This week’s main event on NXT is directly influenced by what transpired last week in the NXT Championship match. Late on in the heated battle between Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd, Titus O’Neil, who had been lurking in the audience, assaulted Neville from behind. However, this petulant attack was rewarded by a vicious Helluva Kick by Sami Zayn, who had rushed out from backstage to aid his friend. In the end, Neville was able to overcome this distraction to retain his title. But, as a result of the activity at ringside, Titus O’Neil and Sami Zayn will go head-to-head tonight. Will the Gator continue to steal the NXT roster’s spotlight, or can Zayn kick him out of Florida once and for all?
Outside the main event, Tyler Breeze is in action as he takes on the energetic Mojo Rawley. Breeze assaulted Rawley following the latter’s defeat at the hands of Bull Dempsey. Will Rawley get revenge, or is his shoulder too badly damaged following its introduction to the ring post? Also, Sasha Banks is back in action against Becky Lynch, the Vaudevillains take on Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in tag team action, and following last week’s beating by the Ascension, Hideo Itami does get Viktor one-on-one tonight.
- Tyler Breeze defeats Mojo Rawley
- Hideo Itami defeats Viktor
- The Vaudevillains defeat Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
- Sasha Banks defeats Becky Lynch
- Titus O’Neil defeats Sami Zayn
Tyler Breeze vs. Mojo Rawley
Tyler Breeze has been showing a more vicious side to his character after his recent frustrations surrounding the NXT Championship. And he was at his petulant best two weeks ago when he assaulted Mojo Rawley from behind and through him against the ring post. It has not been a great month for Rawley, after being destroyed twice in a row by Bull Dempsey, it is hard to think if he will be able to recover against Breeze. But, Rawley will certainly be focused on rearranging the face of Prince Pretty after that unprovoked assault.
The bell rings, and Breeze avoids the lock up and instead hits a quick jab to the face of Rawley before escaping to the safety of the ropes. This happens once again, some mind games certainly playing a factor as Breeze arrogantly lays down across the top rope. Rawley is finally able to get some offense in, throwing Breeze against the turnbuckle and following it up with punches to the mid-section. But, when he charges back in Breeze gets his legs in the way, seemingly re-injuring Rawley’s shoulder. Breeze follows up like a hyena on wounded prey, targeting the shoulder without remorse. Breeze then locks in a Fujiwara Armbar, and with Rawley screaming in agony, the referee feels compelled to stop the match and award the victory to Breeze. That doesn’t stop Breeze maintaining the torturous pressure for a few more seconds, his frustrated aggression taking over again.
The match was short, only a few moves in fact, but it did tell a reasonably compelling story. The new aggressive edge to Tyler Breeze is just the right level of petulance mixed with fierceness. It adds another layer to his already memorable character, and makes it all the more likely that he will be making the jump to the main roster in the near future. As for Rawley, he has seemingly been reduced to enhancement talent now, the original potential he displayed now set to be unfulfilled. It’s a shame for him, but I doubt few fans will mourn his inevitable departure.
Rating – 1.5/5
Hideo Itami vs. Viktor
This was a match that had been scheduled to take place last week, but before the bell could ring Konnor inserted himself into the action, he and Ascension teammate Viktor unleashing a vicious beating on the International Sensation Hideo Itami. These sides have been at each other’s throats since the Japanese star’s debut, and thanks to GM William Regal, Itami will finally be able to get his hands on one half of the former Tag Team Champions without the threat of interference.
The tensions immediately explode into action with both trading a flurry of forearm smashes, Itami eventually knocking Viktor down to one knee, but the former tag champion responds with a hard reverse elbow. A chop that could be heard in Tokyo knocks Itami down again, Viktor ripping and tearing at his opponent. An uppercut followed by a snap suplex brings a two count, but Viktor is relentless, quickly raining down fists on Itami. Viktor remains dominant with chops and uppercuts, but an attempted back suplex sees Itami land on his feet, and can start putting his dangerous kicks to work. He forces Viktor into the corner, and though he is lifted hard onto the turnbuckle, Itami recovers with a springboard dropkick. A slightly misjudged hesitation dropkick in the corner leaves Viktor prone for the double foot-stomp of the top rope, but as he climbs the turnbuckle, his attention is averted to the stage. Konnor arrives, and is not alone, as he tosses a helpless Funaki onto the steel. Viktor attempts to take advantage of the distraction with a clothesline, but Itami ducks it and lands a running kick to get the three count.
The chance for celebration is brief, as Konnor charges the ring to tackle Itami and beat him to the canvas. Viktor gets back to his feet to aid his partner in assaulting the Japanese star, eventually tying him in between the ropes. Funaki tries to help his fellow countryman, but is no match for the combined might of the Ascension. They beat the former Hardcore Champion to the mat, and finish him off with the Fall of Man, whilst Itami looks on in a mixture of concern and anger. This feud is looking far from over.
As far as the match goes, it showed two sides to Hideo Itami. His familiarity with the Japanese strong style shows he is more than willing to take a beating in the ring, and that adds a realism and extra brutal nature to his matches. However, there were a few mistimed moves and spots, showing it was right to have him find his feet in NXT before making the jump to the main roster. We don’t want another Mistico on our hands. Viktor looked impressive in singles action, very aggressive and dominantly strong. The addition of Funaki in the mix is a nice touch, increasing the emotion and depth of this feud, and also introducing a familiar face for fans of the Attitude Era.
Rating – 2.5/5
The Vaudevillains vs. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
With the Tag Team Championships no longer around the waists of the dominant Ascension, the various tag teams of NXT will feel more confident in their chances of one day clutching the gold. The Lucha Dragons will be by no means a simple challenge to overcome, their victory has opened the playing field to every tandem on the roster. Atop that list could be the Vaudevillains, the team that fell in the tournament finals to the Lucha Dragons. While I cannot enjoy the latest incarnation of their once great entrance theme, their teamwork offense still ranks among the best in the company currently. Tonight, they take on the most un-SAWFT team in WWE, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. The popular Jersey boys can talk the talk, which is more than can be said for the silent pairing they face tonight. But can they get the job done when the microphones are down and the fists are flying?
Amore and Simon Gotch open up, but it isn’t long until the Strongman forces Amore back to his corner with knees to the gut. The tag is made to Aiden English, who follows up his partner’s scoop slam with a leaping leg drop. English keeps Amore under wraps, until a back suplex is transitioned into a cross body block, opening the door for a potential tag to Big Cass. Cassady explodes into the match with a hat-trick of clotheslines on English, with a high knee to the face his next attack. English is able to wriggle out of a slam and tag in Gotch, but the strongman’s mustache is almost knocked clean off with a wicked boot to the face. English saves his team after Cassady goes for the pin, and is knocked off the apron for his troubles. Cassady tags in Amore, who combine for a reverse suplex/splash onto Gotch, which appears to hurt Amore in the process. English takes an opportunity to return the favor to Cassady by knocking him to the floor. Amore goes after English, which allows Gotch to recover by sending the Certified G into a turnbuckle, which opens him up for the rolling senton followed by That’s A Wrap from English to wrack up another victory for the Vaudevillains.
Good match for the time it was given, Amore as usual the punching bag for the opposing team before Big Cass comes in to clean house. The Vaudevillains are undoubtedly the best challengers for the Lucha Dragons; they have the best characters and teamwork, but Amore and Cassady are a close second. I’m still unsure whether the Vaudevillains are faces or heels after the last couple of weeks of action, but one thing is for sure – they need to go back to their old theme music. This has no peppy tune, which means the crowd can’t get involved like they used to. Maybe the company felt they were getting to good of a reaction and changed it, but I’m sure many people miss it.
Rating – 3/5
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Divas action is next up this evening, as the fiery Becky Lynch charges the ring. She hasn’t had the greatest win/loss record since debuting a few months ago, but her aggression has turned a few heads. As long as she stops screaming every three seconds, she could climb the division in the future. But, she could be in for another rough night, as she goes up against the Boss, Sasha Banks. Banks has made no secret about her disgust that Bayley received the last two opportunities for the NXT Women’s Championship whilst she has been left on the sidelines. A convincing victory here could help make her case to be the next to challenge Charlotte for the belt.
Both ladies get in each others face to start with, Lynch whipping her hair in Banks’ vicinity before following up with an armdrag. Lynch maintains hold of the arm, moving into an inventive roll-up attempt, before being slammed to the mat by Banks ripping at her long red hair. Lynch “matrixes” out of the pin attempt, showing her flexibility with a low dropkick and subsequent nip-up. Lynch charges at the corner, but Banks evades and starts clawing at the back of her opponent repeatedly. Lynch attempts to fight back, but lifting her legs leaves her prone to being tied up in the ropes, open to a knee drop across the gut. Banks stretches the arms of Lynch, and when the Irishwoman attempts to break out, she is once again slammed on the back of her head. Lynch eventually escapes with a roll-up, and though Banks blocks a backslide, she runs into an uppercut followed by consecutive clotheslines and a dropkick. A low leg drop earns a two count, but Lynch doesn’t back off, a springboard kick knocking Banks against the turnbuckle. However, Banks is able to respond with a high lariat, and pulls out the Bank Statement, the backstabber into a crossface, to get the submission victory.
This match was very good and even between the two ladies. Lynch impressed with her core strength and flexibility, and though she is currently used as fodder for the top ladies in the division, she could go far if given an opportunity. As for Banks, she reveled in the limelight that had recently been focused on Charlotte and Bayley. Banks is undeniably the best woman to challenge Charlotte next for her coveted title, and facilitate the Nature Girl’s move to the main roster. Banks will be sure to follow her, but giving her a chance to reign over the women in NXT would be a deserved reward.
Rating – 3/5
Titus O’Neil vs. Sami Zayn
Titus O’Neil has made it his prerogative to take up time on NXT after they entered his domain of RAW in the lead up to Takeover II. Alongside Tyson Kidd he was on the winning team opposite Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn, and he is yet to vacate Full Sail as was evidenced last week in the NXT Championship match. O’Neil almost cost Neville his championship by interfering from the crowd, before Sami Zayn charged out from backstage to help his ally recover, giving O’Neil a boot to the face for good measure. Tonight, the Barking Gator has the chance to payback the popular redhead in the main event, and once more assert his dominance over those in the developmental territory.
The powerful O’Neil quickly forces Zayn back in the corner, so Zayn relies on his speed to dodge an attempted clothesline. Zayn goes behind O’Neil, who attempts to back his opponent into the corner, but once again Zayn evades it and lands a quick chop to his larger opponent. Zayn bounces off the ropes over O’Neil and charges with forearms to try and knock the big man down, but runs into a scoop slam. O’Neil imposes his impressive strength onto Zayn with a knee into the face, before beating him down in the corner. The never-say-die attitude of Zayn launches a brief rally, but it is curtailed with knees to the ribs followed by a blow to the back. O’Neil continues to choke and squash Zayn against any surface available. Zayn’s resilience is displayed by a hard chop to the chest of his opponent, but he can’t build any meaningful momentum before being slammed to the canvas once more. A near fall follows, Zayn then being tossed to ringside, his face bouncing hard of the steel ramp.
The action returns from the break, O’Neil is toying with Zayn, disrespecting him with cheap slaps to the face, before Zayn responds with a hard slap of his own. This only serves to anger the big man, who once again forces his opponent into the corner for more of a beating. O’Neil locks Zayn in a vicious bearhug, choking the breath out of Zayn. Zayn doesn’t give up, ramming the back of his head against the shoulder of O’Neil until he breaks it, following up with forearms until a well-placed quick stops Zayn in his flow again. But, O’Neil finally makes a mistake by charging Zayn, and ends up flying over the top rope onto the floor. Zayn hardly wastes an opportunity to fly himself, launching himself over the ropes onto his larger rival. Zayn continues the high-flying offense with a diving crossbody that gets a two count. Zayn sets up for the Helluva Kick, but is met with the boot of O’Neil instead. O’Neil attempts another slam, but Zayn goes over into a sleeper hold, rapidly sending the big man into a daze. However, he is able to toss Zayn off like swatting a fly, but once more runs head first into a kick by Zayn. A pin doesn’t materialize, and O’Neil sets up for a powerbomb. Zayn reverses, links his hand with O’Neil, and runs up the ropes thinking hurricanrana. But, midway through, O’Neil drops him on the ropes on a particularly sensitive area of Zayn’s anatomy, and throws him from the ropes into Clash of the Titus for the big victory.
Following his victory, O’Neil doesn’t appear to be finished with his plucky opponent. He pulls Zayn under the bottom rope so that only his head and neck are hanging over the apron. O’Neil ascends the top rope, looking to guillotine Zayn. Just as the jeopardy rises to dangerous levels, Adrian Neville comes out to return the favor from Zayn last week, rescuing his friend and staring down O’Neil.
Titus O’Neil gets better the more I see him, and whilst Zayn will continue to get plaudits for his high-paced offense and never die attitude, the Gator was undeniably the star of this bout. Does the stare down with Neville point towards a title shot in the near future? There are much worse opponents to test the champion, and the blend of O’Neil’s emphatic power and the unique high-flying of Neville would make for an interesting pairing. But Zayn should be back in the title hunt soon, and the crowd continues to get behind him harder than anyone else on the roster.
Rating – 3/5