Friday, October 31, 2014

NXT Largo 10-30-14

The superstars of NXT finished up the month of October by returning to the Minnreg Hall in Largo for another intense night of wrestling action. Fans jammed into the packed house and would not be disappointed as the guys and girls of Floridas premiere wrestling brand once again delivered.

In our opening contest the team of Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy found themselves directly in the path of the two man juggernaut known as The Ascension. Murphy has reportedly been turning heads lately and its easy to see why, the Aussie has been a standout to me since his earliest outings with his high energy and rough style. Blake is definitely no sidekick though, the man is highly athletic and the more likely mouthpiece of the two. The two put forth a good effort against the former tag champs and were almost evenly matched against Viktor. However, The Ascension are known as the most destructive team on the planet for a reason and proved it tonight by laying waste to Buddy Murphy with “the fall of man”.

Next CJ Parker makes his way to the ring with a trademark sign and a live mic berating the audience like only he can. Before he can finish his tirade he is interrupted by the theme music of Baron Corbin to chagrin of Parker and the delight of a definitively pro-Corbin crowd. The match began as Parker attempted repeatedly to mount an early offense only to fail each time. Corbin toyed with him until by either luck or tenacity CJ managed to gain some momentum in the match. It would not be enough to thwart the onslaught of Corbin though, who is about impossible to stop once he gets going. Every move he does looks downright brutal and it certainly helps that selling is definitely a strength of Parkers. As fun as squash matches can be, it is a nice progression seeing Corbin wrestle longer matches. Baron Corbin defeated CJ following “the end of days”, currently one of the more violent looking finishers out there.

Braun Stowman is out next to deliver another ominous promo. At 6'8” and 385 pounds, the man looks like an absolute beast as he slowly makes his way to the ring projecting an icy stare at the crowd before stepping over the ring rope and into the squared circle. Confident behind the microphone he takes his time saying what he has to say, undeterred by snarky wrestling fans. These promos are definitely building interest, I can't wait to see the big man in action.

The action continues when Becky Lynch comes to the ring accompanied by Sasha Banks. Her opponent Bayley comes out with her own backup, womens champion Charlotte. The wrestling is fast paced and back and forth proving why the NXT womens division is the best around. Lynch, who is starting to come into her own as a heel, took control of fan favorite Bayley in the early goings. However the momentum would shift back to underdog Bayley. In the closing moments Bayley rolled Lynch into a small package but the referee was distracted allowing Banks to reverse the pin. Though the referee would become distracted again allowing Charlotte to reverse the pin again giving Bayley the victory.

Next up in tag action The Vaudevillians took on The Lucha Dragons in a non-title match. The Vaudevillians who seem to be over with the crowd no matter how heelish they act took control early on keeping the high flying Kalisto grounded, making frequent tags and punishing the much smaller luchadore. Eventually though, Kalisto made the hot tag to Sin Cara and the pace picked up drastically as all four men became involved in the fray and bodies were flying everywhere. In the closing moments Sin Cara hoisted English up on his shoulders allowing Kalisto to connect off the top rope with a corkscrew body press for the pin.

In our next match Elias Sampson took on Marcus Louis in a match that swung heavily in the favor of the bald Frenchman. Sampson, who gained offense in small bursts of high energy seems to have a lot of potential that I'm eager to see. A few months ago I would not have predicted the evolution of Marcus Louis who has went from cocky Frenchman to tortured monster who comes to the ring with his shaved head and scowl. Strangely, this could really work for Louis as they dance on the fine line between weirdness and comedy. Marcus Louis won via submission with a torture rack.

Next up the team of Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins took on the underrated Mechanics. It's worth noting that Dawkins nerdy o-dancing gimmick was absent which made him instantly more likable. In fact, the two wore USA amateur wrestling singlets, and actually worked very well as a tag team. Both Dawkins and Fulton were the best that I have seen them, hopefully this pairing is a long term thing. The Mechanics, who are not afraid to work as both despicable heels and comic foils often in the same match took advantage of a injured Fulton and ended up controlling the match. Angelo attempted to turn things around for his team but failed, giving future tag team champs Dawson and Wilder the win.

Next up, Jason Jordan took on Bull Dempsey in a match that started off surprisingly fast paced until Dempsey took control and slowed things down with a series of rest holds. Jordan managed to mount a comeback and even showed off his strength with an impressive olympic slam on his much larger opponent. Unfortunately, this only seemingly served to anger Dempsey who ran him down and finished him with a flying headbutt off the top rope.

The main event of the evening featured the team of Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd taking on Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville. Anyone who has seen these four men in the ring together knows that this is a worthy main event just about anywhere. All four men put forth an amazing effort here, reminding everyone in attendance why NXT is the premiere brand. Zayn, Neville, and Breeze have been fan favorites for a while now, but the recent NXT run of Kidd proves that he is one of the most criminally underrated athletes in the WWE. In the final moments Zayn landed a helluva kick on Kidd allowing Neville to land a 450 splash for the pin.

After, Zayn reminds Neville that tonight they were a team but on December 11th they will be competitors in perhaps one of the most anticipated NXT main events yet!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

NXT Lakeland 10-11-14

The superstars of NXT finished up their three day tour of duty by returning to Lakeland, Fl where a boisterous and raucous crowd jammed into the National Guard Armory to see their favorite athletes bring the mayhem. In a night that featured new faces and a few surprises, the professional wrestlers of NXT would make sure no one left disappointed.

The night began with a definitive bang as Jojo announced a four team battle royale with the winners facing The Vaudevillians later in our main event. The match consisted of the teams of Ty Dillinger and Elias Sampson, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, and The Mechanics Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The bell rang and as it goes with these over the top battles, chaos ensued. The limited number of contestants made it less of a mess than your average battle royale and a lot more enjoyable with no lack of action and plenty of close calls. Elias Sampson was the first man eliminated quickly followed by Ty Dillinger. Shortly after both Gable and Jordan would find themselves on the floor in quick succession leaving us with two teams in the ring. The Mechanics took early advantage tying Big Cass in the corner by the wrist with the tag rope. Dawson and Wilder began the beatdown on the already worn down Amore. However the two should have tied a tighter knot because when the big man got lose he was not exactly happy. With the odds evened out and the momentum turned Cass and Enzo quickly eliminated The Mechanics and earned their spot in the main event.

Next up the mohawked Sawyer Fulton made his way out the ring followed by his opponent Kalisto.
The luchadore who was very over with the Lakeland crowd took control early on with his nearly unmatched speed and agility. Soon though the strength and size advantage of Fulton would bring Kalistos momentum to a halt, as Sawyer controlled the pace and punished his much smaller opponent. Perhaps overconfidence gave Kalisto the only opening he needed to bombard Fulton with his onslaught of aerial moves leading up to a Salida Del Sol and a pinfall for Kalisto. Sawyer Fulton seems to be at his most confident with his new gimmick while Kalisto looked as impressive as always.

Elias Sampson made his way out next to classical music and wearing a blazer with his trunks. Next out is his opponent Baron Corbin whose fan base seems to be growing each night. From the very opening moments Sampson attempted to delay the inevitable by slipping through the ropes. Corbin stalked him patiently as if he was enjoying toying with his victim. Elias Sampson would learn though that you can't fight fate when he finally attempted to lock up with Corbin only to be immediately thrown into The End Of Days and defeated. This match literally consisted of one maneuver, and somehow that made it perfect. I'm enjoying not just the brutality of Corbin, but seeing him exhibit more personality and playing off the crowd. Sampson shows promise when not being squashed, I'm hoping he can find his niche sooner than later.

Next up commentator Rich Brennan introduces Sasha Banks who quickly loses her patience with the interview and commandeers the microphone. She addressed the champ Charlotte as generically basic rather than genetically superior, and declared that she had more flair in her pinkie than both Charlotte and her father. I personally can't wait until these two face off.

The evening continues with tag team action as The Mechanics take on Chad Gable and Jason Jordan.
The two teams put on another impressive match that was a definite highlight of the evening. The action was back and forth and really could have went to either team. The climax of the match came when both Gable and Jordan had both Dawson and Wilder in ankle locks simultaneously tapping out. It was a great moment and the crowd popped as soon as Gable threw on the first ankle lock, however it's probably not going to help the Angle/Swagger comparisons. Regardless, it was a great ending. Gable is definitely impressive and is becoming a favorite rather quickly. Jason Jordan has always had the tools but has struggled to find his spot, but I think playing off of his amateur background is a great idea and has already made him more interesting. The Mechanics are a great heel team and underrated as well, I'm hoping they can bring to television what they have been bringing to house shows for a while now.

Ty Dillinger made his way out next in different ring gear and without the playing cards, apparently signaling the end of his new gimmick already. His opponent Hideo Itami is met with a nice pop from the crowd. Dillinger found himself in control for much of the match effectively managing to thwart the flurries of offense from Hideo. Dillinger is showing us that when given the time and opportunity he can put on a great match. Meanwhile, it is becoming obvious to NXT fans exactly why the fast and furious kicks of Hideo Itami are renowned the world over. An excellent match from both men, however Dillinger would find himself on the receiving end of a single leg running high knee giving Hideo the victory.

The action rolled on with another show stealing match from the best female athletes in all of the WWE when the team of Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Dana Brooke took on Charlotte, Bayley, and Alexa Bliss. Fans who lament the divas division on the main roster would have their faith in womens wrestling renewed if they were privileged enough to see matches like these. One has come to expect great wrestling from the likes of Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte so it really goes without saying. What's really impressive is how quickly Bliss, Carmella, and Brooke are improving. Tonight it seemed as if the good girls had the match sealed when Sasha Banks came out causing a distraction allowing Lynch to gain a roll-up pin over Charlotte.

The mountainous 6'8” 385lb Braun Stowman made his way out to the ring to give a promo putting the locker room on notice and declaring monsters are real. The big man was unshaken by the “what” chants and even the Adam Rose chants from the snarky crowd. His intense staring at the audience on his way around the ring was enough to make the toughest man uncomfortable.

The self righteous CJ Parker was out next with a sign in one hand and a microphone in the other launching into a tirade against the crowd. His rant was cut short by the entrance music of the returning Alex Riley, who was met with “you still got it chants” from the excited crowd before the match even began. Indeed he did as he and Parker put on a good back and forth match that ultimately looked to be swinging in the favor of Alex Riley. Call it ring rust, or call it luck but in the end CJ Parker was victorious much to the chagrin of the crowd who so wanted Parker to be recycled.

In our main event The Vaudevillians made their way out to take on battle royale winners Big Cass and Enzo Amore. The match started with plenty of hilarious trash talking before an action packed match got underway. As over as Gotch and English were as faces they are way more effective as heels as they showed tonight, while Cass and Enzo aren't just on fire in the ring, but they animate the crowd as well with their trash talking and high energy. Eventually The Vaudevillians found themselves in control of the match keeping the underdog Amore from the tag. Victory seemed at hand for the bad guys after a beautifully executed senton from the second rope by English, but Cass made the save for his team. Amide the chaotic final moments it was Enzo Amore who got the pin with a surprise roll-up from out of nowhere. An irate English and Gotch attempted a post match beatdown but were thwarted by an even more fired up Colin Cassidy who cleared the ring of the two sore losers. No disrespect to our tag team champions but these two teams should be the ones competing for tag team gold.

All in all a great night capping off another great weekend of NXT action.

Friday, October 10, 2014

NXT Orlando 10-9-14

Enthusiastic fans jammed into the Orlando Armory to see the men and women of NXT prove why they are the predominant wrestling brand by wowing their hometown crowd with high impact action. The armory was hot, but anticipation was hotter as the evening started with a bang.

Actually, it started with the roar of a motorcycle as the lone wolf of NXT Baron Corbin made his way to the ring to conquer his newest victim, Elias Sampson. The bell rang and the crowd began counting the seconds to the inevitable squash. Sampson wisely rolled out of the ring a few times before engaging in action in an attempt to mount an offense. Unfortunately for Sampson, this only angered Corbin who went on to make short work of his prey gaining the pinfall after his brutal finisher “The end of days”. The crowd is really getting behind Corbin and it's well deserved, the man makes every move look devastating in the ring. Elias Sampson has seemingly a different gimmick every time I have seen him, hopefully he find his niche in NXT soon because I've like what I've seen of him.

Next up one half of the Lucha Dragons, Kalisto competed against Sawyer Fulton. The contest saw the much larger Fulton run roughshod over the luchadore who struggled to mount an offense. However his power and size advantage was not enough to stop the momentum of the underdog Kalisto, and when Kalisto gets going that momentum is nearly unstoppable. Fulton, who has had many gimmick changes may look his most intimidating yet with his black mohawk and black singlet. Tonight though his new tougher demeanor would not be enough as he found himself on the receiving end of a “Salida del sol”.

NXT commentator Rich Brennan introduced The Boss Sasha Banks who quickly decided Brennans presence in the ring was not necessary and took control of the mic. Banks made it clear that she is the best and put all the women on notice, particularly the champ, Charlotte. It should be a hot feud when these two finally lock up, and they will likely steal quite a few shows in the process.

Next, in a highly entertaining match the team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable took on The Mechanics.
Jason Jordan was wearing a wrestling singlet tonight like Gable, it remains to be seen if this will be an ongoing tag team. However with his impressive amateur background he definitely makes a good partner for the Olympian Chad Gable. Not to be outdone Dawson challenged them to start the match by wrestling amateur style, unfortunately for him it didn't turn out so well. As the match wore on it was a back and forth battle that could have went to either team. Tonight however the better team was The Mechanics, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. Great job by both teams, this match was a highlight of the evening. The Mechanics are great antagonists who will be in the running for tag team gold sooner than later. Jason Jordan easily has all the skills it takes to succeed, while I see huge things on the horizon for the impressive Olympian Chad Gable.

CJ Parker is out next with a microphone in hand to berate the audience as only he can, this is where Parker shines. Tonight though he would need more than a large vocabulary and wit because his opponent is Hideo Itami who makes his way out to a pretty good pop and a lot of standing fans. Rarely when something or someone comes along with a lot of hype does it live up to it, but in the case of Hideo Itami he surely deserves the hype he has arrived with. Impressive considering we have not even seen him compete in any epic battles in NXT yet. His legendary kicks make you cringe from anywhere in the building and his double foot stomp from the top rope is just painful to watch. Parker put up a good fight but the victory went to Hideo.

Next up the criminally underrated Ty Dillinger took on Prince Pretty himself, Tyler Breeze. Fans came alive to see Breeze who has been away recently with the WWE and he did not disappoint. In fact, both men delivered a match that could have easily been a main event. It's been obvious to many for a long time that Breeze will be a major player one day. However, for those outside of the house show circuit that don't know Dillinger as well the man can shine when given the time and opportunity. His new mysterious, slightly crazy heel persona may just be the groove he needed. Dillinger was in control for much of the match, but the durable Tyler Breeze had a beauty shot with Dillingers name on it giving him the pinfall victory. A nice homecoming for Prince Pretty.

Next, Jojo brings out Braun Stowman who at 6'8' and 385 pounds is a mountain of a man. He makes his way into the ring stepping over the top rope to let us know that monsters are real and on no uncertain terms that he is putting the entire locker room on notice. I'm certainly eager to see the debut of this beast.

After that it is time for a six diva tag team match. The team of Charlotte, Bayley, and Alexa Bliss took on Dana Brooke, Carmella, and Becky Lynch in yet another show stealing match on what had become a great card. Matches like this showcase exactly why we have the best divas around and gives one hope for the main roster division. It was a little strange seeing Charlotte in a definitive face role alongside Bayley, but it's a role she is settling into nicely. Lynch is still a standout on the roster to me, although I'll have to see how her heel role progresses. Carmella is quickly becoming a favorite proving she has the skills and the ring presence to get to the top. This was an action packed match that ended with Charlotte getting the “natural selection” over Becky Lynch for the pin.

In our main event of the evening I was glad to see the highly charismatic Enzo Amore and Big Cass finally headline a show against The Vaudevillians. I've commented several times about the very impressive tag division in NXT, and these teams are probably the top two teams at the moment (even over the champs). The match started with plenty of hilarious trash talking before an action packed match got underway. As over as Gotch and English were as faces they are way more effective as heels as they showed tonight, while Cass and Enzo aren't just on fire in the ring, but they animate the crowd as well with their trash talking and high energy. Eventually The Vaudevillians found themselves in control of the match keeping the underdog Amore from the tag. Victory seemed at hand for the bad guys after a beautifully executed senton from the second rope by English, but Cass made the save for his team. Amide the chaotic final moments it was Enzo Amore who got the pin with a surprise roll-up from out of nowhere. An irate English and Gotch attempted a post match beatdown but were thwarted by an even more fired up Colin Cassidy who cleared the ring of the two sore losers.

It's not unusual for NXT to put on an entertaining show, but tonight was a great show from top to bottom with too many “favorite” matches to call.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

NXT Ft Pierce 10-4-14

Fans crowded into the Fenn Center for an evening of hard hitting wrestling action as the stars of NXT returned to Ft Pierce, Fl. It was a tag team heavy card that served to remind that the tag team division is looking very bright. It was also a night that featured continued rivalries, international superstars, and unlikely fan favorites.

The evening started with tag team action as the realest guys in the room Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady took on Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The match started with more horseplay than holds as The Mechanics found themselves on the receiving end of the comedic antics of Cass and Enzo. A funny moment came when Dawson challenged Cassady to a test of strength but couldn't reach the hands of the seven footer, so he had Wilder come into the ring so he could stand on his back. As the action got further underway The Mechanics took control of the match keeping the scrappy underdog Enzo Amore under control. Just when things were looking dire Amore made the hot tag to a ready to go Big Cass who took the pinfall over Dash Wilder with a swinging side slam. It was a highly entertaining match from all four men and a great way to start the evening.

Next up Steve Cutler found himself in the unfortunate position of taking on the quickly rising Baron Corbin who made his way to the ring with a nice pop from the crowd. Cutler tried to mount offense early on only to have each attempt thwarted by the sheer power of Corbin. When Corbin takes control is when things get interesting, every move by the six foot eight inch big man looks absolutely brutal. He finished his opponent off with his “End Of Days”, a reverse STO leaving Cutler defeated.

Womens champion Charlotte is up next for a short interview with JoJo. Charlotte put over Bayley before stating that she is the best athlete male or female on any roster. The most foreboding statement though came when JoJo asked her what was next for her. The genetically superior Charlotte made it very clear that she has her sights on WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

The evening continued with more tag team action as The Vaudevillians Aiden English and Simon Gotch took on the team of Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy. The match was very much a solid back and forth contest that showcased both teams very well. In the end however, perhaps by questionable tactics The Vaudevillians were able to secure a victory. In my opinion The Vaudevillians should of already had a tag championship opportunity at Takeover, and even now as heels are clearly over as a team. Murphy and Blake have gelled tremendously as a tag team this year and are easily the best functioning tag team in NXT, I'm hoping their tag team has longevity and they find themselves in the tag title picture sooner than later.

Next the young Olympian Chad Gable found himself in the destructive path of Bull Dempsey. The last time I saw Gable compete in Citrus Springs he made a great impression on me and I have high hopes for him. However tonight the much bigger Bull Dempsey found himself firmly in control of Gable, keeping the pace of the match slow with a series of rest holds. Eventually Gable was able to mount an offense, gaining a clean roll-up pinfall over Bull in what has to be considered the upset victory of the evening.

 His victory celebration would be cut short by a very angry Bull Dempsey who beat down Gable and managed to further destroy him with 3 diving headbutts from the top turnbuckle before being held off by a trio of referees. Bull exited only to come back out much to the delight of a sadistic crowd for another headbutt. Dempsey may have lost the match but he won over the crowd, and it was Chad Gable who paid the price.

Next up the man with a new darker gimmick and the best theme song in NXT Ty Dillinger faced the eagerly anticipated Hideo Itami in a match that one could easily consider the show stealer of the evening. The underrated Ty Dillinger managed to hold his own but it was Itami who was in control for much of the match. Hideo lives up to the hype, as does his impressive arsenal of kicks and strikes. He finished Dillinger off with his diving double foot stomp off the top rope. I'm going to enjoy Itami while I can because it's obvious he won't be down here long before heading to the main roster.

The evening continued with womens tag action a the team of Carmella and Dana Brooke took on the fan favorites Bayley and Alexa Bliss. It was a nicely paced contest that could have went either way at some points but tonight it swung in the favor of Bayley and Bliss. It was a great job by all four ladies. Dana Brooke is still a work in process but definitely has the potential, and working alongside such a talented locker room and trainer Sara Del Rey how could she not? Alexa Bliss and Carmella are good examples, as they have both come so far this year.

Up next was Sawyer Fulton who made his way to the ring with yet another new look and attitude, this time with a singlet and a black mohawk. His opponent was Jason Jordan, who seems to be settling into a face role again for the time being. The two locked up showing off some of their amateur skills with some nice grappling work early on in the match. It was a shorter match with a little back and forth action before Jordan finished off Fulton with an Olypmic slam.

 Before Jason Jordan could even celebrate a still very irate Bull Dempsey stormed to the ring and laid out Jason Jordan. He then destroyed him with a series of five flying headbutts, much to the approval of the crowd.

In our tag team main event of the evening The Ascension challenged The Lucha Dragons in a non title match. The team of Kalisto and Sin Cara may just have the number of the most destructive tag team on the planet thwarting them yet again and sealing another victory in a very hard fought battle that was even better than their match at Takeover. Sin Cara (either one) has never looked as good a he has recently and in Kalisto the WWE has most definitely found their next big luchadore. However, it is the straight forward smashmouth Ascension whose time is now. I am a big fan of Konnor and Viktor, and I hate to lose them but it's obvious that the main roster tag division needs them more than we do. As tonight proved, the NXT tag division is hotter and brighter than ever.