Saturday, September 26, 2015

NXT Largo 9-25-15

Written by Wayne Mason
Photos by Maryann Mason

Friday night the road to NXT Takeover: Respect made a stop in Largo, Fl. The standing room only crowd filled The Minnreg Hall to see another night of wrestling action as only NXT can deliver. In a night that would feature an NXT title defense and finish with a smashmouth main event, fans would not be disappointed.

The evening starts with tag action as Solomon Crowe makes his way to the ring atop the massive shoulders of his partner Tucker Knight. Their opponents for the evening are Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins. Crowe starts off bringing the fight but can’t budge the much larger Fulton. Unwisely he attempts to bodyslam Fulton with little success. Fulton snatches up Crowe from the waist and spins him around about twenty times before tossing him over with a gutwrench suplex. Moments later Knight finds himself unable to mount any offense against Dawkins either until Crowe causes a distraction. Knight takes advantage and beats down Dawkins. He slows down the pace of the match, wearing Dawkins down with a chinlock before slamming him down to the mat for a big elbow. Moments later Knight charges the corner with Crowe on his back for a huge splash but Dawkins dodges and makes the hot tag. Fulton attacks Crowe with strikes, several headbutts and a double underhook suplex. Finally he levels Crowe with a clothesline from hell for the pin. This was a really fun start to the show. The explosive Crowe impresses as always and is vastly underrated at this point. Fulton and Dawkins are a good fit and work well in tandem. Both guys have struggled to find their place, but I think they are closer to finding it as a team at this point.

The drifter Elias Sampson is out next and serenades us with a derogatory song about Largo. His opponent for the evening is the “Bull-Fit” guru himself, Bull Dempsey. Sampson locks on a sidelock and hangs on tenaciously. Finally, Bull breaks the hold and shoulder tackles Sampson to the mat. He follows with an impressive rolling senton and follows with an elbow for good measure. Back on their feet Sampson takes a cheap shot at Bull and takes charge, grounding the big man with a clothesline and pummeling him with kicks. Dempsey tries to mount a comeback but Sampson sends him to the mat with a double mule kick out of the corner. Sampson grabs his guitar and sits down to play in the corner while waiting for Dempsey to make it back up. Sampson continues his attack until Bull begins to “Hulk up” against his strikes. Dempsey delivers a headbutt and several belly bumps. He squashes Sampson with a big splash and then runs him over, climbs the ropes and comes down with a huge seated senton for the win.

Levis Valenzuela Jr is out next for another in-ring interview with Dasha Fuentes. He tells us that NXT is the hottest thing going right now and that he is following his dream. Of course, it all breaks down to a fiesta time as he dances with Dasha. Valenzuela is charismatic and likeable, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the ring.

Next up, is Tyler Breeze taking on Apollo Crews. The two grapple back and forth exchanging headlocks. After a successful series of moves Crews lounges across the top ropes mocking Breeze before the action continues. The pace quickens drastically as they run the ropes until Crews nearly dropkicks Breeze out of his furry boots, and then clotheslines him out of the ring. Breeze makes his way back in and manages to pull Crews into the ropes across his throat. Breeze pounces on Crews with a series of kicks before finally grounding Apollo with a chancery. Crews mounts a comeback with a splash and a big boot. Breeze counters with a jaw shattering superkick followed by a very close pin attempt. Breeze commences to attack but gets nailed with a running enziguri. Crews follows with a military press and his amazing standing moonsault for the win. This was a really good match, even better than their match the night before. Fans are going to be in for a treat when they clash at Takeover.

Women’s tag action is next as Peyton Royce and Billie Kay take on the team of Emma and Dana Brooke. The over-confident Dana Brooke pushes Peyton to the mat, but the Aussie comes back with a roll-up and several pin attempts. She continues with a headscissors that sends Brooke tagging. Emma doesn’t fare much better as Billie Kay delivers a headscissors of her own. Brooke causes a distraction that put the bad girls in control. Emma and Dana make frequent tags slowly punishing Billie. Dana contorts her into a grounded abdominal stretch before Billie makes it up and nails Brooke with a desperate big boot before making the hot tag. Royce comes in with a series of high spinning heel kicks and an emphatic dropkick. Her momentum is halted when Emma sends her knocking Billie off the apron. Dana trips up Peyton from under the ropes and Emma pounces, locking on the Emma Lock for the submission victory. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are really good and starting to find their groove in NXT. Of course, it’s great having Emma back here and it’s really benefiting Dana too.

Next up is Ty Dillinger taking on Finn Balor. Dillinger takes the mic and tells Balor that he has all the respect for him in the world, but he has something that he has wanted for a long time. He tells him this is the right place, right time to put the title on the line. Finn relents and we have a title match. An aggressive Dillinger attacks Finn before the bell rings and beats him down in the corner. He rocks the champ with a series of strikes and chops. Ty continues the onslaught until the champ hits him with a pele kick. Balor continues mounting momentum rolling through a sunset flip and answering with a dropkick. Moments later though he walks into a massive superkick from Dillinger. Balor comes back with a slingblade and goes for a hesitation dropkick but Dillinger dodges it and locks Balor into a cloverleaf but the champ makes the ropes. Back to their feet Balor comes back yet again clotheslining Dillinger out of the ring and then nailing Ty with a running kick from the ring apron. He tosses Dillinger back in the ring and sends him into the corner with a huge dropkick and climbs the ropes to execute a Coup De Grace for a hard fought victory. This was an excellent main event quality match and it was only intermission time.

From one champ to another the evening continues with NXT women’s champion Bayley taking on Gionna Daddio. The match begins with a hug and then the fast paced action starts with each women looking to get the advantage with back and forth grappling. The two exchange speedy offense until Gionna sends Bayley to the mat with a shoulder tackle followed by an arm drag and and arm lock. The two make it back up and Bayley sends Gionna down with a drop toe hold and follows with her trademark Slip-N-Slide.  Later Gionna begins to mount a comeback with a series of dropkicks but Bayley shuts her down with a signature back elbow into the corner. Bayley continues with an exploder suplex followed by a Belly-To-Bayley for the win. Afterwards, Bayley grabs a mic and puts over Gionna and the entire locker room. This was a short but entertaining match with Bayley looking as great as we’ve come to expect. The speedy and agile newcomer Gionna Daddio shows a great deal of promise. With very limited experience she is already as good as several of the girls in the locker room with much more ring time i.e. Dana, Carmella, etc. I don’t mean that as an insult to anyone, but rather a testament to the hard work of Gionna and head coach Sarah Del Ray.

Tag action is next with Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder taking on the Hype Bros. The match starts with the usual Mojo Rawley banter and the Hype Bros staying one step ahead of their opponents. Dawson could not catch a break in the opening moments and finally Mojo slams his head into the turnbuckles until Dawson collapses. Ryder comes in for a Broski Boot, but Dash runs in for the save and gets a dropkick for his troubles. A few moments later Dash laid out in the corner eats a Broski Boot. Ryder runs at Dawson but he ducks sending Ryder to the floor. Dawson and Wilder begin wildy attacking Ryder followed by some great tandem offense. Dawson and Wilder slow the pace and employ frequent tags while taking apart Ryder. Eventually Ryder nails a facebuster out of nowhere to Dawson and makes a hot tag. Mojo clears house and tags Ryder to set up their finishing combo but Dash makes the save. Dash gets tossed out, but then Dawson tosses out Mojo. Dawson tags in Dash and they nail Ryder with a Shatter Machine for the pin. This was yet another entertaining tag match and I was very happy with the outcome. I understand that the Hype Bros are fairly over at the moment, but I’ve been saying for a long time that Dawson and Wilder are hands down the best team in NXT or WWE. I’m glad to see the two roughnecks building some well-deserved momentum.

The main event of the evening is a hard hitting contest between Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe. The two lock up and Corbin tosses Joe off. Corbin takes a cheap shot but it only angers Joe who comes back with a swift kick to the head followed by a fast flurry of trademark jabs and punches leveling Corbin. Baron leaves the ring but Joe follows and the two continue to brawl. Corbin clotheslines Joe and tosses him back inside. The momentum sways back and forth with each man taking their best shots at each other. They end up on the outside once again and Corbin sends Joe into the ring steps. Corbin beats down Joe on the outside until Joe sends Corbin into the opposite ring steps. The two barely make the count back in the ring and Joe levels Corbin with a big boot followed by a senton. The battle continues and Corbin charges Joe but gets a huge sidewalk slam instead. Moments later though Corbin returns the favor with a huge swinging side slam. A frustrated Corbin leaves the ring to grab a chair. Before he can use the chair the referee stops him, and he nails Joe with a superkick, but Joe answers with a pele. Samoa Joe then locks the Coquina Clutch that puts the big man to sleep. This was a great main event that brought the crowd to their feet at several moments. High profile matches with athletes like Samoa Joe have helped Corbin so much, but despite that, the Corbin heat has gotten so much more intense at house shows. That’s okay, the more heat he gets, the better he gets. At least, that’s how it seems.

The matches were hot and the crowd was lively. Altogether, the best NXT house show I’ve been to in a long while.

Friday, September 25, 2015

NXT Lakeland 9-24-15

Hot off the heels of their successful Texas tour NXT returned to Lakeland for a night of wrestling action. Fans piled into the sold out armory, along with a sizable camera crew filming for WWE Breaking Ground. It was an entertaining night of odd match-ups accentuated by an excellent tag team main event.

The evening starts with the drifter Elias Sampson making his way to the ring with his trusty guitar to sing a derogatory song about Lakeland. His opponent for the evening is Steve Cutler. The match starts with a lock-up ending in a stalemate before giving way to back and forth action between the two evenly matched competitors. Cutler mounts a bit of offense with an armdrag and a slam. The marine then runs the ropes, stops to salute, and drops a leg onto Sampson. Later Sampson thwarts his momentum by hanging up Cutler in the ropes. He continues with a series of strikes before settling into a chinlock. The pace quickens and the two trade offense. Cutler begins to get the upper hand with a series of strikes culminating in a flapjack. He then finishes off Sampson with a Fisherman Driver. This was a textbook pro wrestling match but entertaining enough to kick things off. I still have Elias Sampson pegged to go onto great things, while Steve Cutler has improved a lot over the last few months.

Next up Noah Kekoa taking on Angelo Dawkins. Kekoa debuted a new look tonight, as he was adorned with tribal gear and wore a headdress/mask into the ring. While some fans may feel it a bit stereotypical, it’s a big improvement over leis and ukuleles. The aggressive Kekoa started strong until Dawkins took a cheap shot and slowed the pace down. He grounds Kekoa with a modified Muta lock. Eventually Kekoa fights back nailing Dawkins with a clothesline and several chops followed by a big slam. Dawkins manages to drop Kekoa throat first onto the ropes and then nail him with a Half Nelson Slam for the victory. Dawkins is big, athletic guy who certainly has the tools, he is just in dire need of finding his niche.

Next, Dasha invites Levis Valenzuela Jr into the ring for an interview. He talks about how NXT is taking over and he is now living his dream. He talks about bringing his fiesta to NXT and how he intends to take his conga line all the way to the top of the brand. His music hits and he dances with Dasha. The promo didn’t really go anywhere, but it was still fun. Valenzuela has charisma in spades and is confident on the microphone.

The night continues with mixed six person tag action with Hugo Knox, Bull Dempsey, and Billie Kay taking on Solomon Crowe, Sawyer Fulton, and Nia Jax. The explosive Crowe starts off against Dempsey but fails to budge the big man. Crowe goes for a crossbody and simply bounces off Bull. Frustrated Crowe tags in Nia Jax, undeterred Billie Kay takes the fight to her. Billy locks on a waist lock and Nia Jax spins around violently trying to shake her off. Billie Kay tenaciously holds on and ends up turning it into an octopus hold until Jax grabs the ropes for a break. Billy tags in Hugo and the pace quickens. He tosses Crowe around with a pair of arm drags and follows with several kicks. Crowe catches the last kick but Knox counters with an ensiguri. Thanks to a distraction Crowe finally gets the upper hand and he and Fulton begin to work over Knox. Eventually Knox makes a hot tag to Bull to delivers a series of strikes to Fulton. Nia runs in but Billie headscissoring off of Bull and catching Nia for a big DDT.  Bull runs down Fulton and finishes him with a seated senton off the top turnbuckle. Afterwards Bull and Billie celebrate in the ring by dancing along with Hugo. This was one of those odd, yet entertaining matches. I would have liked to see more ring time for Billie and Nia, but altogether this was a fun match. Hugo Knox is fast and extremely athletic for a guy his size, but it’s likely his infectious dancing and enthusiasm that has him pretty over with the fans.

Next is the perfect 10 Ty Dillinger taking on Tucker Knight. The bell rings and Dillinger out-grapples Knight easily, but can’t seem to take him down. Finally after a fairly successful lock-up Dillinger cartwheels into his corner and throws up his hands for a perfect 10. Knight comes back leveling Dillinger with a big clubbing blow. He mocks him and slows the pace stalking Dillinger. Ty comes back with a kick and a dropkick but Knight shuts him down and eventually locks him into an agonizing bear hug. Finally Dillinger boxes the ears of Knight and breaks free and attacks Tucker with several strikes. Knight grabs him up for a big side slam, but moments later on his feet Dillinger staggers him with a big boot. Somehow Dillinger hoists the big man up for a big bodyslam. Dillinger hikes down his kneepad and finishes Knight with facebuster knee smash. Ty Dillinger looked great as always, but as always he made his opponent look great. Tucker Knight did a great job of engaging the crowd undeterred by snarky hecklers.

Tag action is next with Baron Corbin and Riddick Moss taking on champs The Vaudevillians in a non-title match. Aiden English starts off looking to have a great time outwrestling Moss who gets frustrated and tags in Corbin. On a roll English stays a step ahead of the usually unstoppable Corbin tossing him with a series of arm drags. He tags in Gotch and they lift up Corbin for a double team suplex. Moments later Corbin tags Moss back in but the champs continue controlling the match. They execute their manly squats at the expense of Moss. Corbin takes a cheap shot from the ring apron laying out English and tags in. He begins a beat down on English but Moss tags himself back in. Corbin looks on irritated while Moss tosses Gotch overhead with a massive fallaway slam. Moments later Corbin would find himself back but Moss would quickly tag himself back in. Finally English makes a hot tag to Gotch who comes in with a flurry of his innovative kicks followed by a big suplex to Moss. Frustrated and dumbfounded Corbin looks on as Gotch nails Moss with a rolling senton. English comes off the top turnbuckle with a senton, Moss moves but English rolls through. English runs the ropes but Moss catches him with a powerslam. Corbin yells for a tag but Moss says he’s “got this”.  Moments later the momentum starts to shift and Moss looks for tag, but Corbin walks off.  The Vaudevillians lay out Moss with the Whirling Dervish for the victory. This was another really fun tag match. Riddick Moss gets better each outing and seems to be finding himself as a cocky heel. Baron Corbin has become a bona fide heat magnet but he seemingly thrives off of it, the more they jeer the better he becomes.

NXT women’s champ Bayley is out next in an Izzymania shirt to take on her opponent Peyton Royce. The match starts off at an extremely fast pace as the two run the ropes dodging the others strikes. Finally tired they stop and Bayley points to the ceiling and Peyton falls for it, allowing Bayley to stomp her foot and toss her around with an arm drag. The two make it back up and the pace again quickens until they stop again. This time Peyton points to the ceiling, but Bayley again stomps her foot and again tosses her. The action continues fast paced and back and forth.  In the corner Peyton slams Bayley’s head into the turnbuckle but Bayley begins to “hulk up”. Bayley fires back slamming Peytons skull into the turnbuckle several times and then dropping her with a one handed bulldog. The momentum sways and Peyton comes back wisely slowing the pace. She contorts Bayley into an abdominal stretch. Moments later Bayley fights back with a series of axe-handles and a big elbow in the corner. Peyton drops Bayley onto the ropes and attempts to mount a comeback but Bayley nails her with a Belly-To-Bayley out of nowhere for the win. Peyton Royce (along with fellow Aussie Billie Kay) is a valuable addition to the NXT women’s roster and simply cannot be jobbing on television for much longer. Ironically, not that long ago the division seemed gutted after ¾ of the horsewomen moved on. Now though it seems to be overflowing with possibilities with Billie and Peyton stepping up, Dana continually improving, the untapped potential of Nia Jax, and of course the very anxiously anticipated in-ring debut of Asuka.

Next is a Takeover preview with Tyler Breeze taking on Apollo Crews. Breeze begins by flexing, talking trash, and mocking Crews. The action begins and Apollo takes charge with a dropkick right on the button followed by a big clothesline. Somehow Breeze comes back with several repeated blows and a neckbreaker. He grounds Crews with a chancery until he breaks free and the two men make it back up. The two grapple back and forth until Breeze rolls up Crews with a handful of trunks to snag a victory out of nowhere. Even with a victory under his belt Breeze felt the need to attack Crews after the match. Crews fought back with a heel kick followed by a military press and his amazing standing moonsault. This was a good match accentuated by Tyler’s interaction with the crowd. I wish off the cuff and slightly goofy “house show” Tyler could translate to television.

Our main event of the evening is Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder taking on Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. Dawson and Finn start by putting on a clinic with several minutes of nice grappling and mat work. Early on Dawson and Wilder begin targeting the arm of Balor. Through a miscue Dash accidentally attacks Dawson and the two get into it while Finn eggs it on. In the chaos Balor swoops up Wilder for an airplane spin. A dizzy disoriented Dash Wilder grabs the first body he bumps in to for a small package, but it happens to be referee Drake Wuertz. Finn Balor counts the 1,2,3 while Wilder pins the referee. After making it to his feet Drake regains control of the match. Dawson and Wilder take over working the injured arm of Balor with great tandem offense. Finn lands a pele kick and makes a tag to Joe while Dash tags in Dawson. Joe rocks Dawson with a series of punches, drops him with a big boot and follows with a senton. Dawson tries to comeback but Joe hits him with a powerslam that would make Randy Orton proud. Moments later Dawson sends Joe into a turnbuckle that he and Dash had exposed earlier. It doesn’t stop Joe who plants Dawson with a big side slam and tags in Finn who delivers a hesitation dropkick to Wilder into Dawson. With both Dawson and Wilder prone on top of one another, Finn delivers a Coup De Grace to both men for the win, also managing to take out a ceiling tile in the process. This match alone was easily worth the price of admission. Personally, I didn’t actually hear this match announced as a Dusty Rhodes tournament match, though I’m assuming it is. If so, I wish Dawson and Wilder could have advanced. As excellent as Joe and Finn are as singles wrestlers, to this humble blogger Dawson and Wilder are an actual team and easily the best tag team in NXT or WWE. However, in professional wrestling were wins and losses don’t always matter I am just happy to see them in a main event and finally getting a well deserved push.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Full Sail TV Tapings 9-10-15

NXT returned home to Full Sail University for another set of television tapings. Feuds were furthered, new talents arrived, and the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Tournament continued. The following blog post features spoilers for the next three episodes of NXT and will take us right into the next special.

The opening dark match of the evening saw The Hype Bros. taking on the team of Elias Sampson and Riddick Moss in a short contest. The Hype Bros started with much momentum and Rawley engaged in his usual animated banter. It wouldn’t take long though before Sampson and Moss got the upper hand cutting off Ryder from his corner. After several minutes of being grounded Ryder creates enough separation to make the hot tag to Mojo who comes in and cleans house. Finally he hoists Sampson up for Ryder to come off the turnbuckle with a Rough Ryder for the win. This was a short, sweet, and formulaic match but it did a good job of getting the crowd hyped for the evening.

Prince Pretty Tyler Breeze is out first followed by his opponent Adam Rose, who is now a “party pooper”. Rose says WWE pooped all over Adam Roses’ party and now he is here to leave a big steamer on ours. Before the match can start Bull Dempsey comes out to finish his business with Breeze. He tells Breeze that last week was an accident, but what happens tonight will not be. Breeze retorts and is then cut off by Rose who says he is going to poop on Tyler’s party and Bull’s as well. Rose slaps Bull, only for Bull to beat him down and eject him from the ring. Breeze attacks Dempsey from behind, but Bull quickly gains the advantage. Breeze escapes and quickly retreats from the ring
Martin Stone is in the ring now followed by his perfect 10 opponent Ty Dillinger. In the opening moments after a successful maneuver Dillinger cartwheels into the corner and throws up a perfect 10 hand signal. Stone comes back with some particularly stiff elbows and then mocks Dillinger with his own 10. Stone controlls Dillinger for much of the match before Ty mounts a comeback, leveling Stone with a clothesline and follows with a leg sweep. Dillinger hikes down his knee pad and finishes with his knee smash to the skull of Stone for the pinfall victory. This was another short and simple match, but it’s nice to see Dillinger finally getting some well-deserved momentum.

Next up is Apollo Crews taking on Solomon Crowe. Despite some early smashmouth offense from Crowe, Crews quickly takes over with his speed and agility, coming out of a leapfrog into an explosive dropkick. Crowe evades the ring and Crews attempts to baseball slide to the outside but Crowe traps him in the ring apron and begins to viciously beat him down. The two make it back to the ring and Crowe continues to beat down Crews before settling into a half straightjacket to ground the agile Crews. Eventually Crews mounts a comeback with big clubbing blows and a big splash in the corner. Crews drops Crowe with a standing ensiguri and follows with a big military press and a beautiful standing moonsault for the win. These two have amazing chemistry and put on great matches every time they step foot in the ring together. This was another impressive showing for Crews while Crowe is so much better as the aggressive heel.

The Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Tournament continues with Rhyno and Baron Corbin taking on Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. The indie dream team starts strong leaving their two bigger opponents struggling to keep up. Ciampa and Gargano both stay one step ahead of Rhyno. Corbin has enough and runs in but Gargano pulls down the ropes and sends Corbin tumbling to the floor. Gargano follows with a big suicide dive to the outside and into Corbin. He climbs back into the ring and follows with another suicide dive into Rhyno. Not to be outdone, Ciampa climbs the turnbuckles and flies off with a huge crossbody onto Corbin and Rhyno on the outside. Back inside Rhyno finally manages to make the tag to Corbin who comes in with huge heat from the NXT crowd. Corbin drops Ciampa with a huge side slam effectively slowing the pace. The two dominate Tomasso with frequent tags until he finally makes a hot tag to Gargano who comes in catching Corbin with a series of kicks. He follows diving over the rope into a big DDT to Corbin. Rhyno runs in but Johnny dodges a gore sending Rhyno to the floor. Moments later, Gargano looks to have it won with a roll-up but Corbin kicks out and makes it to his feet catching Gargano with an End Of Days for the victory. This was a great match and definitely a highlight of the evening, all four men came out looking great. Baron Corbin is a heat magnet but he seemingly strives on it. Officially signed or not, between this match and others to come, Ciampa and Gargano proved to be bona fide show stealers.

NXT womens champion Bayley is out next to a huge her pop from the crowd. She jumps the ramp and runs out to celebrate with the crowd. She makes her way back around to her number 1 super fan Izzy, even bringing her to the ring with her to celebrate. The two hoist their titles in the air and even gave a signature high five to the crowd in tandem. It was a special moment that served to remind people about everything that is right with wrestling, and one can’t help but to think that they have not seen the last of Izzy in a WWE ring.

Bayley’s opponent for the evening is “Crazy” Mary Dobson who takes the fight right to the champ. She attacks with a kick to the gut and several stiff forearms before grounding Bayley with a guillotine choke. Eventually Bayley mounts a comeback with several clubbing blows and a series of elbows in the corner. She follows with an exploder suplex and finally a Belly To Bayley for the win.

Afterwards Bayley grabs a mic but before she can speak she is interrupted by Sasha Banks. Sasha says she came out to congratulate Bayley. She mentions that everyone is saying that they stole the show at the last Takeover with a match of the year contender. But she continues by telling Bayley that she doesn’t simply want a rematch, but rather she wants to beat Bayley again and again. William Regal comes out and tells us that there will indeed be a rematch, and it will be the main event of the next Takeover. As if that wasn’t historic enough, he adds the stipulation that it will be a thirty minute iron man match.

Episode 2
We start with tag team action featuring possibly the two best tag teams in all of NXT, Dawson and Wilder taking on Gable and Jordan. Like he often does, Gable controls the early goings out-grappling Dawson. Eventually Dawson flapjacks Gable to the mat to turn the tides of the match. Dawson and Wilder employ frequent tags beating down Gable. At one point Gable looks to make the tag but Dash pulls Jordan off the ring apron. They continue decimating Gable culminating in a guillotine off the ropes. Despite their efforts, Gable eventually makes a hot tag to a fresh Jordan who comes in like a man possessed. He tosses Wilder over his head with ease with an overhead suplex. He tags Gable back in and they hit Grand Amplitude on Wilder for the victory.

Women’s action is next with Carmella taking on Eva. Wasting no time Carmella jumps on Eva from the opening bell pummeling her in the corner and finally tossing her from the ring. Eva makes her way back in and gains the upper hand, executing a suplex on Carmella. She takes down Carmella with a big boot and goes for another suplex. Later Carmella comes back with a headscissors and two Thez presses. She hits a sit-out rear slam and goes for the pin, but Eva rests her feet on the ropes. The match continues with a little more back and forth until Eva ejects Carmella from the ring for a count-out victory. While Eva Marie has improved drastically, she is still a long way from being television ready, and in many ways it almost seems she is retrogressing. I’m all for giving her a chance, but this push is just way too rushed.

Next, Bull Dempsey looks to gain a measure of revenge against Tyler Breeze. In the opening sequence Dempsey does the unthinkable, intentionally messing up the hair of Tyler Breeze. Moments later he is tossing him around by his hair and following with a flurry of strikes. A back and forth match ensues until Breeze grounds Dempsey with a side headlock. Eventually Dempsey makes it to his feet “hulking up” against Breeze’s offense. Finally he runs down Breeze and climbs the ropes for his seated senton. Breeze makes it to his feet and sends Dempsey to the mat and pins Dempsey using the ropes for leverage.

William Regal is out next to welcome the newest NXT star Kana, who will be known from this point forward as Asuka. She says she is happy to be here in NXT and wants to be champion. She is interrupted by Dana Brooke and Emma. They make sure to tell her that they run things around here, and that they already chased Charlotte and Becky out of NXT. They tell Asuka that she better get out of her ring now. Asuka slowly retreats from the ring and up the ramp, all the while looking back with a look on her face that seemed to say that this is far from over. This segment may have been a little lackluster, but knowing what Asuka is capable of and what she is going to bring to NXT makes this perhaps one of the standout moments of the night. I for one can’t wait for her NXT debut.

We continue with an NXT Tag Title match as Blake and Murphy get their rematch against The Vaudevillians. Early on Alexa Bliss intereferes but Bluepants runs out and chases her off. With the odds even The Vaudevillians take control with English executing a double arm drag followed by a dropkick to both Blake and Murphy. Later after a backdrop onto the ring apron Blake and Murphy regain control grounding English with a chinlock. Finally, English gets free and makes a hot tag to Gotch who comes in with a series of strikes and innovative kicks, followed by forearms in the corner. Gotch executes a rolling senton onto Blake and English attempts to follow with a high angle senton in the corner, but Blake counters by throwing up his knees. Blake tags out and Blake comes off the top rope with double knees onto English for a very close count. The two teams battle back and forth until The Vaudevillians hit their uppercut/neckbreaker combo to Murphy for the win. This was another great tag match in an evening of tag matches. The Vaudevillians gimmick and signature spots are so over the top, sometimes you lose focus on exactly how good they really are in the ring.

Episode 3
The action continues with Apollo Crews taking on Johnny Gargano. The match starts with fast paced, “don’t blink”, back and forth action. The two best each other move for move until finally Crews nails Gargano with a hellacious dropkick that resonates through the entire building. Somehow Gargano fights back with a suicide dive and some impressive kicks of his own. Ultimately, Crews would come back with a massive suplex followed by a big splash in the corner and finally his military press/standing moonsault combo for the victory. This was easily one of the best matches of the evening.

Next, the Aussie duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce take on Dana Brooke and Emma. Peyton starts off with several roll-ups and pin attempts on Emma. Eventually though, Emma and Dana take over and slow down the pace with Emma locking Billie into a body scissors.  Finally Billie makes a hot tag to Peyton who comes in with several high kicks to Dana Brooke. The action continues back and forth until Emma causes a distraction giving Dana the upper hand to scoop up Peyton for a Samoan Driver Slam and a pinfall victory.

Next up is Tomasso Ciampa taking on Tyler Breeze. The two grapple back and forth until Ciampa stops that with several big chops and several mean knees. Breeze makes a comeback with a neckbreaker but mere moments later Ciampa answers with a big boot and a facebuster off the ropes. Ciampa is looking unstoppable until he dives off the ropes and Breeze answers with a dropkick. Breeze then pummels him in the corner and finishes him with a Killswitch. A nod to both men as this was probably match of the night for me. I’m also hoping this is perhaps a permanent new finisher for Breeze as the Beauty Shot has always seemed a little weak.

The Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Tournament continues with our main event as Enzo Amore and Big Cass take on Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. The big men, Cass and Joe start for their teams in a virtual stalemate as neither man can take the other down. The action spills to the outside at which point Enzo dives outside into Joe, and Finn dives outside into Cass. Eventually the action makes it back into the ring with Joe and Finn working over Enzo. Eventually Enzo hits a DDT on Finn out of nowhere and makes a hot tag to Cass. The big man cleans house despite the best efforts of the champ to thwart him. He delivers a big boot to Joe and follows another to Finn on the apron for good measure. He somehow hits Joe with a swinging side slam and follows with “Air Zo”. Somehow Joe kicks out and moments later the dream team takes control. Joe plants Enzo with a musclebuster and Finn follows with a Coup De Grace for the win.  This was a great effort by all four men. I’ve been critical of Enzo here before, but he stepped up as well.

Next stop: Takeover. I’m assuming we will see several matches added in the coming weeks via backstage segments, along with the tournament finals, and of course the historic main event.