By Zack Zimmerman
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NXT on WWE Network
Taped April 28 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
A Finn Bálor vignette played focussing on his obsession with the NXT Championship and needing to embrace the demon to regain it. It hyped his return to action later in the show… The opening video played…
Inside Full Sail Arena, the crowd chanted “NXT” as Tom Philips and Corey Graves recapped Eric Young’s appearance last week losing to Joe. They then hyped Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Alex Riley for later in the show…
Former NXT Champion Finn Bálor made his entrance. The commentators ran through his impressive title run before losing it a few weeks ago in Lowell, Mass. Bálor took a mic and waited for a “Bullet Club” and a “thank you Finn” chant to fade. Bálor said it’s him that should be thanking them. He addressed the elephant in the room than Samoa Joe is now NXT Champion. He said that he and Joe have been at war for a long time, and their first two matches could’ve gone either way, but he won. He said that their match in Lowell could’ve gone either way, but before he could continue, The Drifter’s acoustic guitar cut him off.
Elias Samson walked onto the stage strumming away. He introduced himself through the chorus of boos and said that this song was for Bálor. He sang a song that was completely drown out by the crowd, who was having none of it. He made his way into the ring and continued through a “drift away” chant. Bálor never even bothered turning to face him and just looked annoyed. Samson finished and then said that Bálor “ain’t nothin’ without that title.” Bálor wasted no time dropping him with a Pele Kick, and then threw the guitar onto him at ringside. The commentators casually mentioned that they would face each other later in the show…
They recapped the social media buzz created by Eric Young’s debut and a WWE.com (not-so) Exclusive had EY being interviewed backstage last week. He said that the best are in NXT and you have to prove yourself against the best, so that’s why he’s there. He called himself a world-class athlete and a world-class maniac. He said NXT is where he belongs and WWE is where he’s always wanted to be. He said it’s where people make names for themselves and that’s what he’s going to do… American Alpha was hyped to be in action next…
Zim Says: Looks like the EY “tryout” went well as they made a pretty big deal of out him here, so I expect we’ll be seeing more from him down the line. The Bálor and Drifter segment was actually pretty funny and a fine opening segment to re-integrate Bálor and set up the main event of the show.
Backstage, Finn Bálor said that his message for Samoa Joe can wait while he kicks Samson’s ass tonight… Back in the arena, Jon Skyler and Corey Hollis were waiting in the ring. American Alpha made their entrance next to a big pop from the crowd.
1. NXT Tag Team Champions American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) vs. Jon Skyler and Corey Hollis in a non-title match. AA were met with “you deserve it” chants, as this was their first Full Sail appearance since winning the belts. Gable spent the opening minutes working over the enhancement guys before Jordan tagged in and hit a high dropkick. Jordan scooped up Hollis and flung him up in the air like nothing. The champs isolated and dominated as the crowd completely ate them up.
AA cleaned house with a double-dropkick before the enhancement team took control with a boot from the ring apron. They worked over Gable for a short time and were aggressive in their attack. Gable managed to created separation with a belly-to-belly before Jordan came in hot with suplexes all around. Jordan was preparing to hit his spear when The Revival walked out onto the stage and began to walk down the ramp, where they stopped about halfway. Seemingly without a hitch, AA hit their finishing sequence and secured the win.
American Alpha defeated Skyler and Hollis in about 5:00.
Post-match, American Alpha laid down their titles and invited The Revival into the ring, but The Revival decided to do things on their terms and just jaw-jacked from the ramp as the champs celebrated their win…
Backstage, Shinsuke Nakamura was asked about Alex Riley’s rage and he responded “Rage? Shaking with rage!” before gyrating off screen…
Zim Says: Good showcase for the champs. Nakamura’s promo was delightfully quintessential Nakamura.
Back in the arena, Alex Riley made his entrance. Shinsuke Nakamura was out next to a monster ovation as a first-timer in Full Sail.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Alex Riley. Riley backed Nakamura into the corner and pie-faced him. Nakamura went to do his silly rope-break arm-dangle thing, but Riley shoved him off. Nakamura sent Riley crashing to ringside, but Riley regained control upon re-entering the ring and took Nakamura down with a dropkick. Riley slapped the back of Nakamura’s head and mocked his taunt.
Nakamura had enough and fired up with shots and knees. Nakamura stomped away at Riley’s face in the ropes and then went to work with kicks. Nakamura yelled “it’s over” and then hit the knee to the gut in the corner. Nakamura hit the reverse powerslam and then followed up with a Kinshasa that knocked Riley’s head right out of NXT for the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura pinned Alex Riley in about 2:40.
Corey Graves noted that Nakamura had tranquilized the White Lion, though in reality it appears he euthanized him. Nakamura celebrated his win to the delight of the crowd and made his way out of the arena after taking one final bow…
In his office, William Regal was confronted by Austin Aries. Aries said that he didn’t come there to be just another guy; he’s a difference-maker. He was carrying on before Blake and Murphy barged in and interrupted with complaints and demands of their own. Aries was offended that they didn’t bring Bliss with them, but was pleasantly surprised when she walked on screen next. They bickered a bit before Regal booked Blake and Murphy vs. Aries and a partner for next week. Aries said he didn’t need a partner, but he’ll make a call anyway…
Finn Bálor vs. Elias Samson was hyped for later in the show… [C]
Zim Says: Very few things in the history of NXT have been as visually stimulating as Nakamura stomping Riley’s face in and then kneeing his head off his shoulders. Ahh… er… impartiality, right! Good squash match.
Back in the arena, Alexa Bliss made her entrance. Her opponent, Rachael Ellering (daughter of Paul) was out next.
3. Alexa Bliss vs. Rachael Ellering. Ellering held her own going hold-for-hold until Bliss whipped her to the mat and smashed her arm. Ellering surprised Bliss with a Magistral cradle and another roll-up attempt before Bliss regained control. She worked over Ellering at a rather unexciting pace and grounded things with an armbar. Bliss really began to target the left arm with repeated knee drops.
Rachael began to fire up with right hands and a dropkick that appeared to miss. Ellering went to swing at Bliss but was stopped when she was goozled, which made for a really hard-to-believe visual. Bliss used a leg-sweep and then came off the top with the Sparkle Splash for the win.
Alexa Bliss over Rachael Ellering in about 3:55.
Backstage, Bayley was asked when she would request her rematch with Asuka. Bayley said that Asuka gave her the fight of her life so she’s been busy training and getting focussed. Jia Jax walked in and took Bayley’s attention. Jax said that she’s only gotten stronger since dominating and losing to Bayley in their title match, whereas Bayley is only getting worse. Bayley said she beat Jax once and can do it again. Jax walked off and Bayley was left looking confident…
Finn Bálor vs. Elias Samson was hyped up next… [C]
Zim Says: Not a particularly good match from the ladies at all. The one positive is that Bliss focused on a body part and targeted it, but it’s not like that really played into any important spots down the stretch or in the finish. Ellering carried herself well, this just wasn’t a stand-out first appearance. As far as Bayley vs. Jax goes, I haven’t seen enough improvement from Jax to make me excited about the rematch potential, but we’ll see what story they choose to tell with that match and the next women’s title contender.
Blake and Murphy vs. Austin Aries and a mystery partner was hyped for next week, as was Bayley vs. Nia Jax…
Back in the arena, The Drifter drifted out to a loud chorus of boos. Finn Bálor was out next.
4. Finn Bálor vs. Elias Samson. At the bell, there were two people who decided to chant for Samson but they were quickly silenced. Samson and Bálor traded armlocks before Bálor got the better of him with a roll-through dropkick and Samson took a powder to ringside. [C]
Back from break, Bálor was in control with an armlock before Samson caught him with a cheap shot in the ropes and put the boots to him. Samson hit a couple of jumping elbows for a one-count and then followed up with a suplex for a quick two. Samson slowed things with an armlock to Bálor’s taped up shoulder. Bálor fired backk shortly before the three-minute mark and teed off with a series of running chops in the corner.
Bálor knocked Samson to ringside and followed up with the running penalty kick from the apron. Back in the ring, Bálor hit a Slingblade and followed up with the shotgun dropkick into the corner. Wasting no time, Bálor hit the move formerly known as Bloody Sunday, now dubbed 1916, for the win.
Finn Bálor beat Elias Samson in about 4:00.
The commentators explained that 1916 was the year of the end of the Irish uprising. Post-match, Bálor took a microphone and said that Samoa Joe beat him and he has no excuses. He said he’s not taking anything away from Joe, at least not until he gets his rematch. He said he wants his rematch. He said he’s obsessed with NXT and with being NXT Champion, and now he’s possessed like a demon stalking it’s prey. He said he’s going after what belongs to him.
Samoa Joe’s music interrupted and the champ made his way out onto the stage. He barked that Bálor deserves nothing. He began to embark towards the ring when GM William Regal ran down and jumped up on the apron to block Joe’s path. An intense Regal declared that he would not allow this to break down into chaos.
He announced that on June 8 at Takeover at Full Sail, Finn Bálor will get his rematch against Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship. Joe yelled that Bálor didn’t deserve it and should be at the back of the line. Seconds later, Finn Bálor hit the ropes and flipped over Regal on the apron to wipe out Joe at ringside. Bálor stormed backstage while Regal sneered at ringside and Joe sold the fall on the metal ramp to close the show.
Zim Says: The main event wasn’t much more than a squash for Bálor, and that’s really all it needed to be. The closing bit was hot with Bálor and Joe. Both guys played their parts well and true to character, and Regal really boosted things with his intensity. He’s so good in his role. I enjoyed this show for the most part. Mostly because I got to see a couple of guys I like quite a bit beat up a couple of guys that I really don’t care for. The ladies match left something to be desired and the opening tag match was above average for what it was, so as a whole this show gets a solid thumbs up. Tune in again next week for my coverage of the mystery tag match, Bayley vs. Nia Jax, and whatever else they have in store. Thanks for reading along!
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the DotNet NXT Audio Recap and Darren Gutteridge’s NXT Hitlist.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.