NXT came barreling into Nashville, Tennessee last night for the second time since October 2015. I had the pleasure of attending the show at War Memorial Auditorium, which is a nice, intimate venue for such a show. NXT has done a masterful job of creating the ‘indy vibe’ with their brand.
Asuka def. Alexa Bliss – Asuka sent the crowd into a frenzy as soon as her music hit. The crowd was hot from the get-go, but having Asuka be the first wrestler out stoked the flames. This was a pretty solid contest, but it was all about Asuka and getting the crowd going for the night ahead. To her credit, Bliss drew a decent amount of heel heat, and was booked pretty strongly in a loss.
Blake & Murphy def. Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano – Surprisingly, this match is worth mentioning in the ‘match of the night’ discussion. These two teams performed some really innovative tag team wrestling, and really worked the crowd. Wesley Blake is playing the crowd so well, simply by having his hair up in those atrocious pigtails. Ciampa & Gargano are going to get a lot of credit for being internet darlings, but Blake & Murphy are vastly underrated – two of the best teams in the world.
Nia Jax def. Billie Kay – Not a bad match, but nothing memorable. Nia Jax is an intriguing figure in the landscape of NXT, but the crowd seemingly didn’t know what to do with her. It is nice to see Billie Kay getting a chance to actually do something.
Sami Zayn def. Baron Corbin – Probably ‘match of the night,’ but that’s still debatable. I was incredibly shocked to hear a small, vocal minority actually behind Corbin. That shows that fans are finally starting to respect him and drop the issue that Corbin didn’t come from a wrestling background. People were chanting “Let’s Go Corbin!” against a man who is probably the most beloved figure in NXT. That blew me away – but it was also the physicality of the contest that impressed. Zayn got the win after a unique application of the Helluva Kick. After the match, he offered his hand to Corbin, as the crowd rained down applause on the two, only to see Corbin blow him off and exit to a chorus of boos.
NXT Tag Team Championship: American Alpha def. Dash & Dawson (DQ) – Chad Gable has owned crowds from the moment he stepped foot in NXT, but now, it looks like Jason Jordan is getting that respect, too. These guys blew the roof off of the building in their new Steiner Brother-esque outfits. Scott Dawson continues to agitate crowds with the best of them. Two teams that put on a clinic in tag team wrestling that made the Nashville fans believe for a second they were going to see new Tag Team Champions. The disqualification came when Dash Wilder pulled the referee out of the ring on a pin attempt.
NXT Women’s Championship: Bayley def. Emma – I can’t think of a more universally loved wrestler than Bayley. She took her time on the way to the ring, shaking hands, taking photos, and of course, passing out hugs. When the bell rang, it was all business – and these two ladies delivered. This was the third women’s match on the card, which shows the amount of confidence and respect that NXT has in its women division. This was also in the conversation for ‘match of the night,’ but was definitely ‘most fun of the night.’
NXT Championship: Finn Balor def. Samoa Joe – Something about seeing Samoa Joe never gets old. He’s reached that elite status among pro wrestlers. This match, as you would expect, was awesome. The crowd was a tad split, but I can’t say for sure who was cheering Finn, who was cheering Joe, and who was just cheering for everything. It was definitely that kind of match. Balor wins to send everyone home happy, then takes the microphone and proceeds to thank us for coming out. He told the crowd that of all the things he’s done in his career, he’s the proudest of NXT, followed by “if you’re not down with that, we’ve got two word for you,” and a crotch chop.
To no one’s surprise, the building erupted.
All in all, this was a great show. I’m not sure it packed quite the punch the first run did, but that’s because the first is always the most special. I heard a few people complaining of a lack of Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady (namely, my girlfriend), which is understandable – no Apollo Crews or Vaudevillians either. If you see NXT is running a separate show in Florida on the same night, you probably shouldn’t expect to see the full roster.
NXT still blew the doors off of any Raw or Smackdown that’s been to Nashville recently, and undoubtedly has the city anxiously awaiting round three.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, is a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor for The SoBros Network. Follow on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley, @pfspot, and @SoBrosNetwork.