Written by Tommy Tracy
What a year 2015 was for NXT. We saw some of the best wrestling matches ever produced by the WWE and the NXT wrestlers and crowd were electric. With two weeks off (felt like month) we finally got back in the squared circle at Full Sail University and I was on the edge of my seat. The Ascension returned, a #1 Contender Battle Royal took place for the Women’s Title and the 2015 NXT Awards were announced. So, without further ado…
William Regal’s music hits and he introduces the crowd to the (Full Sail) return of Sami Zayn. Zayn remarks he is back to regain the NXT Championship and become the first ever Two-time champion. He’s quickly interrupted by a very irate Samoa Joe who claims he should be the #1 contender. Baron Corbin makes his entrance and apparently gets booed out of the building. Am I the only one who still likes this guy? He claims he is the only one to walk out of Takeover: London victorious and he has a point. He attacks Zayn, only to take a Helluva Kick and Joe has a stare off. Quite interesting, definitely setting up a Triple-Threat that should be awesome.
We catch up backstage with Bayley as she says she is excited for the battle royal. I love Bayley (who doesn’t) but she came off forced here. Still adorkable though.
The NXT Awards are up next and quite frankly, they were easy to call. Well deserved however. The list is as followed:
- Tag Team of the Year: Enzo & Big Cass (How You Doin’?)
- Female of the Year: Bayley (duh)
- Male of the Year: Finn Balor (if Sami wasn’t injured this be him, but again, deserved)
- Takeover of the Year: Brooklyn (have fun topping that)
- Match of the Year: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks at Takeover: Brooklyn
- Overall Competitor: Finn Balor (should have went to Bayley)
Up next we have Tommaso Ciampa vs. Danny Burch. I’ve seen both of these guys before and was quite impressed with this match. Burch is a no nonsense brawler and has a hell of a dropkick. After a short chop battle, Ciampa makes Burch tap with a very unique armbar that looked painful.
Backstage we see Enzo and Cass telling Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder that they are chicken (tenders) and they’re coming for those tag titles. I love the Mechanics tag team but either put the strap on Enzo and Cass or move them up to Raw. These guys are pure talent on the mic and in the ring.
As expected Regal announces a Triple Threat Match between Zayn, Joe and Corbin. But then he says it’s two weeks away. Come on, Will!
Dash and Dawson make their entrance and look as awesome as ever. But the real treat is seeing the Ascension back. Though I think they’ll stay up on the main roster (and flounder) they looked great and finally regained some respect that they haven’t had in over a year. After a hard-hitting match, the Shatter Machine (awesome name) takes down the Ascension. Again, Cass and Enzo sadly won’t dethrone them but I look forward to a rematch.
Nia Jax isn’t in the battle royal because she’s hurt. Lame.
Elias Samson defeats nameless jobber (Corey Hollis). He hasn’t been very impressive this far (I really want to like him) but his ending promo was decent. “What this place needs is what I am.” Cryptic and I’ll hold out judgment but I hope he stays true on his word and doesn’t bore the pants off of us.
Balor is ready for his number one contender. Also upset at the lack of a Bullet Club shirt. C’mon, champ!
NXT harkens back to the old Royal Rumble days with short promos alluding to why these women will win the match. Very few of these women should have mic time.
Let’s do a quick headcount. We have Asuka, Emma, Eva Marie, Carmella, Cameron, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss and some newer girls. I guess Aliyah (of WWE Network’s Breaking Ground fame) is making her debut tonight. Okay, where was Blue Pants? Anyhoo, Asuka quickly kicks Eva Marie’s head off and the crowd pops. It’s also great to see that the women actually have to go over the top ropes instead of through the ropes, as was tradition. Asuka gives Emma an insane kick from the top rope and eliminates her. The crowd starts a “We See Eva” chant, making it clear she will return a la Santino Marella in 2011. Eva eliminates Asuka but we can’t forget about Carmella who quickly eliminates Eva and becomes the new #1 contender. And you can’t. Teach. That. Bayley comes out to congratulate her friend and the episode ends.
Decent first episode of the year but I would have loved to seen some more star power upon the return. As always, NXT is killer and I look forward to what 2016 has to offer.