Voracious fans piled into the UADC Gymnasium as NXT made its return to Tampa for the first time this year. 2014 was a stellar year for the brand but they promise this year will be even better, and if tonight is any indication it may be. With much to prove heading into the next special the superstars of NXT set out to settle scores and gain valuable momentum.
Our opening bout saw Tony Briggs taking on Ty Dillinger who made his way to the ring without any real gimmick to speak of, in contrast to the several he has been trying out as of late. Yet the "Canadian Superman" was on his game tonight using his experience to overcome the size difference between him and the stocky powerhouse Briggs who couldn't quite get his footing against Dillinger. The match was cut short with the emergence Kevin Owens ran into the ring to make an emphatic statement by taking out both men with a pair of powerbombs. He took the mic and made sure we knew on no uncertain terms that he was just getting started.
The night continued with tag team action as The Mechanics took on Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins of Shoot Nation. Using their size advantage in the early goings Shoot Nation looked strong, but the team of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are just as wily as they are tough and took out Fultons leg. Isolating him from his partner they worked the leg while making frequent tags before Fulton finally made the hot tag to Dawkins who came into the ring with a vengeance taking out anyone in his path before he ran into a vicious clothesline from Dawson. He followed with a tag then flapjacking Dawkins into Wilders knees for the pin. Once again The Mechanics prove that they can consistently put on great matches, while Fulton and Dawkins work really well together and are looking better every time.
Big Cass and Enzo are out next to a huge pop. The overly charismatic Amore works the crowd like only he can before introducing Carmella. She takes the mic and begins by mentioning how she made quick work of "Old Blue Pants" Leva Bates, which prompts a decent Bluepants chant from the Tampa crowd. She continued stating that she wasn't done there and was headed right to the top and the Womens title. Big Cass takes the mic and goes on that this will be their year whether they're doing their thing there or on Monday Night Raw. Amore is great on the mic but Cass has gotten really good in his own right. These guys never fail to get the crowd going.
Next up Solomon Crowe takes on Kalisto. These men know each other well and it shows in the ring as the two traded offense in the early stages of the match. Wisely Crowe grounded the high flyer and slowed the pace, punishing his smaller opponent. However keeping down the very durable Kalisto is never an easy task and the luchadore mounted a comeback with a flurry of aerial moves and ending with a Salida Del Sol for the win. It was a short but entertaining match, also interesting to see Crowe as the aggressor rather than the underdog that he has been lately.
Our next match is not only a triple threat but also a match that could steal the show on about any card anywhere in the world, Finn Balor vs Hideo Itami vs Adrian Neville. The bell rings and Neville immediately dispatches Hideo from the ring, leaving him and his old competitor Balor in the ring. Almost immediately they tear into each other and it's non-stop from there with almost too many awesome spots to call. Hideo is adapting well and looking more incredible with every match, once again teasing the fans with not one, but two attempts at a GTS. Finn Balor, I'm convinced is not only going to be "the man" in NXT, but in the WWE as well one day despite size and dubious WWE booking. However, Adrian Neville was the longest reigning NXT champion for a reason and is not one to be outdone, finishing off Hideo with a perfectly executed 450 splash for the win.
We follow that with womens wrestling action in the form of a fatal four way as Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Charlotte faced off. It was another fast paced match as they immediately broke off into teams with Charlotte and Bayley taking the fight to Becky and Sasha. With the bad girls ejected from the ring the two turned on each other with Charlotte almost immediately going to work on Bayleys injured knee. Banks and Lynch made their way back into the ring and took control working together until they inevitably began arguing over pinfalls. As dissention fell upon team B.A.E. it became every women for themselves. Charlotte landed Natural Selection on Lynch but Sasha took her opportunity and tossed Charlotte out of the ring seizing the pinfall over Becky Lynch. Another excellent match from four of the toughest ladies you'll find on any roster.
Jason Jordan is out next to take on Baron Corbin. Facing the Alpha of NXT is a daunting task but Jordan didn't back down and took the fight right to him. Jordan took the advantage over Corbin, but when Corbin began to turn things around Bull Dempsey ran into the ring and laid out Corbin. Dempsey climbed the turnbuckles to execute a flying headbutt, but Corbin rolled out of the path of the wrecking ball. Corbin then finished off Dempsey with an End Of Days. Both Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey continue to quiet naysayers at house shows, hopefully they can get lengthier televised matches together soon and show the world as well. I'm glad to see the battle isn't over between these two monsters.
The action continues with tag champions Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake taking on The Vaudevillains. Blake and Murphy are exciting to watch and it's with that flash and excitement that they started off taking the early advantage. However it didn't take long before the gentleman bruisers took control of the match and slowed down the pace cutting off Blake from his corner. Things looked bleak for the new champs until Blake achieved enough separation to make the hot tag to Murphy who can be absolutely explosive at times. He quickly cleaned house and ejected Gotch from the ring, executing a running brainbuster on English accentuated by an impressive frogsplash from Blake for the win. Tough booking for The Vaudevillians these days, but I'm glad to see Blake and Murphy getting due recognition.
Our main event of the evening was an NXT title match with champion Sami Zayn defending against Tyler Breeze. The champ took control in the early going but Prince Pretty is not one to be taken lightly and shows it whenever he main events. It was an exhausting back and forth battle between the two that eventually saw Breeze take control. Zayn began to mount a comeback and executed a trademark Blue Thunder Bomb into a pin attempt. The two men made it to their feet and Zayn walked into a beautiful superkick from Breeze. Then Kevin Owens once again stormed the ring laying out Breeze and tossing him from the ring. He stood over Zayn, then picked him up to begin his attack. Out of nowhere, Zayn grabbed Owens and launched him into the turnbuckles with an exploder suplex. He looked to follow that with a Helluva kick, which Owens dodged before making a retreat into the back.
It was another hot night of action from NXT, but it looks like things are only going to get hotter in the coming months.