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This week’s show begins with the former NXT Champion Sami Zayn in street clothes. The announce team for this week are Rich Brennan and Corey Graves.

Zayn is making his return after being off for nearly two months. There was a loud “Sami” chant before he spoke. He mentioned he was overseas in Abu Dhabi as part of a tour and had a great time, but the only thing that was on his mind was Kevin Owens. Zayn mentioned that the guy he was in the ring with at Takeover: Rival is a different guy than the guy he was in the ring with two years ago or ten years ago. Zayn said he’s had a time to think and formulate a plan. He said he’s going to use his rematch to recapture his NXT Championship. After that, number one on the priority list is to kick Kevin Owens’ ass. That was the end of his promo.

Analysis: He started the promo calmly and then fired up as he went on. The crowd was into everything that he said. They didn’t say when he’s wrestling again or when that match with Owens might be, but that’s something everybody wants to see. Zayn’s developed into a very good talker in NXT. When he first got there people had questions, but he’s improved. In ring he’s always been very good. The promos needed work and he got better.

They mentioned the matches coming up later.

Rhyno vs. Unnamed Opponent

They never gave a name for the opponent. Rhyno drove him into the corner and hit a belly to belly suplex. The fans chanted “Gore” and Rhyno hit the Gore for the win in about 20 seconds.

Winner by pinfall: Rhyno

Analysis: It was a quick squash win to put over Rhyno.

Post match, Rhyno said he came to NXT to make a statement. He said he came there to win the NXT Championship. Fans were chanting “Gore” for him as Rhyno called out Zayn, Balor or Owens because no matter who it is he will be ripped in half with the Gore, Gore, Gore.

Analysis: Good promo to just over Rhyno’s focus and reasons for being in NXT. He’s not going to win the NXT Title, but he’s a credible name. A guy like him going for it helps the NXT brand. It’s cool to use veterans with the younger guys.

(Commercial – There was the WWE Hero commercial.)

A video package aired for Dana Brooke, who bragged about her sculpted body. It said she debuts in two weeks on NXT.

There were replays of last week’s NXT Title match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor, which was a fantastic match.

Kevin Owns was shown after the match last week. He said that winning is all that matters because nobody is taking away the title – not Balor or Zayn. He ended by saying nobody.

The divas made their entrance first with Bayley getting cheered a lot. This was set up because Emma is turning heel. She still has the bubble entrance although she looked like she wasn’t into it as Brennan noted it was like she was mocking herself.

Bayley vs. Emma

There was a really slow feeling out process to it, then Bayley got a shoulder block and Emma tripped her up. Big clothesline by Emma, who followed it up by tossing Bayley into the turnbuckle multiple times. Emma urged Bayley to bring out her nasty side, so Bayley fired up and rammed Emma into the turnbuckle multiple times. A corner splash by Bayley missed and Emma applied the Emma Lock. The Emma-mite Sandwich splash in the corner by Emma, but then Bayley countered her nonchalant cover with a sweet pinfall for the win. The match went about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bayley

Post match, Bayley checked on her. Emma looked upset in the ring.

Analysis: *1/4 It was a pretty light match. By that it was very basic stuff and they weren’t busting out big moves at all. It’s probably going to lead to another match with Emma coming off as a lot more aggressive and fully turning heel there. Bayley’s solid in the ring. I like the idea that Emma is turning because the current gimmick is too limited.

Becky Lynch was interviewed by Devon Taylor. She complained about how others got title shots at the NXT Women’s Title, but she is still waiting for her opportunity. She also spoke about she proved what she could do at Takeover Rival and she wants her chance.

Analysis: It’s a good way to keep her in the mix because she hasn’t been on for several weeks. When the show is an hour long they really only have time for one diva match or segment per week.

(Commercial – Chris Jericho’s podcast comes to WWE Network on Monday after Raw with John Cena as the guest.)

Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy vs. Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara)

This is not for Blake and Murphy’s tag team titles. The Dragons were aggressive in the early going as they took out Blake & Murphy, then Kalisto nailed a moonsault to take out both guys. Back in the ring, the champs were able to outsmart them and they sent Kalisto the floor. Blake applied a tight headlock for about a minute. Kalisto got a nearfall, but Blake came back with a clothesline. Murphy hit a double knee attack for a two count. Kalisto hit a back elbow to break free and hot tag to Sin Cara, who hit a flying headbutt on Murphy and then a springboard cross body. A moonsault off the second rope by Sin Cara earned a two count. A hard kick to the face by Sin Cara on the apron knocked down Murphy. The champs cheated, Kalisto was telling the ref to look and they got in a shot to the face of Sin Cara. Murphy hit a running vertical suplex and Blake hit a Frog Splash for the win after 7 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Blake & Murphy

Analysis: ** It was a pretty standard tag match. A lot of times the champions lose non-title matches. In this instance the champs won because they’re still establishing them as a team, so it’s important that they rack up victories to look more credible. The Lucha Dragons have become regulars on the main roster. It makes sense for them to put over the champs in a clean fashion like that.

Zayn was interviewed by Taylor when Rhyno showed up. Rhyno said he didn’t come to NXT to wait in line or earn a spot. He told Zayn that the line to the NXT Title starts behind him. He said it twice.

Analysis: I like the intensity of Rhyno. That’s always been one of his strengths.

There was a video for Solomon Crowe with him saying he’s on a mission to become NXT Champion. They showed highlights of him in action.

Tye Dillinger vs. Jason Jordan

They were a tag team. Jordan walked out on Dillinger so here’s their grudge match. Shoulder tackle by Jordan in the corner. He took down Dillinger with a couple of takedowns and then a splash to the back. Jordan grabbed a headlock, Dillinger fought out with an atomic drop, some hard chops and then a Russian legsweep. Jordan sent Dillinger head first into the top turnbuckle. Jordan hit an overhead release suplex and that was enough for the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jason Jordan

Analysis: *1/4 I like both guys. Jordan has a lot of raw skills, but definitely needs work on his character development. Give him a nickname as well as a unique gimmick and it will help him a lot. Dillinger’s a Canadian guy with a lot of experience that can definitely help younger guys like Jordan get better in the ring. That’s not a finishing move he should be using in the long term, but it’s fine for new.

There was a video package summarizing the issues between Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami. Basically, Itami originally beat Breeze, then Breeze was able to get the win on him and now they are having a 2 out of 3 Falls match.

(Commercial – It was an ad for WWE’s deal with Tapout. The merch isn’t available until 2016 so these generic commercials will probably air every week for the next eight months.)

2/3 Falls: Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami

The announcers need to cut back on saying “NXT Universe” because it’s really annoying. It’s fine for the company as a whole, but not this show. Breeze was the aggressor early with forearm smashes in the corner. Itami came back with a clothesline, knee to the ribs, kicks and a running dropkick in the corner. Itami hit the running kick to the face for the first fall after about two minutes.

Hideo Itami leads 1-0

When the bell rang for the second fall, Breeze stalled in the corner. The referee made Itami stand back while Breeze was in the corner. When Itami was staring at the ref, Breeze connected with the Beauty Shot (spinning heel kick) and that was enough for a pin after about one minute.

Tyler Breeze gets pinfall to tie it 1-1

(Commercial – Next week on NXT it’s NXT at WrestleMania Axxess.)

Breeze was in control at the start of the third fall with a headlock to wear down Itami. More offense from Breeze with a legdrop and then another headlock. Breeze missed a dropkick, Itami hit two clotheslines and a legsweep to trip up Breeze. Running knee in the corner by Itami and then a DDT where he stunned Breeze on the top rope. Huge lariat by Itami for a two count. Inside cradle by Breeze for two. Itami sunset flip for two, then they exchanged some more nearfalls. Itami boot to the face for two. Breeze connected with a Supermodel Kick for a two count. That was a very believable nearfall. Breeze tried some kicks and punches, but Itami came back with some more kicks to the ribs and when he went for a running corner dropkick, Breeze move. He was able to connect with it. Itami whipped Breeze into the ropes, he looked to be going for a kick and instead it was Breeze who connected with the Beauty Shot for pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner 2 falls to 1: Tyler Breeze

Analysis: **3/4 It was a pretty good match with three falls for the time given, but they’ve also had better matches in the past. They just weren’t able to get that match to another gear that we’ve seen them capable of in the past. Itami’s comeback was great in the last fall and he got the crowd behind him. It just didn’t feel like the epic match it could have been considering the other matches they’ve had in the past. Breeze winning both falls with the same move

The show ended with Breeze celebrating the win.

Three Stars of the Night

1. Tyler Breeze

2. Hideo Itami

3. Sami Zayn

 

Final Thoughts

The show was a bit of a step back this week. There really wasn’t anything that you have to go out of your way to see. It was pretty average all around.

Emma going heel should be interesting. She really needs to do something different, so I’m hoping it works out for her.

Breeze winning the feud is good just because he’s a young guy on the rise. The problem is that Itami losing really doesn’t help him a lot and they need to figure out a way to use him better. My guess is maybe they will move Itami to the main roster soon and that’s why he put over Breeze.

There was good fire in Zayn during his promo. I’m glad they didn’t rush a confrontation with Owens. Build up to it.

Next week’s show should be really good with a lot of highlights from WrestleMania weekend at Axxess. The next NXT Takeover is expected in late May so they have plenty of time to build up to it.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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