The build towards NXT Takeover: Dallas continues as William Regal makes his decision on who the #1 Contender is, Apollo Crews looks to prove he can beat Finn Balor, Carmella faces Emma in a grudge match and more. It’s this week’s NXT Recap & Review…
Show opens with a video package to hype tonight’s match between Apollo Crews and Finn Balor. This was pretty great in getting both guys over.
1. The Vaudevillains vs. The Hype Bros.
The newly heel Vaudevillains didn’t really change much about their entrance, which is odd considering the turn they’ve been teasing for the last two weeks. Corey Graves says Mojo Rawley looks like ALF. You know, he really does. The Hype Bros. take the match early on until Aiden English clotheslines Ryder from behind. The heels then ground down Ryder with frequent tags and submission moves. He sloppily gets free and gets a hot tag to Mojo, which was difficult to call a ‘hot tag’. A real hot tag would insinuate the crowd react to it, but they were very mild for Rawley getting in the ring. Ryder misses a Broski Boot when English pulls Gotch out of the way and they hit the Whirling Dervish for the win. Not much of a match, but it was serviceable in getting The Vaudevillains over as ‘more aggressive’.
They showed highlights from the women’s battle royale three weeks ago, pointing out that Asuka dominated before being dumped out by Eva Marie.
In a pre-taped interview, Carmella is being interviewed about winning said battle royale. She talks about being a valet for Enzo & Cass but she has her own wrestling background. Her Dad was a jobber for WWF in the 1990s and he had a “submission and MMA” background, she claims. She talks about how Bayley was her first friend in NXT and she can’t wait to wrestle her for the title next week. She refers to themselves as “Baymella”. Nice. She hypes up her match with Emma later on. Carmella was actually pretty great here. She was really likeable and came off great.
Backstage, Dash & Dawson make fun of Enzo & Cass. They say they’re like groundhog day and are always moaning and getting chances and failing. They say they will give them another shot at the titles, but they’ll fail again.
2. Carmella vs. Emma (w/ Dana Brooke)
The story of the match was that Emma wasn’t taking Carmella seriously. Carmella did get some offense early, but Emma took over with some submissions. The crowd was completely dead, but it did afford the chance for us to hear Dana Brooke’s brilliant cheering from ringside. Carmella finally fires back and hits a hurricanrana and a Bronco Butster. The crowd is totally dead. And then, out of nowhere, Carmella gets a backslide and wins. Despite the excellence of Brooke on the outside and the hardworking of Emma, this was not a good match.
They showed the ending of last week’s controversial match where both Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe were declared the winner. We cut to Sami Zayn from ‘earlier today’ (but it’s pitch black) and he talks about how the Sharpshooter was more powerful than Joe’s Crossface. He says he hopes Williams Regal makes the right call. They cut to Samoa Joe and he doesn’t answer the question and just walks off.
We get a video package for American Alpha, putting them over as the future of the tag team division.
3. Enzo & Cass vs. Unnamed Jobber #1 and Unnamed Jobber #2
Enzo cuts a promo at the start of the match that was basically the same one he cut at NXT Takeover: London. This was a fun little squash match with Enzo being very entertaining. He danced around more than you’d think. The other jobber tries to get in the ring and attack Cass, and he grabs him by the throat and throws him over the ropes. Literally threw him. He launched him high into the air and he clattered into the ground with an almighty sound. It sounded worse than it actually was, but the crowd actually gasped.
Backstage, Apollo Crews is asked about his match tonight against Finn Balor. He says tonight he will beat Balor and prove that he can be the next NXT Champion.
In his office, William Regal is talking to the camera about his decision. He says that he’s reviewed the footage many times and has decided there will be a rematch. Baron Corbin walks in and says he better be part of the rematch. Regal says that the clearest thing from the footage is that Corbin lost so he won’t be in the match. Corbin calls the whole thing a joke and walks out. I mean, you lost dude. He announces a rematch between Joe and Zayn.
4. Asuka vs. Santana Garrett
Before the match starts, Corey Graves predicts someone is going to get kicked in the head. Garrett fires off some punches, slaps and headbutts and Asuka laughs them all off. Garrett runs the ropes, but Asuka catches her with the running hip attack. Santana, surprisingly, gets some good offense in including a side Russian legsweep and a couple of nearfalls. But it doesn’t last long as Asuka gets her in an armbar into the Asuka Lock. Sadly, no one got kicked in the head.
Backstage, Finn Balor hypes his match with Apollo Crews. He doesn’t know what to make of the match from last week, but he guarantees that he’ll win tonight.
5. Apollo Crews vs. Finn Balor
They mat wrestle early on, with Finn in control. Crews finally breaks free and sends Balor to the outside with a dropkick. Balor is working slightly heel in this match – possible foreshadowing? They told a simple story of Balor grounding Crews, and the big man powering out every now and again. In the end, Balor decides his plan isn’t working and starts striking Crews. Apollo finally creates some space with a couple of clotheslines and a Stinger Splash. There were some wickedly cool reversals on display before Crews does a moonsault to the outside and lands of his feet – leading to Balor flip diving over the top rope to take him out. Balor hits the Coup de Grace to the back of Crews’ head for a nearfall. Balor tries to keep control, but Crews reverses it into a great Samoan Drop. Balor fires back with the Slingblade, but Crews knocks him down with a big boot as he flew in for the Hesitation Dropkick. Crews hits the Gorilla Press and a mistimed Standing Moonsault for a nearfall. Balor blocks Crews’ follow up and hits the Slinglade, Hesitation Dropkick and Coup de Grace. He doesn’t pin him, however, and hits a new finishing move for the win. The idea put over by the commentators is that he had to use something new to ensure he put Apollo Crews down. They shake hands. The match started off slow, but really picked up at the end, but was ruined somewhat by a dead crowd. The final moments were fantastic.
This wasn’t a great edition of NXT, but is probably worth going out of your way for to see the main event. The crowd was mostly silent for the whole show which was a shame. This was clearly from the end of the last taping schedule. NXT always has great Takeover specials, but the TV shows are there to do slow builds towards them. That’s not a bad thing, but it just means that not every show is a winner. This was one of those shows.
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and a contributor for Flickering Myth TV. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen.