What is the best way to start a New Year? Your daily dose of NXT. The hungry young stars in the developmental system made 2014 their year, with numerous amazing matches and compelling storylines. In many ways they have consistently out-shined the performers on the main roster, and been the shining light of the WWE Network. If 2015 proves to be anything close to the offerings of the last twelve months, we are guaranteed some more excitement on the Recap.
The New Year main event is a rematch from Takeover: R Evolution, as recent main roster call-ups The Ascension look to avenge their defeat to Hideo Itami and Finn Balor. The International Sensations have proven more than a match for the dominant tag team, and both teams will hopefully produce as strong a match as their previous effort. Elsewhere on the card, The Lucha Dragons battle James Jordan and Tye Dillinger, Carmella faces the popular Blue Pants once again, and CJ Parker has the unenviable task of taking on Baron Corbin.
- The Lucha Dragons defeat Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger
- “Blue Pants” Leva Bates defeats Carmella
- Baron Corbin defeats CJ Parker
- Hideo Itami & Finn Balor defeat The Ascension
The Lucha Dragons vs. James Jordan & Tye Dillinger
The Lucha Dragons retained their NXT Tag Team Championships against The Vaudevillains at R Evolution, but amid a heap of controversy. Two weeks ago, the mustachioed pair confronted General Manager William Regal with evidence that Simon Gotch, who was pinned by Kalisto at the finish, was not the legal man. Thus the pinfall should not have taken place, and Regal decided to be fair and offer them a rematch for the titles in the near future. That would not happen tonight however, as the champions take on Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger, a tandem of strong athletes still looking to establish themselves in the division.
“Their manscaping is on point as far as I’m concerned” – Renee Young on the team of Jordan & Dillinger
Jordan being able to toss Kalisto half way across the ring with ease
Both Jordan and Dillinger mocking the Lucha Dragons, showing some character
Fantastic acrobatics by Kalisto as always
“Tye! Tye! Tye!” – a sign that Tye Dillinger might be getting some love from the crowd
The Lucha Dragons have been losing some crowd support in recent months, losing face momentum to the Vaudevillains
Please WWE, give Jordan & Dillinger a team name, because they are showing potential as a tag team
Clear botch by Sin Cara whilst attempting a headscissors – maybe they released the wrong wrestler?
Sin Cara pins Tye Dillinger following a Sunset Bomb from the top rope. Post-match the Vaudevillains attack both champions, leaving them laid out whilst they hoist the belts aloft.
Apart from the clear botch by Sin Cara late in the match, this was a solid encounter by both teams. Particularly impressive was the character displayed by both Jordan and Dillinger, portraying a pair of arrogant athletes that were delighted by every move they connected with. The Lucha Dragons continue to be their athletic and acrobatic selves that provide good matches, but are still not attracting a universally positive reception from fans. Expect in their next championship match with the Vaudevillains the crowd will be firmly in the corner of the nefarious black-and-white film enthusiasts.
Rating – 2/5
“Blue Pants” Leva Bates vs. Carmella
Accompanied by the lovable goofballs Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, Carmella has shown glimpses of potential in her early matches on NXT. Still, it is glaringly obvious that the crowd regard her as a heel, despite her affiliation with the hugely popular Jersey pairing, which makes me worried that she could prove the catalyst for their break-up. Tonight, Carmella once again combats a woman that the NXT audience has taken to their hearts, despite not even being told her real name. Blue Pants looks to finally get the victory over Carmella and send the fans home happy.
Hearing Amore and Carmella speak is a joy because they are so comfortable on the microphone, but Cassady’s jokes and entrance theme for Blue Pants was the biggest highlight
Carmella showing an aggression and callousness in her attack
Amore dancing around at ringside that Carmella doesn’t appreciate
The crowd were so firmly behind Blue Pants, she might be the most over person on the NXT roster on the strength of that crowd reaction
Very short match once again, but Carmella is clearly still finding her feet – she’ll get there in time
After an unintended distraction by Amore, Blue Pants traps Carmella in a small package to score the victory to scenes of mass joy in the crowd. Carmella attempts to attack Amore post-match.
It is nice to see Blue Pants get the victory, as she has been taking into the hearts of the NXT crowd for her odd name and Cassady’s description of her. Carmella won’t suffer for this loss, in fact it could benefit her in the future and draw some friction between herself and the team of Amore and Cassady. Perhaps aligning herself with another heel tag team such as Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger could be a strong step in establishing Carmella as a heel, and opens a spot for Blue Pants to be at the side of the Jersey boys.
Rating – 2/5
Baron Corbin vs. CJ Parker
The brooding Baron Corbin has been undefeated since his “official” debut at Takeover: Fatal Four-Way, where he decimated CJ Parker in a matter of seconds. The Eco-Warrior has not enjoyed much success in the ring since his re-packaging, as he has often been employed as enhancement talent for the main event stars and rising talent on the roster. Tonight, Parker will have to surpass all expectations to pull out a shock victory over the seemingly indomitable Corbin, but the real question on everyone’s mind is where will Bull Dempsey be during this contest?
Do I really need to spell this out? A snake eyes, big boot and the End of Days for Corbin, match ends.
Strong pop for Corbin as he makes his way to the ring – crowd buying into his character and winning streak
Crowd counting the seconds it takes Corbin to win
“Let them fight!” Response to the post-match brawl between Corbin and Bull Dempsey
Not much could really go wrong in such a short segment
Corbin pins Parker after 34 seconds with the End of Days, his eyes locked onto Bull Dempsey at ringside. Corbin challenges Dempsey to finally fight him, and the undefeated pair battle at ringside to the delight of the crowd, until referees break them apart.
It’s good to finally see some progression in this feud between Corbin and Dempsey past the staring contests on the ramp. It is also refreshing to see Corbin be the one to challenge Dempsey rather than the first assault being a sneak attack, as it makes Corbin look like a genuine threat who desires competition. Whether these two can have a solid match opposite one another is still up in the air, as neither has had a classic encounter or extended match since their respective debuts. Time will tell, but hopefully it proves better than most are likely expecting.
Rating – 2/5
Charlotte Interview Interrupted by Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch
After defeating Sasha Banks once again last week with the NXT Women’s Championship on the line in another fantastic encounter, Charlotte takes a break from competition to conduct an interview with Devin Taylor. Charlotte has demonstrated time and again that she is growing in leaps and bounds as a performer, and has forced the crowd to take both her and women’s wrestling in general seriously at a time where it is traditionally considered the spot for a bathroom break.
The crowd chanting “Blue Pants” when Devin asks Charlotte what she has left to accomplish in NXT – they really like this girl
“Nobody chants when the most genetically superior diva in NXT is talking” – Charlotte showing she still has a tinge of the heel in her
“NXT is my home, and NXT is revolutionizing women’s wrestling” – you’re damn right it is
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch surround the ring, but are chased away by an appearance from Natalya.
The question by Devin aimed at Charlotte was a pertinent one – what else has she got left to accomplish in NXT? After holding the title since Takeover, Charlotte has defeated any woman that stepped in the ring with her, both as a face and a heel, and has shown why many are begging WWE officials to let her move up to the main roster. However, despite the threat clearly posed by Banks and Lynch, the presence of Natalya in particular sets up an interesting dynamic. The two second-generation divas clearly respect each other, but could Natalya prove the one to take the title away from the Nature Girl?
Rating – 2.5/5
Hideo Itami & Finn Balor vs. The Ascension
One of the standout matches from R Evolution was a tag team match between Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, and The Ascension. This had been a match brewing for months, as Konnor and Viktor seemingly made it their mission to force Itami out of NXT, constantly inflicting him to 2-on-1 assaults. But, the addition of Balor to the equation threw a spanner into their plans, as both he and Itami battled back fiercely against the most dominant partnership in NXT history. In the end, this led to the newcomers scoring a big victory at the live special. Can The Ascension respond with a victory after announcing their presence on the main roster so effectively?
Finn Balor’s entrance – even without the face paint I still marvel at the theatricality of it
Balor jumping over the top rope into a stomp on Viktor’s chest
Huge uppercut by Viktor sending Balor to the outside
Liking Alex Riley on commentary more and more – really does well to try and get the heels over and brings in relevant outside references
Methodical assault by The Ascension working well in pacing the match
Kicks by Itami looking much more realistic than at the start of his time in NXT – man those are painful
Nice Tornado DDT guillotine across the top rope by Itami
STO by Viktor seems to snap Itami’s neck back
Double foot stomp from Balor onto Konnor at ringside
Chants of “Finn” and “Hideo” shows the crowd has really grown to get behind these two early in their careers – also it’s really great to see the crowd firmly support Itami in particular due to his language barrier
Crowd less involved with The Ascension than previously, but still the occasional “JA!” with every punch/chop
“Let’s go, Hideo”
Crowd exploded when Itami set up for the GTS, and booed when Konnor interrupted – it will explode when he actually hits it
Few to mention, if being a little critical The Ascension were on top of Balor for too long without many change-ups, like possibly knocking Itami off the apron or something of that ilk would have improved the spectacle
Itami pins Viktor after hitting a spinning kick to the back of his head
A strong main event to close a so-so first show of 2015. Hideo Itami and Finn Balor are completely over with the crowd at this point, which is a really positive sign leading into the New Year. They will likely be huge parts of NXT, knocking at the main event now that The Ascension has been dispatched for a second time. Whether their stay is long or short, they have already left a lasting impact that will serve them well when they are undoubtedly called up to the main roster. That is the fate of The Ascension, already confirmed as the latest members of the WWE roster, and they performed admirably in the last few months to get both Itami and Balor over with the audience.
Rating – 4/5