We’re only a few weeks away from the next NXT special on WWE Network as the brand looks to continue their run of great shows to start 2015. The big tease from last week is a contract signing between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn as well as more first-round matches in the NXT Title #1 Contenders tournament.
Thursday, January 29
Full Sail University
NXT Tag Team Championship – Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy vs. Lucha Dragons (c): I’ve been into the Blake & Murphy combo for awhile and I’m glad to see WWE getting behind them. They have crazy EDM music now, the fans are into them and finally they’re getting some matches of note. This was a lot of good action throughout with the Lucha Dragons having their usual Lucha Dragon match but to far less reaction than they were used to. I’m not sure what’s happened with them but it seems people are tiring of their act. Murphy and Blake were clearly more over here and they met them every step of the way. This was a pretty cool finish: Wesley Blake got a blind tag, Kalisto hit Salina Del Sol on Murphy but Blake immediately ran in, rolled up Kalisto and got the victory and we have NEW NXT Tag Team champs. This wasn’t an epic match by any means and probably the least impactful NXT title switch since I’ve reviewed the show but it was still a great moment for a team with the arrow clearly pointing up. **
Backstage, Bayley and Charlotte have a super awkward exchange. Not because of the content, it was fine. Bayley was saying she’s too nice, Charlotte said she was disappointed in Bayley last week. The problem was both were really bad at delivering their lines or giving off any type of charisma, it was downright cringy how terrible both were. Promos aren’t Bayley’s forte, that’s cool, she’s great at in-ring charisma, she can do that. Charlotte, c’mon, you would expect better from a Flair, then again…
NXT Championship #1 Contender Tournament (First Round) – Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd: Interesting note during the entrances, the feed was “hacked”: color bars, static, fuzz, etc. We also saw a brief image of a person amidst the noise and towards the end the words “Solomon” with the outline of a crow. So, you know, I’ll go out on a limb and say that means we’ll be seeing Solomone Crowe (the former Sami Callahan) soon.
This began exactly how you’d assume a Tyson Kidd/Adrian Neville NXT match would. Lots of control segments, side headlocks, Kidd working slow to ground Neville. The action picked up as they went out to the ring and Kidd tried to get Neville counted out. It was a fun little psychology with Kidd looking for any way to win. It’s pretty jarring to see Neville in a non-title situation after so many months atop the brand. Once back in the ring, Kidd once again locked in his patented side headlock. Neville broke free, went for the sunset flip but met a dropkick for his troubles. The story thus far is Kidd being one step ahead of Neville.
Last half of the match saw Neville finally gain the momentum with Kidd continually kicking out of whatever he tried. Neville teased going to the top but Kidd leapt up and dropkicked him to the outside. Kidd with a kick to the chest from the apron, roll-in and ANOTHER two count. Crowd isn’t making much noise but this has been a nice back and forth match. Kidd tried to lock in the Sharpshooter but Neville hit him with a kick, Red Arrow and got the three. It started slow with a bit too much stalling without any purpose. To be fair, this isn’t all on Kidd but Neville as well, I’d love to see the babyface try to escape, fight to get out of the hold or do something to draw the fans in. Too often they sit there limp. Other than that, this was a damn fine match. ***
Neville cuts a post-match promo saying he’ll be back on top soon enough. Backstage, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch (again, not calling them Team BAE. This was the last time, I swear). Banks says Becky will do the right thing at NXT Takeover and help her win the NXT Women’s Title. In true, WWE backstage fashion, once Sasha leaves the frame, Becky says she’ll do the right thing and walk about Women’s Champion. Teasing a breakup of Team B**!? Please no, we need a lot more of these two!
Charlotte & Bayley vs. Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks: This was a good clean, classically worked tag match with Charlotte being the hot tag babyface. Becky and Banks worked over the knee of Bayley throughout and played total heels. This wasn’t blowaway great but it was very well worked, very well paced and the crowd was alive for most of it. It’s such a stark difference from what a main roster “Divas” tag match would look and feel like. Bayley tried to save Charlotte from a pinfall but got a little too much of Charlotte for her liking. Charlotte shoved Bayley who waited for a second to tease her letting it go but then she reared back with a elbow strike and they started slugging it out. Banks and Lynch start beating on both and the ref throws it out. Bayley and Charlotte continue to brawl as the legion of zebras comes from the back. Bayley starts fighting them off to get at Charlotte. Sucks this didn’t get a proper finish but it was great at building up the four-way at NXT Takeover. **½
Backstage, Devin (HI DEVIN!) is interviewing Finn about fighting his buddy Hideo Itami. Finn is interrupted by Itami who says he brought Finn to NXT and if need be, he’ll take him out. These two will battle next week and I can’t wait.
Woah! Emma is back, sweet! She says “things didn’t quite work out how I had planned but that is why I’m back and next week, I’m back at NXT where it all began. It’s time for a fresh start for Emma and it starts with a rematch against Carmella.” Next week: Emma vs. Carmella, get excited folks.
NXT Championship #1 Contender Tournament (First Round) Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey: Welp, this lasted about two minutes. Corbin killed Dempsey who may not be far away from Mojo Rawley territory (that’s not good, by the way). This was nothing more than a squash. NR
Post-match, Bull says Baron got lucky twice. Baron shoves him aside. Lucky? They were a combined three minutes, oh well, I guess we get more Bull.
Contract Signing – Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens: Regal became my favorite person in the world here when he started to segment saying “I’m not going to let this turn into every other contract signing in the WWE.” Regal says if they touch each other, he’ll cancel the match at NXT Takeover. Did I ever tell you guys how much I love the simplicity of NXT? Well, if not, I do. Zayn grabs the mic and starts breaking down the paths of him and Steen, from starting in Montreal to wrestling with and against one another across the world. This was great and again, the type of simple storytelling WWE runs away from but NXT embraces. Owens looks at the contract and notices it says “Non-title” match. He then says despite what everyone thinks, his attack on Zayn wasn’t personal — he wants the title. The title means more money, more security and a happier life for his wife and kids. Until it’s a title match, Owens isn’t wrestling.
Zayn says, a title match is what the people want and they want to see him kick Kevin Owens ass. Zayn demands Regal make it a championship match and he agrees — NXT Takeover: Owens vs. Zayn is now for the NXT Championship and I can’t fucking wait.
Another solid episode of NXT. This was more of a story-building episode but there were a few good matches and as has been a trend of late, nothing bad. NXT continues their run of solid shows as we draw ever close to NXT Takeover.