Saturday, July 18, 2015

NXT Cocoa 7-17-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos By Maryann Mason

Friday night NXT brought another night of top notch wrestling action to Cocoa, Fl and a sold out crowd. It was an intense night of action that saw plenty of bumps, a few surprises, and a main event featuring the newly crowned NXT champion, Finn Balor.

There are not many hotter ways to start a show than with the always over Cass and Enzo. The two came out to a huge pop bringing the Cocoa crowd to their feet. Their opponents for the evening are the roughnecks Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. Enzo starts out strong for his team using his speed to his advantage staying one step ahead of his opponents. Zo hits Dash with a nice crossbody and the action continues to the outside where Zo does a new swinging kick maneuver around the turnbuckle. Soon though Wilder gets the upper hand via a little distraction from Dawson. The two pick apart Enzo with the trademark combination of brawling and wrestling acumen that one expects from Dawson and Wilder. Enzo mounts a comeback and attempts to make the hot tag but Dash pulls Cass off of the ring apron. The two turn Enzo inside out with a guillotine, but regardless moments later Amore made the hot tag to Cass. The big guy comes in clearing house ejecting Dawson from the ring and laying out Wilder with a swinging side slam. He follows with “Air Zo”, launching Enzo off the turnbuckle onto Wilder for the pin. This was a fun match and a great way to start the night.

Next up is Angelo Dawkins taking on Uhaa Nation. The two start slowly feeling each other out until Uhaa mounts some momentum early on. As always Uhaa Nation did a great job of making it look too easy until Dawkins laid him out with a cheap shot. At this point Dawkins wisely did his best to keep Uhaa grounded in a front chancery.  Inevitably Uhaa mounted a comeback with a crossbody, a clothesline, dropkick and a splash in the corner. With Dawkins rocked, Nation finished him off with a military press followed by an incredible standing moonsault. Afterwards Ty Dillinger comes out and gives the match a 0. Uhaa Nation looked incredible as always, while the Dawkins controlled parts of the match slowed the momentum quite a bit. Hopefully he will go back to teaming with Sawyer Fulton as the two had developed a tag team synergy together that will likely carry them much further than singles matches at this stage.

The Vaudevillians are out next to deliver a promo. They tell us that they have traveled all over the territory and have faced everyone. English continues by stating that they stand at the precipice of the tag team division as number one contenders, and that the will defeat Blake and Murphy. At this point the two are interrupted by the music of the champions Blake and Murphy who make their way to the ring. English asks Gotch what he thinks of dubstep and Gotch replies, “No Sir, I don’t care for it.” Unfazed Murphy tells us that it is great to be in Daytona before Blake corrects him. Blake tells The Vaudevillians they should bow out and give up their contender spot before they destroy them. Blake and Murphy take cheap shots but English and Gotch quickly turn it around chasing the champs off before a final pose in the ring. This was a good segment that showcased all four men in a good light and gave us the rare opportunity to see Blake and Murphy tested on the mic, which they did well.

Tag team action is next with “The Hype Bros” Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley taking on the newly formed team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. In the opening moments Jordan takes the distinct strength advantage tossing around Ryder with ease. Gable tags in and Ryder flapjacks him and makes a tag to the very animated Mojo Rawley who comes in with his usual banter letting us know that Gable “Ain’t hyped!” followed by dancing and “hammertime”.  Later into the match Jordan and Gable manage to wrest control over Ryder focusing on attacking the leg. Ultimately Ryder would make a hot tag to Mojo who comes in and lays out Gable with a shoulder tackle and a big splash while Ryder nails Jordan with a Broski Boot. Rawley hoists up Gable and Ryder hits a Rough Ryder off the top rope for the win. This was actually a very entertaining match. Gable is quickly becoming one of my favorite athletes in all of NXT, while Jason Jordan is looking better than ever. I’ll also admit The Hype Bros seem to be gelling as a tag team as well, I still can’t stand the Rawley gimmick but he and Ryder work well together.

Next, Mike Rawlis attempts to take down the lone wolf Baron Corbin in a match that wasn’t quite a squash but was pretty one sided. Baron Corbin seemed to be toying with Rawlis as he took his time picking him apart. Rawlis made a few short lived comebacks that Corbin quickly shut down. In a final rally Rawlis caught Corbin with a powerslam. He followed with a flurry of punches accentuated by an impressive fallaway slam. Unfortunately for Mike Rawlis this seemed to anger Corbin more than anything. Corbin nailed him with a big boot and planted him to the mat with an End Of Days for the win.

Women’s action follows with fan favorite Bayley taking on Eva Marie, who came out to major heat. The match starts off with much grappling and several pin attempts. Eva gains momentum culminating in a nice headscissors but Bayley battles back with a one handed bulldog and her patented slip and slide on top of Eva. Later the tide turns and Eva Marie slows the pace contorting Bayley into a grounded abdominal stretch followed by a suplex and a running senton. The momentum swings back to Bayley who ultimately finishes Eva with her splash and elbow in the corner followed by a Hugplex for the win. Of course, what everyone is dying to know is how Eva Marie did. This is not the same Eva Marie you last saw in a WWE ring, while she may still be rough around the edges, her hard work and training is shining through. She shows much potential and with Bayley as ring general the two put on one of the more fun matches of the night.

Next up the perfect ten Ty Dillinger goes up against Bull Dempsey. In the opening moments Dillinger has fun easily evading Dempsey, following by flexing his glutes at the big guy. Dempsey answers with a cartwheel of his own followed by gyrating his hips at Dillinger. The two eventually get down to business and Ty takes over laying out Dempsey with a DDT and follows with a series of strikes and kicks, the often playful Dillinger is relentless when on the attack. Dempsey begins to mount a comeback but Dillinger shuts him down with a superkick. Moments later Dempsey runs over Dillinger and follows with a series of punches and a bionic elbow. With Dillinger down Dempsey climbs the turnbuckles and comes down with a seated senton for the pin. This was a good lighthearted match that could have went either way. The momentum of Dillinger increases with every show while Dempsey to gain more traction as a face than he ever did as the wrecking ball.

Solomon Crowe comes out for a short interview with Greg Hamilton. Hamilton ask what to expect from Crowe in the coming year. A fan chants “Crowe for champ”. Crowe echoes his sentiment.
I’m a big fan of Crowe but this segment sort of meandered without saying too much.

We continue with women’s tag action as Carmella and Lina take on Dana Brooke and Cassie.  Lina quite easily takes over against Cassie and dominates the early goings with Carmella. Eventually Dana causes a distraction shifting the complexion of the match. Dana and Cassie employ frequent tags until Dana eventually grounds Carmella with a body scissors. Ultimately, Carmella makes the hot tag to Lina who runs over Dana. Moments later Dana jumps onto Linas back and locks on a short lived sleeper hold. Brooke tags in Cassie but Lina puts her through the mat with a side slam and follows with an elbow for the pin. This was an entertaining match with all four women doing a great job. Dana Brooke gets better with every outing, while out of the recent class Cassie (KC Cassidy) is the standout.

Our main event of the evening is Tyler Breeze taking on NXT champion Finn Balor. The match begins with some nice back and forth grappling until Breeze take a cheap shot. It didn’t help, as Finn easily regained the upper hand. A frustrated Breeze decides to quit and head to the back but Finn gives chase and brings him back. Breeze pokes Finn in the eye and goes on the attack, targeting the leg that Balor was favoring. Breeze locks on an agonizing Figure-4 but Balor eventually reverses it. Moments later Breeze goes for a second Figure-4 but Balor kicks Breeze out of the ring. The action continues as Finn rolls through Breeze’s sunset flip and answers with a dropkick. Now in control Finn locks on a short lived Figure-4 of his own. The two battle back to their feet and Balor hits a slingblade. Balor attempts to follow with a dropkick but runs into a superkick from Breeze instead. Breeze continues with an aggressive attack on the leg of Balor. The action continues and Balor once again hits a slingblade and follows with a dropkick into the corner. Finn Balor climbs the turnbuckles and hits the Coup De Grace for a hard fought victory. This was an exciting main event, as one would expect from the NXT champion and the underrated Tyler Breeze.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

NXT Orlando 7-10-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

It was a sweltering night in Orlando, but fans fought the heat to pile into the National Guard Armory for a night of NXT wrestling action. Even the contestants of Tough Enough were in attendance for a night of action that featured top notch wrestling, WWE legends, and the homecoming of a new champion.

The familiar music of DX hits and out comes Billy Gunn to a huge pop. He speaks for a moment before introducing Lita, who is met with a very enthusiastic crowd. The two introduce the hopefuls of Tough Enough who make their way around the ring greeting the fans. Afterwards the contestants would watch the show from ringside. Even if just plugging a television show, Billy Gunn and Lita are a great way to start the evening.

Our first match of the evening is Uhaa Nation taking on Axel Tischer. The two start off with some impressive grappling before the incredibly agile Uhaa takes control and takes his bigger opponent down with a beautiful dropkick. Moments later Tischer would level Uhaa with a big boot and commence a beatdown. Axel wisely slows the pace, grounding Uhaa and working the arm. Later though Uhaa Nation would mount a comeback culminating in a huge military press followed by a standing moonsault for the victory. This is yet another good match that emphatically states that Uhaa Nation is going to be a very big deal in NXT. Ty Dillinger must agree, because afterwards he scored the match a 9.

Next up, Cassie McIntosh takes on Dana Brooke. Early in the match Cassie takes control with an onslaught of offense culminating in a nice headscissors. Eventually, Brooke takes control mostly brawling and using her power to her advantage. Dana traps Cassie in a grounded abdominal stretch until she manages to break free. Cassie comes back with a series of high kicks and a crossbody off the turnbuckles. She attempts to climb the ropes again but Brooke hoists Cassie onto her shoulders and slams her to the mat with a Samoan Driver to gain the pin. There were some rough spots for Dana but overall she is showing a lot of improvement. Cassie McIntosh continues to impress and is proving to be a valuable addition to the NXT roster.

Next, the ring is set up with leopard skin furniture and Cass and Enzo come out to a huge pop. They announce the inaugural addition of their new show, Sawft Talk. They introduce their first guest, Preston Cunningham Jr the 1st aka Josh Woods. Enzo comments that with his tattoos and attire Preston looks like the love child of Baron Corbin and Tiger Woods. Later in the segment Preston explains that his father earned their money the old fashioned way, by inheritance. He also tells us that his father bought him the best MMA training money could buy. Enzo and Cass don’t seem impressed and things start to unravel. Cunningham snatches the microphone from Enzo and says his “daddy” paid good money for him to be here and he would not be disrespected. Amore ended up smacking the spoiled rich kid several times with a leopard skin pillow before Cass dropped him with a big boot. This was a goofy segment, but it did explain a little more about Preston Cunningham.

The action continues with Bull Dempsey taking on the tortured Marcus Louis. In the opening moments Bull is obviously apprehensive to lock up with the maniacal Frenchman. Bull backs up out of the ring and Marcus gives chase. The two run around the ring until a visibly winded Dempsey rolls back into the ring and asks for a time-out to catch his breath. Marcus will not relent and the two end up running the ropes for an absurd amount of time. Dempsey takes down Marcus with a shoulder tackle, but exhausted collapses onto him. The two eventually make it back up and Louis attacks violently first with a series of knees and continues to decimate his opponent. Bull comes back with a flurry of punches and lays out Marcus. Dempsey climbs the ropes and crashes onto Louis with a seated senton for the victory. Ty Dillinger gave the match of 3 but Marcus began to flip out, so he gave it a 5 instead. This was a fun match, Bull is starting to connect with crowds more than ever while Marcus Louis is still very underrated in my estimation.

Tag team action is next as “The Hype Bros” Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley take on Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The Hype Bros start off strong keeping one step ahead of their opponents. Mojo goes into his shtick informing the crowd that Dawson isn’t hyped and can’t get chicks. Dawson and Wilder manage to take control of the match and isolate Ryder. Employing frequent tags and great tandem wrestling Dawson and Wilder take apart Ryder culminating in a nice guillotine. Eventually though Ryder would find an opening and make the hot tag to Mojo who would take out Dawson and Wilder with a series of splashes and shoulder tackles. Rawley picks up Wilder and Ryder comes off the ropes with a Rough Ryder for the win. Tag teaming is doing Mojo well and he is showing some improvement in the ring, though I still don’t get the character at all. House show faithful will attest to the fact that Dawson and Wilder steal house shows on a regular basis, I just wish they were challenging for gold, rather than losing the majority of their matches.

The night continues with Ty Dillinger taking on Tyler Breeze. The two are so evenly matched and it shows for much of the back and forth contest. Eventually Dillinger takes over working the arm of Breeze before mocking him atop the turnbuckles. Breeze makes a very aggressive comeback and drops Ty with a superkick. Ty fights back, showing a very aggressive mean streak of his own. With Breeze grounded, Ty hikes down his kneepad to go for his knee smash. With the refs attention elsewhere Breeze takes advantage poking Dillinger in the eye and following with a Beauty Shot for the victory.

Triple threat tag action is up next with The Vaudevillians vs Blake and Murphy vs Jordan and Gable. Much of the early goings of the match saw the champs Blake and Murphy getting owned by both team. The match was fast paced with lots of blind tags and too much back and forth to call. Eventually it is English that finds himself isolated and being picked apart by both teams until he makes the hot tag to a very fired up Simon Gotch. In the fray all competitors end up in the ring as Gotch nails them all with forearms in each corner. Ultimately, everybody starts nailing everybody left and right until a confident Blake lays out Gable with a cutter. Unfortunately for him he was left in the ring with both Vaudevillians. Gotch nails him with an uppercut to the back of the head and English follows with a swinging neckbreaker for the victory. This was a great match and likely the best of the night. All six men looked great in this contest, but Chad Gable is definitely the standout for me. Pound for pound he is easily one of the best wrestlers in NXT, with a chance and proper booking he’ll end up at the top.

Sasha Banks is out next for a promo. She lets us know that her title signifies that she is better than all of us and better than all of the women in the back. She reminds us that she has beaten Charlotte, Bayley, and Becky. But then she is interrupted by Carmella who tells her that she didn’t hear her name on that list. Carmella issues a challenge but Sasha declines and begins to leave. Carmella calls her Sawft and tells her “Bye Felicia”. An irate Sasha Banks charges back to the ring and a match is on. Both women are fired up and the match goes back and forth until Sasha nails Carmella with double knees in the corner. Banks slows the pace contorting Carmella into an abdominal stretch. Carmella gets free and comes back with a beautiful head scissors followed by three Lou Thez Presses. Moments later she attempts to set up her headscissor submission but Banks wisely evades. Carmella gives chase but Banks pulls her into the ropes and follows with a backstabber and a Bank Statement for a submission victory. Carmella has so much potential, it’s nice to see her going toe-to-toe with the champ rather than accompanying her “boys” to the ring.

In our main event Baron Corbin challenges new NXT champion Finn Balor in a title match. Before introductions are even done Corbin jumps Finn, drops him with a big boot and continues to beat him down. Balor mounts a brief comeback but Baron drops him with a jaw shattering punch. Corbin slows down the pace picking apart the champ methodically. Finn comes back with a few chops and a pele kick. Balor takes down Corbin with a slingblade. Finn attempts to dropkick Corbin into the corner but gets caught and laid out with a huge swinging side slam. Frustrated Corbin grabs a chair but the referee wrests it from his hands. Corbin lays out Balor with another big boot. Baron climbs the turnbuckle but Finn drops him with a kick to the head. Finn follows dropkicking Corbin into the turnbuckles and follows with a Coup De Grace for the win.

From top to bottom it was a fun night and no doubt the standing room only crowd went home happy. Hopefully the cast of Tough Enough were paying close attention, they have big boots to fill.

                                                 Pictured above @Cody_Starbuck with ZZ
                                                 from Tough Enough