bulldog on Neville onto the middle turnbuckle. However, this seems to wake Neville up, as he connects with a super kick for another two-count. Neville ascends the corner perhaps for the Red Arrow, but is stopped mid-way by Breeze, who attempts a superplex but is met with punches by Neville. Breeze hangs on but is left groggy by some shoulder barges, and then is hit with a sunset powerbomb for another close call. Breeze fights back from the turnbuckle, jumping from the middle rope into a tornado DDT which Neville sells like his skull just shattered – fantastic spot bringing the “This is Awesome” chants around the arena.
Both competitors are giving it their all, and trade gut wrenches as they take a short rest. But the pace immediately quickens when Breeze attempts a German suplex to which Neville lands on his feet, and returns with his own bridging German suplex. The pair, barely standing in the ring, take clumsy, tired swings at each other, and Neville connects with a hard forearm that knocks Breeze to ringside. With a burst of energy Neville launches himself in a dive through the ropes. As he gets back to his feet, he notices Kidd standing by the barricade, and takes no risks by flooring him with a superkick. Neville then sets up Breeze for the Red Arrow, but Kidd returns to ringside to haul him off the turnbuckle, bringing an immediate disqualification. Kidd hauls Breeze out of the ring so he continue beating on the fallen champion, until the Gorgeous One returns, clearly irate that Kidd brought about the DQ loss. The pair fight, until Neville breaks it up to take on both of them. This causes Kidd and Breeze to temporarily set aside their differences to concentrate on the champ, until Sami Zayn runs from the back to even the odds and scare the opposition to ringside.
A great match between Neville and Breeze, both competitors showing off their ability to perform high-impact, acrobatic moves, and also to sell those moves to keep the crowd guessing over who the victor would be. The non-finish does lessen the sheen somewhat, but is a promise of even greater things to come. Undoubtedly, there will be a tag match in the future between these four after tonight’s events. But, hopefully even more exciting matches will follow, which will result in all four contesting for the belt at a later special episode.