NXT returns to Full Sail University for a championship match between Finn Balor and Apollo Crews, and there’s some other stuff. Oh, and a shocking heel turn in the main event. It’s this week’s NXT…
Show opens with a hype video for tonight’s title match between Finn Balor and Apollo Crews. This put Crews over hard and barely mentioned Balor.
1. Asuka vs. Cameron
Asuka comes out to a massive pop, and Cameron is met with a huge amount of boos. The match kicked off with an awesome spot where Cameron goes for a kick, but Asuka catches it and places it down gently. Cameron then goes to slap her but Asuka quickly reverses it into a rolling armbar. That was so awesome. Cameron takes control of the match however with a couple of suplexes and kicks that involve her doing the splits. The commentators are putting over Cameron’s “experience factor”. Hmmm. Asuka fires back with a couple of butt and palm strikes, but communication breaks down leading to a couple of submission rest holds while they gather their bearings. Asuka kicks Cameron hard and locks in the Asuka Lock for the win, which means we get to hear her awesome theme music again. Cameron looked surprisingly good in this match, but Asuka was the star of the show.
We get video highlights of Dash & Dawson’s attack on Enzo & Cass from last week, with the commentators putting over how Dash & Dawson are really making a name for themselves. This leads to a backstage interview with Tom Phillips asking Carmella in as wooden a manner as possible about Cass’ injury. Seriously, they fired Devin but have kept this moron? Carmella tells him that Cass has a sprained MCL, which upsets the entering Dash & Dawson. They wanted to do more, and say they’re reserved a couple more hospital beds for her friends. As Carmella leaves, Dash & Dawson put over their tag title match for next week. Dash brings in a wheelchair and tells Tom to give it to the Vaudevillians if he sees them.
Backstage from earlier today, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable are talking about the momentum they’ve been building, but still aren’t champions. Gable says it’s fine and nearly calls them The World’s Greatest Tag Team, but is cut off by Jordan who says they can’t be called that. That was a cute moment. They really should bring in Benjamin and Hass as surprise opponents for Gable and Jordan some day, that would be awesome. Jordan says he has a plan, which is to challenge arguably the best tag team in NXT history, but Gable says that they can’t wrestle themselves. That was adorable. They challenge The Ascension to a match next week and say they will “ascend” the ranks of NXT. This was good fun.
2. Bull Dempsey vs. Angelo Dawkins
Bull has new music, and Angelo needs new music. Bull kicks off the match by starting a Bullfit chant and pointing at the writing on his singlet, spinning around in the process. I’m amazed he didn’t gas himself out doing it. They’re putting over a storyline that Dawkins’ partner, Sawyer Fulton, is on the outside and has told him to win the match “or else”. This was a very basic match with Dawkins getting the heat, and then Bull fired up and killed him with an ugly looking Banzai Drop. He needs a new finisher, sharp. After the match, Fulton left his partner hanging and stormed off. Not much of a match, and a Dawkins/Fulton feud sounds horrible.
Backstage, Tom Phillips is with The Vaudevillians with the wheelchair presented earlier by Dash & Dawson. They say that Dash & Dawson are their toughest challenge yet, but they are not manly like The Vaudevillians. Gotch cuts a very subdued and serious promo about retaining the titles. They wheel the chair off camera.
We see Apollo Crews getting ready for his match later on tonight.
Backstage, Bayley is with Tom Phillips who is asking her about Alexa’s challenge from last week. He wants to know who she’s picked to be her partners. And I’m sad to report that she’s picked The Hype Bros. URGH. They ran in and acted like a couple of dickheads. If there is anyone who can make you hate Bayley, it’s The Hype Bros.
3. Eva Marie vs. Unnamed Blonde Jobber From New Jersey
I’m also sad to report that All Botch Everything is back in Full Sail. Eva Marie is making hand motions that she’s after the title. The crowd are chanting “leave forever” at Marie. Unnamed Blonde Jobber From New Jersey gets in some offense including a nice Matrix style bridge like Trish Stratus used to do, but Eva grounds her for a rest hold in the first minute of the match. The crowd are hating Eva. Unnamed Blonde Jobber From New Jersey tries to run at her, but Eva botches a kick, and the crowd turns on the match even more than before. She then hits a terrible looking STO and gets the win. This was a very, very poor match. The crowd boo the hell out of her as she motions for the belt. Thanks to Wrestling Observer, I now know that Unnamed Blonde Jobber From New Jersey is called Marley, which is also the name of my cousin’s dog.
Backstage, we get more of Tom Phillips but this time he’s with Emma and Dana Brooke. He asks them if they’re afraid of Asuka, but they say they’re not and they actually respect her. Dana calls her childish for patting her on the head, which was an awesome line. Brooke wants another match with Asuka, but Emma says that she has to wait and she wants a match first. Dana Brooke is improving fast.
The theme tune for NXT Takeover: London is, I’m not kidding, Ace of Spades by Motorhead. Corey Graves thanks Motorhead for letting them use their classic song, and then reminds us to check out their new album. Why not have a song off that album then?
4. Apollo Crews vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship
They have a new gimmick where they drop down the lights and have the challenger and champion face each other as they do the ring intros. It’s different, and actually really atmospheric. The crowd loved it. The match starts off with both men testing each other out, with Apollo going for a quick pin and Balor going for a submission. Story of the match was the pair of them matching each other’s big moves. Back from a quick break and Crews is in control with a rest hold. Apollo does an amazing leap frog and dropkick, but Balor answers with one of his own. Balor goes for a suplex, but Crews quickly reverses it with a delayed suplex of his own. Balor hits a sitdown dropkick, but Crews fires back with one of his own. Crews kicks Balor hard and tries to go to the top rope, but Balor answers with a wicked kick that sends Crews tumbling to the outside. Balor dives over the rope and the crowd explodes. Back from another break and Balor is hitting Crews with some hard chops, but Crews powers out with an awesome looking slam. Crews looks like he has the advantage and goes for the Gorilla Press, but Balor fights out and hits the Sling Blade. Balor goes for the corner drop kick, but Crews clotheslines him out of his boots. He hits the Gorilla Press and the Standing Moonsault, but Balor gets the knees up and hits his reverse DDT for a tremendous near fall. Balor hits the corner dropkick, but misses the Coup de Grace. Crews stiffs him with a kick, but Balor hits the Pele Kick and both men are down. This is exhausting and the crowd are going ape shit for everything. But then, disappointingly, Baron Corbin runs in and decks both men for the Double DQ. He runs Crews into the ring steps on the outside and then decks Balor. The crowd are pissed. Samoa Joe then runs in to make Corbin run scared and they stare each other down. And then, just when you thought it was over, Joe turns around and decks Balor himself. He looks like he doesn’t want to do it, but he hits Balor with the Muscle Buster. He rolls to the outside and grabs the NXT Championship and lays it on top of a beaten Balor.
A very good edition of NXT with only the Eva Marie match being the downside. At least the Bull Dempsey match had Bull being entertaining. Balor, Joe, Corbin, Crews, Dash, Dawson, The Vaudevillians and Asuka were all tremendous. Everyone else was mostly fine. Apart from The Hype Bros., of course. Looks like they’re building towards Balor vs. Joe for the title and Crews vs. Corbin for NXT Takeover: London. As I’m going to that event, I’m hoping they hold off Bayley vs. Bliss and do it there rather than do Bayley vs. All Botch Everything.
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and a contributor on The Flickering Myth Movie Show. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen.