Veronica decides on a favorite wrestler. She and Brendo also discuss their upcoming trip to Money in the Bank, the Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn rivalry, Alberto Del Rio and Paige’s relationship, John Cena’s return, the band split, The Vaudevillains, RAW camera work, The Club, Baron Corbin walking into traffic, and lots more.
This should be an exciting episode of NXT as Finn Balor will face Apollo Crews in a non-title match. We start things off with the return of The Vaudevillains. We haven’t seen these guys in a bit so let’s see what they have to bring to Full Sail.
The Vaudevillains vs. The Hype Bros
I am not sure what Mojo has to do at this point to get over but I personally think this is a good step for him. He seems to have improved in the ring since teaming up with Ryder. English starts off against Mojo and Mojo quickly gains control with a splash. He gets the crowd hyped and tags in Ryder. Ryder counters a backdrop attempt by English and hits a dropkick. He goes for a scoop slam and Gotch interferes, distracting Ryder long enough for English to take control. He hits a kick in the corner and then a splash. The Vaudevillains are definitely showing a more aggressive side as English tags in Gotch and they hit a series of double team strikes on Ryder. Gotch goes for a pin but Ryder’s foot is in the ropes. He nails Ryder with a strike and goes for another pin attempt, barely getting a two count.
We get some quick tags between Gotch and English as they maintain control. They go for a double backdrop and Ryder is able to counter taking down English with an enziguri and kicking Gotch in the gut. This creates some space and Ryder is able to make the hot tag to Mojo, who quickly takes down Gotch with a face slam. He then hits a splash in the corner. Mojo goes for another one but he misses. Ryder is able to tag in. English attempts to interfere but Ryder nails him with a forearm. He then hits a dropkick on Gotch and goes for a Broski Boot but English pulls Gotch out of the way. Gotch tags in English and hits an uppercut on Ryder followed by English hitting the Whirling Dervish and getting the pinfall. The Vaudevillains definitely looked strong here, showing a more aggressive heelish side that we haven’t seen from them in quite some time. We’ll see where this goes.
We are shown some highlights from the Women’s #1 Contender Battle Royale 3 weeks ago featuring Asuka being eliminated by Eva Marie and Carmella eliminating Eva to win the match and becoming the #1 contender. Tom Phillips interviews Carmella about her win. She talks about how wrestling is in her blood. Her dad was a wrestler in the 90’s. He was even a jobber in the WWE. Tom asks if her friendship with Bayley is going to be affected by the championship match and Carmella says nothing will change that friendship. They both understand what is important and why they are here. Tonight Carmella will take on Emma. She says tonight she will prove why she deserves to be the #1 contender and why she will be the next NXT Women’s champion. This was a good spotlight on Carmella.
When we come back from break, Dash and Dawson are interviewed backstage. They talk about how they beat Enzo and Cass in London. Enzo and Cass can talk all they want but they’ll never beat them. They’ve beat every tag team in NXT, including the Ascension, and are on their way to becoming the greatest NXT tag team of all time. They’re happy to give Enzo and Cass another shot at the title but it will have the same result as always. Pretty good stuff here from the champs.
Carmella vs. Emma
Emma is accompanied to the ring by Dana Brooke. Emma talks some trash before the bell. They go back and forth a bit after locking up but Emma gets a little cocky and Carmella slams her face first into the mat when Emma has her back turned. Emma is able to counter a corner attack by Carmella and takes control. She gets Carmella in a stretch hold and Dana cheers her on. She turns the stretch into a pin attempt and gets a two count. Carmella counters an Emma choke attempt with a monkey flip and then slams Emma into the turnbuckle. She hits a headscissors off the second rope and then connects with the Bronco Buster in the corner. Carmella goes for her submission but Emma is able to counter by grabbing Carmella’s hair and slamming her to the mat. She then hits a series of shoulder tackles on Carmella into the corner. Emma tries to follow up with a double underhook suplex but Carmella counters with a backslide and gets the three count. This was a pretty good match and helps build Carmella’s momentum going into her big championship match with Bayley next week.
We are shown clips of the controversial #1 contender’s triple threat match from last week where Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe both had Baron Corbin in a submission hold when Baron tapped. Regal is supposed to make a decision regarding who will be #1 contender tonight. Both Joe and Sami are asked about the finish. Sami believes he is the winner but it is up to Regal. Joe threatens the cameraman and walks off.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy vs. ???
Before the match Enzo and Cass give a good promo to hype up the crowd. They never said the names of the guys Enzo and Cass destroyed. This was your pretty standard squash match. Cass tossed Enzo onto one of the jobbers to get the win. These guys are definitely at their best when they are chasing the titles but it seems like it might be time for them to either finally win the belts or move on to bigger things on the Main Roster.
Apollo Crews gives a promo backstage saying tonight is his night to prove himself. It is his night to prove that he has what it takes to become NXT Champion. We are then told we will hear from William Regal and his decision regarding last week’s triple threat match next. When we come back Regal says there will be a rematch. Corbin interrupts and says there better be a rematch. Regal says the one thing that was 100% certain is that Corbin lost, so he won’t be in the rematch. Corbin says Regal is a joke and leaves in a huff. Regal tells us there will be a rematch between Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn to determine the #1 contender. I’m down with that.
Asuka vs. Santana Garrett
Nice to see Santana in an NXT ring. She is a veteran on the indies and also has appeared in TNA and Global Force Wrestling. Santana hits Asuka with a series of forearms out of the lockup but Asuka just seems to enjoy them. She hits Santana with a hip attack followed by a series of kicks. Santana dodges a big roundhouse from Asuka but Asuka follows up with a huge overhand punch. Asuka then goes for a running kick to the head on a prone Santana but Santana counters with a rollup and gets a two count. Santana takes control and hits a big side Russian legsweep, getting another near fall. She then gets Asuka in an arm lock submission. Asuka counters by going for a leglock but Santana manages to get out of it. Santana hits the ropes and Asuka catches her in an armbar. Santana attempts to power out but Asuka turns it into the Asuka Lock and gets the submission victory. This was a really great showing by both Garrett and Asuka. Garrett got quite a bit of offense in but Asuka was just too much for her and continues to look unstoppable.
Finn Balor is interviewed backstage. He discusses last week’s triple threat match. He says Regal made the right decision by letting Joe and Sami have a rematch and settle things in the ring. He says that what should have happened in his previous match with Crews will happen tonight because he is the best. Good interview here by Balor and he does a good job showing the confidence of a champion.
Apollo Crews vs. Finn Balor (Non-Title Match)
I am a huge fan of both of these guys so I am definitely hyped for this. The two shake hands to start things off. We get some good chain wrestling as Balor maintains control with a series of takedowns. Balor keeps Apollo on the ground with a headlock. Apollo manages to turn it over into a pin multiple times but the best he can get is a two count. Apollo finally gets Balor into the corner and Balor has to break the hold. Apollo gets Balor in a headlock of his own but Balor reverses it and gets Apollo back on the mat. Apollo powers out and whips Balor into the ropes. Apollo follows this up with big dropkick, sending Balor out of the ring. Balor is on the ramp as we go to break.
When we come back Apollo has Balor in a headlock in the ring, firmly in control. Balor powers out and irish whips Apollo. Apollo counters with a sunset flip but Balor counters with a dropkick and goes for the cover. He gets a one count and quickly follows up with an armbar on Crews. Crews powers Balor into the corner and gets a break. Balor hits some quick strikes and a big kick. He goes for a pin and gets a two count. He stays right on Crews, hitting some chops in the corner. He then hits a snapmare and goes for another pin, getting another two count. Balor again stays right on Crews, getting him back in armbar.Crews finally powers out and whips Balor into the corner. Balor hits a kick on a charging Crews but Crews responds with a series of clotheslines. He then hits a big splash in the corner. Finn recovers and goes for an attack on the apron but Crews counters with a big clothesline and Finn goes to the outside. Crews goes for flip attack off the apron but Balor gets out of the way. Crews anticipates this and lands on his feet on the ramp. Finn is already back in the ring and hits a big dive over the top rope on Crews. That was pretty awesome.
Finn tosses Crews back in the ring and goes up to the top rope for the Coup De Grace. He connects right on the back of the head of Crews and goes for the pin but Crews kicks out at the last second. Finn goes for a DDT but Crews counters by tackling Finn to the mat. He then hits a Samoan Drop and gets a two count on the pin attempt. Crews goes for an Enziguri but Balor sniffs it out and hits a Sling Blade on Crews. Apollo recovers in the corner, showing some fire, and hits Crews with a big boot. He then hits a huge Gorilla Press slam followed by a standing moonsault for a near fall. Crews goes for his toss powerbomb finisher but Balor counters with an enziguri and follows it up with another Sling Blade. He then hits the dropkick into the corner and the Coup De Grace. Instead of going for the cover Balor hits a big brain buster and then gets the three count.
This was a great match and both of these guys looked pretty amazing. Balor and Apollo shake hands and hug after the match, showing some great sportsmanship. In two weeks we’ll find out who is the number one contender as Samoa Joe will face off with Sami Zayn. So much great stuff going on in NXT! This was another great episode!
Last week’s Smackdown was pretty great and there are some big matches on the card tonight so hopefully the trend will continue. We’re in the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana. I went to my first (and only) Smackdown taping here 2 years ago when I was in town for WrestleMania 30.
We start off with Rene waiting outside for Dean Ambrose, who arrives as a passenger in a pickup truck I am going to assume he hijacked as it speeds off the second he gets out. Ambrose says he’s headed to the ring and he hopes Kevin Owens will join him. He comes out to the ring to a pretty huge pop. We are then brought up to speed with clips from their brawls on Smackdown last week and RAW this week. Dean says he has an announcement and asks for a drumroll, which he is surprised to actually get. He interrupts it to ask for Owens to come down but Owens doesn’t come out. He then resumes the drumroll and announces a Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble against Owens for the title. Nice. Sheamus then interrupts and jokes about Ambrose’s “Cajun Uber” he took to get here. That’s pretty funny. Ambrose then makes fun of his “League of Nations Treehouse Fun Club.”
Sheamus is angry that Reigns stole his WWE title from him and is also mad he didn’t get to finish his fight with Ambrose on Monday. He’s sporting a nice gash on his forehead from that match. See, guys, blood can be useful to build feuds when used correctly. It looks like Sheamus and Dean are going to fight but Owens then comes out to accept Dean’s challenge at Rumble. Great mic work from all of these guys as Owens and Sheamus attack Ambrose. Neville comes in to help Ambrose and they clear the ring. Neville and Ambrose will be teaming up against Owens and Sheamus later tonight and this did a good job of building that match.
The Dudleys vs. The Wyatts (Tables Match)
I was just talking to someone this weekend who thought the Dudleys were being misused in WWE. I then reminded him of the stinker of a match they had against the New Day at Hell in a Cell. They are fun to watch, they get a good response from the crowd. They’re just not very consistent in the ring a lot of the time. I think they’re doing a fine job of putting over younger guys and having decent matches. So far they are doing great against Harper and Rowan. We get a Wassup shortly after the bell rings and Bubba asks for the tables but the Wyatts manage to regain control.They go for a double suplex through a table on D-Von but Bubba pulls the table away. They then hit a suplex-neck breaker combo on Harper and the fight goes to the outside. Strohman is at ringside and distracts D-Von who is then attacked by Rowan. Strohman tries to give Rowan a cane but Bubba grabs it and cleans house. He then throws Harper off the steps and through a table to get the win for the Dudleys. Pretty fun, quick match.
Strohman attacks the Dudleys after the bell. He throws D-Von through a table in the corner and then picks him up and throws him through another table in the opposite corner. Harper and Rowan double team Bubba on the outside and then double chokeslam him through a table. Looks like this feud isn’t over.
JoJo interviews Kalisto, who is having the best week of his career as he beat ADR on RAW for the U.S. Championship in a great match. He mentions Eddie and Rey as inspirations during his career and says he is plans to stay the U.S. Champion.
Social Outcasts vs. Damien Sandow, Zack Ryder, Goldust, and Jack Swagger
No entrances or anything for this match. That’s kind of a bummer. The Outcasts start running around the ring but Ryder grabs Slater and throws him into the ring. Slater and Goldust square off. Slater hits a great looking kick on Goldust and tags Axel in. Axel gets in some decent offense and tags in Rose. Goldust still looks pretty great in the ring. Bo and Swagger get tagged in. Ranallo is doing a good job of putting all of these guys over. Swagger gets Bo in the Patriot Lock but Axel breaks it up. Ryder comes in and gets some good offense in on Bo including a Broski Boot for a near fall. Slater distracts Ryder in the corner and Bo hits him with the Running Bo-dog and gets the pin. Bo also takes out Slater with the move but a win is a win for the Social Outcasts and this was pretty fun.
We get the obligatory RAW recap and Lawler is continuing to work heel a bit, siding with McMahon in the feud with Reigns. I enjoy seeing this return to classic Lawler and hopefully it will continue. People might complain about RAW recaps on Smackdown but at least it’s not the airing of entire RAW matches we were getting a year ago. Smackdown has slowly come back to building storylines and having unique matches and this is definitely a good thing.
Rene interviews Del Rio backstage. Del Rio gives another great heel promo, promising he will crush “that little mosquito” Kalisto.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (U.S. Championship Match)
Mauro continues to do a great job on commentary, reminding us that ADR is a Royal Rumble winner and won MITB the same year. Lots of heat on Del Rio and the crowd seems pretty behind Kalisto but it’s always hard to tell how much of that is real as they do pipe in crowd noise on Smackdown. My one problem with this is sometimes it is the same exact crowd noise from the WWE video games. There’s some specific crowd yells that always take me out of things when I hear them during Smackdown because I’ve heard them a million times playing the games.
Strong offense from Del Rio to start the match. He goes after the mask and this seems to energize Kalisto who hits ADR with a big missile dropkick. ADR regains control and hits him with a forearm smash from the top rope and gets a two count. Del Rio hits a brutal looking double knee to Kalisto’s arm off the turnbuckle. Kalisto is doing a great job selling the arm as Del Rio continues to wear it down, setting up his finisher. Ranallo reminds us of ADR’s MMA and amateur wrestling background. Lawler has gone full heel on commentary and I am digging it.
Big cross body and a head scissors from Kalisto gets the crowd pumped but Del Rio slams him into the corner and continues to work the arm to regain control.
Wade Barrett is now at ringside to cheer on Del Rio. Del Rio goes for his stomp off the top but Kalisto counters with a head scissors. He then hits a springboard senton but Del Rio dodges a corkscrew and hits a head kick for a near fall. Kalisto reverses an armbreaker attempt with a hurricanrana for a near fall of his own, then hits the corkscrew off the ropes for another near fall. Kalisto continues to sell the arm as he and Del Rio go back and forth. Barrett distracts Kalisto and ADR gets him in the cross armbreaker. Kalisto manages to get his foot on the ropes. Del Rio goes through the ropes as he goes for an attack on Kalisto but Kalisto can’t capitalize as he misses a big dive to the outside as Barrett pushes ADR out of the way. Del Rio tosses Kalisto back in the ring and locks him the Cross Armbreaker again. Kalisto quickly taps out and we have a new champion. People might question this quick exchange of the title but I think it did a good job of putting Kalisto over as a legitimate singles wrestler while Del Rio still looks good as a heel champion. This was a really good match.
We get another great Hall of Fame video for Sting. Rene is backstage with Becky Lynch and we see clips from Becky’s great ongoing feud with Charlotte. Becky says she is still hurt from Charlotte’s betrayal. We then get a clip from RAW where Becky attacked Charlotte before Charlotte’s match with Brie Bella. Becky tells us she is going to stay fired up until she beats Charlotte for the title. She challenges Charlotte for a title match at the Royal Rumble.
Brie Bella vs. Becky Lynch
Brie starts off with some aggressive offense and hits a dropkick from the top rope. Brie isn’t the best but she has shown quite a bit of improvement over the last couple years especially with her strikes. Becky hits some great looking forearms and then some clotheslines. She then hits an exploder suplex out of the corner and gets a two count. After a bit of back and forth Becky gets Brie in the Disarmer for the submission victory. This was a little too quick for my tastes but both Becky and Brie looked pretty good and it got the job done building Becky up for her challenge for the title.
Sheamus and Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose and Neville
Neville and Owens still have a feud going after Neville snagged a win over Owens on RAW and Owens attacked Neville after the match. Neville and Sheamus start off the match. Neville gets control early and tags in Ambrose. Ambrose clotheslines Sheamus out of the ring and then hits a crossbody on Owens. He’s blindsided by a lariat from Sheamus as we cut to commercial.
When we come back Owens is back in the ring working over Ambrose. He taunts the crowd and Ambrose in his usual awesome way. We see some quick tags between Owens and Sheamus. Ambrose tags in Neville who hits a big springboard DDT on Owens. Owens manages to tag out to Sheamus, who is greeted with a big kick by Neville. Neville goes for the Red Arrow on Sheamus but misses as Sheamus rolls out of the way and tags Owens back in. Owens taunts Ranallo, calling him “four eyes.” Nicely done. He tags out to Sheamus who works over Neville and then gets him in a chin lock. Neville tries to power out of it but Sheamus hits a big knee lift and tags out to Owens. Owens goes for his cannonball splash but Neville dodges it and hits Owens with a beautiful German suplex. Both competitors manage to tag out. Ambrose hits Sheamus with a tornado DDT and a big elbow drop from the top rope for a two count. Owens breaks it up and Sheamus takes control, hitting White Noise for a two count. He then tags in Owens who goes for a Pop Up Powerbomb but Ambrose counters with a hurricanrana and hits his rebound forearm smash. Owens falls to the outside. Ambrose goes for a dive but Sheamus nails him and Owens and Sheamus double team Ambrose on the outside, slamming him into the announce table and the ref rings the bell to end the match.
Neville hits a big corkscrew plancha on Owens and Sheamus. Owens gets tossed into the ring and Ambrose hits him with Dirty Deeds. He then takes a Red Arrow from Neville to finish him off. This was a good way to end the show and to build to the big Intercontinental Title match at Royal Rumble. Sheamus and Neville both looked good as well. This was another great Smackdown with lots of great action and excellent commentary from Mauro Ranallo and a now fully heel Jerry Lawler with Saxton supporting them. Kalisto and Del Rio had the match of the night for the second show in a row.