NXT Recap: March 18th 2015

NXT heads on the road for the first time in it’s brief but celebrated history, as the tapings take place in Columbus, Ohio. This is new territory for the exciting stars of WWE’s developmental territory, and could set the tone for launching their brand across the world if handled correctly. With the talent and energy the men and women in that locker room possess, the chances of failure seem pretty slim.

The main event of the evening is a match features some animosity that has boiled over in recent weeks. NXT Champion Kevin Owens may have Finn Balor on the horizon and Sami Zayn in his peripheral vision, but his current issue is that of Alex Riley. The former commentator has laced up his boots for the first time in years due to the disrespect Owens has shown him and other competitors, and is looking to beat some humility into the champion. But in only his second match back in the ring, is Riley biting off more than he can chew this soon in the game?

As for the rest of this card on this special night in NXT’s history, NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks battles Alexa Bliss, Tyler Breeze faces Kalisto, and Wesley Blake and Colin Cassady square off ahead of a future NXT Tag Team Championship encounter.

Quick Results

  • Tyler Breeze defeats Kalisto
  • Wesley Blake defeats Colin Cassady
  • Alexa Bliss defeats Sasha Banks by count-out
  • Kevin Owens defeats Alex Riley

Tyler Breeze vs. Kalisto

The first match on the road for NXT should be a rapid affair, as Tyler Breeze takes on Kalisto. Breeze’s aggression has been bursting out in recent weeks, as he looks to climb back up the totem pole to the main event. As for Kalisto, this is a rare opportunity to shine as an individual without his Lucha Dragon partner Sin Cara by his side. All the components are certainly here for a fun match to get the audience excited for the night ahead.

Highlights

Amazing athleticism by Kalisto to dive over Breeze and land in a perfect handstand

Excellent dropkick by Breeze catching Kalisto as he springboarded into the ring

Love it when Breeze shouts at his opponent and referee, and credit to the audience for joining in on the fun

Excellent 450 Splash by Kalisto onto Breeze

Crowd Reaction

“Watch the face” – an ode to Tyler Breeze’s modelling good looks

“Lucha! Lucha!” – didn’t even need to be started by Kalisto due to his incredible ring skills

“Breeze is gorgeous”

Low Points

Attempted Supermodel Kick after a handspring by Kalisto didn’t land flush, but still looked pretty good

Finish

Breeze escapes the Solita del Sol, and connects with the Beauty Shot on Kalisto for the victory.

This match was exactly what it needed to be to get this night off correctly – it was really fun. The crowd were really into it, and that is mainly due to the behavior of Breeze. His interaction with Kalisto, the referee and the audience made it feel like a performance rather than just a technically sound encounter. The masked superstar was in fine form as well with his amazing agility and unique offense. Both can be proud of the contest they produced this evening.

Rating – 3.5/5

Wesley Blake vs. Colin Cassady

The next match is a prelude to some future tag team battles, as Blake & Murphy at the top of the division have some incoming competition from New Jersey. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady have made no bones about their intentions to take the NXT Tag Team Championships home, and Big Cass will attempt to make an early impact with a victory over Wesley Blake tonight.

Highlights

More a case of showmanship and the crowd getting behind Cass rather than a technical masterpiece

Very good springboard headbutt by Blake onto his larger opponent

Crowd Reaction

“This guy’s Sawft” – the fans clearly in agreement with Big Cass’s assertion about Blake

“How you doin’?” – if they were asking Blake at that moment, he probably wouldn’t have answered too favorably

Low Points

Nothing really stood out as special in this match, just seemed to be holding something back

Finish

Murphy attempts to distract Cass, and when Carmella attempts to get him down, Cass floors him with a boot. The brief distraction though allows Blake to get the roll-up pin, and Carmella is knocked off the apron, injuring her leg.

This was a decent match, although very little stood out as particularly special or memorable. In the end, the real stars of this match were the crowd, as they hung on every word of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady and chanted for the favorites throughout. Blake & Murphy may be the champions and very solid in the ring, but they do desperately require some more character development before they can get the fans more invested in the work they do, either as heels or babyfaces.

Rating – 2.5/5

Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

The amazing women of NXT get to take to the stage next, and who better to open up this special show than the best they have to offer. NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks has finally reached the pinnacle of the division after numerous attempts, and definitely belongs in that role. Although, she only managed to keep hold of the title thanks to some underhanded tactics against Charlotte. With Columbus native Alexa Bliss again fighting fit, The Boss will have a real fight on her hands.

Highlights

Banks with some trash-talking against the hometown girl when hitting her maneuvers

Really like how aggressive Banks makes her rest-holds look on opponents

Excellent transition from Bliss in the corner into a sunset flip

Crowd Reaction

A little muted, but got excited when Bliss kicked up the aggression towards the end

Low Points

An attempted drop toehold by Bliss on Banks looks a little sloppy.

Finish

Bliss throws Banks against the steel post outside the ring, and slides back in before the referee counts the champion out.

An okay match, although hampered by being both short and containing a few sloppy moments. Alexa Bliss definitely has a great deal of potential as a performer with her athleticism and speed, she just needs some more refinement in technique to get the balance right. Sasha Banks has that ability in bucket loads, but just didn’t really have time to push that to the fullest. The victory for Bliss though is a curve ball, and certainly demonstrates that those backstage see a big future for her in their divas division.

Rating – 2.5/5

Kevin Owens vs. Alex Riley

The main event is a feud that has boiled over really quickly over a commentary confrontation. Alex Riley had taken exception to Kevin Owens’ treatment of Sami Zayn in his pursuit of the NXT Championship. Whilst Owens has waxed lyrical about trying to push himself to the top as a means to support his family, Riley saw the vicious assault was a sign of his low character. This saw Riley get assaulted, and pushed him into a return to the ring after a lengthy absence. The only question is whether he is ready to take on the best NXT has to offer this soon.

Highlights

The aggression and animosity between the pair is tangible – really great storytelling from the outset

Owens dominating from top to bottom, his cannonball in the corner taking the wind out of Riley

The frustration and pure anger Owens demonstrates whenever Riley gets some offense over him is brilliant

Owens throwing Riley hard into the steel gates surrounding the ringside area

Crowd Reaction

“Kill Owens Kill” – Riley might question his methods, but the crowd seem to enjoy Owens’ style

“Mr. Wrestling” – reminder of the moniker Owens took in his days at ROH

Low Points

People really not buying into Riley’s underdog story, but that is their prerogative I guess

Finish

Owens floors Riley with the Pop-Up Powerbomb for a comprehensive victory. When he teases hitting a powerbomb against the ring apron, Finn Balor arrives to rescue Riley, beating Owens in the ring with a running dropkick, before the champion escapes.

This was a mauling, but told a really excellent story of a dominant heel decimating a man who was not ready for an opponent of Kevin Owens’ caliber just yet. However, it was kind of damaged by the fact that Owens was far more popular among the fans than Alex Riley, so couldn’t make him look like the monster heel WWE views him as. Perhaps a match with a more established and popular legend would have made a more fitting reflection. The Owens/Balor match should prove a more even and sound contest overall.

Rating – 3.5/5

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