Good evening lads and ladettes, it’s that time of week again for more of WWE’s hottest brand in NXT! The main event for this episode (which is NXT’s 317th episode) is relative newcomer to NXT Johnny Gargano facing the Samoan Submission Machine, Samoa Joe, in what promises to be a can’t miss main event. Let’s jump right into the action with our first match of the show!
Starting off this episode of NXT is Sami Zayn wrestling his first match since being injured in the Full Sail Arena. Sami, along with the other two men in the Number One Contender’s match next week (Joe and Corbin) are all in action tonight as they try to get some momentum going their way. This time around, Sami will be squaring off with “Social Outcast” Adam Rose. Rose goes after the surgically repaired shoulder of Zayn, as is to be expected. Zayn gets things back in his favor, doing a few rolls over Rose after escaping some armbars, but Rose takes control again and works on the neck and shoulder of Zayn. Sami is just being overpowered by Rose thus far in the contest, but manages to flip over the rope and try to get some offense in, but Rose nails the ropes to knock Zayn off his balance, and connects with a top rope headbutt on the shoulder of Zayn for a two count. Rose again targets the shoulder of Zayn, but gets trapped in the Koji Clutch and has no choice but to submit, giving Zayn the victory.
An interesting match, to say the least. It’s odd that they’re going right back to establishing Zayn as an underdog, as he was dominated the majority of this match and slapped the Koji Clutch on for the out of the blue victory. We’ll see how this translates to next week’s triple threat match, but I would really hope they don’t have Zayn get beat on the entire time and then win randomly.
We get a promo from Gable and Jordan, who will be referring to themselves as American Alpha from now on. I thoroughly enjoy the chemistry these two have. Not only are they entertaining in the ring, they’re thoroughly entertaining in promos and are hitting the spot every time with their chemistry.
Apollo Crews is looking to rebound from what one would call a tough couple of weeks here since losing to Baron Corbin at TakeOver: London. If Crews continues to rapidly improve like he did in 2015 after debuting, 2016 could be a very interesting year for Crews. While the beginning of the match has mostly been trading of armlocks and headlocks, Tom Phillips and Corey Graves are having some A+ banter on commentary that, if nothing else, should be a reason to watch this match. Dillinger is looking very good in this match, I have to say. Not to imply that Crews looks like hot garbage by comparison, but Dillinger is making the most of his chance here and showcasing a great deal of charisma. Dillinger even manages to get in a good outside dive on Crews. Dillinger exposes his knee, and then hits an interesting move that I’m not entirely sure how to describe. Crews hits a big double leg takedown, followed by a huge kick to stun Dillinger, setting him up for the inevitable powerbomb to seal the deal for Crews and net him the victory.
Post match, Crews gets on the microphone and says that he doesn’t like when his matches end in disqualification, and while he isn’t asking for a title match, he wants to finish what was started a few months ago and wants Finn Balor one on one, even if the title isn’t on the line. Crews didn’t look nearly as impressive as Dillinger did, but it was a good match by both participants.
Backstage, we see Blake, Murphy, and Alexa Bliss, who scoff at the “ridiculous” name of American Alpha, and Bliss proceeds to lay into them about how they embarrassed her in London by losing, and claiming she’ll make them look good again when she and Emma beat Bayley and Carmella tonight in tag-team action.
Rich Swann is making his NXT debut tonight, going one-on-one with Big Banter Corbin just a week before the Number One Contender’s match. Corbin has been impressing me more and more lately, and I’m hoping the trend will continue tonight in this match. Corbin uses his strength early on to dominate Swann. Swann utilizes his superior athleticism, but it’s to no avail as Corbin is thrown so hard off a back suplex that it appears he does a 450 before he lands. Corbin tries to use his power again, but Swann is too agile to be caught off guard by Corbin. Swann tries to go for a high risk maneuver, but is put away by a Deep Six. Corbin looked just as impressive as I thought he would here, and Swann looked great in his debut too.
We head backstage again to Rich Brennan, who is interviewing Bayley and Carmella about how their friendship needs to be put aside when it comes down to the NXT Women’s Championship. The Mechanics decide to stop by and banter Carmella about how like Enzo and Cass, she won’t ever win when it really counts. Good promo by Dash and Dawson, but Bayley seemed very out of place on the promo.
If you follow me on Twitter, or listen to me on the NXT Chapter Podcast, you’ll know I absolutely love Emma and I have high hopes for her in the new year. This tag match is going to be one of two things: exciting or a waste of time. Right from the entrances, we see that Alexa and Emma have absolutely no interesting in getting along. Straight off the get-go, Emma spears Carmella off the apron and Emma and Alexa go straight after Bayley, trying to inflict some damage, with Bayley clearly showing some pain in her ribs. Alexa and Emma are clearly in control as they work on the injured ribs with precision. Bayley fights through the pain and hits a huge lariat off the top rope and knocks Alexa down. Bayley tries to make the tag, but Alexa gets Emma in and prevents the tag. Bayley goes to town on Emma, and at one point takes a moment to yell “Shut Up” at Dana, which is fantastic in every way possible. Emma and Alexa maintain dominance over the champ, hurting her at every pass. Carmella comes in like roaring thunder, and takes it straight to Alexa with some innovative offense, even scoring with a Bronco Buster. Carmella plants Alexa with a DDT, and wraps her in a head scissors to pick up the submission victory for Bayley and Carmella.
Alexa and Emma looked strong here, and althought she had a very short burst of offense in the match, Carmella also looked pretty good heading into her title match with Bayley. It’ll be interesting to see how Bayley and Carmella’s styles mesh in that match, but for now, we’re going backstage again with Finn Balor. Balor accepts the request for a match from Apollo Crews, so we’ll be getting that rematch sometime soon.
Samoa Joe, after losing at TakeOver: London, is a man on a mission who is absolutely obsessed with proving that he is the only person worthy of facing Finn Balor and claiming what he feels is rightfully his: the NXT Championship. Commentary reiterates this point, with Tom Phillips making it clear that he’s concerned for Gargano’s well being. Joe tries to bully around Gargano, but Gargano is having none of it and tries to fight off Joe, but is stopped short. Gargano tries for a dive off the apron, but Joe derails the momentum, sweeping Gargano off the apron as he smashes his face straight onto the ground. Joe unleashes an absolute flurry on Gargano, taking him down with strikes, running offense, and stiff enzugiris. Joe takes Gargano’s leg out so hard from under him that he actually flips over and slams his head on the mat. Gargano weathers the storm of Joe, making it back in from a near count out to nail some hard hitting kicks to the head and a huge DDT to take down the Samoan Submission Machine. Gargano attempts to launch himself through the ropes, but is met with an absolutely vicious kick to set up for the Coquina Clutch for the merciful victory.
Per usual, Joe looked like an absolute monster. Gargano did well in the match, but Joe came out looking like a million bucks and a true monster heading into next week’s number one contender’s match up. That wraps things up for this week’s episode of NXT. This week’s episode was definitely a lot stronger than the previous one, and I’m interested to see where the direction of NXT is headed going into TakeOver: Dallas. Next week, we finally get to see Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin clash to determine Finn Balor’s number one contender, which you won’t want to miss. Until next time, folks!