posted by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)
Excellent video package to kick off the show, highlighting NXT’s rise & the big matches for tonight.
Tyler Breeze’s entrance was worth the $9.99 you may or may not have paid this month for the Network:
(images above: credit http://wefightonfridaynight.tumblr.com/)
They show a video of Hideo Itami being attacked in the parking lot earlier, confirming what we already knew about him not competing tonight. Finn Bálor’s entrance was worth the $9.99 you may or may not have paid this month for the Network:
Tyler Breeze vs Finn Bálor (#1 Contender match)
Turned out to be a great choice for the opener. I kind of thought Breeze might have a shot going into this and they did a great job of making me think he’d win in a few spots here. That turnbuckle shot/Beauty Shot combo almost brought Tyler the win but it was not to be. I like that Finn had to get a little creative to put Tyler away. It gave the impression that he needed to do something more than the norm to beat him, which makes Breeze look good. Finn hits a dive off of a platform on the stage (!) before finishing off Tyler and becoming the new #1 contender.
Emma/Dana Brooke vs Charlotte/Bayley
Not much to write about. Every review will tell you how bad Dana Brooke looked, and they’re not necessarily wrong. But she was hyped up upon her debut, so she’s going to get TV time. One of the pitfalls when developmental is televised–gotta see the not so good times before they get better. Dana still has a ways to go, but they see something with her. Charlotte looked good here and was clearly the biggest star. Emma has grown into this new role quite well though and I’m actually enjoying her again. She looked amazing in more than aspect and is an interesting character for maybe the first time since leaving NXT over a year ago. This was good, but kinda just there. Charlotte picks up the win after hitting Emma with Natural Selection.
Baron Corbin vs Rhyno
I didn’t really care before and didn’t care much as it was happening. Baron won in a match longer than normal for him, but what does he do now?
Recap of the amazing Kevin Owens/John Cena segment from this week’s RAW. I mean, really, I don’t think it could’ve went any better; about as perfect as you could’ve hoped for in Owens’ first main roster appearance. Segues into a Kevin Owens promo backstage, who promises that if Sami Zayn shows up, we won’t see him after tonight.
NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Enzo Amoré & Big Cass (w/ Carmella) vs Blake & Murphy (c)
What a completely different vibe Enzo/Cass matches have when they focus more on the actual wrestling part! This was decent, but I just can’t get into Blake & Murphy at all. Just when it looked like Enzo & Cass might win the titles, we got an Alexa Bliss heel turn (!), allowing the champs to retain. I assume this feud will continue and at least Bliss adds a new wrinkle of sorts.
Awesome video package chronicling the story between Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch.
NXT WOMENS CHAMPIONSHIP
Sasha Banks (c) vs Becky Lynch
I went into this expecting a really good match; what we were gifted was a classic. Sasha Banks has been my favorite for a while now and this match proved to the world that she is the here & now of this division. Hell, she’s the best female wrestler they’ve had in a decade. Becky Lynch is awesome as well and they’ve built a nice story over the last few months. As for the match, this is the best match in all of WWE this year behind Reigns/Lesnar at WrestleMania. Amazing storytelling from both–great psychology surrounding the arm–believable near-finishes throughout…this was damn near flawless. I’ve watched NXT for years now, all the way back to subscribing to a guy on YouTube from Florida who uploaded FCW episodes every week. I can only recall 2 other matches that I’ve enjoyed as much as this in FCW/NXT’s history: Regal/Ohno & Cesaro/Zayn. Sasha picks up the win with the Banks Statement and I can’t wait to see what happens in the rematch. This is must-see wrestling.
Kevin Steen (c) vs Sami Zayn
The second chapter of the Zayn/Owens story was, once again, not so much a match…and that’s not a bad thing. You had to figure something like this was happening with the injury to Sami and this was done wonderfully. Owens did his best to keep his promise that he would put Zayn out for good, beating down Sami after catching him with another apron powerbomb. Refs couldn’t stop him, so William Regal comes down to interject and they might have teased us with an eventual Regal vs Owens match, as Owens headbutts our General Manager out of the ring. As Owens grabs a chair to finish off Zayn, SAMOA BY GOD JOE shows up and the place comes unglued. He & Owens come face to face before Kevin retreats. It was a moment, that’s for sure. Bell never did sound, by the way, so no official decisiom. We go off the air with Samoa Joe standing tall in an NXT ring. After the thrill of realizing we’ll he getting Joe vs Owens sometime soon, it hit me just how great WWE has booked Owens–he’s got a literal handful of top-level feuds he can work, he’s dominating NXT at it’s hottest point so far and is set to go up against the face of WWE’S present generation in less than 2 weeks. Kind of mind-blowing.
Obviously, the last 45 minutes or so of this show make is must-see TV. Overall, a great show with a strong opener, an all-time classic with Sasha & Becky and an incredibly hot close with a debuting Samoa Joe. NXT does it yet again, folks.