This week’s episode of NXT was all about one match: Kevin Owens vs Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship. Storylines were progressed, and there was one other match, but in the end, all that mattered was the main event. But first there was…
ALEXA BLISS VS SASHA BANKS (NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP)
The two women kicked off NXT. Why Alexa was given a Women’s Championship shot after only returning on last week’s show and beating Banks by count-out? Regardless, they assembled a decent match. Nothing special, but a nice taster course for the main event. Alexa held her own against Banks, impressing with her standing moonsault kneedrop, but I couldn’t help but agree with Banks when she shouted to Bliss “You’re not even in my league!” Bliss has the quickness and speed, but hasn’t quite got the wrestling technique down. What hindered the match was the short duration (under ten minutes), which lead to a quick and understated finish. Banks arm drags Bliss from the top rope and locks in the Bank Statement. No build up, just a finish.
WINNER: Sasha Banks
VERDICT: 4/10. Truly average match. The NXT women have set the bar so high that anything other than amazing is disappointing!
Before the main event, various segments padded out the show. There were promos from both Owens and Bálor to promote their main event. Owens, as ever, was brilliant on the mike. Bálor needs some work. He is getting there, but still looks like he is reading lines from memory. He never seems convinced about what he is saying.
Emma ended up slapping Bailey in her quest to turn Bailey heel. Emma had failed to convince Bailey to turn her back on the NXT Universe. Some good work from both women here.
Tyler Breeze made me giggle with his ‘Hideous Itami’ comment! He was great on the mike, as always. Itami, while he still struggles with English, always gets straight to the point. The two will meet next week in a 2/3 Falls Match. Should be a corker!
NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy apologised to Carmella by buying her a glitzy bracelet. She loved it; Amore and Cassady claimed it was fake. That’s all there was to that segment. Nothing more.
After waiting and waiting through segment after segment, it was finally time…
Kevin Owens vs Finn Bálor (NXT CHAMPIONSHIP)
Bálor came to the ring with no face paint on, a key point of Owens’ previous promo. Owens asked Bálor to bring the demon, but no demon came out. Just Bálor.
Owens started off the match walking around outside the ring, just like he did at NXT: Rival. What followed was a similar match to Owens vs Zayn from NXT: Rival. But I think it even exceeded that awesome match. Owens dominated most of the first half of the match, and I was getting a little restless. Come on, this was Owens vs Bálor!!! I want action, action, action! I was soon more than satisfied.
The match started to hit its stride when Bálor back dropped Owens to the outside and executed a running dive. Bálor controlled the match for a while, even hitting his special lifting underhook DDT. However, Bálor missed his patented dropkick to the corner and injured his knee. The parallel to the Zayn vs Owens match heightened here. Owens zoned in on Bálor’s knee. The crowd started a ‘This is Awesome’ chant, which was entirely appropriate. It was even more appropriate after Owens reversed a superplex attempt into a sort-of-spinning-suplex on Bálor. I gasped! Owens senton to Bálor’s knee in the corner was another ‘gasp’ moment. Bálor came back, to even hit Owens with the Coup de Grace. But, his injury caused him to miss the pinfall. One Pop Up Powerbomb later, Owens retained the NXT Championship.
VERDICT: 9/10. Wow…just wow! Owen’s best match to date (and maybe even Bálor’s?). I want to see a rematch as soon as possible! WrestleMania worthy…
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. An average first Women’s match, so-so segments, but bolstered by a truly great match. Every match at WrestleMania now has a standard with which to top…(and I can’t see Lesnar vs Reigns even getting close to this one).