NXT Review – Title Contenders Build Momentum

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1/20/16 – Scott Strandberg – @wrestlerosters

Carmella and Bayley def. Alexa Bliss and Emma (w/ Dana Brooke) by submission

Before the match, Carmella and Bayley had a backstage promo interrupted by Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. Dash and Dawson — dismissively referring to Carmella as “Carms” — told Carmella that she is just like her boys Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady: “All fluff and no stuff.”

Emma and Alexa took cheap shots at Carmella and Bayley before the match. As soon as the bell rang, the heels isolated Bayley in their corner, until Bayley fought back with a second-rope flying elbow to Alexa. Emma tagged in and knocked Carmella off the apron, which gave Bayley time to recover and hit a T-bone suplex.

A distraction from Dana allowed Alexa to take a cheap shot on Bayley, and Emma capitalized with an Emma Sandwich for a near-fall. Emma followed up with a double-underhook suplex for another two-count, but Bayley finally reached Carmella for the hot tag. Carmella hit Alexa with two Thesz presses, followed by a second-rope headscissor.

Carmella followed up with a Bronco Buster, then hit a side Russian legsweep, transitioning into a headscissor submission, forcing Alexa to tap out.

Scott’s Thoughts: I enjoyed the pre-match segment, because it demonstrated the impressive balance NXT has managed to strike between Carmella the singles wrestler and Carmella the valet. Also, Dash and Dawson continue to improve their mic skills.

The match worked well in that it both weakened Bayley in kayfabe, while also making Carmella look very strong. It also bears noting that Carmella’s in-ring abilities have improved dramatically over the last several months.

Samoa Joe def. Johnny Gargano by submission

In a pre-match promo, Gargano accused Joe of being a schoolyard bully, who wants to take out his anger on anyone but the one responsible. The match got underway, with Gargano hitting an enziguiri. Joe answered with a legsweep on the apron, and hit an enziguiri of his own.

Joe took out Gargano’s legs again, and Gargano took a nasty bump, landing directly on his head but fortunately getting his forearm down to spread the impact a bit. Joe blasted Gargano out of the ring, and Gargano returned to the ring at the nine-count. Gargano landed two enziguiris and a springboard DDT for a near-fall.

Gargano tried for another springboard maneuver, but Joe kicked him out of mid-air and locked in the Coquina Clutch for the submission victory.

Scott’s Thoughts: This match only got about five minutes, which made for a bit of a rushed pace, considering it was the show’s main event. Both men did well with what they had, but there just wasn’t enough time to do much here.

Sami Zayn def. Adam Rose by submission

Rose and Zayn got off to a nice mat-based start, with Zayn finally gaining the upper hand with an arm drag, transitioned into an armbar. Zayn rolled through a sunset flip and kicked Rose in the head, who fought back with repeated elbow drops. Rose hit an inverted atomic drop, a short-arm clothesline and a knee drop, tilting the match in his favor.

Rose hit a running knee lift and climbed up top, hitting a diving headbutt for a near-fall. Zayn caught Rose with a Russian legsweep, transitioning into a Koji Clutch for the submission victory.

Scott’s Thoughts: The booking here was a bit odd. Rose was dominant throughout, and Zayn’s comeback consisted of just one offensive move transitioned to a submission hold. Not exactly the type of victory that makes Zayn look particularly strong headed into next week’s triple threat.

Baron Corbin def. Rich Swann by pinfall

As Swann entered for his NXT debut, Graves said that a match against Corbin would be his “Swann song.” Swann used his quickness to get in some early shots on Corbin, until Corbin hit a back bodydrop that Swann sold beautifully by flipping all the way over into a face bump. Swann fought back with a hurricanrana and two dropkicks, followed by a huge spin kick for a near-fall. Corbin answered with a spinning side slam — which Graves referred to as “Deep Six” — to earn the pinfall.

Scott’s Thoughts: Swann impressed with his athleticism and charisma in his debut, while Corbin’s new finisher is a step up from The End of Days, in my opinion. I never really got past the fact that End of Days is essentially Corbin giving himself a Rock Bottom.

Apollo Crews def. Tye Dillinger by pinfall

Crews hit an early dropkick and a delayed vertical suplex, but Dillinger sent Crews out of the ring and hit him with a dive between the ropes. Dillinger hit a single-leg codebreaker, but Crews kicked out. Crews hit an enziguiri and a big powerbomb to put Dillinger away.

After the match, Crews said that he’s not the kind of guy who likes a match to end in a DQ, and that he wants to finish what was started a few months ago. Crews said he knows he hasn’t earned a title match, but that he still wants a one-on-one match with Finn Balor.

Scott’s Thoughts: It was nice to have a reminder of Crews’ relevance, and the match itself was solid. Later in the show, Finn accepted Crews’ challenge. It will be fun to see another match between those two.

  • Jason Jordan and Chad Gable challenged Blake and Murphy to a match next week, saying that they would become the “American Alphas.” Jordan and Gable’s awkward babyface chemistry is something special. Later in the show, Alexa Bliss told Blake and Murphy they humiliated her in London by blowing their chance. She told them that they’re better than what they’ve shown lately, and said she’d lead by example by taking down Carmella and Bayley.
  • A very brief vignette hinted at a much darker side of The Vaudevillains. I have to say I’m intrigued by this, as I still do not believe The Vaudevillains as currently presented have a realistic shot on the main roster.