Air Date: 1/4/16
It’s time for the biggest show of the year for NXT, with an incredible card that could rival even Wrestlemania this year. The show opens with a pretty good video package running down all of the major matches before we head straight to the first match.
The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)(c) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable)(NXT Tag Team Championship)
This was tag team wrestling at its absolute finest. You didn’t have four individual men in this match, but two units that worked as such. The Revival especially were so god damn good at working as a team and bending the rules without explicitly cheating, it was truly masterful. I especially loved all of the blind tag spots. Even extended heat segments where they worked over Gable stayed interesting and dynamic, something which I think never really happens. This is to take nothing away from American Alpha, who were perfect in their role from Gable selling his ass off taking a beating or Jordan firing the fuck up after a hot tag, just phenomenal work. Gable pins Dawson with Grand Amplitude to win the titles **** ¼
Jim Ross, and more importantly Kota Ibushi are shown in the crowd. After that we see Asuka and Bayley preparing for their match tonight. I really liked the contrast of Bayley hugging little kids and Asuka kicking the shit out of some guy.
We get a video package highlighting the next match.
Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
Solid little match here, this was the only match on the card I thought might not be great but it served its purpose of introducing Aries to the audience and getting some more heat on Corbin. Aries worked about as hard as you’d expect, and Corbin’s character work is really coming along well. Austin Aries pins Baron Corbin with a Victory Roll *** ½
Another video package to set up the next match.
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Everything about this match was absolutely perfect. The crowd was on their feet from the get go, and with one simple entrance Nakamura become the most over guy in all of NXT. The early portions of this match got by on atmosphere more than anything, but the work was still great. And then somewhere in the middle of the match the two men started trading forearms and this started to transcend being just a match. Sami was out there to prove he was still great, and also to make sure that he was leaving NXT in good hands. This was sold really well with his slowly getting more aggressive towards Nak, and also through the frustration shown on his face. This was a phenomenal performance from Sami. Nakamura came into this trying to prove that he really did live up to his name and my god did he do that. His selling of exhaustion and getting pissed off upon seeing that he was bleeding was something to really behold. This was perhaps one of the best matches I’ve ever seen in my life. Nakamura pins Zayn with a Kinshasa *****
After the match Sami and Shinsuke embrace and Sami stays in the ring to a chorus of ole chants. I’ve always been a big fan of his, but this NXT run has shown that Sami is one of the greatest babyfaces of all time and this was a really special moment.
We get an incredible video package hyping up the next match, which has a lot to live up to.
Bayley (c) vs. Asuka (NXT Women’s Championship)
These two women had a real challenge on their hands having to follow the last match, but they did a pretty great job. This almost felt like a squash match at times with Asuka just completely dominating Bayley and having to completely destroy her to get the win. The final moments with Bayley desperately trying to get out of Asuka’s sleeper and then going limp and passing out was damn near poetic. Asuka submits Bayley with a sleeper hold *** ¾
Finn Balor (c) vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship)
Very early on in this match Samoa Joe got cut above his eye, and this went from a wrestling match into a god damn fight. Joe was pissed the hell off and just completely went after Finn and looked like a fucking monster in the process. The flow of this match was obviously hurt by the medical staff continually trying to fix the cut, and annoyingly they went back to trying to have a normal match in the last third. If this continued as the brawl we got in the opening moments, something more akin to Necro/Joe from IWA Mid-South, this could have been an all-time classic. Instead it was two thirds of a classic and one third of something very good. The dud of a non-finish also really hurt the match in my opinion, but that’s a much smaller issue. Balor pins Joe with a roll up ****
Obviously the big take away from this show is the incredible Zayn/Nakamura match, but this whole card was awesome with three or four really great, really different matches. Easy show of the year contender.