The show begins with the arrival of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. They did their usual microphone work with the crowd chanting along with it. And you can’t teach that. I love the promo work. Enzo has a lot of charisma. Big Cass doesn’t talk as much, but he’s good enough. They insulted the Lucha Dragons and said they’re on their way to winning the tag team titles. The crowd chanted along for their “SAWFT” spelling as well.
Analysis: When you watch their promos and the way the crowd chants along it just shows how fun NXT is. It won’t be like that on the main roster for them, at least right away. That takes a long time to build up.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto)
The announcer Rich Brennan said that Enzo calls his beard the “how I woke up” look. That’s clever. Same thing for my hair sometimes. Amore started with Kalisto, who is really quick. The fans were firmly behind Amore as Sin Cara tagged in and slammed Kalisto onto him. Big Cass tagged in for a double move where he tossed Amore into Cara and then Cass nailed a sidewalk slam for two. Sin Cara hit a kick to the head, then brought in Kalisto and he got some kicks in as well as a snap hurricanrana for two. Sin Cara worked over Amore in the corner to isolate him from his partner. Springboard into a headbutt by Sin Cara followed by a dropkick. The Dragons went for dives on both guys, but Cass shoved Amore out of the way, so they both hit Cass. Powerbomb by Sin Cara, then Cass kicked him and knocked Kalisto off the top rope. Cass tagged in and hit the East River Crossing slam. Tag to Amore, who Cass launched off the top with a splash for the pinfall win after about six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
Analysis: ** It was a standard tag team match with Amore getting worked over for much of it. Cassady only hit a couple of moves to be the difference maker and that was enough to get the job done. The fans are into the Amore/Cassady act, so it makes sense to build them up as the next tag team title contenders for Blake and Murphy. Amore/Cassady are an example of how smart it is to pair up a bigger guy with a smaller guy that can talk well. The next Takeover special hasn’t been announced although it’s probably at the end of May.
Alex Riley returns to action against CJ Parker later in the show.
(Commercial – They mentioned showing some stuff from the Arnold Sports Festival from last weekend as well Alex Riley taking on Kevin Owens. Plus it’s Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss.)
A brief video aired showing Alex Riley in action with his “say it to my face” song playing. Most of the clips were from 2010-2011 when he was on TV more often.
A video package aired profiling NXT Champion Kevin Owens. He hasn’t even wrestled that many times in NXT, but it was effective in showing how destructive he has been.
Carmella entered to say she was the Princess of Staten Island and the most fabulous diva in NXT. “Bada Bing, baddest chick in the ring. How you doing?” Good, thank you.
(Commercial – This one promoted WrestleMania.)
Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella
Bliss has been out with a broken nose, so this is her return after a few months. The action was pretty even early on until Bliss applied an armbar. Bliss hit an impressive arm drag and then a unique headscissors move, but Carmella came back by tripping her up in a move that sent Bliss head first into the middle rope. Kick by Carmella led to a two count. Carmella hit a dropkick that didn’t look that great. Carmella got a couple of nearfalls. More kicks by Carmella, but Bliss came back with forearms followed by a legsweep. Standing moonsault by Bliss. To the top rope, Bliss hit the Sparkle Splash (jump off, turn sideways in the air and splash) for the pinfall victory after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alexa Bliss
Analysis: *1/4 I like Bliss a lot. She’s pretty and she comes from an athletic background. She’s got a lot of potential as a talented babyface that still has a lot to learn. She showed off how athletic she is with a lot of the quick counter moves. That finisher was pretty good too. She’s only 23 years old. I think she’s going to be a big divas star in NXT this year and then on the main roster in a year or two. Carmella just did a lot of basic stuff. Nothing really stood out with her.
Alex Riley was shown in the locker room from earlier today. He said that for two years he felt like he was in a cage watching while hoping and praying for once chance to fight for your life. He kept yelling about being stuck in a cage. Riley thanked Kevin Owens for bringing this out in him. He added that Owens has a family, but he has no family – his family is out there (the fans). He said it’s time he joins them and that it’s time to fight for his life. “It’s time to rage.”
Analysis: Very good promo. Talking has always been one of Riley’s strengths.
Tyler Breeze did a promo into his selfie camera talking about how the “King of Cuteville” is not just a pretty face. It was just a short promo for the main event.
CJ Parker made his entrance. He wanted to talk about his world, but then Alex Riley’s music started up and he got a nice ovation for his entrance.
CJ Parker vs. Alex Riley
Riley looks to be in great shape and he’s 33 years old, so it’s not like he’s past his prime. He just needs WWE to start believing in him again. Dropkick by Riley and then Parker got a forearm shot to the back to take advantage. Parker hit a running splash to the back of Riley while Riley was against the ropes. Riley came back with a back body drop, then two clotheslines in the ring and another clothesline against the turnbuckle. Riley hit a flipping neckbreaker. Riley to the top rope and he hit the Blockbuster neckbreaker for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alex Riley
Analysis: *1/2 That result was no surprise since Parker is a NXT jobber at this point in his career. Riley did a good job of being fired up during his comeback. I’m a little surprised that he would do a Blockbuster neckbreaker as a finish just because he’s a 250 pound guy that doesn’t need a top rope move in his arsenal, but it was fine.
After the match, NXT Champion Kevin Owens showed up with a microphone in hand. He stood on the stage with the title. Owens called Riley the dumbest man in NXT and mocked the tattoo on his back as proof of that. Owens said that he’s going to put an end to Riley’s in-ring career. When he’s done with that he’s going to put an end to the rise of Finn Balor. Owens ended it by saying “trust me” as if he’s Jake Roberts 25 years ago. Both great heels.
When Owens left, Riley was emotional in the ring and was fighting back tears. Fans were chanting for him.
Analysis: The announcers kept wondering if Riley’s performance was good enough to get the match with Owens. They already had a commercial saying it was going to happen. Owens promo work is outstanding. That’s not a new statement. He was great before he was in WWE too. He’s a tremendous all around performer that’s very confident in everything that he does.
They mentioned that next week’s NXT is from the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. It was taped last weekend.
(Commercial – It was promoting Triple H vs. Sting at WrestleMania.)
Tyler Breeze entered with selfie stick in hand. Hideo Itami got a nice ovation. This feud has been building for a couple of months with Breeze doing a cheap attack on Itami, which led to Itami beating him at Takeover Rival a month ago.
Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami
Breeze stalled at the start, but then he drove Itami into the corner with shoulder tackles. Knee to the ribs by Itami and more stalling by Breeze, so Itami nailed him with a clothesline outside the ring. Itami stunned Breeze by slamming his neck against the ropes and then Breeze tripped up Itami while he was on the top rope, so Breeze took control. A legdrop by Breeze earned a two count. They went to a short break with Breeze grounding Itami in a headlock.
(Commercial – It hyped up NXT next week from Columbus, Ohio again.)
Itami started his comeback with a clothesline off the top rope. It looked much better than when Kane does it, no offense to Kane. Itami tripped up Breeze and Breeze avoided a kick. Itami nailed a huge clothesline for two. Itami hit a boot to the head, but Breeze hit an even more impressive superkick that they like to call a Supermodel Kick. Itami countered Breeze by sending him face first into the ring post. With Breeze draped over the top rope, Itami went to the top and nailed a flying knee to the back of the head for a two count. Fans were GTS for Itami. Itami nailed some kicks to the ribs, but when he went for the corner dropkick Breeze moved. Breeze capitalized with the Beauty Shot spin kick for the win. It went 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tyler Breeze
Analysis: *** It was a very good TV main event. It would be nice if they got more time, but this is only a 47 minute show. They did some spots that were similar to their Takeover Rival match from last month although the outcome was different with Breeze getting the win. Their chemistry is obviously there after working several times. Itami’s offense is so great. His kicks are really impressive. That spot where he hit a knee to the back of the head while Breeze was hanging over the top rope was outstanding too. Breeze is going to be a big star. I say it all the time, but I wish he had a better finishing move. Any move is fine as a finisher if people sell it that way. It’s just that a spin kick has been known as a basic move for so many years. I hope they can find something different for him.
The show ended with Breeze walking away victorious while they plugged next week’s NXT in Columbus, Ohio one more time.
Three Stars of the Night
1. Tyler Breeze
2. Hideo Itami
3. Alex Riley
I wasn’t sure if I was going to do three stars for my NXT reviews, but the people want it and I’m a man of the people, so I’ll do it weekly.
In typical NXT fashion, the main event was the best match on the show and was given the most time. Breeze beating Itami was a quality win for him.
Riley looked like he had so much fun being in the ring. I’m happy for him. While I can understand why he wasn’t wrestling a lot because creative had no direction for him, he’s still in his early 30s. Let him wrestle. He can be a commentator later in his career. If a singles run doesn’t happen for him, team him up with a guy like Jack Swagger. It could help both of them.
Alexa Bliss has so much potential. I’m glad she’s back in action. With Charlotte likely going to the main roster post WrestleMania, they need others to step up. Alexa definitely has the talent to be a top babyface diva in NXT this year.
I’m looking forward to next week’s show from Columbus. The crowd at Full Sail University is pretty good, but it will be interesting to see how another crowd reacts to the performers. Plus, there are some solid matches to look forward to with NXT Champion Kevin Owens and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks in action.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton –email@example.com