Good lord what a fantastic show! NXT have done it again, there’s no way Wrestlemania can follow that is there? Put it this way, if the main roster do top this show. We’re in for a real treat tomorrow!
Let’s get the minor negatives out of the way first. The audio quality where I was sitting was awful. Elias Samson tried to cut a promo before his dark match (possibly for TV) but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. Yes, he got louder boos than anyone all night but even when they died down it was impossible to hear him. Thankfully, it was all wrestling on the main show.
Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about NXT being bundled with the Wrestlemania travlel packages. It was great for me and sure as hell made my life easier. But I can’t help but feel that some of the ‘bigger’ NXT fans missed out while more casuals came in, or worse didn’t show at all! I aw two completely empty rows on the ground level. For shame! I also had a kid, roughly nine years old with his dad sitting just in front of me. He slept through the entire thing! For shame!
Let’s move on to the positives though, after all there’s a lot of them!
NXT Tag Titles: The Revival (c) vs American Alpha
I legitimately can not think of a better match to open a PPV than this one right now. I’m a big fan of The Revival, Dash and Dawson have been doing great work as dastardly heels. American Alpha, despite the stupid name, are hugely over with the crowd as well. So this made for a red hot opening bout.
It was a great match. Dash and Dawson constantly saving each other and people one another out of harms way. Denying the hot tags to either Jordan or Gable and generally generating heat by being dirty cheating bastards.
It would have been a faultless match in my opinion, but we do have to mention the big botch roughly half way in. Dash and Dawson set up Gable to do a duel powerbomb/crossbody thing. but they get the timing wrong and the move falls flat. This leads to a huge botchamania chant as well as everyones favourite ‘you fucked up’. Can’t win them all lads.
Austin Aries vs Baron Corbin
It’s weird to consider a match involving Austin Aries as the ‘toilet break’ match, but when you look at the rest of the card. It pretty much has to be. This match was always going to struggle to follow the tag team titles. Gable and Jordan are just so insanely over that anything in comparison looks poor.
Still, it was a good match. Corbin had control as the bigger man but Austin Aries used his smarts to keep on level pegging. Simple booking but it works and helps keep both people over. I loved Aries’ reversal or escape of the End of Days, it looked awesome. While the quick roll up adds more fuel to the fire for a continuation of this feud but doesn’t harm Corbin for having to do the job.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn
This was the true main event of the evening. We all knew this going in. Did it deliver? Hell yes it did! Simply put this match was amazing. Fantastic. Brilliant and awesome. Am I getting the point across that I loved this match? I hope so.
Sami and Shinsuke beat the holy hell out of each other. The couple of minute long spot of them trading forearms was brutal, in fact most of the match was brutal. I don’t think I can write the words the can truly explain how good this match was, so just go and watch it okay?
Nakamura got the victory in the end and after a quick handshake and show of respect between the two great competitors he cleared the ring so the fans could have one last moment with Sami Zayn. It’s an end of an era for NXT. Zayn is one of the main reasons for its success and while the show will be fine without him, it does feel like we’re losing a son in many ways.
Hopefully he will continue to find success on the main roster. NXT call ups have a hit and miss record, but if anyone can do it. It would be Sami Zayn.
Thank you Sami.
NXT Womens Title: Bayley (c) vs Asuka
Now personally I would have had either the Austin Aries/Baron Corbin match or the Apollo Crews/Elias Samson (which was a dark match for the event) in this position. The crowd were exhausted from the previous match and a quick 5 minute squash from Apollo after a promo from Samson would have given everyone time to breathe.
Instead we went straight into another main event match and despite how good it was, it did suffer as a result. I really struggled to get into this match actually, I sort of zoned out. I was watching it but not watching it, which considering the talent in the ring and how great NXT women’s matches normally are is a shame.
It’s all about the ending here though. Most of us expected Bayley to be dropping the belt soon, it’s likely she’ll be on the main roster by Summerslam at the latest. However for Asuka to defeat her by knockout? Well I was stunned. So were the crowd, instantly the result was met by a huge chours of boos. However, after a minute or so the crowd began to cheer for Asuka herself.
A clean pin fall victory would have indicated to me that Bayley was moving up on Monday’s Raw. While a submission victory would have hurt Bayley’s character, not long term granted though. No, a knockout victory leaves room for a rematch before she does make her move.
NXT Title: Finn Balor (c) vs Samoa Joe
In honesty I still was quite ready for this match either to be honest. That’s how good Nakamura vs Sami Zayn was. I was completely drained.
Finn comes out in some rather basic paint this time. Instead he trades it for a freaking chainsaw! Awesome. One of the tech guys absolutely shat himself when he got a little bit too close. Hilarious.
Within 30 seconds of the match Samoa Joe is busted open. it’s quite a bad one as well, blood getting everywhere. I couldn’t see how bad it was from my angle and I assume that’s the same for most of the crowd who were not happy about the constant stoppages to try and clean him up. I love that Joe stayed in character pushing the referees away at first.
Unfortunately those constant stoppages did slow down the pace of the match and as a result I felt like it never really got going. There were some awesome spots, such as Finn being launched over the barricade into a security man. Or the dive from the outside that took out half of the front row!
I’m not saying it was a bad match, it wasn’t. It’s just that it could have been better. Maybe again it was just that I was tired and the blood stoppages ruined it’s pacing, but I think their match from Takeover London was better.
The ending was a surprise as well, coming out of what felt like nowhere. I was looking for an end of a feud finish but the quick pin while in a submission doesn’t seem to provide that.
Rumours are that one of the of these men are moving up to the main roster soon. I assume it’ll be Joe based on this result meaning we get Balor Club on NXT! Hopefully at least.
A rather anticlimactic ending to an excellent show sure, but what a show it was! Like I said earlier, if Wrestlemania can top this show. Then we’re in for a real treat!
Want to listen to a podcast review of this event? Listen below as Dan and I witter endlessly about how great this show was.