Dreams really do come true! I was hoping this match would make *some* kind of tape, in full albeit, yesterday on Twitter; and lord behold it shows up on this glorious Sunday. It’s Finn Balor vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship from NXT Chicago on 1/16/16 (last night).
*Although it was slightly clipped, I still got the idea of the entire match, and am still doing a review on the match cause duh…*
For starters, the match was solid to good. It wasn’t blow-away or anything you’d see in a TakeOver main event; but it was nice treat for a house show. With dynamics changing and a passing of the guard occurring in a certain 2-way-street stable, Balor has started to turn his character “back into” the RNR New Japan idea, with gun taunts abroad and reaction to Bullet Club hype chants in full force. Sami Zayn’s always the underdog, and when the day comes that he isn’t, it’s going to be a sad one; as he’s perfected the underdog babyface role through years of experience in and out of a mask.
The match was an interesting start and stop approach, with both guys methodically trying to win over the crowd and advantage in the match. Seeing this Balor is satisfying, although I find it weird thinking to myself that he’s still always disappointing in the ring for the most part, even if he’s starting to show signs of a time when he was better overall. Lots of holds and locks applied, with the idea that Zayn simply had to fight out of them (a unique way of saying THIS IS THE TYPICAL DYNAMIC but Zayn’s the babyface so it works better). Once Zayn got out, we got retaliation combined with the fact that he was already worn out from the Balor antics.
These guys went for a strong style aspect that just came off awkward. Not everything is going to be masked by the fact that Zayn’s one of the best babyfaces ever. Balor would hit him, Zayn would fall, Zayn would get up, Balor would come back in the ring after almost getting on the top rope for Coup de Gras; rinse lather repeat. Times that by 4 and you got yourself an important dynamic in the match that some are going to hate and some are going to love. I’m in the middle because even though it was a cool idea, it wasn’t executed in the best way possible and therefore it already takes an “L”.
Before the really well done finishing stretch comes the crowd. These guys were quite the interesting pairing with the matchup, and I don’t think I can look at it in a good or bad way; because in the end they were loud and they were in the moment. However, hearing “this is awesome” before lockups, or a singular man trying to get over another “this is awesome” chant is quite the annoying spectacle to behold. The BC antics added to the match because Finn could use the chants as leverage and play it into whatever he was doing (ex: gun shot taunts (as you can see in featured image)). Even though the crowd loved Zayn as per usual, I get this weird feeling inside that they simply didn’t get on his case enough. It was more a back and forth, awkwardly snaking through the moves and characters crowd where I didn’t know what they meant at times nor what some chants had to do with investment of the match. I ain’t complaining too hard in the end though, as they were more than fine for volume, and did provide a good atmosphere for the performers (especially to have fun in).
The finishing sequence to this match was excellent. Constant teases using a turnbuckle occurred. The match turned around for a short time after Balor evaded the Helluva Kick, but Zayn knocked him off the apron. Zayn (in his biggest chance in the match (sans Blue Thunder Driver hope kickout spot) got kicked by Balor as a counter to his suicide dive tornado DDT. Balor misses the Coup de Gras and gets exploder suplexed into the corner turnbuckle. Zayn then finally went for the Helluva Kick again but Balor hit him with a slingblade, shotgun dropkick, and lastly, the Coup de Gras to retain his title.
Even though it had its flaws, and wasn’t the TakeOver quality that happens at those major shows; this was still a good match that did its job; complete with some mega cool back and forth counters and offense. NXT continues to deliver fun match after match, and reminds me how much of a “Super Indie” it is when Prince Devitt and El Generico are wrestling each other in a WWE ring in 2016.