7/30 “NXT: Houston” Results – CALDWELL’S Complete Report on Balor’s Farewell

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WWE NXT Live Results
July 30, 2016
Houston, Tex.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Follow live tweets and photos at the main PWTorch Twitter @PWTorch.

NXT returned to the Revention Center in Downtown Houston for the second consecutive year. It was a packed house of mostly 30-somethings, sparse families, and kids wearing Bayley-related merchandise. For the adults, it was mainly Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor merchandise.

Overall, this felt like a big event. It turned into a graduation party for Balor and others and the match action was superb throughout. The NXT brand really has something going as far as a live event goes. Now they have to keep replenishing following the departure of top star Balor…

(1) Mojo Rawley beat Murphy at 6:26. Mojo won with a running lariat to the face for a pinfall. Mojo’s hype act was very over in the opening match setting. Now he’s off to the WWE roster. (More on that later.)

(2) Andrade “Cien” Almas beat Blake at 7:50. Some good; some rough around the edges trying to develop chemistry in the ring. Andrade dazzled early with Lucha, then the match slowed to a methodical pace. Fine, but perhaps not the right opponent for Almas.

(3) Bayley & Carmella beat Mandy Rose & Daria from Tough Enough at 9:54. There was a lot of pre-match activity with a hug-off and the heels teasing leaving before the match started. Baymella chased down Team Tough in the aisleway, then fought back into the ring to officially start the match. Rose & Daria worked well as a heel unit isolating Carmella. They built and built to a hot tag to Bayley after a chorus of “Heeey, we want some Bayley” sing-song.

Huge pop for the tag after the good heel work. Then, things broke down for a bit. In the chaos, Mandy tried to show off some wrestling skills with a butterfly suplex spike driver, but she dropped Bayley on her head, drawing gasps from the crowd. Bayley seemed okay as she rolled toward the ring apron to sell the move. They recovered and Bayley hit Mandy with the Bayley-to-Belly suplex while Carmella held off Daria. Victory lap for the faces on the way out.

(4) Hideo Itami beat Austin Aries at 11:09. This was grand. Just an excellent singles match. Itami controlled early with Aries playing a lesser heel unable to keep up with Itami’s strikes and offense. Aries then cut off Itami on the floor, setting up his offensive attack back in the ring. Aries hit the wrong button, though, and Itami went Strong Style with a no-sell and repeated kick strikes. The crowd wanted a GTS, so Itami teased it to a huge pop, but Aries escaped. After a close nearfall for Aries, Itami won with a running knee strike to the face to conclude an excellent back and forth match. The nearfalls in this match were excellent, as was the action. (***1/2)


(5) NXT tag champions The Revival (Dash & Dawson) beat Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa at 19:16 to retain the NXT Tag Titles. This was an excellent, excellent match. It rivaled a match from the Motor City Machineguns vs. Beer Money series in TNA several years ago for the best wrestling match at this building. Dash & Dawson were really excellent, breaking free from some of the generic labeling with Dash showing personality on the ring apron and Dawson effectively leading the match like Arn Anderson. The heels isolated Ciampa during the middle of the match, which took some getting used to because Ciampa is such a big, physical wrestler that it seemed unrealistic for him to sell for that long. Then, there was a great fake tag spot where Dash comically threw himself into the ring like a goof, distracting the ref, which meant the ref did not see the hot tag to Gargano. They did the old-school routine of the heels ganging up on Ciampa some more while Gargano argued with the ref. Gargano eventually got the real hot tag and cleaned house.

Super-close nearfalls for Gargano & Ciampa ensued, and the real sign of this being a great match was getting the crowd to buy into the nearfalls despite the 0.01 percent chance of a title change on a house show. Very late in the match, Gargano and Ciampa hit a double superkick on Dash, the pin was made, but Dawson put Dash’s foot on the bottom rope from the outside. Gargano & Ciampa celebrated like they won the belts, but the ref informed them the match was not over because of the foot. In the confusion, the tag champs secured a roll-up for the pin to retain, letting the air of the balloon. Revival took off with the belts, leaving Gargano & Ciampa to lament their bad fortune. Big round of applause for the challengers after the match. (****)

(6) NXT Women’s champion Asuka beat Nia Jax at 10:38 to retain the Women’s Title. This was a hard hitting, physical match with some personality in-between the two big matches of the show. Included was Jax executing a Goldberg-like Jackhammer, then setting up the People’s Elbow like The Rock to a pop, but reinforcing her as a heel by airballing the leg drop (instead of Rock’s elbow) when Asuka rolled out of the way. Late in the match, Asuka hulked up, Asuka and Nia screamed at each other, and then Asuka kicked Jax right in the head for the pin and the win.

Before the main event, it was announced that this would be Finn Balor’s last NXT match as part of his farewell. Balor was out first to a huge ovation. Balor soaked up the atmosphere and got emotional before Shinsuke Nakamura got the biggest pop of the night. The music, the lighting, the Nakamura Experience was in full effect. Nakamura and Balor hugged and then hung out in the corner before the heels were introduced. Bobby Roode was out first, then NXT champion Samoa Joe. Both worked the building before with TNA in a different time & era for Joe, Roode, and TNA.

(7) Finn Balor & Shinsuke Nakamura beat NXT champion Samoa Joe & Bobby Roode at 17:18. An excellent main event. It did not have the physicality of Aries-Itami or super-close, believable nearfalls like the Tag Title match, but there was so much star power and presence in the ring that the wrestlers could have stood around looking at each other for 20 minutes and it would have been the most epic staredown of all time.

Balor started against Joe, then Balor tagged in Nakamura to a big pop. Joe teased fighting Nakamura before Brooklyn, but he tagged out to Roode. Joe proceeded to enjoy the heck out of himself watching the match from the ring apron looking relaxed and enjoying the moment. Included was a spot where Balor taunted Joe, so Joe tossed his signature towel at Balor, who caught it, then whipped it into Roode’s crotch. Balor then wrapped the towel around his shoulders and did Joe’s signature pose to a pop.

Later, Nakamura and Balor did a tandem vibration foot on Roode, who took a beating for a while until he cut off Nakamura and went to work on him. Roode’s thing is posing toward the ceiling and shouting “Glorious,” which got some heat. Nakamura came back with a kick to the head and Roode did a Flair Flop, which followed Roode strutting in-between moves on Nakamura.

Balor teed off on Roode, then finished him with the Slingblade and Coup de Grace from the top rope. Nakamura held off Joe as Balor pinned Roode to win the match and finish his NXT run. (***)

Post-match, Balor’s celebratory music was interrupted by Bayley, who came out to the ring to host an impromptu graduation party. This was an extra treat for the live crowd on top of witnessing Balor’s NXT farewell. As Nakamura hung out in the ring with Balor, Bayley thanked Balor for helping take NXT to the next level.

Bayley then brought out fellow graduates Mojo Rawley, Nia Jax, and Carmella in street clothes to join the celebration. Bayley talked them all up, talked up Balor leading a new era for NXT, and talked up the fans for being part of a movement.

It was Balor’s turn to talk. First, Balor shouted out to “Clutch City” H-Town, which got a pop. Balor said he didn’t lead this era, but the entire locker room did. Balor shouted out to each person in the ring, then shouted out to the rest of the locker room by name as the group came out in the aisleway to applaud Balor.

Balor had one more person to thank. He said this man goes by many names – Albert, Tensai, Jason Albert, and their head coach Matt Bloom. Balor said when Bloom took over, he changed the NXT environment and everyone started showing up at the Performance Center with a smile. Balor thanked him for being instrumental in the new era. Bloom came out from backstage to be acknowledged by the crowd. Balor signed off, then everyone left the ring. Balor left the mic in the ring, then did a victory lap around ringside to close out the show.

OVERALL: An excellent three-hour show. NXT nailed this show with three outstanding matches, star power, the NXT environment, and lots of fan interaction. One of the best house show-level wrestling shows that I’ve seen in-person.

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