One week removed from the epic NXT Takeover: Rival live special, a noticeable shift has occurred at Full Sail University, as every championship has changed hands in the past month. The most prominent of these, the NXT Championship, now adorns the shoulder of Kevin Owens, after his relentlessly brutal assault of Sami Zayn forced the referee to stop the match. Owens now sits atop the roster as its champion only two months since debuting, and despite his domination of Zayn, he will undoubtedly have a huge target on his back for a line of hungry challengers. As for tonight, Owens would take on an opponent more keen for revenge in Adrian Neville.
Another new champion down at the Performance Center is Sasha Banks. The Boss now has the belt to fit that claim, as she outlasted Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch to capture her first title. The amazing contest now gives her a solid foundation for being the best women’s wrestler in the whole of WWE. On this edition of NXT, she takes on the returning “Blue Pants” Leva Bates.
As for the remainder of the card, it features Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady battling the Vaudevillains with potential Tag Team Championship implications, Solomon Crowe makes a long-awaited debut, and the return of an ECW legend gets the crowd rocking.
- Rhyno defeats Elias Sampson
- Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady defeat The Vaudevillains
- Sasha Banks defeats “Blue Pants” Leva Bates
- Kevin Owens defeats Adrian Neville
Kevin Owens Promo
General Manager William Regal, clearly despondent over recent events, confirms Kevin Owens’ title win was legitimate, and that the so-called prizefighter would take on Adrian Neville later in the evening. This brings Owens out to the ring, the new NXT Champion receiving a mixed reaction from the crowd. He has carried over a devoted fan following from his travels and time in ROH, but many have turned on him due to the manner in which he carried out his win over Sami Zayn.
Owens outright states that nobody should be critical of the means in which he won the NXT Championship, clarifying that he would fight anyone at any time to make a better life for him and his family. Owens continues to say that Zayn is now the past, and it is time to look to the future – Finn Balor. He simply reiterates that Balor will suffer the same fate as Zayn, as nobody is going to take the belt away from Owens or his family.
It was a short and sweet promo that did all it needed to do. Owens is a very unique heel, as he takes a stance that many people can relate to, which is to do whatever it takes to support your family. Although his vicious attack of Zayn with little remorse can hardly be ignored, Owens is not a typical bad guy, but simply somebody who will go to any means in order to provide the best life for those he cares about. Hopefully, this adds an interesting perspective to his reign, as he desperately clings onto his better life.
Rhyno vs. Elias Sampson
Whilst NXT is the place where fans get to glimpse into the future, occasionally it pays homage to the past as well. Prevalent stars of the past in WWE have performed at Full Sail University, including Too Cool, Rob Van Dam, and current General Manager William Regal. This week, it is a legend of ECW that makes a rare appearance, as the final champion of the company Rhyno battles Elias Sampson
Rhino is in the building, so it’s all highlights as far as I’m concerned
The crowd popped hugely for Rhino, shocked at his arrival and desperate to witness a Gore
It wasn’t exactly long or very flattering to Sampson
Rhyno scores the victory with his patented Gore
This is a great way to get the crowd excited in the early stages of a show, as the audience popped for Rhyno’s surprising return. This passionate wrestling audience really appreciates the return of past superstars, and Rhyno’s explosive win just got the episode off to a rocking start.
Rating – 2/5 (simply because it’s Rhyno)
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains
With Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy now the top tandem in NXT, the focus is on finding the top challengers for their belts. Back-to-back victories over the Lucha Dragons likely places the masked duo at the back of the queue, leaving the spot as number one contenders open. Thus, two of the most established teams on the roster will battle to gain the attention of William Regal for that opportunity, with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady battling the Vaudevillains.
Excellent teamwork by the Vaudevillains throughout in isolating Amore
Crowd as per usual hanging on every word of the Amore & Cassady promo
“How you doin’?” – homage to the non-SAWFT pairing
Again another extremely short match
Amore covers English after Cassady lays him out with a big boot. Post-match Blake & Murphy appear on the titantron calling out the Jersey pair and hitting on Carmella
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady certainly make sense as potential challengers for Blake & Murphy’s titles. Their great popularity with the NXT fans would make this match an extremely popular contest, although from a wrestling standpoint questions will remain. This match was kept decidedly short, potentially in order to paper over the flaws in Amore in the ring. But in order to get the crowd interested in the tag team division, there are few better to turn to than the fun Jersey partnership.
Rating – 2/5
CJ Parker Hijacks NXT; Solomon Crowe Debut
The Eco Warrior CJ Parker storms down to the ring in a very foul mood, grabbing the microphone to complain about not being placed on the card for Takeover: Rival. He displays his hate for the fans and NXT as a whole, and unleashes a master plan to end the show by taking it hostage. Parker pulls out some tape from around his customary sign and proceeds to wrap the entire ring up with the stuff.
Suddenly, the titantron and TV projection seems to malfunction, showing an error sign and the color bars. Music then plays as Solomon Crowe makes his long-awaited debut, assaulting Parker from behind, taking him down with a flurry of offense. Parker has little response to the unexpected assault, Crowe dropping him with forearms and a unique splash as the crowd chants their approval. Crowe grabs the microphone, stating that they are now returning to the regularly scheduled programming, before darting out of the ring. A solid impact for Crowe on his debut, as a match with Parker looks to be first up for the hacker.
Sasha Banks vs. “Blue Pants” Leva Bates
At Takeover: Rival, Sasha Banks finally became the Boss that she has always claimed to be. In a fantastic match against Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch, Banks stood tall over all her opponents, capturing the NXT Women’s Championship by pinning the Nature Girl herself. After months of near misses and disappointment, she finally rules over the exciting women’s division in NXT, a role that her performances have richly deserved. Tonight in Banks’ first match as champion, she battles the cult figure “Blue Pants” Leva Bates.
Banks opens the ropes for Bates to get out of her ring, but is instead kicked out to ringside
Banks purposely lifting up a pin attempt to demonstrate her control of the bout
“Let’s go Sasha! Let’s go Blue Pants!” – crowd split due to the popularity of Blue Pants
Crowd popping every time Bates catches Banks in a quick pin
Again a short squash, but I guess it was never going to be anything more
Banks locks Bates in the Bank Statement crossface submission, forcing her to tap out. She then has a post-match promo, saying she will force everybody to admit that Banks is the baddest diva in NXT.
Obviously, now as champion, it was unlikely that Sasha Banks was going to struggle against Blue Pants. It was quick and showed off the new champ’s dominance of the ring, placing her as the alpha female in the industry. Still, we can look forward to longer and better matches with her in charge against the likes of Charlotte, Bayley and Alexa Bliss. As for Blue Pants, she has a popular cult following now, and may see a contract coming her way if she continues to impress.
Rating – 1.5/5
Kevin Owens vs. Adrian Neville
The main event should have all the makings of a classic, considering the time afforded and the combatants involved. Kevin Owens is thrown to the wolves in his first match as NXT Champion, battling the man that held that belt longer than anybody else in history in Adrian Neville. Neville was on the receiving end of a post-match assault from Owens in only his second match a few months ago, meaning that he is desperate for revenge. And, if his match against Finn Balor is any indication of how good this bout may be, the fans are in for an excellent showing.
Gutbuster by Owens straight into a running senton
Owens catches Neville spring-boarding into a fireman’s carry, only to see that be reversed into a DDT
Moonsault off the top rope by Neville onto Owens at ringside
450 splash by Neville off the apron onto a prone Owens on the floor
A dead-lift German suplex by Neville with a bridge on Owens – this man’s core strength is unparalleled
Reverse headscissors by Neville spiking Owens’ head into the canvas
“Fight Owens Fight” rings around the arena as the champion takes control
Crowd really split between the two competitors – Owens seemingly more a tweener now than a heel
“You’re a coward!” – aimed at Owens often heading outside the ring for safety
Never any chance of any of these occurring was there?
Owens connects with a Pop-Up Powerbomb with tremendous elevation to defeat Neville
Adrian Neville is an absolute phenomenon, no question about it. Although the crowd has often turned against him in recent contests in favor of people like Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and even this match with Kevin Owens, he continues to excel in the ring. His arsenal of maneuvers, agility and attention to detail is utterly tremendous. However, Owens looked strong in victory, dominating most of the first half of the match with his power and brawling nature. He looks comfortable when dishing out punishment, which is exactly how it should be. Hopefully these two will wrestle again soon, because that was an emphatic encounter.
Rating – 4.5/5