Sunday, May 31, 2015

NXT Venice 5-30-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Saturday night NXT rolled into Venice, Fl for the first time ever. A sold out crowd piled into the Venice Community Center for a night of great wrestling action and would not be disappointed. From a meet and greet with Irelands greatest exports Finn Balor and Becky Lynch to a chaotic six man main event, it was an unforgettable night from beginning to end.

The night starts off with Mojo Rawley taking on Chad Gable. The match begins with trash talk as Mojo informs the crowd that Gable “ain’t hyped and he can’t get chicks” to which Gable retorts “I’m married, ya morons”. Gable attempts to get down to business but an animated Rawley would much rather dance. They finally lock up and the obvious size and strength advantage goes to Rawley until a wise Gable lures him into the corner and locks on an armbar over the top rope. This is where Gable is at his best, working the arm and tossing Mojo around the ring with ease. Eventually though Rawley would mount a comeback and bounce around the ring like a pinball and send Gable flying with a crazy shoulder tackle for the win. After the match Ty Dillinger comes out and rates the match a 2. Recent crowds seem to be receptive to the returning Mojo Rawley, but I wonder how long it will be before the dancing wears thin and crowds begin to turn on him as they started to before he left. Chad Gable is literally one of the best pure wrestlers in NXT and seems to be getting comfortable as the cocky heel, hopefully he’ll be moving up the ranks sooner than later.

Tag team action is next with The Vaudevillians taking on Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins. Gotch and English dominate the early part of the bout with their manly antics and Hindu leg squats much to the delight of the crowd. Later though Fulton and Dawkins would take control of the match, isolating Gotch and working him over for much of the duration. Employing frequent tags and great tandem wrestling they dominate Gotch until he finds an opening and makes the hot tag to English who clears the ring. Later chaos ensues with all four men in the ring when Gotch dodges a spear from Fulton sending him into Dawkins. Gotch uppercuts Fulton into the back of the skull reeling him forward into a running spinning neckbreaker from English for the victory. This was a really fun tag match with great wrestling from all four men. The Vaudevillians are very over with the crowd in every town whether working as heels or faces, it’s a real head scratcher that they are not contending for the tag titles. Meanwhile, Dawkins and Fulton are becoming more impressive every time they perform. With their size, strength, and obvious wrestling ability Dawkins and Fulton could become downright dangerous with a little momentum.

Emcee Greg Hamilton is out next and he introduces former NFL player and NXT newcomer Sabby Piscitelli. He makes sure to let us know that all of his accolades as football player don’t matter in NXT, and that he is here to prove himself with the best athletes in the world. He is interrupted by Preston Cunningham Jr (UCF wrestler Josh Woods) who is not impressed. Cunningham, a spoiled trust fund kid with an atrocious fashion sense, trades barbs back and forth with Sabby. Finally an altercation ensues and Piscitelli tosses Cunningham out of the ring.

Next, Tucker Knight takes on the very tortured Marcus Louis. For much of the match the much larger Knight dominates with a strength based offensive, but it really didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the deranged Louis. Finally, Louis finds an opening and attacks the leg ferociously and focuses on it for the remainder of the match. Despite a few flurries of offense from Knight, Louis continued and eventually trapping Knight into a leglock giving him no choice but to tap out. Ty Dillinger comes out and gives the match a 4. Marcus Louis is exceptional as a deranged madman, and is fun to watch whether he is wrestling or simply walking to the ring.

The crowd lights up for six woman tag action as the team of Charlotte, Carmella, and Devin Taylor take on Sasha Banks, KC Cassidy, and Jessie McKay. Early on Charlotte and company take the strong advantage over their opponents. Eventually though the ring wise Banks turns things around for her team attacking Carmella behind the referees back. With Carmella in trouble Banks and her teammates dominate until Carmella makes the hot tag Charlotte who takes over and takes down Cassidy with a neckbreaker followed by a spear. At this point the match breaks down with all women in the ring and in the chaos Charlotte lands a Natural Selection on KC for the pin. This match was a highlight of the night and the Venice crowd would certainly agree. Ring generals Charlotte and Sasha Banks looked great as always, while Carmella continues to be the most quickly improving women in NXT. Cassidy and McKay are already proving themselves to be valuable additions to an already strong female roster. Even Devin Taylor, who people have been critical of, seems to be making strides in the ring, even if I still can’t stand her preppy valley girl gimmick.

Next, Bull Dempsey takes on Mike Rawlis. Much of this match swings back and forth as both competitors are evenly matched. Eventually Rawlis takes charge after impressively tossing Dempsey over his head with a fallaway slam. He follows by wearing down Dempsey with a series of rest holds and an abdominal stretch. Finally Dempsey rebounds, running down Rawlis and finishing him off with a seated senton from the top rope. Rawlis is getting better every outing, but I’m glad to see Bull Dempsey pick up a victory after a long stretch losses. Bull is a charismatic big guy; hopefully with the proper booking they can translate that to television soon.

Ty Dillinger is out next and apologizes that the show thus far has only been a 4, however he is about to give us a perfect 10 performance. It wouldn’t be easy though because his opponent is the always exciting Solomon Crowe. In the early moments after a successful maneuver Dillinger would cartwheel into his corner and raise his perfect 10 sign up high. Finally a frustrated Crowe sends Dillinger flying with a head scissors and grabs the sign scoring himself a 10, much to the chagrin of Dillinger. An excellent back and forth battle ensues between the most explosive guy on the roster and the most underrated guy in NXT. Dillinger eventually takes over and looks to finish off but Crowe fires back with a series of kicks and strikes eventually toppling Dillinger and locking on the Stretch Muffler for a submission victory.

                                                           (Photo courtesy @WGWDesign )

Greg Hamilton and Dasha are out next to interview Uhaa Nation who comes out to a nice pop. Uhaa tells us of his humble beginnings and how he has fought for everything he has in life. I had a chance to ask him what it has been like transitioning from the indies to NXT, and he assures us that everything has been about getting here to this point, and eventually the NXT title.

Next up the “Lass Kicker” Becky Lynch is out for action against Lina. Not one to be intimidated Lynch takes the fight right to her strong and powerful opponent. Lina barely budges and fires back at Lynch, taking charge of much of the match. Eventually she traps the underdog Lynch in a massive bear hug, tossing her about like a rag doll. Lynch escapes and mounts a comeback, first toppling Lina with a dropkick off the top rope followed by a trifecta of her trademark leg drops. However Lina keeps coming back until she is halted with an armbar from out of nowhere giving Becky Lynch a submission victory. This was another great performance by Lynch, showing off her versatility against a larger and strong opponent. I’ve only seen Lina a couple times now but I enjoy her quite a bit, and guarantee she will be one to watch out for.

It is time for our six man tag main event, as Cass and Enzo come out to a huge pop from the crowd to introduce their partner Finn Balor. Balor makes his way down in his usual theatrical fashion, cutting up and having fun in the ring with Cass and Zo. Out next are their opponents for the evening Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder with their partner Baron Corbin. This was a very entertaining match where they pulled out all the stops, even the Dawson/Amore boxing match gimmick. The good guys dominated the early goings of the match until their opponents managed to isolate Enzo for much of the match. Finally, he makes a hot tag to Big Cass who comes in a clears the ring. Much like six-man matches often do, it eventually descended in chaos with men fighting everywhere until Balor finishes Dawson with a Coup De grace. This was a fun match in which all six men came out looking great. Dawson and Wilder continue to prove they are more than capable of hanging with anyone in NXT. House show faithful can attest to the fact that Dawson and Wilder tear the house down on a regular basis, to the point it is downright criminal they are not doing the same thing on my television yet. Meanwhile, I love the serious “demon” Balor as much as anyone, but some of my favorite Finn moments come from house shows like these. House shows where is he is simply playful, and having fun, with a smile on his face that tells you he genuinely loves his job.


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