6/8/16 – Scott Strandberg – @wrestlerosters
Samoa Joe def. Finn Balor by pinfall in a Steel Cage Match to retain the NXT Championship
Match Grade: A
Finn knocked Joe down with a dropkick and an enziguiri, but Joe answered by tossing Finn into the cage twice. Joe added an enziguiri of his own, following up with a running boot in the corner. Joe again launched Finn into the cage wall, then hit a German suplex.
Both men climbed to the top of the cage, where Joe hit an enziguiri. Both men fell to the mat, with Finn landing between the cage and the ropes on the apron. Finn fought back with a dropkick that sent Joe into the cage, then stood on the top rope and kicked Joe in the face. Joe fell on the top rope, which sent Finn crashing down as well. (You don’t see enough “lucky” spots like this these days.)
Joe hit a lifting side slam, but Finn reversed a Musclebuster into a sunset flip for two. Finn landed a Pele kick, and both men climbed the cage, where Finn landed a top-rope Sling Blade. Back down on the mat, Finn hit another Sling Blade, but came up empty on a dropkick.
Joe took advantage, hitting a senton and a Musclebuster, but Finn kicked out at two. Joe tried for a Razor’s Edge into the cage, but Finn countered with a Sling Blade and two corner dropkicks. Finn climbed up top and hit Coup de Grace, only for Joe to kick out.
Finn tried for 1916, but Joe countered into a Coquina Clutch. Finn managed to break the hold with a shiranui into a double stomp, then climbed the cage, but Joe grabbed him at the last moment, ramming Finn’s face into the cage. Joe hit a second-rope Musclebuster to pin Finn and retain his title.
An excellent match to cap off a very well-balanced card, from top to bottom. I thought I was growing a little bit tired of the Finn/Joe rivalry, but they still pulled off a consistently compelling finish to their seven-month feud. I also enjoyed the ring psychology, which saw both competitors taking full advantage of the cage setting. WWE is very hit-and-miss at booking cage matches on the main roster, but NXT is batting 1.000 so far.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Austin Aries by pinfall
Match Grade: A
Both men went counter for counter to start things off, with neither gaining any advantage until Aries hit a dropkick. Nakamura squirmed out of Last Chancery and hit a knee drop, but Aries answered with a dragon screw leg whip. Aries followed up with a dropkick to the knee, continuing to work over Nakamura’s leg.
Aries hit a second-rope elbow drop to the back of the neck, but Nakamura got his knees up on a senton attempt. Aries went up top again, hitting another flying elbow. Nakamura finally answered with a spinning heel kick, but Aries responded with a spinning forearm strike that sent Nakamura from the ring.
Aries hit a dive between the ropes, throwing Nakamura back inside for a two-count. Nakamura suddenly locked in a triangle choke, but Aries reached the ropes with his foot. Nakamura hit a facebuster, but Aries countered a Kinshasa into Last Chancery, holding it in until Nakamura made it to the bottom rope.
Aries hit a top-rope hurricanrana and a corner dropkick, but came up empty on a 450 splash. The action spilled out onto the apron, with Nakamura landing an enziguiri. Aries responded with a death valley driver onto the apron, then dove between the ropes again.
Nakamura rolled out of the way, and Aries crashed face-first into the guard rail. Nakamura threw him back into the ring, hitting a reverse exploder and the Kinshasa to finish Aries off. A show-stealing match with fantastic psychology, paired with unrivaled athleticism. These truly are two of the best in-ring workers in the world today, and this match lived up to the hype.
Even with the loss, Aries came away looking very strong, seeing as he dominated most of the match, and only lost because of one crucial misstep. For Nakamura’s part, he came off as a resilient babyface who knows how to take advantage of an opponent’s mistake to claim victory.
The Revival def. American Alpha by pinfall to win the NXT Tag Team Championships
Match Grade: A-
The Revival used brute force to keep Gable grounded early, until Gable hit two headscissor drivers on Dawson. Jordan added a big dropkick, and both teams started brawling in the ring. American Alpha hit tandem facebusters into ankle locks, forcing The Revival from the ring.
Jordan hit a belly-to-back suplex on Dash, Gable hit a flying double clothesline on The Revival, and Alpha cleared the ring again with tandem dropkicks. The Revival took advantage of a distracted referee to drive Gable stiffly onto the top rope. Dawson hit an elbow drop, a gorilla press slam and a spinebuster on Gable, earning a close near-fall.
Dash took Gable up top, but Gable caught him in a rope-hung armbar. With the referee again distracted, Dash held Gable over his knee while Dawson hit a top-rope leg drop, but Gable yet again kicked out. Gable finally reached Jordan for the hot tag, and Jordan annihilated both members of The Revival, earning a near-fall off a T-bone suplex to Dash.
Dawson tagged in blindly, hitting a sunset flip for a near-fall, as Dash speared Jordan through the ropes to the floor. Gable returned in time to add a bridging suplex to a Jordan dropkick, but Dawson kicked out. Dawson tried for a DDT, but Gable reversed it into an ankle lock.
Dawson fought out of the hold and tried for a Doomsday Device, but Gable reversed Dawson’s leap into a belly-to-belly. Jordan tagged in blindly and Alpha tried for Grand Amplitude, but Dawson shoved Gable out of the ring. The Revival hit The Shatter Machine to regain the tag titles.
After the match, The Revival left the arena as two unknown assailants hit the ring and tore Alpha apart. Suddenly, Paul Ellering entered, revealing himself as the leader of the two men.
A fabulous tag-team match, with plenty of clever spots and excellent teamwork between both Alpha and The Revival. Just when it started to feel a bit too choreographed, a more improvisational flow overtook the match. I enjoyed the combination of styles.
The many false finishes were believable, and the actual finish was both unexpected and highly entertaining. Fantastic job by all four men. The post-match angle felt a bit odd, until Ellering showed up. Despite the NXT Universe’s obvious lack of familiarity with Ellering, he is a legendary manager, and his presence is intriguing.
Asuka def. Nia Jax by pinfall to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Match Grade: B
Nia overpowered Asuka from the start. When Asuka tried for a guillotine choke, Nia countered with a suplex. Asuka finally locked in a triangle, but Nia picked her up and hit a bucklebomb.
Nia bent Asuka backwards around the ring post, but Asuka recovered to lock in a kneebar until Nia reached the ropes. Nia followed up with a powerbomb, but came up empty on a leg drop. Asuka finally went on offense, with a missile dropkick and a Hip Attack.
Asuka tried for an enziguiri, and Nia countered into another powerbomb. When Nia went for the pin, Asuka locked in an armbar. Nia powered out, but Asuka kicked her in the face four times, catching Nia by surprise to earn the pinfall.
Probably Nia’s best match so far, and her moveset is expanding a bit, but she’s still quite limited, which doesn’t leave her opponents many options regarding how to structure the match.
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Tye Dillinger by pinfall
Match Grade: B
The match opened with an impressive mat-based exchange, until Andrade hit a basement dropkick and a hurricanrana. Dillinger answered with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Andrade chained a second-rope moonsault and a standing moonsault for two. Dillinger took Andrade up top and planted him with a stiff superkick, earning a near-fall of his own.
Andrade responded with a flipping double-knee strike and an inverted stunner. Andrade followed up with a running double-knee in the corner, earning the pinfall. A well-executed match by both men, especially considering the fact that they only had 5-6 minutes bell to bell.