Linus Report: NXT 14/01/15

Hey, it’s WWE NXT! It’s that show you love made by the same people that make that show you hate!

The show started with Tyson Kidd coming to the ring for his big revenge match with Finn Balor. Balor – and his pal Hideo Itami – got the better of Kidd – and Justin Gabriel – a few weeks back, and then saw off Kidd & Tyler Breeze a few weeks after that. Kidd asked for this re-match, sensibly jettisoning his dead weight partners, and NXT commissioner Steven Regal is a man who gives people what they want!

Our announcers welcomed us to the show, the first on a Wednesday night to accommodate Smackdown’s switch to Thursday. Renee Young said that Wednesday is her Woman Crush day, and her crush – as always – is Joey Mercury. Her boyfriend will be disappointed with that. Axel Riley claimed that Wednesday is shoulder day in the gym for him, while Rich Brennan looks bewildered by it all and can’t wait for the action to start.

Finn Balor came to the ring, the crowd loving his usual entrance. He has some great music. I’m glad he’s saving the full make-up extravaganza for the big shows or he’d just be Jeff Hardy. And nobody wants that.

Balor got the match off to a fast start with a huge dropkick, before climbing to the top and missing a double footstomp. He hit some chops and a dropkick to a prone Kidd in the corner, and Kidd rolled to the outside for some respite.

They did some more in and out stuff and then Kidd rammed Balor into the guard rails, which moved a foot back. These are not your WWE guard rails.

And that’s where it stopped being good. I don’t know what it was, but these guys did not work well together tonight. Everything they did seemed a little off. It wasn’t terrible, but you’d expect so much more from these guys.

Renee informed us that Tyson had pictures of his cats on his boots, and sure enough he did. Last week he was telling us how he regurgitated food into their mouths when they were sick. I love Tyson The Scary Cat Man.

They pulled out some big stuff – the Pele kick, a weird but cool floatover neckbreaker thingy, a flip dive to the outside, and a dragon screw on the ropes – but it just did not come together. Balor got the win with the reverse Bloody Sunday and a double footstomp off the top rope. They’ll both have better days.

They showed a video package hyping tonight’s main event, Sami Zayn versus Adrian Neville for the NXT title. As this mostly included highlights of their battle at REvolution, this rocked.

Backstage, Devon Taylor talked to Bull Dempsey. He told her that Baron Corbin isn’t the only undefeated guy in their match – up next – which really isn’t true, because Bull was on a losing team in a tag team tournament six months ago. He also said that the last thing Corbin would hear was “Bull, Bull, Bull.” I see.

Hey, it’s Baron Corbin! He’s really quite big, but quite lean with it. He has a laconic cool to him, backed up with lots of wins in very short matches and a nice line in biker gear. He’s a lone wolf!

He’s fighting Bull Dempsey, and I always have to focus properly to avoid typing Balls Mahoney. Dempsey’s a fat lad in a wrestling singlet. He’s an angry koala! The two couldn’t be further apart.

Remember how I didn’t like the last match, and that was surprising because they’re both really good? Yeah, this wasn’t good, either, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be.

They clubbed away at each other, and one thing Corbin really needs to work on is his punches. They fought outside for a while before bringing it back into the ring. Dempsey hit a body block, which actually took Corbin off his feet, and then climbed the top rope for his diving headbutt finisher.

Corbin moved, and Dempsey missed. An End Of Days later – yes, on Dempsey! – and Corbin was your pinfall winner. The crowd, robbed of their usual entertainment of counting along with Corbin’s matches, instead counted the 1-2-3. Although, it only went 94 seconds so they could have given it a go. Today’s youth, eh?

There is a serious lack of backstage fun tonight, which sucks. It’s straight on with the next contest, with NXT Women’s champion Charlotte and Natalya (slumming it down from the main roster) taking on Team BAE, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch.

Natalya and Becky worked most of the match, and it felt a little lacklustre. Natalya seemed a little slow, a little off, and her rope running was really bad. Maybe she was tired? Usually I don’t notice these things in NXT so who knows what’s up tonight. Is it me? Is it the show? Who knows!

Becky took a break on the outside, with Sasha giving her support, which just led to out-of-time stereo baseball slide kicks from the babyface pair. Back in the ring, Natalya tagged Charlotte in, and they hit a double stalling suplex for a near fall. Natalya tagged back in and they did a whacky lucha move in a very non-lucha way. Charlotte was in for, like, 30 seconds. Whut?

Becky managed to make the tag to Sasha, but Natalya took her down and literally ran over her, stepping on her head. This FIRED UP Sasha, and she hit her usual moves – the double knees in the corner for a near fall, and the Bank(s) Statement for a near submission. Natalya fought out and tagged Charlotte. At last!

Charlotte hit some chops and a neckbreaker but Becky broke up the pin. The heels tried to double-team the champ, but Natalya pulled Becky out of the ring, and Sasha awkwardly finished Charlotte with a neckbreaker of her own for the win.

Yeah, this didn’t work. And that was bad three matches out of three, and that NEVER happens on NXT. Still, Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville up next. If anyone could save the show, it was those guys…

Hey, it’s Adrian Neville! He used to be the NXT champion but he lost his belt at Revolution to Sami Zayn. Since then, Kevin Owens has beaten both men up and left them lying in a pool of their own vitals. But they have FIGHTING SPIRIT and they are back to grapple for our entertainment.

Sami Zayn came out to the usual rapturous response. His music is awesome. Even I – a broken down, washed up old cynic, sat on a sofa in a provincial suburb – cannot help but join in with the “Let’s Go!” refrain.

This started slow. And it felt kinda awkward for a while until it dawned on me what they were doing. They were doing a more Japanese style match than you’d usually see, especially in the WWE (even the NXT part of it), and the story of the match was that they knew each other well enough to counter everything the other was doing.

Once that had sunk in, it was a decent match. Nowhere near the level of their REvolution tussle, or even their match before that one, back in November. But why have the same match, again and again? That’s why I love this show.

Some of the shots in this were harsh. A forearm war, a huge uppercut by Neville in the corner, two Huracanranas which saw Zayn landing ON HIS HEAD… all that and Neville blocking Zayn’s DDT through the ropes with a kick to the face. Harsh, man.

The finish came when Neville missed the Red Arrow, and Zayn missed the Helluva Kick. Neville rolled through for a nearfall on Zayn, but Zayn hit the exploder suplex into the corner, and the Helluva kick for the win.

After the match, Kevin Owens appeared in the ring and pop-up powerbombed Zayn out of his boots. He stood over the fallen champion and the crowd did NOT know what to do. Seriously, they were just eerily silent as Owens made his way back up the ramp. Their hero had fallen…

Okay, this wasn’t a Great Show. If you take the main event out of it, it’s a Bad Show. But Zayn and Neville dragged it right up into an acceptable watch. NXT hardly ever has Bad Shows, let’s hope it’s a while before the next one.