This week’s episode of NXT felt like they tried to cram too much into the show’s one-hour slot. Not everyone needs to be present on every episode, and that’s a lesson that misfired episodes like this one help them learn. There wasn’t very much actual wrestling, and there were so many promos that the episode felt a bit scattered and unfocused.
Hideo Itami def. Tyler Breeze by pinfall
With Finn Balor sitting at ringside, Hideo took the early advantage with a couple of stiff kicks. Breeze fought back with a spinning neckbreaker for a two-count. Breeze added a leg drop for another near-fall, landing a dropkick for yet another two.
Hideo responded with clotheslines and a legsweep, followed by a tornado DDT onto the top rope. Hideo climbed up top and landed a flying clothesline for a near-fall, following up with a series of kicks. Breeze rolled out of the ring and landed near Finn.
Hideo tried to hit a running knee on Breeze, but Breeze rolled out of the way and Hideo hit Finn with the knee instead, sending Finn through the guardrail. Back in the ring, Breeze came up empty with a Beauty Shot. Hideo hit a single-leg dropkick to earn the pinfall.
Breeze attacked Hideo, but Finn separated them. Finn tried to help Hideo to his feet, but Breeze planted Finn with a Supermodel Kick, landing a Beauty Shot on Hideo to finish things off.
Scott’s Thoughts: Not a bad match, but we’ve seen better from Breeze and Hideo before. The three-way tension between the three competitors seeking the No. 1 Contender’s spot was fairly well done, but a match like this doesn’t need much of a build to be amazing.
Michael Cole sits down with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Owens told Cole that when it comes to the NXT title, everything is personal. The championship means more money for himself and his family, so any challenge feels like a personal attack. Cole told Owens that he didn’t believe him, rephrasing the question to ask if Owens would have conducted himself any differently if Sami Zayn had not been the previous champion.
Owens said that he was sick of Cole not treating him like a champion, reminding Cole that he still hadn’t congratulated him on becoming NXT Champion. Cole said that respect is a two-way street, congratulating Owens for winning the title, before asking him how he could do what he did to Zayn.
Cole reminded that Owens that he had known Zayn before he had even met his wife. Owens called Cole out for asking leading questions, and told him that he can’t give Cole the headline he’s looking for. Owens said that he appreciated Cole asking him the hard questions, and told him that he enjoys his work on Mondays.
During Zayn’s interview, Sami said that Owens had made their feud personal from day one. Zayn said that if he needs to fight fire with fire, he’ll do just that. Cole asked if Zayn would be able to keep his emotions in check at Takeover. Zayn said that it took him so long to get the NXT Title that focus would not be a problem.
Cole reminded Zayn that he stood at the altar at Owens’ wedding, but that he still doesn’t know why Owens did what he did. Zayn said he would love to say it was all business, but it isn’t the truth. Zayn said he would love to know why Owens turned on him, and that it drives him crazy for Owens not to tell him why.
Zayn directed his comments to Owens, telling him that next week he would come to the ring and wait for Owens to come explain himself. Zayn said that if Owens is such a family man, he’ll set a good example for his children by telling him why he turned on him.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was much of the same that we’ve heard from Owens in recent weeks, but having Cole as the interviewer made the segment feel more important. I also really enjoyed Owens’ ambiguously legitimate tone of sincerity regarding his respect for Cole. As for Zayn, I like it when he shows a little more fire like this. He gets a bit stale when he plays the full-on babyface.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch sign the contract for NXT Takeover
An excellent promo package aired on Becky Lynch, charting her entire NXT career. Starting with her goofy jig-dancing Irish stereotype babyface debut gimmick, through her journey to becoming the No. 1 contender, Becky narrated the story of her own rise to dominance in NXT. A wonderfully produced package.
When it came time for the signing, William Regal stood in the center of the ring, introducing Lynch and Sasha. Becky took the mic and said that she has been working toward this moment since she was 15 years old, and had dedicated her life to wrestling around the world.
She said that she never thought that she would ever make it to this point, and that she had made a lot of mistakes and sacrifices, but they had all been worth it to make it to taking the next step to being NXT Women’s Champion. Becky signed the contract, and Regal handed it to Sasha, who stamped it with a “BOSS” stamp. Regal added his own signature as the crowd chanted “Like a boss.”
Sasha threw the contract at Becky and tossed her over the table. Sasha bounced Becky’s face off the table and posed over her with the belt. Becky countered with an armbar, forcing multiple referees to pull the two women off each other.
Scott’s Thoughts: Becky is doing a good job working as the de facto face in this program. She’s equally capable of drawing both heat and sympathy on the mic, and this feud with Sasha has been definitive proof of that. Their match at Takeover will be a major highlight.
Charlotte def. Emma by pinfall
Emma entered the ring wearing Bayley’s shirt, and wore it as the match began as well. Charlotte controlled Emma early with a series of submission holds. Charlotte tried to climb up top, but Emma punched her back down to the canvas and began to wear her down, repeatedly focusing on Charlotte’s left leg.
Emma locked in a half-crab, bending Charlotte in half until Charlotte finally reached the bottom rope. Charlotte fought back with a neckbreaker and a spear for a near-fall, following up with Natural Selection to earn the pinfall.
After the match, Bayley entered the ring and hugged Emma, but refused to let go when Emma tried to back away. Bayley hit a Belly-to-Bayley and tore her shirt off of Emma, when Charlotte finally pulled Bayley away.
Scott’s Thoughts: A nice competitive match with good storytelling from both Charlotte and Emma. Emma played the heel with more confidence than she’s had recently, and I enjoyed the fire shown from Bayley in the post-match sequence.
Rhyno def. Bull Dempsey by pinfall
Fans have finally realized that they can chant “S***” on the off-beats between “Bull” during Dempsey’s theme music. I honestly can’t believe it took this long. Rhyno started off the match with a belly-to-belly suplex, then immediately Gored Bull to earn the squash victory.
After the match, Rhyno said that people say he’s an unstoppable force, and that those same people say that Baron Corbin is an unstoppable force. Rhyno then challenged Corbin to a match at Takeover.
Scott’s Thoughts: Even though Bull has fallen quite a ways down the card, it was still kayfabe impressive to see Rhyno dispatch of him with such ease. We got to see Rhyno and Corbin wrestle at the Wrestlemania weekend NXT San Jose show, and it was a solid match that would fit well in the undercard of the upcoming Takeover special.
– William Regal signed Uhaa Nation to an NXT contract. Uhaa was not named in any way, and nothing was shown of him other than his brief interaction with Regal and a few glimpses of him running the ropes in the Performance Center. It was very strange to see a promo package for a wrestler who was given no introduction to fans whatsoever.
– Alex Riley cut a taped promo, saying that he needed knee surgery. He said it wasn’t the first risk he’d ever taken, referencing both turning away from The Miz and leaving the NXT commentary table. Riley said that he would be having knee surgery with Dr. Andrews, but that wasn’t what bothered him most.
What bothered him is that it seems like people don’t want to see him, and he said that they will be getting exactly what they want for the near-future. It’s too bad Riley needs some time off, because I had thoroughly enjoyed his work in NXT as a wrestler.
– As Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder waited for Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to enter, neither of their opponents entered. Enzo and Cass’ music started over, but they still didn’t enter. Backstage, Blake and Murphy were beating up Enzo and Cass, tossing them into storage crates as Carmella begged for them to stop. This angle still isn’t working.
– Dana Brooke referred to Devin Taylor’s body as “whack,” which is absolutely ridiculous, because Devin has a fantastic body. Dana’s promo rambled on a bit, and her delivery is still incredibly poor.