This IS NXT!
LIVE from the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.
The opening package goes through the big moments in NXT over the last few years and the influx of new talent that have come to the main roster (Seth Rollins, Paige, Kevin Owens, etc.). The focus then comes to the new talent that has come to take their place (Nakamura, Asuka, Joe, etc.) and proclaims that tonight is the End of the Beginning.
“The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
After the serious videos that have teased him, seeing Almas come out in suspenders and a hat with a feather in it is a little too wacky for my taste. He looks like Camacho’s little brother.
They have a nice exchange to start with Tye getting a rollup and taunting Almas with the 10 hands. Andrade shows some ridiculous balance by going for a dive but instead relaxing in the ropes after Tye moves out of the way. They reference Almas being IWGP Intercontinental champion and it is still really weird to hear New Japan references so openly on WWE TV. Almas does a headstand on the top turnbuckle but Tye catches him with a backbreaker to take control. He puts Almas on top and tries a back suplex, but Almas elbows him down and follows with a moonsault, but Tye rolls out of the way so Almas just lands on his feet and immediately flips into a standing moonsault for 2. Andrade does another headstand in the corner, but Tye is sick of that shit and CRACKS him with a superkick, but only gets 2. Tye goes to finish with the Tyebreaker, but Almas hits a back handspring double knee strike to the back of his head and a bulldog before the double knees in the corner gets the pin.
Perhaps not a dominant debut match for Almas, but he was able to show off his ridiculous athleticism and looked really good while Tye Dillinger got another chance to shine. A really fun opener.
Nia Jax warms up in the back.
American Alpha (C) vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Title match)
Dash and Dawson work over Gable to start, but Gable immediately gets the best of both of them and tags Jordan for some dropkicking. Dawson tries to bully him around but Jordan fights him off and both partners come in to break things down into a brawl as the Alpha aren’t afraid to throw hands themselves. Dash and Dawson try stereo suplexes but the Alpha flip out of them and lock in stereo anklelocks instead that brings Full Sail to their feet. Gable controls Dash with an armbar and Dawson illegally tags in to draw the ref away so Dash can gouge Gable’s eyes and take control. I fucking love when they pull that stuff. Gable recovers and gets some rollups on Dawson, but Dawson cracks him with an uppercut and gives Jordan the business to draw him in for a double team, but Jordan suckers them in so Gable can come off the top with a double clothesline and the Revival are sent packing to the outside. These teams work so incredibly well together it’s almost unfair.
Back in, Dawson again swings at the hothead Jordan to draw the ref away so the Revival can hotshot Gable on the top rope and get the momentum back so we can play the Gable for a bit. Gable fights back and leaps for a tag, but Dawson catches him with a beautiful spinebuster for 2. More punishment for Gable and Dash puts him on top, but he distracts himself by mouthing off to Jordan which allows Gable to recover and lock in an armbar over the ropes. Dawson tags and takes Gable’s knee out as he runs towards his corner and the Revival hit a double team legdrop off the top for a 2. They try another double team on Gable but he escapes both and it’s HOT TAG JASON JORDAN TIME!! Suplexes are thrown, straps are dropped but Dash trips him into the turnbuckle and they fight over a suplex which allows Dawson to tag and come in with a sunset flip off the top with Dash assisting with a clothesline followed by LAUNCHING himself at Gable to knock him off the apron, but it gets a CLOSE 2. Dawson fires off uppercuts but Jordan turns one into a backslide attempt, tagging Gable in the process to turn it into a dropkick assisted German for another near fall. So many fucking great double team false finishes in this match. Dash sends Jordan into the steps leaving Gable to fight off the Revival alone and he hooks in an anklelock on Dawson but Dawson kicks him off into a Dash uppercut and Dawson grabs the tights, but only gets 2. They try their double team powerbomb, but Gable somehow turns it into a belly to belly on Dawson and how the hell did he not break his own neck doing it? Dash breaks up the pin and tags for a rollup, but Jordan blindly tags in himself and they set up for Grand Amplitude, but Dawson shoves Gable out of the ring and hit the Shatter Machine on Jordan to — holy shit — regain the NXT Tag Team titles! They become the first to win an NXT title twice which is kind of insane considering how long NXT has been around.
Incredible match which was probably better than their incredible Dallas match with all the double-team moves and false finishes. These teams could wrestle a hundred more times this year and probably do something different in each one. They just mesh so well together and really like to play around with the tag team formula to show what truly great tag team wrestling can look like. This makes Gargano and Ciampa beating them last week make a bit more sense as that should be the next tag title program coming up.
A dejected Jordan and Gable gather themselves in the ring but are suddenly attacked by two big guys as PAUL ELLERING suddenly appears on the stage. They are Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani, who wrestled on the Florida shows in masks as the Authors of Pain. Can’t wait to see Jordan throw THESE dudes around like nothing.
Asuka warms up in the back and gets a handshake (not a hug) from Bayley. That’s about as big a slight that you can get from Bayley.
Austin Aries vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Obviously, Full Sail goes BONKERS for Nakamura, singing along to his theme and everything. Aries (whose ribs are taped for some reason) humorously stretches his own legs out while Nakamura does his stretches in the corner.
It’s a stalemate to start as one man launches into a flurry of offense that the other escapes leading to a standoff. Nakamura rubs Aries’ taped ribs and tells him to bring it, which Aries does and tries the Last Chancery which Nakamura escapes and Aries returns the gesture. That just pisses Nak off and leads to Aries getting the shit kneed out of him and the boot shimmy in the corner not once, but twice. He tries the thrice but Aries grabs his leg and goes after the knee, hooking it in the ropes and hitting a dropkick on it. He tries a tope but Nakamura gets his knees up and fires back, but Aries takes him down and hits a flying elbow for 2. He locks in a sort of bow and arrow chinlock, putting pressure on the bad leg, but Nakamura fights back and hits a kick followed by kicks with his bad leg (not selling it at all) before draping Aries on top and hitting a running knee for 2. He tries the reverse exploder, but Aries fights him off and gets a rollup for 2. He tries to set up the Last Chancery, but Nakamura makes it to his feet so he hits a rolling elbow to send Nakamura to the outside before diving out onto him, knocking Nakamura into the barricade, getting a 2 count. He adjusts his rib tape and Nakamura suddenly yanks him down by it into an armbar turned into a triangle choke, but Aries gets the ropes. He fires off the knees on the ground and sets Aries up for the Kinshasa, but Aries catches him with a kneebreaker and a sloppy looking suplex before locking in the Last Chancery, but Nakamura makes the ropes. Aries hits a rana from the middle rope and sets up for the 450, but Nakamura avoids it. Nak tries another knee on the top, but Aries fights free and claps Nakamura’s ears before bringing him onto the apron. They slug it out and Nakamura hits a jumping kick, but Aries catches him on a charge and hits a DVD onto the apron. They really need to stop doing those spots on the apron already. Aries rolls back in and tries another dive but Nakamura moves and Aries SMASHES into the barricade. Dude went all out for that. Nakamura rolls him back in and hits a knee off the top (which Phillips calls the Kinshasa and Graves immediately gives him shit for it) before the proper Kinshasha (and Graves’ proper call of it) gets the pin.
Honestly, I wasn’t really feeling this match on first viewing, but on a rewatch, this match was pretty damn good. It was basically what was advertised: two guys that think they are the best getting into a fight to see who is right and beating the crap out of each other. Definitely Aries’ best match since coming to NXT and Nakamura (leg selling aside) continues to be something special.
Earlier today, Samoa Joe arrived looking like the baddest motherfucker in the room.
Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Title match)
As an aside, NXT uses BABYMETAL’s Karate in the video package and I am suddenly a huge BABYMETAL fan because of my exposure to it.
Asuka immediately goes for Nia’s knee and throws some strikes for intimidation, but Nia is having none of that and CHUCKS Asuka across the ring. She tries some intimidation of her own and Asuka fires off strikes, but Nia bullies her in the corner. Asuka tries an octopus hold but Nia escapes and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and tries to rub the paint off of Asuka’s face. She tries to bend Asuka in half on her knee, but Asuka fights free and locks in a guillotine, but again Nia isn’t taking that shit and powers her into a suplex for 2. Asuka uses a headscissors to pull Nia down into position for a triangle, but Nia powers her up and powerbombs her into the corner. She bends Asuka around the ringpost and locks in a bearhug, but Asuka rolls through and locks in a kneebar making Nia scurry to the ropes to break. She tries to fire back but Nia drops her with a spinebuster and goes for the legdrop, but Asuka avoids it and hits a running knee followed by a dropkick off the middle rope. She hits some spinning backfists before a hip attack gets 2. She tries a kick, but Nia catches her and hits a powerbomb, but she lazily covers which allows Asuka to lock her in an armbar. She tries the Asuka Lock, but Nia is too big for her to wrap around so she decides on a kick to the head instead, followed by another. Nia roars in response, so Asuka just keeps on kicking her until a running KO kick gets the pin.
A similar formula to the Bayley match in London, but Nia is definitely improved and showed more of the monster she could be with a bit more seasoning. It also showed Asuka’s tenacity as she kept on chopping and chopping at the tree until it finally fell over. This match could have been good or a complete disaster and it ended up being much more of the former.
The Interviewer Lady Who isn’t Cathy Kelley talked to GM Regal earlier about the show, but suddenly Bobby Roode appears behind him and enters his office, causing Regal to excuse himself.
A bearded Neville is in the crowd for our main event.
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Finn Balor (Steel Cage Match for the NXT Championship)
They stole the setup for the cage from the first Spider-Man movie as all four sides swing down from the ceiling to form the cage. It’s definitely a much smaller cage than usual, probably no more than 8 feet tall (and you can’t teach that). The rules are pinfall/submission and escape (boo).
A much more classic look for the Demon this time as he roars behind a panel of cage on the stage before pushing it over. The visual of a caged Demon is really cool, I must admit. Joe just strides to the ring like the BAMF he is (and I ain’t talking about Alexa, Blake and Murphy), slamming the door behind him when he walks in the cage.
They slug away at each other and try to send each other into the cage, but each attempt is blocked. Finn hits forearms to drop Joe and chops him around the ring, finishing with a jumping enzigiri. He climbs, but Joe cuts him off and tosses him into the cage twice before elbowing him in the corner and cracking him with a jumping kick. He hits the facewash before hitting a running boot and chucks Finn into the cage again. He decides to walk out, but Finn cuts him off and drops Joe with a kick, trying to crawl through the door but Joe drags him back in and folds him up with a German suplex. Joe climbs, but Finn cuts him off and follows him up. They fight on the cage and Joe uses it to pull himself up to hit a kick to Finn’s back and knock him off, but takes an ugly spill onto the mat himself. That must have sucked.
Joe ties Finn up in the ropes and slugs away, but Finn frees himself and sidesteps a charge, leaving Joe pinned between the ropes and the cage for Finn to work him over, but Joe ducks a strike, letting Finn slam himself into the cage and tries the Coquina Clutch, but Finn drops his throat on the rope and hits a dropkick. He uses Joe as a footstool to climb, but Joe grabs his leg. Finn soccer kicks him in the jaw to answer, but loses his footing in the process and crotches himself on the top rope. Joe plants him with an STO and tries the Muscle Buster, but Finn turns it into a rollup for 2. They slug away and Joe hits a rolling forearm which Finn anwers with a Pele kick to leave them both down. Finn climbs again and Joe pursues leading to a slugfest on the top rope which Finn wins and follows up by pulling Joe off with a (sort-of) slingblade, but Joe kicks out at 2. He hits a proper slingblade, but Joe swats away the dropkick and hits a senton before hitting the Muscle Buster…but Finn kicks out at 2. Joe looks to powerbomb him into the cage, but Finn escapes, sends Joe into the cage a few times and knocks him down with the dropkick. He hits the Coup de Grace…but Joe kicks out at 2. The fans tell him to go all the way up but Finn instead tries the 1916, but Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch. Finn walks the ropes like the Dallas match to escape and hits a double stomp. The fans still want him to go up and Finn obliges, but Joe cuts him off and slams his face into the cage before he pulls him down into position for a Muscle Buster off the top damn rope and gets the pin. See what happens when you listen to the fans?
All things considered, a cage match probably wasn’t the best idea for a feud ender. I completely get the idea and they did the best they could with it, but WWE cage matches by and large just aren’t that great when escape rules are included since they lead to dumb escape spots instead of more intense action. They managed to make a cool finish out of it, but this just didn’t really feel like the crazy feud-ending brawl they could have done. The match in Dallas definitely felt like it had more intensity.
Joe slowly makes it back to his feet and celebrates with the belt while trainers check on Finn and we fade.
OVERALL: There are people that actually disliked this show which just seems unfathomable to me. Sure, it wasn’t the caliber of a Dallas or a Brooklyn show, but it really never seemed to be intended to be. It reminded me more of those first specials in 2014 which were just really good shows where the two hours just seemed to fly by like they were nothing. This show had probably the best tag team match in NXT history, a really good fight between two top potential #1 contenders, a fun women’s match and a main event that did well with what it was given.
If anything, this show set up Brooklyn to be a hell of a show. Seems like we’ll finally get Bayley/Asuka II as well as JOE VS. NAKAMURA (I will use caps every time I type that matchup until it happens) as well as the tag division continuing to kill it. Things may be getting a big shakeup with the brand split, but we should get at least one more awesome Takeover before it all takes shape.
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