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.


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