NXT Recap: April 15th 2015

NXT features both a debut and a long-awaited return in its latest edition, but with new faces the ravenous crowd will be more curious than ever. The main event should leave them in too much doubt, as it features two stars with years of experience. Sami Zayn returns from the beating he withstood in losing his NXT Championship to Kevin Owens, and already has his former best friend in his sights. Yet, he will first have to overcome the recently returned Man-Beast Rhyno, who also has designs on the coveted title.

Also, making her debut in NXT after weeks of vignettes is Dana Brooke. A blend of sex appeal and physicality, the so-called “Total Diva” has a strong career in bodybuilding, finishing thirteenth at the recent Arnold Sports Festival. The credentials and look are spot on, so hopefully they translate well to the ring as she battles cult figure Blue Pants.

In the night’s other matches, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady continue to pursue the Tag Team Championships when they face Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton, Solomon Crowe competes against CJ Parker, and Baron Corbin resumes adding victims to his ever-growing list.

Quick Results

  • Solomon Crowe defeats CJ Parker
  • Baron Corbin defeats Steve Cutler
  • Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady defeat Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton
  • Dana Brooke defeats “Blue Pants” Leva Bates
  • Sami Zayn defeats Rhyno

Solomon Crowe vs CJ Parker

Solomon Crowe recently made his presence felt on NXT a couple of months ago after an extensive period of time having a gimmick prepared for television. In the infancy of his career, Crowe has so far only dealt with a single opponent in the eco-warrior CJ Parker. Parker is a good hand to shine against, and with him departing WWE for the time being, it would be highly surprising should he upset one of NXT’s latest additions on the way out.

Highlights

Nice springboard clothesline by Crowe, knocking Parker from the apron to the floor, followed by a suicide dive through the bottom rope

Parker getting his foot up in the corner, nearly decapitating a charging Crowe

A clothesline from Parker turning Crowe inside out, followed by a high kick to the face

Crowe blocking a senton attempt by Parker by lifting him away with his legs

Crowd Reaction

The audience firmly behind Crowe for the most part, but a small pocket chanting for Parker

Low Points

Nothing major to report here

Finish

Crowe dives from the top rope onto Parker’s leg, then placing him in a stretch muffler for a submission victory

This was a good match, a great improvement on Crowe’s debut. I hope he doesn’t go back to using that slingshot headbutt as a finisher as it really didn’t look effective enough, whilst this submission definitely fits his unstable, physical style. There is still room for improvement, and no doubt Parker certainly helped make his opponent look as good as possible. I’m going to miss the eco-warrior, as I feel he could have easily been pushed harder than he was, and hopefully Parker will return fresh and full of fire should he ever return.

Rating – 3/5

Baron Corbin vs Steve Cutler

It has been quite a while since Baron Corbin appeared on television, but one thing remains secure: one shouldn’t expect a long match when he’s competing. Corbin’s opponent, Steve Cutler, had better be ready to become very familiar with the canvas.

Highlights

It’s a Baron Corbin match – two moves don’t often lead to highlights

Crowd Reaction

The crowd counting the seconds it takes for Corbin’s inevitable win

Low Points

Just this is becoming pretty stale now – surely Corbin is ready for a feud?

Finish

Corbin hits the End of Days within thirty seconds to earn a simple victory.

It really isn’t interesting anymore to see Baron Corbin just quickly decimate nothing opponents in meaningless filler matches. This suggests he is a massive force to be reckoned with, but he’s already lost matches to established main event talent like Adrian Neville and Finn Balor. So, currently he is a Piranha picking on goldfish rather than going head-on with the sharks. Hopefully this changes soon, as more fans will become uninterested quickly.

Rating – 1/5

Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton

Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady are pushing hard to establish themselves as the number one contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championship, and are hoping for another triumph on their way against Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton. The popular New Jersey natives need wins in preparation for their upcoming battle against Blake & Murphy over the belts, whilst the champs seem more interested in Carmella than their rivals.

Highlights

Whenever Amore and Cassady speak, the audience is like putty in their hands – it is supreme mic work

Great double-team, as Cassady lifts Amore into a flying clothesline on Fulton in the corner

Blake & Murphy come out to ringside to offer Carmella some flowers, which she gladly accepts

Crowd Reaction

“How you doin’?” – the calling card of Amore and Big Cass

“Bonafide Stud! Certified G!” – fans firmly behind Amore

Low Points

The attention paid to Blake & Murphy took away from the attack of Dawkins & Fulton

Finish

A decent tag team match – Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady’s skill on the microphone doesn’t translate as well into the ring unfortunately. But, their extreme popularity means that fans will be willing to forgive any crudeness. As for Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton, they have potential with regards to their ring-work, and will hopefully get chances to show more character in future. But it is now the time of the totally non-Sawft tandem.

Rating – 2/5

Dana Brooke vs “Blue Pants” Leva Bates

A debut that has been touted for the past month, Dana Brooke makes her first appearance in NXT. Packaged as the Total Diva due to her bodybuilding acumen and appearance, she has a lot of competition to prove that statement correct. The women’s division in NXT is arguably the best in the world currently with Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch standout names. Brooke’s first test is a bout against one of the roster’s cult figures, Blue Pants.

Highlights

Brooke immediately showing aggression, and almost disdain for the imperfections of her opponent

Blue Pants fighting back with high kicks to the face of Brooke

Crowd Reaction

Fans firmly behind Blue Pants as they have been throughout her time in NXT

“You Can’t Wrestle” – directed towards Brooke, which seems a little harsh

Low Points

Brooke appeared to be missing her punches by a distance – perhaps first-match nerves

Finish

Brooke scores a debut win with a Samoan Driver on Blue Pants

It was an inauspicious start to her career for Dana Brooke. I don’t think the crowd took to her very well, but that’s maybe the point. She is been made out to be the perfect specimen of what a woman can be physically, and that would rub people up the wrong way. I believe she will work as a heel, and in time with some experience under her belt Brooke can become a big part of the roster. Let’s face it, Trish Stratus took time to hone her skills, so I’ll give Brooke the benefit of the doubt for now.

Rating – 2/5

Sami Zayn vs Rhyno

The main event of the evening is likely one that few would have expected at the start of 2015, but are glad it will actually take place. Sami Zayn has been through the ringer in recent months, suffering at the hands of former best friend and current NXT Champion Kevin Owens. Now he is back and owed a rematch, but other competitors remain interested in the biggest prize on the brand. One of those is a veteran that wishes to show he still has the better of NXT’s young stars, and that is Rhyno. Will the Man-Beast Gore Zayn out of commission for even longer?

Highlights

Great headscissors takedown by Zayn getting Rhyno off his game early on

Zayn takes Rhyno down with a dropkick, only to have that immediately responded to by a wicked clothesline

Huge Arn Anderson spinebuster by Rhyno dropping Zayn on the back of his head

Zayn appears to be out on his feet when pushed down by Rhyno, but fires back with a flurry of punches

Impressive Blue Thunder bomb on the much larger Man-Beast

Rhyno catches Zayn flying in with a crossbody, and hits a fireman’s carry cutter for a near-fall

Crowd Reaction

The fans are slightly split, but more towards the side of Sami Zayn with the “Ole”

“This is awesome” chants between the popular Zayn and veteran Rhyno

“Gore” chants mixed with “No” chants from the split audience

Low Points

Very few – these two worked supremely well together

Finish

Rhyno misses a Gore on Zayn, and when fatigued in the corner got hit with the Helluva Kick, giving Zayn the hard-fought victory.

An excellent match between the experienced competitors, that started off slow but really picked up steam towards the end. The fans were into both superstars, showing that Rhyno still carries a great deal of wait among the WWE Universe and could make a strong challenge for the NXT Championship going forward. But the money currently is with Sami Zayn chasing down Kevin Owens and fighting to reclaim the title that was wrenched from him. And hopefully matches like this one will keep coming along the way.

Rating – 4/5

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