SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE NXT Report
March 9, 2016
Taped at Full Sail University
Report by Justin James, PWTorch NXT contributor
[Q1] Pre-credits video hyping tonight’s #1 contender match between Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn. WWE Shop finally has the NXT kids title belts in stock, and my wife made me get two for the kids, as she wasn’t too keen on the idea of me having them duke it out in a title match. Something about “don’t try this at home.”
NXT is back at FSU. William Regal starts the show off in the ring. He says he will not discipline Baron Corbin for his attack on Austin Aries last week, because Aries asked him not to. Aries has asked for a match against Corbin at NXT Takeover on April 1 from Dallas. He then reiterates that the #1 contender match tonight is a 2-out-of-3 falls match.
Samoa Joe’s music hits and he is out to wrestle. I like the idea of presenting a 2/3 falls match early in the show, because it gives the suspense of not looking at the clock and knowing when the match is about to end. Is it my imagination or did the main roster “borrow” the ending from the last Joe-Zayn match for the Lynch-Banks #1 contender match? Surreal.
Hideo Itami, Michael Hayes, and Sasha Banks are shown in the front seats, giving the match a bit of extra emphasis. Adam Jones, Larry Zbyszko, and Mauro Ranallo are also shown on the front ring. They hit a break before the formal introductions to make sure that the match has minimal interruptions, another smort move.
1. SAMI ZAYN vs. SAMOA JOE – #1 Contender Two Out Of Three Falls match
Zayn is a bit wary of Joe, being shy of a test of strength. Joe delivers a kick to punish Zayn’s nervousness. “Sam-i Zayn” to the New Day rhythm. Zayn ducks a kick. Test of strength, but Zayn moves to a waistlock, so Joe transitions to a wristlock. Zayn gets muscled to the mat. Pacing like this and we might get a one match episode. Zayn with a surprise crucifix from a wristlock for one.
On commentary, Corey Graves puts Zayn over as feeding off the crowd better than anyone else, and Joe as being the least sensitive to the crowd in the locker room. Three minutes in and the pacing is still very cautious. Zayn forces Joe to the corner and gets a bit nasty, rubbing his forearm all over Joe’s face.
[Q2] The first collar-and-elbow tie up. Joe turns it into a headlock takeover, and forces Zayn into a number of one counts. They stand up, but Joe maintains the headlock. This is a real clinic in how mat wrestling can be exciting. Zayn breaks free, but Joe plows him with a shoulder block. One count and back to the headlock. Graves mentions the long road trip for NXT and says that Zayn on Raw and Joe have an extra day of rest may be the difference-maker.
Six minutes in and Zayn breaks free of the headlock, ducks a running attack, and armdrags into an armbar. Armbar into an inside cradle for Zayn, one count, and back into an armbar. Elbows from Joe push Zayn to the ropes, big chop finally gets Zayn to release the armbar. Zayn startles Joe with fast footwork, sends Joe to the outside, and teases a flip dive, but Joe backs away, so Zayn stays in the ring.
[ Break ]
Joe backs Zayn to the ropes in a tie up. Big kicks to Zayn’s chest against the ropes rock him. Running elbow drop. Joe is trying to get a chinlock, but Zayn has an arm up to block. Joe with a monster Broski Boot to Zayn. Zayn kicks out of a cover. Joe punches Zayn silly against the ropes, then stands Zayn up and chops him back to the mat. Zayn stands up and hits a big chop of his own, then fires up in the corner. Zayn hits the ropes, but runs into Joe, who goes right into a belly-to-belly over the head.
Joe dismisses Zayn in the corner with boots. Joe’s trademark strikes in the corner, and Zayn sells disorientation. Over 13 minutes into the match and no falls yet. Zayn rallies with clotheslines, but telegraphs a body drop, only to bounce back with a clothesline to finally take Joe down. Zayn accidentally sets himself up for the Musclebuster, but slips over it. Enziguri from Joe drops Zayn for a close nearfall.
Zayn tries to punch out of the corner, but only hits air. The ref checks Zayn and Zayn is defiant. Zayn with rights, then takes an atomic drop into a big boot and a senton. Cover for a nearfall. Zayn is easily the best pure babyface in the company. Joe looks cocky and slaps the kneeling Zayn. Zayn gets up. DDT, Koji Clutch, Joe escapes, and powerslam from Joe for a nearfall.
[ Break ]
Joe has Zayn in the corner out of the break. A chop drops Zayn, but Joe doesn’t bother to cover. Strikes and and chop sends Zayn to the mat again. Zayn pulls himself up, then asks for more.
[Q3] Zayn returns to his feet after telling the ref that he is fine. They trade blows unto Joe throws himself at Zayn’s legs to take him down. Zayn baits Joe into charging, but backs to the ropes and low-bridges Joe to the floor. Arabian Moonsault wipes out Joe on the outside. Zayn to the top, then a cross-body gets him two in his first cover attempt of the match 20 minutes in.
Zayn looks for a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Joe elbows out. Zayn catches his pants, then tries again, but Joe shifts his weight to land on Zayn. Cover for a nearfall. Joe wipes Zayn’s legs out again for another nearfall. Joe sends Zayn back to the corner, Muscle Buster set up, but Zayn fights it. Zayn wants Old School, and it’s blocked. Joe with a one-arm slam, Muscle Buster, and three count. Zayn doesn’t even know where he is.
FALL #1 – Samoa Joe at 21:50.
[ Break ]
Joe just kills Zayn in the corner as soon as the bell hits. Joe sets up a Musclebuster, but Zayn fights it. Chop and Zayn crumples to the mat. Joe sends Zayn into the ropes and Zayn looks like a dead man walking. Zayn slaps Joe, Joe slaps him back, and Zayn is down again. Musclebuster attempt, but Zayn sticks to the ropes and fights it off with headbutts. Missile dropkick and they are both down.
In the aftermath, Joe is busted open on the forehead. The ref pulls Zayn off Joe to check the forehead, and Zayn sells frustration. Zayn ignores the ref and wails away on Joe in the corner. The ref comes close to DQ’ing Zayn. Suddenly, Joe pops to his feet and sends Zayn across the ring with strikes. Suplex into a cover and Zayn kicks out. Chinlock and the crowd is still trying to rally Zayn.
Zayn dodges a knee drop, then gets a nearfall. Joe tosses Zayn through the ropes and is willing to take a count-out win, but Zayn rolles back in at six and gets kicked right back out by Joe. Joe sends Zayn into the ring steps head-first, then rolls into the ring. Zayn in at nine to keep the match going. Joe takes Zayn outside again, STO on the outside. Joe rolls back in looking for a count-out win again, but Zayn makes it in at 9 1/2. We are now 30 minutes into this match and nearly in the final quarter of the episode.
Joe tells Zayn “it’s not worth it.” Zayn disagrees with wild swings. Joe blocks a suplex, Zayn blocks one, and Zayn manages to suplex Joe. Joe rolls to the outside. The crowd is fired up now. Zayn hits the ropes, flip dive, and Joe is on his knees. Zayn rolls Joe into the ring, then heads to the top. Joe recovers, but Zayn jumps over him. Zayn with a surprise Koji Clutch in the middle of the ring, and Joe taps.
FALL #2 – Sami Zayn via submission at 32:20.
[ Break ]
[Q4] Remember that pacing indicating a one-match episode? It sure looks like it here.
The bell hits and they trade blows. Phillips and Graves verbally cancel the rest of the card for the night. Zayn manages a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Zayn gets up first. Helluva Kick, but Joe ducks it and goes outside. Zayn heads up top, but Joe runs into the ring and meets him there. Joe looks for a superplex, but Zayn fights. Sunset flip powerbomb and Joe barely kicks out. Incredible move on a man of Joe’s size.
Joe rolls outside to take a breather. Zayn doesn’t want a count-out win, and rolls to the outside to nail the torpedo DDT. Zayn sells his arm, and Joe is twitching. Zayn rolls into the ring, then Joe gets in at nine-and-seven-eights. They both head to corners for a breather. Helluva Kick, but Joe catches it. Powerbomb for nearfall, then he transitions the cover to a full Boston Crab, sliding into a crossface, then into a big arm hold. Close-up of Zayn, who is torn up, but Zayn manages to get a boot to the rope to break the hold.
“Ole!” chants for Zayn, who eats strikes again. Zayn falls to the mat and the ref starts a ten count. Zayn gets up at eight and hulks up. We are now at the 40-minute mark. More strikes from Joe, then an enziguri. The ref starts another ten count for Zayn. Joe looks confident, but Zayn gets up at 9 before falling right into Joe’s arms.
Kicks right to Zayn’s face as Joe holds Zayn’s head down. Another ten count starts. Zayn pips to his feet and Joe tries to grab him, but Zayn applies Joe’s own Coquina Clutch. Joe torques Zayn’s foot, though, then gets to the ropes. Phillips points out that Balor’s got one tough opponent ahead of him either way.
Joe runs at Zayn, who manages the exploder suplex into the turnbuckle, then calls for the Helluva Kick. Joe dodges, then applies a standing Coquina Clutch before dragging Zayn to the mat. Zayn is stick and can’t go anywhere. Zayn is reaching for the ropes, but there is no way to get out. The ref checks on Zayn, who is out cold in the hold. The ref calls for the bell.
WINNER: Samoa Joe 2-1 at 43:08. That was just an incredible match. It lacked the fast pacing and crazy move set that we expect from a Sami Zayn match, but that wouldn’t make sense here. Zayn was in a fight for his life and barely survived. Yes, parts of it were repetitive. There’s only so many moves you can deliver in a 43-minute match. But wow, what a story! Zayn is easily the best pure babyface in the company right now. If they ever turn him heel, it will have an extremely potent emotional impact if handled properly. If the story being told here is that Joe beat Zayn so bad that he ends up out of NXT and onto the main roster… well, I’ll miss getting to see awesome Sami Zayn matches, but it’s a story that makes sense and kudos to Zayn, the hardest working member on the NXT roster.
Post-match, Graves points out that a rear-naked choke beat Holly Holm and Conor McGregor (referencing the UFC PPV over the weekend). That’s a bit unusual to hear on WWE programming.
Final Reax: What’s there to say? We just got an epic 43-minute match, which should be half of a disc on Volume 2 of “NXT’s Greatest Matches.” We also (finally) have the main event for the next Takeover event a few days before WrestleMania.