April 1, 2016 in Dallas, TX
Great looking card overall, but even more than Nakamura’s debut or Joe’s or American Alpha’s title opportunities I’m most looking forward to the Women’s Title match. Asuka has been my favorite wrestler for years (as Kana) and I’m beyond excited to see her first title shot in WWE against an equally excellent wrestler. Should be an incredible night all around.
Starting out with one of the three huge title matches: The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (c) vs American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Unsurprisingly, the crowd is pumped for American Alpha. Disrespect from Dawson right away. He and Dash are great heels. Classic tag formula here. Alpha keep taking over with athleticism, and Revival cheats to reverse. Simple, effective storytelling. Alpha are so much fun to watch. They really need to be called up to the main roster while they’re still red-hot. Stereo German suplexes by Alpha pops the crowd huge. Blind tag and ambush by the champs and they finally establish some extended offense.
They keep Gamble grounded for a while, then he hits a double ddt for a hope spot. Jordan gets taken out by Dash to prevent the tag though. While Jordan objects Dash and Dawson unfortunately botch a double team, derailing the match for a bit. They get back on track once Gable gets the hot tag for real and Jordan destroys the Revival until he becomes the victim of a double team and an illegal pin attempt. He survives though and keeps fighting through every dirty trick the champs have. Gable comes in and the near falls are fast and furious. He and Dawson are putting on a great display here. Jordan with an amazing blind tag leading to a spear on Dawson. Another tag and Alpha hit their finish for the titles!!!
Surreal to see Austin Aries on WWE tv. The result here will tell a lot about their plans for Aries. Baron Corbin could use the win, but if Aries is staying for a while no way he loses his debut. Aries charges right for Corbin to start, exactly the right move considering how Corbin attacked him previously. Good display of psychology as Aries finds ways to get the advantage despite Corbin’s size. It eventually backfires though as Corbin elevates him into a stun gun to take over. Corbin mauls Aries for a while, playing a cocky, bruising heel well. He’s improved by leaps and bounds during his time in NXT.
Though as I say that this has slowed down a little too much. Corbin is crossing the line from deliberate pace to stalling. Aries should be showing more in his debut. Aries takes back over and begins flying around, which is more like it. Corbin hits a big spinning belly to back (called Deep Six by the announcers) on the outside and Aries just makes it back into the ring before being counted out. Corbin beats Aries down after a taunt and goes for the End of Days, but Aries counters and gets a tight roll up for the win. Feels like it could have been better, but still a good debut for Aries with a strong story of the veteran being a step ahead.
Speaking of surreal moments, here comes Shinsuke Nakamura to the WWE. Watching Sami Zahn bounce around like a pinball for the King of Strong Style should be incredible. Nakamura’s presence and charisma is off the charts. Crowd is electric. Dueling chants start as soon as Nakamura reaches the ring. Beautiful exchange of chain wrestling and agility early on. After Zayn starts to get ahead a bit with arm drags, Makamura pull outs the strikes and knocks Sami right down. Every time Sami tries to counter a hold or push back, boom another crazy kick. Sami finally gets the advantage with a big suplex and extends it with his own strikes. Then Nakamura goes outside and blindsides Zayn with more innovative kicks and knee strikes. Sami eventually goes to high flying antics to swing the momentum back his way. This is a total chess match: constant move and counter move in the most impactful ways possible.
Forearm strike exchange in the center of the ring and instead of “yay-boo” from the fans we get “yay-yay.” Glorious. Nakamura’s nose is bleeding, so he… keeps the forearm exchange going for another ten or so iterations. Nakamura gets the better of it and just beats Sami down against the ropes. King of Strong Style chant and Nakamura goes for running knee, but Sami hits a huge clothesline. They fight over a hold then Sami decides to deliver some of Shisuke’s own medicine and just kicks him down in brutal fashion. Koji clutch(!) by Zahn in center of the ring. Nakamura rolls back into a pin attempt and Zahn has to break. Nakamura with a big enzugiri and the crowd chants “fight forever.” Works for me.
Some more back and forth the Sami goes for the diving DDT through the turnbuckles outside and Nakamura counters with a kick to the face! My lord. Nakamura blocks the exploder in the corner, goes up top, and hits a knee to the back of the head. Bomb Ye and that’s it! As awesome as expected. Nakamura is here, emphatically. Show of respect after the match and well deserved chants for both men.
And here we are. The undefeated streak against the title. Great video package emphasizing Bayley’s never quit attitude and ability to overcome the odds against Asuka’s path of destruction.
NXT Women’s Title: Bayley (c) vs Asuka
Big ovation for both. Asuka with a spin kick right away to make sure Bayley’s paying attention. Lockup and quick feeling out period of counter wrestling, but Asuka with a hard right hand to break. Bit of back and forth and Asuka misses taking her head off again by inches. Asuka starts to pull ahead with strikes and hits the hip attack, but misses a second and gets hung up in the ropes allowing Bayley’s first real advantage of the match. She presses the advantage a little, showing she can hang with the dominate challenger, until Asuka counters into a Fugiwara armbar out of nowhere. Bayley makes the ropes, then hangs Asuka up in the corner. Asuka fights out, but gets caught in another corner for a top rope hurricanrana. Bayley with a guillotine, but Asuka eventually counters with an anklelock. Bayley fights and fights and eventually rolls forward to send Asuka outside. Bayley dives outside feet first into another hurricanrana.
Back in and her forearms are just making Asuka mad. She takes over with a dropkick and begins unloading the strikes. Sliding kick gets two. Bayley catches Asuka out of a hip attack attempt, Asuka tries to fight out, but Bayley eventually hits the belly to back. Asuka with a kick to the head and they’re both down. Dual dropkick attempts leads to a strike exchange, Asuka gets the better of it but Bayley counters a kick into an ankle lock. Asuka selling AGONY until she gets the ropes. Bayley viciously going after the legs. Asuka with the flying armbar, into a cross armbreaker attempt, into a Fujiwara armbar, escaped by Bayley. Beautiful sequence.
Asuka lock countered. Sliding clothesline by Bayley for two. Baylay looking for the submission that beat Sasha. Asuka tries to fight out, so Bayley converts to a pin attempt for two. Kick to the head and Bayley’s out on her feet. Cross armbreaker, into the Asukalock!!! Bayley fights to her feet, but Asuka takes her back down… and Bayley passes out! NEW NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION! YES!!! Great performance from both, and Bayley never gave up. Asuka stares at the fallen Bayley and then walks away. I have a feeling we’re not done with this…
Well, if anyone was going to be able to follow that last match Joe and Balor are certainly the right choices to try.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs Samoa Joe
Last time Jack the Ripper, this time the Demon is out with a chainsaw. RUN JOE RUN! Finn thankfully leaves it in the aisle. Joe looks like he’s ready to kill Finn during the introduction / stare down. Going straight at each other. Joe keeps tossing Balor out, but Balor returns the favor and then catches Joe with a dive. Joe bleeding profusely already. Looks like he was just caught wrong by one of Finn’s punches. He tosses Balor into the crowd hard, but Finn eventually comes back with a flying forearm off the railing. Ref tries to check on Joe, but Finn won’t let up, and their just laying into each other. Balor back outside, and here’s Joe with a dive through the ropes to wipe him out.
Dr trying to tend to Joe’s cut and Joe wants none of it. He finally lets them treat it for a minute then runs straight back to go after Balor. Big STO into a hold on Finn. He fights out, but gets caught with a big kick from Joe just as Finn tried to build momentum. And the refs are treating the cut again, to the crowds dismay. Balor up and taunting Joe. Drs out of ring and Joe resumes beating the tar out of Balor. Setting up for the Muscle Buster, Finn fights out, but gets caught diving from the turnbuckle and Joe wipes him out with a kick again.
Challenger is dominating at the moment, but Finn with a dropkick and both are down. Both up before ten and now the champ strings together a series of strikes to take over. Joe knocked outside, sliding dropkick from Balor, then the ring apron running kick to Joe’s face. Back in, but Joe counters the slingblade and the challenger is in firm control again. Joe swats away a dropkick and hits the senton in a great sequence.
Joe with the powerbomb, and transitions into his Boston Crab variation on the kickout. Transitions into a crossface, but Finn rolls out and hits a double stomp. Slingblade, dropkick into the corner, but Joe catches him when he goes up. Enzugiri, muscle buster, but Finn kicks out at two! And Joe is ANGRY. They fire away on each other, leading to the pele kick by Finn and both are down again. Slingblade and dropkick again. Coup de Grace connects, but the Bloody Sunday is countered into the Coquina Clutch. Finn with the Bret Hart sleeper counter … for three! Surprising loss for Joe in an excellent war. Great finishing sequence in particular.
This show looked insane on paper, and it was just as incredible as expected. WATCH IT!