Tonight is the second NXT special recorded in early December. This one is from Melbourne, Australia. As with last week we have seen, and reported, the main event already, it’s the steel cage match which finished the rivalry between Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura. Three out of the five matches on the card are tag matches and the women have a triple-threat. For me, it looks like a more entertaining card than last week. It should be a fun way to kick off the new year.
The Revival def Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
Tye Dillinger and Buddy Murphy def Bobby Roode and Elias Samson
Ember Moon def Billie Kay and Liv Morgan
#DIY def TM61 to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura def Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship – Steel Cage Match
The Revival vs Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
Top guys or, more correctly, former top guys Dash and Dawson made this match a bit of a clinic really. Moss and Sabbatelli are athletic, and they’re clearly working hard, but The Revival are tag team specialists.
While they didn’t have everything their own way, there was never really a sense of The Revival losing control of the match. They put on a display of the tactics and teamwork which led many people to name them as 2016’s tag team of the year. It was a really nice high energy, high skill level, start to the show.
The Shatter Machine on Riddick Moss finished the match
‘The Drifter’ Elias Samson and Bobby Roode vs Buddy Murphy and Tye Dillinger
I’m not alone in thinking Buddy Murphy is one of the NXT stars with huge amounts of unexploited potential. And, if you’ve read my NXT notes before, you’ll know I am a massive Tye Dillinger fan. It’s an interesting pairing, as both have been undergoing protracted redemption storylines which haven’t yet been fully resolved. I’m not sure why Roode and Samson are teaming, neither are team players and that may be the only thing they have in common.
I really enjoyed this match. All four men are very skilled, Buddy Murphy seemed especially fired up by being in front of a home crowd. Speaking of the crowd, there were some very non-PG chants going on throughout the night. Elias Samson got a few in this match, but for the most part the crowd just wanted to chant 10. I can see why there are concerns about the ‘10’ chant getting out of control – it showed up in every subsequent match as well – but I love seeing the support for Dillinger.
After Murphy flew onto Roode on the outside, Tye Dillinger delivered the Tye-Breaker to Elias Samson to secure the victory.
Billie Kay vs Ember Moon vs Liv Morgan
It was good to see Ember Moon in a match of a decent length. Her treatment since she arrived in NXT has been a little baffling. There was an enormous build up for her, but she’s hardly been used. It’s a shame because she’s exceptionally talented.
All three of the women did a great job in this match. The energy levels were high, with plenty of skill and personality on display. They all got their signature offence in, and there were some great highlights as well. Ember Moon and Billie Kay throwing Liv Morgan from covering one to covering the other was entertaining.
Matches like this are so good for character development. With NXT only being an hour long each week matches tend to be shorter, and it can be difficult to get the personalities and individual styles across. In a triple-threat like this, we got to see Billie Kay’s dominance, Ember Moon’s skill and Liv Morgan’s athleticism and resilience much more clearly.
At the finish, Liv Morgan rolled out of the ring after a powerbomb from Billie Kay, then Ember Moon delivered the Eclipse to Billie Kay for the win.
#DIY vs TM61 – NXT Tag Team Championship match
This was almost certainly the friendliest match on the card, as both teams are respectful, sportsmanlike, and hugely entertaining. Pre-match there were handshakes all round, before the teams set out to prove you can do really good tag team wrestling without resorting to excessive use of underhand tactics. There were still shenanigans, it comes with the tag team territory, but nothing that could make anyone feel in any way cheated.
The match was everything I want from a tag team match, high energy, incredible skill, excellent teamwork and great fun. The two teams have great chemistry and I could have watched it all night.
Sadly though, it had to end sometime. Nick Miller was the recipient of the #DIY double team finisher to end the match and retain the belts.
Gargano and Ciampa cleared the ring to let the home country boys take the applause of the audience, then returned for a show of respect to their opponents. They shook hands, hugged and held their hands aloft in the centre of the ring, while the crowd chanted NXT. I’m a sucker for a good show of respect, and it was well deserved. I’m already looking forward to their next meeting.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe – NXT Championship match
The main event of the evening, which we saw a few weeks ago. Happily, it also marks the end of this feud. Situating them inside a steel cage ensured they couldn’t go outside and being the steps into play, but the cage made a good substitute and it was used to full effect by both men.
Other than the use of the cage, it was much like the rest of their matches. Nakamura did his stuff; Samoa Joe did his stuff. It’s all very proficient, they’re both great at what they do, and it still left me cold and wondering why this dynamic just feels like something is missing.
To end the match, Nakamura hit a Kinshasa from the top rope, but didn’t attempt the pin. It looked like he was going to escape the cage, but instead he slammed the door and delivered two more Kinshasa’s before pinning Samoa Joe for the last time.
It’s been good to see these special episodes, it’s just a shame they were a little out of sequence with events and we’d already seen both main events. On the bright side, I shouldn’t ever have to cover a Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura match again which I’m immensely grateful for. Match of the night for me was #DIY vs TM61, but the women’s triple-threat and the Dillinger and Murphy vs Roode and Samson matches were strong seconds. Next week NXT will begin the year properly; I can’t wait to see what’s in store.