12/23 Zim’s WWE NXT Live Coverage: Sami Zayn returns from injury, Elias Sampson wrestles

By Zack Zimmerman

WWE NXT on the WWE Network
Aired December 23, 2015
Taped December 16 at SSE Arena in London, England

A music video recap of last week’s Takeover London live special aired… The opening video played… Inside SSE arena, fans chanted “NXT” before The Vaudevillains made their entrance. They were dressed up like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. The crowd was quite happy to see them. The Hype Bros were out next. The crowd was not so happy to see them. Blake and Murphy were out next accompanied by Alexa Bliss as always. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan rounded out the competitors in the match, and they were welcomed by the London crowd with a big pop and great reaction.

1. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English) vs. The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder) vs. Blake and Murphy (w/ Alexa Bliss) vs. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. The crowd was singing for Gable and Jordan right out of the gate. Gable worked some fun early-match sequences with English and especially Gotch in the opening minutes. Mojo Rawley tagged himself in on Gable and the crowd was not pleased. The Hype Bros hit an impressive missile dropkick/suplex combination on Gotch for a two-count.

The crowd continued to chant for Gable and Jordan as things broke down and settled in an 8-way standoff. [C] English and Ryder were in the ring as order had been regained. Gable tagged in to a huge pop from the crowd and he got the better of English and then Blake and then Murphy with some fun offense. Gable had his rope-hang triangle locked in when Bliss distracted the ref from ringside and Blake hit a big springboard stomp on the upside-down Gable, enabling Blake and Murphy to begin working the heat on Gable.

English tagged in, and The Vaudevillains took over working on Gable for a while. English looked for his Swanton, but Gable got his knees up. There was a brief hope spot before Jordan finally took the hot tag. He ran wild with a huge flapjack and suplexes galore (capture, Saito, and exploder, to name a few). Mojo Rawley came in and hit a big fall-forward fireman’s carry slam as things broke down. The babyface teams took turns hitting big dives to the outside tossing others onto the pile before Gable and Jordan were left alone in the ring with Blake. They hit their alley-oop back suplex on him and scored the pinfall.

Chad Gable and Jason Jordan won in about 8:40.

The fans reacted big to the win. Gable and Jordan celebrated their win and replays aired… A recap of Asuka’s win over Emma from Takeover London aired before we went backstage into the trainer’s room after the match. Emma was having her jaw checked while Dana Brooke ws pacing and ranting. She said she wished Asuka was there right now and when she turned around, indeed she was. Asuka patted Brooke on the head and mocked Emma’s dance. She just smiled and walked off. After she left, Brooke said it’s a good thing she left because Brooke was about to not play nice anymore. She told Emma that playtime is over…

A vignette hyped Sami Zayn’s return for later in the show… [C]

Zim Says: That was a fun little opener and a good way to get all of these teams exposure in front of this crowd. Things could certainly still be better, but take a moment to realize how vastly improved this tag division is from last year around the same time. There was a lot of growth in 2015 and I’d really like to see the upward momentum continue for this group. Cute backstage bit with Asuka and the heels, but it really does leave Emma and Dana without much steam or momentum going forward.

They showed a really nice video package recapping the NXT UK Tour… A recap of Finn Bálor’s NXT title defense against Samoa Joe at Takeover London aired… Backstage, Tye Dillinger was looking in the mirror and talked about what it takes to be a Perfect 10. He was jealous because Sami Zayn’s return has taken the attention off him. He said that “everyday, in every way, Dillinger is a Perfect 10…”

They hyped NXT’s upcoming sold out tours of the mid-west and Dallas… The Drifter was shown walking down the train tracks. He said he’s not perfect but nobody knows him better than him. He delivered his what it needs is what I am” line and was hyped to be coming up next… A commercial aired for next week’s Best of 2015 edition of NXT…

A brief recap showed Baron Corbin’s win over Apollo Crews from Takeover and they went backstage to a word from him. He said that nobody gets up from the End of Days. He said Apollo put up a good fight but it was no match. He declared himself No. 1 Contender and put Finn Bálor on notice that he’s coming for the NXT Championship…

Back in the arena, Bull Dempsey made his entrance. His gear was Big Daddy-esque with the phrase “Sock it to Em” across the belly. The Drifter was out next. He wasn’t playing his guitar, but rather had it slung over his shoulder. He was wearing a tight black v-neck, a scarf, and lots of necklaces and arm accessories. He was calm and stoic, simply sitting on the top turnbuckle staring a hole through Bull until the bell. He removed his necklaces and shirt to wrestle.

2. “The Drifter” Elias Samson vs. Bull Dempsey. Samson wore Bull out with forearms in the corner until Bull began to make his comeback. Bull landed jabs and looked to follow up, but he ate a hard jumping knee lift from Samson. Sampon took a long time to do nothing before going to the top rope and coming off with a high diving elbow drop for the win.

Elias Samson over Bull Dempsey in about 1:35.

Post-match, Samson played his guitar, but nobody could hear because his entrance music was playing. He slung the guitar back over his shoulder and left the arena with the pick in his mouth… A recap showed Dash and Dawson retaining the tag titles over Enzo and Cass at Takeover before the roving reporter caught up with them. They gave Enzo and Cass credit for putting up a hell of a fight, but it wasn’t their night. Dawson said they’re the best tag team on the planet and wished everyone Happy Holidays…

Zim Says: Underwhelming debut. The guy’s gimmick is that he carries a guitar? He doesn’t play it, he doesn’t hit people with it, he just uses it as an accessory like his scarf and necklaces and wrist bandanas? Ugh. I’m not soured on the guy just yet, but it seemed like there was going to be a lot more than it was. He does have a pretty sweet diving elbow though.

Another Sami Zayn return vignette aired hyping him up next…A recap showed Bayley defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Nia Jax at Takeover…

Back in the arena, “Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger made his entrance. The crowd knew what was coming, so they warmed up with the “Ole” chant. Sami Zayn’s music hit to a huge pop and the crowd sang along to his music. The man entered the arena wearing his army green shirt, a black jacket, and his trademark cap. The look of relief and ready-to-be-back that he exuded can’t be relayed through text. He skanked in the ring as the crowd continued to sing his entrance theme. They appropriately chanted “welcome back.” Zayn’s arms appear to be smaller than they were pre-injury and he’s not as cut as he had become.

3. Tye Dillinger vs. Sami Zayn. Dillinger immediately looked to go after Zayn’s surgically repaired shoulder. He got the better of Zayn in the early going and flashed the big “10” in Zayn’s face. Zayn quick gained momentum with his signature arm drag series and feigned a dive to the outside, but instead performed an Arabian moonsault back into the ring to a big pop. Zayn took the fight to ringside, but Dillinger sent him into the ringpost to take control. [C]

Back in the ring, Dillinger grounded Zayn with a top wristlock, continuing his attack on Zayn’s bad arm. Dillinger kept a hold of the arm and hit repeated clotheslines to keep Zayn down. Zayn finally began to gain momentum and he planted Dillinger with a fisherman’s buster. Dillinger rolled to the outside, but Zayn was right there to follow up with his flip dive over the ropes.

Back in the ring, Zayn hit the Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall. He looked for the Helluva Kick, but Dillinger caught his boot and ended up planting Zayn for a two-count of his own. Dillinger looked like he was going for Zayn’s own finisher, but Zayn caught him and drove him into the turnbuckles with an exploder. Zayn retreated across the ring and then charged with the Helluva Kick for the win.

Sami Zayn pinned Tye Dillinger in about 9:15.

Post-match, Zayn took a microphone. He apologized for interrupting the crowd who sounded like they were having a good time, but he’s been waiting 7 months to say what he has to say. “I’m back!!!” He yelled. The crowd welcomed him back and sang “Ole.” Zayn dropped to his knees before standing back up and continuing. He said that it’s starting to seem like every time a dream comes true, it becomes a nightmare. He referenced Kevin Owens turning on him when he won the NXT Championship and blowing out his shoulder when he made his Raw debut against John Cena in his hometown.

He said that tonight was a dream and tonight that trend is broken. The crowd told him “you deserve it.” Zayn said that they sold out 10,000 seats in Wembley and promised that more and more great things will happen with NXT in 2016. Zayn promised that great things are also in store for Sami Zayn in 2016. He declared “we are NXT” and left the arena slapping hands on his way out…

Zim Says: Good to see Zayn back. I wasn’t blown away by his physique and he looks like he still needs time to get fully back into the swing of things, but the guy is one of the brightest parts about this brand and him being back in the mix is a huge boost. One could argue that going over nine minutes with Dillinger isn’t the hottest way to kick off his return, but from the ring rust story POV it’s acceptable. I’m curious to see who they move Zayn into his first program back with. Samoa Joe seems like a possibility, but I don’t think either guy should really be losing right now. I suppose time will tell. Fun show for the most part and I appreciate them getting one more show taped in front of the lively London crowd. Next week is a best-of, so I doubt I’ll be back for coverage. However, keep your eyes out on the main page for the NXT year-end award articles that Darren Guttering and myself will be putting together. Happy Holidays!

Be sure to check back for the DotNet NXT Audio Recap and Hitlist.

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.

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