Sunday, December 21, 2014

NXT Lakeland 12-20-14

NXT made its final stop of 2014 at The National Guard Armory in Lakeland, Fl. A standing room only packed house piled in to watch the young and hungry wrestlers of NXT tear down the house and close out what has been a stellar year for the brand. With many of the usual headliners away, the remaining men and women of the locker room not only stepped up, but they also illustrated that they had what it takes to excel in the spotlight and send the crowd home happy.

When looking to start off the night with a definitive bang Wesley Blake is usually a safe bet. He’s fast paced and exciting to watch whether in singles or tag. His opponent for the evening is Tony Briggs, a stocky powerhouse of a wrestler. Using his speed to his advantage Blake took early control, but Briggs wouldn’t make it an easy task and swung the odds back in his favor with a lot of power moves. However it wouldn’t last long before Blake mounted a comeback finishing up the match with a perfectly executed frogsplash off the top turnbuckle for the pin. Blake impresses as always and while Briggs lost this time I’m looking forward to seeing more out of the big man.

Next up, The Mechanics took on Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins of Shoot Nation. Early on Shoot Nation took control using their size and grappling skills to their advantage much to the frustration of Dawson. However outsized The Mechanics would use their cunning to their advantage as Dawson feigned shoulder injury. When it looked as if the match was about to be cut short, he attacked Fulton with a vengeance. Employing frequent tags Dawson and Wilder began to decimate Fulton until he managed to make a hot tag to a well- rested Dawkins who appeared to be turning things around for his team until he ran into a vicious clothesline from Dawson, followed by a flapjack onto Wilders knees allowing a pin for their team. This was probably one of my favorites of the evening. The Mechanics are always fun to watch, and Dash Wilder seems to be coming into his own as well, from his interactions with Dawson to a little well placed showboating in the ring. Shoot Nation initially seemed like a vehicle purely to get Chad Gable over, but its doing wonders for Fulton and Dawkins who are looking better than ever with their new direction.

The always hyped Mojo Rawley is out next to deliver a promo and lets us know he will be back in two months. His mic abilities have improved quite a bit, but it’s clear that his gimmick is the same which may irk a lot of people but this pro-Mojo crowd didn’t seem to mind.

Next up Cal Bishop challenged Solomon Crowe. The size advantage goes to Bishop here who knocked Crowe to the ground in the opening lock up. However, over-confidence also goes to Bishop as well who began to trash talk Crowe. An angry Solomon Crowe warned Cal Bishop “If you call me an angry elf again I will kick you in the face!” Needless, to say he didn’t listen and was met with a bicycle kick to the face, followed by an explosive attack by Crowe including a brutal running knee into a downed Bishop in the corner. Bishop was able to mount a comeback and found himself in control, but the match ended very abruptly with a surprise rollup giving the victory to Solomon Crowe. Afterwards Bishop was helped to the back with the help of a doctor and two referees. It’s unclear what happened or when, but Bishop seemed to be in a lot of pain.

Ty Dillinger is apparently a tenacious man because he made another attempt to defeat the as of yet unstoppable Baron Corbin, even attacking him before the bell. A determined Dillinger would not relent eventually working the arm and shoulder of Corbin. He looked to have Corbin reeling after not one, but two beautiful superkicks, but even that would not put the big man down who quickly turned things around. Once Corbin gets going it doesn’t take long, a big boot to the face followed by an End Of Days, would equate to one more loss for Dillinger. This was another great match between these two, I wish they could have done something more like this at the last special. Dillinger looked great as always, but it’s Baron Corbin who seems to get even better with every match and the crowds are taking notice.

After a short intermission we return with womens triple threat action as Carmella, Dana Brooke and Alexa Bliss battle it out. Carmella and Brooke quickly align to punish Bliss for most of the match until dissention rises between the two. After that it is every women for themselves, and with the odds even Alexa Bliss takes the definitive advantage. In the final moments she ejected Carmella from the ring and focused on Brooke, executing a standing moonsault in which her knees land in her opponents stomach followed by a Sparkle Splash off the top turnbuckle for the pin. All three of these ladies have proven to be quick studies, and I expect 2015 to be a great year for them.

Next up is 2012 Olympian and Shoot Nation leader Chad Gable, unfortunately for him his opponent is an absolute beast of a man, the 6’8” 370lb Braun Stowman. Chad Gable impressed me from his first match and I see big things for him in the future. Sadly for him though, all the natural wrestling ability in the world can’t help move mountains which is exactly what Stowman is, a mountain of a man. Gable didn’t back down though and when grappling proved useless he attempted to take out the giants leg. Ultimately Stowman was just toying with him and perhaps proving that even monsters take pity he mercifully ended it with an emphatic powerslam for the victory. Stowman is an intimidating big man who is probably more agile than he should be and I look forward to seeing more from him.

Kevin Owens is out next to the largest pop of the night bringing most of the Armory to their feet. Again, he recounts his atrocious actions from NXT Takeover only to tell us that he owes us no explanation. He adds that we don’t really want to see him talk anyway, that we would rather see a fight. The crowd pops big time. Unfortunately, he continues no one in the back is ready or willing to fight and leaves.

Next out is Jason Jordan wearing his amateur wrestling singlet that he has been wearing in Shoot Nation, but with his old theme music. But identity crisis aside his night was about to get a whole lot worse because his opponent is the wrecking ball Bull Dempsey and as always he is in a bad mood. Not one to back down Jordan takes the fight right to Dempsey. Jordan is super agile for a guy his size and deceptively strong, at one point delivering an epic Olympic slam to Dempsey. A tweaked knee brings Jordans offense to a screeching halt and Bull pounces spending much of the match working the leg, at one point locking in a Figure Four Leg Lock which Jordan eventually reversed. Jordan attempted to mount a comeback but his knee gave out while attempting a Fallaway slam to Dempsey. That led to the inevitable, being run over by Dempsey followed by a flying headbutt giving Bull Dempsey another win over Jason Jordan. Bull Dempsey is looking especially mean these days and truly living up to the moniker of a human wrecking ball.

Our main event of the evening is a six man tag match featuring the odd teams of CJ Parker and The Vaudevillians vs Kalisto, Big Cass, and Enzo Amore. Wasting no time the super over face team took the fight to the hippy and the gentleman bruisers. Kalisto started for his team with his high flying arsenal, at one point spring boarding off of Amores back to perform a perfect dive onto The Vaudevillians outside the ring. But eventually the bad guys would take over isolating Enzo Amore from his teammates. At one point the bad guys had it nearly won as Amore endured a senton by Parker, followed by a senton from Gotch, followed by a senton from the second rope by English for the pin, only to have Cass make the save. Eventually Enzo found the opening he needed to make the hot tag to Cass who cleaned house and that is when bodies began to fly everywhere in the chaotic final moments until legal man Kalisto nailed Parker with the Selida Del Sol for the win. Big Cass, Enzo and The Vaudevillians always have great matches when they face each other. The addition of Kalisto and Parker was a good albeit unexpected twist.

All in all it was a great card to close out an amazing year. I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds for NXT, and I look forward to reporting it!


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