Saturday, November 19, 2016

NXT Tampa 11-18-16

While NXT's top players prepare for Saturday’s Takeover: Toronto, the rest of the crew returned to the UACDC Gymnasium in Tampa, Fl. With a sizable chunk of the roster north of the border, many fans wondered exactly what NXT had in store… apparent by the ticket sales in a usually sold out venue. This show was hardly a consolation prize though. With names like Andrade Cien Almas, Gran Metalik, Tommy End, Big Damo, and Sarah Bridges on the card, I’d hardly call it a “B” show. Much to the contrary, the show felt fresh and different. While performers like Nakamura and Asuka are always missed, freshness is exactly what many people need from a brand that has lost quite a bit of its magic in the last year.

Jack Gallagher vs Akira Tozawa
Regardless of how well the cruiserweight division is fairing on the main roster, it is benefiting NXT fans in spades. That fact was evident in our opening bout of Akira Tozawa vs Gentleman Jack Gallagher. This back and forth match was a great way to start the night illustrating the technical prowess of Jackie Boy and the hard-hitting style of Tozawa. The match was a condensed version of their CWC match with some of the same spots, including Gallagher tying a helpless Tozawa into a pretzel. This match was a lot of fun, and it’s clear both men are going to be a huge asset to the cruiserweight division. Jack Gallagher defeated Akira Tozawa with a huge running corner dropkick.

Adrian Jaoude & Cezar Bononi vs The Bollywood Boyz
It was team Brazil against team India in our first tag team match of the evening. Jaoude and Bononi controlled much of the match with the much larger Bononi taking charge over the smaller duo of Gurv and Harv Sihra. I like Jaoude and Bononi but they are both very much works in progress, showing a lot of potential. This match was your standard formula tag match with the Jaoude and Bononi working dominant heel over their underdog opponents. The Bollywood Boyz defeated Jaoude and Bononi with a double superkick to Adrian Jaoude.

Sarah Bridges vs Macey Estrella
The night continued with women’s action as Sarah Bridges, formerly known as “Crazy” Mary Dobson made her Tampa debut against rookie Macey Estrella. I was excited to see Bridges finally compete in NXT beyond enhancement talent, and she doesn’t disappoint. However, it seemed at times it seemed she had to force herself into a slower pace for the inexperienced Estrella to keep up. Surprisingly Macey dominated the match over an underdog Bridges. Estrella has much work to go, but seems to progressing more so than some of the other new women. Macey Estrella defeated Sarah Bridges via submission with an arm bar.

Big Damo vs Ho Ho Lun
In perhaps the most lopsided match of the night, the Hong Kong cruiserweight found himself across the ring from the beast from Belfast. Undeterred, Ho Ho used his speed to attack his opponent with a flurry of offense, which unfortunately had no effect on the massive Damo. Finally, Damo grounded Lun with one big strike and began systematically picking apart the much smaller wrestler. Lun mounted a small comeback to little avail. While it’s always fun to watch a monster wreak havoc, it also reminds us that for the main roster cruiserweight division to be taken seriously, they must be kept away from the heavyweights. Still yet, it was an enjoyable match as both men are fun to watch. Big Damo defeated Ho Ho Lun with a massive running crossbody.

Wesley Blake vs Kishan Raftaar
Wesley Blake is a good wrestler that has lost his way. In this match, the former tag champion that has taken part in some of the most memorable tag matches in NXT history, didn’t look that much more experienced in the ring than the rookie Kishan Raftaar. Both men looked competent enough, but compared to the evening’s previous matches, it slowed the night tremendously. After a back and forth match Kishan Raftaar defeated Wesley Blake with a sunset flip off the turnbuckle.

Tommy End vs Buddy Murphy
This hard-hitting match started before Murphy was done with his entrance as End attacked him from behind and threw him to the outside. They brawled briefly outside the ring before heading back in where Murphy mounted a comeback. What followed was a tremendous back and forth between the two. Tommy End comes to NXT with a lot of hype, and he delivered with a myriad of strong strikes and kicks. Buddy Murphy held his own and is probably the most underrated performer in NXT at the moment. Excellent match that culminated with Tommy End defeating Buddy Murphy with a brutal high knee. Easily match of the night.

Tough Enough alumni Mada came out to the ring next for a promo. He dissed us Americans and boasted his superior Egyptian bloodline. He seemed confident on the mic; I have yet to see him perform in the ring though.

Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss vs Angelo Dawkins & Kenneth Crawford
This was your standard tag match with several false finishes and a bit of shenanigans. All four men seem to be benefiting from their new tag team affiliations. Moss and Sabbatelli seem to really be getting over with the fans, and I swear, they will probably be Vince McMahons favorite wrestlers one day based on physiques and hair alone. Nothing spectacular here, but entertaining nonetheless. Sabbatelli and Moss have an interesting tag finisher now; Moss hoists his opponent up into a Gory Special setting him up for a running bulldog from Tino. This move won them the match when Tino Sabbatelli pinned Kenneth Crawford.

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Gran Metallik
This was a great main event, maybe the best I’ve seen an already impressive Almas, simply because of how much he and Metallik work so well together. As imagined, this match featured lots of back and forth, fast paced, and “flippy” action. Both men looked great in this outing. Gran Metallik is going to be a major asset to the cruiserweight division, while heel Cien looks to have finally found his footing in NXT looking better every outing. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas defeated Gran Metallik, after nearly pulling off Metallik’s mask and following with a roll-up. After the match, Almas continued to beat down Metallik, until the good guy turned it around and sent Cien packing.

 This was no ‘B’ show, with several new faces stepping up and the arrival of the cruiserweights, this show was as good as any other.


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