Tonight is the start of NXT 2017 proper, and they’re starting strong. Announced for tonight’s show, #DIY will defend the NXT Tag Team Titles against The Revival. Previous matches between the two teams were among the best NXT matches of 2016, there is no reason to suspect this one will be any different. WWE.com also mentions that Asuka is now the longest reigning NXT Women’s Champion, it looks like tonight may be the night her next opponent is revealed.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce def Macey Evans and Sarah Bridges
‘The Drifter’ Elias Samson def Jonathon Cruz
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas def Oney Lorcan
#DIY def The Revival to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
The show started with a video of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay attacking Asuka outside the venue. They threw her repeatedly into the side of a van emblazoned with the NXT logo, and poured the contents of a cup over her as she laid on the ground.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce vs Macey Evans and Sarah Bridges
It’s great to see Billie Kay and Peyton Royce showing of their prowess as a tag team again. My only concern is that the NXT women’s division is struggling to establish enough singles competitors to rebuild itself, I’m not sure if the frequency of tag team action is actually helping. It allows for a greater number of wrestlers to be seen, but reduces the individual impact of each one. I guess it’s a trade-off.
Nevertheless, we did get to see two of the exciting new signings to the division in Sarah Bridges (better known to indie wrestling fans as Crazy Mary Dobson), and Macey Evans (Macey Estrella). Both have been working NXT live shows for a while, but this is the first time we’ve seen them on TV to the best of my recollection.
Unfortunately it was a ridiculously short match, as the segment was more about the aftermath than the match. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce got the win after each woman had around a minute to make their mark. The stories need to be told, but we need to see more from these competitors in order to form any kind of attachment to them.
Post-match, Royce and Kay talked about their dominance in the division and how Asuka’s title belongs to them. I’m not sure how they plan to share it, but ok. An obviously injured Asuka staggered to the ring and tried to take on both Royce and Kay, but was quickly overcome. Nikki Cross ran in and cleared Royce and Kay from the ring. When Asuka got up and saw Nikki Cross stood on the second rope she screamed at her (I think she should have been thanking her but nevermind), and Cross dropkicked her in the face.
Backstage Nikki Cross said she is going to take the NXT Women’s Championship, a sentiment which was backed up by Eric Young. As they walked away the camera panned to Damo (who has apparently now got a new WWE name) watching from the shadows.
‘The Drifter’ Elias Samson vs Jonathon Cruz
Jonathon Cruz has featured on NXT before, but we still don’t know anything about him. That’s a shame because he is clearly very skilled. Samson, though, has come back from his hiatus with a renewed intensity and aggression. Cruz had a decent bit of offense early on, but it didn’t take long for Samson to take control. After that it was a short display of dominance from ‘The Drifter’, until a vicious looking spinning neck-breaker finished Cruz.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Oney Lorcan
Heel Almas gets a much bigger crowd reaction than face Almas ever did. I’m really glad that’s working out for him. A quick video recap reminded us that this is a rematch from a couple of weeks ago, when Lorcan scored a victory against Almas.
Almas is working a very disrespectful, playful style, which seems to suit him. But Lorcan is a no nonsense type so his attempts at mind games were met with a more practical offense. Despite their very different styles the two of them mesh quite well. It was an enjoyable match where the balance of power shifted frequently.
On this occasion, Almas was victorious, securing the win with a DDT. Now they are even on wins we can assume a third match will happen at some point. However, after the match, Almas indicated the Roderick Strong is next on his list.
A video build-up package for tonight’s main event separated the segments. I’m a little sad that it’s likely to be the last time we see these teams face each other.
Tom Phillips pre-recorded interview with Shinsuke Nakamura was up next. He asked Nakamura how it feels to have finished with the rivalry with Samoa Joe. He said the match against Joe was really tough, so he’s proud of still being NXT champion. On the subject of Bobby Roode, Nakamura said he likes him, he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world but he’s not strong, and won’t become NXT champion
Tom Phillips said he’d asked Roode for comments and he’d refused to come on camera, but he’d asked him to give Nakamura something. He then handed over a ticket to last year’s NXT TakeOver Dallas, where Nakamura debuted, and Roode was in the crowd. Nakamura expressed surprise Roode had kept it, and that was that. Looks like there is more to come from that. I’m very interested to see how this Nakamura vs Roode feud shapes up.
#DIY (C) vs The Revival – NXT Championship match
I’m a little surprised this only got 20 minutes, but as far as main events go, we really can’t complain about this one. I’m pretty sure they fitted a 40 minute match into the time though, the pace was relentless.
There were extra high levels of intensity from The Revival throughout the match. Realistically this has to be their last shot at the NXT titles. As usual in #DIY matches, Johnny Gargano took the majority of the punishment during The Revival’s dominant phases. There are few people who do as good a job as Gargano does of looking like they’re being murdered in the ring. The Revival’s teamwork is, arguably, second to none, and the chemistry between the two teams is wonderful. What I’m trying to say is, it was another fantastic match.
Both teams used all the double team tricks in the book, and the match utilised every bit of the ring and surrounding areas. At one point, Ciampa ended up in a heap in the timekeeper’s area after taking out Dash Wilder. There were near falls after near falls, and it could have gone either way for most of the match. But it had to finish eventually.
In a nice touch, Gargano and Ciampa caught both members of The Revival in their double team finisher (someone please tell me what they call it) and pinned one each. A decisive way to seal the win.
As Gargano and Ciampa knelt in the ring clutching their belts, Authors of Pain’s music hit and Paul Ellering walked onto the stage. With #DIY’s attention on Ellering, Akam and Rezar jumped them from behind. They threw them around like rag-dolls, held up the belts, then threw them onto #DIY and walked away.
William Regal was asked for his thoughts on what just happened. He confirmed that at NXT TakeOver #DIY will face Authors of Pain for the titles. He also said that next week will be the contract signing for the NXT Championship match at TakeOver, between Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Asuka burst into the room distraught, with make-up running down her face, still covered in whatever Billie Kay and Peyton Royce threw over her at the start of the show. She demanded that Regal set a title match for TakeOver. William Regal asked, ‘against who’. Asuka replied, ‘All of them’.
It’s an interesting twist that Asuka’s TakeOver match may be a fatal four way. With no one NXT star elevated to the level of taking her on alone, it’s a really clever option.
The Revival’s loss tonight surely must be an indicator that their time in NXT is done. I think they’ll probably go to RAW, that division seems to need them more than SmackDown does. Time will tell.
Overall it was another good show. I would like to be given a little more information about new talent, even just showing the names for spelling purposes would be a start. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to allow a small introduction video, a promo, or something to give us an indication of why we should start to care about new faces. NXT is great at what it does, but I think this would help to promote faster investment.