NXT – April 8, 2015

NXT
Date: April 8, 2015
Location: San Jose
Convention Center, San Jose, California
Commentators: Rich
Brennan, Corey Graves
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
We’re on the road again
with some matches taped for this year’s Wrestlemania Axxess weekend.
For at least the last two years, there has been a ring set up on the
Axxess floor for live matches, including some title defenses.
Tonight we’re going to see some of those matches and maybe some from
the well received house show the same weekend. Let’s get to it.

The main story tonight
is a tournament for a spot in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle
Royal at Wrestlemania XXXI. Here are the brackets.
Finn Balor
Baron Corbin
Bull Dempsey
Tyler Breeze
Hideo Itami
Jason Jordan
Kalisto
Adrian Neville
Video of Wrestlemania’s
impact on the area, which I believe was shown on both Raw and
Smackdown.
We get a quick recap of
the first round to give us the final four.
Balor rolled up Corbin
to advance, Breeze beat Dempsey with a Beauty Shot, Itami’s running
kick to the face knocked Jordan out and the Red Arrow advanced
Neville.
Here are the updated
brackets.
Finn Balor
Tyler Breeze
Hideo Itami
Adrian Neville
Battle
Royal Qualifying Tournament Semi-Finals: Hideo Itami vs. Adrian
Neville
Neither guy gets an
entrance. The crowd is very small, maybe about 200, as the ring is
just tucked away in a corner of the convention center. They fight
over a wristlock to start with Neville taking him down to the mat but
Itami counters into an arm crank for a near fall of his own. The
fans boo something off camera as the guys have a staredown and
Neville teases going after whoever it was.
We hit the dueling
chants as Neville grabs a headlock. That goes nowhere so Hideo hits
a running kick to the chest and clotheslines Neville out to the
floor. Neville makes it back in at nine and the fans don’t seem
thrilled with him. Some shots to the chest and a big back elbow get
two on Hideo but he comes back with his three clotheslines (of
course) and the tornado neck snap across the top rope.
The top rope
clothesline gets two and Itami follows up with a sleeper (Fans: “GO
TO SLEEP!”) before switching off to a dragon sleeper. The GTS is
countered and Neville blasts him with a superkick for two. Neville
has to bail out of a shooting star and gets caught by the running
dropkick in the corner. The Shotgun Kick sends Itami to the finals
at 11:16.
Rating:
C+. Good enough but Itami
really needs to open up the offense. First it was nothing but kicks
and now it’s primarily clotheslines. Star throwing in some more
submissions or throws or whatever, but stop using one or two moves
over and over. Neville was working heel here and it was kind of odd
to see. Not bad or anything but just a sharp change from his usual
style.
Battle
Royal Qualifying Tournament Semi-Finals: Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze
Balor
gets an entrance. Breeze
poses on the corner to start so
Balor dropkicks him in the
face and poses exactly the same. More
kicks to the chest get two on Breeze but he takes Balor down and puts
on a chinlock (Tyler: “ASK HIM PLEASE!”). Balor
quickly rolls through and hits a basement dropkick, followed
by even more kicks to the face and chest for two. We
definitely have a theme in
this match. Breeze finally
mixes it up with some forearms but charges into the Sling Blade. The
Coup de Grace ends Breeze at 5:22.
Rating:
C+. It’s very telling how much
more of a presence Balor has in half the time that Itami had. The
guy is just awesome in the ring and has the full package. Even
though the match was nothing special and Breeze was basically getting
squashed for five minutes, it felt more entertaining than the
previous match.
Dana
Brooke debuts next week and calls herself the Total Diva.
Video
package on the NXT house show from Wrestlemania weekend and
it looks like a big Ring of Honor show, just with HHH in the ring.
It really is amazing that
WWE basically has their own in house indy company. This
show looks like a blast.
Sami
Zayn vs. Rhyno next week.
Battle
Royal Qualifying Tournament Final: Hideo Itami vs. Finn Balor
We
get a wide shot of the arena to show several hundred more people on
the hard camera side. The
fans are behind Balor as the guys do a wrestling sequence, ending
with a standoff. Balor
takes him down and cranks on the arm before a dropkick gets two.
Itami comes back with some
kicks to the chest and puts on a chinlock. That
goes as far as a chinlock can take you and Finn rolls out for another
basement dropkick.
An
enziguri in the
corner knocks Hideo off the top for two but
he comes back with the top rope clothesline. The
GTS is teased again but Balor escapes into the Pele to put both guys
down again. Back up and
Hideo wins a strike off, followed by a running basement dropkick in
the corner. The Sling Blade
out of nowhere drops Itami but
he crotches Finn to break up the Coup de Grace. Yet
another GTS attempt is countered and the Shotgun Kick sends Hideo to
Wrestlemania at 8:15.
Rating:
C. I wasn’t feeling this one as
much as they built up the GTS through the match but they still didn’t
let it hit. I’m glad Hideo won though as having Balor in his spot at
Wrestlemania would have been a waste of him. All
the kicks are getting annoying too and it’s really hard to care when
it’s the same stuff all show long. Good
enough match but it didn’t have the time to get anywhere.
They
shake hands post match.
We get a cool video on
Hideo Itami, dating back to his press conference in Osaka, announcing
his signing with WWE. Then he debuted in NXT, then he beat Balor in
the match from earlier on this show. We see Itami going through the
curtain to be greeted by the contingent of HHH, Tatsumi Fujinami
and……Hillbilly Jim?
Itami introduces us to
his family and again, his English is fine. His language skills
really aren’t an excuse for his lack of promos. You can keep them
short and get the point across well enough. Also included is a clip
of Itami hitting the GTS on Breeze at the house show and how people
freaked out online. Naturally, Stephanie is RIGHT THERE to comment
on the impact on social media.
Itami is in the battle
royal. We see him warming up backstage and all his friends praising
him for making it this far this fast. He comes out to the crowd,
Cole gives him a special introduction, he knocks out Dallas, and then
Big Show treats him like any given jobber as Cole says “welcome to
the big leagues.” I’m SO glad we got to see him beaten down that
fast. It just wouldn’t have been complete without seeing Big Show
looking dominant. Hideo cries once he gets backstage and a bunch of
people congratulate him. Even Big Show says he looks forward to
working with Itami again. His kids hug him to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
C+. This is a hard one
to grade as it’s mainly a theme show with some wrestling included.
The stuff on Itami is a really cool feature (Big Show dominance
aside) and made him look like a big deal. Above all else though, I
want to focus on that house show. On the Rise and Fall of ECW, Paul
Heyman talks about wanting to make his shows into a big party where
the fans say “WOW! I want to go there! I want to buy my ticket
and be right there in the middle of all that.”
That’s
the feeling I got watching that house show. It looked like a blast
and something I’d love to get to see. It’s the feeling you don’t get
on Raw because NXT feels far more fan friendly and built on
excitement. Like I said, it’s basically an in house indy company
with very little connection to the main roster. This
is a special promotion and it’s going to keep going for a long time
at this pace.
Results
Hideo Itami b. Adrian
Neville – Shotgun Kick
Finn Balor b. Tyler
Breeze – Coup de Grace
Hideo Itami b. Finn
Balor – Shotgun Kick
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