Towards the end of NXT Takeover last night, a familiar face showed up to save Sami Zayn from certain death at the hands of Kevin Owens. Samoa Joe, one of the most dominant forces in independent/TNA wrestling, is in NXT, and we are officially reaching fantasy land levels of excitement. NXT is seriously booked like it’s run by a smart ass internet wrestling fan. “Let’s have Kevin Owens come out in a John Cena t-shirt and then have Sami Zayn turn into the Canadian Brock Lesnar and suplex Kevin Owens for most of their title match, only to have Owens reverse a Helluva Kick on the outside into a power bomb on the apron that kills Sami Zayn. Oh, and when Owens is about to hit a lifeless Zayn with a chair, SAMOE JOE comes out to save the day.” All of that actually happened, because NXT is wonderful and wants wrestling fans to be happy. I don’t know what the plans are for Joe, especially with Finn Balor as the new #1 contender, but he looks like he’s in a great shape, and NXT really is a magical place where everyone lives up to their potential, so I trust that they’ll use him wisely. The entire live special was great, and this was one of many highlights. If you still don’t have the WWE Network for some reason, sign up for free this month and watch this show. It’s worth every second.
The latest NXT live special is tonight, and what started off as one of the better match cards in NXT history is now in a state of limbo. Hideo Itami is out 6-8 months with a shoulder injury and will no longer be in the #1 contenders match, and current #1 contender Sami Zayn also has a shoulder injury which could limit him in his main event match with NXT Champion Kevin Owens. While no replacement matches have been announced, I’m sure some kind of changes to the #1 contenders match will be made by show time tonight. For now, we’ll list the matches as they are and predict the outcomes from there.
Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin
One of the matches not hit by the injury bug is Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin. Rhyno has been in the ring for 5 combined minutes since making his debut, and Corbin’s matches end so fast that the crowd can loudly count in seconds how long his matches are. That’s not a recipe for a 5 star classic, but that’s not what this match has to be. If you’re bringing a guy like Rhyno into NXT, then he should serve one purpose, which is to elevate younger talent. No one is clamoring for a big time Rhyno push in 2015, but if he’s utilized correctly, he can be a valuable asset to the NXT brand. Any momentum Corbin had during his mini win streak and demolition of Bull Dempsey has been lost because he just hasn’t been on TV enough, so this is a good way to get that back. I’d also like to see some more layers added to the Corbin character, because the quiet lone wolf persona can only get you so far, especially when you don’t ooze charisma.
Prediction: Baron Corbin with an impressive ‘end of days’ on the man beast. Hopefully the crowd counts the whole match and they end up in the thousands of seconds.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Blake & Murphy (C) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Enzo Amore needs tag team gold, and this should be the coming out party for he and Big Cass. The Ascension are gone. The Lucha Dragons are gone. The Vaudevillians have disappeared. Enzo & Big Cass are far and away the most entertaining team in the division, so why not give them the gold to back up their swagger? Blake & Murphy are decent in the ring but combined have the personality of a wet mop. Why not turn Carmella into mid 90s Sunny who can wrestle. She’d be a great distraction for Enzo and Big Cass and she can also hold her own in the ring. To quote Dusty Rhodes, it’s time to fish or cut bait with Enzo & Big Cass, and I don’t want to see either of them go, so let’s go fishin’!
Prediction: Carmella helps Enzo and Big Cass win. Enzo goes for a kiss on Carmella after the match and gets 5 fingers across the face instead.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks (C) vs. Becky Lynch
While I’m glad NXT is giving Becky Lynch some vignettes to let us know a little more about her, she’s going up against the best women’s wrestler on the roster tonight. When I say roster, I mean NXT, Raw, Smackdown and any other roster you can think of. Charlotte may be the best athlete and the fastest learner in NXT, but Charlotte Banks has busted her ass for years to become The Boss, and The Boss is the best thing going right now. She’s that rare perfect character who can deliver in multiple ways in the ring and have talking segments like last week’s main event contract signing where she signs her contract with A PERSONALIZED STAMP. I don’t see any reason Sasha should lose here, but I’d love to see Becky get some time in the ring with the champ. You can never have too many good characters.
Prediction: Sasha Banks. Because she’s The Boss.
Emma & Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte & Bayley
Now that Sasha Banks is the clear number 1 in the NXT women’s division, I think it’s time get Charlotte on the main roster. I don’t know how that will affect this match, but the continuous Bella Twins/Naomi/Tamina Snuka storyline isn’t lighting anything on fire, so why not add Ric Flair in female form to the mix? As far as the other women in this match, Dana Brooke is clearly the WWE prototype, while Emma and Bayley have made it almost in spite of that. Emma was the bright eyed youngster when she got called up to Raw, but she quickly fell off and was relegated to Santino’s sock puppet wearing girlfriend before appearing on NXT again. Bayley is basically the wrestling version of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’, but she’s also that rare competitor, similar to Sami Zayn, that can connect with the audience and not seem too cheesy. She’s been in a bunch of #1 contender matches but hasn’t been able to pull one out yet, but I think her time to at least compete for the title is coming soon. I’m assuming Charlotte and Dana Brooke will be the next women’s feud coming out of this live event, since Emma and Bayley are already in a blood feud over clothes or whatever. Hopefully after that, Charlotte heads to the main roster and the other three fight over who should fight The Boss. HINT: it should be Bayley.
Prediction: Charlotte & Bayley. I think a lot of the heels are winning tonight, so a few baby faces need to come out on top.
#1 Contender’s Match: Tyler Breeze vs. Finn Balor vs. ?
When the original match was announced (with Itami as the third participant) I immediately thought this had the chance to be the match of the year. Balor, Itami and Breeze are three of the most talented and innovative guys in the world, and these triple threat/four way matches on the NXT live specials are always amazing, so this was can’t miss. Now Itami is hurt, so NXT can either insert someone else to take his place or make this a one on one match. I’ve read a lot of comments about Samoa Joe joining the match, and while that would be awesome, I don’t know if it makes sense. If Joe is put into the match, he shouldn’t win. If you’re going by who deserves the title shot, it should be Breeze. He’s been there the longest, improved the most, and should get a shot at the champ. If you’re going by who is the best in this match, it’s Balor. He’s the most interesting and physically gifted out of all three, and he could win this match on skill alone. We don’t know how Samoa Joe will fit into the NXT Universe, so it’s tough to say what kind of role he should play. Whether he’s in the match or not, I think Breeze should be the winner here. Similar to Charlotte, Finn Balor is main roster ready and he’s already fought Owens for the NXT title. Give Breeze a shot and see what two talented guys can do with a good storyline.
Prediction: Tyler Breeze
NXT Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Sami Zayn
The physical aspect of this match depends on how injured Zayn really is, but one thing that we don’t have to worry about is these two telling a great story in the ring. Zayn and Owens are real life friends and have fought each all over the world, so tonight is going to be a walk in the park for them. Zayn is the constant underdog, fighting from underneath to earn everything he’s ever accomplished. Owens is the bully, sick and tired of people talking about how great Sami Zayn is, how much heart Sami Zayn has. Zayn wants to win back his title, but Owens wants to end Sami Zayn’s career. That’s the only way he’ll get the spotlight on himself, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Owens future in the WWE is limitless, and he’s fresh off a Monday Night Raw where he laid out John Cena and got a US title match at Elimination Chamber, so this is already a hell of a week for the guy. I think Owens retains here, and hopefully Zayn’s injury isn’t more serious than they’re leading on.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. The bad guy wins again.
The WWE puts on 52 Raw’s a year, which makes it virtually impossible to have a great show every week. People have bad days, weeks, even months; with that said, the WWE does get stuck in a creative rut from time to time, but this week’s show from Montreal was not one of those times. WWE’s production team is unmatched, and when they combine that with great wrestling, it’s one of the most entertaining things in the world to watch. We saw the emergence of New Day, the Raw debut of a local wrestling hero and Tamina Snuka might have actually killed a Bella Twin. Let’s get to the 5 stars!
1. New Day
The only time I don’t mind Raw opening with a talking segment is when someone I’m not expecting comes out to join the conversation. If you’re watching Raw and it’s 8:05pm, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to see Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Kane, HHH or Seth Rollins talking in the ring. It’s not the most exciting way to start a show, and a lot of time it takes the crowd out of it before they even get a chance to get invested. Well this week, New Day came out to break up Randy Orton and Roman Reigns pissing contest and it was AWESOME. New Day are a mix between the Nation of Domination and Bo Dallas at the height of his ‘Bo-lieve’ movement. They’re so condescending, and inserting them into random backstage segments where they’re celebrating HOURS after they beat Reigns and Orton was so good. Big E and Xavier Woods are both money on the microphone, and while I’d rather see Kofi and Big E in the ring over Woods, they all looked good last night. I don’t know what triggered the WWE to move New Day into this position, but I’m so glad they did.
If you watched the first hour of Raw, you saw the tiny glimmers of hope for the tag team division in New Day and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. The Ascension still aren’t going anywhere, but Cesaro got to deliver 100 European uppercuts in a row so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy. Cesaro and Kidd are one of the only tag teams that look like a team, and it’s not just the tag team moves either. All their movements inside and outside the ring are in sync, and they genuinely look like they’re enjoying each other’s company out there. I also love that the swing into the dropkick was the move that got them the victory in the match. Tag Team finishing moves are always the best.
3. Dean Ambrose
This is the Dean Ambrose that needs to stay and never leave us again. Goofy hot dog cart Dean Ambrose needs to die and never be seen from again. The match between Rollins and Ambrose will be a top 5 Raw match by the end of the year, and it was one of the most enjoyable non pay per view matches in a very long time. Rollins and Ambrose work beautifully together, and the crowd ate up every single minute of it. These guys were rolling inside and outside the ring, and the Ambrose dive between the top and middle rope and the Rollins power bomb into the barricade were awesome. The Shield was the best thing going in the WWE for a long time, and there’s a reason for that: all three guys brought something to the table that made the audience connect with them. Rollins and Reigns have found that special connection as singles stars, and I hope this is the start of that same thing for Ambrose. Also, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but technically The Shield will be main eventing Payback.
4. Sami Zayn
Potential shoulder injury aside, this was amazing. John Cena comes out and tells the crowd he never quits for the first time ever, and issues another open challenge for his US title. Bret Hart’s music hits and thankfully there are no steel chairs in sight. Heath Slater tries his best to finally challenge Cena for the US title but Bret Hart bops him on the head with a microphone and introduces the actual man who’s going to challenge Cena for the US title, and it’s Sami mother f’n Zayn. The match was great, which isn’t surprising since Cena’s been incredible in the ring since winning the US title and I’m pretty sure Zayn is incapable of having a bad match. Anyone worried Sami’s move set wouldn’t make the leap with him to the main roster can breathe a sight of relief, because they were all on display Monday night, including his always insane dive through the bottom and middle rope swinging DDT. Zayn didn’t win, obviously, but giving him that moment in his hometown against THE guy was really great.
5. King Barrett
This Raw was so good that there were a lot more than five stars. Orton, Reigns and even Tamina Snuka had a solid show. But Bad News Barrett is now King Barrett, and he’s winning matches clean, so he’s on the list. The WWE is full of guys who can start a mid card renaissance, and I think Barrett is one of the guys who can lead the charge. He’s great on the microphone, he’s got a great look and he’s very good in the ring. Pairing him with or against guys like Sheamus, Ziggler, Neville and a returning Daniel Bryan can only result in great storylines and even better matches. It’s also impossible not to root for a guy who comes to the ring wearing a crown and carrying a scepter. If Barrett goes Macho Man on somebody and smashes them in the head with the scepter I’ll be the happiest little boy in the world.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 30, 2015
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 30, 2015
The NXT live specials have become sort of a sacred thing over the last year or so, and the next one on May 20th should be no exception. In addition to Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Title and Big Cass/Enzo Amore vs. Blake & Murphy for the NXT Tag Team Titles, we now know what the two main matches will be. Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze will square off in a Triple Threat Match to determine the #1 contender to whoever wins the main event, which is NXT Champion Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. The amount of talent in these two matches alone are unreal, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
My pick for the #1 contender’s match is Hideo Itami. Balor is going up on the main roster after this live special, and I think Breeze follows him shortly thereafter. Both guys are main roster ready, and while it took Breeze some time to adjust to wrestling a WWE style, Balor came into NXT as a five tool player ready to take over the company. Itami had the biggest learning curve out of the three as his style was too ‘stiff’ for the WWE product. The funniest part about Itami is that the moves he used in NJPW were also being used in WWE, as CM Punk used his GTS finisher and Daniel Bryan used his running knee. After his WrestleMania moment in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, I can see Itami winning here and challenging the NXT Champion.
As for the NXT Championship match, it really depends on how long the Owens/Zayn feud is going to last. If this is going to be a long term feud, then I think Zayn wins here. Zayn already lost the belt to Owens fair and square, so another loss here would have to put him out of the title picture for awhile. If Zayn wins, I think the loss sends Owens into a tailspin where he just destroys everyone in NXT until Regal gives him another title shot. We haven’t seen a loose cannon Kevin Owens yet, but if he loses the belt to his blood rival, I think he’s going to snap. The best thing about NXT is that as a fan, you have confidence that not only are they going to develop good stories, but they’re going to end them the right way as well. No matter who wins or loses on May 20th, it’s going to be an awesome show.
A little over two months after he won the NXT Championship, after he vanquished his demons and beat the longest reigning NXT Champion in history, Sami Zayn is forced to go back to the drawing board. Sami Zayn fought his best friend/mortal enemy Kevin Owens in the main event of last night’s NXT Takeover: Rival, and the result was hard to watch. The match is being compared to Brock Lesnar’s decimation of John Cena at last years Summerslam, but it was more than that. This was total annihilation. This was a man possessed overpowering and beating the ever loving hell out of a more than worthy champion. As far as wrestling stories go, this was the necessary next chapter for Sami Zayn. He finally won the big one, beat his good friend Adrian Neville and became NXT Champion the same night his best friend debuted in the company. It was a fairy tale ending. But then everything changed, and Sami Zayn was just not ready for someone as physically and mentally strong as Kevin Owens. Zayn was taken out of his game from the opening bell, as Owens continually ducked out of the ring, infuriating Zayn to the point that he jumped over the referee and the top rope to take out Owens. That would be the last legitimate offense Zayn would get in for the majority of the match. Zayn came into this match looking for revenge, and Owens knew that; he knew Zayn would be over aggressive and would throw caution to the wind one too many times, and it was that rope assisted backflip that ultimately spelled the end for Zayn, as he hit the back of his head on the entrance ramp. For Zayn, this wasn’t about the title, it was about getting even. For Owens, it was about winning at all costs, and that’s why he is your new NXT Champion.
NXT’s next live special, Takeover: Rival is tonight at 8pm on the WWE Network. It is also FREE, so there isn’t an excuse in the world for you to miss this show. The last NXT special was one of the best top to bottom wrestling shows in the past few years, and tonight’s show should be just as good, if not better. Let’s get to the match card and the predictions!
Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze
Following Itami’s #1 contender tournament match with Finn Balor last week, he was attacked in the NXT locker room by Tyler Breeze. Guys like Breeze have a natural born rivalry with guys like Itami, Balor and Owens: Breeze has been in NXT much longer and now the new blood are coming in trying to take his spot at the top of the roster. Even though Breeze hasn’t been winning (or consistently on TV lately) he was a recent #1 contender to Adrian Neville’s NXT title, and he was a solid character for most of 2014. WWE most likely has big plans for Itami, and involving him in a long feud with one of its already established NXT stars not only puts him on the map but accelerates his tutorial on wrestling the WWE way.
Prediction: Tyler Breeze, via some kind of underhanded tactic. They could do a double count-out/double DQ, but NXT is the anti WWE in that they usually give us definitive finishes. I think Breeze wins the battle, with Itami winning the war down the road.
No Disqualification Match: Baron Corbin vs. Bull Dempsey
When Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey broke into NXT, they were both portrayed as unstoppable monsters. Corbin was more physically intimidating, but both won all their matches, and both won them very quickly. They would eventually bump heads, twice in fact, and that above GIF pretty much sums up both matches. Corbin dominated Dempsey twice in the ring and emasculated him backstage when Dempsey tried to confront him. Dempsey’s sneak attack last week cost Corbin a shot at the #1 contender spot for the NXT title, and that bring us to tonight, where Corbin and Dempsey will fight in a no DQ match. Corbin has dominated this feud so badly that I see this going one of two ways: Dempsey wins with the help of a weapon or Corbin beats Dempsey so bad Dempsey is forced to go back to the drawing board and find a new character. Corbin isn’t great in the ring, but he’s a good character that has caught on with the NXT crowd.
Prediction: Corbin in a brutal squash. Bull Dempsey will cease to exist.
NXT Tag Team Championship: Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy (C) vs. The Lucha Dragons
I’m torn on this match and it’s not because of the teams. I really think this title change should have been done at the previous live special when The Lucha Dragons defended against The Vaudevillians. The Villains are the most complete tag team in NXT now that The Ascension has moved up, and they were really coming into their own as cocky, talented heels. For some reason they didn’t win the straps at the last special, but Blake & Murphy did a few weeks ago on a random NXT. While I love the move to change titles on random episodes and not just live specials, I still feel this match should include The Vaudevillians as reigning tag champs. In the interest of getting over it and giving a preview for this match, I think Blake & Murphy retain. They beat The Lucha Dragons by outsmarting them, as the Dragons have won and retained their titles for the most part by letting Sin Cara work most of the match and then have Kalisto come in fresh and secure the victory. This almost worked against Blake & Murphy, but they scouted Kalisto’s finisher and grabbed his legs for a surprise victory. I think they retain here with a more decisive victory, and perhaps become the new baby face tag champs while Kalisto’s long rumored “promotion” happens sooner rather than later.
Prediction: Blake & Murphy, and we get another semi homo-erotic victory interview backstage.
NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch
THE BOSS. That’s a link to Sasha Banks new t-shirt, and that’s also a link to the t-shirt of the next NXT Women’s champion. Charlotte is the next big thing (for lack of a better term) in the WWE Women’s/Divas division, but it’s Sasha Bank’s time right now. What Charlotte may have in physical strength and wrestling pedigree Sasha makes up for in attitude and wrestling psychology. AND she’s a stud in the ring. I’d be perfectly happy with the Charlotte/Sasha feud lasting until the end of time, because their matches have been THAT good, but I think it’s time for a title change and for Sasha to be rewarded with a title around her waist. While Becky Lynch is just thrown in there because of her association with Sasha, I think Bayley could be the wildcard in this match. I love the mean streak she’s been displaying lately, and I think that mean streak gets kicked up another gear in this match. While I don’t think Bayley wins, I could see her new found “ruthless aggression” taking out Charlotte, which would allow THE BOSS to pin either Bayley or Becky.
Prediction: THE BOSS. Bow down, because we are not worthy.
#1 Contender For The NXT Title: Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville
Hopefully this match is positioned towards the beginning of the card, because the audience is going to need a cool down match or two between this and the main event. Finn Balor is the next Randy Orton/John Cena, and he will be the one to lead the next generation for the WWE. I have never been so sure of something in my whole life. He’s the most polished wrestler to ever come into NXT, and he’s already the total package. He’s got the best entrance of anyone in NXT or the main roster, and he’s able to fight so many different styles of matches with different opponents. I fully expect this match to steal the show and exhaust the audience, which is why I hope it goes on early so the crowd has a chance to catch it’s breath before the main event. Neville is one of those guys that you’d think you’d be sick of once you’ve seen a handful of his matches, but he continues to get better and better in the ring, and he is a selling machine. Balor, as I stated above, is the total package. He’s dominated this tournament so far, and I fully expect him to be the #1 contender after this match.
Prediction: Finn Balor. Fingers crossed for a body paint entrance tonight.
NXT Championship: Sami Zayn (C) vs. Kevin Owens
And now, you’re main event. Zayn/Owens is probably the most personal. legitimate backstory to a feud the WWE has had in a long time. These guys are real life best friends who have been in ring rivals for over a decade. They’ve wrestled each other a hundred times before, except this time its in an NXT ring, for the biggest title either of them could possibly have. Owens and Zayn are a natural fit for each other, and it was perfect timing bringing Owens in when Zayn was at his absolute peak. I expect this match to be given a good amount of time, and don’t be surprised if there are more post match shenanigans. I truly expect Zayn to win here, but I don’t expect him to walk out of the building. Owens is too strong and too crazy, and I think that no matter what the outcome of the match is, he’s going to try to really hurt Sami Zayn. This match won’t be the end of the rivalry, not by a long shot.
Prediction: Sami Zayn. But Kevin Owens will be the one standing tall by the end of the show.
Make sure to follow us @averagenobodies as we’ll be tweeting along with the show! Enjoy wrestling’s finest program everybody.
– The Average Nobodies