By Zack Zimmerman
WWE NXT on the WWE Network
Aired January 13, 2016
Taped January 7 at Full Sail University
The opening video played… Inside Full Sail, Corey Graves welcomed viewers for the first time in 2016 and was joined by the returning Tom Phillips. They hyped tonight’s announcements of the 2015 NXT Awards. NXT GM William Regal made his way out onto the stage and was warmly welcomed back by the Full Sail Faithful.
He wished the crowd a happy new year and said that NXT is the fastest growing promotion on the scene and that’s because of the fans. He said that 2016 will bring bigger things for NXT. He announced that the main event of the show will be a battle royal to determine the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Women’s Championship. He then welcomed Sami Zayn back, who made his way to the ring with the adulation of the crowd.
After his music stopped, the crowd sang “Ole” and Zayn just soaked it in. Zayn said it sounds like they remember him, but acknowledged that a lot has changed over 2015, so he re-introduced himself. He said he’s Sami Zayn and he’s the lead singer of a band. Cue the Ole chants, which Zayn said is their No. 1 single. Zayn said he’s played a large part in making NXT what it is today and my how mighty it is today.
He said returning in London was great, but there’s nothing like home and Full Sail is home. He said he’s feeling warm and a little fuzzy, but he’s also here to declare his intentions to become the first-ever two-time NXT Champion. Just then, Samoa Joe’s music hit and he walked directly to the ring to confront Zayn for the first time. The crowd booed him.
Joe said it’s good to see Zayn back and his ambition is admirable, but Zayn doesn’t deserve a title shot because last time Zayn had a shot at the title, Joe had to come out at the end and save Zayn’s life. He said Zayn barely survived. Joe suggested that if Zayn wants to keep his shoulder and career in-tact, he walk away. Cue Baron Corbin’s entrance.
Corbin said that Joe usually talks nonsense, but he agrees that Zayn belongs at the back of the line. Corbin said he was victorious at Takeover London, whereas Joe had his shot and failed. He told Zayn that he had been surpassed by someone more determined and more durable. Corbin declared himself the uncrowned NXT Champion. Joe suggested that Corbin lost some brain cells when Joe choked him out in Brooklyn. Corbin took off, before Joe told Zayn to find his place and get out of the ring. Zayn said his place is in the ring. Joe left as well.
Corbin re-entered the ring and attacked Zayn from behind. Corbin landed a few shots, but Zayn caught him with a Helluva Kick which knocked him over the ropes. Joe looked for a moment like he was going to go after Zayn, but he just backed up the ramp and left Zayn to hold the ring…
Backstage, Rich Brennan was standing by with NXT Women’s Champion Bayley. Bayley said she managed to survive against Nia Jax in London but that took a lot out of her. She said she didn’t know she had that in her, but she knew she had to stay champion. She said that she wishes she could compete in the battle royal tonight, but she’ll be waiting with a hug for the winner. She hugged Rich, thanked him, and strolled off… The 2015 NXT Awards (which are secondary to the DotNet NXT Awards) were hyped for up next…
Zim Says: They do such a nice job with these lengthier promo segments on the rare occasions when they do them. This was fantastic. Everyone had legitimate claims for themselves and against each other, with memorable wins, losses, and storyline facts that can be pointed to as credible evidence. This is so logical and fundamentally effective. Also, Bayley is the best babyface in wrestling. That is all.
They hyped that over 1 million voted were submitted for the first-ever NXT year-end awards. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady won the Tag Team of the Year Award. Bayley won the Female Competitor of the Year. Finn Bálor won the Male Competitor of the Year. NXT Takeover Brooklyn won Show of the Year. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from Takeover Brooklyn won Match of the Year. Amen. Finn Bálor also won Bayley’s Overall Competitor of the Year Award…
Back in the arena, Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance. Danny Burch was already waiting in the ring.
1. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Danny Burch. Ciampa and Burch traded armlocks early and Ciampa worked nicely into a stomp to the arm. Burch created separation however and hit a missile dropkick from the second turnbuckle. Burch took control for a short time but began to cock off with slaps and boots to the head, so Ciamps fired up and rocked him with a series of stiff shots.
Ciampa hit a nice rope-hung flatliner before burch crumpled him with a straight right hand for a near-fall. The to worked back to their feet and traded shots before Ciampa teed of with a hard slap and knee to the head. Out of nowhere, Ciampa caught Burch in a nice grounded bridging armbar and Burch tapped in a hurry.
Tommaso Ciampa beat Danny Burch in about 3:45.
Ciampa celebrated post-match and Graves predicted a big year for Ciampa in 2016…
Backstage, Enzo and Cass cut a promo on Dash and Dawson. They said they didn’t just go to London for the tea, they went for a fight, but real G’s never lose. Enzo said Dash and Dawson are boneless chicken tenders for hiding behind Carmella in their title match. Enzo said Dash and Dawson are using those titles to hide their fat because they’re sawft. Cass said that they have unfinished business with the champs, but the next time they meet they’re going to finish it…
The main event battle royal was hyped. They went to brief promos with some of the competitors. Billie Kaye was wearing black lace and said that She’s going to bring the NXT Women’s Division to its knees. Deonna Perazzo said that you may know her as the girl that Asuka knocked out with a single kick, but tonight everyone will forget that when she wins. Emma said that it’s unsurprising that she has to prove herself yet again, but she does that every week and she’s making this whole thing about her. More competitors were hyped for later in the show. Dash and Dawson vs. The Ascension was hyped up next…
Zim Says: I like that little feature there. much better than introducing these ladies totally cold into the match. Ciampa’s match was good. He’s consistently delivering above-average performances in NXT so far, and one has to wonder how much there may be to Graves’s statements about Ciampa’s 2016.
In his office, NXT GM William Regal said that after mulling over what happened in the opening segment, he sees that everyone has a legitimate point. He said the only way to settle it is in the ring, so there will be a triple threat match in 2 weeks pitting Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin to determine the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship…
Back in the arena, the NXT Tag Team Champions Dash and Dawson made their entrance. The Ascension were out next to a big pop and the familiar “yah” chants. The commentators tried to paint them as the gatekeepers and measuring stick of the NXT tag division.
2. NXT Tag Team Champions Dash and Dawson vs. The Ascension in a non-title match. Dawson showed no fear as he shoved Viktor in the face. Viktor backed him into the corner and after a brief scrap, began teeing off on Dash. Dawson came in and took a clothesline, but the distraction allowed Dash to attack from behind and the champs began to go to work.
Dash and Dawson showed good aggression while putting a beatdown on Viktor in their corner and kept him isolated for several minutes. Shortly after the three-minute mark, there was a double down which led to a hot tag and Konnor began to roll. He culminated his run with a big flapjack, but Dash distracted the ref when Konnor looked for the pin. There was a bling tag by the champs and they caught an unsuspecting Konnor with the Shatter Machine and scored the win.
Dash and Dawson pinned The Ascension in about 4:15.
Backstage, William Regal approached Nia Jax who was being tended to by the trainer. The trainer said that after being choked out by Bayley in London, she isn’t going to clear Jax to compete for another few weeks as a precaution. Jax was upset, but Eva Marie who was standing by her side but out of her view pumped her fist…
Out behind the arena, Carmella said that this was the biggest opportunity of her career and she’s going to make sure she does it fabulous. Peyton Royce said that she hasn’t been given much of an opportunity yet in NXT, but the “venus flytrap of NXT” is going to make this opportunity her own. Alexa Bliss said that all of these other ladies want to win, but she will win. She said she deserves another shot at Bayley and the NXT Women’s Championship…
Zim Says: Nothing tag. It wasn’t as fun as I expected but it wasn’t bad. It was just there. Again, I like these little clips to introduce the potential next challengers for Bayley.
Back in the arena, The Drifter drifted his way to the ring and took his perch on the top turnbuckle until the bell. Graves questioned how a drifter could get from London to Orlando in less than a month. Phillips suggested he stowed away. Funny. His opponent was already waiting in the ring.
3. Elias Samson vs. Corey Hollis. Samson hit some stomps in the corner and a handstand mule-kick on the top turnbuckle. Samson waited a long time and went for a casual cover for two. Samson just laid around with Hollis and stalled before hitting a snap swinging neckbreaker for the win.
Elias Samson squashed Corey Hollis in about 2:20.
Post-match, Samson took a mic and said “what this place needs is what I am.” He slung the guitar back over his shoulder to close the segment…
Zim Says: This guy is boring.
A recap showed Finn Bálor retain the NXT Championship in London before they went to him backstage. He was asked to respond to the match and his potential next challenger in the upcoming triple threat. Bálor said Joe is a monster, and that match was physically draining and one of the toughest in his career, but he takes on all challenges head-to-head. Bálor said that Corbin, Zayn, and Joe all make viable points towards being title challengers, but as far as he’s concerned, the title is staying with Finn Bálor…
The main event battle royal was hyped up next… Cameron said she’s back to prove she’s more than just a Funkadactyl, and she’s going to “become the number one contender to the NXT women’s battle royal. Girl bye.” Aliyah jumped and spun around like a 6 year old and said that she’s making her NXT debut tonight and she’s going to win. Liv Morgan said she’s going to win for her family, the NXT Universe, Jersey, and “the ‘Gram.” Asuka said that tonight she will become number one contender, and then just smiled into the camera with her death smile…
The No. 1 Contenders triple threat between Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Baron Corbin was hyped for the episode coming in two weeks…
Back in the arena some ladies were already in the ring and others were making their entrance for the battle royal. Emma was out, followed by Carmella, and then Eva Marie, and finally Asuka.
4. Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Women’s Championship. All of the ladies realized Asuka was their biggest threat, so they all squared off with her. One lady stepped forward, but was promptly dropped. Things finally broke down in an instant with Emma going after Asuka and everyone else pairing off. [C]
Back from a lengthier-than-usual break, nobody had been eliminated. Aliyah’s Breaking Ground appearances were mentioned, and then she was the first eliminated from the match. Deonna Perazzo was eliminated a short time later. There was a terrifying botch where Liv Morgan went to powerbomb Cameron (…I know, right.) and they over-rotated and both ladies fell down. Rather than just being reasonable and eliminating each other another way, they tried again. They were unable to fully complete the lift this time, and they went for the spot where it turns into a ‘rana over the ropes. Cameron’s head nearly came straight down on the mat before Alexa Bliss mercifully eliminated them both.
Emma had Carmella locked in the Dil-Emma and then squished her with the Emmamite Sandwich in the corner. Emma then turned her attention to Alexa Bliss and after some back-and-forth, eliminated Bliss. The Aussie rookies Kaye and Royce hoisted Emma onto the top rope, leaving her for Asuka to knock to the floor with a kick and eliminate her. The Aussies tried to eliminate Asuka but she survived. There was a fun exchange leading to Asuka eliminating them both with a running hip attack.
It appeared that Asuka had won, but Eva Marie slipped into the ring, attacked her from behind, and eliminated her. The crowd booed, but not for long as they realized Carmella has never been eliminated, but only knocked to the floor under the ropes. Carmella dumped Eva Marie over the top for the win and the crowd went bonkers.
Carmella won the battle royal to become No. 1 Contender in about 7:50.
Bayley was shown watching on a monitor backstage with a smile on her face. Carmella celebrated her win and replays aired. Bayley ran down to the ring and briefly stared Carmella down before giving her a big hug and raising her arm. Bayley pointed to her title and she shared a moment with her best friend. Asuka was shown watching with a smile on her face from the ramp, and the show closed with Carmella leaving with Bayley.
Zim Says: Battle royals are always unspectacular, but they’re a nice way to set several stories into motion in one match if executed properly, and this match did that very well. I really enjoyed this show for that very same reason. It wasn’t necessary a hot show full of memorable in-ring displays, but it planted so many seeds and set so many things into motion for the foreseeable future and presumably beyond. I’m really enjoying the back-to-basics logic that they’re applying to the booking as of late and because of that I’m really excited about following the growth and watching the harvest if this episode was the metaphorical planting season. I’ll be in Mexico next week so someone will be filling my spot covering NXT, but check back on the site for my reports from a AAA show and a CMLL show that I will be attending while there. Thanks for reading along!
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.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Brian Pillman Jr., who discusses his training, following his father's footsteps, his own career aspirations, being part of the Hart Foundation faction, his big match at the MLW Saturday Night SuperFight pay-per-view, working with Jushin Liger, touring the WWE Performance Center, and much more...