Sami Zayn opens up this episode of NXT, heading to the ring for his first match back at Full Sail since his injury last year.
Sami Zayn vs Adam Rose
It is strange seeing Rose make his way to the ring with his party music playing considering he now plays a serious character. You’d think they’d change that? Rose starts the match by holding down Zayn by the arm, but Zayn quickly reverses that into an arm takedown of his own on Rose. Rose fires in some hard strikes on Zayn including a running knee to the midsection. Zayn fights back and heads to the top rope, but he is knocked off by Rose, who goes up himself and hits a falling headbutt. Definitely not a diving headbutt. This was a falling headbutt by Rose. He just falls. He gets a two count, and soon finds himself on the receiving end of takedown by Zayn, who then applies the Koji Clutch submission for the victory.
Result – Sami Zayn wins
Analysis – Short and sweet for the return. Zayn looked as sharp as ever when he was on the attack, which surprisingly wasn’t often. Another surprise was that Zayn won the match by submission, something we don’t see often. A nice addition to his arsenal as he heads towards a number one contenders match.
Johnny Gargano is interviewed backstage. He calls Samoa Joe a bully and he knows how to deal with a bully: smash them in the mouth. He says Johnny Wrestling will not back down as he main events this episode against Joe.
The American Alpha call out Blake and Murphy for a match next week on NXT that is accepted later on in the show. They make the challenge as they want to add another team to those they have already knocked off. Unfamiliar with the American Alpha? That’s because it was only introduced in this segment. It is the new team name for Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.
Tye Dillinger vs Apollo Crews
The rematch from the debut of Crews. Dillinger gives himself a rating of 10 for his start as he has control of Crews and even has time for a few cartwheels around the squared circle. A big dropkick by Crews slows down Dillinger’s momentum, before Crews performs an incredible suplex where he manages to squat down and back up and drop Dillinger to the mat. An insane show of strength. The action moves to the outside where Dillinger dives through the ropes onto Crews. Back in the ring, Dillinger exposes his knee from the pad and drops Crews’ head on it for a very close call that could have been the end. Crews manages to take down Dillinger with a spear before landing a huge kick and a toss powerbomb for the three count. After the match, Crews says he has unfinished business with the NXT Champion, Finn Balor, and says he wants a match with the champ but doesn’t feel like he has earned a title shot so he will take the match without the title on the line. This challenge is also later accepted.
Result – Apollo Crews wins
Analysis – Unless Crews pulls off a huge upset and defeats Balor, I’m not sure where Crews is currently heading. Crews is a strange one because he has the look, speed, strength and charisma… Yet I feel like something is just missing from him. Despite his charisma, he doesn’t seem to engage much with the crowd, and the crowds never seen overly excited to see him when he appears. Maybe that’s just me. A decent match here though, limited a lot by its shortness.
Footage is shown from a live NXT show from the recent days in Milwaukee where Sami Zayn is talking in the ring and is interrupted… BY KEVIN OWENS! Fantastic. The crowd loved this given the reaction videos that were shown. I love the continuity here already and would absolutely accept them feuding again in the near future given the story behind it all.
Baron Corbin vs Rich Swann
For the select few in the crowd who were familiar with Swann, they were excited to see him appear. A man who has a lot of potential, Swann could make a name for himself in NXT in 2016 if he gets the chance. Swann tried to use his speed to escape Corbin early on, delivering sharp kicks as he flew around the ring. Corbin soon dumped Swann over his head and Swann landed hard. Swann managed to escape a submission by Corbin to land a hurricanrana, dropkick and Superkick combo for a two count. The Lone Wolf was only stunned temporarily, and hit Deep Six to pick up the victory and gain momentum heading into his number one contenders match.
Result – Baron Corbin wins
Analysis – Wait. Baron Corbin won. And he didn’t hit End of Days. Amazing. I’m so used to waiting for that move that I was completely shocked by the finish. The match itself was a short match to put over Corbin ahead of his big match, but Swann showed glimpses of potential that the crowd may remember when he comes back again.
Emma and Alexa Bliss vs Bayley and Carmella
Emma and Bliss looked like they had an issue before the match dating back to when Emma eliminated Bliss from the Women’s Battle Royal, but they soon teamed up, throwing Carmella out of the ring and beating up Bayley before the bell even rang. When it finally did, Bayley was visibly in pain, and Emma and Bliss took it in turns taking advantage of this weakness. Bayley manages to fight back against Emma with shoulder tackles and a suplex, but Dana distracts the ref and Bliss attacks Bayley from the apron. Emma then gets two near falls, one following the shoulder crossbody and the other from a double under-hook suplex. A resilient Bayley eventually tags in Carmella who immediately unleashes on Bliss. She delivers a Bronco Buster on Bliss and, after dumping Emma out of the ring, wraps her legs around the neck of Bliss until Bliss is forced to tap out.
Result – BayMella win
Analysis – Fairly solid women’s tag match. Usually this kind of scenario (where title holder and challenger team up) ends with a turn of some sort, but this wasn’t the case as Bayley and Carmella’s friendship remained. On the other hand, it is a shame to see Emma lost in the fold once again. With no real direction at the minute, she may not have much to do other than take losses for a while.
Johnny Gargano vs Samoa Joe
Joe put on a great match against Gargano’s old tag partner, Tomasso Ciampa, not long ago, so I was excited for this main event. Gargano shows he really won’t back down, but Joe is hitting hard to start with. Gargano does manage to nail a kick to the midsection of Joe that sends him to the outside, but Joe completely wipes him out on the apron. Gargano attempts some chops this time but the same fate meets him as another kick by Joe wipes Gargano out, this time Gargano almost lands on his head. Gargano barely escapes a count out but walks straight into a flurry of strikes by Joe. Gargano retaliates with two big kicks and a flying DDT for a near fall, but a monster kick by Joe allows him to set up the Coquina Clutch for the victory.
Result – Samoa Joe wins
Analysis – For the time he was given, Joe put on another great match in NXT. Gargano also looked good as well, a reason I believe he should be signed onto the roster with Ciampa. Joe winning was to boost his momentum for the number one contenders match really, just like with Zayn and Corbin.
Review – The show was full of star power this week. Matches included the three men heading towards a number one contenders match to the NXT Championship, the man who now has a match with the NXT champion, the NXT Women’s Champion and the contender to her title. Add in appearances backstage by the NXT Champion and the NXT Tag Team Champions and the big guns were all in attendance tonight. There were some good matches on the card, but with five matches crammed into an hour long show, no match went anywhere near long enough to make it a classic, only glimpses of what could have been appeared. Joe, Corbin and Zayn all picked up big victories ahead of their collision course next week.
Confirmed for next week
Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship
The American Alpha vs Blake and Murphy
What did you make of this week’s NXT? What are your thoughts on Apollo Crews? And who is your winner in the triple threat match booked for next week? Let me know by commenting below or on twitter @carlo_george