Friday, April 24, 2015

Full Sail TV Tapings 4-23-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

The loud and proud Full Sail wrestling fans piled into the NXT arena to see another set of NXT TV Tapings. The following write-up is for the April 23rd tapings and contain spoilers for the next three episodes leading up to the next Takeover live special.

In the dark match of the evening The Mechanics Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder take on Elias Sampson and Tucker Knight. Early on it’s clear that even Knight’s distinct power and size advantage would not be a factor against the fluid tag team wrestling of Dawson and Wilder. Making frequent tags The Mechanics methodically take apart Knight until he eventually makes the hot tag to Sampson. Elias comes in clearing house and hitting Wilder with an jaw-shattering knee strike before Dawson hits him with an explosive clothesline. He then sends Sampson flying with a flapjack onto the knees of Dawson for a pinfall victory. Finally, it seems we’re getting closer to a debut from The Mechanics, who interesting enough aren’t introduced as “The Mechanics” but rather Dawson and Wilder.

Episode 1

NXT champion Kevin Owens makes his way to the ring and is met with Ole chants from the crowd. He tells them “that’s cute” before recounting the recent events from last weeks episode and calls out Sami Zayn. Instead he gets General Manager William Regal who tells him that he won’t use this show to pursue his agenda. Owens tells him he didn’t ask for him and really doesn’t care what he has to say. Next Sami Zayn finally comes out to a huge pop, while Regal makes sure to keep both men separated and declaring easily that since they wanted to fight they would do so May 20th at Takeover. Owens declares that it will not be a title match because Zayn hasn’t earned it. Sami then goads Owens telling him that he has been in the shadow of Zayn for their entire career. He continues by throwing Owens own words back at him declaring he only fights for a prize. Owens relents and it’s official, May 20th Zayn and Owens meet once again with the title on the line.

Next up Cass and Enzo take on Blake and Murphy in tag team action. Right from the start the champs control Enzo until he makes a hot tag to Cass who clears house and lays out Murphy with a swinging side slam for a pin but Blake makes the save. The match continues and Cass ejects Blake from the ring and lays out Murphy and tosses Amore onto him with an assisted splash for the win. It was a surprisingly short and anti-climactic match, but one can assume these two are saving it for Takeover when the titles are on the line.

Next Bayley takes on Dana Brooke. The match starts off with much back and forth action between the two. The power of Brooke is definitely one of her stronger points which she illustrates with an impressive firemans carry slam. With the crowd firmly behind her Bayley makes a comeback with a bevy of her signature moves until her music hits and Emma comes down the ramp causing a distraction allowing Brooke to defeat Bayley with a front sitout slam. Dana Brooke is a work in progress, but she looked much more comfortable here than she did in her television debut.

The action continues with Hideo Itami taking on a returning Adam Rose in a pretty physical match. Rose managed to get in some offense but it was a largely one-sided match that ended with a hesitation dropkick and a running single leg dropkick for the win.

Next Becky Lynch makes quick work of Sarah Dobson (aka Crazy Mary Dobson) in what was pretty much a squash. Lynch looked explosive tonight hitting all her signature maneuvers and ending it with a beautiful armbar submission. With an excellent performance and much of the crowd getting behind her Becky Lynch is heading into Takeover with a lot of momentum. I’m betting now that Lynch and Banks will likely steal the show at the next special.

Kevin Owens comes out to the commentary table to watch the main event of Alex Riley vs Sami Zayn. Riley starts off strong and controls Zayn for most of the match. Every time Zayn would begin to mount offense Riley would shut him down, at one point blocking a blue thunder powerbomb. In the final moments with Riley ejected to the floor Sami Zayn takes flight diving on Riley. Then Owens pounces slamming Zayn onto the entrance ramp. He pauses for a moment before attacking Riley and powerbombing him onto the ring apron. He saunters up the entrance as medics and referees tend to Alex Riley.

Episode 2

The episode begins with Charlotte taking on Emma. The match starts off with fast paced back and forth action before Emma takes over. A definitely more aggressive Emma took over and began to work the leg of Charlotte and culminating in a half crab. Charlotte mounts a comeback with a neckbreaker followed by a spear and a natural selection. After a seemingly forgiving Bayley comes to the ring to help Emma to her feet and then lay her out with a Belly-To-Bayley.

Next up, Bull Dempsey takes on Rhyno. The two started out brawling but Dempsey wasn’t able to keep it up long enough before Rhyno took charge with a massive belly to belly suplex followed by a gore making surprisingly short work of Dempsey. Rhyno takes the mic stating he’s been hearing about another unstoppable force in NXT, and at Takeover he wants to take on Baron Corbin.

Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are out next to take on Big Cass and Enzo Amore. However, up on the tron we see Zo and Cass being attacked backstage by Blake and Murphy, thus the match never starts. It was a good way to advance the feud between the tag champs and Cass and Enzo, but disappointing for those of us who have been impatiently waiting for the television debut of Dawson and Wilder.

Next is the contract signing between womens champion Sasha Banks and number one contender Becky Lynch. Before signing Lynch begins a passionate speech about how she has been chasing this dream since she was fifteen, and how all the trials and tribulations have been worth it because it has led to this moment. She assures Banks though, she didn’t come here to take part, she came to takeover. Not impressed Banks stamps the contract before throwing it in Becky’s face and attacking. She began a beatdown before Lynch countered and threw the champ into an armbar and the two were separated.

Finn Balor comes out to sit ringside as Hideo Itami takes on Tyler Breeze yet again. These two know each other so well as they counter each other tit for tat. Eventually the two battle to the outside where Itami measures up Breeze for a kick, but he dodges and Balor ends up on the receiving end. The two battle back into the ring and Breeze misses a Beauty Shot and Itami comes back with a single leg dropkick for the win. After, an irate Breeze attacks Itami but Finn makes the save. But as Balor helped Hideo to his feet Breeze attacked again superkicking Finn and laying out Itami with a Beauty Shot.

Episode 3

The opening match sees debuting Jessie McKay take on Bayley. The two start off with some nice grappling as they parlay for control. Despite some nice offense from McKay her opponent takes over with a flurry of signature moves followed by a Belly-To-Bayley for the win. Bayley came out of this match looking great, but McKay definitely made a good first impression on the NXT universe.

Next, Solomon Crowe takes on Baron Corbin. Despite flurries of explosive offense from Crowe Baron made short work of him with an emphatic End Of Days. After Rhyno comes out and asks “Are we gonna do this?”, and then wasting no time the two tear into each other trading lefts and rights until wrestlers from the back come out to separate them. Interesting to note how the crowd have seemingly turned on Corbin overnight, which is fine since they seem to be edging him towards heel anyway. Still yet I wish the television audience could see some of the Corbin performances we see at house shows.

More womens action and another debut follows as KC Cassidy takes on the boss Sasha Banks. KC brings the fight right to Banks sending the champ to the outside to regroup. Apparently it worked because she came back in and reminded everyone why she is boss making short work of Cassidy and finishing her with a Banks Statement for the tapout. Sasha Banks gained some valuable momentum heading into her title defense, but Cassidy looked great in the ring and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what her future holds.

Next Carmella takes on Alexa Bliss. The two competitors both start out strong but Carmella looks stronger until Blake and Murphy come out to the ring distracting Carmella allowing Bliss to take over. She hits a glitz flip for a pin but Carmella kicks out. The two fight on and Carmella snags Bliss with a drop toe hold into her leg scissors submission which bring Blake and Murphy onto the ring apron causing another distraction. Bliss takes advantage laying out Carmella and following with a Sparkle Splash for the win. After Blake and Murphy come into the ring with a mic and remind Carmella that when you hang out with trash you start to stink. She responds by letting them know that her boys Cass and Enzo will be victorious for the titles on May 20th.

Ty Dillinger is out next and seems to be really getting over with house show regulars who met him with “perfect ten” signs. His opponent is a returning Kalisto. The two put on a short but fun match that showed some of the impressive lucha styling of Kalisto as Dillinger attempted to ground him. In the end Kalisto defeated Ty with a Salida Del Sol, but Dillinger may be the real winner here. Ty consistently puts on great matches and puts everyone else over, crowds are starting to recognize that and are left wondering when he will be put over instead.

Sami Zayn comes out to talk and is interrupted by Kevin Owens. Sami wants to know “Why?, what is the real reason for all of this… jealousy, resentment, etc? Owens responds by letting Zayn know on May 20th he will hurt him again, except this time there will be no coming back.

Our main event is Hideo Itami and Finn Balor vs Tyler Breeze and Adam Rose. In the beginning the odd pairing of Rose and Breeze work well together isolating Finn for a long while until he makes the hot tag to Hideo who comes in and cleans house. Itami seems ready to finish off Breeze but Balor tags himself in. Balor comes in and hits his signature moves and looks ready to finish things as well but Hideo tags himself back in. The two begin to bicker and Breeze takes advantage rolling up Itami for the pin. Hideo and Finn begin to argue in the middle of the ring until Breeze sneaks back in superkicking Hideo and hitting Balor with a Beauty Shot. Adam Rose comes in to celebrate with his partner only to eat a superkick as well. Presumably the episode ends with Breeze standing over the three bodies, but eventually Itami and Balor make it back up. First Itami lays out Breeze with a single leg dropkick and Balor finishes him off with a Coups De Grace. The crowd goes home happy and very anxious for May 20th.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

NXT Ft Pierce 4-11-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Another raucous crowd jammed into the Havert L Fenn Center in Ft Pierce, Fl in anticipation of another exciting night of professional wrestling action. Coming hot off the heels of a successful Wrestlemania week the stars of NXT would not disappoint as they left it all in the ring.

No one can fire up a crowd like Enzo Amore and Big Cass who come out to a huge pop. Their opponents for the evening are The Mechanics who are looking mean and ready to fight. Amore and Cass start strong staying one step ahead. Dawson and Amore begin taunting each other and teasing punches and it turns into a boxing match for a moment. Both men actually retreat to their corners with stools and spit buckets with their partners coaching them. The two men circle each other while Enzo showboats with his fast feet. Dawson is not impressed though and lays out Enzo with one punch. The referee starts counting but Amore answers the 9 count. Back on his feet he fires back with some punches of his own until Dawson gives him a knee and it finally turns into a wrestling match. Employing frequent tags Dawson and Wilder begin to take apart Amore, for all of their talk of being roughnecks The Mechanics are technically sound and probably at their best when methodically punishing an opponent. Eventually though the resilient Amore makes the hot tag to Big Cass who clears the ring and tosses out Dawson. He then finishes off Wilder with a swinging side slam followed by an assisted splash tossing Amore onto Dash for the win. It was a fun match to start the show. The Mechanics deliver as always and the ringwork of Enzo Amore is getting more varied.

Jason Jordan is out next, this time with his old music (as opposed to as recently as the night before when he had Shoot Nation music). His opponent for the evening is the always explosive Solomon Crowe. From the opening bell Jordan dominated Crowe, out-grappling him and throwing him around with the greatest of ease. Crowe attempted to make sporadic comebacks but to little avail. The match was all Jordan, and Jordan was all power tossing Crowe with a perfect overhead belly-to belly suplex before settling into a chinlock. Eventually Crowe manages to escape and mount an offense going for a hurricanrana but Jordan catches him and tosses him. Moments later though Crowe manages to escape Jordans grasp and turn it into a front chancery which brings Jordan down for a moment before he begins to power out. At this point Crowe rolls him up for a surprise pin. This match was pretty much all Jordan and Crowe was the definitive underdog. Jordan looked good in the ring and definitely came out looking strong, hopefully he can find some direction soon.

Bayley makes her way to the ring for a promo next. She talks about their recent run in San Jose while playing up to the Florida crowd as well about the success of the brand. Her monologue is interrupted by Prince Pretty himself, Tyler Breeze. He tells her that no one cares about any of that and they don’t care about her. He tells her to leave the ring but she replies by letting him know that he is not the boss of her. At this point the womens champ Sasha Banks emerges slyly asking if someone said Boss. Both her and Breeze begin to berate poor Bayley. Unwavering, Bayley demands that Banks backs up her big talk by giving her a title match. Sasha tells her no, but that if Bayley can find a partner they will compete in a mixed tag match later in the evening.

The action continues with Chad Gable taking on Steve Cutler. In the opening moments the Olympian easily out-grapples Cutler, but not to be outdone Cutler comes back with a series of arm drags and an arm bar. Gable takes control with some arm work of his own after some nice back and forth action. Eventually Gable controls the match even taking time off to dry off with his “Olympic towel”. Out of nowhere Cutler fires back with a series of strikes and a gutwrench suplex for the pin. After the match Ty Dillinger came out and scored it a 4. Cutler looked the best I had ever seen him tonight, thus far a muscular guy who usually relies on strikes and power moves showed off some speed, agility and different offense. Gable, as always is a pleasure to watch in the ring and is most definitely a name to watch out for.

Ft Pierce is Bull Dempsey country, and the crowd let it be known as the big man made it to the ring to take on Marcus Louis. In the early goings Dempsey rode the wave of momentum controlling his opponent by wearing him down with a side headlock. Louis finds an opening and begins a beatdown on Bull. Later when it looks as if Dempsey is going to make a comeback Marcus takes advantage of a distracted referee. He pokes Dempsey in the eye and follows with a DDT, then with his feet on the ropes he takes the victory. Unfortunately for Louis, a very angry Dempsey made it to his feet and ran down Marcus. He followed with two flying headbutts. Dempsey started to leave but climbed back into the ring and followed with an emphatic Bonzai Drop from the top rope. Dempsey then headed to the back only to run back out a moment later for one final Bonzai Drop on an annihilated Marcus Louis. I’m a fan of both men and I’d really like to see the tortured monster Marcus Louis make it to television. More so though, I am eager to see the next chapter for Bull Dempsey.

Next is womens triple threat action with Charlotte vs Dana Brooke vs Alexa Bliss. From the beginning it is very clear that there are no alliances tonight and it is every women for themselves. Soon Bliss was thrown from the ring allowing Charlotte and Dana to focus on each other. Charlotte is on a roll hitting a lot of her signature spots until Brooke finds an opening and slows things down with a body scissors. Eventually Charlotte powers out, meanwhile every time Bliss attempts to get back into the ring she is knocked back out. Charlotte puts down Dana with a neckbreaker and puts on a figure 4 when Alexa comes off the ropes with a crossbody. Alexa tries to pin Charlotte, but she tosses her off onto Dana, who tosses her back onto Charlotte ad infinitum all the while referee Drake Wuertz is beating the canvas like a drum. Finally back up the ladies begin to battle when Charlotte lands a Natural Selection on Bliss for the win. Ty Dillinger gives the match a 6. The ring general Charlotte looked as good as you have come to expect, while Brooke and Bliss continue to grow.

Tag team action is next as Blake and Murphy take on The Vaudevillians. The crowd reaction to The Vaudevillians are no surprise, but Blake and Murphy are starting to get equally as popular, at least in front of this very split crowd. The Vaudevillians start strong and in charge, executing some signature spots such as push-ups off their opponents back. With a little distraction though it is not long before Blake and Murphy take charge punishing Gotch. Eventually Simon makes the hot tag to English who is simply on fire at one point landing an astounding superplex on Murphy. However a few moments later in the chaotic fray Murphy manages to eject Gotch and lay out English with a vertical suplex followed by a frogsplash from Blake for the win.

Kevin Owens is out next and supposedly has an important announcement concerning the title. First though he singles out a guy from the audience in a Finn Balor T-shirt and tells him if he doesn’t go buy an Owens T-shirt he’s leaving. Surprisingly the guy actually leaves to buy a shirt. Owens then simply moves on to a kid in a Balor T-shirt and tells him the same thing, to which this kid actually leaves to go buy an Owens T-shirt. Owens then moves onto a guy in a Baron Corbin shirt who will not relent. Kevin Owens gives the guy to the count of ten before dropping the mic and leaving the ring. Kevin Owens is one of the best promo guys in the business, but apparently he is really good at moving shirts too. But seriously, he can make moving shirts entertaining.

In our next match Ty Dillinger takes on Elias Sampson. The two evenly matched competitors lock up and between every successful maneuver Dillinger retreats to his corner to score himself…. a perfect 10, of course. Sampson quickly gains an advantage though until the wily Ty Dillinger finds an opening and pounces. He lays out Sampson in a frenzied beatdown and follows with a half crab. Eventually Sampson makes the ropes and comes back with a Lou Thez press and a clothesline that turned Dillinger inside out. Sampson attempts to follow with his jumping knee strike but Ty dodges it and counters with a DDT. The two men battle up to their feet and atop the turnbuckle. Dillinger attempts a superplex but Sampson knocks him down and follows with a crossbody. The two men make it back to their feet and Sampson nails Ty with a jumping knee strike to the face, surprisingly Ty kicks out. The two exhausted competitors make it to their feet and Dillinger nails a superkick, he follows with a facebreaker knee smash for the win. Dillinger is a criminally underrated ring technician while Elias Sampson is perhaps one of the newer prospects I am most excited about. At the beginning of the match there were smarky fans calling them jobbers, by the end they quieted all the naysayers with a great match.

Our main event is one of the most odd, but one of the most fun we have had in a long time. First out are Sasha Banks and Tyler Breeze, with Sasha matching Tyler in fur and boot tassles. Out next is Bayley and she introduces her partner for the evening, Sami Zayn. The crowd explodes to the sight of their hero Sami Zayn emerging from the back in a Bayley t-shirt. The babyface team are dominant in the early goings, wrestling the fur coats right off their opponents and putting them on to pose on the turnbuckles. Neither Breeze or Banks want anything to do with their opponents making quick tag outs, forcing the other team to tag per mixed tag rules. Finally Sami and Breeze are back in the ring and the pace picks up with some signature offense. Eventually sneaky Tyler Breeze got the upper hand after attacking Sami from behind. But Zayn makes the hot tag to Bayley who is on fire and makes quick work of Sasha and tags Sami back in. Sami takes down Breeze with a series of clotheslines followed by a dropkick and an exploder suplex in the corner. Sami is ready for a Helluva Kick but Banks darts in the way. She attempts to slap Sami not once, but twice, but he stops both attempts and counters with a kiss square on the lips. Banks recoils in shock and disgust, only to be followed by a Belly-To Bayley from Bayley. Then Zayn charges the corner for a Helluva kick to Breeze for the victory. This was a fun match and a rare treat from four of the top workers in the brand, and the crowd went home happy.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

NXT Largo 4-10-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

A lively crowd packed into The Minnreg Hall in Largo to see their favorite stars of NXT. Fans would not be disappointed as the young and hungry athletes gave them another highly charged night of wrestling action.

The action kicks off with Chad Gable taking another shot at Solomon Crowe. The two evenly matched athletes know each other well as they lock up trading off armbars and jockeying for an advantage. Eventually the Olympian finds an opening and takes charge targeting the arm of Crowe with a series of armbars including a nasty one over the ring ropes. The explosive Solomon Crowe mounts a quick comeback with a series of chops and strikes followed by a running knee in the corner. He continues his attack dropkicking Gables feet out from under him setting up the Stretch Muffler giving Gable no choice but to tap. After the match, Ty Dillinger comes out and scores it a 5. It was a great opening match featuring guys who are two of my top pick to look out for in 2015. Gable has shown versatility as both a heel and a face, but is doing really well as a cocky Olympian bad guy.

Up next is a six-womens tag match as the team of Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Devin Taylor take on Becky Lynch, Dasha, and Dana Brooke. The match starts and almost immediately the good girls start strong staying one step ahead of their opponents. But with a helpful distraction Lynch is able to get the upper hand on Alexa. They punish Bliss while making frequent tags until she eventually makes a hot tag to Carmella who comes in and clears the ring. With the other girls ejected from the ring Carmella drops an advancing Brooke with a drop-toe hold and wraps her up in her head scissor submission for the second tap-out victory of the night. Ty Dillinger gives the match a 3. As the more experienced wrestler Becky Lynch did a good job of conducting traffic here, while Carmella just gets better with every match. A good outing for the rookie Dasha too, who seems to have all the tools.

Announcer Greg Hamilton makes his way to the ring and introduces Dylan Miley. Standing at around 6’3” and weighing around 285 lbs Miley is an imposing figure. Of course, his most memorable attribute may be his incredibly large hands. Hamilton asks him what the future holds for him. Miley explains that the future is molded by the hands of time and tells him to look at his hands. He continues saying these hands will do exactly what they want to do, the clock is ticking and it is almost time. Miley is pretty good on the mic and unfazed by hecklers in the crowd. I’m looking forward to seeing the big man compete, and hoping that he uses a claw hold.

The action continues with the deranged Marcus Louis taking on Bull Dempsey. The two approach each other slowly and first and then lock up, Dempsey throwing Louis into a side headlock which the Frenchman eventually broke only to get chopped and thrown back into it. Eventually Louis fights back and takes the upper hand. He stalks Dempsey slowly and methodically. The tortured Louis has been more of a brawler since he has lost it, and beats Bull down with big clubbing blows. Finally Dempsey comes back though with a series of strikes, a headbutt and a butt drop. He follows by absolutely running Louis down. Usually this is where he sets up his flying headbutt, but tonight he surprisingly went right for the pin and got the 1-2-3 victory. Afterwards, an irate Marcus Louis attacked Dempsey until several referees broke them up. Bull is really starting to get over with fans and I still believe he can be a really good face. As usual Marcus Louis is absolutely great as the tortured monster.

Next is Tyler Breeze taking on Baron Corbin. The match starts off fast paced as Breeze tries to figure out the best way to take on the much larger angrier Corbin. Despite some early offense Corbin beats him down and follows with some of his signature offense. Breeze had flurries of comebacks but by large Corbin dominated. In the final moments Breeze dodges the big boot of Corbin and answers with a superkick. The two make it to their feet and rock each other with back and forth blows until Breeze hits Corbin with another superkick followed by a Beauty Shot for the win. Ty Dillinger only gave it a 3, even though the crowd was hot and it clearly stole the show. Corbin seems more comfortable as a heel, and his in ring performance really seems to be benefitting from his string of more high profile matches. Tyler Breeze who is mostly cheered anyway seems to be playing to the fans more, even taking selfies with the crowd.

Next, the womens title is up for grabs as Sasha Banks defends her title against Bayley. The match starts off at a fast pace with plenty of reversals until Banks eventually takes charge grounding Bayley with a straightjacket crossface. She continues to dominate Bayley eventually setting up Bayley in the corner for a second diving kneedrop which Bayley dodges. The underdog fires back with a frenzied flurry of her signature spots. She attempts to set up Banks up for a Belly-To-Bayley but Banks spins her around for a backstabber followed by a Bank Statement for a submission victory. This was yet another great outing between these two and another highlight of the night, but yet Ty Dillinger only gave it a 6.

In a non-title tag match The Mechanics took on Blake and Murphy. These two evenly matched teams traded off offense in the early goings but it was Murphy who stayed a step ahead initially until the wily Mechanics took advantage and took over cutting off Blake from his partner. They continued to punish him with frequent tags and great tandem offense until he makes the hot tag to Murphy. The Aussie is simply explosive when he hits the ring taking out anything that moves. However, with the ref distracted The Mechanics took advantage with Dawson flapjacking Murphy into Wilders knees and taking the pin. NXT tag division is great all around but these are your top two teams at the moment, and they are the teams that need to meet at the next live special.

Kevin Owens comes out to a huge pop for a hilarious segment as he berates a kid in the audience wearing a Sami Zayn T-shirt. He tells him that Sami is not here tonight, that he is at home resting after the beating he gave him to take his title. He tells the kid to take off his shirt, march over and buy a Kevin Owens shirt or he is leaving. Owens gives the kid a count of ten to do so, which he doesn’t and Kevin Owens leaves the ring and head to the back.

Ty Dillinger is out next to give us a perfect 10 performance. His opponent is Jason Jordan, who now once again has Shoot Nation entrance music. The match starts with some nice grappling, with Dillinger taking time between each lock-up to hold up his scorecard. After some comedic antics the action starts and Ty attacks viciously but Jordan comes back with some serious power moves including a resounding fallaway slam. Ty dodges a spear and answers with a firemans carry. Jordan rebounds with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex followed by an emphatic Olympic slam for the victory. Not a perfect 10, but a pretty good performance by both men.

The main event of the evening is Enzo Amore and Big Cass taking on The Vaudevillians in front of a very split crowd. Gotch and English start off strong with plenty of manliness and leg squats. Cass and Zo answer with some signature offense of their own. Eventually The Vaudevillians isolate Enzo, who is at his best when playing the underdog. Finally he makes the hot tag to Cass who comes in and clears the ring of Gotch. He then follows with a swinging side slam to English followed with an assisted splash from Amore for the pin. It was an entertaining match that gave the crowd exactly what they love about both teams.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

NXT Palatka 4-3-15

Friday night world class wrestling hit the tiny town of Palatka, Fl in the form on NXT. The roar of a modest yet passionate crowd reverberated through the National Guard Armory as the men and women of NXT prepared to do battle once again.

The night begins with womens action as Carmella takes on fan favorite Bayley. The bell rings and the match starts with trash talk before Bayley puts on Carmellas coat and runs around the ring to the delight of the crowd as Carmella gives chase. Back into the ring and Carmella takes down Bayley, puts on her head band and begins mocking her. Bayley pounces and takes charge hitting an array of signature moves against Carmella. Bayley missed an elbow in the corner and Carmella takes advantage. First she attacks with a series of punches and kicks before wrapping Bayley up in a body scissors, which eventually Bayley fights her way out of and lands a Belly-To-Bayley from out of nowhere for the pin. It was a fun match and a great way to start the evening.

Next Solomon Crowe takes on the tortured Marcus Louis. The two approach each other cautiously at first until Louis starts closing in and Crowe fends him off with kicks which don’t do much to faze Louis. After a short bit of back and forth action Marcus takes control of the match, stalking Crowe slowly making every strike count. The pace quickens and Louis lays out Crowe with a devastating side slam followed by a mandible claw until Crowe reaches the ropes and the hold is broken. Crowe eventually begins to mount a comeback and rocks the big man with a series of strikes and finally topples him with a dropkick to the knees. Solomon Crowe then contorts Louis into a Stretch Muffler for the submission victory. This was an entertaining match that both men came out of looking good. The high energy Crowe is always exciting to watch with his explosive offense, while Louis is excelling and only getting better as the tortured monster.

The action continues with Elias Sampson vs Steve Cutler. Sampson is back to his lone drifter guitar slinger gimmick, it’s fitting and he really makes it work. Sampson starts off in control and throws Cutler into a side headlock. Cutler keeps trying to mount offense but Sampson won’t relinquish the hold and keeps shutting him down. Cutler finds an opening and starts to tear into Sampson. He beats down Sampson with punches and power moves before he begins wrenching the neck and grounding his faster opponent. Sampson makes sporadic comebacks before laying Cutler completely out with an awesome standing knee strike from out of nowhere, following with flying elbow off the top rope for the pin. Elias Sampson is a charismatic guy with tons of untapped potential; hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more from the drifter as I surmise he is one to look out for. Steve Cutler is a powerful and muscular guy with a look that could probably take him far in the WWE. His move-set is fairly limited thus far, but it’s really too early and we simply haven’t seen enough of Steve Cutler to say what the future holds for him, but he certainly has the tools.

Ty Dillinger comes out for a promo about his “Perfect 10” gimmick. He says so far he only gives the show a 3, but not to worry because later he will give us a performance that is a perfect 10.

The night rolls on with tag team action as Big Cass and Enzo Amore take on the champs, Blake and Murphy. The champs start strong working over Cass but with the momentum of the crowd behind them it wasn’t long before Cass and Amore were firmly in control showing off some great double team moves, with some comical spots thrown in. Shortly after though the champs turn things around and isolate Amore. After much punishment and some impressive tandem moves from Blake and Murphy, Enzo finds an opening and makes the hot tag to Cass who comes in with fury, ejecting Blake and laying out Murphy with a side slam and a big boot. He tags Amore to set up for an assisted splash, but Blake intervenes and pulls Cass off the apron. Murphy takes advantage of the distracted Amore, laying him out with an emphatic vertical suplex followed by a frogsplash from Blake for the win.

Tonight it would be the ladies to steal the show in the form of triple threat action featuring Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch. Upon the opening bell Banks and Lynch immediately target Charlotte, but she is having none of it and quickly ejects Lynch from the ring. It’s one on one now and Charlotte is on fire tonight, easily controlling the champ until Lynch eventually makes her way back into the ring after several attempts. Then the double teaming begins and it is now Lynch who is looking as impressive as she controls the match and hits a trifecta of perfect leg drops onto Charlotte. Eventually Charlotte gets tossed from the ring and finally Banks and Lynch turn on each other. The two went through an amazing few minutes of several pin attempts and counter after counter, with neither women taking the definitive advantage.  Charlotte is back in with a vengeance with a neckbreaker to Banks and a spear to Lynch. Moments later Lynch lands a beautiful Bexplex on Charlotte and looks to have the match won before Banks narrowly breaks the count. All ladies make it back up and Banks gets tossed outside the ring and Charlotte puts Lynch into a figure four leg lock giving Lynch no choice but to tap. Readers of the blog know how highly I already think of these three ladies, but yet they continue to outdo themselves. A great match and most definitely match of the evening.

Next is six man tag action with The Mechanics and Mike Rawlis taking on Shoot Nation, which tonight consists of Chad Gable, Angelo Dawkins, and Sawyer Fulton. Shoot Nation starts out strong and looking very impressive as they attempt to make quick work of their adversaries. Gable is downright fun to watch when he is on a roll, which he was tonight along with both of his teammates. But with a little cunning and sometimes a little bending of the rules The Mechanics always find a way to take over. That is when Wilder and Dawson are at their best, methodically dissecting their opponents with tag team precision. They take their time taking Gable apart until he makes the hot tag to Dawkins who comes in and clears house. As they often do in these type of matches, it evolves into chaos which the Mechanics would use to their advantage as Dawson flapjacks Dawkins into the waiting knees of Wilder who scores the pin. This was one of the highlight matches of a pretty good card and all six men came out looking great, including the rookie Mike Rawlis who looked to be at his best thus far. Hopefully, this also signals a renewed focus on the Shoot Nation concept which they seem to have backed off of in recent months.

Next is Ty Dillinger taking on Bull Dempsey. In the early goings after every successful maneuver Dillinger retreats to his corner to hold up his perfect 10 sign. Eventually Bull has enough and has a little fun of his own grabbing Dillingers 10 sign and sticking down his trunks and shaking his rump much to Dillingers chagrin. An angry Dillinger attacks with a vengeance but Dempsey turns things around flattening Ty in the corner with a splash followed by a dreaded stinkface. The action continues and Dempsey runs Ty down and climbs the ropes to go for his flying headbutt but Dillinger rolls out of the way. Ty plays possum and suckers Bull in, first taking the big man down that laying him out with a facebreaker knee smash for the win. It was a fun match. As silly as the new gimmick initially seemed Dillinger is making it work. They seem to go back and forth on Dempsey at house shows these days but I still think he could have a pretty good face run.

Our main event of the evening saw Tyler Breeze take on Baron Corbin. Prince Pretty was anything but intimidated by his opponent and took plenty of time to pose and make muscles in between lock-ups. At house shows Breeze is more prone to cut-up and quite frankly it makes it hard to boo the guy. The two get serious and tear into each other in a match that was hardly technical with lots of brawling that took them to the outside on several occasions. Outside the ring Breeze sent Corbin into the ring post and took over. Back inside after more brawling Corbin mounts a comeback but is laid out with a superkick. A frustrated Breeze exposes the turnbuckle and as the referee attempts to fix it Tyler uses the distraction to grab a chair. Before he can swing it the referee turns around and wrests it from Breeze who turns around and walks into an End Of Days from Corbin. Corbin takes the pin putting a cap on a good physical match. Tyler Breeze is entertaining as always and I am enjoying seeing him employing a lot of great old school heel tactics lately such as eye pokes and exposed turnbuckles. Baron Corbin is looking comfortable in higher profile matches and showing a growing versatility. Since it seems a lot of fans are turning on him anyway I would love to see a full blown heel turn. He hasn’t exactly been a face thus far, but was definitely the fan favorite of sorts in his television feud with a heel Bull Dempsey.

As Corbin celebrates his victory Kevin Owens music hits and the champ strolls out and stares down Corbin. He circles the ring slowly and teases getting in, but only smirks and heads back to the back. If this is a foreshadowing of things to come then huge things are on the horizon for Baron Corbin.

Friday, April 3, 2015

NXT Tampa 4-2-15

Coming off the heels of a successful Wrestlemania week NXT returned to Tampa, the city where it all started. Another capacity crowd piled into the UADC Gymnasium to see their favorite wrestlers go to war inside the squared circle.

An almost surefire way to animate a crowd is to start the night with Cass and Enzo, who make their way to the ring with a huge pop. Their opponents The Vaudevillians are pretty over with the crowd in their own right. Both teams started strong as they both jockeyed for the advantage. Eventually the team of English and Gotch took control making sure to work in a lot of their signature spots while working over Enzo. Amore is likeable and oozes charisma but his in-ring performance is still very reliant on selling. Soon he makes the hot tag to the seven footer who clears the ring whipping English into the corner for a big splash. He follows with a big side slam then tags in Amore and tosses him off the turnbuckle in an assisted splash onto English for the pinfall victory. It was a short, fun match that did its job of firing up the crowd.

Next up is singles action as Solomon Crowe takes on Chad Gable. The two start off with some excellent grappling, but despite the initial advantage Gable is a step behind Crowe tonight, exiting the ring a few times to slow the pace and rethink his strategy. Finally Crowe gave chase and tossed Gable back in the ring working him over with a fast paced smashmouth offense. Chad Gable manages to get the upper hand and begins working the arm of Crowe with a series of armbars. It didn’t take long for the explosive Crowe to stage a comeback and contort Gable into a Stretch Muffler for the submission victory. Ty Dillinger, who is still in his critic gimmick, comes out and gives the match a 3. I would have given it higher, both Crowe and Gable are two of my favorite up and comers on the roster and presumably will be major players one day. I’ve seen these two wrestle each other several times now and each time my opinion only gets reinforced.

Next is womens tag action with the team of Bayley and Carmella taking on the team of Becky Lynch and Dana Brooke. Carmella and Bayley took started off with the early advantage, with the “bad girls” even playing the comic foils at times. Eventually though Becky and Dana take charge punishing Bayley for a good portion of the match.  Ultimately Bayley makes the tag to Carmella and with Lynch ejected onto the floor Carmella turns a roll-up pin attempt into her leg scissors submission giving Dana no choice but to tap. This was a fun match largely carried by the veterans Bayley and Becky Lynch, but still it gave the other girls their moments to shine. Carmella has gotten really good really fast, but I do think she is a more effective heel. Dana Brooke is still a work in process but she has her obvious advantages too, such as her strength which allows her to rag doll girls around the ring or perform a firemans carry slam with ease.

Next up Baron Corbin takes on the returning Sami Zayn, who comes out to a huge pop. The match starts off slow as Zayn feels out the best way to approach his much larger opponent. Finally after running the ropes and into an immovable Corbin several times, Baron bowls Sami over with a massive shoulder and then the manhandling begins. Corbin methodically stalked Zayn and took his time, taking time to taunt the crowd. Sami mounts a comeback culminating in an impressive Blue Thunder Powerbomb. The two make it to their feet and Corbin nearly clotheslines Zayn out of his boots. The tenacious Zayn keeps coming back though at one point trapping the big guy in a Koji Clutch which he was able to break. He whips Zayn into the corner and lands a big splash, as Corbin runs to the other corner Zayn explodes out of the corner behind him and Corbin turns around to eat a Helluva Kick. As always, it was great to see Zayn back in the ring while Corbin is much more effective as a heel. Afterwards, Kevin Owens comes out and says that he watched the whole match and that wasn’t Sami Zayn, but rather a shell of his former self. He lets Zayn know that he is calling the shots and that Sami is simply not ready for a rematch, no matter what the sheep in the crowd say. Sami retorts that they should stop talking and do it now. After teasing getting in the ring Owens assures us he would but he just had knee surgery. Sami Zayn assures him that the time would come and he would be coming for his title.

Next old nemesis Charlotte and Sasha Banks meet again. While these two have amazing chemistry together they also know each other well. Charlotte though starts strong and takes control early on keeping the champ struggling to keep up. Climbing the ropes, Charlotte attempts a moonsault but Banks rolls out of the way. Charlotte lands on her feet and attempt to follow with a senton but Banks throws up her knees and take control of the match. She punishes Charlotte with a straightjacket crossface until Charlotte breaks the hold and mounts a comeback. Following a series of neckbreakers she wraps Banks into a figure four until Banks grabs the ropes. The two battle on until it ends abruptly when Banks rolls up Charlotte with her feet on the ropes for a sketchy victory. Ty Dillinger comes out and gives the match a 9. For once, I’ll agree with Ty. We’ve all seen these two battle several times, but it’s just as good every time.

Next up, The Mechanics took on Blake and Murphy in tag team action. Blake and Murphy take charge in a very fast paced early goings with the type of offense that has made them popular these days. Eventually though, The Mechanics take over isolating Blake while making frequent tags. Dawson and Wilder excel in many ways but are probably at their best when in control and punishing their opponents with great tandem wrestling. Ultimately Blake makes the hot tag to Murphy who comes in like a bullet. The Australian is intense as they come but The Mechanics managed to shut him down too with their trademark guillotine. That could have been the end but Blake broke the pin and Murphy fought back first with an ensziguri then a vertical suplex followed by a frogsplash for the pin on Wilder. No disrespect to any of the other teams in NXT, but these are easily the two best teams on the roster. I’ve been wanting to see a televised program with these two teams for quite some time, hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

The night continues with Ty Dillinger taking on Mike Rawlis. The match starts off with plenty of horseplay as Dillinger felt the need to take a victory lap for every successful maneuver he made. Rawlis is a big and strong guy with an offense made up of mostly strikes and power moves, but Dillinger still took over the match and attempted to wear down Rawlis. He punished the rookie throughout the match, at one point he looked to have the match won with a brutal knee strike, but Rawlis fought on. Eventually after several pin attempts Rawlis scored the victory with a roll-up. The very underrated Dillinger did a great job of making newcomer Rawlis look credible, but perhaps the best part of the whole match was Dillingers hostile interaction with the crowd. His new gimmick is growing on me. I’m not sure what the average wrestling fan may think of it, but many smarks, bloggers and members of the IWC at least have to appreciate the irony.

The “on again, off again” crowd woke in a big way when Finn Balor emerged to take on Tyler Breeze. Balor is on fire in the early goings leaving Prince Pretty struggling to keep up. The two trade offense until Tyler uncovers a turnbuckle and with the referee distracted he pokes Finn in the eyes and takes charge. Still yet, Balor mounts a comeback and the two go back and forth. Finn hits a slingblade only to walk into a superkick moments later. Moments after that Balor attempts to climb the ropes to end it but gets knocked down. The two continue to battle and Balor dodges a Beauty Shot. Finn grabs Breeze and catapults him into the exposed turnbuckle. Breeze stumbles around and is dropkicked into the corner and then laid out for the Coup De Grace, which Balor executes with Breezes cell phone. Once again an excellent main event. At this point it is redundant to say that Balor is going to be the man one day, it is obvious. Breeze once again shows he is capable of hanging with any indie darling that comes to NXT.