KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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WWE NXT Report
March 23, 2016
Taped at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by Justin James, PWTorch NXT contributor
In various NXT news, Sami Zayn is now officially on the main roster, and Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis are off the roster.
On another note, I’ve now watched and re-watched Chad Gable’s suplex on Aiden English last week a number of times now and it looked like one heck of a risky move in a match that didn’t call for it. Between the momentum carried through the roll, and the lack of set-up time, it must have been very difficult for Gable to control the move or English to prepare to land, and on the replay it looked like quite an impact. I know that Gable has to work hard to stand out on that roster with his smaller size, and his impressive moveset is what got him as far as he has gone, but that particular move felt just a bit more than was needed.
[Q1] No pre-credits video. Elias Samson starts NXT with a match. He’s facing Johnny Gargano.
1 – JOHNNY GARGANO vs. “THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMSON
Lots of support for Gargano, but Samson immediately cinches in a wristlock. Gargana struggles against Samson’s size. A right hand out of the corner gives Gargano a chance, but Samson smashes him to the mat. Another rally is cut off by a knee when Gargano comes over the top. But, a surprise roll-up gives Gargano his first NXT win.
WINNER: Johnny Gargano in 2:23. Interesting to see Samson finally take a loss, though Gargano did not look strong in the win – it looked like a fluke.
Post-match, Samson ambushes Gargano and rips him part. The ref struggles to control the situation until Apollo Crews makes the save. Samson backs off. Crews checks on Gargano. On commentary, Corey Graves continues his slow change by pouring scorn on Samson’s actions.
Finn Balor is facing Rich Swann next. That’s some odd timing in the episode to have the NXT champion kick off Q2. Rich Swann dances out. Is this like the default gimmick for African-American wrestlers in WWE or something?
2 – NXT champion FINN BALOR vs. RICH SWANN – non-title match
[Q2] Balor easily controls Swann on the mat. Swann gets his feet on the ropes for a break. The crowd is 50/50 between Swann and Balor. Monkey flip can’t break Swann free of a long-lasting wristlock. Swann breaks free and the match speeds up. Balor gets a boot up, goes to the top, but Swann jumps up and nails a huracanrana.
Balor comes in the from outside and roughs Swann up. Dropkick through the ropes sends Swann hard into the barricade. Hesitation dropkick puts Swann into the turnbuckle. Coup De Grace and brainbuster ends it.
WINNER: Finn Balor in 4:23. Really nice stuff from Swann here. I look forward to the roster opening up some room for him.
Backstage, Alex Rayez asks Emma about her match tonight against Asuka. Emma says that she has been training and strategizing with Dana Brooke. Brooke says that she has been injured since “Takeover: Respect” at the hands of Asuka. Emma will do the job that she can’t due to injury. Emma says she should be the #1 contender. Brooke pretends to not pat Rayez, then she does.
Video package on Shinsuke Nakamura. Triple H and Vince McMahon personally welcome him. Recap of the crowd going nuts for him last week.
3 – SARAH DOBSON vs. ALEXA BLISS (w/Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy)
I liked the short match I saw with Dobson a few months ago. Hopefully she shows more tonight. Lock-up and Bliss goes flying. Dobson with speed, then a slow dropkick to Bliss. Biss suckers her into the corner, then pounds her on the mat. Bliss stomps all over Dobson’s back, then Bliss slaps her hard. Dobson with a surprise cover for two. Bliss retaliates with a knee to the middle. Bliss doesn’t let Dobson breathe.
Dobson flips over the turnbuckle, then surprises Bliss from the apron. Big move from the top gets Dobson a nearfall. Elbow drives Dobson away, she sends Bliss into the ropes. Blake and Murphy distract the ref then put the hurt on Dobson. Bliss Flip, then Sparkle Splash wrap it up.
WINNER: Alexa Bliss in 4:10. Bliss looked pretty strong here. I still like what I saw from Dobson.
[Q3] Backstage, Rayez tries to ask Samoa Joe a question. But, Joe just glares at him and stomps off.
Showing just how far in advance NXT was taped, the long-departed Bull Dempsey hits the ramp. Samoa Joe jumps him, chokes him out on the ramp, and demands a mic. Danny Burch, who is already in the ring, tries to make the save, but Burch gets choked out to a “Thank You Joe!” chant. Joe shouts a bunch of threats to Finn Balor straight into the camera. Joe looks insane.
Video package on American Alpha as the #1 contenders to the Tag Team Championship. Jordan says that their similar background gave them shared respect. Pictures of Jason Jordan as a little kid. Jordan talks about failing to win the national championship in college. Gable talks about not winning the Olympics. Their shared failures are driving them to success. Clips or Jordan’s frustrations in NXT, then forging American Alpha.
[ J.J.’s Reax: Really good package on those two to show us things that we haven’t seen before about them. ]
Vignette: Peppy music and a lot of “No Way Jose!” No other details.
Alex Riley is booked to face Apollo Crews next week, and Samoa Joe will destroy Bull Dempsey. I don’t think that’s a spoiler there.
4 – ASUKA vs. EMMA (w/Dana Brooke)
Lock-up and they trade control. Asuka dodges a punch, then Emma dodges the big roundhouse. Emma grabs a side headlock, then brings Asuka to the mat. Asuka fights out, but takes a shoulder block. Asuka trips Emma, then puts Emma in a headlock of her own. Asuka mocks Emma’s dancing into a jumping armbar, but Emma rolls to the ropes. Hip attack send Emma to the ramp and NXT to break.
[ Break ]
[Q4] Emma and Asuka are having a fairly even match out of break. Asuka ends up in control on the mat. Asuka wants a knee bar, but has to transition to an anklelock. Emma rolls through and sends Asuka to the ropes, then trips Asuka on the way back in. Cover gets less than one for Emma.
Emma tries to stretch Asuka out, then she grinds away at Asuka. Asuka suddenly rallies, but Emma yanks the hair to put Asuka on the mat and into a quick cover. Emma plants knees into Asuka’s back, then yanks the hair some more. Emma puts Asuka in the Tree of Woe, then kicks her back. Emma slides to the outside and pulls Asuka off the Tree of Woe by the hair. Ref distraction lets Brooke yank the hair, too. Emma-mite Sandwich gets one, then a re-cover gets less than one. Asuka makes a growling, howling noise.
Asuka recovers in the corner, then fires back for a moment, then gets dropped. Hip attack into stiff kicks, but Emma catches a foot. Asuka ducks a clothesline, though, then kicks Asuka into the ropes. Emma crawls to the corner, dodges a kick, and tries to crawl away. Emma drives Asuka into the corner, cover, feet on the ropes, but the ref sees it. Asuka stalks Emma as she argues with the ref, but Emma dodges a roundhouse. No matter. Asuka Lock wraps it up.
WINNER: Asuka in 13:47. Asuka took a lot of offense in that match, making Emma look a lot stronger than she has in the past. I question the booking here before Asuka challenges Bayley for the Women’s Title at Takeover next week.
Final Reax: Some good wrestling here. I really liked the American Alpha video package, as it went a long way to helping to explain who they are as people.