3/2 Zim’s WWE NXT Live Coverage: Big Debut, NXT Champion Finn Balor vs. Neville, Emma vs. Santana Garrett

Logo_NXT_dn_crop600By Zack Zimmerman

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NXT on WWE Network
Taped January 22 at the University of Central Florida

A hype video promoted the main event for this week, Finn Bálor vs. Neville… The opening video played… Inside the arena, Rich Brennan welcomed viewers and The Vaudevillains made their entrance. Their opponents were already in the ring. One is completely ripped wearing polkadots and the other may or may not be Bull Dempsey in disguise sneaking back into the WWEPC.

1. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) vs. Hugo Knox and Tucker Knight. The Vaudes aggressively went after Knox and worked him over in the opening couple of minutes. They continued to isolate Knox with English showing a particularly nasty edge and Gotch showing a higher level of intensity. Knight finally got the hot tag around the three minute mark but Gotch quickly caught him with a modified Eat Defeat and they finished him off with the Whirling Dirvish for the win.

The Vaudevillains won in about 3:30.

The commentators mentioned that the Hype Bros were paying particularly close attention to the Vaudes… Backstage, Alex Reyes was standing by with Emma and Dana Brooke. They said Deonna Perazzo is a nobody and they’re going to follow up on their threat to Asuka. Emma said that she’s going to beat her opponent tonight and then counted down to Dana emasculating poor Alex…

A Finn Bálor hype video aired and the final statement was that he’s the face of NXT… [C]

Zim Says: I like the new edge from the Vaudes, but I want to see it in a match with a competitive team (not the Hype Bros), and not just squash matches.

Back at the arena, Rich Brennan noted that this would be the last show emanating from UCF. He then threw to a recap of the security cam footage of Dash and Dawson jumping Enzo Amore in the parking lot of the WWEPC before Big Cass made the save… Outside, Colin Cassady called Dash and Dawson gutless and said next time they cross paths they’re going to knock them out, stand over them, and take the NXT Tag Team Titles… Dash and Dawson said that Enzo and Cass have had their opportunity and will always come up short, but maybe they’ll let Enzo and Cass spit shine the belts… Brennan announced that on the upcoming March 12 WWE Network special Roadblock, Enzo and Cass will face The Revival (the new name for Dash and Dawson) for the NXT Tag Team Championships…

Inside the arena, Emma made her entrance with Dana Brooke by her side. Santana Garrett  was out next.

2. Emma (w/ Dana Brooke) vs. Santana Garrett. Emma quickly got the better of Garrett, though Garrett did have some vocal crowd support out of the gate. Emma hit some nice offense including a butterfly suplex, but she opted to continue her assault and toy with Garrett rather than go for the cover. Garrett managed to create some space, but Emma closed it quickly with a hard dropkick and went right back to her attack.

Garrett finally broke free and fired up with a series of clotheslines. She hit a Russian leg sweep and looked to follow up, but Emma took control when she went to the top rope and Emma caught her in the tree of woe. Emma and Dana took turns distracting the ref while the other worked over the vulnerable Garrett. Before long, Emma hit the head stomp into the Emma Lock and got the win.

Emma forced Santana Garrett to submit in about 5:40.

Backstage, William Regal was in his office with Eva Marie and Nia Jax. He blew a bit of smoke up their butts and then announced that he had arranged for a tag match between the two of them against Bayley and Asuka. The two were not pleased, but they remained silent ad Regal promptly left to meet with the newly acquired talent coming later in the show… [C]

Zim Says: Fun little bit there to announce that tag match. Regal is so great in this role. The ladies match was actually pretty good. Seemingly one of the better ladies matches to come out of this UCF taping, which isn’t exactly high praise, but the work was solid and Emma 2.0 continues to bring a whole lot to the table.

Back in the arena, William Regal was standing in the ring. He said that NXT is dedicated in bringing in the best competitors from all over the world. He introduced “one of our greatest signings to date…” The lights went out and various spotlights lit the arena before Austin Aries walked out and his name appeared on the tron. The crowd went bonkers and Aries soaked it in, as Austin Aries would.

As he made his way down the ramp, he was blindsided from behind by Baron Corbin. Corbin whipped Aries into the LED ring apron which Aries sold with a violent bump. Corbin then picked him up only to put him right back down with the End of Days at ringside. Corbin ripped off Aries’s t-shirt and threw it at Regal in the ring as he yelled “an eye for an eye!” Aries continued to sell the beating but also showed good fire and looked like he wanted to go after Corbin…

Finn Bálor vs. Neville was hyped for later in the show… Without going to a commercial break, they went right to a replay of the attack by Corbin on Aries…

Zim Says: Great way to slingshot Aries right into a feud with Corbin. His attack fits perfectly with the Corbin character itself, as well as the position that his character is in coming off a loss which knocked him down a couple of rungs for the time being. This keeps him in the mix and also gives Aries something meaningful right from the start. Thumbs up from me.

Back in the arena, Marine veteran and WWEPC trainee Steve Cutler was already in the ring. The Drifter drifted out next.

3. Elias Samson vs. Steve Cutler. Graves said that The Drifter should thank Cutler for the freedom to drift. Samson played some poor air guitar in the process of taking three minutes to hit a couple of leg drop and knee drops. He hit his neck breaker and won.

Elias Samson beat Steve Cutler in about 3:00.

Backstage, the Hype Bros cut a promo. Mojo said he’s actually glad that they took the loss in their last match, because it showed them that they were taking things too easy. They said that the Vaudevillains picked the wrong team and the wrong time to get bitter against. Ryder said that the hype train is rolling and Mojo said that they’re going to rough them up o bad they can’t even say anything. After they left the set, The Vaudevillains snuck out from the curtains behind the interview set and smiled devilishly… A Neville hype video aired…

Zim Says: So that segment was clipped from earlier in the show and moved to this position in post-production, but they really could’ve just left it on the 2016 equivalent of the editing room floor.

Next week’s return to Full Sail University was hyped featuring the main event of Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe in a best of three falls match to determine the no. 1 contender…

Back in the arena, former NXT Champion Neville made his entrance to a good reaction from the crowd. Current NXT Champion Finn Bálor was out next to a big ovation. The commentators noted that Bálor is rapidly closing in on Neville’s record for longest title reign. Rich Brennan also asked Graves about all of the buzz surrounding the Bullet Club. Graves said that Bálor has friends all over the world but rumors are just rumors and they deflected the conversation back to the match at hand.

4. NXT Champion Finn Bálor vs. Neville in a non-title match. The early portion of the match was spent trading armlocks and headlock takeovers while the commentators told the story by drawing parallels to the careers of Bálor and Neville. Neville was the first to land an impact move with a hip toss into a cartwheel dropkick. He appeared to establish himself as the slight heel when he grabbed a headlock to gain the advantage on Bálor rather than breaking clean in the ropes.

Bálor managed to roll through on a sunset flip and caught Neville with a low dropkick, but Neville caught him with a shot to the gut and went back to work with a snap suplex for a quick one-count. [C] Back in the ring, Neville was in control as he grounded Bálor in a chinlock. Bálor worked to his feet, but Neville put him down with a short-arm clothesline. A fan admonished Neville loudly for not listening to the referee before Neville was launched high over the ropes and took a hard bump at ringside for a near count-out.

Neville managed to make it back in the ring and quickly took control with a hard elbow which knocked Bálor to ringside. Neville followed him out with a high, impressive Asai moonsault. There was another near countout, but this time Neville approached it with leisure as he was the one in control. There was an offensive back-and-forth ending in Bálor connecting with the Pele Kick and both guys laying out.

Both competitors managed to answer the referee’s ten count before Bálor hit a series of running chops in the corner and a hard running penalty kick from the ring apron to Neville at ringside. Bálor scored a two count and looked to follow up with the reverse Bloody Sunday, but Neville fought out and hit his rebound German suplex before connecting with his wicked deadlift German for a good near-fall.

Neville went to the top rope but Bálor ended up knocking him to ringside with a high kick and following up with his big flipping senton over the ropes. Bálor tossed Neville back in the ring and looked to hit his finisher, but Neville scrambled back to his feet and crotched Bálor on the top turnbuckle. The two battled up top and Neville hit a terrifying Frankensteiner with both guys standing on the top rope.

Neville rushed to the tope rope to finish Bálor off, but Bálor avoided it and Neville managed to land on his feet before turning right into a Slingblade from Bálor. Bálor missed his shotgun dropkick, but connected with a wicked lariat and hit the dropkick on the second attempt, though Neville’s bump wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. Bálor hit the Coupe de Grace and dragged Neville to his feet before delivering the Bloody Sunday for the win.

Finn Bálor defeated Neville in about 14:40.

Post-match, Neville lifted himself to his feet and the crowd thanked him with a standing ovation and loud chant. Neville left the ring to the champion and the segment ended with Bálor celebrating with the crowd…

Backstage, Rich Brennan was standing between Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe to talk about their main event match next week. Joe said that Zayn is one of the most ungrateful men he’s ever met because Zayn fails to realize that if he hadn’t walked into NXT at the exact second he did, Zayn wouldn’t be walking today. Zayn said that Joe talking gratitude is funny considering all of his work has been predicated on the hard work of others. Zayn said that Joe’s success won’e be at his expense. Joe reiterated that he’s responsible for Zayn still having a career and said next week he’s taking it away…

Zim Says: Excellent promo and excellent match. The promo spoke for itself. But the match: the work was super crisp as one would expect from these two (minus that last little complaint on the dropkick) and it didn’t get hung up on the potential babyface vs. babyface drawbacks. Neville walked such a great fine line between impressive athletic superstar and underhanded jerk that the match really worked with Bálor as the strong babyface champion getting the win with full support, while still being able to stand side-by-side post-match and receive a standing applause. It was a hot closing segment to a relatively hot show capping off this dreadful series of tapings from UCF. The arrival of Aries, the acceptability of the tag match and the ladies match, and the main event made this show worth checking out, though feel free to drift right over The Drifter . Ill have more to say in audio, as always, so tune in for that and I’ll be back here for coverage next week. 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.

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