NXT Recap: January 8th 2015

NXT continues to head into the New Year with a flourish, as NXT Champion Sami Zayn makes his highly-anticipated return to Full Sail University following the heinous assault by Kevin Owens. Whilst celebrating his championship victory over Adrian Neville, Zayn was powerbombed brutally into the ring apron. What will Zayn have to say about the attack by his former best friend?

However, the main event of the evening is for a different championship, as the Vaudevillains receive their rematch against the NXT Tag Team Champions, The Lucha Dragons. Replays confirmed from their match at R Evolution that the legal man was not pinned for the champions to retain their title, and so the fair-minded William Regal gladly agreed to offer the silent movie enthusiasts another opportunity. Will they be able to bring the gold into their black and white world at the second attempt?

Also on the card, Hideo Itami battles Curtis Axel, Tyler Breeze is back in action against Chad Gable, and The Boss Sasha Banks takes on Alexa Bliss.

Quick Results

  • Hideo Itami defeats Curtis Axel
  • Sasha Banks defeats Alexa Bliss
  • Tyler Breeze defeats Chad Gable
  • NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons defeat The Vaudevillains

NXT Champion Sami Zayn Returns; William Regal Makes Title Match For Next Week

After missing a few weeks of action due to a surprise attack by Kevin Owens following his long-awaited title win at R Evolution, the new NXT Champion Sami Zayn is back in the building. The crowd immediately get on their feet and chant along to welcome the beloved champion, who finally scaled the mountain by toppling Adrian Neville in a thrilling main event match. This emotion clearly gets to Zayn, who runs to the barricade to celebrate among the fans. When the hugfest reluctantly concludes, the audience in unison chants “You deserve it!” towards the much-traveled Zayn for his accomplishment.

Zayn starts by saying that the title to him means more than being the best, but it shows that you can get to the top your own way. You don’t need to listen to what they want you to do, just be yourself and be the best at it. The crowd appreciatively cheer along with these statements, as Zayn thanks them for their support and remarks that the belt is all of theirs as much as it is his, before launching into some Barry Manilow. He then turns his attention to the actions of Owens, saying that he ruined the moment that should have been the greatest of his career. But Zayn’s still standing, and is ready to lead NXT as its champion.

That brings out not Owens, but former champ Adrian Neville to the ring. Neville is looking to do what he wanted to do a few weeks ago, and that was congratulate Zayn for coming out on top of their epic battle at R Evolution. The two shake hands, and Zayn doesn’t hesitate to mention that Neville should have a rematch clause. This leads to General Manager William Regal to the scene, who announces that the main event next week will be that exact rematch. Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville with the title on the line, and their are few better ways to start 2015 with a bang.

Hideo Itami vs. Curtis Axel

A superstar that is looking to revel in the Tyson Kidd-patented NXT career revival is Curtis Axel. The former Intercontinental Champion has been lost in the shuffle since his team with Ryback was disbanded. Now he is looking to the developmental territory to experience the Renaissance that Kidd enjoyed a few months ago. However, he couldn’t ask for much more of a tougher first prospect on his night at Full Sail University, as he combats the hard-kicking Hideo Itami. Will the International Sensation prove too much to handle for the son of Mr. Perfect?

Highlights

Axel immediately getting in the face of Itami, showing some aggression

Itami’s kicks continue to look more painful with every passing match

Axel beating down Itami while he is hanging on the ropes

A hefty jumping clothesline by Itami

Number of reversals leading into the finish well orchestrated

Crowd Reaction

“Hideo! Hideo!” – this new name has gotten over well with the NXT crowd

Axel’s interactions with the crowd were great for getting himself heat and Itami support

“GTS!” – clearly the fans are waiting to see this happen

Low Points

A few of Axel’s stomps and elbow drops looked a little too fake, but that is just nitpicking

Finish

Itami reverses a Perfect-Plex attempt into a low spinning kick for the pinfall

This was a solid match to open the show in the wrestling department, with both performers showing a great deal of talent and chemistry. I like how Itami is being treated as a warrior that will get beaten down for the vast majority of his matches, but get back fighting. However, personally the performance of Axel really excited me. He gave off the impression that he was a superior heel, too good for Itami or NXT, and showed some great aggression in his assault of the Japanese star. If he keeps that attitude up, he’ll certainly make a welcome impact on the roster.

Rating – 3.5/5

Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

Sasha Banks has not been in the best of form recently, although her smug demeanor would seem to always say otherwise. Three consecutive defeats to NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte across NXT and Main Event will not rattle the confident Boss, but will lead to many questioning whether she can ever get the better of the Nature Girl. Tonight though she’ll have her hands full with another blonde combatant in the petite form of Alexa Bliss.

Highlights

Apparently Bliss had her nose broken in a match against Banks a few weeks ago – taking her lumps like a champ

The pixie form clearly hiding Bliss’ aggressive passion

Banks reversing a headscissors into a strong backbreaker

Bliss with some impressive pinning combinations

Banks blocking Bliss in the corner and moving straight into the double knees to the gut

Crowd Reaction

Crowd pretty silent throughout, whenever they perked up was to do with Banks’ actions

Low Points

Far too short and far too little of Bliss’ offense that isn’t pins

Finish

Banks locks up Bliss in the Bank Statement for the submission victory

A short match that was good for what it was, an exposition of Banks’ viciousness and attitude. Bliss is yet to be given an extended opportunity to demonstrate the athleticism we have witnessed in short bursts to their fullest potential. At the moment among the women in NXT she is the one being lost in the shuffle, and that includes Blue Pants. But, at the moment it is Banks’ time to be pushed towards the top, and maybe she and Becky Lynch will be able to get their hands on Charlotte again soon.

Rating – 2/5

Tyler Breeze vs. Chad Gable

Tyler Breeze always seems to disappear for extended periods on NXT, likely due to his commitments with the main roster at live events. But, he makes a rare appearance tonight in battling Chad Gable, an amateur wrestling champion and a competitor in the 2012 Olympic games. Whether he can make an impact on the NXT roster is another question, but it doesn’t start off much more challenging than Tyler Breeze and his deadly Beauty Shot.

Highlights

Breeze definitely knows how to talk, and loves doing it

“How would Gable feel as the Olympic athlete is being out-wrestled by a professional model?”

Gable launching a good offense on the arm, quite inventive armbar hanging over the top rope

Crowd Reaction

Crowd heavily behind Gable, clearly impressed with his Olympic acumen

Low Points

Very short match once again, but was only designed to be a squash

Finish

Breeze connects with the Beauty Shot for the pin.

Gable impressed me with the small amount of offense he put in. The crowd got behind him for his Olympic exploits and Breeze’s heel status. His attack on the arm was really well strung together, and went from one move to the next seamlessly. He might have a good future with the right gimmick. But Breeze was the outright favorite and pulled out another victory. Yet, he is lacking clear direction at the moment, so it will be interesting to see his next move.

Rating – 2/5

The Lucha Dragons vs. The Vaudevillains (NXT Tag Team Championships)

The main event of the evening is both personal and with gold on the line. At R Evolution, The Vaudevillains were bested in their attempts to capture the NXT Tag Team Championships by the Lucha Dragons. But treachery was afoot, as video replays suggested that Simon Gotch, who was pinned by Kalisto at the climax, was not the legal man, and thus the result should be voided. William Regal agreed that they would get a title shot again tonight, and the nefarious variety stars added fuel last week by assaulting the champs after their match.

Highlights

The Dragons’ Wheelbarrow Senton always looks good

A Gory Special by Sin Cara

Schoolboy through the bottom ropes by English on Sin Cara, but only leads to a Double Suicide Dive by the Dragons

Old school tag team style by the Vaudevillains

A headscissor and hot tag to Sin Cara by Kalisto at the same time

Sunset bomb off the top rope by Sin Cara

Crowd Reaction

Chants of “Lucha” whenever the Dragons make their arrival

Pretty quiet overall, but picked up towards the end with the Dragons quickening the offense

Low Points

Missed dropkick early on by Kalisto

Gotch’s knee drops looking a little weak

Finish

Sin Cara lifts Aiden English into a one-arm powerbomb and Kalisto connects with a springboard spinning clothesline to get the pinfall and retain the titles.

A good match to end the show as the Dragons continue their reign, and for the moment it seems to be the right decision. The Vaudevillains should be champions soon due to their great chemistry, gimmick and old school style. Both performed very well in the match and work phenomenally together. But, the speed and talent of both Kalisto and Sin Cara impresses me more and more every match, as they can pull out victories in numerous ways and excite the crowd. Kalisto will be a great addition to the main roster, and this team would certainly blossom their as well.

Rating – 3/5

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