LIVE from the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Rich Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.
The opening video talks about how respect trumps everything and must be earned, tying that idea to all of the matches tonight.
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs. Dash and Dawson (Dusty Tag Classic Semifinal)
Road to Takeover: Balor and Joe defeated The Lucha Dragons and Enzo and BIG Cass to reach this match while Dash and Dawson beat Tucker Knight and Elias Sampson before upsetting the reigning tag champions The Vaudevillains in Texas.
No Demon makeup for Finn in this match. The Dusty Cup (as they call the trophy), is a nice 5 foot or so tall trophy that includes a en-silvered pair of Dusty’s wrestling boots. It sits at the entrance as members of both teams acknowledge it as they walk to the ring. Dash and Dawson show some great intensity as they work over Joe in the opening moments but Joe avoids a charge and cracks Dash with a jumping kick before tagging Finn. Balor runs wild on Dawson sending him out before diving out onto both heels. The crowd is absolutely molten. He dropkicks Dawson and sets up the Coup de Grace but Dash provides a distraction which allows Dawson to take out the knee of Finn. They immediately go to work on it as Joe stews on the outside. Finn fights back with his good leg but Dash yanks Joe off the apron to cut off the tag before the heels hit DEMOLITION DECAPITATION~! on Finn for an extremely close 2. Back to the leg but Finn avoids a charge and makes the hot tag to Joe who murders them to death before setting Dash up for the Muscle Buster. Finn wants the tag and Joe reluctantly gives it before the Muscle Buster/Coup de Grace combo (with Finn selling the knee big time on the landing) gets the win. A really fun opener as Dash and Dawson are a incredibly great old school tag team and Finn sold the knee injury very well as he can barely put weight on it as they exit the ring, putting doubt into his health going into the finals.
We get highlights of NXT’s tour of the LouderThanLife festival and Tennessee this weekend.
NXT’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rhyno and Baron Corbin (Dusty Tag Classic Semifinal)
Road to Takeover: Jordan–I’m sorry–JJ and Gable beat Neville and Solomon Crowe and The Hype Bros to advance to tonight while Rhyno and Baron Corbin beat The Ascension and Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano.
Gable and Jordan are SUPER OVER with this crowd, though that shouldn’t be a surprise. Jordan schools Corbin on the mat to start but Corbin uses his power to control and tags Rhyno. Jordan schools HIM and tags Gable and the fans start singing his name to Kurt Angle’s theme which is the best thing ever. This is a perfect example of a power vs. finesse match as Jordan and Gable try to wear their opponents with holds while Rhyno and Corbin just like hitting things real hard. Rhyno slows Gable down with a chinlock before tagging Corbin who is FINALLY embracing the heel role fully and is a million times more entertaining. He cuts off the tag and knocks Jordan off the apron for good measure before flattening Gable (who is getting “Save the Gable” chants; the good Full Sail crowd showed up tonight) with a boot for 2. Rhyno tags in and tries a top rope splash (!) but eats canvas and Jordan gets the hot tag. If anything, this team has revealed how awesome Jason Jordan is as he goes wild and manhandles the heels, hitting Corbin with a suplex before DROPPING THE STRAPS. They set to finish, but Corbin fights free and hits an amazing spinning slam on Gable for 2. That was gorgeous. Rhyno hits a belly to belly on Jordan as things are breaking down. Corbin goes for End of Days on Gable but Gable drops behind, runs Corbin into the corner and rolls out with a PERFECT German suplex but Rhyno breaks the pin. Jordan comes in but Rhyno wipes him out with a Gore before Corbin catches Gable on a charge and spins him from a headscissors position into the End of Days for the pin. A HELL of a match with a HELL of a finish. Baron Corbin has been fantastic ever since they let him do more than 30-second squashes. I would have loved my boys making it, but this was a star making performance for these guys. Chad Gable is going to be HUGE if they put anything behind him.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke (w/EVIL Emma)
Asuka’s theme and entrance is BAD-ASS. She looks like the Kabuki demon of destruction. Dana slaps away a handshake (oh why must you tease that angry bear, Dana?) and Asuka completely wrecks her shit. She is SO goddamn fast it is remarkable. Dana elbows her away and pats her head (oh why are you waving that steak in front of that bear, Dana?) before slapping her (you really shouldn’t put your head in that bear’s mouth, Dana) and Asuka is either turned on by it or is turned on by the million ways she is about to end this woman. She hits a flying hip attack and mocks Dana’s poses which sets Dana off but Asuka pulls her to the mat with an armbar before laying in the kicks. Emma provides a distraction which allows Dana to neck her on the ropes and actually gets some offense with her corner boot choke before wrapping in a bodyscissors, but Asuka immediately escapes and wraps in a heel hook before, while still holding her ankle, hitting a German. Dana charges right into a jumping armbar as Asuka is putting on a goddamn clinic in there. Dana fights free but Asuka kicks her head off before knocking Emma off the apron and locking in a crossface chickenwing with bodyscissors for the submission.
Dana Brooke faced Asuka and lived. She won more than anybody else tonight. Holy shit that was awesome. She brings such a unique style to the table and HUGE credit to Dana for both taking that punishment and making Asuka look like an absolute killer. Asuka stares down Emma on the outside and Emma finds something very interesting in the completely opposite direction to look at. Five stars.
Komen crap. Skip. Donate to an actual research center, people.
Finn gets his knee checked in the back as we recap how it was injured earlier.
NIA JAX IS FINALLY COMING!! Next week.
Tyler Breeze vs. Apollo Crews
Honestly, I have the least to say about this match because, though it was good and it was nice to see Crews on the defensive and facing adversity, there really isn’t all that much to say. Breeze squirms off Crews’ back on the outside and shoves Crews into the apron as Crews takes a nasty bump, hitting the top of the apron which must have sucked for him. Breeze hits his backcracker move and goes up, but Crews cuts him off and wants a press slam, but he can’t hold him and Tyler trips him up before twisting him into a Sharpshooter. Crews powers up and gets to the ropes. Tyler charges but Crews snaps off a jumping enzigiri. Tyler backdrops him to the apron and Crews gives him a shoulder to the gut, but when Crews flips over him back into the ring his back siezes up allowing Tyler to hit a Super(model) kick for 2. Breeze hits Jericho’s springboard dropkick, but Crews catches him on a dive from the top with a powerslam for 2. Crews hits the press but Tyler grabs his ankle to stop the moonsault and then gets his knees up on another attempt, packaging Crews up for 2. A frustrated Tyler slugs away but runs right into a boot and Crews powerbombs him for the win. Tyler loses again which really sucks. He seems to have fallen to the “guy that has great matches but never wins” level that will eventually be a detriment to his career. He really deserves better.
We recap how the Dusty Classic semifinals turned out earlier tonight to set up the finals.
Rhyno and Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals)
In a great touch, Eden Stiles (wife of Cody Rhodes) is your ring announcer for this match.
Still no paint for Balor, which is interesting. They do need to give Balor more of a character than “guy who paints himself” so putting it aside for a while is a good idea. Finn starts the match which the commentators don’t agree with. Balor is visibly favoring his knee and as soon as Corbin goes after it he cuts Baron off and tags out to Joe who drops a knee on Corbin for 2. Joe slugs away but Corbin catches him on a charge with a tree slam for 2 as the heels go to work on Joe. The pace is definitely slower in this match than most of the others tonight which makes sense since this is their second match in just about an hour. Joe plays face in peril for a bit as Rhyno and Corbin methodically take him apart but Joe gets a jumping enzigiri in the corner and eventually tags in Finn who runs wild until Rhyno clips his bad knee and Corbin goes to work on it as we get our second face in peril sequence until Finn surprises Corbin with the slingblade before tagging Joe who runs wild on Rhyno and STO’s both heels, but Rhyno hits the Gore for a close 2 as things break down. Finn turns a End of Days attempt into a DDT and kicks Corbin’s head off on the outside while Joe blocks a Gore with a kick and the Muscle Buster/Coup de Grace combo wins the tournament. A good final as the faces battle through injury to win.
The Rhodes family present Joe and Finn with the trophy as Cody makes a nice speech honoring his father. Bit of a surprise that they didn’t use this to spring into a title feud (especially with Finn’s bum knee), but they have plenty of time to set it up and the trophy presentation was a nice honor to Dusty. Chad and JJ will get em’ next year.
Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Lita are all at ringside as it is time for the main event.
Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks (30-minute Iron (Wo)man match for the NXT Women’s Championship)
This has the main event feel it deserves as Bayley comes out in red and yellow Iron Man colors and a cape, which is just tremendous. They end up burning the first minute of the match just staring at each other as the fans are going nuts. They start trading pinfall attempts until Sasha hits a dropkick and five minutes have already elapsed. Bayley hits a couple of Japanese arm drags but Sasha lands hard on her neck and shoulder on the second . They must be a bundle of nerves out there so you can’t fault them for not being crisp. Sasha tries the backcracker but Bayley grabs the ropes and tries an early Bayley to belly but Sasha escapes and scampers to the corner. Bayley offers her hand and Sasha goes in for a hug but it’s just a ruse as she slams Bayley down. Bayley runs wild on her in response, sending Sasha scampering to the outside but Bayley follows her with a pair of sliding dropkicks through the corner. Eight minutes has gone and they have barely gotten started. This is such a smartly paced match. Bayley hits a facebuster for 2. Sasha rolls her up and tries using the ropes but the ref catches her. They both almost collide with the ref in the corner so Sasha shields him with her body so she can poke Bayley in the eye (the Kevin Owens special) and roll her up for the first fall with 21:28 remaining. 1-0 Sasha.
They work each other over in the corner and Sasha gets the better of it. She sets up for the double knees but Bayley catches her before yanking her up, but Sasha hits a forearm and goes to the middle rope, so Bayley yanks her down into a Bayley to belly to tie it up with 19:06 left. Tied 1-1.
Sasha rolls to the outside again and Bayley goes after her with another sliding dropkick, but Sasha catches her feet and swings her into the ring steps right in front of Izzy and Bayley’s family. Sasha sends her into the steps two more times before yelling at Izzy and rolling Bayley in for a 2 count. She sends Bayley out again and drags her up the aisle, throwing her hard into the video board (which shorts out) before STEALING IZZY’S HEADBAND AND MAKING HER CRY. GOAT HEEL SASHA BANKS. Kevin Owens on his vilest day wouldn’t do something like that. Bayley gets counted out with 15:49 remaining. 2-1 GOAT HEEL SASHA.
Now the crowd wants Bayley to smash this evil woman to pieces. Bayley crawls back to ringside and Sasha rolls her back in for a two count. This is where the match got legendary. She hits a backbreaker on Bayley for 1 and wraps her in the LIONTAMER! She kicks Bayley in the head as she reaches to the ropes and grinds her face into the mat before going for the submission again, but Bayley shifts her weight and rolls Sasha into a pin to tie it once again with 12:36 left. Tied 2-2.
Sasha stacks a still exhausted Bayley in the corner face down, but Bayley avoids the double knees and makes the comeback getting 2 on a botched faceslam…thing. She hits the running elbows in the corner and the flying back elbow for 2 before hanging her in the corner and hitting a springboard elbow for another 2 as we are under 10 minutes. She puts Sasha on top but Sasha escapes and hangs Bayley from the corner, hitting the double knees for 2. She tries a spear but Bayley avoids and Sasha hits the post. Bayley knocks her to the outside and goes after Sasha’s hand and arm, just like Sasha did to her in Brooklyn. She slams it into the ring steps and snaps it on the ring rope before running off the ring steps with a flying clothesline. Sasha kicks her off into the steps to get a breather and goes for a dive, but Bayley catches her and hits a Bayley to belly ON THE FLOOR. Fucking ouch. She rolls Sasha in with 5 minutes left but only gets 2. Bayley puts her on top but Sasha fights her off until Bayley hits a pop-up Bayley to belly, but Sasha rolls towards the ropes on impact and her foot just catches the rope before the three count. With under three minutes left Bayley goes for the reverse rana of death off the top, but Sasha LANDS ON HER FEET and hits a Sasha to belly for another close 2 before locking in the Bank Statement with two minutes left, but she can’t get a proper grip due to her bad hand. The storytelling and psychology in this match is absolutely incredible. Bayley tries rolling free and reversing, but Sasha locks it back in with a minute left. Bayley pulls Sasha’s hand to break free and slams it into the mat. Sasha sets up for the submission again, but Bayley rolls through the backstabber and wraps Sasha in a shouder and armbar with 20 seconds left. As the crowd counts down the last 10 seconds Bayley starts kicking Sasha in the head and shoulder like a madwoman before Sasha finally submits with three seconds left, giving Bayley the win. Bayley retains 3-2.
Now, this may not have been as technically great as Brooklyn, but everything from Sasha stealing Izzy’s headband on was absolute gold. Amazing match that absolutely lived up to the hype and deserved the spot it got. The entire NXT roster comes on stage to applaud both women and Sasha completely collapses in tears on the ramp as she is given flowers while HHH gives Bayley flowers in the ring and raises her arm. A historic match and here come the tears again. After the match, Sasha gave Izzy her flowers. AS WELL SHE SHOULD after she traumatized the poor kid.
I mean, what else can you say? Six weeks after they tore the absolute house down in Brooklyn, NXT does it AGAIN. They didn’t have many major stories aside from the main event, but the matches delivered like they should have. It’s gonna take some perspective to see if this was a better show than Brooklyn, but man, this brand is on the roll of a lifetime right now as they are restocking the talent they lost with young, new, hungry talent and the likes of Asuka are going to keep the women’s division going if and when Bayley finally gets the call.
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