Thursday, November 5, 2015

NXT Lakeland 11-5-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Thursday night NXT returned to the National Guard Armory in Lakeland for a night of hard hitting action. With much of the roster away with other commitments, the remaining talent stepped up and put on a fun and exciting night of wrestling and no one went home disappointed.

The always over Enzo Amore is always a good choice to start a show, as he received the usual big pop. He made his way to the ring by himself to take on his opponent, Angelo Dawkins. The match begins with several minutes of back and forth action before Dawkins takes over. He pummels Enzo before grounding him with a chancery. Enzo makes sporadic comeback attempts only to be shut down and grounded by Dawkins. Finally, Amore launches a comeback flying into Dawkins with his spastic trademark crossbody and follows with a flurry of punches. He sends Dawkins into the turnbuckle with an STO before climbing the turnbuckle. Amore launches off the top and catches Dawkins with a hellacious DDT for the win. Amore has improved considerably, even though his major strength still lies in being underdog. Dawkins has always been impressive athletically, but now his charisma is starting to really come through with his “curse of greatness gimmick. He was great tonight interacting with the crowd.

Billie Kay is next out to the ring, accompanied by her manager Sylvester Lefort. Her opponent is Gionna Daddio. The two start off with a lot of fast paced back and forth action before Billie takes a cheap shot and attempts to slow Gionna with a chinlock. She continues her onslaught with a backbreaker before settling into a single-legged camel clutch. Eventually, Gionna comes back dropping Billie with a couple of dropkicks and nailing her with an enziguri. She goes for the pin but Sylvester places Billie’s foot on the ropes. Lefort gets climbs onto the ring apron to cause a further distraction but Gionna dropkicks him to the floor. Gionna turns around to be caught by a surprise roll-up pin giving Billie Kay the victory. This match was a highlight of the night with great performances by both women. I like the pairing of Billie and Sylvester, it really seemed to work. For the amount of times she has been wrestling, Gionna Daddio is very impressive. People critical of another model turned wrestler are going to be proven wrong, as it seems safe to say she is a natural. At some point during the match (not sure exactly when) her nose got busted, but she worked through it and finished the match. Luckily, it was just a bloodied nose and nothing was broken.

Next up is Riddick Moss taking on Josh Woods. Almost immediately after the initial lock-up Woods traps Moss in an armbar before transitioning into an ankle lock, but Moss makes the ropes. The match continues with the quicker Woods staying one step ahead of Moss always coming back to a series of painful armlocks. The powerful Moss reverses an Irish Whip slamming Woods into the turnbuckles with enough velocity to make the entire front row cringe.  He follows with a fallaway slam, then pummels Woods. Moss attempts to keep his opponent grounded, but Woods locks on another ankle lock out of nowhere before Moss makes the ropes. Woods continues with a series of suplexes before Moss manages to nail him with a kick to the face. Moss then finishes Woods with a neckbreaker for the victory. This was another impressive match. At these house shows Riddick Moss goes back and forth between heel and face depending upon what is needed, but he seems to be gaining a lot more traction as the cocky heel. This was the first time I personally saw Josh Woods wrestle (other than a few scuffles as Preston Cunningham Jr) and I wasn’t disappointed. From the way he was dressed to the moves he used, Woods MMA experience and amateur wrestling background was obvious. He is a lot of fun to watch and with more performances like tonight he won’t have a problem getting over.

Levis Valenzuela is out next for yet another promo. He talks about the phenomenon known as NXT and the opportunity it has given him. He expresses his desire to be the first Dominican NXT champion. He is interrupted by Emma, who tells him that dancing and pandering to the crowd got her nowhere. She says dancing is not the answer, and neither are the people in this crowd. She insists the dancing needs to stop but he tells her “No way, Jose!” He tells her that she can’t bring people down with her whining and that we’re all going to dance and the fiesta will continue. She tries to slap him but he catches her hand, spins her around and dips her. His music hit and a conga line emerges from the back and makes their way around the ring. The dancers consist of new recruits including Rich Swann, and all of the recent Tough Enough signees (minus ZZ).

The evening continues with Solomon Crowe taking on Tino Sabbatelli. After an initial lock-up the two trade several punches and chops until Tino takes over with a hard whip into the corner. Sabbatelli continues with a running powerslam before settling into a chinlock. The match continues with Crowe enduring punishment from Tino until he mounts a comeback culminating with a high knee in the corner guaranteed to loosen a few fillings. He finishes Sabbatelli with a twisting suplex neckbreaker for the pin. This was a short textbook wrestling match that saw Crowe mostly selling the offense of Sabbatelli. The newcomer Tino Sabbatelli is certainly competent in the ring, but nothing about him jumps out at me yet. As a big fan of Solomon Crowe, I have to wonder what in the hell they are doing with the guy. Crowe should be challenging for the NXT title, instead he is in limbo.

We continue with tag action as Marcus Louis and Sawyer Fulton take on perhaps the most over tag team in NXT, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. Marcus Louis may not be full on crazy anymore, but he’s still definitely weird as he circles the ring maniacally and smelling his hands after attempting a handshake with Gable. The bell rings and the two lock up, several minutes of awesome chain wrestling follow with Gable getting the upper hand. Gable and Jordan control much of the bout with great wrestling from both Jordan and Gable, including some impressive tandem wrestling too. After a cheap shot the bad guys take over with Sawyer clotheslining Gable out of his boots. Sawyer and Marcus beat down Gable before slowing down the pace. Marcus circles him maniacally beating him down with big clubbing blows. Sawyer tags back in and levels Gable with a palm strike that would make CJ Parker proud. However, moments later Gable snatches Fulton’s arm out of nowhere for an armbar over the ring ropes. This creates enough separation for Gable to make a hot tag to Jordan who comes in with a series of dropkicks. He hits Louis with a suplex following with another to Fulton. He tags in Gable and they hit Sawyer Fulton with Grand Amplitude for the win. This was a fun match, as is usually the case with Jordan and Gable who are so much fun to watch. A fine performance by Fulton and Louis as well, both men have all the tools athletically, but still seem to be looking for that angle to connect them with the crowd.

Next is Bull Dempsey taking on the German Alexander Wolfe. This was another textbook wrestling match that saw some back and forth offense until Wolfe took over against Dempsey mostly working the arm and hand. Wolfe controlled much of the match while yelling at the crowd in German. Ultimately, Dempsey would “Hulk up” at the offense of Wolfe and come back with a series of punches. He squashes Wolfe with a big splash in the corner laying him out. Bull climbs the turnbuckles and launches off squashing his opponent with a seated senton for the win. I like Bull Dempsey, but this match seemed to struggle to keep the attention of the crowd.

More women’s action is next with Aaliyah (formely Jasmin/Nooph) taking on Nia Jax, who came out to a nice pop. The two lock up but Nia easily pushes her off. The speedy Aaliyah runs the ropes comes back at Nia with a series of kicks to the legs before Nia once again swats her off. Then Nia drops her with a shoulder breaker, then continues by tossing around her opponent by her hair like a rag doll. Nia locks her opponent with a vicious bear hug until Aaliyah gets free and attempts a comeback with another set of kicks, but Nia sends her to the mat with a clothesline. She stalks her opponent around the ring like a wounded animal before locking on another bear hug. Eventually, Aaliyah mounts another comeback with a series of dropkicks. She climbs the top rope and leaps off at a standing Nia (perhaps going for a hurricanrana?) but Nia falls back and they both land awkwardly, with Aaliyah looking like she took the brunt of it. Nia pins her for an abrupt finish. Nia continues to do well with her monster booking, while the little I have seen of Aaliyah mostly consists of her selling so it is hard to say. I saw Aaliyah after the show and luckily she was okay after the rough looking abrupt ending to her match.

Our main event is a tag match for the NXT tag team titles with The Vaudevillians challenging the champs, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The match starts off with some great chain wrestling between English and Dawson. Eventually, English gets the upper hand. Dawson tags out but Dash doesn’t fare much better soon finding himself having to escape an armbar from Gotch. Later, Dawson finds himself with his arm in a hammerlock for some signature squats from the gentleman grapplers. English does 10 squats, but Gotch outdoes him with a manly 31 squats. Eventauly, after a blind tag Dash clotheslines English out of his boots and the two begin an intense beatdown. Dash and Dawson employ frequent tags working the leg of English, at one point wrapping it around the ring post. Ultimately, English makes a hot tag to Gotch who comes in and clears the ring with an onslaught of innovative kicks and strikes. Gotch sends Dash out of the ring and nails Dawson with a rolling senton. English follows with a low angle senton off the second rope for the pin but Dash pulls the referee out of the ring to narrowly avoid a three count. The referee calls for the bell giving the Vaudevillians a DQ victory.  Dawson and Dash continue to beatdown their opponents after the bell until Enzo Amore runs in to make the save. Amore rocks Dash with a series of punches before The Vaudevillians finish him with a Whirling Dervish. This was a great main event with both teams looking really good. The Vaudevillians are over as always, and it’s so gratifying to finally see Dawson and Wilder getting a well-deserved and long awaited push.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

NXT Gainesville 10-30-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Friday night guys and ghouls creeped into the MLK Recreation center for an evening of NXT action. It was Devils Night, but instead of tricks or treats, fans were treated to an odd, fun, and most definitely unforgettable night of wrestling.

The evening starts with a spooky Halloween Royal Rumble, standard Rumble format is in place except all competitors are costumed. Sylvester Lefort is out first in his gladiator gear. Aiden English is out next dressed up as Kevin Owens, complete with a toy Intercontinental title belt and nailing even the most subtle mannerisms. English even uses Owens moves, missing a cannonball but hitting Lefort with a Pop-up Powerbomb. As the match wears on and the ring fills the action continues in typical battle royal fashion. Some of the competitors included Elias Sampson as a mustard bottle, Thomas Kingdon in poncho and sombrero with a big mustache, and Axel Tischer as a Viking. Jason Jordan was a monkey while Chad Gable was a giant banana. Hugo Knox wore a wig and a schoolgirl skirt and at one point danced with a hippy Rich Swann. Biff Busick also competed but was in a ghostly hood, while Noah Kekoa paid homage to The Wild Samoans. Wesley Blake came in dressed as a Florida State Seminoles cheerleader which brought boos from the Gators crowd. The final competitor was a Lego person whose identity became obvious after laying out Blake with a Belly-To-Bayley before tossing him over the top rope to become the winner. Ring announcer Dasha Fuentes comes out and states that as winner of the Rumble, Bayley has won the privilege of being guest general manager for the night. The action was standard battle royal fare, but all the costumes and zaniness made this so much fun. It was also a great way to utilize a lot of underutilized guys from the back.

Next up, Steve Cutler takes on Angelo Dawkins. The match starts with a lot of back and forth grappling and running the ropes until Dawkins takes advantage with a cheap shot. After that Dawkins slows down the pace, grounding Cutler with a front chancery. Eventually, Cutler fires back, gaining momentum culminating with a nice springboard elbow. Dawkins retaliates moments later dropping Cutler onto the ropes and then following with a flapjack for the win. This was a short textbook match, but both men have improved a lot over the last year. After a lot of failed gimmicks, Angelo Dawkins may now be finding traction by pretty much just being Angelo.

An angry Enzo Amore makes his way to the ring to cut a fiery promo against the two men who put his partner on the shelf, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. In the middle of his tirade he is interrupted by Dawson and Wilder, who surround the ring before entering to beat down Amore. The NXT champion Finn Balor runs down to make the save. Acting manager Bayley comes out and sets up our main event of the evening, which will obviously be Finn and Enzo taking on Dawson and Wilder.

Women’s action is next with Marley (formerly Gionna Daddio) taking on Peyton Royce. The match starts very fast paced and back and forth as the two trade armlocks and pin attempts. Peyton takes over after a fierce running knee. She chokes Marley in the corner before grounding her with a chinlock. Marley fights back with some dropkicks and a hip toss, but Peyton comes back with a huge heel kick for a close count by the ref. Moments later Marley uses her speed to her advantage for a last grasp comeback culminating with crossbody off the top rope for the win. This was one of the better matches of the night. The new less bubbly, more dark and sultry heel persona works well for the talented Peyton, while Marley simply gets better every time I see her.

The night continues with six man tag action as Mojo Rawley, Tucker Knight, and Bull Dempsey take on the team of Solomon Crowe, Sawyer Fulton and Marcus Louis. After an initial burst of offense the heel team quickly take over controlling Knight. Mostly strikes and kicks as the three tag frequently punishing Tucker. Sawyer Fulton looked strong with an impressive gutwrench suplex to Knight, who is by no means a small man. Eventually, Knight makes the hot tag to Bull who clears house with a series of strikes until another cheap shot behind the referees back allows the bad guys to regain control. Finally though, Dempsey makes the tag to Mojo who comes in as hyped as ever. He goes for a big splash in the corner, but Louis pulls Crowe out of the way. Crowe pounces and finishes Rawley with a twisting suplex neckbreaker for the victory. Fulton gave a standout performance, while Crowe is still one of the more underrated guys in NXT.

Next, is Baron Corbin taking on Levis Valenzuela. Corbin takes control easily in the early goings of the match. Corbin rolls out of the ring and grabs a mic, telling Levis the costume party was at the beginning of the night and that these people paid what little money they had to see real superstars. The match resumes and Levis comes back with a big arm drag and a monkey flip before clotheslining Corbin back to the outside. An angry Corbin climbs back into the ring but a fired up Valenzuela continues with several dropkicks and a suplex. Corbin halts him by taking out his knee. Corbin controls most of the match from this point on, slowing the pace with a series of strikes and punches. Levis mounts a small comeback but Corbin shits him down with a big swinging side slam and moments later and End Of Days for the pin. Afterwards, Corbin begins to decimate Levis, but Apollo Crews makes the save. This match looked better in execution than it does on paper. I personally love all the people booing the hell out of Corbin, because he seems to feed off of it, and it makes him better. Plus, he has no problem handling the crowd either.

We continue with more women’s action as Nia Jax takes on Billie Kay. Wisely, Billie attempts to stay a step ahead by using her speed to her advantage by dodging Nia, and answering with strikes of her own. Nia misses with a splash in the corner and Billie pounces with a series of kicks, but Nia catches her and drops her with a shoulder breaker. After that she begins to target the arm of Billie for much of the match. Later, Billie mounts a comeback with a series of kicks and a big boot. An angry Nia would fight back and snatch Billie into a Torture Rack for the submission. I enjoyed this match. I could easily see Billie Kay at the top of the division one day.

We continue with Ty Dillinger taking on Tino Sabbatelli. The perfect 10 Ty Dillinger started off strong, outgrappling Tino, taking out his feet and following with a nice springboard splash. The two fight on the outside until Tino sends Dillinger into the pole. Dillinger barely makes the referees 10 count, and Tino tosses hom back to the outside. At this point Sabbatelli takes over, tossing Dillinger to the outside several times over the course of the match, but each time Dillinger would narrowly make the 10 count. Finally, Dillinger mounts a comeback with several chops, a Lou Thez press, and a Russian Leg sweep. He hikes down his kneepad for his knee smash, but Tino rolls out of the ring. He grabs Tino and sends him back to the ring, nails him with a superkick and a knee smash facebreaker for the victory. Dillinger’s stock continues to rise in NXT, yet one of his greatest strengths is being able to make anyone look good. Tino did better than I anticipated, yet he has a long way to go.

Dasha Fuentes invites Asuka to the ring for an interview. The international superstar comes out to probably the biggest pop of the night. She talks about how happy she is to be here in NXT before she is interrupted by Emma. Emma says that Dana could not be here tonight and that it is all Asuka’s fault, and it is unacceptable. Emma demands a moment of silence for Dana, but the crowd instead answers with Asuka chants. After Emma starts to leave but instead attempts to attack. Asuka is ready and counters with a rolling armbar, but Emma escapes and beats a hasty retreat.

It is time for our tag team main event. Enzo starts for his team very aggressively against  Dawson with a series of punches. Inevitably, Amore does what he does best, playing the underdog as Dawson and Wilder decimate him. Dawson and Wilder employ frequent tags while working the leg of Amore. Eventually, Enzo manages to bulldog Dash and make a hot tag. Finn Balor comes in with a series of strikes and chops. He kicks Dawson off the ring apron and follows with a slingblade and hesitation dropkick to Wilder. Balor throws Amore onto Wilder with an assisted splash, but Dawson pulls the ref out of the ring causing a DQ. Dawson and Wilder attempt to leave but are cut off by Bayley and all the still costumed Rumble competitors who back Dawson and Wilder back into the ring for a final Coup De Grace.

I’ve been to too many NXT shows to count, and I don’t think there has ever been a bad one. Yet there are a handful that will always be standouts, this one was one of those shows. “Kevin Owens” alone was worth the price of admission.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

NXT Cocoa 10-15-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Thursday fans piled into the National Guard Armory in Cocoa, Fl for the return of NXT. It was a not to be missed night featuring new faces, the return of familiar ones, and featured all the champions in action.

Out to start the night is NXT Women’s champ Bayley, who receives a much deserved pop hero’s welcome from the crowd. She begins by talking about Takeover, stating that they made history and that it was all like a dream to her. She puts over the whole roster before stating that they took the women’s division is at a whole new level. Then much to everyone’s surprise, she is interrupted by Cameron. She tells Bayley that everyone is talking about her, not just in NXT, but on the main roster as well. Cameron continues, telling Bayley that when she is done playing with girls she’ll be ready for her. Fighting champion Bayley relents and accepts her challenge on the spot. A referee is called out and we have a match.

Cameron takes a quick advantage putting Bayley in a side headlock. Bayley breaks free easily and rolls up Cameron for several pin attempts, following with a headlock of her own. Bayley takes Cameron to the mat with a one-handed Bulldog and follow with her signature Slip-N-Slide. Cameron escapes to the corner and lures in Bayley with a cheap shot to take over. She lays out Bayley with a running swinging neckbreaker and follows stomping the champ. She chokes Bayley on the ropes and follows with a facebuster. The two make it up and Bayley fights back culminating with Bayley hitting her signature elbows in the corner. She suplexes Cameron and follows with a Belly-To-Bayley suplex for the win. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Cameron already, and yes she is much improved. To clarify, no she is not performing at the level NXT fans have come to expect, but compared to where she was, she is much better. It was a short textbook match, but ring general Bayley led her through it well with no real hiccups. Cameron did excel on the mic, undeterred by the heat from the crowd and handling hecklers well.

Next up, the drifter Elias Sampson takes on Levis Valenzuela. Despite a little offense from Levis in the early goings Sampson pretty quickly takes over, leveling his opponent with a big clothesline. He continues pummeling Levis with several kicks and strikes before settling into a side headlock. Levis mounts some offense with some chops of his own.  Sampson shuts him down with a mule kick and another bevy of kicks and strikes. Levis mounts another bit of momentum culminating with a rolling snap mare followed by a big back body drop. He winds up and lays out Elias with a huge punch and follows with a simple splash for the win. Another short textbook match but Sampson shows so much promise. Valenzuela is charismatic as can be and it shines through in the ring, but that finisher really doesn’t cut it.

Gionna Daddio and Alia (formerly Nooph/Jasmin) are out next for a promo. Gionna talks about how they are the youngest Divas not just in NXT, but WWE. She mentions how wrestlers like Becky, Charlotte, Sasha, and Bayley jumpstarted the revolution. They are interrupted by Emma and Eva Marie. Emma tells her that she started the revolution, which garnered some cheers from the crowd. Eva took the mic and with much heat from the crowd told said that they were young and dumb, and that they are looking at the star of Total Divas. Emma and Eva attack, pretty much ejecting Daddio from the ring and focusing their attack on poor Alia. Emma locks on the Emma Lock until it is broken up by several referees.

Tag action follows with Blake and Murphy taking on Jordan and Gable. Murphy and Gable start things off and after a little back and forth, Gable out-grapples Murphy and as always, looks amazing doing so. Murphy tags in Blake, but Blakes says he wants Jordan because he already knows he can take Gable. Jordan comes in and essentially out-grapples Blake as well culminating with a big slam and several pin attempts. Exasperated Blake yells to tag in Gable. Blake declares amateur rules, Gable obliges getting into position. Blake hesitates and says he needs headgear first. Alexa Bliss gets headgear from underneath the ring for Blake and Murphy. Blake puts on the head gear and Gable re-positions himself. Blake takes a cheap kick instead, but regardless Gable back to his feet still stays a step ahead until upon distraction Bliss pulls Gable’s legs out from underneath him on the ring apron. Blake and Murphy slow the pace considerably while taking apart Gable, eventually Blake settles into a chinlock. Ultimately, Gable manages to get free and make the hot tag to Jordan who comes in with a pair of punches, dropkicks, and flapjacks for both Blake and Murphy. He hits a big shoulder in the corner laying out Murphy. He follows with a big overhead suplex to Blake, before tagging Gable to finish with Grand Amplitude for the win. This was one of my favorites of the night, I’ve been a big Gable fan since day one and their obvious chemistry is bringing more charisma out of the athletically gifted Jason Jordan. There is a lot of talk about an impending push for this team, and I certainly hope the rumors are true.

Next Apollo Crews takes on Baron Corbin. The match starts with a lot of fast paced back and forth action, Corbin topples Crews with a big shoulder tackle but Crews comes back with a perfect dropkick, etc. Finally, Corbin takes Crews and rams his shoulder into the ring post. Corbin follows with his patented baseball slide followed by a big punch. Corbin takes his time decimating Crews before settling into a hammerlock. Crews tries to mount a comeback but Corbin shuts him down with a slam and a flurry of punches. Crews fights back again, this time hitting a couple of axehandles followed by a splash and a big clothesline. He topples Corbin with a big kick to the side of head. Crews hoists Corbin up for a Dangan Bomb for the win. This was a good match, and hopefully a proper feud will follow. Corbin, with his anti-indie sentiments versus the indie sensation Apollo Crews makes perfect sense.

The tag titles are on the line as The Vaudevillians defend against Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. Gotch shows off his yogi-like flexibility hoisting his leg over his head. Dawson attempts the same (with help from Dash) only to fall on his butt. Incredulously, he asks Gotch “How do you do that?!?” The Vaudevillians take charge in the early goings with some squats thrown in. Eventually through distraction Dash and Dawson take control of English, but he quickly comes back tossing his opponent around with his trademark armdrags. They continue with their signature squats spot, until through another distraction Dawson and Wilder take charge. They employ frequent tags and a lot of great tandem moves while picking apart English. Eventually, English makes the hot tag. Gotch comes in with his fun and innovative flurry of kicks, until Dawson nails him with a ring shattering Spine Buster. Moments later, Dawson attempts to  strike Gotch who ducks, and Dawson takes out Dash instead. Gotch tosses Dawson into the air with an overhead suplex and The Vaudevillians finish with the Whirling Dervish. This was another great tag match. It’s very validating to see Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder finally getting a push after putting them over here on this blog for the past year and a half!

Next up, Hugo Knox dances his way to the ring enthusiastically to face his opponent, Solomon Crowe. Crowe looking a bit like old school Sami Calihan with his eye makeup and scowl. The deceptively speedy Knox quickly takes over with a drop toehold followed by a several leapfrogs into an armlock. The smashmouth Crowe levels Knox with a nasty punch and takes over. Crowe continues with an onslaught of kicks, strikes and a suplex before settling into a chinlock. Eventually Knox fights back culminating with an ensiguri that sends Crowe to the mat. Knox goes to finish for a split legged moonsault off the turnbuckle but misses Crowe completely. He climbs the ropes to try it again but Crowe knocks him off and contorts him into the Stretch Muffler. I think Knox has a lot of potential but I was relieved to see Crowe finally get a victory. Interesting to note that the usual very over gimmick of Knox was not only not over, but had the crowd very much rooting for a heel Crowe.

A fired up Gionna Daddio comes back to the ring and challenges Emma and Eva Marie to finish what they started. The bad girls come into the ring surrounding Gionna for an easy beatdown. Gionna says she is not young and dumb, and she has brought back up. Music hits and Asuka comes out to a big pop from the crowd. Gionna starts for her team showing a lot of speed and agility until Emma and Eva gain advantage with a distraction. They work over Gionna until she finally makes the tag. Asuka comes off the turnbuckle with a huge missile dropkick to Eva Marie. She unloads an intense flurry of kicks and strikes to a defenseless Eva. Moments later, she tags Gionna who comes off the turnbuckle with a crossybody to Eva for the pin. The rookie Gionna continues to impress, while the Asuka, who is fun as hell to watch live, is worthy of all the hype that has preceded her. I’m very excited to see the inevitable one on one match between her and the underrated Emma.

The main event of the evening is Ty Dillinger taking on the NXT champ Finn Balor. Before the match Dillinger gives his 10 sign to Dasha, instructing her to raise it at his command through the match. The bell rings and the two lock up and go back and forth with several minutes of chain wrestling. Dillinger comes out on top and demands Dasha raise his sign, but she never does. Finn sends Dillinger to the outside with a dropkick. They exchange chops on the outside, an exchange that very much ends in the favor of Finn Balor. Ty fights back though, pulling Finn’s legs out from under him and wrapping his knee around the ring post. Ty continues targeting the leg of Balor. Finn hits a pele out of nowhere and tries to mount an offense. He hit Dillinger with a slingblade and goes to follow with a hesitation dropkick but his leg gives out. Dillinger instead sends Balor to the mat with a jaw shattering superkick. He follows by contorting the champ into a crab, until Finn makes the ropes. Back to his feet, Finn dropkicks Dillinger in the knee. He follows with a big dropkick into the corner, and follows with the Coup De Grace for the victory. Maybe not a perfect 10 main event, but pretty close. Everyone is well aware what Finn can do, not everyone knows what Dillinger can do. Ty Dillinger is a main event player in his own right, I have a feeling that people will see that soon.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Full Sail TV Tapings 10-8-15

Hot on the heels of Takeover: Respect, fans piled into Full Sail University to see the fallout from the historic live special. It was a night of new contenders, new chapters and renewed rivalry. The following recap contains spoilers for the next 3 episodes of NXT.

In the dark match Alexander Wolfe took on Hugo Knox in what would be a short textbook match. Knox starts off strong until Wolfe takes over with a cheap shot and controls much of the match. Finally, Wolfe misses with an elbow and Knox mounts a comeback. He topples the big German with a shoulder tackle and follows with a crossbody. He finally levels Wolfe with a big kick and executes a split-legged moonsault for the win. With his exuberant Chippendale-like dancing Hugo Knox is way over with the crowd. I’m not sure exactly how far a gimmick like this will take him, but his wrestling shows much promise as he is a big muscular guy who at times moves like a cruiserweight.

Episode 1

Bayley is out first to a huge pop from the crowd. She begins by saying that Takeover made history, not just her match but the entire show. She specifically mentions the Dusty Classic, and mentions that Dusty believed in her and made it all possible. She continues by stating that NXT women’s division has started something special and the division is at a whole new level now. She is interrupted by Alexa Bliss, who is accompanied by Blake and Murphy. Alexa pays compliment to Bayley saying that she is an incredible chance and she looks forward to sharing the future with her. She then snatches the belt off Bayley’s shoulder and says they will not be sharing it. She says soon she will be taking it for real, before throwing it back to her.

Next up is The Vaudevillians taking on Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins in a short tag match. English starts off strong until Dawkins takes a cheap shot. They punish English for much of the match until he makes a hot tag to Gotch who comes in with a series of innovative strikes and kicks. The Vaudevillians then hit Dawkins with the Whirling Dervish for the win. This was a short formulaic match, but fun none the less. The Vaudevillians are as over as always, while it’s nice to see Fulton and Dawkins being paired together again.

Next up is the television debut of Nia Jax. Her opponent for the evening is indie wrestler Evie. The two lock up and Nia easily knocks Evie down. Evie runs the ropes and bounces off of Nia like she hit a brick wall. Nia snatches Evie up in a bearhug, thrashing her around like a ragdoll. Later, Evie attempts a comeback with a series of kicks to no avail as Nia hoists her up and slams her to the mat emphatically with a big front slam for the win. Nia Jax shows a lot of potential and fills a monster heel role that was needed in the NXT women’s division. Even, if just a squash match it was still exciting to see Evie in the Full Sail Arena.

Up next is a battle royal to decide the new number one contender for the NXT title. The competitors were as follow (in no particular order): Danny Burch, Apollo Crews, Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Tyler Breeze, Ty Dillinger, Blake, Murphy, Steve Cutler, Bull Dempsey, Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder, Elias Sampson, Riddick Moss, Rhyno, Enzo, Cass,  Zack Ryder, Mojo Rawley, Baron Corbin, and Samoa Joe. As it goes in these matches the action was way too crazy to call. At times Corbin and Rhyno were working well in tandem, until Corbin took the liberty of eliminating a shocked and angry Rhyno. Finally the ring thinned out to the final four which were Baron Corbin, Tyler Breeze, Samoa Joe, and Apollo Crews.  Soon after Joe eliminates Tyler Breeze much to the chagrin of a pro-Breeze crowd. Moments later with Joe dangerously on the ring apron, Breeze illegally pulls him to the floor as the crowd chants “Thank you , Tyler”.  Corbin slams Crews to the mat and begins a brutal beatdown. Crews mounts a comeback with a series of strike and topples Corbin with a big clothesline. He immediately goes for a standing moonsault but Corbin counters with his knees. The two make it back up and Crews rocks Corbin with two huge standing ensiguris and finally clotheslines him out of the ring to become the new number one contender. I believe most people were assuming Corbin or Joe would win, so Apollo Crews standing tall was a nice surprise. The man has all the tools, and a match with Finn will be incredible. Yet, I believe most people were pulling for Tyler simply because they are tired of seeing him used as a stepping stone.

Episode 2

Coming off a successful debut Asuka takes on Billie Kay. The bell rings and Asuka offers a handshake but Billie answers with a knee to the gut followed by a big boot. Billie continues with a series of strikes and a vertical suplex with major hang time. Asuka fights back with a series of big kicks but Billie shuts her down with a heavy punch. Billie runs the ropes finds herself in a rolling armbar that Asuka quickly transitions into a seated armbar. Billie manages to grab the ropes but Asuka continues her attack with a German suplex followed by many kicks before trapping Billie Kay in an Asuka Lock for a submission victory. Another successful outing from the impressive Asuka, who comes to NXT worthy of every bit of the hype. Asuka seems poised for big things in the division, and rightfully so. With three out of four of the Horsewomen moved on, Asuka is probably the only women in NXT who could step in the ring with Bayley and put on an instant classic today. Australian Billie Kay is no slouch though, she looked good here and I look forward to her (and Peyton Royce) moving beyond jobbing soon.

Tag team action is next Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder taking on Enzo and Cass. Almost immediately the roughneck team of Dawson and Wilder take control working over the leg of Enzo. Dawson punishes Enzo with a leg lock until Cass has enough and breaks it up. A moment later Dawson walks over to Cass on the ring apron to talk trash and Enzo rolls him up with a surprise pin. Absolutely livid Dawson and Wilder begin a post-match beatdown ejecting Enzo from the ring and hitting Big Cass with the Shatter Machine. I’m looking forward to a good feud from these two teams. I’ve seen them face off countless times at house shows and they’ve developed quite a chemistry. Win or lose, I’m just glad to see Dawson and Wilder finally making it to television on a regular basis.

Danny Burch is out next followed by his surprise opponent James Storm, who received a huge pop. It was a short match and almost all Storm. After a little bit of action Storm hits Burch with a neckbreaker and finishes him with his spinning bulldog the Eight Second Ride for the pin. Short and sweet match but James Storm looked great in the ring, moving smoothly and fluidly. More importantly, he just looked happy as hell to be there.

We continue with women’s action as Alexa Bliss takes on Peyton Royce. The match begins with back and forth grappling. Before long Bliss get the advantage, targeting the arm of Peyton grounding her with an armlock. Eventually Peyton fights back with a dropkick and several high spinning heel kicks. However Bliss halts her momentum, beating down Peyton and nailing her with a Glitz Flip.  She ascends the ropes and hits the Sparkle Splash for the victory. Afterwards, she grabs the mic and addresses Bayley, sarcastically stating that she is a role model and an inspiration but all that is about to end.

Next up Rhyno looks to exact a little revenge against Baron Corbin. As one would imagine this one was far from technical and pretty much a huge brawl. The two big exchange strikes and kicks with Corbin in control most of the match. They battle to the outside where Corbin sends Rhyno into the ringsteps. They battle back into the ring and eventually back outside where Rhyno returns the favor sending Corbin into the steps. Back in the ring Rhyno looks to keep his momentum going nailing Corbin with a belly to belly followed by a sidewalk slam. Rhyno hits the Gore but Corbin manages to kick out at two. Rhyno attempts a second Gore but Corbin snatches him up for the End Of Days.

Episode 3

We continue with women’s action as indie star Shazza McKenzie takes on Emma. In another glorified squash this one was almost all Emma, as she beatdown Shazza at a slow deliberate pace. Shazza surprises Emma with a roll-up, but Emma kicks out and answers with a mean clothesline. Later Shazz attempts another burst of offense with a running attack in the corner but Emma dodges and answers with an Emma-mite Sandwich. She then contorts Shazza into an Emma Lock for a submission victory. The presence of the indie girls in NXT is exciting, even if they are just enhancement talent. Shazza looked good, but more importantly Emma looked better. Emma needs all the momentum she can get if Asuka is indeed in her future.

Next up is tag action as Chad Gable and Jason Jordan take on Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. The match starts with a handshake before Gable and Ciampa lock up for some excellent grappling from both men before Gable takes the advantage. The match continues with the advantage teetering back and forth between both teams. Later, stretches out Garganos arm with a signature armbar over the top rope. However moments later upon a distraction Gargano torpedoes through the ropes into the ring spearing Gable, finally swaying momentum for his team. Gargano and Ciampa slow the pace working over Gable eventually settling into an abdominal stretch. Eventually, Gable makes the hot tag to a fresh Jordan who comes in with several big suplexes. Jordan looks to set up his finisher but Ciampa distracts and Gargano plants Jordan with a hellacious DDT. However moments later Jordan comes back flapjacking Ciampa to the mat and setting him up for a Grand Amplitude for the win. For me this was easily the best match of the night. Jordan and Gable have gelled so well and are easily one of my favorite tag teams period. Not sure what the status is of Gargano and Ciampa is, but easy to say both men have been involved in what have been my favorite matches at the last several tapings.

The indie invasion continues with Kay Lee Ray trying her hand against Nia Jax. The two lock up but Nia drops her with a headbutt. Kay fight back with a flurry of punches to no avail. Nia scoops Kay up for a backbreaker rack. Later Kay attempts one last bit of offense with several dropkicks. She attempts a springboard attack but Nia catches her, slams her to the mat before dropping a big leg drop for the win. Another short match but what would expect for the push of the devastating Nia Jax.

Enzo and Cass are out next but get attacked on the way to the ring by a still irate Dawson and Wilder. They violently throw Enzo off the ramp and focus their attack on the knee of Big Cass. They make a final emphatic point when Dawson locks in the leg of Cass and Dash comes crashing down on the knee from the top rope. Afterwards Cass is helped to the back by Enzo and several referees.

Next up is Tyler Breeze vs Samoa Joe in front of a very split crowd. The bell rings and Tyler evades the ring, taking his time getting back in. He answers the referees count but quickly evades the ring again. He makes it back in the ring and evades a third time but this time Joe chases him around and back into the ring. Breeze pounces on Joes with several strikes and kicks. Breeze lounges upon the turnbuckle with his signature pose but Joe kicks him down and attacks Breeze with a flurry of strikes. Breeze wisely leaves the ring but Joe dives through the ropes to the outside toppling Breeze. Back in the ring Joe hits with a splash and a kick in the corner. Breeze fights back hitting a backstabber. Joe fires back with several big chops, but Breeze hits a dropkick then grounds Joe with a chinlock. Joe makes it to his feet and drops Breeze with a bog boot followed by a senton. After a powerslam and a big side slam Joe sets up a musclebuster but Breeze escapes and answers with a superkick. The two exchange several strikes until rolls up his opponent. However Joe rolls through and locks on a coquina clutch for the victory. The losing streak continues for Tyler Breeze, but he still came out looking great.

Our final match is Ty Dillinger taking on NXT champion Finn Balor. The two start off with back and forth chain wrestling until Ty cartwheels over Finn and throws up his hands in a perfect 10. The action continues back and forth and eventually spills to the outside. Ty begins to focus his attack on the leg of Balor. The action continues back and forth with many signature spots from both men. Later on after much action Dillinger locks on a cloverleaf but Balor makes it to the ropes. The two make it to their feet and clotheslines Ty out of the ring. Balor runs down the ring apron and kicks his opponents head off. Balor tosses him back in the ring and hits Ty with a dropkick to the corner and follows with a Coup De Grace for the victory.