From the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.
Sami Zayn vs. Adam Rose
Zayn works the arm to start, looking like he is getting his timing and legs back nicely. Rose slows him down with a chinlock and chops away, hitting a headbutt of the top for 2. He goes for a clothesline but Sami pulls him down and locks in the Koji Clutch for the submission. Match went a little too long for what it was, but it makes sense for Sami to not be steamrolling people so soon after an eight month absence.
Tonight, Samoa Joe takes on Johnny Gargano. Gargano is asked about the match tonight and he knows Joe isn’t happy about losing in London and is going to try and take it out on him, but he knows the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the mouth. A good babyface promo ends with Johnny promising not to back down.
Also tonight: Bayley and Carmella face Alexa Bliss and Emma.
NXT’s Greatest Tag Team are miffed (and rightly so, BY THE WAY) for not even being nominated for Tag Team of the Year, but Blake and Murphy were, even though they beat them in London. They challenge Blake and Murphy for a tag match next week. They know they are still going upwards and will soon be the alpha males of NXT, which leads to the creation of their new team name, American Alpha. I like my name better. These guys are absolute gold together if you haven’t noticed.
“The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger vs. Apollo Crews
The commentators bring up Apollo’s loss in London as his story has become overcoming that and getting back on the horse. Tye takes him down with a headlock and celebrates with a cartwheel and jumping “10”s as Corey sings his praises. Tye tries a suplex but Apollo powers him up into a delayed suplex, impressively keeping Tye vertical as Tye knees him in the head. Tye bails and avoids Crews jumping after him, pulls him into the apron and hits a dive of his own before hitting his kneebuster for a close 2. Tye throws a tantrum and puts Crews on top but Apollo kicks free and hits the spinning powerbomb for 3. Tye is about to take the Tyler Breeze role of “heel that is entertaining as hell even though he loses all the time”. Apollo grabs a mic and wants to finish what was started a few months ago with Finn Balor, even though he knows he hasn’t earned a title shot yet.
Blake and Murphy blow off the interview guy and make fun of Gable and Jordan’s new name before Alexa Bliss takes over the situation and berates them for losing in London. She vows to lead by example by slapping Bayley and Carmella around in a Blisstasteful manner.
The Vaudevillains turn heel via video package as the smiles disappear from their faces and they put on more serious looks.
Stills of Kevin Owens showing up at the NXT show in Milwaukee and cutting a promo on Sami. I still really want Owens to get a run in the Rumble only for Sami to run in and rekindling that rivalry for WrestleMania.
Baron Corbin vs. Rich Swann
Swann is another longtime independent wrestler brought into the Performance Center. Corbin absolutely TOWERS over him. Swann does get in some offense but Corbin backdrops him and Swann does a 360 before hitting the mat. Corbin locks in a cobra clutch but Swann flips himself free and hits a couple of dropkicks before cracking him in the jaw with a kick for 2. Swann goes up but Baron avoids him and hits the Deep Six (his spinning Black Hole Slam) for the pin. A nice showing for Swann in his first NXT match while still putting Baron over nicely for the triple threat match.
Bayley and Carmella are all BFF-y as they talk about shutting up Emma and Alexa tonight, but are interrupted by Dash and Dawson. They tell “Carms” that she is just like her “G’s” in that she won’t win the big one and is “all fluff and no stuff”. Bayley restrains an upset Carmella and tells her to take it out on their opponents as she seems to be trying not to completely burst into laughter.
Emma (w/Dana Brooke) & Alexa Bliss vs. BAYMELLA
The heels knock Carmella to the floor and jump Bayley before the bell, working over her ribs. Bayley (kinda stupidly) starts the match so they keep it up as Dana puts on the badmouth and we take a break.
Alexa taunts Carmella as she puts Bayley on top but Bayley fights back and hits her spinning back elbow, selling her ribs on the landing which allows Alexa to tag Emma and allows Emma to knock Carmella off the apron to cut off the hot tag. Bayley makes the comeback on Emma, yelling at Dana to shut up as she hits a suplex, so Dana gets in her face which allows Alexa to blindside her as Dana protests her innocence to the ref (“I didn’t do nothin’!”) and Emma hits the Emma Sandwich for 2. Alexa tags in for more rib work and Emma tags in for a butterfly suplex for 2. Bayley fights free and finally makes the hot tag to Carmella. She hits a bronco buster on Alexa and tosses Emma aside before hitting a Downward Spiral and the leg-scissors for the submission on Alexa.
Carmella really didn’t do all that much in this match and I still don’t really know the point of giving her the title match and not doing Bayley/Emma. They aren’t even really doing much of a dissension angle between the two. Carmella is a fun enough character, but she comes off as Bayley’s lil’ friend and they haven’t done all that much to make the match feel anything other than a small speedbump for Bayley. It definitely feels like the women’s division is spinning its wheels before the buildup to Bayley/Asuka begins.
Finn Balor accepts Crews’ challenge as he also wants to find out who the better man is. Speaking of Finn, his babyface promos really seem to feel more and more generic and boring by the week. He really needs a bit of freshening up and the fact that he was working more like a heel against Sami in the Midwest shows makes me hope that that will translate to TV.
Johnny Gargano vs. Samoa Joe
This match is pretty similar to the one that Joe had with Tommaso Ciampa before London as Gargano is completely game and takes it to Joe the best he can, but Joe just steamrolls him, looking like the world’s scariest monster. He kicks Gargano’s leg out causing him to do a flip and basically land on his head. Gargano barely avoids being counted out and his reward is getting the piss slapped out of him. He comes back with some jumping kicks and a springboard DDT but Joe kicks him in the face as he tries a spear through the ropes and the Coquina Clutch gets the tap. All three triple threat participants had their time to shine, but Joe definitely looked the best of the three. That should be a really good match next week.
OVERALL: Aside from the women’s division seeming to be in a bit of a holding pattern, they are doing a good job filling time before the real build to Takeover: Dallas begins which will probably start at the UCF tapings this weekend. There are parts of the show that could use a bit of a shakeup and, unlike the main WWE shows, I actually have confidence that they also understand that and a new year should bring some new twists.
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