So let’s get this straight, WWE’s NXT is amazing.
While it’s sometimes bogged down by some nonsense, it’s managing to combine the work rate of a Ring of Honor with the story-telling of a WWE. The main reason for that is the solid and talented roster of wrestlers in their Florida minor league system. I’d argue that if if the majority of the WWE Roster quit tomorrow, bringing up the NXT guys would make for a more interesting show every week.
So before the newest live special next week featuring Zayn and Neville one on one, let’s look at the last special from September of this year. It’s NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way.
The Ascension (c) vs. the Lucha Dragons for the NXT Tag Team Championship:
Our opener is between two gimmick tag teams, the Lucha Dragons and the Ascension. Do I like either team? Not really, neither team has really set my world on fire, especially the Ascension whose match highlights begin and end with their entrance and finisher. But the four men put on a good opener.
The Dragons got the title shot after winning a tournament featuring the great tag teams of Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy (aka Jobbers), Mojo Rawley and Bull Dempsey (a team put together so they could feud) and Adam Rose and Sami Zayn a team so impressive that they’d continue on Raw and Smackdown with Zayn in a bunny costume. So the Tag division is just as shallow as it is on the main roster.
The thing that’s clear about the Ascension from the get go is just how over they are with the NXT crowd. The crowd cheer for nearly anything they do, which is confusing because they’re average at best in the ring. This is seemingly a trend with some of the NXT talent that makes it to the main roster (Emma and Bo Dallas for example).
With the Ascension being the larger team, they dictate the pace of the match, slowing it down and hitting power moves. The commentary team try very hard to make us think highly of the team but again, they’re not all the great.
The finish comes when the Dragons use their speed to out work the two and hit some dives to the outside. Back inside the ring the Ascension go for their finish only to have it broken up by Sin Cara letting Kalisto hit his Salida del Sol letting letting the Lucha Dragons win the Tag Titles.
The match is short and that worked in the favour of the two teams.
Baron Corbin vs CJ Parker:
After a solid and quick match we get our first of many jobber matches on the show. During the pre-show CJ Parker complained that he wasn’t on the card (probably cause he’s a useless Jobber heel) so William Regal makes him a match with a mystery opponent.
The man beating him this week is Baron Corbin, a man who looks like he fell out of a Frank Millar comic (and that’s not a compliment). The match is over in 30 seconds once he hits his finisher.
Sadly little has changed for Corbin as matches rarely go past the half minute mark. While the show is only an hour long once a week, there’s been no development for Corbin past a hilariously generic promo featuring him on a motorbike.
Enzo Amore vs. Sylvester Lefort in a hair match:
Continuing the trend of short matches we move onto a storyline based around hair and bad fake accents. This feud is seemingly is based around who is the more offensive stereotype. Sylvester Lefort is a euro-trash Frenchman and Enzo Amore a Jersey Shore dork, whose basically Zack Ryder but with a personality and more comedic timing.
The two have this match after Lefort shaves part of Amore’s head out of the blue. Amore plans to win the match and hit him some type of hair removal cream, which nearly killed a dog…who are the baby faces again?
While its clear that someone like Amore and his heavy Colin Cassady aren’t main event guys they have a solid gimmick and an over entrance based around the phrase “how you doing?” and the catchphrase of SAWFT. They probably have the most memorable gimmicks on the roster.
While the gimmicks of Amore is over the match is short, last just over five minutes. During this time the only real thing of interest that happens is the commentators discussing the emotional distressing of lose of your hair would be. For some reason this was hilarious to me.
The finish comes when Lefort gets distracted by Cassady and his manager Marcus Louis fighting on the outside. Amore rolls him up for the three count however, Lefort doesn’t lose his hair. The Frenchmen escapes after Louis saves him and sacrifices his own hair for his friend while getting hit by the hair removal cream.
In the weeks later, Louis and Lefort have kinda started feuding but nothing has really come from it.
The Man Named Itami:
Next on the show comes maybe one of the bigger moments of the NXT TV. While he had signed during their Japanese tour earlier a month earlier, this was the first appearance of Former GHC Champion KENTA on WWE television.
KENTA is introduced by William Regal which might seem like a normal thing, but the company had originally advertised that his intro would be done by Ric Flair. For whatever reason he wasn’t there to do the introduction so Regal filled in the spot.
After a short introduction, KENTA tells the audience that his new name is Hideo Itami. But before he can say more, he’s interrupted by the former NXT Tag Champions, The Ascension. They beat him down and throw him out of the ring demanding a title shot. But before Regal can retort, Itami returns to the ring and kicks the hell out of the tag team, thus starting a feud.
In the months after Itami would try and defend against the Ascension attacks but ultimately was out number and over powered by the two. Itami then joins forces with another star from Japan who came to the WWE, the Irish Finn Balor (formally Prince Devitt).
Bull Dempsey vs. Mojo Rawley:
While the Lucha Dragons might have been the ones to win the tag tournament then the titles, one of the teams didn’t fair that well, and lead to a conflict. Bull Dempsy takes on the “Hypeman” Mojo Rawley…and it doesn’t last long.
Firstly, let me just say that a gimmick based around being hyped up for wrestling, is extremely lame. Secondly, Bull Dempsy is more or less an American Russev.
After running at each other the match leads to Dempsey beating Rawley down. While Rawley did rally back for a few seconds he’s quickly finished by Bull after a running splash and a flying headbutt. After the match Bull shows his heelness by hitting another headbutt then leaves…not much to say here.
Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship:
If you watch the main WWE TV shows you can see that the female wrestling isn’t remotely a focus. The matches are short and the commentators barely even focus on what happening, but in NXT things are different. Despite the smaller roster, the girls are quite talented and the show has the commentators talk about the product, amazing who that makes you care about the product.
So second from the top in the event is the bubbly fan favourite Bailey against the Women’s champion Charlotte. The two couldn’t be any different from one another with Bayley being more about hugs and Charlotte being the no nonsense daughter of Ric Flair. While the personalities clash, they work well together. The story is Bayley wants the title so much that she doesn’t even want a hug…it’s statements like that that make me love NXT.
Bayley’s gimmick works so well on its own that it makes Charlotte’s look lame. She’s her father girl, so that means she’s intense and woos at times, that’s basically it. While its a basic idea, she won’t have an amazing chant like “Bayley’s Gonna Hug You.”
The match starts with Charlotte being stunned by Bayley’s quick offence as she hits strikes and tries for quick covers. Charlotte slows down the match with submissions like a figure four headlock. As the match goes on, Bayley shows off her heart by taking all of Charlotte’s moves and getting back up.
She gets more damage in, but Charlotte used her size to out power her. This only makes Bayley work more hitting more reversals and going for rollups when she can. Bayley manages to hit bigger moves like a top rope hurricanrana. But, after around 10 minutes of back and forth Charlotte finally beats her down enough to hit her finisher Natural selection and wins the match.
Soon after Charlotte leaves the ring fellow NXT Diva Sasha Banks comes down and starts taunting the beaten Bayley. After she starts attacking her, Charlotte returns and defends the beaten Bayley whose earned her respect.
As the weeks went on, Sasha would team with other Diva Becky Lynch and get the chance to challenge Charlotte for the Women’s Title at the next Live Special. Also Bayley and Charlotte hug…which I guess means their friends. I don’t know women work in real life, so I’m not gonna try for wrestling.
Adrian Neville (c) vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship:
After the impressive Women’s Title match, we get our main event between champion Adrian Neville and the three challengers Tyson Kidd, Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn. Without a doubt this match is filled with the four top talents in the NXT system.
Adrian Neville, formally Pac, worked his way from England to NXT and beat Bo Dallas in a ladder match for the title. Tyler Breeze, trained under Lance Storm and moved from Jobber to the prince of pretty. Tyson Kidd worked in the Hart Dungeon and got into the WWE with his wife Natalya and friend David Hart Smith only to forgotten and reborn in NXT. And Sami Zayn worked as everyone favourite generic Luchador, El Generico, in various promotions before becoming one of the hottest rookies in the company. Without a doubt these four are some of the most loved wrestler under WWE contract and it’s pretty clear why, so these four had a lot to live up to for this main event.
The four start working slowly, with few large spots. Each of the four find someone to fight against and soon only two stay in the ring. Much like a WWE triple threat, the majority of the match is spent focusing on two in the ring with the others down or on the floor.
Some spots that standout are Zayn hitting Breeze with his phone then taking a selfie to larger diving spots. All of the four get their times to shine in the match, with each hitting their signature moves. But before one can win other comes to break up the pin or submission. The biggest spot comes from a four person top rope spot where Zayn powerbombs Kidd and Breeze who superplexes Neville.
The finishing sequence starts when Zayn throws Neville outside the ring. Sami follows by hitting big moves on the three; a exploder suplex to Kidd into the turnbuckle, a dive to Neville on the outside, then he jumps through the first and second turnbuckle to hit Breeze with a DDT then finishing the sequence with a Helluva Kick to Kidd. But before Zayn gets the three Neville pulls the ref out of the ring. Neville kicks Zayn and hits his Red Arrow on Kidd and retains the NXT Championship.
The final moments of the match showed off just how impressive Zayn and Neville are. As the weeks went on the feud between Zayn and Neville continued leading to another title match. While it seemed like Zayn would win, Adrian faked an injury and rolled up Zayn for a quick win. Once Regal gave Zayn a rematch he said that if he can’t beat Neville he’ll leave NXT.
While this show had some impressive matches with flashy finishes, there was a lot of filler on this card. Four of the six matches of this card were over in under 10 minutes and ranged from quick TV matches to jobber showcases. That being said the final two matches were some of the better matches in NXT history. If you’ve missed the show, you should look up the final two title matches, short of that the show is kinda average.
But return next week and we’ll talk about the newest NXT Live special, WWE NXT Takeover: R Evolution.