How was NXT?
William Regal opened the show, welcoming everyone to NXT, clarifying things with Baron Corbin and Austin Aries, choosing not to punish Corbin for Corbin’s actions, because Aries asked Regal not to. Instead, Corbin’s punishment will come at the hands of Aries, at NXT Takeover Dallas. Furthermore, Regal put Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe in a 2 out of 3 Falls match to determine who would face Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship in Dallas.
In shocking fashion, that 2 out of 3 Falls match was the first match of the night, and it turned out to be the main event as well…as it was the only in-ring competition we would see. Before the match started though, the camera panned around to a few recognizable names and faces, like Sasha Banks, Michael P.S. Hayes, Mauro Ranallo, and most notably to me, Hideo Itami. Hideo suffered a shoulder injury that was supposed to see him return before Sami Zayn came back, but Hideo apparently suffered from some unforeseen setbacks, and hasn’t been able to make it back to the ring. I’m not sure if this was done to remind people that Hideo is still there, for fear that fans would forget, but it seemed like a strangely curious decision to have Hideo front row, without him being ready to return soon. Who knows though, it’s quite possible that was a quick reminder of him, and Hideo will be coming back at Takeover.
Things started off purposefully methodical, with each man testing the other, trying to find out the flow of how things would go, to psyche out their opponent, and grind the other down. While there were some decent spots, it took an eternity to get to that first fall, which saw Joe connect with a Musclebuster:
I get that there needs to be a build, but that pacing was horrendous. There was a spot here and there, but most of the opening part of the match before the first fall was just them wasting time, wearing each other down, getting a shot in to spark the crowd, and then rinse, repeat. This was the first time I found out two guys I really like were going to have this type of match, and before either one gets a pin, I wanted it to just be over. Unfortunately, things didn’t really pick up after the first fall, as the pace returned right back where it was before Joe went up 1-0. Most of the spacing between falls was spent with Joe throwing, rolling, kicking, or shoving Zayn out of the ring, hoping to pick up the winning fall by Zayn just getting counted out. Each time though, Zayn found a way to get back in on the mat, even after Joe tossed Zayn into the steps. Joe tapping out to the Koji Clutch was a surprising turn of events, a moment that netted Sami Zayn one fall, tying things up:
The pace improved after the second fall, which also included Zayn having enough energy to hoist Joe up for the Blue Thunderbomb, and to counter Joe in the corner with a Powerbomb:
The final stretch was Joe stopping a Helluva Kick mid-strike, Powerbombing Zayn, trying a Boston Crab submission, moving it into a Cross-face submission, Joe having to figure out what to do with Zayn after Sami made it to the ropes, and then Joe trying to come back from Zayn putting the Samoan Submission Machine into Joe’s own Coquina Clutch, but Joe quickly got to the ropes to break the hold:
It looked like Zayn had gotten all the momentum back on his side, but when Joe side-stepped a Helluva Kick, Joe choked Zayn out with the Coquina Clutch, officially making Joe the Number One Contender:
NXT MVP: Sami Zayn
Zayn sold brilliantly the whole time –Joe was no slacker there either, but Zayn was a touch above,– and made me believe Zayn kept finding ways to get enough energy back into his system to give himself a chance.
NXT LVP: The 2 out of 3 Falls match
That was one of, if not the worst high profile 2 out of 3 Falls matches I’ve ever seen. It was uninteresting, lacked drama, and felt more like a reason to waste time watching something on the WWE Network than to feel invested in the product. I mean no disrespect to the guys, their athletic ability was on display and that impressed, but the booking of the match left a lot to be desired.
NXT could have been incredible, giving us a 2 out of 3 Falls match for the ages, and the only standard episode of NXT to feature a single match that went the distance. Instead, we got what equated to be a slow, time wasting affair, with an ending all fans could see coming ten miles away –the majority of fans were already aware that Zayn wouldn’t be facing Bálor at Takeover,– and it resulted in an hour that I would have preferred to use doing something else. That said, I give NXT a:
+ I liked how and why William Regal announced the Baron Corbin vs Austin Aries match at NXT Takeover Dallas
+ Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn did the best with what they could in the booking of that match
– If a match is going to take up the entirety of an episode, at least make it an exciting one
That’s The Lowedown on NXT this week, thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!
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The future is bright and full of suplexes!
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