Location: Winter Park, FL
Date: January 1, 2015
Commentators: Jason Albert, Corey Graves, and Rich Brennan
Non-Title Match: NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons vs. Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger
Jordan and Dillinger don’t get much of a crowd reaction. The Lucha Dragons have new attire that matches their belts. Dillinger and Kalisto start as Dillinger chops the fuck out of him. Kalisto comes back with some of his high flying arm drags, causing Tye to tag Jordan. He comes in and hits a beautiful fallaway slam for two. Tye and Jason now cut the ring in half and are playing the heels more than usual with taunting and things like that. Commentary discusses their amateur wrestling backgrounds. Kalisto nails some kicks in the corner before flipping over Tye to tag Sin Cara. He comes in with a springboard cross body before botching his next move. Classic Sin Cara. He does rebound by succeeding on an Asai moonsault. Kalisto hits a corkscrew over and out before Sin Cara nails a sunset bomb in the corner to pin Dillinger.
Winners: NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons in 3:05
Solid little tag team match. It was relatively short but Dillinger and Jordan got a chance to show some heel personality, while the Champions looked strong. Absolutely fine. **1/2
The Lucha Dragons have their celebration cut short by the attacking Vaudevillains. Unfortunately for the Lucha Dragons, the Vaudevillains are a very popular tag team, so they don’t get the sympathy they probably should.
CJ Parker is nervous about his upcoming match with Baron Corbin, when Bull Dempsey comes up to him. He wants Parker to embarrass Baron. Parker pushes him away but Bull seems to get to him by saying he should do it for the “greater good.”
An advertisement is shown for NXT moving to Wednesday nights. The focal point of the ad is Sasha Banks, which is always a good thing.
We are joined by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. He does his trademark stuff to introduce Carmella and her “Fancy” rip-off theme.
Carmella w/ Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Blue Pants
A “Blue Pants” chant breaks out as the crowd wants Indy favorite Leva Bates before she’s even announced. Enzo calls this her “road to redemption.” Carmella covers her ears. The name Blue Pants actually appears on screen. Blue Pants is in X-Men like attire, which, if you know Leva Bates, is kind of her thing. Carmella shoulder blocks her down before a hair whip. Carmella is playing the heel, by stepping on her opponent’s hair. Enzo gets on the apron, doing his usual stuff, leading Carmella to slap him off. This allows Blue Pants to win with a small package!
Winner: Blue Pants in 1:08
Simple stuff. Carmella did two things and lost because of Enzo, furthering that angle. NO RATING
After the match, Carmella attacks Enzo to a chorus of boos.
Baron Corbin vs. CJ Parker
Because his sign says “You can break my sign but you can’t break my spirit”, the crowd chants for Baron to “break his spirit.” Bull Dempsey is at ringside as Baron hits snake eyes, a big boot and the End of Days.
Winner: Baron Corbin in 0:28
Your usual Baron Corbin stuff. SQUASH.
Baron Corbin grabs a microphone, speaking for the first time. He asks if Bull Dempsey is gonna stand there looking scared or will they do this. He goes outside and just pulls Bull over the guardrail and they just go at it. While I think it’s clear that Baron is going to win out and be the potential star here, I like how this was built as two guys who could take each other’s hits. Officials break this up. Hopefully, the constant squashes end after their eventual match.
Devin Taylor interviews William Regal, who informs everyone that Sami Zayn will return next week with an update. Curtis Axel interrupts because he wants a shot on NXT to recharge his career. “I’m a former Intercontinental Champion. I’ve beaten Triple H. I’ve beaten John Cena.” Regal gives him a match next week against Hideo Itami. I’m guessing Curtis will replace Tyson Kidd as solid worker who moves to NXT to help guys out and maybe turn his career around.
Devin Taylor, earning her paycheck, is in the ring now. She introduces Charlotte, who lets out a hearty “Woo!” as she comes out because she has to remind us a million times per appearance that she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. Devin asks what’s next since she beat every girl. The crowd chants “Blue Pants” and she tells them to shut up. It’s odd that she would do this since she was a face last time I saw. Sasha Banks interrupts after being called “the toughest female” Charlotte has ever faced. Sasha claims that it doesn’t matter that she lost twice to her because Team BAE is gonna attack her. They surround the ring until Natalya joins the fray. BUT WHOSE SIDE IS SHE ON? She’s a face. Team BAE leaves. I guess it’s leading to a tag match. Decent promo that could have been better.
Tyler Breeze tells all of us uggos that NXT is moving to Wednesdays. Next week, along with Itami/Axel, the Vaudevillains get their rematch for the NXT Tag Titles.
We get a self-shot video from Sami Zayn, who is home for the holidays. He’s sending in some comments on William Regal’s orders, and he doesn’t have anything to say about how great it is to be Champion. He can only think about how his best friend turned his back on him. We then see a clip of Renee Young trying to interview Kevin Owens three weeks ago but he walks out when she suggests that he stole Sami’s moment.
The Ascension vs. Hideo Itami and Finn Balor
No body paint for Finn tonight. It’s a special events thing. We open with a fist fight that Balor and Itami win, and they go for the stereo dropkicks, The Ascension exits in a nice callback to their previous matches. Alex Riley, continuing to be the WORST thing about commentary, just shits on Balor and Itami, saying they were lucky at R Evolution. Balor works over Viktor quickly until Itami comes in and lights him up in the corner with kicks. Balor gets a near fall by leaping in and landing on Viktor. Balor and Itami continue to show good chemistry and use quick tags. Balor comes in but gets knocked outside with a huge uppercut from Viktor. Commercial break time. During that time, Balor has been getting picked apart while Riley puts over Konnor. You know Konnor right? The guy who has been in developmental for like, ten years. Balor is playing the face in peril and I’ll give the Ascension this; they are very good at playing the old school powerhouse heel team. They do the little things that make a difference. Again, Riley sounds like a clown saying that Balor and Itami are untested in long matches, while clearing forgetting that 90% of Ascension matches were short squashes. They just club away on Balor as he tries to fight resiliently. A huge fist drop from Viktor gets two. A Pele kick from out of nowhere takes down Konnor. Both guys are down but double tags are made. Itami comes in hot with a huge bit boot and running dropkick for two. He goes up top and hits a tornado DDT into the top rope, snapping Viktor’s neck back. He hits a flying clothesline but runs into a big STO. He kicks out at two though. Viktor hoists Hideo on his shoulders but he fights out and switches it up. The crowd pops hard for a potential GTS but it’s broken up. Balor comes in with a running neckbreaker variation. He double stomps on Konnor outside, while Itami nearly kicks Viktor’s head off and wins.
Winners: Hideo Itami and Finn Balor in 13:08
Not as good as their R Evolution match, but still well done. Great use of tag formula and big win for two potential big stars. ***
The 411: NXT returns with a very solid episode. The opening tag match was good and built towards next week’s match. The Blue Pants stuff was fun and advanced the Enzo/Carmella stuff. We get great forward movement in Bull/Baron, while the Divas did fine in a short segment. Lastly, our main event was solid. That’s what I want from my show. Solid wrestling and angle advancement. Nothing was useless and everything on NXT continues to make sense.