It’s time for the latest edition of the NXT Recap, and following the budding embers of a Adrian Neville/Sami Zayn feud in the last few weeks, tonight’s show is headlined by another championship rivalry. After nearly a year as the unstoppable force in the NXT tag team division, The Ascension finally lost their coveted titles to the Lucha Dragons, Kalisto and Sin Cara. Tonight, they exercise their rematch clause and look to regain the gold, but can the current champions prove that their victory at Takeover II was no fluke?
Additionally, in another rematch from the live special, Mojo Rawley looks to avenge his swift defeat at the hands of Bull Dempsey when the two lock horns once more. Dempsey demolished his hyperactive opponent, securing the win with a diving headbutt, and hitting another post-match to send a message to his fallen foe. Also, Enzo Amore takes on Marcus Louis, the Frenchman desperate to dish out a beating on the man who made him bald at Takeover, Tyler Breeze returns to action against Justin Gabriel, and Bayley battles Alexa Bliss.
- Bull Dempsey defeats Mojo Rawley
- Tyler Breeze defeats Justin Gabriel
- Bayley defeats Alexa Bliss
- Enzo Amore defeats Marcus Louis
- NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons defeat The Ascension
Bull Dempsey vs. Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley charges his way towards the ring, looking fired up at the opportunity to get some revenge on Bull Dempsey. Dempsey has had the better of this feud, the latest step a demolishing of Rawley at Takeover II in a physical but quick bout. Rawley looks determined to set that record straight, and as Dempsey marches down the ramp, the hyperactive one wastes little time in getting the action underway. Rawley throws Dempsey into the ring, and charges his rival into the corner with repeated knees to the gut. Dempsey attempts to take a breather at ringside, but Rawley is out quickly to send his opponent back into ring. But, when he charges off the ropes, Rawley cannot avoid the Bull with a huge splash which knocks him down. Dempsey takes advantage of this opening to climb the turnbuckle and hit the diving headbutt to get another quick victory against Rawley.
It’s an early squash match, and though these two are portrayed as physical brawlers, Rawley clearly has a jaw made of glass. Dempsey obviously has a good future in NXT, and hopefully this brief rivalry has come to a conclusion, as it has done its job of making him look like a destructive force. However, he needs a stronger opponent to fully establish whether he has potential to make the main roster. Rawley was a decent appetizer, but his next course could make or break his future in WWE.
Rating – 1/5
Tyler Breeze vs. Justin Gabriel
Tyler Breeze is back in action for the first time since coming up short in the Fatal Four-Way match for the NXT Championship. Prince Pretty struts down to the ring with phone in hand, but is perturbed by the presence of Mojo Rawley, who is still departing from the beating at the hands of Bull Dempsey. He rams Rawley shoulder first into the corner, venting his frustrations from his failure to capture the biggest prize on the roster. His opponent tonight is Justin Gabriel, who suffered defeat against the debuting Hideo Itami in last week’s episode. Can the South African Werewolf worsen Breeze’s mood further with a victory tonight?
Gabriel looks to lock up early on, but Breeze is solely interested in introducing his boot to the gut of his opponent repeatedly. He continues to draw the attention of the referee with his relentless assault of Gabriel in the corner, and when the action returns back to the center of the ring, Gabriel recovers with a low dropkick to the knee of Breeze, followed by a low reverse-STO. Gabriel lands repeated kicks to the back, then a springboard kick to the prized face of Breeze. He ascends the top rope, potentially with the 450 splash on his mind, but Breeze is able to recover too quickly. That doesn’t stop Gabriel landing another STO, swiftly followed by a springboard moonsault, but Breeze won’t stay down for a three count. Gabriel once again climbs the ropes to attempt the 450, but his pandering allows Breeze the roll out of harm’s way, and land first a superkick, then the Beauty Shot for the victory.
I wasn’t too impressed with this match. The pre-match assault on Rawley by Breeze could indicate a future rivalry between the two, and his early attacks on Gabriel was a venting of his frustrations at recent events. But, it seemed that Gabriel took on the role of heel for this match, which was quite confusing to witness. Gabriel has seemingly taken on the position as a stepping stone for up-and-coming stars, whilst his former tag team partner Tyson Kidd is viewed as their equal, which is not a good omen for the South African’s prospects. The match was too lethargic for these competitors noted for their speed and agility, which made for an unimpressive encounter.
Rating – 2/5
Before the next match, Natalya approaches NXT General Manager William Regal backstage, and requests that her husband Tyson Kidd should have another opportunity to face Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship. Regal is at first skeptical, as Kidd has already lost multiple times to Neville and was the man pinned in the Fatal Four-Way at Takeover II. But, he eventually relents to Natalya’s request, with one significant condition; if Kidd fails to beat Neville once again, he can never have another shot at the championship as long as the Brit is champion. The stakes are higher than ever for Kidd – could this be his final chance to become NXT Champion?
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss
The fun and excitement of the crowd goes up whenever Bayley’s music hits, the bubbly diva’s new entrance theme and attire going over well with the NXT audience. This is her first match since her gutsy performance against Charlotte at Takeover II, and though she came up short in her pursuit of the NXT Women’s Championship, she earned a lot of respect from both her fans and seemingly the Nature Girl herself. Tonight, she takes on the pixie-like Alexa Bliss, who knows all to well what it feels like to lose at the hands of the fierce Charlotte. A victory for Bliss opposite the former No. 1 Contender could help push her towards a match for the title in the future.
Bayley starts up with a couple of go-behind gut wrenches, gaining favor with the audience for Bayley’s love of hugging, but the agile Bliss is able to escape and grapple Bayley until she is slammed into the corner. Bliss comes back with an acrobatic sunset flip from out of the corner, quickly followed by a nice headscissors takedown. The two show respect to each other and high five in the ring, before getting back to the action with Bayley focusing on the arm of Bliss, the crowd certainly enjoying this friendly competition. Bayley scouts another attempted sunset flip and transitions into an armdrag, and maintains a firm grip of her opponent’s arm. But, Bliss responds with a flying forearm off the ropes followed by a dropkick, but Bayley rolls through a standing moonsault. An awkward pause follows as Bayley soon locks her in the Bayley-to-Bayley to get the win.
After the match, Bayley grabs a microphone and calls out the NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte, who obliges by making her way down to the ring. Bayley says that ever since Takeover, she hasn’t been able to sleep because she let everybody down by not winning the title, and asks Charlotte to grant her one more chance at the belt next week. Charlotte responds by saying that Bayley didn’t let everybody down, as her performance finally earned the champion’s respect. And though she assures everybody that she will once again retain the title, she would be honored to face Bayley next week for the title. That will certainly be something to look forward to.
The match between Bayley and Bliss was fun in parts, sloppy in others. The crowd is really behind Bayley and she is over beyond belief, and the friendly competition between the two was very well received. But, Bliss has not yet been given ample time in matches to show what she can really do, her offense mainly limited to roll-ups and acrobatics. Also, the moment just before the finish was incredibly awkward, as Bliss stood still for a couple of seconds waiting for Bayley to hit her finisher, which made it look worked. She certainly needs more training, but hopefully she gets there. Also, Charlotte and Bayley were both good on the mic post-match, their respectful rivalry being eagerly followed by the fans.
Rating – 2.5/5
Enzo Amore vs. Marcus Louis
Takeover II had it’s fair share of wild moments, but few match up to the sight of Marcus Louis left with only a few patches of hair left following the Hair vs. Hair match between Enzo Amore and his Legionnaire partner Sylvester Lefort. Tonight, he looks to exact some measure of vengeance against the cocky Jersey boys that cost him both his hair and dignity when he takes on the certified G one-on-one. Also, in his entrance, he has taken a page out of Kurt Angle’s playbook by sporting a wrestling cap with a built-in wig. It doesn’t look too shabby, but I doubt it’s fooling anybody.
After some pre-match taunting by the charismatic Amore and Big Cass, the match gets underway with Amore immediately looking to remove the cap of his opponent. But this allows Louis to take control, his anger over his current hair problems seeming to fuel his assault on Amore as the Jersey native is kept on the canvas. An attempt to break free of the attacks by Amore sees him tossed to the outside, but as Louis looks to pull him back in, Amore bounces his throat off the rope, consequently exposes his gleaming dome and missing eyebrows. As Louis realizes his chrome dome is on view for the entire world, he makes a desperate lunge for his fallen cap, only to be caught in a roll-up by Amore for the victory, with a handful of tights for good measure.
Another short match with Louis providing the majority of the offense, but that’s not surprising. Amore in the ring is more of an opportunist and counter-attacker, and so the one-sided nature of the bout until the finish was expected. This was comedy relief, the match merely window-dressing for the charismatic humor of Amore and Cassady, and the exposing of Louis bald head. The wrestling cap with the wig was a nice touch, and maybe should have been stretched longer before the big reveal later down the line.
Rating – 2.5/5
The Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension (NXT Tag Team Championships)
The main event is upon us, and should be an excellent contest with the Tag Team titles on the line. The Lucha Dragons shocked the world by defeating the seemingly unstoppable Ascension at Takeover II, and will look to repeat the fairytale victory over their bigger opponents. It is good to see that the pairing of Kalisto and Sin Cara have finally been given their own joint entrance music, capitalizing on their Mexican heritage. Also, having them both jump over the top rope into the ring off a springboard is also a nice touch, although it is a good thing that this isn’t the original Sin Cara anymore. The Ascension also maintain their intimidating entrance, though it is odd to see them without the gold in their possession.
The match opens with Sin Cara and Konnor, the latter wasting little time in kicking his opponent in the chest and continuing to keep his agile rival grounded. His aggression clearly intent on proving himself as part of the better team, and showing the crowd that their loss was indeed a fluke. However, Sin Cara counters out of the corner with a springboard armdrag, followed by a dropkick as the pace quickens. That is aided by the arrival of the speedy Kalisto, who combines with Sin Cara with a wheelbarrow senton. However, the diminutive luchadore cannot match the power of Konnor, who tags in Viktor as they both connect with a double shoulder tackle. Kalisto is able to cartwheel out of the reach of Viktor, hitting a dropkick, then a headscissors from off the top rope. A blind tag to Sin Cara leads to more fluid teamwork with a headscissors takedown into a low clothesline on Viktor. Another quick tag to Kalisto for a powerbomb moonsault combo, these two really gelling together as a tag team.
Viktor is able to power out of the predicament to make a tag to Konnor, who shows remarkable strength by stringing together seven headlock takedowns, tossing Kalisto around like a toy. A tag is made to Viktor who takes the chance to take a shot whilst Kalisto is restrained, which earns a two count for the challengers. After the commercials. Viktor is still in control, but Kalisto is fighting back before being slammed to the mat. Konnor once again demonstrates his power by tossing Kalisto halfway across the ring, and another tag to Viktor leads to a double-axehandle dominator combo for a near fall. But, another attempted slam allows Kalisto to escape the onslaught and tag in Sin Cara, who springs off every rope available to take down Viktor. Kalisto tags in, but Viktor is able to dispose of both champions. Just then, the music of Hideo Itami plays, and the Japanese sensation stands on the stage, staring daggers at the Ascension who assaulted him last week following his debut. The distraction allows Kalisto to hit the Solita del Sol on Viktor to retain the championships, whilst Konnor heads for Itami and is kicked to the floor for his efforts. The champions keep their belts, and Itami looks to be next on the Ascension’s radar.
Best match of the night by far, the Lucha Dragons having an incredibly fluid and acrobatic style that has gone over a treat, and would be more than fitting on the main shows. The Ascension looked stronger and more dominant than in the first match, and the distraction by Itami does give them the right for another title shot later on. This will be a good opening feud for Itami to help get him over with the audience, but he will need a partner in order to protect the Ascension from looking weak if he defeats them.
Rating – 3.5/5