On a packed edition of NXT, the wrestling is in abundance with half a dozen matches to be contested. In the main event, Sami Zayn looks to continue his path of redemption towards the NXT Championship in a match with Titus O’Neil. Three weeks ago, O’Neil scored a victory over Zayn in a demonstration of power overcoming speed. But, with Zayn vowing to overcome every obstacle in his quest to challenge and defeat Adrian Neville for the gold, he will hope to rectify this result against the WWE’s resident Gator.
Also in action are the best the tag team division have to offer, as five teams compete in an over-the-top battle royal for the right to challenge the Lucha Dragons for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Additionally, Bull Dempsey returns to action against Justin Gabriel, Carmella looks to continue a promising start against the kooky Emma, former partners Marcus Louis and Sylvester Lefort clash, and Baron Corbin seeks out his latest victim.
- The Vaudevillains win a Five-Team Battle Royal
- Carmella defeats Emma
- Bull Dempsey defeats Justin Gabriel
- Baron Corbin defeats Tony Briggs
- Marcus Louis defeats Sylvester Lefort
- Sami Zayn defeats Titus O’Neil
Number One Contenders Tag Team Battle Royal
The Lucha Dragons currently sit above an ever-strengthening tag team division in NXT following their victory over the Ascension at Takeover II. So, it is fitting that the every team is given the opportunity to challenge the luchadore pairing for the Tag Team Championships, as they contest the right in a five-team battle royal. Participants include the dastardly Vaudevillains, Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy, Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger, and Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. But, the team to beat is undoubtedly the dominant former champions the Ascension, who will be desperate to reclaim their place at the summit of tag team wrestling.
With Battle Royals, it’s difficult to construct a technically sound contest in the mass of humanity beating the hell out of each other. A number of near eliminations take place, with the Ascension unsurprisingly bearing the brunt of the offense, with the Vaudevillains often clinging onto their place in the match. Konnor and Viktor stand tall in the center of the ring, and proceed to toss out both teams of Blake/Murphy and Jordan/Dillinger in one fell swoop. But, Amore and Big Cass do not back down from their intimidating opponents. But, it will take more than determination to take down the powerful tandem, as they take down the plucky Amore with ease. And despite a brief flurry from the stronger Cassady, the Ascension prove too much as they toss Amore into Cass, sending them both over the top rope. But, just as it looks like their victory will be a formality, Hideo Itami makes his way onto the stage. As the Japanese star stares down the Ascension, they are caught from behind by the Vaudevillains, who toss the former champions over the top rope, winning the match and a title shot along with it.
The Ascension charge the ring to payback their victors as the Vaudevillains scarper, but they are caught by Itami, who attacks both members with forearms and kicks. But, once again, the numbers game proves the better of the International Sensation as Konnor and Viktor proceed to beat down Itami with punches, before leaving an exclamation with a hard double-team slam in the middle of the ring. Konnor gets the microphone and informs Itami, if it needed to be said, that they don’t want him in NXT, and if he doesn’t leave of his own accord, the Ascension will send him back to Japan in a box. How much more abuse will Itami be willing to put up with in his seeking of revenge.
Battle Royals are never technical classics, but this one told the necessary story. It made Amore and Cassady look gutsy, the Ascension dominant, and ended with the correct challengers for the titles winning in the form of the Vaudevillains. An extended championship match between them and the Lucha Dragons will be an exciting prospect. As for Itami, his bravery in continuing to pursue the Ascension is bordering on stupidity, as he continues to be destroyed in this feud week after week. He will need to find a partner to even the odds soon, as his kamikaze strategy has proven ineffective thus far.
Rating – 2.5/5
Carmella vs. Emma
After a convincing victory in her debut a fortnight ago, Carmella will be looking to continue a winning start when she takes on the bubbly Aussie Emma. The buddy of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady certainly has the swagger and confidence of the Jersey pair, which she demonstrates on the microphone before the match. If she can back up those assertions with victory over an experienced and popular performer like Emma, it will certainly send a message that she is capable as she claims to be.
Carmella kicks off with a quick roll-up attempt as the two women size their opponent up. Emma starts her quirky routine by laying down next to a prone Carmella after bouncing off the ropes, before dodging her opponent’s attempt at grabbing her. Carmella knocks down Emma with a shoulder block, before Emma acrobatically combats her through the ropes, until she is thrown head first against the middle turnbuckle. Carmella continues her diva antics by choking Emma against the ropes whilst simultaneously checking her nails, followed up by slamming Emma to the mat on the back of her head. She wraps her legs tightly around the Aussie, squeezing the life out of her opponent, but Emma uses her remaining strength to slam her down and break the pressure. Emma blocks a kick to the gut and responds with running clotheslines. She traps Carmella in the Tarantula before following up with the Emma Sandwich in the corner. Emma attempts her submission finisher, but Carmella reverses, catching Emma in her yoga stretch headlock, getting the impressive victory.
This match wasn’t bad, showing that Carmella does have potential in the ring. Her character and acting ability is strong, as you’d expect from somebody linked to Enzo Amore and Big Cass, but she is more befitting a heel in the future, which may mean a break from them. Emma was her usual mix of kookiness and flexibility, but she is starting to sink away without trace both on the main shows and NXT. She has become the female Santino Marella, which isn’t the worst spot on the roster, but means she is unlikely to progress to championship level. For Carmella, only time will tell.
Rating – 2.5/5
Bull Dempsey vs. Justin Gabriel
Bull Dempsey has been MIA for over a month now, as he hasn’t appeared at NXT since destroying Mojo Rawley in a rematch from Takeover II. The Last of a Dying Breed has been an impressive combination of strength, speed and brawling in his previous outings, and he has a chance to return to action with a bang opposite Justin Gabriel. The South African hasn’t been on the hottest streak in recent months, and could use a victory to return to form. But, Dempsey is yet to taste defeat since his debut, and Gabriel will need to employ all his agility and experience to be the first to receive that honor.
Gabriel tries the early offense with some quick kicks and strikes, but Dempsey absorbs all those hits and forces an opening by pushing Gabriel into the corner and raining down punches to the mid-section. Gabriel fights out and attempts to exploit his speed advantage with a roll-up that Dempsey breaks out of in a hurry, before being slammed face first to the mat by a strong counter. Dempsey keeps the Werewolf grounded with stomps and elbows, and any time Gabriel attempts to break free of the onslaught, he is immediately slammed down with authority. Dempsey locks Gabriel in a strong clutch, until the South African fights back, acrobatically escaping his powerful opponent with an inverted DDT. A springboard moonsault brings a near fall for Gabriel, and he follows up with kicks to the spine of Dempsey. Gabriel’s momentum however is stopped dead in its tracks when an attempted tornado DDT has him thrown over Dempsey’s shoulder, before he is splashed down onto the canvas. Dempsey finishes off his crumpled opponent with a flying headbutt scoring a big win on his return.
Dempsey has been missed for his unique size and offense, as his brawling is one of the most compelling parts of his matches. I can already picture some fist fights he could endure on the main roster, as he looks like a certified monster. Gabriel did his part in supporting Dempsey’s return with a good performance to facilitate his strength. Although it does point towards Gabriel becoming pigeon-holed in the enhancement talent portion of the roster, you have to look towards the future. And Dempsey is the future.
Rating – 3/5
Baron Corbin vs. Tony Briggs
Well, this section of the article shouldn’t take too long to write. Baron Corbin has been on a tear since his re-emergence at Takeover II, demolishing anybody that dares step in the ring with him in short order. This week, his victim is Tony Briggs, a name that doesn’t breed confidence that this match will be any longer than Corbin’s entrance. But, the crowd is clearly into his character, as the begin to count the seconds from when the bell rings to Corbin’s inevitable triumph. And after a hard knee to the gut, followed by the ever-impressive End of Days, Corbin scores another quick victory in an audience-timed twenty seconds.
It’s a squash, but Baron Corbin has clearly created an attachment to the NXT crowd quickly in his career. The End of Days is a remarkably cool finishing maneuver, and capitalizing on the gimmick of the crowd counting down his matches would be a great way to get him over as a monster. Jobbers beware – Corbin is out to get you.
Rating – 1.5/5
Marcus Louis vs. Sylvester Lefort
In a match filled with red, white and blue, not of the USA but France, the Legionnaires collide in the ring. This began during the former partners’ feud with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, where Amore beat Sylvester Lefort in a Hair vs. Hair match. However, instead of Lefort getting shaved, his partner Marcus Louis suffered the humiliation of being made bald when he attempted to save Lefort, only for his friend to abandon him. And, after Lefort accidentally exposed Louis’ bare head in a tag team match, Louis finally snapped and took out his pent-up aggression on his partner, setting up for this personal match.
Louis charges the ring, but is caught out by Lefort who lands the early assault on his former partner. Lefort pushes him against the corner, saying that this was Louis’ fault, as the freshly bald superstar smiles, and slams Lefort face first against the canvas. Louis mounts his compatriot and hammers him with strikes. Lefort attempts to escape, but is hauled back into the center of the ring and floored with a massive clothesline. Louis screams repeatedly at Lefort that he caused his baldness, before landing a hard side slam into the mat to score the victory.
This match was short and to the point, but a lack of competitiveness for Lefort means it was little more than a squash. That may begin the end of his time at NXT, as he will likely be fed to Baron Corbin and other stars before being released, as he has hardly improved since his debut. Louis has more potential, as he is bigger, stronger and more talented in the ring. But, it wouldn’t be surprising if this was merely a means to end the feud and watch both former Legionnaires drift into obscurity, whilst others take their spots on the roster.
Rating – 1.5/5
Sami Zayn vs. Titus O’Neil
Main event time, and it is a chance at redemption for Sami Zayn for three weeks ago. Zayn fell that night to Titus O’Neil when the big man’s power proved to much for the gutsy, popular star. O’Neil would then go onto fail in his attempt to capture the NXT Championship from Adrian Neville last week, but it is the story of Zayn that has NXT talking so far. He is on a path of redemption to recapture the form that had people talking about his championship credentials earlier this year, and he began that with victory over Tyson Kidd a fortnight ago. But, many, including Neville himself, have made their beliefs clear that Zayn cannot win the big one.
O’Neil wastes little time demonstrating his power by tossing Zayn across the ring multiple times. Zayn fights back with forearms before a rising knee to the ribs takes the wind out of his sails in a heartbeat. Any time Zayn tries to build some early momentum, the power of O’Neil keeps knocking him back down to the canvas. Zayn kicks O’Neil in the face when he drops his head too quickly, but this break is short-lived as the Gator bites down, dropping Zayn repeatedly across his knee with authority. O’Neil locks his opponent in a bearhug, and tosses Zayn about the ring, constantly keeping his energetic rival grounded. O’Neil taunts the crowd and mock Zayn as he stands dominantly over him, throwing him to the outside with disdain not once but twice.
After the second time, Zayn is able to fight back by choking O’Neil against the top rope, before soaring onto the big man with a crossbody. But, the comeback is brief as Zayn runs into a hefty clothesline, before O’Neil breaks Zayn in half across his broad shoulder, which he barely kicks out of. A frustrated O’Neil tosses Zayn into a corner, and charges in, but is caught with an exploder suplex against the turnbuckle. Zayn heads to the opposite corner, and sprints in with the Helluva Kick to score an important victory. His celebrations are cut short however by the emergence of Tyler Breeze from the back, stating that before he can claim he is ready to take on Neville for the title, he needs to defeat a man that has had his number since they started at NXT – Breeze himself. Next week, the pair will square off, with Neville surely to have a keen interest in the outcome.
This was a good match, bearing resemblances to their bout last week. O’Neil’s power is incredibly impressive, and though he doesn’t exactly sprint around the ring, his methodical style is befitting a true powerhouse. But, Zayn needed a victory over a superstar like O’Neil in his rise towards the championship, and his dogged determination and gutsy comeback show how willing he is to battle for the title. A match with Tyler Breeze is a mouth-watering prospect, as these two rarely have a poor match these days, and will hopefully prove another barrier Zayn will smash through in his pursuit of Adrian Neville and the NXT Championship.