Hideo Itami def. Tyler Breeze by pinfall in the first round of the NXT Championship #1 Contender’s Tournament
Breeze entered with his new stalker, Marcus Louis, somewhat terrifyingly looking on from beneath the stage. The match opened with Breeze narrowly avoiding a series of kicks from Hideo. Breeze hit a drop toehold to send Hideo face-first into the turnbuckle.
Breeze followed up with a dropkick for a near-fall, adding a leg drop for another two-count. Breeze hit a neckbreaker for yet another near-fall. Hideo finally fought back with clotheslines and a legsweep, followed by a running knee in the corner.
Hideo hit his signature tornado DDT into the top rope, following up with a diving clothesline for a close near-fall. Breeze tried for a piledriver, but Hideo reversed it into a fisherman’s suplex for two. Breeze hit a flawless Supermodel Kick, but Hideo kicked out.
Breeze hit a tremendous crucifix driver, bridging it into a pinning maneuver for a very close near-fall. Wow. Hideo fought back with repeated kicks to the face, followed by a basement dropkick into the corner. Hideo hit a single-leg dropkick to earn the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: A simply magnificent match, with my only gripe being the “meh” finish. Just let Hideo use the Go2Sleep already. I have a feeling we’ll finally see it at Takeover. This was easily Hideo’s best match in NXT, and Breeze has truly become one of my favorite wrestlers in NXT. That crucifix driver was fabulous.
Also…holy crap, we get Finn vs Hideo in the semi-finals? I cannot wait for that.
Finn Balor def. Curtis Axel by pinfall in the first round of the NXT Championship #1 Contender’s Tournament
Finn opened up the offense with a dropkick. Axel rolled out of the ring, and Finn hit him with a plancha. Back in the ring, Finn landed an enziguiri, but Axel responded with a clothesline to the back of the neck for a near-fall.
Axel followed up with a dropkick and a running knee lift, earning another two-count. Axel came up empty on a second-rope axe handle, and Finn took advantage, hitting a Pele kick and a Sling Blade. Finn hit a running dropkick in the corner, then finished Axel off with a diving double footstomp.
Scott’s Thoughts: Nice match. Axel has appeared to be rejuvenated a bit in NXT, and Finn was as captivating as always.
William Regal lays down the law
This week’s show featured Regal front and center, as the NXT General Manager was the through-line, seamlessly bridging the numerous storylines with his bold performance. The show kicked off with Regal announcing the next NXT Takeover special on February 11. Regal also set up a #1 Contender’s tournament for Sami Zayn’s NXT Championship.
Zayn entered for his match with Tye Dillinger, but beat Dillinger up before the referee could ring the bell. Zayn took a microphone and demanded Kevin Owens come talk to him. An irate Regal entered instead, berating Zayn for losing his cool. Zayn said he was refusing to wrestle anyone until he gets a match with Owens.
Regal responded that he can’t have people running around jumping each other before matches, and that Owens hasn’t earned a title match. Zayn said that he didn’t care if it was a title match or not, and begged Regal to grant him the Owens match. Regal finally relented, booking Zayn vs. Owens in a non-title match for NXT Takeover.
Bayley takes a stunning turn to the dark side
Charlotte and Sasha Banks briefly wrestled a match for the Women’s Championship, which quickly ended due to interference from Becky Lynch, who repeatedly hammered Charlotte with uppercuts. Bayley entered to even the odds, chasing Sasha and Becky from the ring.
Bayley picked up Charlotte’s title belt and held it for a while until Charlotte tugged it out of her hands. Charlotte was about to exit, when Bayley forcefully grabbed her from behind and planted her with a vicious Belly-to-Bayley suplex. Regal rushed into the arena to restore order, booking Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Sasha vs. Becky in a fatal four-way for the Women’s Championship at Takeover.
Scott’s Thoughts: On the list of things I thought I’d never see, “Bayley heel turn” is definitely pretty high up there. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that stunned by a wrestler’s turn. I’m quite intrigued to see how Bayley’s character develops from here. The fatal four-way match at Takeover should be spectacular.
Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake def. The Vaudevillains by pinfall to become the #1 Contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championships
Murphy hit a single-leg dropkick on English, but English responded with a backbreaker, tagging in Gotch for a suplex. The Vaudevillains attempted the same double-team move, but with reversed roles. Gotch hit the backbreaker, but Murphy countered English’s suplex and made the hot tag to Blake.
Blake hit repeated clotheslines on English, followed by a springboard headbutt. Blake hit a huge powerslam, forcing Gotch to make the save. As the referee tried to get Gotch back to his corner, Murphy hit an enziguiri on English. Blake covered English, and the referee turned around, making the three-count.
Scott’s Thoughts: Wow. Did not see that one coming. What a huge upset, and one that forced me to move Blake and Murphy *way* up the NXT depth chart. I guess The Lucha Dragons can’t just wrestle The Vaudevillains non-stop, so I’m cool with the fresh match-up. Now that Murphy and Blake have won a match, here’s hoping they get better music and new ring gear.