In the latest edition of NXT, Titus O’Neil looks to leave a permanent mark on the developmental territory by taking their championship back to RAW. After his impressive victory over Sami Zayn two weeks ago, O’Neil has placed himself as number one contender for Adrian Neville’s NXT Championship. With his intentions made clear that he is looking to punish NXT for the time they took up on his shows, winning the belt would be the ultimate way to put the brand in its place. But Neville has been a fighting champion, taking down challengers of all shapes and sizes, and won’t relent his most prized possession easily.
Also on the show, Bayley takes on Sasha Banks in a match that is likely to have an impact on the championship picture in the women’s division. Bayley lost her last two opportunities at the gold against Charlotte, whilst Banks has been on the outside looking in since the Nature Girl claimed the title. Can the Boss use this match as a stepping stone in becoming the Best? Additionally, the Ascension are back in tag team action, as are the ever-entertaining Vaudevillains, whilst Tyler Breeze returns to action against CJ Parker.
- The Ascension defeat Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger
- Tyler Breeze defeats CJ Parker
- The Vaudevillains defeat Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy
- Sasha Banks defeats Bayley
- NXT Champion Adrian Neville defeats Titus O’Neil
The Ascension vs. Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger
The show kicks off with tag team action, as the former tag champions the Ascension make their way to the ring. Whilst they may no longer hold an iron grip on the gold, Konnor and Viktor still maintain an intimidating prospect for any opposing team. However, in recent weeks their concentration has been diverted from the tag division to a certain Japanese superstar. Hideo Itami, from the moment he debuted, has been a thorn in the side of the powerful tag team, but has often found himself victims of the numbers game. So, with the thought of Itami looming in the background, will the Ascension be able to pay the fresh team of Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger enough attention to pick up the victory?
Viktor starts out with Jordan, and the muscular Jordan is able to get an early advantage with a takedown. But, this is short-lived as Viktor forces him back into a corner with repeated chops and uppercuts, before tossing him over his shoulder with consummate ease. A tag to Konnor leads to the double shoulder tackle, before the intimidating superstar kicks Jordan menacingly in the corner, much to the approval of the NXT audience. Jordan is able to fight himself away with a timely reverse elbow, reaching his partner Dillinger who comes in full of fire, only to be instantly extinguished by a flapjack. The Ascension sense the end is near, as they set up for the Fall of Man, sending Dillinger crashing to the mat for the straightforward victory for the Ascension.
However, their night’s work appears far from over, as the music of Hideo Itami echoes from the stage. The International Sensation shows no fear or hesitation in charging the ring, and for a while looks to take the fight to the aggressive team. But, this only lasts so long before the Ascension exploit their man advantage to ground the all-kicking superstar. They beat him continually with stomps and fists to the skull, before finishing off with another Fall of Man. Itami’s attempts at revenge once again hit a roadblock.
The match was your standard Ascension affair – complete domination with little threat posed by the pairing of Jordan and Dillinger. The real story is the mission of Itami to take down the Ascension on his own and falling short in that goal. The courage of Itami is to be applauded, even if his judgement is somewhat impaired. It will be interesting to see what back-up he can muster to help defeat the Ascension. But, as many teams have found out over the past year, that is a challenge easier said than done.
Rating – 2/5
Tyler Breeze vs. CJ Parker
Tyler Breeze has been in and out of action since falling short in his quest to become NXT Champion at Takeover II. But, these failures have unlocked an added aggression in his demeanor, illustrated by his assault of Mojo Rawley in recent episodes. Tonight, he is faced with the prospect of the Eco Warrior CJ Parker, who is coming off of two crushing defeats at the hands of Baron Corbin. With both characters seen as nefarious and heel, it will be interesting who the crowd gets behind for the course of the match.
Parker gets the upper-hand early with a cheap kick to the midsection of Breeze, but is soon lifted onto the apron by his opponent. Parker attempts a clothesline from the apron, but Breeze ducks and uses a springboard dropkick to force his opponent to ringside. Breeze quickly tosses Parker back into the ring, as the environmentalist looks to escape to the ropes. Breeze is in pursuit, but gets caught with yet another cheap shot, as Parker lays into him with punches. A double sledge from the top rope brings a two count for Parker, as Mojo Rawley makes his way to ringside, clutching the shoulder injured by Breeze two weeks ago. CJ attempts another high-flying move, only to get caught with a punch from Breeze. Breeze now takes control with a hurricanrana leading to a flurry of fists to the face, and kicks Parker in the corner. Breeze takes a second to stare down Rawley, which allows Parker to roll him up for a near fall. But, Parker misses a high kick, leaving him open for the Beauty Shot to give Breeze the victory. Rawley just remains comfortable to lock eyes with Breeze, rather than turn this encounter physical.
This heel vs. heel match was a little out of the blue, and too brief to be given a notable rating. Perhaps they are considering turning Breeze face in the near future, which could work considering the lack of positive reaction Rawley has been generating in recent months. This new aggression from Prince Pretty could definitely benefit him in climbing the ladder to the top soon, but for now it is best he remains in other feuds to cultivate this new dimension to his character.
Rating – 2/5
The Vaudevillains vs. Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy
Another week, another new entrance theme for the Vaudevillains, who have seemingly broken all ties with their original jaunty tune. Although the new one is a better illustration of their dastardly intentions, I still am upset that their first theme has been lost, as it was getting them over with the crowd so well. But, there is no denying that they are a tandem in good form, and a victory against Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy tonight would put them in prime position to become the next challengers for the Lucha Dragons’ NXT Tag Team titles.
Aiden English kicks off with Murphy, with the latter getting the early advantage by wringing the arm of his cultured competitor. But English responds with a hard elbow to the side of Murphy’s head, tagging in Gotch for some double team punches to the gut and head of their victim. Blake is able to get a blind tag, as both he and Murphy leapfrog Gotch before landing a double reverse elbow. Teamwork the word of the day as Blake hits a Side Russian Leg Sweep, setting Gotch up for Murphy’s hilo. Gotch uses his strongman power to force Murphy back into his friendly corner. Quick tags between the Vaudevillains keep the pressure on the shoulder of Murphy, until he is able to reverse English’s suplex attempt and make the tag to Blake. Blake comes in hot, with hard elbows to English and Gotch, a springboard forearm the follow up. But, as he attempts a roll-up, Gotch makes the blind tag, and takes out Blake from the apron. A stiff uppercut to the back of Blake’s head coupled with a swinging neckbreaker by English, which they have dubbed the Gentlemen’s Congress, earns them another victory.
The tag team division in NXT is growing in leaps and bounds in terms of wrestling ability, but more characters and personalities have to be developed to improve the crowds reception of this fact. Blake and Murphy make a good team, but need a distinct gimmick or even just a team name to get them over the next hurdle, because in the ring they can get the job done. One tandem with no need for help in that regard are the Vaudevillains, who keep going from strength to strength in pushing for the NXT Tag Team Championships. The Lucha Dragons should watch their backs, even if the masks make that a little difficult.
Rating – 2.5/5
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Bayley bounces her way to the ring, streamers and inflatables in tow, after falling short once again in her quest to become NXT Women’s Champion. Though the gutsy nature of her performance earned her a number of plaudits, not least being the respect of the champion Charlotte, she does not seem set to rest until the belt is around her waist. But tonight she faces a difficult prospect in the form of the Boss of the divas division, Sasha Banks. Banks has grown ever frustrated with her lack of opportunities at the title, especially considering Bayley’s multiple attempts. A win here would likely propel her into the top contender’s spot, and she likely won’t take any prisoners in looking to get to that point.
Bayley looks to gain the early advantage by charging down Banks, only for the devious diva cling to the ropes for safety, until scoring with a cheap shot to the face. The two ladies then begin laying into each other on the mat with fists and smashes. Bayley slams Banks to the mat, followed by a knee drop. A couple of running elbow drops bring another near fall, and then Bayley springs off the the second rope into an arm drag, sending Banks to the opposite corner. Bayley is lifted onto the apron, but responds with a hard forearm, and looks good until Banks kicks her hard when she tries to re-enter the ring.
Banks stomps repeatedly into the back of Bayley, followed by ramming her face into the mat. A slam knocks Bayley onto the apron, and leaves her prone for Banks to stretch her by her hair in a painful maneuver. A hard slap to the face keeps Bayley grounded, as Banks takes an opportunity to taunt her downed opponent. Banks continues to take shortcuts, pulling the hair and using the ropes to choke Bayley, but the strength of the bubbly diva forces Banks into the corner, open for some barges to the gut. Bayley flies off the second rope with a spinning reverse elbow. Bayley attempts another slam, but Banks reverses and initiates the Bank Statement, with a backstabber into the vicious crossface. Bayley tries to reverse, but can’t withstand the pain for long before she is forced to tap out. Banks looks to continue the assault after the match, only for Becky Lynch to come out to defend her. Or so it seems that way, as Lynch attacks Bayley from behind, showing she has taken Banks’ advice on how you climb to the top.
The more I see her, the more promise Bayley shows as a main roster diva. She might be seen as childish, but her catchy entrance theme, the inflatables and her bouncy demeanor could really get over. Her improvement in the ring is noticeable too, but in that area she cannot match the catty but charismatic Banks. She plays the heel role impeccably, and she is going into the championship match with Charlotte as a real threat to the Nature Girl’s title reign. The post-match attack by Lynch was an expected twist, but one that was necessary. The divas division in NXT had been lopsided for generic faces, so Lynch can really exploit the gap on the heel side to make an impression.
Rating – 2.5/5
NXT Championship: Adrian Neville vs. Titus O’Neil
The main event is another huge challenge for NXT Champion Adrian Neville. The Geordie has been a fighting champion, taking all challengers and knocking them back, but the threat posed by Titus O’Neil is one of his toughest prospects to date. O’Neil showed in his match with Sami Zayn that his emphatic strength and explosive power were a threat to any opponent, and Neville will have to rely on his speed and high-flying talents more than ever before to overcome this difficult task. Not to mention how much O’Neil wants to get back at the NXT roster for taking up time on his show of RAW. Will that confidence and vendetta propel him to the title?
Neville locks on a headlock as the match begins, but when he is bounced off the ropes he attempts to slide under O’Neil, and is caught by his much larger opponent. He attempts a back suplex only to have Neville land on his feet and connect with a dropkick. Neville does his combination of flips from the corner to escape O’Neil and attempts a roll-up, only for the the big man to power out and force the champion back into the corner. O’Neil continues a methodical beatdown of Neville with shoulder barges and chokes, while Neville attempts to get any offense he can muster. But, O’Neil sits him on the top rope, before shoving him hard onto the floor.
As the action returns from the break, O’Neil is in firm control, applying a rough bearhug to the champion, slowly squeezing the fight out of him. Neville attempts to create some separation, but is tossed across the ring by the powerful O’Neil. The larger challenger tries to belittle and get in the head of the champion, who is desperately trying to create some kind of momentum. A flurry of kicks to the lower body of O’Neil seem to have the big man rocked, but it is a huge kick to the head that finally knocks him to his knees. Neville springs up and over O’Neil, but just when he is picking up speed he is caught by a huge boot to the chest. O’Neil continues to strike Neville in the corner, but a brief distraction from the referee getting involved gets him a slap from the champion. The angered bull charges in, but runs into a kick to the face, leaving him in the perfect position for the Red Arrow. Neville gets a big victory over a tough opponent to continue his eight-month reign.
After the match, Neville is met on the stage by Sami Zayn. Zayn informs Neville that he is on a mission at the moment, and that it culminates with him winning the championship. Neville says that anytime, any place, he would look forward to a challenge from Zayn. But, he didn’t leave without informing his erstwhile friend that he cannot win the big one.
The match was good, but would likely not feature in a highlight package of Neville’s career. O’Neil was a strong and powerful opponent who kept slowing the pace to put more pressure on the champion. The Brit continues his mantra as a fighting champion, and shows that he can have solid matches with all kinds of opponents. But, this is just a prelude to the match that all NXT fans want to see, which is Neville vs. Zayn, one-on-one.
Rating – 3/5