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!
Tonight should be a great episode as Johnny Gargano takes on Samoa Joe in the Main Event. It is great to see Gargano receiving a high profile singles match as his first NXT match of 2016. We start off the show with a bang as Sami Zayn makes his in-ring return to Full Sail.
Sami Zayn vs. Adam Rose
I’m still bummed that WWE didn’t really do anything with Adam Rose after his amazing ESPN profile. He does get a good response from the Full Sail crowd as he spent quite a lot of time here. Zayn and Rose start off by exchanging wristlocks. Rose resorts to a choke to get out of the hold but Zayn comes right back with an armdrag . We get some chain wrestling and Zayn drops Rose with a dropkick to the head. Rose goes back on offense, hitting Zayn with a barrage of punches and then taunts the crowd. He hits a knee drop and a clothesline followed by a flying knee drop for a two count. He continues working Zayn over. Zayn shows some fire and tries to mount a comeback out of the corner but Rose shuts it down. Rose hits a flying headbutt for another two count. Rose is looking good and showing some aggression we don’t normally see from him on the main roster. Zayn seems to be biding his time and reverses a Rose clothesline into the Koji Clutch. Rose taps out and Zayn gets the win. This was a decent match and we are reminded that next week we will see Zayn vs. Joe vs. Corbin for the #1 Contender spot.
Rich is backstage with Johnny Gargano and asks Johnny if he’s ready for tonight’s match. Johnny gives a great promo saying Joe is a bully and the best way to deal with a bully is to walk up to him and punch him in the nose. He uses the Johnny Wrestling moniker and shows a lot of confidence. Nicely done, Johnny.
Chad Gable and Jason Jordan give a promo expressing their disappointment in not even being nominated for the Tag Team of the Year award. They challenge Blake & Murphy, who were nominated, to a match next week. These guys are great. Jordan has finally found his niche in teaming with Gable. They announce their new team name, The American Alpha. I can dig it.
Tye Dillinger vs. Apollo Crews
It’s pretty amazing that the “Perfect 10” gimmick is super over even though Tye loses almost all his matches. Apollo is on a whole different level, though. He continues to build momentum and his fanbase. They lock up and neither wrestler gains control as Drake breaks them up in the corner. Tye gains control with a wristlock and maintains control through some chain grapples. He gets the crowd going with his 10 taunts on Crews. Crews hits his huge suspended suplex. Awesome move. Dilling ends up on the outside and hits Crews on the apron. Crews falls outside and Dillinger hits a nice looking dive. He tosses Crews back in the ring and hits his knee smash finisher but Crews kicks out at two. Apollo comes back out of the corner with a big spear and then hits an enziguri to the back of the neck. He follows this up with his sit-out powerbomb finisher and gets the pin. Both of these guys looked good here.
Apollo gets on the mic and says he wants to finish what he started with Finn Balor. He knows he hasn’t earned a title match but he wants a one-on-one match with Finn. Balor and Apollo had a great match a couple months ago that ended in a DQ due to interference from Baron Corbin. What we got was great and this could be even better.
Blake, Murphy, and Alexa get interviewed. Alexa says she is not happy after their performance in London. I’m not a huge Blake and Murphy fan but I think they’ve shown an insane amount of improvement since their start at the bottom of the roster. Alexa says she’ll be teaming up with Emma against Bayley and Carmella tonight.
During the break there is a trailer for The Condemned 2 with Randy Orton and then a short teaser promo for The Vaudevillains indicating perhaps a more serious turn for the duo. We then see photos from NXT’s live show in Milwaukee this past weekend where Kevin Owens showed up to face off with Sami Zayn. That must have been pretty cool.
Baron Corbin vs. Rich Swann
YES! Rich Swann makes his TV debut! Swann is one of my favorite wrestlers and I think he has a bright future ahead. I don’t have high hopes for this match but I hope Swann at least gets some offense in. Swann’s still got his sweet wing trunks! Some big “All Night Long” chants for Swann. Awesome. Swann hits some kicks but Corbin slams him to the mat. Swann hits another kick out of the corner and then dodges Corbin with a sweet flip. He takes a crazy bump off a backdrop. Corbin whips Swann into the corner and he lands hard. He then gets Swann in a headlock and Swann flips out of it. Great headscissors by Swann and some nice looking dropkicks. Swann hits a superkick and gets a two count. Lots of great offense by Swann here and he is looking great. He goes to the top rope but Corbin gets up. Swann jumps over him but Corbin has it scouted and nails him with the End of Days and gets the pinfall. Great debut for Swann.
Rich interviews Carmella and Bayley. Carmella says that she is excited for her upcoming championship match with Bayley but tonight the focus is on their match with Emma and Alexa Bliss. They’re interrupted by Dash and Dawson who congratulate Carmella on her Battle Royale win but tell her that just like her boys Enzo and Cass, she can’t win when it counts. Carmella goes after Dash and Dawson but Bayley holds her back, telling her to take it out on Emma and Alexa tonight.
Bayley and Carmella vs. Emma and Alexa Bliss
Emma is accompanied by Dana Brooke. Alexa and Emma have some words before the match but it seems like they are going to cooperate. Bayley is probably the most over wrestler on the roster. Emma knocks Carmella out of the ring and Emma and Alexa double team Bayley before the bell even rings. Carmella gets back in and breaks it up. Bayley is selling her ribs but starts the match off. Emma and Alexa gain control quickly with quick tags and double team moves.Bayley tries to mount a comeback against Alex but Alexa continues to work over the ribs. Bayley creates some space and hits a diving attack off the top rope. Alexa gets the hot tag to Emma who takes out Carmella before Bayley can make the tag. Bayley surprises Emma with a flurry of offense but Dana Brooke distracts Bayley and Alexa nails Bayley from the apron. Alexa tags in and hits her with a series of shoulderblocks into the corner. She tags Emma in who hits a double underhook suplex for a near fall. Bayley manages to fight out of the corner and gets a hot tag to Carmella. A fired up Carmella hits a headscissors and then a Bronco Buster. Emma tries to jump in but Carmella tosses her to the outside. She then gets Alexa in her leglock submission for the tapout win. Carmella looked great here.
Rich interviews Balor regarding the challenge from Apollo Crews. Balor says he accepts Apollo’s challenge and they will find out who the better man is. Johnny Gargano vs. Samoa Joe is next and the commentators are really doing a good job building up Gargano and treating this match seriously.
Johnny Gargano vs. Samoa Joe
Great reception for Gargano and he looks like he belongs here in the Main Event. People love to crap on WWE but Hunter really is doing some amazing work in NXT. Even a year ago I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told me we would be seeing Gargano vs. Joe in a WWE ring. The future is very bright even if only a small fraction of these guys make it big on the main roster. Joe is slow to obey the count in the corner multiple times. Johnny surprises him with some forearms but Joe tackles him to the mat. Gargano dodges a charging attack and hits him with a kick. Joe goes to the outside to take a breather. Gargano goes for an apron attack but Joe sweeps his leg to take him out. Joe throws him back in the ring and hits a barrage of punches followed by a big dropkick in the corner. Gargano tires to come back with some chops but Joe nails him with a combination of kicks and then hits a running kick to knock Gargano out of the ring. Joe hangs back and Gargano narrowly avoids a countout. Gargano hits a series of elbows and dodges a backfist from Joe to hit an enziguri. Gargano gets tossed to the apron but then hits a jumping DDT on Joe and gets a two count. Joe dodges a running attack into the corner by Gargano and nails him with a kick to the head followed by the Kokina Clutch to finish off Gargano. Joe looked very strong here but Johnny looked great as well.
This was a great episode. I enjoyed it more than last week’s as we saw matches building up to next week’s big triple threat match between Joe, Zayn, and Corbin. Rich Swann had a strong debut and Carmella looked great in the build to her match with Bayley.
It’s the first new NXT of 2016 as we had a Best Of episode last week. Time to get hyped! The Full Sail crowd is loud as always and we have Corey Graves and Tom Phillips on commentary. William Regal comes out to kick off the show. He is looking good after neck surgery. He announces that tonight’s main event is a women’s battle royale for a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. He then introduces Sami Zayn.
It’s the first time Sami Zayn has been at Full Sail in several months and he looks happy to be there. Given the current WWE roster situation his stay might be brief! Big Ole chants for Sami as he hypes the crowd and the NXT roster. He says Full Sail is his home. He also says he came here to make a proclamation: That he will be the first two time NXT Champion. Samoa Joe comes out to respond. He says it is good to have Sami back but he doesn’t deserve a title shot, that the last time Sami fought for the title Joe had to come out and save his life. He tells Sami to walk away as they stare down. Corbin interrupts. He says he agrees with Joe that Sami’s place is at the back of the line. He reminds everyone that he won his match at Takeover: London and that Joe lost his. Dude has a point. Corbin’s mic skills have improved quite a bit. Joe responds by saying Corbin doesn’t even belong in the conversation. As Sami is yelling at Joe, Corbin attacks him from behind but Sami responds with a big Heluva Kick. He and Joe then face off but Joe leaves the ring.
Bayley is interviewed by Rich and she says she’s not even sure how she made it out of London with the belt but she’s ready to take on the winner of the Battle Royale. She ends the interview by giving Rich a hug. Nice.
The NXT year end awards are announced. Enzo & Cass win tag team of the year. Bayley wins Female Competitor of the year. Finn Balor wins Male Competitor of the Year. NXT Takeover Brooklyn wins Takeover of the Year. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from Takeover Brooklyn is the Match of the Year. Finn Balor wins Overall Competitor of the Year. I liked those awards because they were quick and pretty on point.
Tomasso Ciampa vs. Danny Burch
I don’t think I’ve seen Burch before. It’s great to see Ciampa back in NXT. Remember when all the “insiders” said he wasn’t coming back because he was too stiff with Tyler Breeze? Since I heard that he’s been back at least twice. Silly dirtsheets. Burch hits a pretty good looking missile dropkick. The commentators remind me that Burch has appeared before so I guess I was wrong. Ciampa hits Burch with some fierce forearms followed by a face first slam off the ropes that looked great. Burch gets a near fall off a stiff right hand on Ciampa and then goes for a deadlift suplex but Ciampa gets out of it and hits him with a kick. Burch is looking pretty good here as he goes for a backslide but Ciampa reverses it into an armbar and gets the submission. Both of these guys looked good in this one with some strong strikes from both. Here’s hoping we’ll see more Ciampa in 2016.
Backstage promo with Enzo and Cass as they let Dash & Dawson know they are coming for them after the loss in London. These guys are so great, they don’t need the titles but I’m pretty sure we’ll see them with the straps sooner rather than later.
We get some promos for the Women’s Battle Royale including new gals Billie Kaye and Deonna Purrazzo as well as Emma. Regal is in his office and announces that there will be a match between Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Baron Corbin for the #1 Contender spot in two weeks.
Dash & Dawson vs. The Ascension
The NXT tag champs had a huge last half of 2015. Let’s see if they can take that momentum into 2016. I dig the whole 80’s NWA no-nonsense gimmick. When The Ascension are in Full Sail you kind of forget how much they’ve flopped on the main roster. I’m sure they miss those “Yah” chants as opposed to the crickets they hear normally. Victor is all over Dash to start the match but Dash hits him with a strong clothesline to take control and tags to Dawson. More aggressive offense and strong tag work for the champs. Victor finally hits a power move to create some space and make the tag to Connor. He starts wailing on Dawson as the crowd chants along. Dash manages to distract Connor and Victor gets dumped to outside. Dash and Dawson then hit their finisher on Connor for the victory. This wasn’t anything special but it made the champs look good.
Regal is in the trainer’s room with Nia Jax and Eva Marie. Nia Jax is not medically cleared for the Battle Royale as she suffered a kayfabe injury at the hands of Bayley’s submission at Takeover London. This makes sense as there is no way Nia Jax wouldn’t win that Battle Royale and it seems like they are going to keep her and Bayley apart for awhile to build to a rematch.
Elias Samson vs. Corey Hollis
They are pushing “The Drifter” pretty hard. I’m not really sold on the gimmick yet. He hits a big kick on Hollis and casually goes for the pinfall for a two count. He punches him a bit then shushes him as he gives Hollis his swinging neckbreaker finisher for the win. Nothing too exciting. He then brings his guitar into the ring and tells the crowd “What this place needs is what I am.” OK.
They play some highlights from the great Joe vs. Balor match at Takeover London. Rich then interviews Balor to get his comments on Joe and the triple threat match in two weeks for a shot at his belt. He comments on each challenger and tells us that regardless of their strengths the NXT championship is staying with him. Nicely done.
Cameron is here, you guys. And she’s going to be in the Battle Royale. We also get a promo from the debuting Aliyah who we met on Breaking Ground. The final promo from is from Asuka who has got to be the heavy fave and I am eagerly awaiting her getting a shot at Bayley.
Women’s Battle Royale
Alexa Bliss, Emma, Carmella, Eva Marie, and Asuka all get entrances. Asuka is by far the most popular and shoves Eva Marie out of the way to the great enjoyment of the crowd. “Asuka’s gonna kill you” chants to start and a vicious kick from Asuka to Eva Marie the second the bell rings. Aliyah is the first to be eliminated. Cameron does the honors. Cameron then ducks an attack from Deanna, who goes flying over the top rope. Liv Morgan then tries to powerbomb Cameron out of the ring but Alexa Bliss dumps them both over. I must have missed Eva Marie getting eliminated but that’s not a surprise. Emma eliminates Alex Bliss but is then eliminated by Asuka. Billie Kaye and Peyton Royce attempt to double team Asuka but she manages to slide back in the ring. Asuka then eliminates both of the rookies but Eva, who it turns out was hiding outside the ring, comes from behind to eliminate Asuka. Doh. However, Carmela was also hanging around the outside because she was injured and turns the tables on Eva Marie to win the Battle Royale. Bayley comes out to congratulate Carmela. I think these two friends are going to have a great match as the slow build to Bayley vs. Asuka continues.
There was nothing terribly exciting about this episode of NXT but it was a very solid show, as always. This is episode wrestling television done right, building storylines and wrestlers. We got a little bit of everything this week and the Main Event was entertaining and not too drawn out. We’ll probably get to see Asuka get her revenge on Eva Marie sometime soon and Carmela vs. Bayley for the title is a solid matchup. On the men’s side we saw a heartfelt return to Full Sail by Sami Zayn who will take on Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin in two weeks leading to a big title match. I am definitely looking forward to the coming weeks in NXT as we will hopefully see more new faces.
Brendo is super excited for Wrestlemania but Matt is a little apprehensive. They discuss the card as well as Brendo’s upcoming trip to New Orleans for his first in person Wrestlemania as well as all the other wrestling shows he’ll be going to. They also discuss Big Apple Takedown, Slam City, The WWE Network, No Holds Barred, and the QPW show they attended in Reseda. Be sure to tell your friends if you dig the show!
Matt and Brendo discuss the Royal Rumble and sigh a lot about the current state of things in the WWE. They also discuss CM Punk quitting and Brendo’s increased reservations about Wrestlemania 30. Cheer up though, they also talk some indie wrestling!