For thoughts on the (what turned out to be brief) segment WWE Network promoted this show with, head here.
After a teaser for the Samoa Joe/Finn Bálor highlights, Corey Graves begins freaking out about Eva Marie, something that continues entertainingly for the next ten minutes. All Red Everything starts off trading shots with Women's champ Asuka, but ends up getting bumped to the floor. It's at this point that her friend Nia Jax shows up and we go to commercial.
With Jax there and some time to compose herself, Eva is fired up and in control (we don't really see how she takes control). In between a senton and snap suplex, the Total Divas star works a few rest holds before a drop kick from Asuka puts her in the driver's seat. Running knees and spin kick finish it off.
Post-match, Nia climbs into the ring to collect her friend. Asuka throws a spin kick her way, but Jax casually dodges it and the two glare at each other until the Samoan leaves with Eva.
After the highlight package from Lowell, Mass., new NXT champ Samoa Joe says his win was inevitable.
Former tag champs The Revival have a match with Chikara's 3.0, billed her as Jeff Parker & Matt Lee. Dash & Dawson methodically destroy Parker while Lee does comedy schtick from the apron. They debut a Doomsday Device-type tandem move, but opt not to finish the match there, instead letting Lee get into the ring to take the Shatter Machine after about three minutes.
Scott Dawson grabs a mic and declares them the best tag team on the planet, responsible for NXT's tag revolution. He puts every other team in the division on notice.
- Only thing I enjoy more than Graves' Geno impersonation when it comes to Eva is Tom Phillips speaking for all of us when criticizing her. His insistence that she was undeserving of a title shot gets high marks from me.
- Have read a lot of criticism about Tom, especially in light of the Rich Brennan news, but he continues to grow on me. He has natural chemistry with Corey, stays out of his way even when they're bantering like they were doing here (because Phillips knows who's the star) and, while he does suffer from WWE announcer-itis in awkwardly plugging stuff during matches, he usually reverts to play-by-play mode when it counts.
- Oh, this match? Mostly, I can't believe how long it was. Other than that, it was interesting seeing Asuka with the belt? I don't know...
- Okay. She's a little better. But she's a long way from being good, and when she still struggles with applying rest holds and performing a kick out that doesn't look like she's rolling over on the couch, I'm not optimistic. To her credit, she has figured out the counting thing on nearfalls...
- WrestleMania's pre-show was the right way to use Eva. Have her show up to get the crowd angry, hit one of the two or three spots she does well, and let other people do the rest of the work. We'll likely forget about it along with almost everything else from these Axxess tapings, but they didn't do Asuka any favors having her labor to win her first televised match with the belt. Yes, Eva's a former #1 contender, but she got there and lasted in her title shot against Bayley with lots of underhanded tactics and outside help. We didn't even get a satisfying demolition.
- Not sure how strong a claim Nia has to another title shot yet, but I also don't know where else they go except to an immediate rematch. Jax played her character perfectly here, and Asuka looked a little rattled at someone who wasn't the least bit intimidated by her.
- More than the double-team manuevers, I love The Revival for the way Dawson reacted while Shane Matthews/Mike Lee was getting the crowd to chant "DE-FENSE". With a look, he manages to say both "are you serious?" and "I'm gonna kill you".
- Very enjoyable squash, and am quite excited by the direction teased with their promo. Everyone involved is saying "Tag Team Revolution" a lot, and with TMDK quickly debuting on the live circuit, we're not too far away from a scene which could be big enough to support multiple feuds.
Our first sign of Zack Ryder since his brief WrestleMania Intercontinental title program comes as the Hype Bros reunite to take on former tag champs Blake & Murphy. Mojo Rawley starts us off with quick running clotherline of Blake and then tags in Ryder. A Broski Boot attempt on Murphy misses, and lets the heels work the leg for a bit before Zack makes it to his corner. Shoulder blocks and splashed for everyone, and Blake takes the Hype Ryder after almost five minutes.
Hype Bros celebrate their way up the ramp and become The Revival's first victims. Rawley takes a different combo (Wilder off the apron with an elbow while Dawson hit Mojo with a backbreaker).
The now officially Enzo & Cass-less Carmella faces Aliyah of Breaking Ground fame. Despite some early taunting, the newcomer controls most of the action, highlighted by a second rope leg drop. Carm gets back into the flow with a Thesz Press and a bunch of kicks, finishing things off with a Flatliner into her inverted triangle. Aliyah taps in a little more than three minutes.
- Am 100% behind the "where's Alexa?" chant this match got, and I say that as someone who likes the Dubstep Cowboys. Blake & Murphy are solid hands capable of telling a good story, but they've gone from champs to enhancement talent, and their work seems a little less tight as a result. The lack of Ms. Bliss is glaring not just because she was the most charismatic performer in BAMF, but because they never bothered to tell a story about her exit, or establish characters for either of her boys beyond reacting to her.
- In other words, as one of their opponents on this show would say, "THEY AIN'T HYPED".
- Hoping the Bros stay together, because as much as I was moved by Iced Z's Mania moment, this is by far the most enjoyable use of either man.
- Remain pretty unimpressed with Carmella outside of that Bayley match. There's definitely potential, since she's got a ton of energy and the crowd responds to that, but this one is a good example why keeping her in NXT when the Realest Guys got the call was the right move. Maybe her ringwork makes the leap forward this year that Enzo & Cass' did last year.
- Not enough to make any kind of judgement on Aliyah, but I suspect she's in the same category - but even greener when it comes to character work/presence.
- Can we PLEASE give Carm's submission finsher a name?
We're told Austin Aries will be in action next week (they're taping back at Full Sail tonight - April 28), and Dasha Fuentes catches up with Elias Samson. He claims General Manager William Regal misinterpreted his songs when he booked him to face Shinsuke Nakamura, but he promises to prove to his opponent he never should have drifted into NXT.
Their match opens with Nak's trademark spots, as he delivers the performance he almost always does when working with a lesser star. A big clothesline turns things around for Samson, and he lays in some stiff looking strikes before Shinsuke comes back with a big knee, setting up a rub shot while the Drifter was draped atop the corner, an inverted exploder suplex and Kinshasa for the win in four minutes.
- Though this was probably one of his better matches, I remain uninterested in Samson. His pre-match interview did nothing to get me more intrigued about his greater purpose in NXT, and booking him in matches we know he's gonna lose isn't doing anything but making me care less.
- Starting to see an increase in criticism of WWE wasting Shinsuke in matches like these in front of small crowds, and I can't say I disagree. I suppose I'm reserving judgement until they start building to the next TakeOver. Seeing as we've done Joe/Bálor to death and the other two main event-types just got called up, a title feud would both be dope and something NXT needs him for while they're letting him get acclimated or whatever.
- Do hope Nakamura is doing some training while he's at the Performance Center, because while I doubt he can teach his charm, even this one bout with Samson shows he can teach a thing or two about making things look real.
What a weird show. The promise of an extended clip from Lowell was the last hope to break these Dallas episodes out of filler territory and, well...
Establishing Dash & Dawson's mission and teasing a Women's title feud are good, but they don't make up for ten minutes of Eva.
Now you go.