NXT Recap 3/25/2015: Half Baked
Coming off the heels of a great show in Columbus, NXT returns home to Full Sail for a long awaited encounter between Number One Contender Finn Balor, and current NXT champion, Kevin Owens. However, tonights show would fail to continue the momentum of last weeks excellent broadcast.
Due largely in part to Wrestlemainia being a few days away, or perhaps due to the road trip and filming schedule conflicts, tonight's show featured little in the way of wrestling or story line progression. Both matches would finish clean and featured no post match interview that would further the feuds going into tonight's show. Once again though, it would be the NXT women who would step up and save the show. Unfortunately, despite high profile matches being promised, last night's show amounted to more of a "Diet NXT," than a full on show.
Sasha Banks defeats Alexa Bliss
While the crowd appears dead to both entrances, Alexa Bliss would enter to a few cheers scattered throughout the audience. At the onset of the bout, Bliss would quickly take control on offense, executing a drop toehold into a quick cover for a two count. Bliss would again attempt a quick pinfall, rolling Sasha Banks into a small package for another two count. Banks would take back momentum, catching Bliss with a hard knee to the stomach. Banks would then drape Bliss across the second rope in the near corner, hitting her with a double knee to the chest similar to last week.
After coming out of a long sitting surfboard stretch, Bliss would gain momentum back, hitting a great hurricanrana out of the corner. With control of the match, Bliss, eager to show off her new aggressive attitude, landed her Bliss Flip signature for a two count. After a great countered standing somersault pin, Bliss would ascend to the top rope. However, Banks was quick to her feet and sent Bliss to the floor, locking in a Crossface for a submission victory.
The true story though is the level of progression both women have made in the ring. The match was botch free and contained a great level of intensity and passion from both. While Banks has improved markedly in the ring, Bliss deserves the same level of credit. She appears to have benefited greatly from the time away. One has to hope though that her ascent to the top doesn't end with this failed attempt at the Women's Title.
After that spectacular match, we move on to our first of several promos and video packages. First up was our weekly reminder of how much of a bad ass Kevin Owens is. While true, the weekly video package/interview segment of Kevin Owens talking about how great Kevin Owens is, is getting a bit stale.
Exiting that, we are taken to the women's locker room where Bayley seemed to be getting ready for a match that would never take place. Entering stage right was Emma, who sat to tell Bayley that the NXT universe would lie to her. Emma would then blame them for her female Eugene gimmick not taking off, along with Emma generally being a fuck-up. Bayley would then counter, saying the audience got her to where she is now, earning her a bitchslap to the cheek.
We're clearly being set up for an Emma heel turn here, which is unfortunate because Bayley deserves to work with much better talent. While it could be argued that Emma's general sloppiness and piss poor ring work could have been due to her awful gimmick, its appears highly unlikely that we will see gold around her waist anytime soon. In Emma's defense though, if there was anyone that desperately needed a repackage, it was her.
We move on to more promo and video package work, the highlight of which being a challenge from Hideo Itami to Tyler Breeze for a two out of three falls match set for next week. After a Dana Brooke vignette and a chance for Finn Balor to tell his side of the tale, we move on to our second and final match of the night.
Kevin Owens defeats Finn Balor
After much ado regarding Finn Balor and his face pain, a bare chested Balor entered to much fanfare. Kevin Owens entered to scattered boos and jeers from the crowd. As the match got underway Owens would quickly exit, circling the ring only to reenter at the count of five. The two would engage in standard chain wrestling before Owens ended the tustle with a hard shoulder tackle. Balor countered with a high standing dropkick as we went into our first of three commercial breaks.
We returned with Owens trapped in a standard arm bar submission. Owens would break the hold and eventually find himself standing on the ring apron after an irish whip. Balor would attempt to suplex Owens back inside, however Owens countered by dropping his neck to the top rope. The match continued its slow pacing with Owens trapping Balor in a long lasting rear chin lock submission. Balor would attempt to quicken the pace, however, Owens countered with a shoulder tackle into the same rear chin lock submission to continue to burn more time off the clock.
Owens continued his assault, hitting a standing belly to belly suplex into a long two count. Owens capitalized with a rear chin lock that took us into our second commercial. We returned to Balor gaining some momentum back and clearly taking lead on offense. After a very obvious set up from the ref, Balor hit a suicide dive to the outside. Owens was then rolled back inside as Balor ascended to the top rope for a feather touched double foot stomp to the back of the head. After a quick set of signatures, Balor would gain a great false finish with a double underhook ddt.
Owens then rolled to the corner as Balor would try to dive at him, however Owens would move, causing Finn to hit his knee on the middle turnbuckle. This became a focal point of the match going forward, Balor selling the injury to the point of an oversell. Owens continued his assault, focusing on the injured leg, delivering a senton to the knee and locking in a half crab submission. However, Owens would lose momentum after Balor regains some strength, hitting a second double foot stomp and his trademark enziguri to Owens who was straddled across the top rope.
With Owens tied up on the top rope, Balor would try to set up a superplex. However, Owens would counter into a modified suplex of his own, one that looked more like an Attitude adjustment than a suplex. After a loud “holy shit,” chant from the audience and a false finish, Owens would take back the lead, hitting a pair of Cannonballs before missing a third. Balor used this opportunity to land his finisher, the Coup de Gras. However, he was unable to score a pin due to his injured knee incapacitating him. After rising to his feet, Owens would capitalize with a Pop-Up Powerbomb for the victory.
Despite the match featuring a great top rope spot, the match as a whole was largely forgettable, which is a shame because both men are great wrestlers in their own right. In fact, the true detractor in this situation wasn't the two men or their ring work, but the myriad of promos that preceded it. Along with the artificial match length inflation and multiple commercial breaks, this was a match that never really had a chance to stand out.
While the Women's match was truly stand out, the same can't be said for the broadcast as a whole. Its hard to imagine that a broadcast that contained a long awaited encounter between two of NXT's biggest and brightest stars could be labeled “dull.” One must believe that there is more to the Balor/Owens saga, as the payoff tonight was largely non existent. If you missed this one, your time is better spent doing nearly anything else. If however, you can't miss a single NXT, get ready to hold down the fast forward button.
Final Say: 2 out of 5 Kevin Owens Cannonballs