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NXT’s first-ever TV taping outside of Full Sail University took place in Columbus, Ohio. The setup was very cool, as the arena had a large elevated stage, which served both as the wrestlers’ entrance stage and as an additional slightly elevated seating area for fans. All told, it was a strong debut for NXT as a touring brand.
Kevin Owens def. Alex Riley by pinfall
Riley and Owens started shoving each other before the match got underway. Owens assaulted Riley early in the match, until Riley landed a dropkick. Owens immediately regained his momentum with a cannonball into the turnbuckle.
Owens landed a clothesline and an elbow drop for a near-fall. Riley knocked Owens down with a back elbow and drove him out of the ring, buying himself some time to recover. Owens got back in the ring and came up empty on a cannonball, which Riley followed up with a big spinebuster for a two-count.
Owens fought back with three running sentons, tossing Riley onto the floor. Owens drove Riley into the guardrail, then picked him up and slammed him into the railing. Back in the ring, Owens planted Riley with a pop-up powerbomb to finish him off.
After the match, Owens set up Riley for another pop-up powerbomb, but Finn Balor entered, warning Owens not to further attack Riley. Owens pretended to let Riley go, but set him up for another powerbomb. Finn leapt off the stage and drove Owens into the steel steps.
Balor got Owens in the ring, hit a dropkick, and set up for Coup de Grace. Owens slid out of the ring, took a quick cheap shot at Riley, and retreated back up the ramp.
Scott’s Thoughts: Riley continues to impress, and Owens continues to show why he’s one of the most expressive in-ring talents in the industry. This match was a strong showing from both men, and the post-match run-in from Finn worked well to further his angle with Owens.
Tyler Breeze def. Kalisto by pinfall
Kalisto landed the first major offensive move with his awesome hand-walking backflip Frankensteiner, followed by a spinning springboard arm drag. Kalisto hit an enziguiri, but Breeze countered a springboard crossbody with a dropkick for a near-fall.
Breeze followed up with a leg drop for another two-count, but Kalisto fought back with a springboard corkscrew crossbody. Kalisto followed up with a Listo Kick and a basement headscissor driver, earning a near-fall. Kalisto tried to back-flip off the ropes, but Breeze countered with a Supermodel Kick.
Kalisto managed to kick out and land an enziguiri, before climbing up top. Kalisto hit a 450 splash, but Breeze reached the ropes to break the pinfall. Kalisto followed up with a springboard enziguiri, but Breeze countered the Salina del Sol with a Beauty Shot to earn the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was a hot opener that got the crowd going early. I was pleased to see that they got 10+ minutes, and they worked a well-paced match with solid back-and-forth action, along with some impressive high spots. This was probably Kalisto’s best NXT singles match, and Breeze continues to look better and better.
Alexa Bliss def. Sasha Banks by countout
Sasha hit her signature double-knee to the gut very early in the match, earning a two-count. Alexa hit a running crossbody, then followed up with her awful new ‘do a backflip then lay down on her opponent’ move for a near-fall. Alexa hit a second-rope sunset flip for two, following up with a dropkick.
Sasha rolled out of the ring, but Alexa hit her with a crossbody off the apron. Sasha slammed Alexa face-first into the apron, but Alexa ran Sasha into the ring post. Alexa rolled into the ring as the referee counted to ten, earning the countout victory. After the match, William Regal announced that next week will feature Alexa vs. Sasha for the title.
Scott’s Thoughts: I still have a problem taking Alexa seriously, and I don’t see any reason to put her into a title program, no matter how brief.
Wesley Blake (w/Buddy Murphy) def. Colin Cassady (w/Enzo Amore and Carmella) by pinfall
The crowd chanted “This guy’s SAWFT” at Blake to start the match, as Big Cass hit a running knee lift and a back bodydrop. Blake fought back with a jawbreaker and an awkward springboard, earning a near-fall. Cass regained the advantage with two sidewalk slams.
Murphy made a distraction on the apron, which Carmella tried to stop. Cass hit Murphy with a big boot, and both Murphy and Carmella crashed to the floor. Blake used the distraction to roll up Cass, grabbing a handful of tights for the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: This match really never got going. As for this angle, I just don’t care about Blake and Murphy (or Carmella, for that matter), and even the consistently great work by Cass and Enzo hasn’t gotten this feud over.