Thursday, November 13
Full Sail University
After weeks of a stagnant roster and storylines, a breath of fresh air has been pumped into NXT with the emergence and continued rise of Hideo Itami and the debut of his “friend” Finn Balor. It’s very telling where most of the talent from NXT is coming from as of late and it’s not from the million dollar facility they bought. Sure, there’s still time to reap the benefits of the Performance Center but it’s not a complete coincidence that many of the current top stars cut their teeth on the independents, not in the Center. Anyway, we start the episode off with Finn Balor coming down. He’s met with “Finn! Finn! Finn!” chants and grabs the mic to cut his very first promo but he’s quickly cut off by Tyson Kidd and Natalya who cuts a promo telling Finn to have some respect. Kidd is then interrupted by Justin Gabriel who says “it seems like every week a new big international superstar debuts.” Gabriel and Kidd slide into the ring but Hideo Itami comes in for the save — let’s go!
Finn Balor/Hideo Itami vs. Tyson Kidd/Justin Gabriel: If you’ve been watching NXT for any length of time you can probably assume the story in this match. Finn and Hideo were the quick high-flyers who were moving a million miles per hour when they were in the ring while Kidd and Gabriel continued to try and slow them down. Kidd, in particular, continued to slow the pace down with his patented side headlock. Balor hit a beautiful Tope con Hilo and took most of this match. Itami got the hot tag and destroyed Kidd with a series of kicks, Balor and Itami hit their dueling corner dropkicks. Balor hit the top rope double stomp for the win in a really good opener. ***1/2
Devin Taylor is backstage with Sami Zayn who said tonight it’s his destiny to win the NXT Championship and finish his road to redemption.
Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks: Alexa Bliss has some new music and it’s an insane upgrade and says way more major league than whatever the hell her previous music was. Somehow Sasha Banks read Lanza’s Ishii/Goto tweet in the future because this was the most stiff Divas/NXT women’s match I’ve ever seen. You would’ve thought Alexa was being punished for something with the abuse she was taking. Alexa’s nose get busted open real bad on a slap to the face and everything from the strikes to the submissions looked like a million bucks. Bliss looked great until the very end where she was clearly startled by the blood pouring out of her nose. This was short but wow, go out of your way to see these ladies’ beat on one another. ***
Backstage, Devin chats with Adrian Neville who says Zayn can’t win the big one. It’s every Neville promo you’ve ever heard.
Lucha Dragon vs. Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy: Just realized that the Blake & Murphy team confirms that occasional VOW contributor Blake Murphy is definitely a creative team member (he’s not). Murphy continues to impress and despite his horrendous ring gear, definitely has the look of a main eventer. At the very least, Murphy and Blake can be tag team fodder on the main roster right now. Sin Cara won with a senton in a really great tag match that saw a nice back and forth with both teams getting a chance to shine. Lucha Dragons continue to impress and I continue to enjoy Blake & Murphy. ***
The Vaudevillains backstage with Devin Taylor basically saying they are coming for the Lucha Dragons and the title won’t be with two children anymore but instead two men. Devin is not impressed.
Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville: This may have been my favorite Adrian Neville NXT main event. He worked at a much more fluid, quick pace and didn’t get trapped in the headlock game like he usually does. The story, of course, is Sami Zayn’s Road to Redemption and he showed a ton of fire throughout. Zayn was A++ here and this was worked like a classic El Generico Ring of Honor match, I was marking out. Neville attempted a Red Arrow from the top but Zayn moved out of the way and set up for the Helluva kick. Neville was selling his knee as a legit injury, Zayn stopped what he was doing to get close to Neville and check on him. The ref throws up the X sign but just as he does Neville rolled Zayn up and got the three. WOW. This IS the story to tell with Zayn but I wonder if this should’ve been done a few months ago, he kind of looks like a goof again and another in a long line of idiot WWE babyfaces. Regardless, loved the match, loved Neville and Zayn’s performance here and this was one of the better NXT main events in a long time. I’d even say I enjoyed this more than the NXT Takeover II main event. ****
This may be the best episode of NXT since I started reviewing them weekly. Top-to-bottom, well-worked matches from a nice crop of talented workers. The main event stood head and shoulders above a standard Adrian Neville main event and the influx of the Balor and Itami’s of the world has me looking forward to the future of NXT. The women, as always, had a top-notch match and continue to run circles around their main roster counterparts. If you haven’t watched this episode yet, drop everything you’re doing and go watch it.