8/22/15 – Scott Strandberg – @wrestlerosters
Bayley def. Sasha Banks by pinfall to win the NXT Women’s Championship
Match Grade: A+
Stephanie McMahon cut a promo, saying that the Divas Revolution had truly started in NXT, before introducing Bayley and Sasha. A terrific promo package aired, showing all the times Bayley had been either screwed out of the title, or left off the main roster. Bayley entered wearing special polka-dot accessories as a tribute to Dusty Rhodes.
Sasha entered the arena in a Cadillac Escalade, with several huge bodyguards. Once the match began, Bayley hung Sasha in the tree of woe and hit a springboard guillotine elbow drop. The action spilled outside, and Bayley hit a dropkick between the apron and the bottom rope.
Bayley tossed Sasha back into the ring, and Sasha came up empty on her double-knee to the gut. Sasha kicked Bayley in the knee, sending her bouncing off the apron. Sasha sent Bayley into the turnbuckle with a headscissor, then hit her double-knee to the gut from the top rope.
Bayley managed to kick out, hitting a drop toehold to send Sasha into the turnbuckle. Sasha fought back with an armbreaker onto the second rope, then removed Bayley’s wrist brace and tossed her to the floor. Sasha bounced Bayley’s arm off the ring steps, then stomped on it and brutally drove the wrist back into the steps again.
As the official went to check on Bayley, Sasha somersaulted over the referee, hitting a plancha. Back in the ring, Sasha tried to go up top, but Bayley threw her all the way down to the floor. Sasha returned to the ring at the 8-count, and Bayley unleashed a series of strikes, followed by an exploder suplex into the corner.
Sasha blocked a Bayley-to-Belly and locked in a Bank Statement. When Bayley reached for the ropes, Sasha stomped on her hand. Bayley managed to reverse the hold into a Bank Statement of her own, until Sasha reached the bottom rope.
Bayley hit a Belly-to-Bayley, but Sasha managed to kick out. Bayley took Sasha up top, but Sasha blocked a top-rope hurricanrana, shoving Bayley down to the mat. Sasha hit a double-knee from the top, but Bayley managed to kick out yet again.
Both women went back up top, and Bayley hit a reverse Frankensteiner from the top rope. Bayley followed up with a Belly-to-Bayley to earn the pinfall victory, winning her first title. After the match, Charlotte and Becky Lynch rushed the ring and lifted Bayley up, carrying her around the ring in celebration.
Sasha reentered the ring and hugged Bayley, as Charlotte and Becky joined in. All four posed in the middle of the ring, holding up four fingers each to represent their status as the Four Horsewomen.
Scott’s Thoughts: An all-time classic women’s match. Bayley’s resilience despite Sasha’s repeated attacks to her injured hand made for compelling storytelling, and the pacing was absolute perfection. The predictable finish of Bayley winning the title did not water down the emotion of the match whatsoever.
The genuine camaraderie shown by all four women after the match made for a truly moving moment to cap off a huge moment for NXT, and for women’s wrestling on the whole.
Finn Balor def. Kevin Owens in a ladder match to retain the NXT Championship
Match Grade: A-
Finn entered the building in an SUV with both Cesaro and Neville by his side. When Finn made his ring entrance, Owens sat in a chair next to the commentary booth, looking hilariously unimpressed. Owens opened up the match with a running senton, but Finn responded with a double footstomp.
Owens regained the advantage with a cannonball, but Finn hit a big boot and a Sling Blade. Owens retrieved a ladder from outside the ring, driving Finn into the ring apron with the ladder several times. Owens set up the ladder and appeared to be setting up for a cannonball onto the ladder, but let up at the last second and simply slapped Finn in the face.
The action spilled out into the crowd, and Owens drove Finn into the unprotected back side of the barricade. Finn fought back with a back bodydrop, but Owens drove him into the barricade again, then threw him over the announce table. Owens hit Finn in the head with the announce table cover, then posed for the crowd.
Owens grabbed a ladder from under the ring, but Finn dropkicked the ladder into Owens. Finn hit a plancha and set up a ladder in the ring. Finn climbed the ladder, but Owens pulled him back down and drove him face-first into the ladder.
Finn fought back with a Pele kick, but Owens knocked him back down with a clothesline. Owens slammed Finn onto a ladder, then hit a senton on the ladder. Finn responded with a back bodydrop onto an open ladder in an especially brutal spot.
Owens tried to cannonball Finn into a ladder in the corner, but Finn rolled out of the way and hit a corner dropkick. Finn climbed up top and hit Coup de Grace, then climbed the ladder and nearly retrieved the title. Owens got back up and hit a pop-up powerbomb off the ladder.
Owens climbed the ladder, but Finn shoved the ladder, sending Owens flying into the turnbuckle. Finn blocked a pop-up powerbomb on the apron, but came up empty trying for Coup de Grace off the apron. Owens picked up Finn and hit a pop-up powerbomb onto the ring apron.
Owens got back in the ring and superkicked Finn into a ladder, then hit a second superkick when Finn refused to stay down. Owens wedged a ladder between the standing ladder and the bottom turnbuckle. Owens took Finn up the ladder, but Finn blocked his attempts at a fisherman’s suplex.
Finn headbutted Owens, and Owens crashed down onto the ladder he had set up. Finn climbed the ladder and hit Coup de Grace from the top of the ladder. Finn climbed back and unclasped the belt to retain the title.
Scott’s Thoughts: An excellent match, but one that failed to live up to the extremely high bar set by the Women’s Championship match that preceded it. I’m interested to see who steps up as the next challenger for Finn. If it’s Samoa Joe, we should be in for a fun title feud.
The Vaudevillains (w/ Blue Pants) def. Blake and Murphy (w/ Alexa Bliss) to win the NXT Tag Team Championships
Match Grade: A-
Alexa taunted The Vaudevillains for not finding a third member, but Blue Pants entered to even the odds, receiving a massive pop from the Brooklyn crowd. A “Blue Pants city” chant broke out as the match began, and Gotch cinched in an armbar on Blake. English tagged in and hit a double arm-drag on both Blake and Murphy.
Blake took advantage of a distracted referee to plant English on the apron, then used an elbow drop to earn a two-count. Blake and Murphy hit a double neckbreaker on English, but he managed to kick out of Murphy’s cover. English sent Murphy crashing into Blake, reaching Gotch for the hot tag.
Gotch went to work on both Blake and Murphy, but when Gotch tagged in English, Murphy dumped Gotch from the ring and took English up top. Blake joined Murphy on the ropes, but Gotch jumped in and hit a double powerbomb. English hit a senton bomb for a very convincing false finish, as Murphy kicked out just before three.
Alexa got in the ring to cause a distraction, but Blue Pants hit her with a Thesz press. Murphy rolled Gotch up, but he kicked out at two. The Vaudevillains hit the Whirling Dervish to earn the pinfall and the titles.
Scott’s Thoughts: This match exceeded my expectations in every way possible. The storytelling was outstanding from all six performers, and Blue Pants was the perfect foil for Alexa. A thoroughly entertaining match with a big emotional high on the finish, this was the best tag match I can remember seeing in NXT in a very long time — possibly ever.
Jushin Thunder Liger def. Tyler Breeze by pinfall
Match Grade: B+
Liger opened up the offense with a drop toehold and an elbow drop, then mocked Breeze by posing on the top rope. Liger locked in a surfboard, but Breeze fought his way out. Liger went right back to another surfboard, wearing Breeze down.
Liger followed up with a leapfrog, then took a selfie with Breeze’s selfie stick. Breeze fought back with a Supermodel Kick for two, then hit a leg drop. Breeze hit a brutal backstabber, earning another near-fall.
Breeze landed a knee drop, but Liger answered with a facebuster. Liger hit a rolling kick and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then climbed up top. Liger tried for a frog splash, but Breeze got his knees up.
Breeze used a crucifix to earn a very close near-fall, but Liger fought back with a palm strike and an apron moonsault. Liger hit a running Liger Bomb, earning the three-count.
Scott’s Thoughts: Liger isn’t the wrestler he once was, but he still has elite match psychology, and Breeze was the perfect opponent. The finish surprised me greatly, as I don’t really see the point in Liger going over Breeze in what certainly appears to be a one-off match. NXT will need to find a way to build Breeze back up after this loss, because he’s one of the top heels in the promotion.
Samoa Joe def. Baron Corbin by referee stoppage
Match Grade: B
Joe hit an enziguiri and a dropkick, sending Corbin from the ring. Joe tried for a dive between the ropes, but Corbin met him with a big right hand. Back in the ring, Joe rolled Corbin up, then transitioned into a half crab. Joe locked in a crossface, then wrenched Corbin’s arm back until he broke the hold by placing his foot on the ropes.
Corbin dumped Joe from the ring, but Joe swept his legs out from under him, sending Corbin crashing onto the apron. Joe drove Corbin into the barricade, but once they got back in the ring, Corbin caught Joe in an heel lock. Joe reached the bottom rope, but Corbin immediately followed up with a tilt-a-whirl slam.
Corbin hit a superkick, but Joe answered with an enziguiri. Joe and Corbin exchanged stiff shots in the middle of the ring, and Joe took Corbin up top. Corbin fought his way out of a Musclebuster and hit a big boot.
Corbin hit a front suplex for a near-fall, but Joe countered the End of Days into a Kokina Clutch. Corbin transitioned into a powerbomb, but Joe cinched in another Kokina Clutch, and Corbin passed out in the hold, forcing the referee to call for the bell.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was a better match than I expected, and easily the best Corbin has ever looked. This should propel Joe to the main event scene, but I’d think that Corbin’s showing elevated his status as well.
Apollo Crews def. Tye Dillinger by pinfall
Match Grade: B-
Apollo hit a dropkick to start off the match, but when he tried for a sunset flip, Tye dropkicked him right out of the air. Tye hit a superkick for a two-count, but Apollo answered with a standing enziguiri and a clothesline. Apollo followed up with a military press facebuster and a standing moonsault for the pinfall victory.
Scott’s Thoughts: An impressive debut from Crews, who showcased his insane power and agility.
- William Regal announced the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team Scramble, which will take place on NXT TV over the coming months. That sounds fun, and like a good way to promote the NXT Tag Team division.