This episode of NXT begins with the infamous entrance of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Although they haven’t been seen much lately on NXT television, their entrance is still incredibly over with the crowd in Full Sail University. Carmella joined the group as they headed towards the ring. The crowd immediately began cheering for “Blue Pants”, a constant opponent for Carmella. After the “SAWFT” promo, Emma hit the ring. Emma seemed to be the crowd favorite, especially since she is returning for the first time in 2015. Emma took control of the match early on, and continued to roll until Carmella was able to sneak a quick drop toe hold. Carmella was then able to lock in a head scissor submission. Emma tapped out to Carmella; giving Carmella her first notable victory. This match didn’t live up to the standard of most women’s matches on NXT. Carmella is still new to the program, and seems to be getting better with each match but not ready for the big time. Emma is trying to restart her career, but a loss to Carmella will not help her succeed anytime soon.
The #1 contenders tournament for the NXT Championship continues with the first of two semi-final matches on this episode. Adrian Neville takes on Baron Corbin, with the winner moving on to the finals. This was Baron Corbin’s first hard fought match since debuting in NXT. Corbin can usually take out opponents in a matter of seconds, but Neville is no regular opponent. Baron was able to take control of the match early on, and looked very powerful against the former champ. The size difference was obvious, as Baron looked to be twice the size of Adrian. Neville was able to regain control of the match after a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle to Corbin. Neville was able to drop kick Corbin out of the ring, the match took a serious turn. Corbin dropped Neville face first on the barrier, and threw him back in the ring. Out of nowhere, Bull Dempsey interfered in the match, and threw Baron into the ring post. Barely returning to the ring before the ten count, Corbin was out of it. Adrian took advantage and hit the Red Arrow to finish him off. Adrian Neville moved on in the tournament, while Corbin felt failure for the first time in the ring. Baron Corbin was impressive in his first extended match on NXT. He was able to look powerful against a former champ, and looked to be in complete control before his former rival interfered. It seems the feud between Baron and Bull is far from over. Adrian Neville looked as strong as ever, and seems to be on his way to another title match.
Following the match, Sami Zayn cuts a promo backstage. He knows that Kevin Owens tricked William Regal to work his way into a championship match. Zayn promises to destroy Owens at NXT Takeover Rival. It is also announced that Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey will face off in a no disqualification match at NXT Takeover Rival on February 11th.
Bayley recently returned from a knee injury and found herself quickly involved in the Women’s championship picture. Just a week before the fatal four way Women’s championship match at NXT Takeover Rival, Bayley must face off against Becky Lynch. The match starts off aggressive, with Becky attacking Bayley’s injured knee. A lot of the match takes place on the ground, until Bayley is finally able to turn it around. Bayley lets out her newly more aggressive side, and is able to get Bayley outside of the ring. Sasha Banks works her way down to the ring, and seem to be there to cheer on Becky. While trying to take her breath outside the ring, Becky is thrown back into the fight by Sasha. Bayley is able to hit her finisher on Becky and pick up the victory. Sasha enters the ring and confronts Becky, as it seems their friendship is over. Charlotte’s music hits, and all four way are now staring each down to set up the championship battle next week. Bayley picked up a good victory going into the championship match, and all the women made their presence felt. It seems like Becky and Sasha are no longer together, but odds are, this is just a trick to take advantage in the championship match. NXT always finds a way to give the women the time they need to show off their talents and prove that they can hang with anyone in the ring, and next week should be no different.
The second semi-final match in the #1 contenders match is also the main event for the final episode before Takeover. For the first time ever on NXT, Finn Balor is facing off against his former tag team partner, Hideo Itami. The winner goes on to face Adrian Neville to determine the #1 contender for the NXT Championship. The match begins with the crowd already chanting “This is Awesome”. Finn Balor is able to take the early advantge over Hideo. Both stars are hitting big moves, and huge kicks that echo through the arena. Finn Balor works on the neck of Hideo, and continues to control the match. Hideo is able to hit some big moves, and even tease a G.T.S. Finn regains control of the match and hits Hideo with a terrifying drop kick that causes Hideo to bounce around off the turn buckle. Finn hits the double foot stomp from the top rope and picks up the victory. Next week, at NXT Takeover, Finn Balor faces Adrian Neville to crown the new #1 contender for the NXT Championship. After the match, Finn and Hideo shake hands and show mutual respect. Both these superstars have become serious players on the NXT level, and should be battling on the main roster sooner than later. As of posting, Itami doesn’t have a match on the card for Takeover, but there would be no better time to actually hit the GTS on somewhere than during a free month for the WWE Network. Finn should be the star of Takeover once again, as he’ll most likely have an incredible entrance once again.
Overall, this was a very strong episode of NXT and a perfect go-home show for the Takeover event. This episode seemed to also include a hint at the television debut of Soloman Crowe. He continues to hide in the background, and interrupt the broadcast with his name being displayed and disappearing quickly. Tyler Breeze seems to be the target of Crowe, as the stranger things keep happening around his segments. All the gears are in motion for a very strong event next week. Finn Balor and Adrian Neville should tear the house down with incredible high flying moves. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will continue their storied feud from the indies, and it should be amazingly hard fought match. The women of NXT are always impressive, and the fatal four way should involving the crowning of a new champion. NXT continues to be the best wrestling show available and is completely worth the price of the WWE Network.
United States Championship
Tag Team Championship