March 10, 2016 by gorillapressonline
The format is adapted a little this week, at Full Sail University, with the full show dedicated to the NXT championship. Former champ Sami Zayn gets another chance at a title shot, and a second reign, as he faces the Samoan Submission Machine, Samoa Joe.
The #1 contender will be determined in a 2-out-of-3 falls match, and, judging by the previous encounters between these two, this could be a serious MOTY contender.
NXT GM William Regal kicks off the show by announcing that the winner will face Finn Balor at Takeover: Dallas on April 1st Further to this, after the vicious attack at the hands of Baron Corbin on last week’s episode, new recruit Austin Aries will face off with the Lone Wolf of NXT on the WWE Network Special.
But, for now, let’s get down to it and see who the #1 contender for the title is:
With Sami Zayn rekindling his feud with Kevin Owens this past week on RAW, all eyes were on the fan favourite as he gets one final shot at the NXT title, before moving up to the main roster and hopefully his first Wrestlemania moment.
This setup could also help Samoa Joe climb up the rungs of the NXT ladder. Since he joined the crew in Florida, his frantic and unforgiving style has firmly established him as the top heel in the company.
With that being said, both men do a great job of keeping the NXT universe second guessing the outcome in this 40-minute belter of a match.
The pace is tempered at the start, with both competitors weighing each other up and applying some chain wrestling and strike exchanges. Zayn and Joe work the size difference perfectly; as always Zayn plays the underdog, and the crowd eats it up as Samoa Joe relentlessly pummels his opponent into the mat.
Sami Zayn is wrestling in a much more aggressive style lately, which is a perfect counterbalance to his usual, and shows the athlete’s adaptability, which simultaneously allows for a richer story to be told.
Numerous near misses occur in the first 15 minutes or so, with Samoa Joe trying to land a Musclebuster to end the first fall quickly. Zayn tenaciously fights back, refusing to give up and let up this white-knuckle pace.
Joe controls almost all of the early stages, manhandling Zayn, going as far as lifting the collapsed Canuck with a fish-hook. This booking of monster-heel Joe works spectacularly and allows the fight to develop naturally over the lengthy time-scale.
When Joe finally does hit the Musclebuster, the crowd are on tenterhooks baiting every movement with gasps and chants – it’s hugely entertaining to witness.
Joe gets the first pin-fall to make it 1-0
Sami Zayn crawls to the ring post, exhausted and exasperated after a brutal 20 minutes in the ring.
But, as soon as the bell rings, Samoa Joe is straight back onto him, crushing any hope of respite Zayn had.
The two exchange stiff forearms and strikes as each tries to keep the momentum in his favour. Zayn as usual throws everything into the bout, diving from the apron as the fight spirals out the ring.
This bout is doing wonders to add to the prestige of the NXT, championship which is what a match like this should do (take note, RAW title matches).
In an extremely rare occurrence, and arguably the biggest shock of the night, Joe taps out as Sami Zayn applies a Koji Clutch, forcing the submission.
This is, again, testament to how well Zayn is respected by the talent and brass of NXT.
Sami Zayn takes the second fall via submission
The intensity increases in the deciding fall, both men know what’s on the line and, as the sweat pours from the two athletes, we get one of the most explosive and entertaining closes to an NXT episode in a long time.
Neither man will give up and, once again, the near misses come thick and fast. First, Zayn misses a Helluva Kick, and then, Joe can’t get that final Musclebuster. As the suspense rises, the NXT universe offer a raucous, and well-deserved, “This is awesome” chant.
Sami Zayn tries to throw Joe off by applying his own submission manoeuvre, the Coquina Clutch, which Joe quickly rolls out of. However, it’s the aforementioned submission that ends the final fall.
As the life is choked out of the waning Zayn, the camera zooms in on the struggle, with the Canadian powerhouse sells the moment perfectly, adding piles of heat to his heel opponent. The referee finally has to stop the match as Sami Zayn doesn’t respond to the choke-hold.
Samoa Joe chokes the life from Sami Zayn, taking the deciding fall
An excellent way to end the match, while simultaneously building up to the Main Event of Takeover: Dallas in a comparatively short, hour-long slot, this match drew plenty of attention and focus back to the title, which can be hard for NXT to do with such a stacked roster.
Takeover: Dallas is shaping up to once again steal the limelight from Wrestlemania and, with every match, the anticipation grows.
Take note, main roster. Developmental is coming for you in a big way.
Catch NXT every Wednesday on the WWE Network