With SmackDown being shifted to Thursday nights, NXT finds a new time on the WWE Network on Wednesdays. It might be a different time, but you can still be guaranteed the consistently excellent action from the developmental stars. And they chose a great way to sell the main event of their first Wednesday program, with an NXT Championship match. New champion Sami Zayn defends the belt for the first time, battling the former titleholder Adrian Neville in a rematch from R Evolution. Will the popular redhead’s reign fall at the first hurdle, or will the Red Arrow once again be shot down?
Elsewhere on the card, Finn Balor takes on Tyson Kidd in a mouth-watering bout for pure wrestling fans. Two of the best in-ring technicians in the world of professional wrestling today locking up is rarely a bad thing, and has the potential to steal the show from the championship contest. Also, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch team up against Natalya and the NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte, and the long-anticipated brawl between Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey finally comes to fruition.
- Finn Balor defeats Tyson Kidd
- Baron Corbin defeats Bull Dempsey
- Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch defeat Charlotte and Natalya
- NXT Champion Sami Zayn defeats Adrian Neville
Finn Balor vs. Tyson Kidd
The night’s opening contest has all the makings of an instant classic, as the artistic Finn Balor combats one of the best pure wrestlers in WWE, which is a Fact, Tyson Kidd. A prelude took place a couple of months back between these versatile technicians only to be interrupted by the Ascension. Now, with those two now running roughshod over local jobbers on the main roster, Balor is now free to demonstrate his bountiful skill-set against other competitors. Kidd is not a bad way to start as far as the neutral fans are concerned, but is a test that Balor will do well to overcome.
Immediate explosive dropkick as soon as the bell was rung by Balor
Kidd dodges a baseball slide and then forces Balor hard against the barrier
“He’s dedicating matches to his cat!?” – Alex Riley not a fan of Kidd’s priorities
Kidd carrying himself really well as a heel desperate for the crowd to appreciate him
Balor launching himself over the top rope onto Kidd
Dragon whip by Kidd across the top rope, before punting Balor out of his boots at ringside
“Tyson Chicken” as Kidd tries to escape from Balor’s early onslaught
“NXT! NXT! NXT!” – the crowd loving the first match of the night
“This is Awesome!” – a chant the NXT audience is getting used to bringing out
Finn Balor kicking out of pins too quickly throughout the match
Following a lifted inverted DDT, Balor connects with a Double Footstomp to defeat Kidd
A classy match, but did anyone expect anything less? Balor is an explosive star with some fantastic kicks and chops to knock down Kidd and get the crowd invested. However, Kidd as a bratty heel who seems to be shocked at the crowd’s disdain of him is a really fantastic performance. Their respective styles blended well, and outside of Balor kicking out of pin attempts too quickly on occasion, this was a solid contest. Balor will make a big impact on the main roster when he arrives for his theatricality and maneuvers. For now though, I’m happy he can continue to liven up Wednesday evenings.
Rating – 3.5/5
Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey
A feud that has bubbling to the surface in recent months has been the tension between a pair of behemoths, Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey. Beginning as a tale of outdoing one another with the speed in which they were able to dispatch of their opponents, Dempsey was consistently being outdone. His mind games from ringside had no effect other than to draw the ire of Corbin, as the pair finally laid into one another a couple of weeks back. Who will prove the victor in this clash of two wrecking balls?
Aggressive brawling from the pair looks pretty realistic
Corbin picking up the huge Dempsey like a child
The crowd’s counting of the seconds of this match doesn’t last long
Very brief still, despite this match being built up for a couple of months – underwhelming
Dodging a flying headbutt, Corbin unleashes the End of Days for the win
The match was always going to be a flat-out brawl between these two powerful monsters, rather than a technical wrestling classic. That I expected, and for the most part it was done correctly with some impressive physicality shown by both men. However, the brevity of this match considering the months that had gone into building to this clash was underwhelming to say the least. It leads to doubts whether either competitor is capable of a solid extended match, which would hamper their long-term chances of climbing the ladder. Still, that End of Days on a man Dempsey’s size was pretty impressive.
Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte & Natalya
Former best friends turned bitter rivals, NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte and Sasha Banks have been at each other’s throats for months. Banks has recruited a new buddy in the form of the punk Becky Lynch, who have united to forge Team BAE. They attempted to double-team the champ a few weeks ago, but Charlotte was aided by former Divas Champion Natalya. Tonight the four talented women take to the ring to settle their differences, with Banks desperate to finally score a victory over Charlotte after numerous defeats in recent weeks.
Delayed double suplex from the powerful Charlotte and Natalya on Lynch, followed by a wheelbarrow splash
Natalya stepping over Banks into the basement dropkick
Charlotte flipping her way through a double clothesline attempt by Team BAE
Charlotte getting the crowd into a “Nattie” chant, but some love also being shown to Becky Lynch
Banks either no-selling a baseball slide, or Charlotte missed the kick
Banks connects with a hangman’s neckbreaker on Charlotte, pinning her after grabbing the champ’s trunks
A good match between the women, if a little short and stunted in places. After the impeccable matches featured by Charlotte and Banks in recent weeks, this was a little disappointing, but only by those ridiculously high standards. The crowd are beginning to take a greater interest in Becky Lynch, which is a big positive for her progression on the roster, and Natalya’s strength and experience were good additions for this tag team match. Not a match that will live long in the memory, but a solid outing by all involved.
Rating – 2.5/5
Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville (NXT Championship)
Following last week’s announcement by General Manager William Regal, NXT would kick off their move to Wednesday nights in the best possible manner – an NXT Championship rematch. Sami Zayn, only recently back in action after the heinous assault by Kevin Owens at R Evolution, would defend his coveted belt for the first time against the man he defeated for the title, Adrian Neville. The pair have a massive amount of respect for each others’ ability and fighting spirit, but neither will give an inch with the precious gold on the line. Will Zayn’s reign be a brief one, or will he once again overcome the Man That Gravity Forgot? Buckle in for another classic.
Zayn’s entrance with the NXT Championship – a great moment to witness
Neville’s speed and agility typified with a brilliant hurricanrana takedown
The pair exchange words before Zayn connects with the first strike of the match
Corkscrew moonsault by Neville onto Zayn at ringside
Absolutely amazing hurricanrana into a pin by Neville – maybe the most perfect example I’ve ever witnessed
Neville handsprings onto Zayn’s shoulders, twisting into another hurricanrana
Zayn attempting his diving tornado DDT through the turnbuckle gets hit with a superkick
Crowd really into the action throughout, and unsurprisingly partisan towards Zayn
Sometimes descending into silence to just sit and admire the action
Back to the “This is Awesome”, and rightly so
Sorry, nothing here
After dodging the Red Arrow, Zayn hits an exploder suplex into the corner, followed by the Helluva Kick to retain the NXT Championship. Post-match Kevin Owens makes his way to the ring, hitting a pop-up powerbomb on Zayn, then kicking the title into his head.
Another epic encounter between these two superstars, and although not quite at the level of their R Evolution classic, it was still a fantastic main event. Neville is absolutely phenomenal in the ring, with the precision of his hurricanranas and acrobatic spots a particular highlight. If he gets stuck with a dead-end gimmick when he makes it to the main roster, it will be a real shame, as his potential is boundless. But Zayn was level with him all the way, and with the crowd’s undying support he scored an impressive first title defense. Owens looks to be the next obstacle in his way for the foreseeable future, and the revival of their ROH feud could lead to some of the greatest matches in NXT’s history.
Rating – 4.5/5