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NXT - February 4, 2015

Date: February 4, 2015
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Corey Graves, Alex Riley

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

It's the go home show for Takeover next week and the main stories are the tournament to crown a new #1 contender and making Zayn vs. Owens a title match at Owens' demand. Tonight we have two semi-final matches with Hideo Itami vs. Finn Balor and Adrian Neville vs. Baron Corbin with the winners facing each other next week. Let's get to it.

Opening sequence.

Emma vs. Carmella

The fans want Blue Pants but Carmella says she's back on the clearance rack. Enzo and Cass dance in the background while Carmella talks to a less than thrilled audience. Thankfully Cass does his spelling and the fans are right back. Carmella shouts at the guys and gets kicked down as we hit a brief catfight. Emma gets choked on the ropes and Carmella mocks her dancing while checking the nails. They fight out of the corner and the Dilemma has Carmella in even more trouble. Not that it matters as she trips Emma down and puts on that leg lock crossface for the submission at 1:52.

#1 Contenders Tournament Semi-Finals: Adrian Neville vs. Baron Corbin

Baron easily takes him back into the corner to start and Adrian looks at him with a realization that he might be in major trouble. A cross body doesn't work but some kicks to the ribs work a bit better. Neville hits a running dropkick but gets his head taken off by a right hand. Adrian rolls outside with his bell rung but Baron throws him right back inside to stomp away in the corner.

A big slam gets two on Neville but he dropkicks the knee out to send Baron into the buckle. Neville scores with a springboard dropkick to knock Baron outside but the springboard plancha is caught with ease and Baron drops him on the barricade. With Neville going back inside, Bull Dempsey comes out and posts Baron, setting up the Red Arrow for the pin at 5:27.

Rating: C. For once, I really don't like the booking here. They easily could have had the posting lead to a countout (Corbin barely beat the count back in) instead of a pin, but at least it wasn't clean. That being said, does ANYONE want to see Corbin vs. Dempsey again? As Riley said, what does Corbin have left to prove against him? The match was a decent power display from Corbin but I didn't like the ending and it hurt things a good bit.

Sami Zayn says Kevin Owens played this perfectly to get what he wants. Even Regal didn't see this coming and Regal has seen it all. All that matters now is Takeover next week and Sami is bringing everything he has. Of note here: Sami said the date of the show. That's such a lost little thing in WWE today. They always say “in X amount of weeks” or something other than just the date. Say the date of the show and get it in the fans' heads instead of just the name of the show so they'll know when it's there.

Corbin vs. Dempsey next week in a No DQ match.

Bayley vs. Becky Lynch

Bayley's music is very, very catchy. The fans aren't sure who they like better here but it seems to be Bayley with more support as she grabs an armbar. Becky goes after Bayley's bad knee to take over and hits a nice snap suplex. Three straight legdrops get two but Bayley sends her outside.

Cue Sasha Banks as Bayley misses a charge into the post, allowing Lynch to kick at the knee again. A dragon screw leg whip looks to set up a leg lock but Bayley counters into a small package for two. I actually bought that as the pin. Bayley SNAPS and goes after Becky's leg before throwing her into a half crab, sending Lynch into the ropes. Sasha throws Becky back inside and the Belly to Bayley is good for the pin at 4:18.

Rating: C-. Neither girl is all that great in the ring but they're both capable of doing something passable enough to get through a ring. Lynch is far more attitude than in ring ability and there's nothing wrong with that. The four way next week has a lot of potential and while Banks winning probably makes the most sense, all four are options and that's one of the great things about NXT: it can be hard to predict sometimes, which is a very rare case in WWE.

Becky shoves Banks down as Charlotte comes out to watch.

Owens says of course it was a plan and Sami knew that's what was happening. Now he's going to take the NXT Title two months to the day of his debut.

We see a graphic for the next tournament match and the Solomon hacker screen comes up.

Blake and Murphy vs. Lucha Dragons for the Tag Team Titles next week.

Tyler Breeze is asked what his plans are now that he's out of the tournament. After calling that a stupid question, he says he's going to watch the rest of the tournament closely.

#1 Contenders Tournament Semi-Finals: Finn Balor vs. Hideo Itami

Neville is on commentary, which isn't something you see that often in NXT. The bell rings and the fans debut a new chant: “WE'RE NOT WORTHY!” They hit the mat to start for a nice wrestling sequence and the fans give the stalemate a big ovation. Fans: “BETTER THAN RAW!” Balor's chinlock attempt is countered into an armbar as Graves brings up being Tag Team Champions with Neville for a nice bit of continuity. Finn scores with a dropkick and we take a break.

Back with Itami getting two and putting on a quickly broken chinlock. Balor rolls through into a hard basement dropkick for two before putting on an arm trap chinlock of his own. A pair of rollups get a pair of near falls on Itami before it's off to a chinlock. The announcers are basically interviewing Neville about what it means to be champion again and getting inside his head instead of just asking him generic questions and plugging Twitter. Hideo fights up and goes up top, only to get kicked in the head for two as we take another break.

Back again with Balor taking the skin off Hideo's chest with chops. A running knee in the corner has Balor in some quick trouble, followed by a top rope clothesline for two. The GTS is teased again but Balor escapes and they trade kicks to the head. They slug it out with Itami getting the better of it and hitting a running basement dropkick in the corner. Back up and Balor scores with a Sling Blade but he tweaked his knee on some of those kicks. It's good enough to dropkick Itami hard into the corner and the top rope double stomp is good enough to send Balor to Takeover at 17:58.

Rating: B. The ending was a bit abrupt but this was the kind of match both guys needed. They both held their own for a long match and it never got boring. Balor still looks better but the second that GTS finally hits, it's going to blow the roof off the place. The best part is you can't even say it's stealing anything because Punk took it from Itami in the first place. Really solid match here and Neville vs. Balor is going to rock.

Balor and Itami shake hands and Neville stares Finn down.

One last Owens vs. Zayn promo ends the show. Zayn should have seen this coming but Owens surprised him. They were the best of friends but then Owens got married and had a kid and things changed. Next week, Zayn is going to see what Owens is made of.

Overall Rating: B-. The earlier stuff hurt it a bit but the main event brought the show up a good deal. More than anything else though, I want to see Takeover next week. The card is stacked and they've done a great job of building up the show in just a few weeks as opposed to the multiple months they usually have. Next week feels like new stuff crossed with an R-Evolution sequel, which is actually a cool feeling.

There are two things I want to bring up here here that continue to make NXT feel special. First of all is of course the crowd. That BETTER THAN RAW chant they started tonight kept up the feeling that the fans are having a great time every week at this show. How many times do you feel that fans coming to Raw are naturally excited to be there? It's like they show up and hope for a good show but don't expect much. When the NXT fans show up, it's time for a great show and they know it because NXT has earned that respect.

The other thing that stood out to me tonight is the commentary. Every week I have to spend the first half hour of the show figuring out who the commentary team is this week because they always rotate and it's hard to pin them down given how similar their voices are (save for Albert and Renee of course). For a long time that got on my nerves because I had to listen for them to say their first names, but the more I think about it, the more that's a good thing. The announcers are just faceless entities most of the time and that means the focus stays on the action and not on them. That's the polar opposite of WWE and it's so nice.

Carmella b. Emma – Leg lock crossface
Adrian Neville b. Baron Corbin – Red Arrow
Bayley b. Becky Lynch – Belly to Bayley
Finn Balor b. Hideo Itami – Top rope double stomp

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  1. Great description of the crowd. Everyone is always so excited at the tapings from the time we arrive to the end of the show. The energy level is great and we haven't been let down yet.

  2. Is it just me or is Bayley starting to show more confidence as a character trait, talking to the ref before the match and showing more aggression attacking Charlotte last week. She started out as a character who was afraid to even be around WWE divas when she started.

    How come the main roster never has character development like this anymore?

  3. "Of note here: Sami said the date of the show. That's such a lost little thing in WWE today. They always say “in X amount of weeks” or something other than just the date. Say the date of the show and get it in the fans' heads instead of just the name of the show so they'll know when it's there."

    I noticed that HHH kept mentioning the date in the Steve Austin podcast, as well as one of his sit down interviews with Michael Cole.

  4. They add things like the interview with Neville. They aren't the most distinctive in the world, but they also aren't making things worse. Commentary isn't supposed to get a focus, but rather be a supplement. Look at the greatest JR calls over the years. The action going on would be entertaining if you watched the show with the sound muted. Now JR certainly made things better, but he wasn't required. The same is true of the NXT announcers.

  5. At least these guys don't annoy me like the RAW announcers. I could also do with more calling of moves but that's the old mark in me talking.

  6. That's where I don't need commentators. I remember watching Barely Legal and Joey said "Irish whip" what felt like 100 times. I actually shouted at the screen "THIS ISN'T RADIO! STOP TELLING ME EVERY SINGLE MOVE!"

  7. Because the writers have brains the size of walnuts and don't know how to write anything but stupid reality based television where character development isn't a thing.

  8. I'm not sure if I agree with you about the commentary. All of these Michael Cole sound-a-like announcers is another example of how WWE aims to make their product as bland as possible. Commentary in wrestling is supposed to complement the match and if really good, add something to the match watching experience. If the purpose was to blend in then what's the point of having commentary. Announcers used to have distinct voices. If you're spending too much time trying to figure out difference between the play-by-play and the color commentary then that's attention taken away from the match. The different parts of a wrestling broadcast is supposed to keep your attention by providing a unique product, it's not supposed to blend into the background. While these boring sound-a-like announcers are better than the insufferable announcers who often talk over the matches that we see on the main shows they don't really add anything to what we're watching inside the ring.

  9. Since it's a Wednesday instead of a Thursday this time I think they are really trying to hammer it home

  10. "Better Than RAW" chant?

    Everyone's getting buried like Paul Heyman in oatmeal soon.

  11. I'm in the middle. While I agree that great action doesn't need announcing, I'm also a bigger fan of the distinct voices on NXT (Young, Graves, Albert even) than the sound-a-likes because they all bring a differing perspective to the product. So while I don't dislike the other guys working NXT, I would really be happier with a rotating cast of Riley, Graves, Young and Albert.

  12. I feel like that's possible, but I also think NXT's appeal is intentional. The Austin podcast with HHH made it pretty clear that NXT is supposed to cater to the hardcore wrestling fan, so of course it will be at odds with what we see on USA every week.

    Honestly, they might even see it as a triumph of sorts

  13. Unfortunately that came into my head when I heard it.

  14. Stranger in the AlpsFebruary 4, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    Hideo Itami is a disappointment thus far. I don't see whatever it is WWE saw in him. I haven't watched his Japan career at all, and I'm sure I would be even MORE disappointed in him if I had. Of Balor, Owens and Itami as the most recent major signings, Itami will be the last one to get the call to the main roster. He's just not adapting well.

  15. It's a confidence thing; he can't call a match confidently when there's a language barrier. Amazingly, when he has a match with guy whose wrestled in Japan, they have a good match.

  16. KENTA was the one of the absolute best Wrestlers of the 00s.

    Itami is running in place in NXT.

  17. "Lynch is far more attitude than in ring ability"


  18. There's a middle ground. If A guy busts out an Emerald flowsion, or a dragon suplex, I'd like to hear it called

  19. It's great how the characters on the show naturally evolve while retaining their key characteristics. Bayley and Zayn both got a needed edge but remain likeable and nice. Breeze started as a joke gimmick but has evolved to the point where you believe his character actually cares about the title and prestige. I was actually disappointed Emma returned with her old gimmick (as it's a go-nowhere thing and she deserves better) but then she lost her match and showed disappointment and I have faith that will lead to her changing things up a bit.

    How amazing to actually have faith in the booking of a WWE product!

  20. Here's a question

    WWE's product has been shit for so long That the "hardcore" wrestling fans are a lot of what hasn't drifted away from Raw.

    I really don't think these demographics are as far apart as WWE thinks they are

  21. The way they're booking Baron Corbin is exactly how Roman Reigns should be booked.

  22. That's fine, as long as they don't sound like Striker beating us over the head with his intelligence. Sounding like old school Tenay is fine.

  23. Is he the guy where the crowd times his matches? Cause that's a pretty great gimmick.

  24. I really don't think they are either, but WWE seems to believe that there is some mystery audience of 'non-hardcore fans' that continue to love and watch Raw & Smackdown every week even as their viewership diminishes.

    I really don't know what all that really means aside from the fact that they clearly know how to create a compelling "wrestling" product, they just choose not to do so on the main show(s).

  25. I think Emma's sending out strong heel turn hints, tbh. Her attitude in the interview last week, and her initial approach to this one (and the glare afterwards). Give it a few weeks and you'll see her turn bad, I'm absolutely positive of this.

  26. Yeah, but the crowd were respectful enough of Neville not to count (at least not that I heard), which I thought was a great touch from them.

  27. Adam "Colorado" CurryFebruary 5, 2015 at 2:26 AM

    Reason #79 why WWE sucks: you can't make this an actual TV show? I'm sure USA can give up just one hour a week that is penciled in for SVU reruns.

  28. I think, if they're smart, they'll realise that NXT, as much as the PPVs (with the exceptions of RR and WM) is the biggest and best selling point for the Network at this time.

  29. I got the feeling Hideo and Balor were holding back a little from really unleashing it, waiting for a bigger match down the line. Don't want to blow the whole thing out of the water immediately and then struggle to top that on a "special live event" show.

    The Corbin ending was a bit weak - and I agree the countout would probably have worked better - but at the same time, I was more worried about how Neville would look going into the match (as the main roster isn't exactly great at protecting former champions who aren't called John Cena), but thankfully he got to put in some decent offence and, while he was clearly mismatched in terms of power, it was decently booked as a speed v power match. Corbin will be fine - he's clearly destined for big things, imo.

    One thing I love about NXT is the way the fans are buying into it as competition for Raw, rather than a feeder league. Developmental or not, when the fans come across as proud of the product and really into most (if not every) matches, it really strengthens the show.

  30. He's also a werewolf biker.

  31. This in a nutshell.

    Put him in against Balor, Zayn or Kidd and he'll give you a good match. Put him in against someone like the Ascension members (with all due respect to them) and it's not going to be nearly so fluid.

    He's being protected and his language development will come, then we'll see what he can really do. They're taking the 100% smart road with Itami at this point - if they'd shoved him immediately onto the main roster (which his legacy definitely justified if they wanted to) then he would have struggled, imo.

  32. I agree re: Itami and Balor. It was a decent match, but nothing earth shattering. I'd imagine that the bookers wouldn't want their semi-final leaving the fans flat for the final match in the tournament, either.

  33. Re: commentary. I'm not a fan of three in a booth anyhow, but if they're intent to do it then it'd be best not to have Riley and Graves on together. They sound too similar to each other (and to Rich Brennan). I also thought that in this show, they rambled over the main event in a Raw-like fashion. Otherwise a fun show.

    I don't mind the loss for Corbin. Gotta give Dempsey something to justify a final match and Neville's a former champion, so it's not that unlikely a win.

    They've done a good job building the women's fatal four-way. Better than any multi-man/woman match on the main shows in a long time.

    It's such a pleasure to watch a coherent wrestling show, where everything has meaning and everything pays off.

  34. 2 hours RAW followed by 1 hour NXT

  35. He'll be fine - his mannerisms and facial expressions are fantastic
    which takes a lot of the pressure off his English. The bit on his debut where he
    kicked the Ascension's ass and then just grabbed the chair, sat on it
    and just gestured for them to bring it looked bad ass. Same with his
    reactions to Balor when he was in full paint job.

  36. I like it being on the Network, as it means I can actually watch it easily enough without having to *cough* download it like I do with Raw, as I can't afford the ridiculous prices Sky Sports charge.

  37. Absolutely. I have faith that he is more than capable of rising to the top of the WWE.

    Unfortunately, he's going to hit the Glass Ceiling known as Vince at some point, which means he'll debut on Raw as "Usagi Yojimbo" in the rabbit costume, now that Gabriel's ran for the hills.

  38. Yeah, I LOLed at that myself.

  39. Can they? Sure. Will they? Nope.

  40. I'm sure he's having "work WWE style" shoved down his throat over and over again, and is having trouble adapting. Watch some videos of him on Youtube, and you will be impressed. Odds are, he won't have as good as matched in NXT or WWE, because its not "WWE style." This is what happens with nearly every Japanese wrestler who they bring over.

  41. Earn residual profit weekly... This is a great part-time job for everyone... Best part about it is that you can work from your home and earn from $100-$2000 each week ... Start today and have your first payment at the end of the week...>->https://-> --->START here right now <-->

  42. "when the fans come across as proud of the product and really into most (if not every) matches, it really strengthens the show."
    You are so right on this. It is why I love PWG. Their crowd loves their product and shows it every show.

  43. Repo - Repo - Repo Girl

  44. They only place this mystery audience could come out is from running surveys. It would be borderline irresponsible from WWE to "think" from nowhere they just exist.

  45. Bayley's music is a ripoff of the equally catchy Owl City song "Good Time", so no doubt it's equally catchy.

    Although Graves and Riley blended into each other on commentary, Graves' epic rant against Becky Lynch was the best thing on the show, as he raged against the "inopportune headbanging and misuse of the devil-horns".

    During the Corbin-Neville match, Corbin hit the ring and I said "If I was booking, this is where Dempsey sends him into the post for the countout" and they almost did that. The pinfall was a bit mystifying.

    I'm still confused by the Jersey act, because they cut singalong babyface promos but Carmella is clearly a heel. It's a weird deal.

    Another fun, great show.

  46. I don't mind Corbin losing by pinfall. It makes it more emphatic, and it doesn't hurt Baron one bit to finally get beaten by the former NXT champ with his murderdeathkill finisher.

  47. I may have to watch just for that rant. Becky Lynch's whole stage presence with the constant flashing of the devil horns just screams "amateur hour." I'm not feeling it.

  48. I have a hunch that Carmella is going to turn heel on Enzo and Big Cass in the not too distant future--they just want to use them to boost her profile for a little longer.

  49. Riley is the worst. Says so much and yet says so little. I find myself saying "Shut up Alex Riley" a lot during NXT. The worst announcer they have, bar none.

    But he's a Phoenix, he's the second coming of Christ or some shit...

  50. If this Carmella/Blue Pants "feud" does not have a "Ba-da-boom, bluest pants in the room!" line upcoming I will be very upset...

  51. That "Better than Raw" chant was great, but I hope fans realize that the more they shit on the main product, the more Vince is going to shit on the NXT guys once they're brought up to the main roster.

  52. Graves also accused her of being "the chick who wears the band's t-shirt to the concert" which made me laugh as well. He's definitely getting better out there.

  53. All of this. Better to let him fester and get comfortable in NXT instead of make him the next Sin Cara on Raw.

  54. Gotta love a good PCU reference.

  55. I feel like maybe the pinfall was their way of avoiding the scenario they have had with Rusev where the fear is him finally eating a pin will kill his heat? It seems early to worry about that but maybe that was the thought.

    And I really have enjoyed Graves' work since his addition to the booth. He brings energy to the booth and as a viewer I feel like he enjoys being out there & working his character/voice. He sorta reminds me of Ventura in that regard

  56. I think Corbin is gonna be huge, great look and cool entrance, he's already got a presence.


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