With the memory of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes still fresh in the minds for many fans, the show that he helped grow continued onward. And NXT offered a major heavyweight clash for their main event, as the brand’s biggest star met the newest shark to enter the crowded ocean of developmental. NXT Champion Kevin Owens, fresh off crippling John Cena with a powerbomb against the ring apron after his defeat at Money in the Bank, would meet the man who confronted him at Takeover: Unstoppable. Samoa Joe has made no secret of his desire to fight Owens in the ring, and this week receives his opportunity.
Also on the card is a bout fueled over the contentious ending to the NXT Tag Team Championship match at Takeover. Alexa Bliss shocked everybody by turning heel and aligning herself to Blake & Murphy, allowing them to retain their titles. This has not sat well with the brash and popular challengers, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, who are still in hot pursuit of the gold and along with Carmella meet the nefarious trio in a six-person tag match.
Additionally, Charlotte adds some Flair to this edition of NXT when she tangles with an up-and-coming diva, Cassie McIntosh. And there is a feature examining the background and history behind the current number one contender for the NXT Championship, Finn Balor.
- Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady & Carmella defeat Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss
- Charlotte defeats Cassie McIntosh
- Kevin Owens vs Samoa Joe ends in a double disqualification
Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady & Carmella vs Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss
The NXT Tag Team Championships continue to be in the eyesight of Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, still fuming over the events that led to their defeat at Takeover: Unstoppable. Their loss was due to the interference of Alexa Bliss, who turned against the fans to side with “winners” in the form of Blake & Murphy. With the belts firmly in their possession for now, Enzo & Cass are not giving up their pursuit lightly. So, in a bid to put themselves in position for another shot at the gold, they and Carmella battled the champs and Bliss in a six-person tag.
I liked how Carmella was given the microphone for a pre-match promo, and she handled the job well
After being schooled in the early moments of the match, Enzo dances on the back of Blake to send a message
The action breaks loose and all six fight in the ring, getting a big positive crowd reaction
Bliss getting cheap shots in on Enzo when he is trapped in hostile territory
Both Carmella and Big Cass getting the crowd pumped up with their hot tags
“You look stupid” – directed at Blake, but difficult to tell when Enzo is his opponent
Audience firmly behind Enzo in particular throughout the match
Generic work by Blake & Murphy – they are struggling to stand out
Enzo and Cass combine for an aided big splash to pin Blake
This was a decent match, but perhaps could have been more. But, one thing for certain is the more I see of Blake & Murphy, the less impressed I get. They looked really promising a few months ago, performing excellent maneuvers against the Lucha Dragons, but in their most recent matches they have been so generic. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady have personality, and both can get it done in the ring, albeit in an unorthodox fashion. But it makes them unique characters, and this is a lesson the current NXT Tag Team Champions ought to learn fast.
Rating – 2.5/5
Finn Balor Feature
One thing NXT does exceptionally well on a consistent basis is explore the history and motivations of their performers, and uses that to encourage the fans to connect to them on a deeper, emotional level. That is what took place this week in an extended feature exploring the makings of Finn Balor. It covered his family and early years back in Ireland, his reasons for getting into the wrestling industry, and the stages of his rise from the independent scene in the UK into New Japan Pro Wrestling.
This was an exceptional and interesting piece into who Balor was and what he stands for. They used his real name, Fergal Devitt, throughout the feature which was an added touch of realism, and it was refreshing to see his inspirations and early forays into professional wrestling if you were less familiar with him. The addition of Becky Lynch was also a bonus, as she clearly has nothing but respect and admiration for her fellow countryman, and the training academy Balor opened in Bray, Ireland allowed her to get to this point in her career. It was an upbeat and focused look into his past that really added layers to his character, so kudos on NXT and WWE for constructing this. If and when he wins the NXT Championship in future, it will mean so much more because of this vignette.
Charlotte vs Cassie McIntosh
The NXT women’s division continues to grow both in stature and numbers week after week, and the latest addition stepped into the ring on this edition to battle one of the best the brand has to offer. Charlotte, the former NXT Women’s Champion and all-around polished athlete, competed against Cassie McIntosh, a recent trainee who is making the step onto television. The Australian was hoping to make an early statement in her career, and Charlotte would not want to take her lightly or get caught up in her conflicts with Dana Brooke.
Charlotte offering an early high-five out of respect for Cassie, only to fake out of it
Cassie showing some skill with a hurricanrana followed by a running spin kick in the corner
The Charlotte’s Web pin attempt is an awesome visual
Huge spear by Charlotte that sends Cassie flying
The crowd “Wooing” after every shot that Charlotte lands
Both ladies getting solid support and enthusiasm from the crowd
Cassie could do with a little more training in how to run the ropes
Charlotte locks in the Figure-Eight leglock, which forces Cassie to tap out
Squash matches are not uncommon in NXT and most are forgettable, but I was impressed with what I saw of Cassie in her brief time on top. Besides some issues running the ropes, she pushed Charlotte and has plenty of tools to put on some competitive matches with the ladies on the roster. But, at this point in time the Nature Girl is in a class above, and leading into her rivalry with Dana Brooke needed this victory. It is good to still see her here in all honesty, as I expected Charlotte to be on the main roster months ago.
Rating – 2.5/5
Kevin Owens vs Samoa Joe
At Takeover: Unstoppable, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joes locked eyes for the first time in an NXT ring amidst an electric atmosphere. Since that moment, the NXT Champion has been avoiding a physical confrontation with the latest addition to the roster, and said that Joe hadn’t earned a shot following the Samoan’s debut victory last week. However, NXT General Manager disagreed, and being a man of the people gave the fans what they wanted, throwing together Owens and Joe in this main event.
Owens trying to take is usual early match stroll at ringside is met immediately by Joe staring him down
Joe’s flurry of punches take the wind out of Owens in the corner
Huge back elbow in the corner by Joe followed by his twisting enziguri, then followed by a face wash
The running cannonball in the corner by Owens on Joe looked impressive
Joe connects with a flying kick to the head of Owens
Fans chanting “This is awesome” after only the first lock-up due to the excitement surrounding this match
The crowd into both superstars, especially Joe considering his babyface status
“Headlock City” – that is right next to Suplex City
It won’t be their last tango, so they held back a little, but for very good reasons
After Joe breaks free of an attempted powerbomb against the ring apron by Owens, the two collide into the referee when beating each other up, leading to a double disqualification. The superstars continue to brawl until security arrives to break them up, with Owens the one eventually retreating to the back
Unsurprisingly, there was a false finish that protected both of the reputations of the superstars, but the action preceding it was excellent. Samoa Joe is being made to look like the only man that can withstand the physicality of Kevin Owens and then give him as much fight in return. But this is an important step for Owens in his development, and should lead to some more excellent battles between the pair. This was just an appetizer to what will undoubtedly be a very physical feud.
Rating – 3/5