Thursday, December 4
Full Sail University
We’re a week out from NXT Clash of the Champions IV, or as they like to call it NXT Takeover: R Evolution. The card is stacked as the influx of new NXT talent, most notably Hideo Itami and Finn Balor, finally take center stage as well as the debuting Kevin Owens, a well-built women’s title match and one of the best feuds in NXT history finally comes to an end as Adrian Neville defends his NXT title against Sami Zayn. If Zayn loses, he leaves NXT. Can the go-home show do it’s job and get us excited?
Charlotte vs. Mia Yim: “Mia!” chants get us started, must be a cool moment for a woman making her WWE/NXT debut and already getting chants. If you aren’t familiar Mia is a women’s star on the independent scene wrestling primarily in the WWNLive family and SHIMMER. She had one of the best matches on the recent WWNLive tour of China and she’s definitely worth seeking out.
There wasn’t much to this match at all, Charlotte hit the Bow Down to the Queen in around a minute. I’m not sure Yim even got an offensive move. NR
After the match, Sasha comes down and asks Charlotte to give her the title because she’s going to take it next week (NXT Takeover: R Evolution). Charlotte then leads everyone in a “Ratchet” chant and no, it’s not a Ratchet and Clank reference, folks. Ratchet (Urban Dictionary): A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she is every mans eye candy. Unfortunately, she’s wrong.
Bayley comes down and tells Sasha to “shut her ratchet mouth shut” and gets her leg kicked out of her leg. Charlotte runs down for the save, grabs Sasha and throws her into the ring. Becky Lynch runs down to distract Charlotte, Sasha takes her out and holds up the NXT Women’s Title.
Another amazing Vaudevillains silent movie/vignette airs. These are pretty fantastic and the best thing WWE has done in awhile. I wouldn’t call the comedy subtle, but it’s genuinely funny and a great way to build towards the Vaudevillains and Lucha Dragons.
Buddy Murphy & Wesley Blake vs. The Vaudevillains: I wasn’t a fan of the harder edge Vaudevillains when they first made the transition but it’s grown on me and they are starting to work and act the part. Some of their offense is still comedy based but it’s certainly going in the right direction. This match in particular featured the newer, smarter work from the Vaudevillains as they worked over the knee of Wesley Blake and cut the ring off. At this point, the announcers mixed up the two guys which is odd given they aren’t foreign which tends to confuse the typical WWE announcer. Anyway, BUDDY MURPHY gets the hot tag and starts flying around the ring. Simon Gotch makes a blind tag as the two double team Murphy for the victory. Great heel work from the Vaudevillains who are really starting to come into their own.
Bull Dempsey vs. Elias Sampson: Splash from the top and it’s over just like that. I can’t even try to rate this, it didn’t last more than 40 seconds. Bull and Baron continue their “beat everyone in a minute to cover up our lack of ability” feud. I’m okay with it. NR
Baron Corbin comes out, walks past Bull Dempsey and we’re transitioning into another match.
Baron Corbin vs. Steve Cutler: I have no idea where Steve Cutler came from or how he got to the ring but here we are. End of Days and in 13 seconds Corbin wins. Look, I enjoy squash matches but these are pretty ridiculous. NR
Another Kevin Owens promo and this one may be the best WWE has produced since those famed Rey Mysterio vignettes in 2002. Owens ran down a list of guys he wrestled on the independents: Adrian Neville, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and of course Sami Zayn. He says he wrestled them, beat them, but they got the call first. “It’s my turn now.”
Tyler Breeze & Tyson Kidd vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor: Decent back and forth match here. Itami is clearly still getting his feet wet in NXT and the “WWE style” but this was one of his best showings yet. Him and Balor work well with one another and could be a great tag team if they keep them together — I’d prefer them as singles but beggars can’t be choosers, I just want to see them on my TV. Kidd had far less stalling in this match and played his veteran heel role to perfection.
There was an embarrassing edit snafu from WWE here, Balor hit Breeze with the double foot stomp from the top and to drown out the “Holy Shit!” chants, they added the most basic “CrowdCheering.mp3” file you’ve ever heard. It also wasn’t mixed properly so for some reason Balor hits his move, nobody reacts for a few seconds then the NXT crowd is as loud as they’ve ever been before getting SUPER quiet just as Itami hits the Penalty Kick and gets the three. Either way, this was a lot of fun as the Balor/Itami duo head into NXT Clash of the Champions IV. ***
Our final segment is a confrontation between NXT champion Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn. Neville is playing total heel here saying Zayn simply doesn’t have the killer instinct to ever win the NXT championship. Zayn is less than enthused and says he’s starting to get pissed off. “I’m too nice to be champion, like I’m your baby sister or something!” (Oh no, don’t tell the PC police). “You don’t decide my fate, I do.” This is great, Zayn is so so so good on the mic. When I talk about cream rising to the top no matter what, I talk about a guy like Zayn. Whether he was a generic luchador, a dancing ska ginger kid or whatever, the dude gets over and gets “it”. He may not get the push we want, but he’s going to do all he can to force their hand.
Neville sticks his hand out for a handshake but Zayn stops himself and says this is where he always go wrong. He then slaps Neville and says “You don’t get to end me, next week I’m taking that NXT title” and I couldn’t be more excited for next week. CHILLS~!
This was a decent go-home show for what’s looking like an unbelievable NXT special next week. The final segment between Neville and Zayn is must-watch if only to see how great Zayn is.