Hello everyone, I’m Dan and I’m staging a little NXT takeover of my own as Al is out this week. This week’s edition of NXT hosts a dream match come to life as Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe square off one-on-one in a #1 Contender’s match for the NXT championship. That’s the main event, plus a big tag match, and Asuka in action. Let’s get to the show.
Enzo and Cass do their opening bit to a huge pop, American Alpha getting just as big of a pop. Gable and Dawson have a short grapplefest with Corey Graves putting over the skill of Gable. The match devolves into a massive brawl within a few minutes, the face team throwing out the heels as we roll to commercial. After the break, Gable is being isolated by the other team as they pick him apart and taunt his teammates. The bulk of this match is a slow build to a hot tag that Gable finally gets to Jordan to a huge pop. Cass gets in to lend the assist as the two decimate the opposing team. Cass throws Dawson into Jordan’s belly-to-belly. Jordan pulls down the straps and he and Cass scream at each other with the most terrifying faces you’ve ever seen. The crowd is on fire for this. Gable and Jordan nail the assisted back suplex on Dawson, Dash breaks up the pin but Gable throws him out, leaving Dawson to get hit by Air Enzo to finish. An alright match up until the finish which was insanely hot and well-executed. American Alpha’s build up has been incredibly done, and it grows with every week. Enzo and Cass are as beloved as ever for good reason.
American Alpha and Enzo & Cass vs. Blake & Murphy and Dash & Dawson**1/2
Deonna Purrazzo is being interviewed about her rematch with Asuka tonight. She says being knocked out was a learning experience for her, and you have to be ready for that kind of thing in NXT. Dana and Emma interrupt her, saying that they run NXT. They call Asuka lucky for beating them, Emma namedrops Michael Jordan as having luck behind him! I didn’t think I’d ever hear Asuka be compared to Michael Jordan. Dana says Deonna is pathetic if she thinks she can do what they couldn’t.
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’m the biggest Asuka mark there ever was, and she absolutely killed it in this match. I gotta say, that opening beat when her theme hits is perfect to pop the crowd. Deonna nearly gets her head taken off by a high kick she thankfully avoids, but Asuka targets the legs with some sharp kicks. Deonna gets caught in a rolling kneebar that she gets to the ropes quickly to break. Deonna makes sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, and gets in quite a bit of offense, until she decides to slap Asuka across the face. The crowd fitting chants “you fucked up!”. Deonna goes off the middle rope and gets nailed with a kick to the stomach that echoed throughout the arena. Asuka captures the ankle of Deonna and drops her with a german suplex, right into an armbar. Graves puts over Asuka’s fluidity and how there’s no wasted motion with her. Deonna gets drilled with THREE spinning backfists, and the roundhouse to finish. Asuka gets the three on a KO’d Deonna Purrazzo. A really great short match here, Asuka was incredible and it was nice to see Deonna really hold her own in this. I’m chomping at the bit for the inevitable Asuka/Bayley title match.
Asuka vs. Deonna Purrazzo***
The replay of Nia and Eva attacking Carmella and Bayley last week is shown. Eva says it was justified, and Nia says if she was cleared to compete, she would have won that battle royale. They warn Asuka to stay out of their way lest she gets ‘broken’ like the rest of the women in the locker room.
Yeesh, I can’t even pretend to be excited about this match. Ol’ ragey Riley has become a parody of himself at this point, and I’m sorry folks, I just don’t get the hype for Dillinger. Graves describes Riley as a ‘guy who retweets compliments’ which is the best piece of commentary Graves has dropped. The crowd isn’t quite sure who to root for, but there is a decisive amount of people in the crowd with “Riley Sucks” chants. A slow paced match with Riley lazily knocking Dillinger around the ring and yelling random numbers to mock Dillinger. Riley hits a big shot to Dillinger to stagger him and goes behind but gets caught in a roll-up by Dillinger to steal the win to a huge pop. Wouldn’t call this a bad match, but I wouldn’t call it very interesting either. Graves’ commentary was the best part of this match.
Tye Dillinger vs. Alex Riley**
Joe takes control with some slow but calculated assaults to Zayn, keeping him in control with various holds and even crushing him with an elbow right to the side of the head. Zayn manages to takedown Joe and they face-off. Zayn is using his momentum to counter Joe’s power, even ducking him and sending Joe to the outside, teasing the dive but backflipping off the ropes to stop himself. It’s a very back and forth match, with Joe getting small bursts of powerful offense to level the playing field. The story-telling is awesome, all of Zayn’s moves are precise and he sells the cautious but determined look very well. Joe is tired of being jerked around for the title shot and ramps up the brutality throughout. Zayn’s momentum gets destroyed as he gets caught in a brutal one-arm slam by Joe. Zayn keeps firing back but Joe sweeps the leg and Zayn lands flat on his face. Joe continues to level him with chops and jabs and yells “you wanted this!” to him. Zayn pulls out some fighting spirit with some big clotheslines to take Joe down, and even lifts him up for the Blue Thunder Bomb, but Joe kicks out. No momentum stopping here, Joe hits a big boot and a senton to continue his brutal assault. Joe hits him with a flurry of open-hand strikes but Zayn catches him in the Koji Clutch, Joe escapes and flattens Zayn with a powerslam. Joe hits the corner enzuigiri but Zayn catches him with the corner exploder. Zayn sprints across the ring for the Helluva Kick but Joe grabs him into the Coquina Clutch and it looks like Zayn is out. Joe picks him up into the muscle buster but Zayn jumps out and nails the Helluva Kick and falls on top of Joe to pin him, the three is counted but referee Drake doesn’t look too sure. Graves points out that Joe’s hand was on top of Zayn’s shoulder. The replay is played to show both of their shoulders on the mat, with both guys technically having a cover on the other. The ref doesn’t raise either guy’s arm and Regal comes out and Drake explains the situation, saying it’s a draw. Regal argues and says that he needs a #1 Contender, but Drake isn’t faltering and says it’s a definitive draw before storming away.
(#1 Contender's Match for the NXT Championship) Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe****
I made a point to note that it was Drake doing the reffing because he did so damn good in selling the finish, which by itself was a bit shoddy, but Drake made it look like a hundred bucks, and him storming away in frustration from having two blown finishes and no #1 Contender to be found was icing on the cake. I can’t imagine this finish came off too well to the crowd, who were clearly confused and pissed, but it definitely played out well on TV. The match itself was awesome, the storytelling was on point, the back and forths, the counters were all great. Both guys sold their frustrations from the previous weeks of drama very well and it made for an awesome match.
That’s my NXT review in the books for ya, Al will be back next week with your regularly scheduled programming. This was a hoot though, an overall fun show to break up the past weeks of lackluster episodes. Thanks for reading.