By Zack Zimmerman
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NXT on WWE Network
Taped June 24 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
A hype video built up the show’s main event of Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. They even went so far as to call it a “once in a lifetime” match… The opening video played… Inside the arena, the fans chanted “NXT” before Bálor was shown walking into the locker room earlier in the day. Nakamura was shown hitting a heavy bag backstage. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves checked in at the commentary booth and talked briefly about the main event…
Samoa Joe’s music hit and the champ walked to the ring. He said that he was there for a few reasons: first and foremost to witness Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Joe said that he has a feeling that that’s why most people are tuning in tonight and he can’t blame them, but the implications of the match are an insult to him as champion. He said that Finn and Shin think the winner becomes a contender for the championship, but that’s fantasy.
Joe said that some people think that Finn will win and challenge Joe again, but Joe slayed him already and is the undisputed NXT Champion. Joe said others think Shinsuke will win and earn his first NXT title shot. He said that the reality is that Joe was the guy who brought “strong style” to the states, and if Nakamura thinks he’s the king, he can step up and end up in a heap like everyone else. Joe said that he’s the man and he’s a warrior. He said that anyone who wants to be anything around there has to go through him.
With that, Rhyno’s music hit and interrupted Joe. The crowd chanted “vote for Rhyno.” Rhyno said that if Joe thinks anyone on their way to the top has to go through him, then he’s going to go right through him. The two stared each other down briefly before Joe left the ring. Once at the ramp, he said that he’ll beat Rhyno’s ass on his terms. Rhyno was left in the ring as Joe went backstage…
The main event was hyped, once again. In case you weren’t aware, Finn Bálor is wrestling Shinsuke Nakamura… [C]
Zim Says: Joe is a killer promo when he’s “on”, and man has he been “on” this run. Good stuff. Rhyno vs. Joe? Meh. It’s a decent big-man match but I’d honestly prefer to see someone else in that role who would feel more fresh and less like a retread.
Bayley vs. Nia Jax was hyped for next week, as was American Alpha vs. Authors of Pain. They followed up by announcing that Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno had been made official for next week…
A lengthy video package aired building up the big match. Triple H acknowledged that both were worldwide superstars before they even arrived in NXT. Other guys like Tye Dillinger, Daniel Bryan, and Neville gave soundbites. It was very similar if not the same as the video that they showed last week… Nakamura was shown walking toward Gorilla position backstage, as was Bálor, and the match was hyped up next… [C]
Back in the arena, Finn Bálor made his entrance. He got a good, not great, reaction from the crowd but most people did his arm gesture with the music. Shinsuke Nakamura was out next to a great reaction, and the fans singing along to the tune of his music. [C] Fans were chanting “this is awesome” before both guys got full formal in-ring introductions. There was a dueling chant of “Nakamura” and “Let’s go Finn” with Nakamura’s segment sounding a bit bigger.
1. Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. The two battled over a wrist lock for the opening minute or so, before Bálor grounded Nakamura in a headlock. the crowd chanted “both these guys” as Bálor wrenched on the hold and maintained it despite Nakamura’s efforts to battle out. Nakamura was finally able to reach the ropes and dangled his arms with his face in Bálor’s stomach. Bálor reversed positions and “too sweet-ed” Nakamura’s forehead and took him right back down with a headlock.
The two battled on the apron with Nakamura hitting a kick and delivering two Vibration stomps in the corner. Nakamura went to ringside and hit a running knee to an apron-hung Bálor and then came jumping off the apron with another knee strike to wipe Bálor out of the ring. [C] Back in the ring, Nakamura appeared to be in control when Bálor clipped him at the knee with a low dropkick, and Bálor went right to work with a leglock.
Bálor rolled through on a sunset flip attempt by Nakamura and connected with another low dropkick, this time to the face. Bálor wore Nakamura down with chops in the corner, and when Nak tried to get a leg up, Bálor hung his leg up in the ropes and came down hard with a stomp. Bálor looked to follow up with a surfboard stretch, but settled for a Bryan Danielson-style double knee stomp when Nakamura resisted.
Bálor sank in a heel hook and Graves put it over big, but he was the only one as the crowd isn’t really conditioned to react to flash submissions. Bálor looked to follow up, but Nakamura caught him with a wheel kick. Shinsuke fired up with a series of strikes and kicks before teeing off with knees and stomps in the corner. Nakamura hung Bálor up across the top rope and hit the running knee to the mid-section for a two-count.
Nakamura went to the second rope, but Bálor rocked him with a high kick that sent Nakamura crashing to ringside. From the apron, Bálor connected with a running penalty kick to Nakamura standing outside the ring, and was in firm control going into a break. [C]
Immediately back from break, Bálor came off the top rope with a diving stomp to the back of Nakamura’s neck for a near-fall. Bálor followed up promptly with some sort of arm scissors leg lock that Nakamura sold big, but managed to reach the ropes. Bálor turned it into a heel hook again, but Nakamura once again reached the ropes for a break. Bálor picked the leg, but Nakamura rocked him with a kick and then caught Bálor charging with a flying armbar attempt. He couldn’t straighten the arm, but he managed to transition to a triangle choke.
Nakamura planted Bálor with a front drop suplex, but Bálor avoided Nakamura’s charging knee and hit the reverse lifting DDT for another near-fall. Bálor connected with the Slingblade, but Nakamura caught him with a jumping kick when he charged for the dropkick. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa to the back of the head, but Bálor kicked out just before three. Nakamura looked for another, but Bálor leapt up and drove Nakamura to the mat with a wicked leaping double stomp for another good near-fall.
Both guys were slow back to their feet and battled back and forth with shots. Bálor hit a superkick to the knee he’d been working on and then caught Nakamura with a short-range slingblade. Bálor followed up with the shotgun dropkick and went up top for his finish, but Nakamura rolled out of the way. Nakamura caught Bálor with a diving knee strike from the second rope, and then wiped him out with the Kinshasa for the clean win.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Finn Bálor in about 18:37 (excluding commercials).
Post-match, Nakamura helped Bálor to his feet and the crowd chanted “thank you Finn.” The two hugged and bowed deeply towards each other as the crowd applauded respectfully. Bálor left the ring to Nakamura to celebrate his win. Replays aired of the big spots before Nakamura closed the show celebrating and the commentators gave one final plug for the Cruiserweight Classic show which premiers next…
Zim Says: Well, this show sure was simple to cover and very easy to watch. This was a very good match from two very talented guys. Both guys are getting the most out of doing the least right now, in that this match didn’t get crazy or involve anything risky or unnecessary, and both guys did just enough to bring this match to the level that people would expect of them. I enjoyed this match very much and I look forward to them working together more in the future.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to head back out to the main page and follow along with my coverage of the CWC premier!
Members can check back tomorrow for the DotNet NXT Audio Recap, and Darren Gutteridge’s NXT Hitlist will be available to everyone.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.