Saturday, August 29, 2015

NXT Cocoa 8-28-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason 

Hot off the heels of their biggest live special yet, the stars of NXT made their return to The National Guard Armory in Cocoa, Florida for another night of wrestling action. In an evening of high impact action titles were defended, the tag tournament progressed, and fans went home very happy. 

First out is the drifter Elias Sampson who upon entering the ring regales us with song about Cocoa and “he’d say it was nice to be here/but that would be a lie”. His opponent Apollo Crews is out next. The two competitors lock up and then break, Sampson drops down in the corner and strums his guitar. They lock up again and repeat the same routine. A few moments later a distracted Sampson drops his guitar and Crews drops him with a massive dropkick. Crews looks impressive as always until Sampson finally gains control and pummels Crews in the corner before slowing the pace and settling into a chinlock. Apollo makes a quick comeback but Elias shuts him down and wisely grounds him with another chinlock. Moments later Crews dodges an elbow from Sampson and comes back with a splash and a series of strikes. He hoists up Sampson and drops him with a military press followed by a standing moonsault for the win. This was a great way to start a show. It’s apparent that Apollo Crews is going to be a very big deal in NXT sooner than later. Elias Sampson is not without an “it” factory, and is undoubtedly one to look out for. 
Next, Riddick Moss takes on Steve Cutler. Immediately Moss grabs up Cutler into a side headlock before he breaks it and the two trade off in a series of grapples. Cutler hits a dropkick, followed by a bodyslam and a leg drop before settling into a headlock of his own. Moss drops Cutler onto the ropes and goes on the attack. The much larger Moss nails Cutler with a series of uppercuts and clubbing blows before settling into a chinlock. Eventually Cutler fires back finally planting Moss with a facebuster. He follows with a Michinoku Driver variation for the pin. This was a good match from two up and comers. Both men have progressed a lot over the last year. Riddick Moss is much better as a heel, but Cutler’s choice of wearing shorts to the ring are not going to help the Cena comparisons.

Women’s tag action is next with Peyton Royce and Billie Kay taking on the team of Dana Brooke and Emma. Peyton starts for her team immediately taking over and working the arm of Dana. Finally Brooke breaks free and tags to Emma who comes in a misses an elbow allowing the Australian divas to regain control. Royce and Billie Kay work great as a team staying one step ahead with frequent tags and some tandem moves. Royce catches Emma with a headscissors and several high heel kicks. Emma eventually fights back gaining control for her team. Brooke and Emma counter with some great tandem maneuvers of their own before Dana settles into a grounded abdominal stretch on Royce. Emma comes back in and continues the attack until Royce catches her with a facebuster before making the hot tag. Billie comes in with a clothesline and a headscissors of her own to Dana Brooke. Emma thwarts her momentum with a distraction and Brooke follows through with a roll-up to Kay using her feet on the ropes for the win. With 3 out of 4 of the horsewomen on the main roster now, the NXT women’s division is at a virtual reset. However, it’s safe to say the division will be okay. Dana Brooke improves exponentially every week, while the Australian duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay may just be two of the best in the division right now.

The action continues with the Perfect 10 Ty Dillinger taking on the rookie Noah Kekoa, who comes to the ring wearing leis and carrying a ukulele. The bell rings and Dillinger attempts a lockup before Noah sits atop and strums his ukulele. The two make a few more passes before Dillinger grabs the ukulele and mocks Kekoa. The angry Hawaiian charges but Dillinger easily outgrapples him before settling into an armlock. The action continues back and forth until Kekoa takes over pummeling Dillinger in the corner before planting him with a side slam. He locks Ty into a half nelson sleeper. Dillinger eventually breaks free and fires back with several chops. He takes the big man down with a Russian leg sweep and finishes him with a facebreaker knee smash for the victory. Ty Dillinger looked good here as always and did a class act of making Kekoa look great too.

The next match is being televised for the WWE Network and is to be an opening match in the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team Tournament. Cass and Enzo come out to a huge ovation along with the “hottest chick in the ring” Carmella, their opponents for this match are Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins. In the opening moments Angelo Dawkins is almost toying with the much smaller Amore until he tags in to Big Cass who manhandles Dawkins. He tags in Enzo who comes in with a crossbody. Thanks to a distraction from Fulton, Dawkins takes advantage, pummeling Zo and putting his team in control. The two take their time decimating Amore until Fulton misses with a big elbow giving Amore the separation to make the hot tag to Cass who comes in with a splash for Dawkins and a big boot for Fulton. He finishes off Dawkins with a huge swinging side slam and they finish with “Air Zo’, with Cass launching Amore off the turnbuckle with an assisted splash onto Dawkins for the victory. Formulaic or not, Cass and Zo matches are fun with their energy and charisma more than making up for the predictable matches. Dawkins and Fulton make a formidable team and could do well if only the powers that be would commit to them.

Bayley is out next to much deserved fanfare to give a promo. She talks about Brooklyn being the biggest night of her life. She says it was made possible by all of us who have built NXT, that we make dreams come true. She concedes that the hard work starts now and that she is going to be the best champion. She backs it up by offering an opening challenge to any women in the back. The intimidating Nia Jax answers the challenge and we have a women’s title match. The two women lock up but Jax easily swats Bayley off and to the mat. Bayley tries several times to take Nia down with no success. She finally jumps onto the Samoan’s back and locks on a sleeper hold until Nia backs up and squashes her in the corner. Bayley makes it up and runs the ropes but Jax runs her down. A determined Bayley attempts a sunset flip unsuccessfully, Nia pulls up Bayley and thrashes her around in a massive bearhug. Eventually Bayley breaks free and fights back landing several of her signature elbows in the corner. She delivers a dropkick to the knee of Jax before planting her with a one handed bulldog. She attempts to execute a Belly To Bayley, but can’t budge Jax. Moments later Nia charges the corner but Bayley dodges and rolls up Jax for a surprise pin. Just as the title signifies Bayley is the best in the division right now and showed versatility wrestling such a ominous opponent. As everyone now knows that Nia Jax is coming to television soon and believe me that is reason to be excited. Nia shows much promise and is just the monster heel the division needs.

The action continues with tag team action as the newly crowned tag team champions The Vaudevillians take on Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. Simon Gotch and Chad Gable start off for their teams going toe to toe with some serious grappling. Gable tags in Jordan who comes in initially manhandling English. The artiste comes back with his trademark arm drags before settling into an armlock. The champs keep one step ahead seemingly riding the momentum of their recent win. Later, Jordan manages to leg drag Gotch into the ropes making an immediate target. Gable and Jordan begin employing frequent tags while continuously working the leg of Gotch. Finally, Gotch makes the hot tag. English comes in with a hellacious uppercut to Gable, then follows with a Directors Cut and goes for a pin. Jordan breaks the pin before getting ejected by Gotch. English climbs the turnbuckle for a senton, Gable dodges but English manages to roll through. Gable lands an impressive bridging German suplex that English manages to kick out of. English makes the tag to Gotch and they finish Gable with their Whirling Dervish, an uppercut followed by a running swinging neckbreaker. This was another fun match in the underrated NXT tag team division. The Vaudevillians are deserving champs, with Gotch especially showing more versatility of late. Meanwhile Jordan and Gable have quickly and easily become one of my favorite tag teams on either roster.

Our main event of the evening is Solomon Crowe taking on the champion Finn Balor. Before the bell even rings a particularly aggressive Solomon Crowe attack Balor from behind, making it a point to target the taped up ribs. Finn fights back with a series of strikes and chops but Crowe goes right back to the injured ribs of the champ. Solomon Crowe dominates Finn before contorting the champ into a Gory Special. Moments later, Balor rolls through a sunset flip and dropkicks Crowe to finally mount a comeback. He whips Crowe from corner to corner and finally drops Crowe with a hellacious clothesline and a standing double foot stomp. Back to their feet Finn hits Crowe with a slingblade. Finn attempts to follow with a dropkick to the corner but Crowe dodges and locks Balor into a crab. Later the two worn out fighters trade blows until Crowe nails the champ with a bicycle kick, but Balor answers with a Pele. Balor climbs the turnbuckles for a Coups De Grace, but Crowe jumps up and charges him, fighting onto the turnbuckles. Crowe superplexes Balor off the top ropes. Crowe attempts to climb the ropes but Balor drops him with a kick and follow with a big dropkick into the corner and follows with the Coups De Grace for the victory. This was an excellent main event. Balor is a wrestler that deserves all the hype he comes in with, while Crowe (who is a much better heel) is going to be a main event player despite what the naysayers say.


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