In one of the most hectic and packed NXT cards in its short but memorable history, the new NXT Champion Finn Balor returns to Full Sail University. The Irishman gets the chance to revel in his stunning victory at Beast in the East over Kevin Owens, but will not be allowed to celebrate long. With the rematch set between the two superstars at Takeover: Brooklyn, General Manager William Regal oversees a contract signing for that match. What could possibly go wrong with these combustible elements in the same ring for the first time since the title changed hands?
The NXT women’s division was also given significant exposure, following the successful debut of many of its former stars on the main roster. Now appears the perfect time for those still in developmental to step up and live up to the standards set by these extraordinary women. Thus, Bayley returns from injury to battle old rival Emma, with Dana Brooke stalking ringside, and Eva Marie makes her highly touted re-debut in NXT, facing Cassie.
Filling the remainder of the card, Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin competed in their typical squash matches, and the Vaudevillains prepared for their NXT Tag Team Championship shot in a clash with Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton.
- Eva Marie defeats Cassie
- Baron Corbin defeats Jobber
- Samoa Joe defeats Mike Rallis
- Bayley defeats Emma
- The Vaudevillains defeat Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton
NXT Champion Finn Balor Celebrates
Beast in the East was an excellent and unique event for WWE, and its featured contest was a superb clash for the NXT Championship. This resulted in Finn Balor overcoming Kevin Owens to earn his first gold in WWE in his second home of Japan, and cap off an excellent first year in the developmental territory. The Irishman returned to Full Sail University to a rapturous reception from the fans, who were delighted to see their new standard bearer in the flesh for the first time.
Balor talked about the difficult decision to leave his successes in Japan behind and join the revolution in NXT, but that every sacrifice and choice made was worth it as soon as he clasped the coveted gold of the NXT Championship. However, he will have to endure a rematch against Owens at Takeover: Brooklyn to ensure his reign is not a short one. And whilst Balor recognized the numerous accomplishments of his upcoming opponent, he was not intimidated by the challenge. The pair would meet later in the night in a contract signing for that encounter.
Eva Marie vs Cassie
https://youtu.be/6Az3HQcreGoFor months, Eva Marie has been training with Brian Kendrick to make her in-ring return in NXT. The redhead’s original run was marred with criticism from fans and fellow wrestlers for her lack of skill and selling, which made many roll their eyes at the thoughts of her invading NXT. Her exposure on Total Divas has just added to this intrigue, as she has seemingly lost any support from the Divas locker room for her lack of desire for the wrestling business. Would she bite back with a solid performance here against newcomer Cassie.
Some of Cassie’s kicks are really inventive
Eva might say she’s improved, but clearly the NXT fans were going to take a lot of convincing based on her reaction from the audience – clearly a strong proportion are behind her cause
It pains me to say it, but I wasn’t into a lot of Eva’s offense – maybe I expected too much
After being conditioned for so long to love women’s wrestling on NXT, this is a future I’m going to need to work hard to get used to
Eva triumphs after hitting Sliced Bread on Cassie
Well, that was not the sparkling return Eva Marie probably envisioned. Now, it might only because it’s her first match back and she was suffering from nerves, which is understandable. But, after seeing some of her training with Brian Kendrick, I was expecting a little more. Not moonsaults or suicide dives, but this was her chance to make another first impression, and I wasn’t impressed. She still looks like she second-guesses herself a lot, and can’t find the right balance between trying too hard and hardly trying. I’m not happy about it, but Eva and Cassie were rough tonight.
Rating – 1.5/5
Baron Corbin vs Jobber
Baron Corbin: just what you look forward to after a lackluster opening contest. The giant bruiser has maintained an air of dominance ever since WrestleMania, squashing enhancement talent on a nightly basis, which has become stale and repetitive. Sadly, it appeared fans would have to endure the same against a nobody opponent.
At least it was over quickly
Probably their only reaction was disappointment for blinking and missing the whole contest
Would have been a challenge to botch a spot in less than ten seconds worth of action
Corbin throws his victim against the ropes and hits the End of Days for the win
There is something about Baron Corbin that makes me firmly believe that he has the potential to be something big in WWE’s future. But these endless series of squash matches lasting mere seconds is ruining him for me. Now whenever I see him appear on stage I fast forward a minute to see if his hand is already being raised, and most times I’m correct. Corbin needs a feud, otherwise he might as well not be around.
Rating – 0.5/5
Samoa Joe vs Mike Rallis
In another match that looks likely to be over faster than a microwave dinner cooks, Samoa Joe is in the building. With a much-needed new entrance music that suits his style far better than the old one, Joe has been making waves by decimating enhancement talent. However, he is another lacking direction or a clear rivalry moving forward, and this bout with Mike Rallis doesn’t feel like it’s going to change that situation anytime soon.
Loved Corey Graves’ commentary, referring to Joe as a “walking weapon”
The splash in the corner followed by the leaping kick to the head by Joe never gets old
The wholesome “Joe is gonna kill you” chants fill the arena
Again it was very short, and Rallis was simply a name to be dismantled by Joe
Joe connects with a brutal Muscle Buster to defeat Rallis with ease.
A second consecutive squash match isn’t exactly making this episode amazing, but at least Samoa Joe hasn’t been in NXT long enough for his to get boring. Joe, unlike Baron Corbin, has a reputation built upon amazing matches, so when he squashes opponents one week he could easily follow up with a classic the next. So, I am definitely looking forward to his upcoming clash with Rhyno, as the pair had solid chemistry in TNA and will provide a physical contest.
Rating – 2/5
Bayley vs Emma
The second women’s match of the night had a lot more promise of success, featuring a very popular return for the beloved Bayley. Whilst she was the only member of NXT’s Four Horsewomen not to be promoted to the main roster just over a week ago, this is a fantastic opportunity for the huggable Diva to cement herself as the new face of the developmental roster’s famed women’s division. And she began to take strides in that direction tonight against the devilish Emma.
I liked the opening feigning by Emma to use a foreign object on the taped hand of Bayley
Bayley now doing an equivalent of “Hulking up” when her head is bashed against the turnbuckle
Bayley showing some more aggression and passion in every strike or maneuver she lands
Bayley is the most popular woman in WWE currently, no question in my mind
Whilst I was pleased with Dana Brooke’s actions in helping Emma and hurting Bayley from ringside, her voice does grate quite a bit when she shouts
Bayley lands the Bayley-2-Belly to register a return victory over Emma. After the match she expressed her desire to be NXT Women’s Champion and the best, so she challenged Charlotte for a match to prove it
I’m very happy to see Bayley back in an NXT ring, and whilst she would have fit in perfectly as one of the women promoted to the main roster, this is the chance she has waited for to be a deserved champion. This victory over Emma is a catalyst for what I presume will be brighter things for Bayley, and a match against Charlotte will prove whether or not she has what it takes to become the NXT Women’s Champion in the near future.
Rating – 3/5
The Vaudevillains vs Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton
A few weeks ago, the Vaudevillains stamped themselves as the number one contenders for Blake & Murphy’s NXT Championship with a win over Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. Their team has been together for a while, as both Aiden English and Simon Gotch have steadily grown in ability and popularity. Before their clash with the coveted belts on the line, they had the opportunity to warm-up against Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton, who were defeated handily by the champs last week.
Loved the leap over the top rope into a jackknife cover by Gotch
Dawkins and Fulton to their credit are developing into a strong unit – Dawkins having an excellent leap for a dropkick
Gotch pulling his foot into the head of Dawkins to escape a backdrop was bizarre but effective
Some new moves being pulled out by the Vaudevillains, really impressive
“That was manly” – the Vaudevillains have some of the most unique chants associated with them
This was a really good match, although short, but other than that no complaints
The Vaudevillains combine for the Whirling Dervish to defeat Dawkins & Fulton
The NXT Tag Champions Blake & Murphy, as even if the Vaudevillains don’t capture the titles, this performance put the champs’ recent matches to shame. Aiden English and Simon Gotch looked hungry to impress and show they can wrestle as well as entertain with their gimmick, and pulled out some odd but special moves that could help get them over as potential champions. Whilst I felt their in-ring ability had cost them in recent months, this showing has completely restored my confidence in the Vaudevillains to hang with the best WWE has to offer.
Rating – 3/5
NXT Championship Contract Signing
NXT General Manager William Regal stood in the ring, announcing the main event of Takeover: Brooklyn as Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship. The competitors were then announced, Owens first marching to the ring with a scowl on his face. It hasn’t been the best few weeks for the former champion, after losing his prized title to Balor at Beast in the East, and then failing to win the United States Championship against John Cena at WWE Battleground. Following him was the champ Balor, clutching his glorious belt with pride.
Owens talked up the significance of this main event clash, and taunted the Full Sail crowd by reminding them it was taking place in Brooklyn instead of there, which was a nice touch. He stated that Balor will still be considered the underdog in spite of being the champion, and that his accomplishments in his first six months in the company speak for themselves. Owens is out to prove Japan was nothing more than a fluke, and he was taking his title back and taking Balor out in the process. Balor words were fewer but just as poignant, as he declared he was going to shove all of Owens’ words down his throat and retain his title.
Then came the mainstay of the WWE contract signing – a good old-fashioned brawl. Owens flipped the table towards Balor, using the distraction to assault him, and giving Regal a strike for good measure. But Balor fought back, sending Owens out of the ring twice with a forearm and dropkick, and the challenger retreated to the stage, with the champion standing tall at the end of the show.