Finn Balor def. Hideo Itami by pinfall in the semi-finals of the NXT Championship #1 Contender’s Tournament
The match began with some seamless mat wrestling, until Finn landed a dropkick. Hideo fought back with a series of kicks and a neckbreaker, but Finn kicked out at one. Finn rolled through a sunset flip and hit a dropkick for a near-fall.
Finn used a schoolboy and an inside cradle for two more two-counts, followed by a step-up enziguiri. Hideo managed a single-leg dropkick and two clotheslines. Hideo hit a running knee into the corner, then his signature tornado DDT into the top rope.
Hideo hit a top-rope flying clothesline for a close near-fall. Both men countered each other’s finishers, then Hideo landed an enziguiri, which Finn answered with a Pele kick. Hideo landed a series of brutal strikes, followed by a running dropkick into the corner.
Finn nailed Hideo with a Sling Blade, then dropkicked Hideo into the turnbuckles. Finn climbed up top and hit a double footstomp for the pinfall victory. Finn and Hideo shook hands, and Hideo exited. Adrian Neville met Finn at the top of the entrance ramp, shaking his hand as well.
Scott’s Thoughts: That was something really special. Finn and Hideo’s first-ever singles match lived up to the hype in every way. From the mat-based intro, to the stiff strong-style finish, this match connected on every level possible.
Furthermore, the setup for next week’s Takeover couldn’t be better. We get to see a rematch of one of the greatest matches in modern wrestling — Prince Devitt vs. PAC from the 2012 NJPW Best of the Super Juniors.
This was the match that William Regal showed to Triple H, to convince the latter to sign the man who would become Adrian Neville. As the story goes, Triple H watched the match and immediately drew up a contract for Neville.
As excited as I am for Zayn vs. Owens, Neville vs. Finn might be the show-stealer. We shall see.
Adrian Neville def. Baron Corbin by pinfall in the semi-finals of the NXT Championship #1 Contender’s Tournament
Neville opened up with a series of kicks, squirming out of an End of Days attempt and hitting a dropkick. Corbin fought back with an extremely stiff clothesline for a near-fall. Corbin hit a delayed vertical front suplex for another near-fall.
Neville fought back with an enziguiri and a springboard dropkick, sending Corbin flying out of the ring. Neville tried to capitalize, but Corbin caught him and dumped him face-first onto the guard rail. Corbin got Neville back in the ring, and as the referee tended to Neville, Bull Dempsey appeared out of nowhere and took a cheap shot at Corbin.
Corbin got back in the ring on the nine-count, but Neville hit a basement dropkick and the Red Arrow for the pinfall victory.
Scott’s Thoughts: Corbin looked like ten times the wrestler he’s been so far in his NXT career. This was a fun match, but I hated the finish. I really don’t want to see the Baron/Bull feud to continue, it’s that simple.
Bayley def. Becky Lynch by pinfall
Becky targeted Bayley’s injured left knee early and often, following up with a suplex. Becky hit repeated leg drops for a near-fall, following up with a big uppercut. Sasha entered, as Bayley hit repeated axe-handles, but Becky regained the advantage with a dragonscrew leg whip.
Bayley rolled her up for a two-count, then locked Becky in a half-crab. Becky reached the ropes to break the hold, rolling out of the ring to catch a breather. Sasha tossed Becky back into the ring, where Bayley immediately hit a Belly-to-Bayley for the pinfall.
At ringside, Sasha let a smug smile cross her face as Bayley covered Becky for the pin. Becky screamed at Sasha for costing her the match, shoving her down. Charlotte entered and silently glared at all three women from the top of the entrance ramp.
Scott’s Thoughts: This has to be one of the most compelling women’s wrestling storylines in ages. What began as a simple collision of warring factions has turned into all-out chaos. Bayley turned on Charlotte, Sasha betrayed Becky; the shades of grey here are so wonderfully intricate.
Through it all, Charlotte has surprisingly been the closest thing to a pure babyface in the feud, which is just crazy to think about. Bayley is a tweener at this point, and while Becky’s still a heel, Sasha is so conniving and evil that she makes Becky look like a saint.
Next week’s Takeover card is so stacked that it’s getting borderline silly at this point. In the best way possible.
Carmella (w/Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady) def. Emma by submission
In her return to NXT, Emma hit a couple clotheslines, then locked in the Dil-Emma rope-hung Boston crab. Carmella fought back with a drop toehold, then wrenched Emma’s neck with her head-scissor submission finisher, forcing Emma to tap out.
Scott’s Thoughts: Sigh. Poor Emma. She can’t even get a win over the least-over woman in NXT. This match wasn’t very good, and honestly, if even the Enzo/Cass rub can’t get Carmella over, I’m not sure anything will.