Whilst the WWE wallows in some negative headlines in the past week, NXT once again provides a welcome haven for wrestling fans to unwind with some quality action. And after a shocking appearance of the Man-Beast Rhyno last week, another returning superstar came down to Full Sail University for a match, albeit with more hype. The Brian Kendrick would make a triumphant return, competing in the main event with Finn Balor. With Balor pushing for the NXT Championship of Kevin Owens, could he overcome Kendrick to build some important momentum?
Another highlight on the card would be a bout between Bayley and Becky Lynch. Ever since the Irishwoman turned on Bayley a few months ago, they have maintained a great deal of animosity towards each other. And with a new NXT Women’s Champion in Sasha Banks standing on top of the division, it is a great opportunity for either of these competitors to push themselves closer to a title match in the near future.
On the rest of the show, Hideo Itami battles Bull Dempsey in the opening contest, The Lucha Dragons take on the pairing of Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger, and Baron Corbin adds another victim to his ever-growing list.
- Hideo Itami defeats Bull Dempsey
- The Lucha Dragons defeat Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger
- Baron Corbin defeats Tye Dillinger
- Becky Lynch defeats Bayley
- Finn Balor defeats The Brian Kendrick
Hideo Itami vs. Bull Dempsey
In the opening match of the night, it would be a clash of styles played out before our very eyes. The agile, quick-footed Hideo Itami would go into battle with the sizable challenge of Bull Dempsey. Whilst Itami has been enjoying a good run of form, including a victory over Tyler Breeze at Takeover: Rival, Dempsey’s momentum has stalled at the hands of Baron Corbin. However he is battling an opponent much smaller tonight, although Itami’s heart and determination are a different prospect altogether.
Dempsey shaking off clotheslines like they were nothing before a standing splash to Itami
Crowd firmly behind Itami – who said that he struggles to connect with the audience?
“GTS! GTS!” – screamed by the audience when Itami chased down Breeze post-match
Seemed to be some moment of poor communication when Itami battled Dempsey in the corner
Very brief and the finish wasn’t built to well – surprised the crowd but not in a good way
Itami connects with a running kick to the face of Dempsey for the victory. Post-match Itami is hit with the Supermodel Kick by Tyler Breeze on the stage. But, as Breeze attempts to take a selfie of Itami’s fallen body with his selfie stick, the Japanese star chases him down to the ring, kicking him until Breeze escapes.
I’m a big fan of Hideo Itami, and whilst I can’t say the same about Bull Dempsey, he is still capable of putting on a solid match as the wrecking ball heel. But, this match was too short to really achieve anything good, and the booking seemed a little off. Dempsey was in control from the outset until the last minute when Itami turned the tables and got the victory. It just seemed a little sudden and rushed, with no real storytelling to speak of. A feud with Tyler Breeze though looks to be a great way to achieve some excellent wrestling.
Rating – 2/5
The Lucha Dragons vs. Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger
Although no longer in possession of the NXT Tag Team Championships, that hasn’t brought an end to the alliance of Kalisto and Sin Cara. They continue to be the Lucha Dragons, fighting on NXT and the odd excursion to Main Event in recent times, and have likely not given up hope of regaining the belts at some point. As for tonight, they face a team of superstars that pride themselves on their wrestling ability in Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger. Will they provide a shock to the Dragons like Blake & Murphy before them?
Jordan showing a lot of strength and intensity in the early going
Great storytelling by Dillinger as a cocky superstar looking to show how good he is
The chemistry of the Lucha Dragons can’t be ignored, and they really need a call-up soon
Pretty silent until the shocking departure of Jordan woke them up
Fans not being particularly into this match, perhaps the Lucha Dragons have achieved all they can in NXT
After ignoring calls from Jordan to make a tag, Dillinger heads over eventually only for his partner to walk out on him. Dillinger is then hit with Solita del Sol and a senton bomb to be pinned by Sin Cara.
This was a clear signal of a change in the air as Jordan steps away from his tag team partner. He was only in the match briefly, but I was impressed nonetheless with the intensity he showed in his early beating of Kalisto. But, in terms of a charismatic performance, Dillinger as this overtly self-assured performer that doesn’t take things too seriously can be a real contrast to this new focused Jordan. Only time will tell whether this leads to something special for either talent.
Rating – 2.5/5
Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger
We don’t have to wait long to hear Tye Dillinger’s response to the previous loss, as he stays in the ring and demands that Jordan explains his departure from their match. As the referee implores him to leave for the next match, Dillinger tells him that he will happily face and defeat whoever’s scheduled to compete. However, his expression changes significantly when Baron Corbin makes his way out from backstage to face the brash Dillinger, who went from angry to anxious in the blink of an eye.
Hard to get any in a match that consisted of two moves
Cheering for Corbin
Corbin scores the predictable victory with the End of Days.
It was a funny scene to see Tye Dillinger’s face change when Baron Corbin’s music hit and he skulked down to the ring. But, I would like to see the series of squash matches dry up fairly soon, although the crowd still seems to take an interest in it. However, if Corbin is ever going to rise through the ranks of the roster, he will need to show some competence in extended matches beyond the lackluster affair against Bull Dempsey at Takeover: Rival.
Rating – 1/5
Becky Lynch vs. Bayley
In a week where the importance of women’s wrestling has been placed under a microscope more than ever before, it is always good to turn to NXT. Here the ladies are given the time to perform for the audience, and more often than not excel in that role. This match features a rivalry that has yet to be fully decided for months, as Becky Lynch turned her back on Bayley in the search for success and recognition. But Bayley has not given up on gaining retribution for those actions, and will be desperate for a win in this bout.
Lynch using her flexibility to bridge out of a lateral press pin attempt
Excellent pumphandle suplex by Lynch throwing Bayley across the ring
Fantastic combination by Bayley of a drop toehold and raining down fists to the face of Lynch
Bayley’s popularity just about matches anybody on the NXT roster at the moment, male or female
Small portion of fans begin cheering for Lynch only to get booed
Very few of note due to the excellent back-and-forth, so any issues were well covered up
Preying on a shoulder hurt during the match, Lynch locked in a wrenching armbar on Bayley whilst straddling the joint, forcing her to submit.
A very good match between these two, demonstrating strong chemistry as rivals. This new aggressive side to Bayley adds a great deal to her late-match comeback, with some greater fire and intensity. She certainly played a big role in making this match solid, but Becky Lynch continues to impress me with her technical ability. Making her a submission specialist fits well with her hardcore and assertive character. The rest of the division should be on notice now the fiery redhead has found her swing.
Rating – 3/5
Finn Balor vs. The Brian Kendrick
The main event of the evening was hyped by the return of The Brian Kendrick to NXT. One half of the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in history, the odd Kendrick was last seen in the company in 2009. His return will likely be more testing than Rhyno’s last week, as he battles the Number One Contender to the NXT Championship, Finn Balor. Balor has become one of the biggest stars on the roster in his short time in developmental, his incredible body of matches and unique entrance have enthralled the crowd. With Kevin Owens scouting his opposition, Balor would be looking to keep momentum up before his opportunity at the belt.
Fantastic heel kick by Kendrick to the face of Balor
Whilst it slightly took away from the action in the ring, the argument between Owens and Alex Riley on commentary was really gripping
Excellent tornado DDT from the second rope from Kendrick spiking Balor
A double hook suplex from Kendrick with a bridge dropping Balor right on the back of his head
Bullet dropkick from Balor sending Kendrick into the turnbuckle always looks impressive
“Welcome back! Welcome back!” – directed at the returning Kendrick
“One more time!” – imploring Balor to connect with another chop to Kendrick
Kendrick seemed to tweak his ankle early on whilst attempting a spot, but quickly recovered
Balor earns the victory with a double foot stomp from the top rope onto Kendrick. After the match Owens returns to have a staredown from the ramp, and then the champion throws Alex Riley over the commentary table to the floor for his words earlier.
A solid match between Finn Balor and Brian Kendrick, although I maybe would have expected slightly more considering their respective abilities. Nonetheless it was entertaining, and even the misstep by Kendrick that saw him hurt his ankle didn’t stop them from producing a good match. However, the most compelling aspect of this segment was undoubtedly Kevin Owens and Alex Riley, first with a war of words on commentary and then the scuffle after the match. Whilst Balor will be the primary target for the champion, it will be interesting how this evolves in the coming weeks.
Rating – 3/5