NXT Recap: December 18th 2014

Fresh off the heels of a stellar Takeover: R Evolution event, NXT continues to roll on its wave of momentum into closing out 2014 with a bang. The crowds continue to be as pumped up as ever to witness these hungry young stars pushing each other to the limit for their entertainment. And tonight’s main event was bound to excite any fan of the independent circuit, as two of their favorite sons went head-to-head. Kevin Owens, after destroying new NXT Champion Sami Zayn’s victory celebration, went up against former champion Adrian Neville.

Elsewhere on the card, Bayley looks to get some measure of vengeance on Becky Lynch when they battle in the opening bout, but will the Queen of Hugs be able to overcome the knee injury inflicted on her by Lynch and her buddy Sasha Banks? The Ascension are back in action against Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady following their defeat to Hideo Itami and Finn Balor at R Evolution. And finally, Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey continue their staring feud amid a pair of squash matches.

Quick Results

  • Becky Lynch defeats Bayley
  • Bull Dempsey defeats Jobber #1
  • Baron Corbin defeats Jobber #2
  • The Ascension defeat Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
  • Adrian Neville vs. Kevin Owens ended in a Double Count-Out

Adrian Neville Calls Out Kevin Owens

Adrian Neville’s entrance music plays and the former NXT Champion cuts a despondent figure as he stands in the ring. Of course, it is odd to see him without the belt on his shoulder or around his waist for the first time since February, and was likely still coming to terms with that change. But Neville shows grace and sportsmanship by stating that Zayn was the better man on the night, and whilst defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, he was happy to look him in the eye and shake his hand. The crowd applauded this, chanting “It was Awesome” in reference to their awesome main event at the event.

But, his demeanor changes when Neville reflects on the post-match assault of Zayn by Kevin Owens, stating that the new champion wasn’t there due to his injuries. He calls out Zayn’s supposed friend to the ring, and Owens obliges. Neville doesn’t give him a chance to speak before shaming him for his actions, calling him a pitiful excuse for a competitor. Owens doesn’t go into great detail about the reasons behind his actions, and simply responds by arguing that he wants to get to the top, and will fight anybody to do it. And, if Neville has a problem with it, then he can fight him tonight. Owens then walks away, Neville not backing down as there match is booked for a mouth-watering main event.

Highlights

“Last week at NXT Takeover, I had the match of my career” – Neville

“Owens is a competitor first and a friend second” – new commentator Corey Graves

“Shame On You!” – crowd chant directed at Owens

“I don’t have a problem with you, but if you have a problem with me and you want to fight, you’ve got one” – Owens

It’s not often NXT kicks off with a promo segment (contrast with any main WWE show), but this was short, sweet and built up to the main event match. Neville regained his sympathetic babyface status after being public enemy number one as champion against Sami Zayn, by showing his victor respect. He showed a great deal of emotion in criticizing Owens for his actions, whilst Owens performed his first promo with confidence and got his mantra of fight everyone at anytime over well. All-in-all, a simple way to get their upcoming bout made and build up the audience’s anticipation.

Rating – 3/5

Becky Lynch vs. Bayley

This match has been over a month in the making, as Bayley has suffered greatly at the hands of former friend Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. Since the Irishwoman turned on the Hug Machine, her turn has been complete by the manner she and new buddy Banks have picked on Bayley, causing an injury to her knee in the process. Tonight, despite her leg still being in a brace following an assault backstage at R Evolution, Bayley has not backed down to Lynch, and should lead to an interesting match.

Highlights

Becky Lynch’s new entrance theme that gives her some more individuality

Bayley’s early aggression – nice to see some more depth to her fun-loving character, and her anger translates really well

Some nice crisp reversals from Bayley, who dominated much of this bout

Great build up to the finish, showing these girls can also get it done in the ring when given time to work

Hooray, Lynch finally has a finishing maneuver

Crowd Reaction

“Hug Bayley Hug” – nice to see Bayley and Kevin Owens could have a future pairing

Crowd loving Bayley, firmly behind her as per usual, and Lynch getting some heat as well

Low Points

Lynch not getting in much offense to show her individuality, was dominated throughout

Finish

Becky Lynch forces Bayley to tap out to her Four-Legged Clover submission after reversing a roll-up attempt.

This was a solid match between the pair considering the amount of time they had to work with. Bayley is so popular right now and her bubbly personality is so infectious on all portions of the audience. My worry is that she won’t be taken seriously when on the main roster and be reduced to the level Emma is at right now, but she certainly showed some fire and aggression tonight. Lynch was on the back foot for the most part but was never out of the fight, and the sequence leading into her stylish new submission hold was very well executed. A strong effort.

Rating – 3/5

Bull Dempsey vs. Jobber #1/Baron Corbin vs. Jobber #2

Two superstars that have been wrecking their way through the lower card stars down in Florida continued to do so this week, as both Bull Dempsey and Baron Corbin were in action against a pair of nobodies. Their confrontations have persisted for weeks, and so far have not progressed beyond staring down each other, in the build to a potential feud between two powerful competitors.

Highlights

Dempsey’s snarling demeanor when he’s beating on his opponent

“Dempsey doesn’t want to end it quickly, just inflict a lot of pain and suffering” – Jason Albert

Dempsey watching on frustrated during Corbin’s squash

The End of Days, just because it looks cool

Crowd Reaction

Very little during Dempsey’s match, seemed more subdued

Pop when Corbin came out, followed by the typical counting the seconds of the match

Low Points

Both squashes were rather dull and uninspiring, but that comes with the match type

The crowd being pretty dead during Dempsey’s match as he gradually demolished his victim

Finish

Bull Dempsey wins by pinfall following the Diving Headbutt; Baron Corbin wins by pinfall after 14 seconds with the End of Days

I like that the company is distinguishing between Dempsey and Corbin in terms of their approach, as while Corbin ends it quickly, Dempsey should be the one hanging around and inflicting more damage for his own enjoyment. However, the crowd are starting to wane in this pseudo-rivalry, as they need to butt heads soon to maintain their interest. Dempsey in particular seems to have lost steam, and doesn’t have the originality of being a speedy big man (Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens) to help him stand out. Hopefully, when they finally collide it was worth waiting for.

Rating – 1.5/5

The Ascension vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady

A few weeks ago, in preparation for their match with Hideo Itami and Finn Balor, The Ascension assaulted Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady after they had competed to send a message. The former tag team champions are likely to be angry about their loss to the international superstars at R Evolution, but will have a pair off frustrated Jersey boys standing in their way now. Can the Certified Gs pull off the upset against the most dominant tandem in NXT’s history?

Highlights

The opening promo where Amore and Cass recite their own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas was fantastic

Cassady looked good as a potential threat to the power of the Ascension

Amore’s presence was brief and funny in the ring, but little more

Ascension’s post-match promo gave a great deal of promise for things to come

Crowd Reaction

“How you doin’?” Amore and Cass have the crowd in the palm of their hands

Not very strong for either the finish or the Ascension’s post-match promo

Low Points

Carmella as a distraction to Amore could break their tag team up, which would be a huge shame

Amore still isn’t showing great in-ring improvement, and messed up the finish by falling back too soon

Finish

The Ascension win when Viktor pins Amore following an STO

This wasn’t really much of a match, as it started out with Big Cass showing his power by battling with the Ascension, and then it turning into a one-move squash on the hapless Amore. The best part was undoubtedly the pre-match promo, as it is often is with Amore and Cass’ matches, as they aren’t as accomplished in the ring. As for the Ascension, if they were to have one more parting bout with Hideo Itami and Finn Balor on their way up to the main roster, I wouldn’t have too much issue with that.

Rating – 2/5

Adrian Neville vs. Kevin Owens

A match years in the making, after first battling on the independent scene it was time for Adrian Neville and Kevin Owens to fight under the WWE banner. With the impression that Owens made last week, both in his debut match with CJ Parker and his attack on Sami Zayn at the shows conclusion, he has gotten a great deal of people buzzing about his potential. In only his second match he is placed opposite one of the most consistent and excellent performers on the roster in Adrian Neville, who will be desperate to not only avenge his friend Zayn, but also prove that even without the NXT Championship he is still the man to beat.

Highlights

Owens looking like a legitimate tough guy with the bandage over his nose

“Just because he likes to fight doesn’t mean he lets the other guy dictate” – Corey Graves on Owens’ strategy

Owens rolling to the outside when under pressure an effective way of getting heat

Neville missing a baseball slide only to be caught with a hard lariat to the back of the head

“You were the champion for almost a year? What a joke” – Owens mocks Neville

Owens hits a gutbuster followed by a running senton

A huge DDT from the top rope is expertly sold by Neville, and somehow he kicks out at two

Neville soars over the top rope with a corkscrew moonsault to Owens at ringside

Post-match hard powerbomb into the apron once more by Owens

Crowd Reaction

Owens getting a lot of heat for his early match rolling out of the ring, doing solid job of getting over as a heel

Neville back to being a confirmed babyface, the crowd very much behind him during the match as he was the underdog

“Kevin’s better!” “No he’s not!” – the crowd at times was split between these two indie sensations

Low Points

Some of Neville’s kicks seemed to miss the mark on occasion, but that is being picky

Finish

Neville and Owens are both counted out as the match ends in a draw; after the match Owens hits Neville with a powerbomb against the apron

A very good match to end the show, which really is only a glimpse into the work these two could perform together. Owens has gotten over faster than any superstar in NXT history, and is already a legitimate threat to both the NXT Championship and every main event star on their roster. It’s great to see that Neville has not lost any steam or love from the crowd after the feud with Sami Zayn that saw him take the heel role. The match was solid and bordering on excellence, so with more time and added fire to this rivalry, as well as a firm finish, this will make a world-class contest.

Rating – 4/5

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