Submitted by Wayne Mason
- UADC Gym, Tampa FL
- Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder
- Aiden English def. Elias Sampson
- Solomon Crowe def. Mike Rawlis
- Bayley and Carmella def. Alexa Bliss and Dana Brooke
- Mojo Rawley def. Chad Gable
- Baron Corbin def. Tye Dillinger
- Becky Lynch def. Women's Champion Sasha Banks in a non-title match
- Finn Balor and Billy Gunn def. Tyler Breeze/NXT Champion Kevin Owens
Friday night at the UADC Gymnasium in Tampa saw another large and lively crowd line in to witness the wrestling stars of NXT battle it out on the road to NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. There was electricity in the air, as there always is when NXT returns home to the city where it all began.
A special moment occurred before the first bell even rang. Like always NXT announcer Greg Hamilton came out moments before the show to hype the crowd, and tonight he took the time to wish a happy birthday to a little girl named Izzy who was turning 8. Izzy is known locally as “Bayley’s Biggest Fan” and the look on her face would merit that moniker when Bayley came out next to give her a hug and wish her a happy birthday as well. Bayley then continued by leading the entire gymnasium in singing Izzy the happy birthday song. Other wrestlers acknowledged Izzy over the course of night as well, but this was the pinnacle of her night and it showed all over her face.
It was a feel good moment that infected the entire building. You see NXT can hit the road and travel to Albany, Philly, etc. and people will witness some of the best wrestling in the world. However, they won’t have moments like these, or that special connection that crowds have with the brand here. No offense to any other city or town, it’s just about us being lucky enough to here at this point in history watching NXT grow organically from a little developmental brand and into a phenomenon, forging a relationship with NXT and its fans. I’ll miss moments like this as much as the wrestling when it’s gone one day. So I already told her last night but I’ll say it again here, happy birthday Izzy!
Now onto the wrestling action.
The crowd erupts for the super over team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass as they come to the ring to take on Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The match starts off with a little silliness and trash talking which somehow turns into an impromptu boxing match between Zo and Dawson complete with the stools in the corner and spit buckets. The two circle each other with Enzo showing off some fancy footwork before Dawson lays him out with one punch. Amore barely answers the 9 count and comes back with a flurry of punches before it evolves into chaos and back into a wrestling match. A fired up Amore starts of strong but it is not long before Dawson and Wilder have the upper hand. The tag team technicians take their time picking apart Amore accentuated by a few picture perfect suplexes from Dawson and a Tree Of Woe. Finally, Dawson misses a dive into the corner and Amore makes the hot tag to Big Cass who comes in and cleans house, first ejecting Dawson and then finishing Wilder with a big boot and a side slam. Cass tags in Amore and tosses him off the turnbuckle onto Wilder for the pin.
Afterward, the two are celebrating in the ring when Kevin Owens bursts into the ring to beat them down, throw out Cass and then practically pop-up powerbomb Enzo through the mat. He picks Amore up to go for a second but Finn Balor makes the save. The two begin to brawl until Tyler Breeze runs in to help beat down Balor. However Balor slides out of the ring to grab a chair. At this point Corey Graves comes out and tells them that William Regal has given him authority tonightand tells us that the main event will be Tyler Breeze and Kevin Owens vs Finn Balor and a partner of his choosing, if he can find one.
Next up is the drifter Elias Sampson vs Aiden English of The Vaudevillians accompanied to the ring by Simon Gotch. The two begin with a gentlemanly handshake and the match is underway. English gets the first advantage with a series of perfect arm drags into a hammerlock, followed by a set of manly squats to the delight of the crowd. However the two are evenly matched and it is not long before the speedy Sampson mounts a comeback first countering a monkey flip by landing on his feet, then a picture perfect dropkick into an armbar of his own.
English tries to mount a comeback but Sampson shuts him down with a series of strikes and kicks. English perseveres fighting back and ending it with a Take A Bow for the win. This was a pretty good match with English reminding us that he is also a solid singles wrestler. Elias Sampson is super athletic and fun to watch. I can’t wait to see Sampson move up the ranks and fight in higher profile matches. It’s a guarantee he is going to make a lot of fans along the way.
Mike Rawlis is out next to take on the explosive Solomon Crowe. In the opening moments Rawlis easily out-muscles Crowe in a series of lock-ups. Crowe evens things up though with a punch square to the mouth followed by a series of strikes before contorting Rawlis into a Black Widow. Eventually Rawlis makes his way out and catches Crowe amid crossbody attempt and tosses him over his head with a fallaway slam. The size advantage comes into play again with Rawlis tossing Crowe around the ring with ease before throwing him into an abdominal stretch. Eventually Crowe manages to mount a comeback with a series of chops and kicks. He whips Rawlis into the corner and follows with a running high knee. He then drops Rawlis with a dropkick to the leg before locking him into the Stretch Muffler for a submission victory. This was another good contest between the two. Crowe is always exciting to watch and is still main event bound in my book. Rawlis is showing improvement and more confidence, his Ray Lewis dance before dropping an elbow still drives me crazy but I suppose that is the point. After the match Ty Dillinger comes out and rates the match a 2.
Next is tag action as the odd team of Alexa Bliss and Dana Brooke take on Bayley and Carmella. It’s apparent from the beginning that there is dissension between Brooke and Bliss as they bicker about who should start the match. Alexa starts off for her team with some back and forth action between first Carmella, then Bayley. In a sign of friendship Bayley and Bliss hug before competing much to the chagrin of Brooke who complained at ringside. Bliss mounts offense but every time she gets on a roll Brooke tags herself in. Later after much punishment Bayley makes a hot tag to Carmella.
Dana looks for a tag from Bliss but she has had enough and refuses to tag. Moments later Carmella drops Dana with a drop toe hold and transitions into her leg scissor submission for a submission victory. Bayley, Carmella, and Bliss all celebrate in the ring afterward. This was a fun match with a great showing from all participants. Dana Brooke has much potential, but right now tag matches are where she needs to be.
Next up is Chad Gable taking on the returning Mojo Rawley. Like he does with most of his opponents Gable easily out-grapples Mojo in the early going. The super hyped Mojo wasn’t fazed though, dancing around the ring talking trash. Gable still took over working the arm of Rawley with a series of armbars including one over the ring ropes. Eventually though Mojo comes back with his series of tackles and lays out Gable for the win. I’ve been critical of Rawley on the blog before, but I’ll give it to him that the crowd was hyped for his return. However, it won’t be long before the crowds begin to turn on him again if his repertoire simply doesn’t expand. His enthusiasm is contagious and he is simply one of the nicest guys in entire locker room, but that will only carry him so far.
Ty Dillinger is out next and tells us that thus far the show has only been a 3, but not to fear because he is about to give us a perfect 10 performance. It wouldn’t be easy though, because his opponent for the night is Baron Corbin. In the opening moments after every successful maneuver Dillinger would cartwheel into the corner and score himself a 10. Finally after Corbin outdoes Ty he does a cartwheel of his own and scores himself a 10 much to the delight of the crowd. A nice back and forth contest follows. Eventually, a frustrated Dillinger hikes down his kneepad and gives Corbin a kneesmash to the skull but he narrowly kicks out.
A few moments later Corbin mounts a comeback and snatches Dillinger up for an End Of Days for the win. This was a good showing by both men, even better than the previous night. I’m very happy to see the very talented Dillinger getting over with the crowds. Corbin seemingly gets better with every match moving around with a great deal of speed and adding a little more to his matches every time.
The mountainous Braun Stowman is out next for a promo. He tells us that all of the stars in the back are just normal people like us, and that he is far from normal. He continues by stating that he is a 6’8’ 375lb monster among men and everything we wish we could be. Stowman is pretty good at promos and unfazed by the crowd.
Next up is a Takeover preview as womens champ Sasha Banks takes on her number one contender Becky Lynch in a non-title match. In the opening moments the “delty diva” is simply on fire out-grappling Banks and accentuating it with a series of beautiful armdrags. The ring-wise Banks feigns injury drawing Lynch into the corner right into the turnbuckle and taking over. This is where the Boss slows down the pace, relishing taking apart her opponent. She ties Becky up in a straightjacket crossface but eventually Lynch gets free. Later, Lynch mounts offense launching herself into Banks with a Lou Thez Press pummeling Banks. She follows with a trifecta of her trademark legdrops. Moments later seemingly out of nowhere she snatches Banks into her armbar submission for a submission victory. This was another top-notch performance by two of the best on either roster. On May 20th the wrestling world is going to be in for a show-stealing performance, but with the title on the line
It’s main event time and Tyler Breeze is out first followed by Kevin Owens who emulates Prince Pretty by lounging atop the turnbuckle as well. Finn Balor is out next to a huge pop, he may be the most over guy on the roster by this point. However, even his pop would be eclipsed when his mystery partner was revealed. The familiar music of DX hit and Billy Gunn emerged to the roar of the surprised fans. They extended the intro quite a bit but no one minded because every bit of it was awesome. Even Balor couldn’t hide his huge smile, jumping up and down giving his opponents crotch chops galore.
The bell rings and Breeze and Finn are set to start. Breeze wants no part of Balor, telling him that he wants Gunn instead. Balor tags in Gunn and the action begins. Breeze fails to even budge Gunn and is met with huge “Suck it, Tyler!” chants from the crowd. Gunn mocks Breeze, who angrily tags in Kevin Owens and then things get down to business as the two begin to brawl. Back and forth action ensues with a lot of memorable spots.
Finn emulates the Road Dogg firing a couple of punches at Owens, followed by some “juking and jiving” a crotch chop and another punch that sent Owens to the mat. Later, Owens takes over giving a “suck it” of his own. He gives Finn the X-Factor, taunting Gunn on the apron telling him X-Pac was better. Later, Finn makes the hot tag to Gunn who comes in and clears the ring. Breeze dodges a Famasser, and counters with a superkick. All four men are in a melee now and Gunn gives Owens a Famasser, followed by a second one for Tyler Breeze. Finn Balor caps it off with a Coups De Grace for the victory. The two celebrate and pose for a bit while the crowd absolutely loves it. It was one of those nights that make you happy to be a wrestling fan. It also proves that absolutely anything can happen at an NXT house show.