For the holiday, NXT gave us several gifts. One of them - at least for a recapper - was a pretty light show. Let's dig into an episode that consisted almost entirely of things filmed immediately before and after TakeOver: London.
Motörhead plays over a highlight video for last week's two hour live extravaganza, and then it's right into the introductions for our fourway tag match.
The Vaudevillains are cheered, in large part for dressing like Sherlock Holmes and the Fourth Doctor, and BAMF are booed. Hype Bros get a mixed reaction, and then the roof blows off for Chad Gable & Jason Jordan - even before the chants inspired by 90s Dutch techno begin.
Lots of chaos as you'd expect during a bout with eight guys and an involved heel manager in Alexa Bliss, but after some early exchanges that take us to commercial with all four teams squaring off, the story of the match occurs when a distraction by Bliss allows Blake to level Gable and work over his knee. Playing heel despite the pop, Aiden English & Simon Gotch work over the Olympian while BAMF clear Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder from the apron.
An extremely hot tag eventually brings Jordan in to suplex everyone, and a big corner spear sets he and Chad up for a Grand Amplitude on Blake and a big win.
Brief highlights of Asuka vs. Emma from TakeOver, followed by the great backstage video where the winner shows up to mock Dana Brooke & her Australian pal in the trainer's room after the match. That's followed by an overview of the entire United Kingdom tour set to London's other theme song and some highlights of the NXT title match that focus on Finn Bálor's costume.
- So, the extent of Triple H and Corey Graves hanging with Lemmy was a thirty-five year old song being a co-theme for last week? That's kind of disappointing.
- Also disappointed that no one on commentary or WWE social media realized that just because someone comes out in a deerstalker cap doesn't automatically make the person with them John Watson. I'm not even much of a Whovian and I could tell Gotch was dressed as Tom Baker.
- Oh, the match? It was super-fun. These multi-person clusters are becoming a staple of the show they film at road TakeOvers, and it's a tradition with which I'm on-board. It's a smart way to both get a crowd going (especially when you have a hot act without a major storyline, like Enzo & Cass in Brooklyn and Gable & Jordan here) and let a lot of guys have the experience of working in front of 10,000-plus.
- Though not overt - and it could be explained away by their past issues with Chad & Jason - it seems like the 'Villains turn continued here. It was nice to get a flash of Gotch vs. Gable, which is a side-feud I could get excited about at some point. They have complementing styles and good chemistry.
- Of course, I'm burying the lede by not talking about how over Gable & Jordan were in London and all across the U.K. I'll always miss their heel gimmick, but that's not coming back as long as they're in (don't call it) Developmental. And, bless 'em, cause they're obviously enjoying the heck out of the adoration.
- They deserve it, too. And I've said it before and I'll say it again...Jason Jordan is the key to the partnership. The Olympian is awesome, but because of his size (at least in this company) he needs a heater, and with his comedic style he needs a straight man. JJ is ideally suited to both roles.
- He might be the best hot tag in the business right now, too. It's like "what if Titus O'Neil could do more than just toss guys around?" I mean, Jordan definitely tosses guys around, but in much more technical and varied ways than the Prime Time Player.
- All of the Fallout stuff is pretty good, but I'm not going to cover it too much because it's been around since last Wednesday. It accomplished the usual NXT trick of teasing future developments without giving too much away (aka stalling).
- Even though I already did a whole post on it, props again to all involved in the Asuka/Emma match and feud.
- And have the obligatory "weird how all they have to talk about when it comes to the champ is his look and entrance" while we're at it.
From his dressing room, Tye Dillinger tells us that while everyone is talking about Sami Zayn's return, tonight he's going to show everybody why he's a Perfect 10. Another Elias Samson vignette heralds his match on this show, and features him walking railroad tracks and talking instead of singing about the NXT roster.
Quick package on Baron Corbin's big win over Apollo Crews is followed by The Lone Wolf's Fallout interview where he declares himself the uncrowned champion.
After entrances that take more time than the match itself, Samson picks up a win over Bull Dempsey with a top rope elbow drop.
- Can we close the book on the "is Dillinger playing a rudo" debate after this promo and his match tonight?
- Skipping over the post-TakeOver stuff from this chunk of the show because, as much as I love "indie hater" Corbin, there's not much to add. Very interested in where both singles' title programs head next, as we didn't get much in the way of clear indicators from this episode. It looks like the next two weeks are "Best of 2015" clip shows, too, so we might have lots of time to speculate on what Dallas' card will look like (provided they don't sneak a Full Sail live show in late February).
- Don't want to declare something dead based on a two minute squash. NXT may be the finishing school for the main roster, but we've seen folks make great strides even after getting on television with the promotion. But, wow, am I not interested in seeing more of The Drifter.
- For the most part, I don't even feel like making fun of the guy...which is a really bad sign. I do have to raise some questions about the freaking guitar though. (1) Why have it if you're only going to pretend to play it? Just go full Tanahashi, especially considering... (2) There's like zero chance he's going to be allowed to pull a Jarrett or Honkey Tonk and brain someone with it. So again, what's the point of having it?
Tag champs Dash & Dawson follow a clip of their successful title defense over Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady by offering a few respectful words about the Realest Guys and declaring themselves the best team on the planet.
After a teaser of Zayn in the ring, a recap of the Women's title match where Bayley submitted Nia Jax is shown.
Then it's main event time, and London is hot for Sami's return. He and Dillinger work a ten minute match that features all of the Likeable One's standard stuff, including a lot of selling for the Perfect 10. Eventually, of course, Zayn comes back, and finishes him off the combination of Exploder Suplex and Helluva Kick.
The show closes with a slightly edited version of the promo WWE released online last week where the former NXT champ thanks the crowd and promises a bigger 2016 for himself and the show.
- When does the Dash & Dawson vs. Jordan & Gable program start, and why isn't it now? I'll take my answer in the form of a best-of-seven series.
- Oh, Sami. I missed you so. Both his match and promo were a welcome blast of star power. I don't mean that as a knock on Bayley or Finn, and I'm not entirely sure what Zayn brings that Samoa Joe doesn't, but since Kevin Owens left for good, NXT felt a little smaller. Something about seeing a performer who has all the tools and with a lot still to accomplish just feels special.
- It's also not a knock on anyone else because, like KO, Zayn is a uniquely charismatic guy, and his personality comes across on verbally and physically. There was absolutely nothing special about his performance in this match. It was the wrestling equivalent of comfort food. And we and Sami needed it.
- Don't want to short shrift Tye, who plays an important role and is actually a nice upgrade over CJ Parker - a guy I like a lot, but who was also prone to a gaffe somewhere in any match. Dillinger has a great gimmick and is a very good hand in the ring.
- Please follow England's lead, Floridians. He is a heel, and therefore it's okay to boo him - especially when he's doing underhanded things.
- There's really nothing else to say about what we got tonight. It's worth reiterating, however, SAMI'S BACK!
Tonight, we essentially got part of a NXT house show and a YouTube playlist. There was very little bad about it - although a women's match in place of Samson/Dempsey would have been swell. Heck, why didn't we get Peyton Royce or Billie Kay beating up some local talent anyway?
Fun stuff in the opener and the main, with a lot of talking we'd seen before.
Did you like the present NXT got you, Cagesiders?