The Ascension vs Rhyno and Baron Corbin (1st Round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic)
The 1st Round of the ‘Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic’ kicked off with the return of NXT’s longest reigning tag team champions, The Ascension. How the mighty have fallen…! They haven’t made any impact at all on the main roster, so why not bring them back down to NXT? The random pairing of Rhyno and Baron Corbin (they hated each other earlier on in the year) made me suspicious about The Ascension’s reason for being in the tournament. Were they just there to make up the numbers?
It’s the best match the Ascension has had since leaving NXT. That’s not saying much, I know, but it was a decent match. Strangely enough, Corbin was on the defensive for most of the the bout. Now that he’s lost, has he become soft? His selling is improving incrementally, but still leaves a lot to be desired. The Ascension were looking good right until Corbin distracted Connor; right then I knew the end was nigh. A Gore from Rhyno later, and The Ascension exited the tournament. A strange pairing of Rhyno and Corbin, but it kind of worked!
WINNERS: Rhyno and Baron Corbin
VERDICT: 6/10. Nothing great, or even very good, but a decent opening to NXT. Nice to see The Ascension back in NXT as well!
Alexa Bliss vs Blue Pants
A too-short match from the inexplicably popular Pants and the aggressive Bliss. A few nice moves from Bliss here, from a Northern Lights Suplex to a moonsault double knee strike. Bliss controlled most of the match, save for Pants’ usual kicks. Not much else to say about it! Bliss easily won.
WINNER: Alexa Bliss
VERDICT: 4/10. Short and below-average match from Bliss and Pants.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: William Regal is with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, who I am not familiar with in the slightest! Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate maybe? They are in the Dusty Rhodes Tournament! Tyler Breeze interrupts, demanding a partner so he can participate in the tournament. Regal agrees to his demand. Who will he get? A mirror?
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Emma reminds everything that she took part in the first women’s main event in NXT. Without her, there would be no Diva’s Revolution…apparently…She’s good, but she’s not that good!
Apollo Crews vs Martin Stone
Jobber alert! Martin Stone on the horizon! At least he has a reasonable name, rather than Apollo Crews. Who the hell thought up that name?!?! Anyway, this short bout saw Crews on the offence a lot more than he was in his debut match. However, he didn’t show many more offensive moves than he did in that bout. Still, he moves very quickly for a big man, and his standing moonsault is always good to see!
WINNER: Apollo Crews
VERDICT: 5/10. Pretty average bout, but Crews still manages to impress with his quickness and agility.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Jordan and Gable brought a bit of Greek mythology into the mix by saying that Nevile and Solomon Crowe will fly to close to the sun and fall. Does Neville have wings of wax? Will the wax in Crowe’s hair melt and burn his eyes, so he can’t see where he’s going? A nice but nonsensical use of Greek mythology, but at least it’s educational! Jordan needs a lot of work on the mike, but Gable is almost a natural (but needs some work to).
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Samoa Joe happens to walk into Finn Balor and congratulates him. They are put together as a tag team for the Dusty Rhodes Tournament. Do I smell a Joe swerve turn?!?!?
Eva Marie vs Billie Kay
Bliss vs Pants looked like Banks vs Charlotte compared to this dire bout. One of the worst of 2015? I should think so! It’s awfulness was punctuated by Eva Marie forgetting to kick out at one point. Eva is nowhere near ready to even be in the horizon of the NXT Women’s championship. But her successive wins have me worried. Keep her away from the title!
WINNER: Eva Marie
VERDICT: 1/10. And that point is for the two women showing up! Eva Marie’s worst bout so far. She just doesn’t understand wrestling, does she?
Neville and Solomon Crowe vs Jason Jordan and Chad Gable
Neville and Crowe? What another absurd pairing! However, Neville received a booming ovation from the NXT crowd. A fitting welcome back for one of NXT’s greatest wrestlers. Crowe, obviously spurred on by his pairing with Neville, actually looked good for once! Neville rarely puts a foot wrong. Jordan and Gable are going to be a great tag team. In short, all the elements were there for a very good main event. It didn’t disappoint! An entertaining match, if spoilt a little by the lack of chemistry between Neville and Crowe.
Crowe took the brunt of the punishment from Gable and Jordan for most of the bout, until the hot tag to Neville. As usual, Neville flew about (almost literally!), a moonsault here and spinning flip there. Neville’s springboard move was caught by Jordan, who slams him to the mat in the moment of the match. Crowe tagged himself in, and thus cost his team the match. Gable and Jordan hit the Grand Amplitude (if it’s still called that!) on Crowe for the victory.
WINNERS: Gable and Jordan
VERDCIT: 7/10. Match of the night. Crowe and Neville failed to find any chemistry, but Neville will light up any match. And Gable and Jordan are destined for greatness!
OVERALL VERDICT: 5/10. The opening and closing bouts were worth watching, and two of the other matches were decent, and a good opening to the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. But NXT Episode 295 featured one of the worst matches in 2015! So with a good conscience, I cannot give this episode more than an average rating!
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(Click here for my review of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)