The show starts off with a looong video package bringing us up to speed on the issues between NXT champ Bo Dallas and his challenger on tonight's show, Sami Zayn. Even though I've seen it all before, it was worth it for the "pop up" bubbles with Bo's head explaining why his little buddy Sami hasn't earn a title shot yet.
Strange commentary team tonight, as the released Tony Dawson anchors a graduated-from-only-calling-women's matches Renee Young and an extra heel-y William Regal.
The Ascension defeats Corey Graves & Adrian Neville
in approximately six minutes via pinfall when Conor O'Brian pins Neville
to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
The former champs still enter separately. Graves in particular is all business as he storms to the ring, and they tease a little tension before the bell as the faces decide who will start off against Rick Victor.
It ends up being Corey, and it's nice to see him get some offense in before the final minutes of a match for a change. He works Victor over with strikes, hangs him up in the ropes via a figure four headlock and generally seems to not want to let his partner in to the match. Foreshadowing...hmmm?
Neville gets himself in with the old backslap, and flings himself around the ring until O'Brian pulls down the middle rope, causing him to tumble down to the floor. Conor enters the contest for the first time, and it's the Jumping Geordie's turn to play face-in-peril. The Ascension does their usual next to nothing for me, but it is nice to see the good guys reverse roles.
The alien steampunk hunters work over the Brit, focusing particularly on his leg and knee. He manages to dodge O'Brian, who does play a pretty good menacing hulk, for a tag, and the Savior of Misbehavior comes in as a house on fire. Which for him means a bunch of forearm strikes, a knee to the gut, the running chop block and Lucky 13. Victor axehandles Graves to break the hold, and he immediately starts selling his rib injury from The Ascension's backstage attack of last month.
He tags in his partner, who is still sitting on the apron nursing his knee. Neville is valiant in trying to attack the champs, but gets taken down with a nasty looking kick to his injured leg from O'Brian. He does manage to get his good leg on Victor to create enough space to go for a tag, but Rick nails him from the back and sends him crashing head-to-head with Graves. Corey goes to the floor, a stunned Man that Gravity Forgot stumbles into the high/low tandem finisher and the champs retain.
Post-match the tattooed former champ is whining about the belt being gone. Adrian apologies, and the leader of the Filth Parade helps him up - but it's a trick! Graves bounces off the ropes for a chop block and then pounds out his now former partner.
It was predictable, but I like Graves character better as a heel - even if I'm always wary of WWE bad guys with submission finishers. And it gives both guys something to do that should stretch them past random face tag team.
After a break, they replay the betrayal with Regal defending the new rudo in over the top fashion while RY acts dismayed at this turn of events.
Tyler Breeze defeats CJ Parker
in approximately three and a half minutes via pinfall
The crowd is fully behind Breeze, which...is their prerogative. I'll incur the wrath of the Full Sail faithful later.
This match is probably the highlight of Renee Young on commentary. She gets in some good quips about she and Tyler bonding over both having blonde ponytails and being able to shop together because they're the same size. Despite this and some good rapport with Regal, I'm not crazy about her being at the announce table all show. Much like with Brad Maddox when he first started calling NXT, she doesn't have the balance between talking about the match and talking about the angle down yet. She may just need time, and a stronger traffic cop than Dawson, but she's not as good at this as she is with the interview spots.
Parker is in control for almost all of this contest, and gets to show off a little more of his moveset than we've seen before. He actually uses an airplane spin as more than a goody move and shows his dislike for the model by shoving him from the ring while he's reeling from the rotations. A crucifix roll-up gets two, but then Tyler asks for time.
Don't fall for it, CJP! But he does pause just long enough for Breeze to drag the apron into the ring with him when the Moonchild drags him to the center of the ring. While the referee fixes that, a thumb to the eye allows the Gorgeous One to connect with his spinning heel kick for the win.
When Tyler poses for his usual victorious selfie, Parker rouses himself and smacks his vain opponent with a high strike that Dawson calls the Moonshot. While Breeze worries about his face, CJ steals his phone and wins the audience back over by taking pictures with a bunch of folks with front row seats.
Summer Rae & Sasha Banks defeat Emma & Paige
in approximately six minutes via pinfall when Summer pins Paige
After putting a little extra something into her entry dance, Emma tries to start the match but Paige puts her arm up to stop her. After the second round of this, the Aussie relents and allows the Anti-Diva to launch a shrieking and slamming attack on Banks.
Summer is tagged in and quickly whipped off the ropes. The Women's champ reluctantly tags her partner, and the First Lady of NXT races to her own corner to get out of the ring. The dancer hurls the Boss around the ropes and we get the first of a couple of roll-up/counter sequences in the match. Emma wades into their corner to lay elbows on both of the Beautiful Fierce Females (BFFs), but then Summer grabs her hair, allowing Sasha to level her with a clothesline.
Fandango's partner drives for a minute with her leg-based restholds. She does get in the bit where she mocks the Emma dance before face-planting the Australian, which I love. E eventually finagles her way to her corner, and Paige takes charge. After her knees to the mid-section through the ropes spot, a kick and a fisherman's suplex almost end it, but Sasha interferes. The Lance Storm trainee takes her out, but the distraction lets the evil blonde somewhat clunkily set-up the inverted leg drop bulldog that I think they call Summer's End.
Bo Dallas defeats Sami Zayn
in approximately fifteen minutes via pinfall
to retain the NXT Championship
Byron Saxton gives us the full, big event introductions while both men in the ring. Renee adds to my slash fic idea file when she says that she is "very dazzled by Sami Zayn". Let's do this!
So - the crowd chants. I am not judging anyone doing the chanting. You spent the time and or money to go to the show, you can do whatever you want. I also believe my wrestling writing to be devoid of fan-shaming, and I invite anyone to call me out on it if I do resort to "virgins in their parent's basement"-type insults. But the intent of a lot of these chants is to make the audience a part of the show. As someone writing about the show, I think it's fair game to comment on them. Not saying you can't do them, but don't act indignant if someone says they don't like them. When it works, they're great. "No more Bo" has been great since it started and remains so here. Loved "Let's go that guy" a few weeks back. But "Bo has cooties" and "Pocahontas"? Even the majority of folks in attendance seem to get bored with it and decide to focus on the really good match in front of them when "Little Bo Peep" fails to catch on.
Bear in mind, I'm the grumpy old man who gets pissed when people try to get the wave started while I'm trying to watch baseball and football games, too. For my money, I like my cheers and boos as largely organic responses to what is being done on the stage/ring/field of play. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway...this starts like your usual Ring of Honor time limit draw - with several minutes of lock-ups and grappling. Almost out of nowhere when the champ is working over the challenger's back, Sami charges the corner after an Irish whip, reverses and knocks Dallas flat with a Yakuza kick. 1-2-3...NEW CHAMP!
Or not, because interim General Manager JBL is out before Zayn can hug the belt to show footage of Bo's foot on the bottom rope. This would have been much more effective if (1) the false finish hadn't happened so abruptly and early in the match. I don't think anyone thought this was actually over - I know I didn't. (2) They should have waited at least a minute before Layfield comes out. As soon as his music hits, you know what's going to happen even if you don't know yet what his reason will be.
It did allow the Wrestling God to get in a great line: "Referee, don't make me learn your name." I'd rather Bradshaw be a heel GM/representative of The Authority on a main show instead of clogging up an announce table.
The indy match feel of this main event continues. It's a really good match with a bunch of cool spots, but they're kind of strung together to take us from one false finish to another. Zayn has certainly had better matches; I liked Dallas' ones against Kruger more than this, too.
I did think that Bo's head had been crushed on the somersault senton on the ramp, though. And the spinning sitout powerbomb that Zayn transitioned to when Dallas caught another Yakuza kick attempt was sick. As was Bo's front facelock STO. And the Likeable one's vertical superplex powerbomb? Fuhgedaboudit.
Sami locks his hands around the champ's waist and hold on through two German suplexes. But on the second, Bo manages to rip the cover off the top turnbuckle. He grabs the ropes on a third attempt and pulls himself between the ropes - and Zayn right into the exposed steel. 1-2-3...SAME CHAMP!
Nothing to complain about on an hour-long show that was all in-ring action. Each of the four bouts advanced a storyline, but none of them blew me away. I also missed the backstage segments, as those are always a highlight of NXT.
But don't take my word on it:
Well, whaddaya got?