Date: January 8, 2015
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Corey Graves, Alex Riley
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
One of the many things I like about this show is they set up something for next week almost every time. In this case, we have three things, ranging from Itami vs. Curtis Axel to the Vaudevillains getting their rematch from R-Evolution to the return of Sami Zayn for the first time since he was laid out by Owens. That sounds like a stacked show so let's get to it.
Here's the champ to get things going. Sami gets ready to talk but leaves the ring to go be with the crowd and hold up the title. A YOU DESERVE IT chant stops him again before he gets to talk about what this title means. In anyone else's hands, it means you're the best. In his hands though, it means you can do it your way and keep doing it how you want because the proof is right here.
He's going to hate himself for saying this, but this title isn't his. It belongs to both him and the fans. Everyone here is part of a band called Sami Zayn and the Zaniacs. The fans start the OLE chant and Sami loves that song. Takeover was the best night of his life, but it didn't end like he wanted it to. Owens cried on his shirt that night and then hurt Sami really bad. He may have hurt Sami, but the champ is right back here, ready to defend the title.
This brings out Adrian Neville who says they tore each other to pieces last time and Zayn was the better man. Neville saw a new Sami and he's now the champion so congratulations. Sami appreciates it and is pretty sure Neville is entitled to a rematch. This brings out William Regal to congratulate them on having such a great match at R-Evolution. There will indeed be a rematch and it takes place next week on the first Wednesday show.
The Vaudevillains can't wait to right the wrong from Takeover and prove their manliness.
Hideo Itami vs. Curtis Axel
Axel is trying to be the last real man in wrestling. At this point point there are almost enough of those to make a stable. Itami scores with the early kicks but Axel takes him into the corner and hits a series of clotheslines to the back of the head. A chinlock doesn't get Curtis anywhere but a knee to the jaw gets two. Axel throws Hideo down and asks who cares about Itami.
Curtis slaps on an armbar out of nowhere (no arm work so far into the match so let's ignore the neck work and go after the arm) but Hideo fights out and nails a clothesline of his own. Itami loads up a tornado DDT but instead jumps to the apron to snap Axel's throat across the top rope. The top rope clothesline is good for two but Axel tries the PerfectPlex. That goes nowhere so Itami snapmares him down and hits something like Trouble in Paradise to a kneeling Axel for the pin at 5:45.
Rating: C-. Not bad here and Hideo is starting to round into form as a singles guy. The clotheslines are a nice alternative to the kicks and it really opens up his offense quite a bit. It's also nice to see him finally have a finisher, even if it's the same move he does more often than any other. Axel as the new version of Tyson Kidd would be a fine role for him as he's talented in the ring but needs to reestablish himself after the last few years.
Tyson Kidd is getting ready in the back so Natalya tries to intercept Byron Saxton. A Total Divas interview is cut off by Kidd asking if she's taken care of the cats. Natalya goes off to feed them so Kidd can talk about how important it is to become NXT Champion. That means he can be the new face of NXT, right before he replaces Sarah McLachlan as the face of the ASPCA. Kidd loves all cats, except Grumpy Cat. Fact.
Video on Bull Dempsey vs. Baron Corbin, based on who can squash jobbers faster. They face off for the first time next week.
Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss
This is due to Banks breaking Bliss' nose a few weeks back. Alexa grabs a quick sunset flip for two but has her headscissors countered into a faceplant. Banks takes her time trash talking but stops to blast Alexa with right hands to the face. She lays Bliss across the middle rope for a double knee to the ribs, setting up the Bank Statement for the submission at 2:06.
Quick package on Neville vs. Zayn from R-Evolution.
Tyler Breeze vs. Chad Gable
Gable is an Olympic wrestler who has gotten rave reviews so far. Gable easily takes Breeze down to start and rides him with a front facelock. The fans are WAY into Chad to start as Graves won't confirm or deny that he runs Breeze's fan club. Breeze fights up and takes him down for a chinlock while throwing in some trash talk to the Uggo. Gable gets to his feet and throws on an armbar over the top rope ala Alberto Del Rio. He breaks at four and Breeze is TICKED, setting up the Beauty Shot for the pin at 2:37. Gable looked good out there in the limited time he had.
Finn Balor is looking forward to facing Tyson Kidd next week, but Kidd is going to need more than nine lives to survive. Fact. Simple, yet effective. Why is that so lost on the main show writers?
We see a still from Breeze's post match celebration, showing an ominous face peeking out from the curtain to look at him. It's not clear whose face it is.
Tag Team Titles: Lucha Dragons vs. Vaudevillains
Vaudevillains are challenging again after the Dragons pinned the illegal man at R-Evolution. Kalisto quickly springboards onto Gotch and pounds away with right hands before it's already off to Cara. Some kind of modified Gory Stretch has Gotch in trouble as Graves says these two might be equally strong. English comes in and says the titles are coming home with them tonight. He school boys Cara through the ropes and out to the floor for a nice move, but Kalisto sends both Vaudevillains to the floor for a big double dive.
We take a break and come back (after an announcement that Daniel Bryan will be in action on the first Thursday Smackdown) with Kalisto trying the big spinning wristlock, only to have English hold the ropes to send the masked man crashing down. Gotch gets two off a big belly to back before a double chop puts Kalisto down again.
English comes back in but gets rolled up for two, only to slap on a chinlock. Back up and Kalisto finally rolls over for the hot tag to Cara. Everything breaks down and Gotch kicks Cara in the head, only to be low bridged out to the floor. In what looked to be a botched finish, Cara lifts English up for a powerbomb and Kalisto adds a spinning clothesline to the back of the head to retain at 11:45.
Rating: C+. The match was fine but the ending really didn't look good. In theory it was supposed to be a clothesline to the front but it looked awkward instead of devastating. The Dragons need new opponents now, and thankfully NXT actually has some teams they could quickly build up into contenders. I'm not sure where the Vaudevillains go, but a refocus on the comedic stuff could be in order.
Overall Rating: C+. Not one of their stronger episodes here but they did a great job of setting up next week to look like something special. Sami's opening promo was excellent with a ton of emotion and it set up the rematch next week. I really like how NXT is able to wait things out and tease the big stuff, such as Owens showdown with Zayn. Not the match mind you but just those two in the same place at the same time. Instead of hot shotting to that, we're getting what should be a great match out of the way, instead of just jumping straight to it. WWE could learn from that, but the circumstances are a bit different up top.
Hideo Itami b. Curtis Axel – Spinning kick to the head
Sasha Banks b. Alexa Bliss – Bank Statement
Tyler Breeze b. Chad Gable – Beauty Shot
Lucha Dragons b. Vaudevillains – Powerbomb/top rope clothesline combination to English
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