After last week’s packed edition of NXT, this week’s episode swapped quantity for quality. Fewer matches allowed for more time to be spent telling compelling stories in the ring. Although it is great to have as many young superstars showing their potential as possible on a weekly basis, sometimes it is rewarding to concentrate on a few of the key rivalries.
Two major rivalries embodied this week’s card. Opening was Sami Zayn battling Tyler Breeze. The two have a lengthy rivalry in their respective pursuits for the NXT Championship, and as Breeze indicated at the close of the last show, Zayn has yet to defeat Prince Pretty one-on-one. But, with Zayn relentlessly pursuing Adrian Neville and his title, these are the matches he needs to win to convince William Regal to make him Number One Contender. Secondly, The Ascension are looking to eliminate Hideo Itami from NXT as quickly as he arrived on the scene. But, Itami has promised some back-up to confront the former Tag Team Champions. Who will he bring along to even the odds?
In other action, Tyson Kidd returns to NXT to take on Dash Wilder, and the ladies are in action as Charlotte and Bayley team up to battle Sasha Banks and her newest teammate Becky Lynch.
- Sami Zayn defeats Tyler Breeze
- Tyson Kidd defeats Dash Wilder
- Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch defeat Charlotte and Bayley
Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze
http://youtu.be/rIfhn6PHHFcSami Zayn has been on a mission to show the world and those in NXT that he is ready to lead the roster as their champion. Zayn has been accused time and again that he cannot win the big one, as he lacks the ruthlessness that it takes. Last week, he defeated Titus O’Neil to show that he has turned a corner in his pursuit of the biggest prize in NXT. But, he was confronted after the victory by one of his biggest rivals, Tyler Breeze. The King of Cuteville has often had the measure of his impassioned opponent, including defeating Zayn at the first Takeover event in a Number One Contenders match. If Zayn is determined to show he is a serious threat to Adrian Neville’s reign, he will need to defeat Breeze.
Breeze looks to take advantage early with a number of quick pin attempts, and he wastes little time in showing Zayn how close he was to losing. The chain wrestling is predictably crisp between these two talented stars. The pace quickens when Zayn springs off the ropes, leapfrogging Breeze, and lands a deep armdrag and scoop slam. Breeze attempts to escape to the outside, and when Zayn attempts to drag him back, he his hung up on the top rope. Breeze uses this opening to unleash his recent aggression on Zayn, with rapid kicks and stomps on his opponent. Zayn fight backs from his rival’s headlock, but when he attempts another slam is countered up Breeze with a bulldog, sending Zayn face first into the second turnbuckle.
As action returns from the break Breeze is still in complete control. A mixture of submission holds and elbows keep Zayn stuck to the canvas. When Breeze attempts a slugging match, Zayn fights back with his own forearms smashes. Breeze cuts him off with a kick to the gut, and splashes him hard in the corner. After fighting out of another choke hold, Zayn responds with clotheslines and a mid-air dropkick. The attempted Blue Thunder Bomb is blocked by Breeze into a hard neckbreaker, which brings a two count. Zayn climbs the top rope, but is stopped by Breeze until he is knocked off, but the crossbody attempt is blocked with a dropkick. Breeze screams at Zayn to give up as he throws punches, but is caught in a reverse STO. Breeze escapes the Koji Clutch, and after a number of go-behind waist locks lands the Supermodel Kick to Zayn for another near-fall. A frustrated Breeze looked to finish Zayn off with the Beauty Shot, but Zayn backs into the corner, and catches Breeze in an exploder suplex. This leaves him open to the Helluva Kick, and as his boot smashes Breeze’s good looks clean off his face, he picks up another vital win on his road to redemption. Next week, per William Regal’s decree, he will finally get his one-on-one match with Neville with the title on the line. Can Zayn prove all the doubters wrong and capture ‘the Big One’?
This was a very good match between these two rivals. It wasn’t as memorable as their bout at Takeover, but still a great way to open this episode. Breeze was dominant for most of the match, controlling the pace and berating his opponent at every opportunity. Zayn, as he has done for the last few weeks, was on the back foot for the most part, hitting a few big moves but noted more for his survival instincts than anything else. His road to redemption is paved by an unwillingness to give up, and this determination should carry through into his NXT title match with Neville, which should be a fan favorite.
Rating – 3.5/5
Tyson Kidd vs. Dash Wilder
Tyson Kidd returns to NXT after experiencing somewhat of a renaissance on the main roster. Whilst it is important not to get carried away, his appearances on NXT and on Total Divas have made him more appealing as an option on the main WWE shows. He has been winning matches on Main Event, and recently picked up a huge win over Sheamus on RAW, albeit by count out. But, it is good to see him make a return to the developmental territory every now and again, even if he is no longer allowed to challenge for the NXT Championship. Tonight he takes on Dash Wilder, a superstar still yet to make a lasting impression on the roster.
Some early chain wrestling leads to Wilder knocking down Kidd with a shoulder tackle, getting the early advantage. Kidd forces Wilder back into the corner and launches a barrage of fists and kicks to keep his opponent reeling. He catapults Wilder face first into the bottom turnbuckle, followed by a hard kick to the back. The experienced Kidd keeps in control, grounding Wilder for as long as possible. Wilder fights back with an elbow from the corner, knocking down Kidd twice before catching him in a powerslam. Kidd kicks him away from the ropes, and follows up with a fisherman-hook neckbreaker. Instead of attempting a cover, Kidd opts for locking Wilder into the Sharpshooter, and that earns him a convincing submission victory.
A quick match which really showcased a lot more of Kidd than Wilder. Wilder likely won’t make a lasting impression on NXT or head to the main roster anytime soon, but was afforded a little offense. But, Kidd was in control for the vast majority of the contest, and is experiencing one of his best runs both on NXT and the rest of WWE’s programs. Maybe his time on the developmental roster is gradually coming to a close due to that though?
Rating – 2.5/5
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte and Bayley
The main event of the evening is a divas tag team match, with Sasha Banks teaming with Becky Lynch against the tandem of Bayley and NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte. Banks recently became number one contender to challenge her former BFF colleague for the title, and will be looking to send a message in this match. But, an interesting dynamic is the recent heel turn of Lynch. She turned on Bayley as a response to Banks’ jibes about her recent success, and has clearly joined her to further her career prospects. Former rivals Charlotte and Bayley have been brought together due to a shared respect for the other’s abilities, and Bayley in particular will be looking to avenge to assault of Lynch two weeks ago.
Bayley starts out with Lynch, and wastes little time in repeatedly striking the woman that betrayed her two weeks ago. Lynch is able to break out of this early aggression and bring Bayley to her own corner, tagging in Banks. The Boss is quickly slammed down to the mat by Bayley, followed by a knee drop. The champ tags into the match, and Banks wastes little time backing away to tag in Lynch. Charlotte takes control with some knife-edge chops, and grounds her fiery opponent. When action returns from commercial this position is still the same, with Charlotte keeping Lynch grounded with knees to the skull. Charlotte forces Lynch back to the corner, wanting her to tag in Banks, who wants nothing to do with the champion at this moment in time. She throws the Irish native into the corner hard, knocking Banks off the apron in the process. Charlotte chases Banks around ringside, and is eventually caught from behind when her number one contender hauls her down by the hair.
Banks now makes the tag, raining down punches onto a fallen Charlotte, but tags in Lynch again as soon as the champ seems to be recovering. Charlotte forces Lynch back and throws her across the ring, tagging in Bayley who employs her own chop. A pair of elbows to the seated Lynch knock her down, but she again shows fight by making it to Banks, who takes control of Bayley. Banks’s strikes and kicks keep her rival down as she taunts Charlotte on the apron. She sends a message to the champ by using the figure-four headlock, including smashing Bayley’s head against the canvas. Banks and Lynch tag in and out regularly, keeping fresh whilst continuing the assault. But, when Banks attempts a suplex, Bayley finds the strength to reverse with a throw of her own. She goes for the cover, Lynch interfering only to get thrown to the outside, the distraction enough to allow Banks to recover with a clothesline. Bayley crawls for the tag, but Charlotte is occupied with kicking away Lynch, allowing Banks to knock the champion down. Bayley attempts a roll-up, but is reversed by Banks who grabs the tights to get the victory.
A long and solid match between the two sets of divas here. Keeping Charlotte and Banks apart was a good creative decision, making it seem that Banks is intimidated by the champion. Bayley rightly took the most of the beating from the heel side, as Lynch did for her team. Charlotte looked strong in the manner in which she looked to take down Banks and flooring Lynch to get to her. Banks was catty and took any opportunity that opened up, and Lynch looked good in her new role as a heel. This dynamic should help progress a women’s division in NXT that already looks far more exciting than on main WWE programming at the moment.
The Ascension Call Out Hideo Itami
Since Takeover II, The Ascension and Hideo Itami have been at each others’ throats. Konnor and Viktor interrupted the International Sensation’s debut at the event, and since then they have sought to make his time in NXT a living nightmare until he chooses to leave. Itami’s bravery has not been questioned, but his brain may have taken a few too many bruises in the last month. He has refused to back down to the former tag team champions, despite their size, power and numbers advantage, but has been on receiving end of a number of hefty beatings by their hands. But, this week he claims to have found a friend to help him even the odds against the Ascension. Can he and his mystery partner fight their opponents indomitable force?
The Ascension are first out to the ring, and call out Itami so they can finish what they started over a month ago. Itami doesn’t hide back for long as he stands facing his rivals from the stage. Another entrance music hits, and it is the debut of Finn Balor, formally known as Prince Devitt. The crowd goes wild for the former NJPW star from Ireland, and Balor and Itami waste little time charging the ring to get a piece of the Ascension. They take the battle to separate corners, Balor with Konnor, Itami with Viktor. Balor and Itami get the advantage with a pair of hesitation dropkicks in the corner. Balor then connects with a double footstomp to Konnor on the outside. He then hits an overhead kick to Viktor, followed by the running knee of Itami. A final double footstomp to Konnor to the back onto the canvas leaves the Ascension decimated for the first time in their careers, as Itami and Balor soak in the crowd’s adulation to end the show.
Although having the Ascension suffer so handily at the hands of these two might be somewhat unbelievable, it was an awesome way for Balor to make his debut. As Prince Devitt he was a highly touted star in Japan, a multi-time champion and member of the Bullet Club. Now in NXT, this was an excellent way to make a first impression to those unfamiliar with his work. He and Itami know each other well from their work in NJPW, and having them now as a team is a great way to get them over and working a similar style. This is the start of something very special in NXT. Kenta and Devitt now active on the roster, there is now only one man left to arrive.
Rating – 4.5/5