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WWE NXT -February 4, 2015

by Samoa Rowe

-From Winter Park, FL. Our hosts are Corey Graves, Alex Riley, and Rich Brennan.

-Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady do their routine promo shtick on the way to the ring. They still have Carmella with them, so that lingering spit-up is still a thing. For the record, Cassady and Enzo are babyfaces, but Carmella is a heel. The fans chant for Blue Pants, so Carmella says she sent her to the dry cleaners.

Carmella (with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady) vs. Emma

Emma is rejoining NXT since her main roster run isn’t going well. Can we please get Summer Rae and Paige back too? Emma scores a takedown and thrashes Carmella by the head. Emma rolls with some clotheslines and applies the Dil-Emma. Carmella counters with her head scissors submission and scores the win at 1:51. Boooooo! Emma was showing a new aggressive side up until that sudden finish, ½*.
Winner: Carmella

#1 Contenders Tournament:
Adrian Neville vs. Baron Corbin

This is Corbin’s first opportunity to showcase what he’s got against a seasoned opponent, so this should be interesting. They lock up and Corbin towers over Neville. They get a clean break and Neville nails some kicks. Neville escapes a slam and somersaults his way to safety. Neville runs into a hard clothesline and rolls to the floor. Corbin plays a subtle heel as he wears Neville down. I could swear Corbin is blown up as Neville makes a comeback with drop-kicks. Corbin catches Adrian in a dive to the floor and drops him on the guard rail. Corbin tosses Neville into the ring and the referee misses a Bull Dempsey run-in. Adrian kicks Corbin in the head to set up the Red Arrow for the win at 5:26. Neville completely carried Corbin here. I’m getting a sinking feeling that in a few years we’ll be seeing Corbin get booed in a Royal Rumble victory while fans chant for Sami Zayn. *½.
Winner: Adrian Neville

-NXT Champion Sami Zayn talks about how Kevin Owens, the master manipulator, who arranged to make the main event at NXT Takeover: Rival a title match. Zayn admits that Owens made him plead to put the title on the line, but now he’s got a level head and is prepared for the fight to come. It’s hard to believe what a good talker Sami Zayn is after all those years of hardly ever speaking as El Generico.

Bayley vs. Becky Lynch

The fans chant “Bayley’s gonna hug you” as Bayley scores a takedown. Lynch goes after Bayle’s previously injured knee. Lynch positions Bayley with a body slam for a series of leg drops. There is a sarcastic “Better than Hogan” chant for the leg drops. Bayley escapes a leg lock and kicks Becky to the floor. Sasha Banks appears just in time to witness Bayley’s short-lived comeback. Lynch scores a dragon-screw, but Bayley counters with a roll-up for 2. Bayley displays her aggressive side with a coordinated attack to the leg, culminating with a Half Crab. Becky gets the ropes and rolls to the floor, where Sasha forces her back in. The Bayley to Belly Suplex finishes it at 4:18. I really enjoyed the story here, complete with sound in-ring work, **.
Winner: Bayley

-After the match, Becky shoves Sasha down to the canvas. NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte shows up on the stage to remind everyone that she’s the champion.

-Kevin Owens talks about last week’s contract signing. He says he never had any intention of signing a contract for anything but a championship match and that he got exactly what he wanted. Owens is looking forward to becoming NXT Champion two months to the day of becoming an NXT star.

-Solomon Crowe hacks the Balor vs. Itami graphic.

-Devin Taylor interrupts Tyler Breeze’s selfie session to inquire about his plans. Breeze rudely barks at her, saying he’s going to sit back and watch the rest of the #1 contenders tournament unfold.

#1 Contenders Tournament:
Hideo Itami vs. Finn Balor

Adrian Neville joins commentary to scout his competition. The story coming into this match is that Balor and Itami are longtime friends, with Itami being the man who brought Balor into NXT in the first place. The fans chant “This is awesome” and “We’re not worthy” during the feeling out process. A stalemate sequence earns a “Better than Raw” chant. Balor hits a perfect drop-kick to set up a commercial break. Itami takes control during the break, and works a chinlock. Balor rolls through a sunset flip to nail a drop-kick, setting up a modified chinlock. This rest-heavy contest isn’t what the previously rabid fans were expecting. Balor connects with an enziguri on the ropes for a 2 count. They take a second commercial break. The match returns with Balor dishing out chops. Hideo puts together a string of offense, complete with a flying clothesline for 2. Itami teases the GTS (to a huge pop) but Balor surprises with a Pele Kick. Both men are down as another “This is awesome” chant breaks out. Itami lights Balor up with a series of strikes, resulting in a running drop-kick into the corner. Balor rebounds with the Sling Blade and flying double stomp to the gut for the win at 11:45. This took a while to get going, and the fans were a bit too sycophantic for my liking, but both men looked like warriors before it was over, ***.
Winner: Finn Balor

-Balor and Itami display good sportsmanship with a handshake. Balor vs. Neville at Takeover: Rival should be all kinds of awesome.

-The show ends with an excellent hype video for Zayn vs. Owens.

Final Thoughts: An enjoyable “go home” episode for Takeover: Rival. It got me interested in all the big matches and featured a good, long match in Itami vs. Balor. NXT continues to rock, so Thumbs Up!

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