Linus Report: WWE NXT 04/02/2015

Hey, it’s WWE NXT! And we’re one week from NXT Takeover: Rival! And I will STAY HYPED!

The show started with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady coming out to the top of the ramp and delivering their usual, brilliant schpiel. The appearance of the New Age Outlaws on the Royal Rumble PPV proved that a big modern audience will still chant along with this kind of stuff, so I hope they get to take it to the main roster.

They introduced Carmella, who the crowd do NOT like, because she’s a risk to these guys staying together. She came out and did her schpiel, which is nowhere near their level.

As they got in the ring, the crowd chanted for “Blue Pants”, who defeated Carmella in an upset a few weeks ago. They’re 1-1 now. But Carmella told them that Blue Pants had been put back on the clearance rack. Heh. She said that her opponent tonight, Emma, liked to dance but that it would be Carmella dancing after she’d won.

Emma came out and the crowd were into her, but being in limbo on the main roster has cost her a bit of her shine. Damn main roster.

So, they had a match, and it was short and not all that good. Carmella is still very green, but improving with every match, but Emma just didn’t seem on it. Poor Emma.

Carmella won with her whacky head scissors submission thing, and did, indeed, dance afterwards. She also hugged Cass and pie-faced Enzo. Poor Enzo.

Hey, it’s Adrian Neville! He wore new trunks, which aren’t grey and therefore 100% better. He’s fighting Baron Corbin, who came down to the ring in his usual slow, enigmatic manner, in a semi-final match in the number one contenders’ tournament.

Incidentally, if you’re on The Twitter, give @MySadBaron a follow and find out why Baron Corin is sad. My favourite is that he is sad because his stomach looks like a face and his face looks like a stomach.

Those of us who love the NXT have been a little concerned about this, a Baron Corbin match where he’d have to do more than his usual squash. We needn’t have worried. They took it slow and careful, and protected Corbin from anything that might expose his newness at this time.

They teased an End of Days but Neville escaped. Corbin, was on top for the first half of the match but Neville dropkicked him to the outside and hit a twisting plancha. Corbin caught him and dumped him on the guardrail, then threw him back inside.

Before he could get back in himself, and with the ref checking on Neville, Bull Dempsey appeared out of nowhere and ran Corbin into the steel ringpost. He just made it back in at the 9-count but fell victim to a low dropkick and the Red Arrow for a Neville win.

This was better than anyone could have expected it to be. It was slow and not too long, but that’s effective for a Baron Corbin match. And, yeah, he shouldn’t be losing at this point, but it’s a tainted loss which builds the blow-off with Dempsey.

They showed an interview with Sami Zayn from earlier this week, where he explained how Owens had manipulated his way into a title match. Zayn promised he would overcome Owens. This was good.

The announcers told us that Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey would fight in a No DQ match at NXT Takeover: Rival. Let that be the end of it, yeah?

Hey, it’s Bayley! She’s fighting Becky Lynch just a week before these two – and Sasha Banks and Charlotte – face off in a Fatal Four Way at Rival.

Becky comes out doing her usual hair-twirling and devil fingers, which Corey Graves rags her for, saying she’s the kind of girl who wears a band’s t-shirt to their concert. Go Corey!

Becky worked over Bayley’s injured knee early on, before Bayley came back with FIRE~! and attacked Becky’s knee, giving her a taste of her own medicine.

Sasha Banks came out to give encouragement to her pal, but was instrumental in giving Bayley the win when she rolled Becky back in the ring before she could grab some recovery time, and Bayley hit the Belly-to-Bayley for the pinfall victory.

After the match, Sasha and Becky got into a shoving match and Charlotte’s music played and she came out to the top of the ramp, as all four women had a staredown…

They showed an interview with Kevin Owens from earlier this week. He said he’d gotten what he wanted and he’d win the NXT Championship two months to the day from his debut. This was also good.

The announcers told us that the Lucha Dragons would get a title re-match against the Dubstep Cowboys, Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy, at NXT Takeover: Rival. Aces.

Backstage, Tyler Breeze was admiring himself in a selfie when he was interrupted by Devin. She asked him about his elimination from the tournament and where he goes from here, and he called it a dumb question. He said he plans on watching the rest of the tournament and then sent Devin away so he could back to admiring himself. Gold.

Hey, it’s Hideo Itami! He’s fighting Finn Balor – or, as Adrian Neville on commentary called him, Finn Ballaw – for a place in the number one contenders’ tournament final, against Neville.

So, these two had a great match. They started the match with twenty minutes of TV time remaining and I was fully prepared for it to go that long, but it came in at just over twelve minutes. They could have gone longer, and told an expanded story, but what they did was great. Save something for down the road, after all.

The match began with some fast-paced mat wrestling, all holds and reversals, which they did without looking like they were dancing. Balor got the first big move of the match, with a dropkick, but Itami was on top as they went to a break. After they came back, Itami was still on top, and Alex Riley was annoying the hell out of me by interviewing Neville while Rich Brennan was trying to call the match. They went back and forth and actually went to a second commercial break, which NEVER happens in NXT.

Balor did some well-appreciated corner chops, and it has to be said the crowd were having a great time during this match. And why not? They’re seeing something live that we’d give our eye teeth to see, so if they want to chant, “Marking Out!” or “Better Than RAW”, who are we to sit in judgment? Itami came back and went on the attack. He hit a tornado DDT into the ropes, and followed with a flying clothesline for a nearfall. He teased the GTS – crowd went wild – but Balor reversed it into a Bloody Sunday attempt, which Itami escaped from. They traded kicks, and Balor began bleeding from the mouth. Hey, if Roman Reigns can do it…

Both men are tired but Itami fires up with kicks, and then the corner dropkick. Balor hit a slingblade and then a HUGE dropkick, sending Itami’s head crashing into the turnbuckle. The Coup de Grace double footstomp off the top rope finished it and Balor advances into the final.

After the match, he held out his hand and Itami shook it, and the crowd roared their approval. Balor walked to the top of the ramp, had a stare-off with Neville, who then also shook his hand. It’s a battle that will wait for next week…

And that was your show. Except it wasn’t. They showed a hype video for the main event – Zayn versus Owens – of next week’s live special, and damn it if it didn’t hype me even more than I was already. I can’t wait to watch it, and that’s a testament to how good NXT is at building these things. Ladies and gentlemen, we are truly blessed.