It’s no secret that when The Ascension debuted I was not a huge fan of the gimmick. Fast forward to present day and I’m left with no doubt that The Ascension not only belong on the main roster but when the time comes, and it will be soon, they will be a force in the WWE tag division. You know how I am always complaining about how there not being many long term title reigns with meaningful, multiple defenses? Well The Ascension much like most champions on NXT, have absolutely owned their division, holding their titles for a little under a year. They have been so dominant that NXT officials had no choice but to create a tag team tournament just to find worthy opponents for The Ascension.
The one team who made it out of the mentioned tournament seemed to do so in almost an unknown fashion. The journey of Sin Cara has been nothing short of a tumultuous. Many people do know that the original Sin Cara was not the same Sin Cara from last night’s NXT Takeover. No one really knows why Hunico, who actually feuded with the original Sin Cara for the gimmick in WWE, took over and original Sin Cara was released. From my own perspective my guess would be original Sin Cara could not adapt to the WWE style of wrestling coupled with a communication difficulty as it is my understanding Sin Cara did not speak English well enough to communicate efficiently in the ring which lead to multiple injuries.
Now that Hunico is the sole performer of Sin Cara the ring work is much crisper not to mention pairing him with Kalisto has made their matches must see. Speaking of Kalisto I’ve been a fan of his since his days on the independent wrestling circuit as Samuray Del Sol. A lighting quick luchador with a move arsenal that would make any fan of the WCW Cruiserweight Division smile with joy. Kalisto has already incorporated something in his character that he has been doing since before he even got to WWE, his infectious “Lu-cha! Lu-cha!” chant. I say this is important because it is something WWE fans can participate in whether in the NXT Arena or a bigger arena on a Raw or SmackDown. WWE has been searching high and low for a masked luchador that both casual WWE fans and wrestling fans can gravitate to. Now they have two.
The Match: Viktor of The Ascension and Sin Cara kick off the match. From the bell it has been a back and forth exchange. Sin Cara quickens the pace with a series of maneuvers all which start with him bouncing off the second rope. Good way to show off the luchador skills. Viktor gets upper hand after a distraction from Konnor. Tag to Konnor who beats into Sin Cara on the outside. Konnor keeps Sin Cara in the corner and a tag back to Viktor. Viktor keeps Sin Cara grounded in the middle of the ring which is great strategy. Sin Cara gets the separation after countering a springboard powerbomb into a hurricanrana. Viktor makes the tag to Konnor who comes in and knocks Kalisto off the apron. When Sin Cara comes to he goes to tag in his partner but no one is there. Konnor hits a running splash squashing an unaware Sin Cara into his corner turnbuckle. After a pin attempt Sin Cara continues to struggle to get the tag but hits a beautiful enziguiri to temporarily stop Konnor. Sin Cara tries to make it to the corner for a tag but Konnor throws all of his weight on top of Sin Cara as if he were a 300 pound bag of sand strapped to the back of Sin Cara. Super smart strategy. What is even smarter is Konnor switches to a front chancery position, pushes his shoulders into Sin Cara, and uses his legs to push Sin Cara back to his corner. When they get to the corner Sin Cara is able to break free by flipping over the back of Konnor. While Sin Cara gets the much needed tag to Kalisto Konnor gets the tag to Viktor. Viktor tries to cut Kalisto off from getting into the ring but he is stunned by a kick then gets hit with a spingboard cross body. The pin attempt only gets a two but before Viktor can even kick out Kalisto rolls through and hits Konnor with a low kick. Quick as a cat he is on his feet as he ducks under a clothesline from Viktor and counters with a springboard tornado crossbody. He then hits Konnor with a low drop kick making sure he can’t be a factor for now. Sin Cara comes to and flies through the ropes hitting Konnor with a suicide dive/shoulder block. In the ring Viktor can’t keep Kalisto down. Kalisto hits Viktor with a hurricanrana that sends him to the outside right next to his partner. Kalisto attempts a springboard crossbody to the outside but gets caught. Ascension go to launch Kalisto over their head but he lands on his feet behind them. Out of nowhere comes Sin Cara flying in with another suicide dive that sends both men of The Ascension tumbling down. Kalisto rolls Viktor back into the ring. Kalisto climbs off the top and escapes a running Viktor by flipping over him but Viktor comes in and blindsides Kalisto with a running STO. Konnor rolls in and it looks as if The Ascension were about to hit their finisher, the Fall of Man but from the outside Sin Cara grabs the ankle of Konnor. He leaps up and kicks Konnor on the side of the head sending him to the outside. Vikor runs in and hits Sin Cara knocking him off the apron. He goes to switch his attention to Kalisto who ducks under a clothesline and locks Viktor up so he can hit his finisher Salinas del Sol. Hooks the legs and folks we have new NXT Tag Team Champions.
Winners and NEW NXT Tag Team Champions: Lucha Dragons
Thoughts: To me this was an outstanding tag team match and a great way to open the show. The Ascension showed why they have been the most dominant tag team definitely in NXT history and some would argue the most dominant currently in WWE. Lucha Dragons showcased what WWE has desperately wanted since Rey Mysterio was on the decline, luchadors who can grab the attention of the fans.
|Triple H with the new NXT Tag Team Champions Lucha Dragons. Source: http://www.instagram.com/tripleh|
After a vignette showcasing NXT Champion Adrian Neville.
CJ Parker makes his way down to the ring for a match that wasn’t advertised for the card against a mystery opponent. CJ Parker has been apart of NXT for quite sometime now but only as of late has he found something to keep him relevant. Originally introduced as a free spirited competitor who was all about spreading love and peace CJ struggled to find a connection with the die hard NXT audience. Since then he has undergone a slight transformation. He is still the multicolor dreadlocked hippie, just way more environmentally conscience. So conscience in fact, he aims to shove his go green rhetoric down the throats of the NXT Universe. This was an excellent idea as it is much easier getting fans to hate you than it is for them to like you.
The Internet was already buzzing for the live debut of international wrestling icon KENTA but Triple H decided to have fun with the Internet by hinting another debut would happen tonight. Most fans were eager to see Fergal Devitt or Kevin Steen debut as well but many fans figured that would be too good to be true and many guessed correctly that the debut would be of one Baron Corbin. Standing at 6’8″ and weighing in at 275 lbs., this former lineman for the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals knows a thing or two about competing at a big stage. Again Corbin has spent considerable amount of time at the development level for WWE but there was some chatter that WWE was looking to give him a solid character to work with so he can make his impact
And boy did he ever…
Baron Corbin vs. CJ Parker
Did that happen? Yup. Was it awesome? Yup.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Thoughts: The few glimpses of Corbin during the early days of Full Sail University NXT I thought just size and look alone gave Corbin a good running start. This to me is a new era of big men in wrestling where guys the size of Corbin move as quick as Kalisto. (i.e. Bray Wyatt, Harper, Big E) Funniest thing is to watch how the Internet reacts to a moment like this. This is a re-debut of Corbin and it is a debut no one cared for in light of what is to come. Two minutes and a pile of dead hippie later he was a trending topic on Twitter.
After the decimation of CJ Parker at the hands of Baron Corbin we get a vignette of Tyson Kidd’s journey to the main event of tonight’s event.
Enzo Amore (w/ Big Cass) vs. Sylvester LeFort (w/ Marcus Louis) – Hair vs. Hair Match
To be honest I can’t tell you much about Sylvester LeFort outside of he is a graduate of the Lance Storm Academy (one of the top wrestling schools in the world) and he is relatively young. He is mostly known in a managerial role managing the early careers of Rusev and Scott Dawson. Now that he and Marcus Louis seem to be a mainstay on NXT I am interested in seeing more of his in ring work. Gimmick wise well, it really is not a gimmick as he his really from France.
Enzo Amore I do know of and lets face it, if you have watched a few episodes of NXT, you know about Enzo Amore. One word to describe him: MONEY. What’s even better is Enzo is a two package deal coming with Colin Cassady aka Big Cass. Standing at 7′ Big Cass is another big man who can move in the ring and he comes with a quick witted charisma and a comedic timing with Enzo that is gold. Right now we are watching Enzo get reacquainted with the audience as he was out for close to a year with a broken leg. The injury as unfortunate as it was, was a blessing in disguise as Big Cass had time to shine and show off that he is more than a sidekick, he is an equal, major player. Both men and their allegiances are on the upside so this should be a good match.
The Legionnaires come down to the ring to some some really weird funky porn music. Before the match we get a recap of Enzo and Big Cass’ trip to Hair the hair salon. They come down to the ring with another bucket of hair removal cream, the same cream that ruined poor Fefe. Enzo cuts his usual promo down the ramp. He gets in the ring and lets everyone know the long list of hairstyles Sylvester LeFort has at his disposal after Enzo takes away his long locks. Big Cass lets him know that after tonight he along with his head are going to be S-A-W-F-T SAAAAAAAAAAWWFFT. (Nailed it.)
The Match: Nothing super flashy or special about the match. Solid back and forth action showed off the speedy hands of Enzo and the ring presence of LeFort. This kind of reminded me of something you’d see from back then on a WWF Superstars or an old territory TV episode. Cool down match but still entertaining and uses wrestling along with it’s psychology. This is quickly becoming the vibe of NXT, solid action not afraid to acknowledge wrestling and decent gimmicks that can show off some acting range and doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence.
Marcus Louis begins to distract Enzo from the task at hand by jumping up on the apron but Big Cass is having none of it. Cass pulls down Marcus Louis and lays him out with a forearm to the face. Back in the ring LeFort tries to sneak up on Enzo but Enzo reverses and rolls LeFort up for the 1..2..3! Sylvester LeFort, off with your hair!
Winner: Enzo Amore
Amore and Big Cass celebrate in the ring while LeFort sits there looking shocked. Enzo and Big Cass cut the celebration short because the real fun is about to begin. LeFort tries to escape out of the ring but ends up getting his head clotheslined off. Big Cass lifts LeFort up and makes his way up the ramp. Marcus Louis comes up from behind and lays both men out. By the time LeFort comes to so does Amore and Cassady. Before they could get their hands on Lefort he books it out of the arena leaving Louis all alone. Big Cass incapacitates Louis so they can bring him up the ramp. Before they take his hair Big Cass puts Marcus Louis to sleep with a big boot. They dump the bucket of hair removal cream on Marcus’ head and he scrambles to get out of there.
Thoughts: The only bummer is we didn’t get to see the loser, the man with the most hair, get shaved bald. Other than that you can’t ask for much more.
Later on in the show Enzo Amore and Big Cass catch up with LeFort and Louis. While they weren’t able to get their hands on LeFort they did catch Louis again. This time they knock him out again and lift his limp body to the ring. Enzo says they are going to exposed the bald head of Marcus Louis and that they sure did. Take a look:
Ring announcer Jojo introduces NXT General Manager William Regal. He says if you are a competitor in this industry there is no doubt NXT is the place to be. We get a vignette of Kenta’s signing in Japan earlier this year. Regal introduces the Japanese Wrestling Icon himself, KENTA!
The NXT crowd showers KENTA with chants. Unfortunately my Japanese is as good as my Russian and trust me I can’t speak a word of Russian. Thankfully KENTA translates his words and I must say his English is pretty good. He says it is a dream come true and he is happy to be on NXT and on WWE. He would like to announce that today he will no longer go by the name KENTA but instead as Hideo Itami, a tribute to one of his heroes. His goal is to be NXT Champion. Suddenly the music of The Ascension hit and they come down to the ring. They dump Hideo Itami to the outside. With Regal in the ring they demand a rematch for the tag team titles right then and there. Before Regal could respond Itami re-enters the ring. Taking it as an act of defiance Konnor looks to attack. Itami ducks out of the way and hits Viktor with a vicious kick. A serious of elbow strikes capped off with a roaring elbow sends Konnor to the outside. Itami shifts his attention to Viktor and hits him with an elbow then a equally vile kick to the chest. The Ascension get back up but Itami hits them with a dropkick, a foot for each. Hideo Itami exits the ring to grab a chair. Instead of attacking he opens the chair, sits in the middle of the ring, and asks The Ascension if they want a second helping.
Thoughts: Bryan Danielson became Daniel Bryan. El Generico became Sami Zayn. Sometimes a name is just that, a name. What matters most is who is behind that name and what they choose to do with it. They can let the name fade away or they can do what Hideo Itami did and show us Hideo Itami means bad ass.
Bull Dempsey vs. Mojo Rawley
Bull Dempsey is fairly new to NXT for the most part only competing in a handful of matches so far. His appeal is that he is a throwback in every sense of the word. Not to mention his size and shape can definitely be deceiving.
Mojo Rawley is an NXT regular being featured heavily on their weekly programing and their live WWE Network events. His catchphrase is “I don’t get hype, I stay hype!” a foreshadowing of the man with limitless energy. While you can certainly see the appeal of Rawley from a child’s perspective, most adults find Rawley to be down right silly. No one is that happy or hype all the time.
Both men were given the chance to team together and after their first victory as a team Rawley and Dempsey were granted a spot in the #1 Contender’s Tag Team Tournament (see Lucha Dragons above). After being eliminated in the first round Dempsey attacks Rawley obviously upset with the loss. Now what will happen when Bull collides with the Hype Man Mojo Rawley?
The Match: Mojo runs straight for the ring instead of the usual playing to the crowd. He is cut off by Bull once he enters who clobbers away on his back. Bull takes the offense to the corner hitting Rawley with some bombs. Bull Irish whips Mojo to the opposite corner but Mojo puts on the brakes before he collides with the corner. Dempsey comes running in but catches a back elbow from Rawley. Mojo takes Dempsey’s legs out from under him and begins to pound away. Mojo drives him back to the corner with his shoulder. Rawley allows Dempsey to catch his breath then Dempsey absolutely blindsides him with a full body tackle. Bull Dempsey heads to the top rope and flies through the air crashing down on the sternum of Mojo Rawley. A pin count to three and this one is over folks.
Winner: Bull Dempsey
Match Thoughts: I was not expecting this to be a quick one nor did I expect it to be pretty much a squash match. No complaints from me though, hopefully the hype train has come and gone.
After the match Dempsey hits Rawley with another flying headbutt to add insult to injury.
Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley – NXT Women’s Championship
When you are the daughter of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, it should come as no surprise you can more than hold your own in the ring. Not only has Charlotte held her own in the ring and on the mic, she has done it in a fairly short amount of time. Win or lose, this girl is a star.
Bayley has gone from the cute as a button, hugs for everyone, wrestling super fan to fierce competitor all while not losing that same innocent nature. Pretty soon she will be on national TV and little girls will look at her and say if she can do it and be good at it so can I. You can never have enough of that.
The Match: Charlotte extends her hand to Bayley for a handshake but that is not happening. Bayley pounces on Charlotte and begins to pound on her in the corner. Charlotte fights free after Bayley gave her too much time to breathe. Irish whip from Charlotte but Bayley comes back and hits Charlotte with a crossbody. She then hits a chop to the back, a low running elbow, then a front standing elbow drop, nice series of moves. It only gets her a two count and both women fight for the upper hand. Charlotte hits a neckbreaker and from there she takes over the offense. The pace slows down as Charlotte grounds Bayley with a Figure Four headlock. Bayley rolls it up for an unsuccessful pin which further upsets Charlotte. Every burst of offense from Bayley gets thwarted from Charlotte. Charlotte reapplies the Figure Four headlock and begins to roll with the hold still locked in. Tons of back and forth pin attempts keeps the referee on his toes. Charlotte again slows the action down completely controlling this match. Every quick roll up from Bayley gets squashed by Charlotte. The current Women’s Champion start to get cocky which lights a fire under the #1 contender. She backs the champion into the corner. She goes for a running back elbow smash but Charlotte gets out of the way. Bayley throws a kick for separation but it gets caught by Charlotte who sticks the legs between the middle and top rope then drives her knee across the chest of Bayley. Charlotte goes to the top for a moonsault but gets cut off by Bayley. Both women fight to the top rope with Bayley throwing caution to the wind and hitting Charlotte with a picture perfect hurricanrana from the top. When both women get to their feet Bayley looks to hit Charlotte with her Bayley to Belly Plex but Charlotte reverses it into an unsuccessful pin attempt. Bayley went lock in another Bayley to Belly but Charlotte is able to reverse position, roll in to a school boy, and sends Bayley’s neck into the bottom turnbuckle. She climbs to the top for a moonsault. The execution of the moonsault was on point she just overshot the landing a bit. Bayley struggles to get to her knees and when she does she gets hit with Natural Selection, Charlotte’s finisher. Charlotte hooks the leg and gets the victory, retaining her Women’s Title.
Match Thoughts: These ladies are putting every single main roster Diva on notice. Either step your game up or get put to shame.
We get a vignette for the fourth and final competitor in tonight’s main event, Sami Zayn.
Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd – NXT Championship Match
Adrian Neville became NXT Champion at the last Takeover event against Bo Dallas in the first ladder match in NXT history. Since then Neville has gone on to defend the NXT Championship against any and all comers. Captivating audiences with his aerial abilities he truly lives up to the nickname “The Man That Gravity Forgot”.
What can be said about Sami Zayn that has not been said before? This guy can do it all in the ring and much like the champion Neville he was already a star before he came to the WWE. Proving that no mask is needed to capture the hearts of NXT and WWE fans, Zayn is a star, now it’s his time to shine.
Tyson Kidd is a welcomed surprise in this concoction. Blessed with skills beyond belief it is a mystery why he never caught on outside of his WWE Tag Title reign with Harry Smith. In NXT Kidd has found the refocus his career desperately needed. Given the chance to freely show off his abilities in the ring has helped him become an important player in the NXT main event picture. Not to mention his transformation into a cocky arrogant heel has helped him find purpose as well.
When he was introduced I’ll admit I was not a fan of Tyler Breeze. To me the model gimmick was stale but in my head that came from a place where I was groomed to believe no one could play the character so naturally, so in turn I thought it would just be another overdone gimmick and Breeze would flounder. Boy was I wrong and sure glad to be. Breeze has taken this model character and gone so in depth with it I swear I’ve seen him on a commercial. Breeze, like LeFort is a graduate of the Lance Storm Academy and he has taken what he has learned and put it to good use. Don’t let the selfie obsession fool you, the guy can go in the ring.
The Match: Okay you are absolutely nuts if you think I’m going to type sequence by sequence of this match. I’m sure other reviewers have done so but here’s what matters: If you want a match full of non-stop action and breathtaking moments this is the match for you. The drama was on high when Tyson Kidd locked on The Sharpshooter on Tyler Breeze who was battling a knee injury. Breeze gets inches away from sure relief when Kidd gets a second wind and pulls him back to the center of the ring. Just when it looked like all the fight was drained from “Prince Pretty” in slides Neville who prevents Breeze’s hand from hitting the mat to submit. The NXT crowd and the Internet breathed a hard sigh of relief as it sure looked like the title was going home with Kidd. This would not be the last time we would see Neville pull out all the stops to save his title. During a heated exchange of action Kidd kept looking to lock in The Sharpshooter on Zayn but Sami kept fighting out of it. Zayn was able to get Kidd on the apron but Kidd hits Zayn with a kick to the side of the head. Kidd tries to re-enter the ring with a springboard elbow but Zayn blocks the damage with his knees. With Kidd in the corner Zayn looks to land a Helluva Kick but gets cut off by Breeze who hits Zayn with his Beauty Shot spin kick. Kidd gets a superkick from Breeze for good measure and when Neville tries to get back in the match by coming in off the top rope Breeze catches him with a dropkick. Breeze looks to get the win by rolling up Neville but he kicks out. Breeze quickly goes to cover Kidd but he kicks out as well and Breeze throws one of the most epic temper tantrums I have ever seen. When all three men in the ring get to their feet they jockey for position on the top rope. Looks like Breeze and Kidd are looking to hit Neville with a double super-plex when suddenly Sami Zayn rolls in and hits a powerbomb on Kidd and Breeze as they were suplexing Neville. Incredible stuff. Zayn falls on Kidd but only gets a two count much to the dismay of the crowd. When Kidd and Zayn get to their feet Zayn backs him into the corner and begins stomping a mud hole into Tyson Kidd Steve Austin style. He shifts his attention to Neville in the corner across but gets a boot right to the mush. Neville climbs to the top rope. Kidd tries cutting him off but gets a boot to the sternum. Neville lands a beautiful Shooting Star Press over Kidd onto Zayn but before he could attempt a pin Tyler Breeze sends Neville flying to the outside and he looks to steal a win! The official only gets a two count and the look of shock on Breeze’s face is priceless. Tyler gets caught in that epic Sharpshooter moment when Neville saves him. He and Neville trade blows in the ring. Zayn is able to back body drop Neville to the outside. Kidd comes running in but Zayn catches him and hits an exploder suplex into the corner! Zayn makes a run and goes diving to the outside sending Neville over the guardrail. Zayn sprints toward the outside corner, flies through the bottom rope corner and hits Breeze with a tornado DDT! Zayn slides in the ring and hits Kidd with a Helluva Kick! 1…2…Neville pulls the referee out of the ring!! A stunned look of disbelief comes over Zayn. When he comes to he goes to attack Neville who hits Zayn with a vicious superkick. He climbs to the top and hits Red Arrow on Kidd. Referee counts 1..2..and 3 for the win.
Winner and STILL NXT Champion: Adrian Neville
|The look says it all. Source: http://wrestling-giffer.tumblr.com/|
Overall Thoughts: NXT live shows on the WWE Network continue to deliver excellent action with each show getting better and better. You’ll find reviews where people will try to nit-pick and compare this show with the other two live shows but all that should matter is if you were entertained. Every match delivered something to be talked about, even the squash matches. You saw action, drama, and intensity. Bottom line is if you weren’t entertained by this show then I don’t know what could.