NXT Recap 4/22/2015: Back on Track
Post Mania, NXT has had problems returning to the high level of entertainment that had become a hallmark of the promotion. Now, a month removed from the show of shows, NXT finally appears back on track as last nights event showcased some franchise players. Unfortunately, they were all in mediocre match ups. In retrospect, the only match on the card that featured any semblance of suspense was the match of the night, the triple threat between Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch to determine the number one contender for the Women's Championship. Welcome back friends, to Full Sail as, NXT returns.
Finn Balor defeats Tye Dillinger
Coming off his match with former partner Jason Jordan, a repackaged Tye Dillinger appears set for a run as the typical attractive, white, bad ass character as many have before him. In his way stands the best male wrestler in NXT, Finn Balor. Dillinger starts the match in the drivers seat, holding Balor in a standing waist lock. After a break, Balor hits a quick arm drag, to which Dillinger quickly rebounds, initiating a collar and elbow tie.
Balor breaks clean and sends Dillinger into the ropes, nailing his trademark high standing dropkick. Dilligner would briefly take back momentum, nailing a pair of hard chops in the far corner. Balor replied with a pair of chops of his own as the match began to wind down. Balor nailed a Pele Kick into a Slingblade takedown. As is now customary, Balor would ascend to the top rope, hitting the Coup de Gras for the pin.
I'd be lying if I wrote that either of the men came out looking better than they had prior to entering the ring. Its not to say that the match itself was bad or the content was amateurish, it seemed routine. Even if there had been a reason for Balor to perform at a high level in the time the pair were given to work the match, this one was dead in the water. A shame as well, considering that time is being given to Tye Dillinger to rework his character.
After the match, we're treated to a chubby cheeked Tyler Breeze, his beautiful face gracing NXT's version of the Titantron. Breeze goes on about his disappointment towards Balor and states that prince pretty is going to take him down. Its a typical promo setting up a feud, however, the content will likely be must watch television, as the best performer in NXT takes on the a wrestler on the road to improvement.
Becky Lynch defeats Bayley and Charlotte
Prior to what was almost guaranteed to be the match of the night, we're treated to our first live Dana Brooke promo. The content was pretty typical of the bitchy female heel archetype. However, in terms of Brooke's delivery and microphone skills, one can only hope that all staff under WWE employ do everything in their power to keep her away from anything that even resembles a microphone.
As the match got underway, the crowd quickly erupted into a loud and unified “Bayley,” chant, much to the disgust of Becky Lynch. Charlotte and Bayley quickly double teameded on Lynch at the onset of the match. Lynch would eventually fight back, though to no avail, as the face team continued their assault. Bayley would eventually roll Lynch out of the ring, giving the two more talented performers a chance to shine in the match.
The pair quickly came to blows, trading strikes around the ring. Charlotte would drop Bayley to the mat, capturing her into a figure four headlock, using an impressive mixture of strength and choriography to toss Bayley around the ring, headlock unbroken. Lynch eventually returned to the ring, capturing Charlotte in a suplex as we headed to commercial.
We returned from break with Lynch and Bayley alone in the ring, Lynch clearly in control. After a long submission hold from Lynch, Bayley finally took back momentum, reversing her prone state into a pin for a long two count. Bayley's momentum was cut short as Lynch again took control, sending Bayley to the mat. This culminated in a submission hold appearing as a reverse seated modified figure four, the announcing team also struggling to categorize the maneuver. With Lynch seated atop Bayley's crossed legs, Charlotte would use the opportunity to hit her finisher, Natural selection, for a long two thanks to the now freed Bayley.
The pace of the match now beginning to pick up, we entered our second spot of the match, as Bayley would find herself ascending the top rope. Lynch gave chase, attempting to set Bayley up for a super plex. With Bayley fighting off the top rope, Charlotte would come to her aid, pulling Lynch away from the corner and holding her in the powerbomb position. In a double team attack, Bayley would leap from the top rope, hitting Lynch with an elbow as Charlotte droped a power bomb.
The three women took the opportunity to catch their breath as the match entered its crescendo. After a somewhat rushed suplex on Charlotte by way of Lynch, Bayley would take the opportunity to hit her finisher, the Bayley to Belly suplex, for a long two. The match was only saved by Charlotte. With Lynch out of the picture for the moment, Charlotte locked in the figure four leg lock. Bayley would make it to the ropes, however, this being a triple threat match, a rope break doesn't break the hold. After breaking the hold, Charlotte would drag Bayley back to the center of the ring, cinching in the figure four again. This morphed into an arching figure four, which the announcers refered to as the, “Figure eight leg lock,” The joke of course being that its twice as good as Ric's.
With Bayley laying shoulders down on the mat. Lynch, ever the opportunist, would slither her way closer to Bayley, draping her arm across her chest, counting as a cover. The count was given, as a decent match reaches a disappointing conclusion.
In hindsight, it was pretty obvious that Lynch had this one in the bag. In a triple threat match featuring two face competitors that are chummy, the heel almost always walks away with the victory. Somewhat disappointing is the way in which Bayley was made to look in this match. She rarely had any control or momentum during the match. Her biggest claim to fame came by way of her finisher.
Becky Lynch meanwhile, hasn't wrestled a match in sometime. She has seen little in the way of ring improvement, while her gimmick and character have been overhauled several times since her debut. Whether or not she's deserving of a title shot at this point has yet to be seen. One thing remains certain, even in a match that truly wasn't that great, the women of NXT almost always manage to put on the match of the night.
Hideo Itami defeats CJ Parker
Parker began the match in true heel fashion, leaning the top half of his body from outside the second rope to avoid attack, a great throwback to older heel tactics. Parker increased the pace and took the fight to the mat with a headlock. Itami broke, sending parker to the ropes. Itami took momentum, hitting a hard knee to the stomach followed by a hard kick to the sternum. Parker would briefly take control, nailing hard lefts culminating in a great stalling suplex. Parker would attempt a second suplex, however Itami would slither out. Itami began his end of match sequence, hitting his flurry of kicks, followed by a hesitation dropkick to the corner. The match ended in typical televised Itami fashion, with a hesitation dropkick.
While I may have jumped the gun a bit on calling last week Parker's last match. It is fact that his contract has come to terms post Mania, tonight's appearance gives question as to how far out they're taping. Or at the least how many appearances Parker is contracted for. Nevertheless, his days are numbered, and I'm guessing this was close to his last.
Rhyno Defeats Jesus De Leon
Running take down, belly to belly suplex. Gore. Sigh...
Kevin Owens defeats Alex Riley
Our main event gets underway in a highly advertised rematch between returning wrestler Alex Riley and current champion, Kevin Owens. The pair started with a pair of collar and elbow ties, both ending in clean breaks. Riley sent Owens to the ropes, hitting a high standing dropkick. Owens took refuge to the outside, with Riley giving chase. Riley's persistence was rewarded with a hard slam back first to the entrance ramp as we went to commercial.
We returned with Owens in control of the match, holding Riley against the ropes. Riley countered with a hard slap to the cheek. Offended, Owens replied with a hard kick to the inner thigh, ending with a sweep into a senton for a two count. Owens slowed the pace with a reverse head lock. Eventually able to find his way to his feet, Riley delivered a hard knee, sending Owens to the corner. After a swinging neckbreaker, Riley would ascend to the top rope. Owens snaped to his feet, dashing to give the top rope a shake, which sent Riley stomach first across the top rope and into the ring. Owens would execute his finishers, hitting a diving clothesline in the corner followed by a Cannonball and Pop-up Powerbomb for the win.
After the match, Owens would toss Riley to the outside and begin to leave, Owens sets up Riley for a powerbomb outside, as Sami Zayn entered to save the day as the two began to brawl around the ring. Referees and officials flooded from the back to the cheers of the crowd as the pair are broken up. Next Sami Zayn entered the ring, taunting Owens to enter. Zayn ascended to the top rope, diving into the pool of refs, security, and Owens, sending the gaggle of ten to the floor. Owens would eventually retreat the ring, tail between his legs.
While by no means stand out, NXT appears to be on the road to recovery as new storylines are set and old ones appear to be put to pasture. I think I could somehow live without seeing another Alex Riley/Kevin Owens bout. It will be interesting to see if Becky Lynch will be the one to dethrone The Boss. Where does Bayley go from here? What about Rhyno? Will Balor/Breeze lead anywhere? Will Zayn be able to reclaim the crown? A lot of information appears to be heading our way in the next few weeks. I for one am excited to see if NXT will return to it's pre-Mania state of high level broadcasting, or if this will be the new normal going into the next NXT takeover event.