WWE NXT starts this week with an unfamiliar face in the ring. Michael Cole. He is booed immediately as he tries to talk. Cole announces he has been made the NXT General Manager in the absence of William Regal, who has had successful surgery on his neck (fantastic news regarding Mr Regal). He announces Bayley will defend her title against Eva Marie tonight, and he announces tonight will be the contract signing between Finn Balor and Samoa Joe.
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe contract signing
Balor enters before Cole can introduce either men. He warns Joe about what he is going to do to him when they finally meet. Cole introduces Joe and his music hits. He walks to the ring with an absolute purpose. He gets in the ring and signs the contract as Balor dares him to look at him in the eye. Joe doesn’t, and immediately leaves the ring after signing the contract. No words, no contact with anyone. Balor signs the contract after, and Cole makes it official for London. Balor stands at the top of the ramp, his title lifted in the air, when Samoa Joe returns and attacks him. A brawl ensues, before Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch to choke out the champion.
Notes – Statement made. Emphatic walk in and walk out from Joe. Balor showed how angry he was on the mic. Joe then attacked the champion. Perfectly done.
Dash and Dawson vs the Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championship
Dawson starts the bout with Simon Gotch. Early covers by both Vaudevillains as they attempt to win their titles back quickly. A tag to Dawson allows the champions to take control after Aiden English had started to gain momentum. The commentary team were playing up the strategy being operated by the champions, noting how they have altered their game plan and not directly gone to work on English’s damaged leg as that would be what English would have been expecting. Fantastic work here by the commentary team. Gotch receives a hot tag and hits a sunset flip for a two count. Dash and Dawson fight back and set Gotch up for their finisher, but English manages to make the save before any damage is done. The challengers then set up the Whirling Derbish but the champions counter similarly, and Gotch ends up being wiped off the apron. English nails a roll up for a very close two count. He tries another, but a tag is made, the champions hit the Shatter Machine and a three count means they retain. They celebrate up the ramp, but music hits… ENZO AND CASS!!! The two who Dash and Dawson took out of action a few weeks ago are back. They look truly fired up, and the crowd love it. They attack both champions until the champs are forced to retreat to the back.
Result – Dash and Dawson retain the titles
Notes – I’m still not sure what went wrong with the Vaudevillains. The crowd are still loving their act, and they still put on decent matches. I can only assume something isn’t right backstage. It is the only explanation. As for the future, it seems maybe Enzo and Cass are next in line. They’ve had title shots before and failed to collect the gold, but maybe now it their time. If they are to pick them up, it may spell another relatively short title reign for tag champs, which would be disappointing for Dash and Dawson given they are doing well as champions right now. A decent tag match again this week.
There is a backstage interview with Eva Marie where she claims she has the support of the WWE universe ahead of her title match with Bayley. Yep. She said that. She then reveals Nia Jax is her friend, who then walks in and brings more presents to Marie’s little set-up.
A vignette airs of a man playing a guitar to a slow beat. The camera never actually reveals who the man is, but it is easy to tell it is Elias Sampson. A return for him?
Dana Brooke vs Asuka
A rematch from the last TakeOver looks set. But Dana has entered the arena with a microphone. A hooded figure attacks Asuka from behind as Dana talks, but Asuka knocks her down with a kick. Asuka reveals the figure to be Emma. Dana causes another distraction and this time Emma takes Asuka down, before locking in the Emma Lock. Asuka smiles as Emma and Dana walk away smugly.
Result – Match doesn’t start
Notes – Instead of a rematch, we seem to be heading into a collision course between Emma and Asuka. The best thing here was that Asuka never tapped out while locked in the Emma Lock. She remains as strong as ever. Emma vs Asuka will be great. And have I mentioned how much I love this Evil Emma? It’s fantastic!
Bayley is backstage. She says Eva Marie is beautiful, and a reality star, and that there are fans on her side. But Bayley says she will prove people wrong again and show everyone why she is the champion. I’m sure I won’t be the only one in the line to tell Bayley that Eva Marie doesn’t quite have the support. I mean, the boos from last week were NUCLEAR!
Another vignette airs now… WAIT A MINUTE!!! I RECOGNISE THIS MAN!!! IT’S…. SAMI ZAYN!!!!!!!!! The vignette ends with the words Sami Zayn Returns but it doesn’t say when…. BUT IT WILL BE SOON, AND THAT IS FANTASTIC!!! SAMI ZAYN IS COMING BACK!!! I AM SO PUMPED FOR HIS RETURN!!!
Apollo Crews vs Jesse Sorensen
A huge leap and dropkick start this one by Crews. That sequence always looks spectacular. A lot of air time in a suplex by Crews as the crowd count up to 21 seconds. Yes, Crews held him in a suplex position for 21 seconds. He hits clotheslines and a huge splash in the corner, before holding Sorensen up in the air, throwing him up and catching him in a powerbomb for a pinfall victory. He then takes a microphone and accepts Corbin’s offer of a match in London.
Result – Crews wins
Notes – I don’t think I will ever get bored of watching Crews. He is something special. Ending the match with a new finisher was great to see, especially as the finisher was amazing. Crews vs Corbin in London should be good. Oh, did I mention Crews held a man up in a suplex position for a count of 21? Yeah.
Samoa Joe vs Tomasso Ciampa is announced for next week.
This is interesting. A referee, Charles Robinson (‘lil naitch’, you know the little blonde fella who looks like a mini Ric Flair? Yeah him!) from the main roster is making his way to the ring, and the camera and commentary team are paying attention. This means something. There is already a ref in the ring too. It is revealed that he has been sent out here to stop any controversy in the title match between Bayley and Eva Marie. Stop any controversy huh? Didn’t Robinson officiate the controversial ending match between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar at Summerslam? Maybe not the best man to stop controversy. But I’ll suspend the logical thinking.
Bayley vs Eva Marie w/ Nia Jax for the NXT Women’s Championship
Eva Marie enters the arena to a standing ovation by the crowd. The crowd are delighted to see her. No, don’t believe me? Okay… I’m lying. Another set of nuclear boos reign down from the moment her music hits. Nia Jax is accompanying her to the ring. A referee out to stop controversy and a bodyguard for Eva… I don’t like this. IT’S BAYLEY!!! The spotlight narrows on the two competitors as the ring announcements are made. The crowd are chanting “Eva Wins, We Riot”. Bayley with an early takedown on Marie. Eva Marie is now doing some strange air guitar taunt. I’m not even sure why. But she is now is charge with some shoulder rams in the corner. The camera focusses again on Robinson who is sitting on the outside. Bayley is retaliating…. BAYLEY TO BELLY! ALREADY! NO! NIA JAX HAS PULLED THE REF OUT OF THE RING! Well, there goes the no controversy idea. Robinson tried I guess. Bayley is distracted, and Eva rolls Bayley up… ROBINSON ENTERS… 1…2… KICK OUT! Oh my. I was so worried that was it. I’m worried for this match now. The other referee is being escorted to the back, and Robinson is watching. Great officiating Robinson…. HEADBUTT TO BAYLEY BY JAX! Marie hits a dizzied Bayley with a senton. 2 count! Bayley finally gets back in it with a clothesline. Marie is backed into the corner, and Bayley is hitting shoulder charges of her own. She backs off for one more, AND CHARLES ROBINSON HAS BLOCKED HER FROM DOING SO! WHAT? EVA MARIE! HITS THE SLICED RED ON BAYLEY! OH NO! 1…2… YES! KICK OUT! Marie sets her finisher up again, but Bayley shoves her INTO ROBINSON! Another ref down. No refs anymore. A big boot by Marie. She goes to the top, but Bayley meets her up there. Attempts to hit a Bayley to Belly, but JAX INTERFERES! Jax tends to Marie, but Bayley knocks Jax off the apron. She goes back up… BAYLEY TO BELLY OFF THE TOP! COVERS! BUT NO REF! MAGIC! THERE’S A REF! BAYLEY DONE IT! Bayley has defended her title. What a relief. We cut to a replay, but the replays end early, and we go back to see Bayley on the floor and Jax standing over her. Nice work, cameraman. Jax hits two leg drops on Bayley, the second whilst holding the title. Statement…made.
Result – Bayley retains
Notes – An absolute perfect match for the circumstances. Eva Marie isn’t a good performer, so why not make all the action involving refs and outside interference to hide her flaws? It was a plan that was executed brilliantly. If they were to put the title on Marie, that was the kind of match that would have done it. Shenanigans that would have drawn real heat is exactly the right booking. But let’s face it. The right person won. As for Jax vs Bayley, well that is interesting. It almost feels like Bayley may be making a transition to the main roster very shortly, and if she does, I’m afraid the ‘Divas Era’ in NXT is all but over, as the ones that remain will never replicate what Bayley and co. have done.
Analysis – 2 titles matches this week, and both good matches. For all the criticism of Eva Marie getting a title match, the match was action packed and intense, especially if you really didn’t want to see Marie win. Dash and Dawson looked strong as they defended their titles, while Crews showcased even more moves in his incredible arsenal. A great brawl between Balor and Joe is well worth a watch as well. A solid week for NXT.
Confirmed for next week:
Samoa Joe vs Tomasso Ciampa
Confirmed for NXT TakeOver London
Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship
Apollo Crews vs Baron Corbin
Did you watch NXT this week? What did you make of the main event between Bayley and Eva Marie? What went wrong with the Vaudevillains? And what did you make of Michael Cole temporarily replacing William Regal while he recovers from surgery? Comment below to give me your opinions or let me know on twitter @carlo_george