We’re still in Canada, but this is the material they filmed prior to SmackDown in Ottawa on the Tuesday after TakeOver: Toronto & Survivor Series. It’s pretty cool to see them in main roster-sized arena for a regular episode.
Women’s champ Asuka is out first to face independent star and former Shimmer champ Nicole Matthews. The Empress of Tomorrow downs the Canadian Ninja quickly, but Matthews fires back with a big right hand. This angers Asuka, who sends Nicole to her knees with a hip attack, and then flattens her with kicks. After fighting out of a couple armbars, Matthews gets up to trade leg strikes. The champ gets her down again and slaps on the Asuka Lock for a win in just over two minutes.
A quick rundown of all that happened between No Way Jose & SAnitY last week as Tom Phillips & Corey Graves tell us Eric Young vs. Jose is up next. We’re also reminded that Shinsuke Nakamura gets his rematch for the NXT title this Saturday (Dec. 3) in Osaka, Japan.
Dasha Fuentes catches up with the champ backstage, and Samoa Joe says he isn’t surprised Nakamura got his the match made so quickly, because General Manager William Regal wants Shinsuke to hold the title. He proved Nak wasn’t on his level in Toronto, and he’ll do it again in front of his family and countrymen on Saturday. Tye Dillinger interjects, saying Joe claims to be the man and he wants a chance to prove himself against the best. The champ replies that Tye isn’t on his level, either, and he doesn’t want to embarrass him in Canada a second time, like Bobby Roode did in Toronto. Dillinger can think of ten reasons Joe should fight him, but he only needs one - and he slaps him. Joe screams that Tye won’t leave Ottawa alive.
- Here’s hoping Matthews and another independent champ who showed up at Full Sail last night (hit Rev’s spoiler report if you want to know) are the first signs of the Women’s Classic tournament field coming together. I’m beginning to wonder if part of the holding pattern in the division isn’t to finalize those plans...
- Because, my love for Asuka yelling in Japanese aside, nothing really happened worth noting here. It’s not like we didn’t already know the Empress of Tomorrow’s a bad ass. Cool that Nicole got a moment in the spotlight, but otherwise, two weeks after TakeOver we’re in the same place we’ve been since Bayley left.
- Much as I love a rhythmically delivered Joe promo, not much to comment on with his sales job for Osaka. The Regal rivalry remains intriguing, but that they keep bringing it up but never really advancing anything - it’s actually starting to get on my nerves.
- This tale of Dillinger pushing himself could be good - it’s too early to say. But... did he slap Joe and run away? That’s not terribly heroic. It was worth it to hear Graves continued shock that anyone could be that stupid throughout the show, though.
After full entrances for Jose and SAnitY, Young goes right after his opponent, but Jose meets him with a stiff right. EY is forced to regroup with his squad, and that gives Nikki Cross a chance to show off and tease getting involved. Jose has more of the same for the group’s leader when action resumes, but he follows Young outside after clotheslining him over the top rope, which allows Alexander Wolfe to grab his leg so EY can bring him back into the ring via neckbreaker.
After stomping him in the corner, Young hangs him up with a dragon sleeper from the middle rope, and then uses a chinlock before Jose channels the crowd’s energy into a jawbreaker escape. His comeback consists of chops, a hip toss and more clotheslines, but Alexander Wolfe takes the fastball punch instead of EY. Jose still manages to hit the pop-up punch on Young, but Cross distracts the referee while he covers. When No Way goes to talk to the official, Young grabs him for the wheelbarrow neckbreaker and the win in about six minutes. As SAnitY exits, Nikki breaks free of her tribe to return to the ring and hit Jose with a dropkick/stomp from the top rope while he’s recovering.
In the locker room, Dasha asks Asuka about her “change in attitude”. The Women’s champ says there’s no change. She just wants competition, and there isn’t any.
- SAnitY better be a vehicle to push Cross, because she’s by far the most compelling thing about the act. I really think she’s meant to be the star, and the decision to not book her in women’s matches is evidence of stalling for the tournament show. I’m probably wrong, but that’s never stopped me before.
- Our second helping of Young/Jose was... okay. I guess. I always enjoy watching EY throw himself around like a lunatic, and the offense from both men got more vicious as the match went on, selling that this is rapidly becoming a personal issue. But I’m not super-excited to see them face-off again, even though it’s pretty clear this is an ongoing program.
- So, Sawyer Fulton’s only job is to be there to grab Nikki when she goes completely feral? I’m okay with that.
- “Asuka might be turning” is in the same category as “Regal hates Joe” for me right now. Move the story along or stop teasing it.
While Joe makes his way to the ring for the main event, Tye is interviewed. He says if he can’t beat the champ tonight, he doesn’t belong in NXT. He plans to prove he does belong, because he’s the perfect ten.
In the ring, the two men trade chops with neither backing down. That takes us to our first break of the match, and when we return, Dillinger is in control. He connects with a splash and tries to end things with an early Tye-Breaker, but Joe counters into sitout kneebuster and immediately goes to work on Tye’s leg with a kneebar.
Dillinger gets a rope break, but the champ lays into him with kicks and strikes, shouting “this is what you wanted!” Tye fires back with some punches, refusing to back down, but is eventually put down with a scoop slam. More leg work and general ass-kicking, but the babyface never stops fighting, and gets motivation for a “TEN” chant to mount a comeback which features a flying forearm, high knee and clothesline en route to ten stomps in the corner.
Down comes the kneepad as Tye looks for a Tye-Breaker, but Joe fights out and hits a German suplex. He holds on and transitions to the dragon hold for the next throw of his Chimera-plex, but Dillinger wriggles out to rolls him up for two, and hits a superkick to Joe’s chest that leads to another nearfall. Tye raises and lowers his kneepad, but while he gets the champ on his shoulders, he still can’t hit his finisher. Joe throws him down with the corner uranage spot, connects with a few stiff knees and holds onto a powerslam to turn it into a Boston crab. Dillinger fights free of that, but the Samoan Submission Machine just turns it into a Coquina Clutch, and the ref calls for the bell when Tye doesn’t respond, stopping the match after twelve and a half minutes.
Tom & Corey hype the title bout in Osaka as Joe stalks his way to the back. The crowd gives Dillinger an ovation, and he dejectedly waves to them to end the show.
- Appears we’re doing the Sami Zayn story from the second half of 2014 with Tye, but maybe without his ever winning the big one? As NXT fans have discussed a lot lately, the 30-something guys Triple H is pushing these days were already big stars in other promotions, so I’m not convinced Dillinger’s version gets a happy ending. That will make it more suspenseful... if maybe also sad.
- Been thinking about this a lot recently, but as in the bag for Joe as I am, I haven’t LOVED any of his matches. It’s the little things I’m so into, and his matches have those - I’ll never not pop for “SIT YOUR ASS DOWN” on the ST-Joe, for instance. But this is another in the string of good-but-not-memorable bouts which have marked his time in the NXT title scene for me.
- Encouraging to see Dillinger work almost completely without the comedic elements of his gimmick. He’s a really gifted physical actor, selling his character’s resolve and self-doubt throughout this match.
- Props to Tom Phillips, who probably doesn’t get enough credit for the job he does on this show (I know I don’t remember to mention it). He makes sure the viewers notice things like Tye questioning himself without beating us over the head with it. He and Graves guide us without overtaking or becoming the story, which is exactly the job description.
Thus ends a workmanlike pair of post-TakeOver shows. We were reminded about the folks who weren’t on the live part of the Toronto card, they set-up the Osaka title bout and Tye got positioned as the (possibly tragic) hero of 2017... but without a really good match or anything you won’t be able to catch up with in a future recap video.