Samoa Joe and Finn Balor vs Amore and Cassady (Round 2 of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament)
This match was a strangely muted affair. Not that it was bad, but it wasn’t good, either. The most exciting part was just before the commercial break, as Amore hit a suicide dive on Joe and Balor hit a sunset plancha on Cassady. Much of the match centred around Cassady and Joe, and they just couldn’t work well together. The ending was also questionable: Joe in a Cena-like move powered out of the Air Amore and lifted Amore up. Does this mean that Joe is impervious to the Air Amore? From then on it was a straight sail to Joe and Balor winning. As an aside, why are so many of the matches for the Dusty Rhodes Classic taking place on house shows? We’ve only witnessed about half the matches on the WWE Network episodes of NXT! I feel it hasn’t been given time to breathe…
WINNER: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor
VERDICT: 5/10. Just an average tag team match.
SEGMENT: Gargano and Ciampa are interviewed. They say that they are focusing on the future…but the future is now…and what happens next is important…well, that didn’t make any sense to me! Tyler Breeze interrupts them to set up a match between Breeze and Ciampa later on.
Johnny Gargano vs Apollo Crews
A decent match from Gargano and Crews. Crews, as usual, took the brunt of the beating in the first two-thirds of the match. I’m all for selling, don’t get me wrong. But Crews spends an awful lot of times during matches on the defensive, then suddenly Hulks Up and batters his opponent for the end. I just want to see him dominate somebody for once! Gargano’s mid-match abdominal stretch took a lot of heat out of a match that had been fast-paced. From then on, Crews powered out of a headlock with a vertical suplex and went through the motions towards his finishing manoeuvre. Predictable ending, but decent up to that point.
WINNER: Apollo Crews
VERDICT: 6/10. A better than average match that was taken down a notch by a submission held for too long.
SEGMENT: William Regal tells Dana Brooke (who’s in the office with Emma) that she’s facing Asuka at NXT Takeover: Respect. Brooke laughs, as she should; didn’t Asuka walk out of the ring when Brooke and Emma told her to? However, Regal shows Brooke and Emma a video of Asuka training. All Emma has to say is ‘good luck!’
Dana Brooke and Emma vs Billie Kay and Peyton Royce
Kay and Royce did enough to make this match worthwhile, but only just. The risible Brooke takes heat out of a match just by being in it, let alone wrestling in it. Emma phoned in her performance as well. The most memorable part of the match was Royce’s fall of the ropes whilst attempting a move. It looked like a hard fall, and neither Royce or Brooke really knew how to cover it up. From then on the match turned into a mess. Brooke got the pinfall in the end.
WINNER: Brooke and Emma
VERDICT: 3/10. A botch and an ending that simply fizzled out made this a match to miss.
Tyler Breeze vs Tomasso Ciampa
Easily the match of the night. Full of innovative moves and rapid action, Breeze and Ciampa assembled one of the best matches in NXT in the past few weeks. Ciampa’s strikes sound and look brutal, and this match was packed full of them. The move of the match was Ciampa’s reverse STO as Breeze was hung on the top rope! A beautiful move. Ciampa and Breeze made me doubt that Breeze would win, which is a high commendation in itself. However, Ciampa jumped off the tope rope into a dropkick by Breeze, which was the beginning of the end for Ciampa. Breeze stole Christian’s finisher, the Killswitch, for the victory.
WINNER: Tyler Breeze
VERDICT: 8/10. A great match! Fast-paced and action-packed, there was little time wasted by both competitors.
SEGMENT: An almost ten minute package built up the main event for NXT Takeover: Respect: Bayley vs Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Title in an Iron Man match. It’s hard to fault any WWE-produced video package, and this one was no exception. My favourite part, however, was the training montage including both Bayley and Banks. It really got me pumped up for the match! WWE/NXT should have the training montage more often as part of their video packages. ‘Getting strong now…’
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. A poor first half of the show was more than cancelled out by the second half. A great match between Breeze and Ciampa, plus a brilliant video package for Bayley and Sasha Banks, simply made this episode.
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