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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (January 27, 2016): Throw the red flag

The Wednesday night wars have begun! Well, not really, since Lucha Underground replays at 9PM and NXT is on an over-the-top streaming service where you can watch it whenever you want.

But still! Last night was a pretty exciting time to be a wrestling fan. Let's check in on the show that been holding down the 8PM Eastern slot on the reg for a while now.


Straight to the action this week, as the newly christened American Alpha faces Blake & Murphy. The former tag champs are overwhelmed by Chad Gable & Jason Jordan's athleticism, so the Australian one fakes a knee injury, allowing his partner to create a distraction so he can chop block Gable and take control.

The heels make like the current tag champs and isolate Chad while working over the leg, but he eventually breaks free and gets to his partner. The best hot tag in the business does his thing, including a sick release belly-to-belly suplex where he threw Blake over his head onto a prone Murphy. JJ tags in Gable, Grand Amplitude, and American Alpha has taken out another set of former tag champs.

Emma & Dana Brooke are interviewed about the Aussie's tag loss (with Alexa Bliss) to Baymella last week. They run down Carmella, saying Bayley did all the work and Carm can't even beat Blue Pants. Brooke says that when the Princess of Staten Island faces Emma next week she'll be "(bada bing) the unluckiest chick in the ring". She pats Adam, or Alex... whatever... on the head and the pair exit.

Announcers Corey Graves & Tom Phillips talk about Sami Zayn showing up in the Royal Rumble last Sunday, and a video package highlighting Asuka's NXT career runs.

Accompanied to the ring by Eva Marie, Nia Jax destroys Liv Morgan in about two minutes.

  • Not much a based Haitch guy, but seeing a WWE program kick off with something other than an in-ring promo makes me want to get down on my knees and thank somebody.
  • My oft-stated opinion that Chad & JJ are better are heels really only applies to on the stick, so I'm gonna have to admit I was wrong. Their microphone work as técnicos can catch up - this is still Developmental, after all - but they are too much fun in between the ropes to boo. I can't even imagine their formula getting old. Gable's great both as a fast starter and face-in-peril, while Jordan cleaning house is one of my favorite things in wrestling right now.
  • A little bummed that BAMF have moved into the "build up the next big thing" portion of their NXT careers. All former tag champs get this role, and since I don't see a call-up in their future, they may be here for a while. They's good workers who are quite good at playing douches, and we got to see that again here.
  • Was kinding of hoping they'd give Blake & Murphy an underhanded victory in this one, and then let American Alpha decisively take a rematch in a side-program. But, the sooner we get to their best-of-seven series with Dash & Dawson, the better.
  • More gratitude to whoever made sure Dana got to stay on screen while she's healing. It's pretty amazing that the head pat has gotten even better (sorry, Devin), and not only has she figured out how to use her natural delivery to maximum annoying effect, but she and Emma have developed a great rhythm and good comedic timing.
  • Really wish Emma could get some wins somewhere though.
  • I'd rather see her get squash matches than, say... I don't know... Nia Jax. Her dismantling of Morgan was fine, but it got me thinking about my old "opportunity cost" argument against NXT's use of Eva Marie. And with the admittedly awesome Bayley feuds in the rear view, I'm back to thinking that any time given to All Red Everything and her friend would be better spent on Emma & Dana.
  • Jax is in a really weird place. They pushed her so fast (along with rumors that she looked impressive in training and one house shows) only for her work to be kind of average once we saw her. Sitting out the battle royal kind of hurt her, and a two minute win doesn't make me take her seriously again. She'll need a win over a name to get her back on track. Unfortunately, until Carmella is free again, there aren't any babyfaces I could see them feeding to her.


It's promo time with the Realest Guys, with Carm promising to beat Emma next week and Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady remaining in serious mode to continue their war of words with Dash & Dawson.

Vignettes are shown for Baron Corbin, hyping tonight's main event, and Aiden English & Simon Gotch, reinforcing the notion that the Vaudevillains are heels again.

Bull Dempsey gets jobbed out to Alex Riley, who the announcers put over as being more aggressive than before his injury. Backstage after the match, A-Ry complains about how NXT covers the every move of guys like Sami Zayn and Apollo Crews but never mentioned him while he was rehabbing.

Another squash as Elias Sampson makes pretty quick work of John Skyler. Graves goes in pretty hard on the Drifter, and Phillips isn't terribly supportive either. The Hype Bros cut a promo for a match with the Vaudevillains next week, which furthers their gimmick. Also, Mojo Rawley watches Zack Ryder sleep.

  • Kind of over serious Zo & Cass. They're not as good at it, I still don't think the story we've been given justifies their rage at Dash & Dawson and they kind of come off as dicks.
  • The fun times of Bull Fit may be over, unless Full Sail was just exhausted and saving their energy for the main event.
  • Riley, however, does get a decent reaction, and it makes me think there's a place for him as kind of a male Eva Marie. It should be limited - mirroring Red's build and immediate title feud would probably be a good idea - but this is a guy who anybody would love to hate, but especially internet smart-types. I'd play up his feeling entitled to respect (have him claim he's a WrestleMania main eventer just because he walked to the ring with Miz at 27), instead or - or at least in addition to - the "hurt feelings" slant he worked in this speech.
  • Still pretty much sucks in the ring, though.
  • Commentary's handling of Sampson really left me scratching my head. Corey's a heel announcer, and he trashes him. The babyface, Phillips (who did not have a very good night overall, and may have regressed a bit while off as a main roster interviewer) openly questions what he brings to the show. If this was the main roster, I'd assume Vince was instructing them to blow off the gimmick.
  • While I don't think he's horrible in the ring - I liked his high knee more than Riley's, and the neckbreaker looks impressive - he's pretty bland. The character is struggling, even as an over-push a la Corbin or Jax, and I don't know how they turn it around from here.
  • Still a fan of the Hype Bros odd couple schtick, and think Rawley's gotten less grating as a talker, but their segment went on way too long.


Highlights of Crews' first match with Finn Bálor are shown to remind us there's a rematch next week.

Main event time, and after an initial standoff, Sami backs into a corner and Corbin attacks Joe to get things rolling. The action continues at a brisk pace with each man getting offense in before we head to commercial on the Lone Wolf working Zayn over in a corner.

Nothing's changed when we return, as they keep a frenetic pace in and out of the ring for roughly another five minutes before we get into a closing sequence. Joe sentons both men and really goes at Sami, who sells like only he can. The Samoan Submission Machine looks for a Muscle Buster, but Zayn fights it off and Corbin breaks them up.

After a near fall off a Blue Thunder Bomb, Sami rests in the corner while Joe and Corbin battle. A running knee is countered in End of Days, but Zayn breaks up the pin. Baron comes unglued and hits multiple corner clotheslines, one of which is turned into an Exploder suplex followed by a Helluva Kick. Joe pulls him off and chop him outside, but gets sent shoulder first into the ring steps. That gives the Likeable One an opportunity to put the Lone Wolf in a Sharpshooter.

Before Corbin taps, Joe slides in a slaps on a Crossface. At that point, he does submit, and both men want their arm raised. General Manager William Regal comes out to ringside and says he'll have to review the tape before rendering a decision.

  • Mostly, my thoughts on the main event are "go watch it". For my money, it's pretty easily the best bout NXT has given us since the last TakeOver, and it avoids the common Triple Threat trap of having one guy resting for long periods of time. All three men are almost constantly involved in full throttle action throughout its twelve-ish minute run time.
  • In fact, they so expertly avoided the write out one guy so we can have a regular match trope that when Joe chokes Sami on the floor, it becomes a major plot point. Plus, the visual of him dragging Zayn through the ropes in the clutch was, like, horror movie good.
  • The other main takeaway is that Corbin looked like he belonged in there with two great wrestlers who have great pedigrees. His finisher on Joe looked great as always, even with a slightly different set-up, and the sequence where he snapped on Sami was chilling stuff.
  • Doing the finish that way was chaotic, but it was intended and such and I thought worked quite well. NXT doesn't do these kind of things all the time, and the match logically built to that moment, so I can't give it any of the crap I would if it happened on Raw or SmackDown.
  • And for any fellow fans of American football, it looked like a scene we've seen play out across any number of Sundays, right down to Sami and Zayn Joe trying to get in Regal's ear while he was talking to referee. Not overdone or blatantly telegraphed, but a nice hat tip for the one show WWE produces which consistently treats its main event scene like real sport.
  • Given the improvement we've seen from Corbin, I was a bit surprised to see him moved out of the title picture like this. But his strides have been noticed and I have no doubt he'll be back after Dallas, where I'm assuming whoever eventually becomes #1 contender will have their shot at The Demon.

Starting strong and ending strong with a lot of meh in the middle. Wednesday nights got kind of awesome last night, and I'm hoping I won't let the fact that I'm also watching a very different kind of great wrestling show on the same evening influence how I feel about NXT, which remains strong even on its most uneven weeks.

Grade: B+

How was your night of wrestling, Cagesiders?

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