The 182nd edition of WWE's NXT featured NXT Champion Finn Balor facing Apollo Crews...but was it any good?
the vaudevillains defeat the hype bros
So after weeks of vignettes seemingly showing that the Vaudevillains would be returning to NXT with a new attitude, we saw them opposite the Hype Bros and to be honest, the only sign that the duo were now villains was Corey Graves talking them up on commentary. That isn't to say that this was a bad match, as the wrestling was perfectly fine, but I wanted to see a much more vicious English and Gotch, against a team that were actually over with the fans as babyfaces. Despite trying their hardest, Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder struggled to get the crowd on their side and this certainly affected the product as a home viewer. Personally, I'd have preferred to see the former NXT Tag Team Champions face a team of jobbers and destroy them before cutting a seething promo about their change in attitude. This just didn't do it for me.
fast-forward...A Tom Philips conducted sit-down interview with Carmella was an interesting change of pace to her usual energetic promos with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady...Edge & Christian's Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness got a promo video, it's coming after Fastlane apparently...Alex Reyes interviewed NXT Tag Team Champions Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, who continued their feud with Enzo & Big Cass...
carmella defeated emma
Another bout that seemed to struggle to connect with the live crowd, as Emma and Carmella worked a sloppy bout. With Carmella receiving a much hyped NXT Women's Championship bout with Bayley on next week's episode, this match didn't fill me with too much hope. The Princess of Staten Island looked awkward taking offence and uncomfortable when on the attack, especially during her comeback. At least having her defeat Emma gives her a bit more momentum than the Battle Royal victory did. I'm hoping we get a much more storyline based bout next week to cover up the challenger's in-ring misgivings.
colin cassady and enzo amore defeated some guys
In their first TV bout since losing to Dash & Dawson at Takeover: London, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady dominated some unannounced challengers, squashing them in a couple of minutes. Before the bout was where most of the entertainment was to be found, with Amore cutting a promo that was similar to the one he cut pre-match in London. The fire he brings to his promos means that the team is rarely hurt by a loss and can easily re-build momentum. Whilst originally I felt that NXT might have missed the boat by not putting the titles on these guys in London, it's become clear over the last few weeks that a rematch opposite Dawson and Dash has become a much bigger deal than it otherwise would have been.
fast-forward...William Regal announced that because of the finish of the Number One Contender's Triple Threat last week, Sami Zayn would face Samoa Joe to settle the winner, although a date for the airing of the bout was not confirmed...Asuka destroyed Santana Garrett...
nxt champion finn balor defeated apollo crews
As TV main events go, this was a bloody good match, with both Finn Balor's title reign and Apollo Crews' NXT credentials being bolstered for having taken part in the match. The two worked a lovely technical start, with Balor finding inventive ways to keep Crews in a headlock for a lot of the opening section. The psychology of the bout played out nicely, with Balor always one step ahead of Crews, especially in the first two thirds of the action, always having an answer for Crews. This lead to Crews mostly relying on explosive bursts of action, which showcased his athleticism and power well, as he hit a variety of exciting moves, such as the stripped down version of the Uhaa Combination, to get a handful of near falls.
Once the pace began to pick up, things got even more interesting with both men landing big moves and getting good near falls. With the action becoming more frenetic, the psychology of the bout was only getting stronger, with a superb sequence on the outside which saw Balor dodge a moonsault attempt of the apron, before dashing inside and delivering a picture perfect Tope Conhilo, once again putting Balor that one step ahead of his younger competitor. With Crews not hitting his Spin-Out Powerbomb finish, and Balor using the Bloody Sunday, after already hitting Coup de Grace, put Crews over huge, with the idea being that Balor felt even his regular finishing move wouldn't have been enough for Crews. However, whilst this was a top quality television bout, I'd love to see what these two could do with the title on the line on an Takeover special.
atpw scale rating - 4.55 (Average to Good TV)
For me, this show was saved by it's main event. After the opening two matches failed to connect with the crowd, either due to sloppy performances or odd booking choices, the main event did exactly what it needed to do for the two wrestlers involved, who worked hard throughout for both each other and the fans in attendance and watching at home. It will interesting to see how Carmella manages to do in her NXT Women's Championship match with Bayley next week, as the road towards Takeover: Dallas begins to heat up.