This week’s episode of NXT was a little different to what we are normally used to, as the WWE aired the matches that were taped for WrestleMania Axxess weekend.
For the last couple of years now the WWE have set up rings at Axxess with NXT superstars and divas competing in live matches for the fans in attendance and this week we saw some of these matches which received great reviews from the fans in attendance, as NXT returns to normal action next week.
The whole weekend was revolving around eight men, as Finn Balor took on Baron Corbin, Bull Dempsey took on Tyler Breeze, Hideo Itami took on Jason Jordan and Kalisto went one on one with Adrian Neville; as they were battling it out in tournament to determine which one of them will enter the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal at WrestleMania 31 – we now obviously know who that was.
The episode begins with a quick recap of the first round matches, we aren’t shown the matches in full but we do see what Finn Balor managed to roll up Baron Corbin to advance to the next round, Tyler Breeze hit Bull Demspey with the Beauty Shot to advance to the next round, Jason Jordan was knocked out by Hideo Itami thanks to a running kick to his face whilst Adrian Neville advanced by hitting the Red Arrow on Kalisto.
This means the semi-final matches would see Finn Balor take on Tyler Breeze whilst Hideo Itami would take on who many thought was the favourite, Adrian Neville.
ADRIAN NEVILLE VS. HIDEO ITAMI
There’s not a large crowd compared to the usual episodes but the first match is between Hideo Itami and Adrian Neville, they both started off equally with a couple of wristlocks as Neville took Itami down but Itami fought back with an arm crank for a near fall. Neville grabbed the headlock but Neville hit a running kick to his chest and clotheslined Neville to the floor.
Neville just about made it into the ring for a nine count as he hit a few shots to Hideo’s chest and a back elbow for only a two count but Itami hit back with three vicious clothesline and the tornado neck snap across the top rope.
Itami locked in a dragon sleeper and teased the GTS but Neville countered and hit a super kick for a two count. He was then caught by a running dropkick in the corner and ate a Shotgun Kick by Itami which saw Itami advance to the final.
TYLER BREEZE VS. FINN BALOR
The second semi-final saw Tyler Breeze take on Finn Balor, as Balor started off the stronger with a number of kicks to the chest until Breeze fought back to lock in a chinlock. Balor rolled through it and hit a dropkick and then even more kicks, this time to his face and chest for another two count as Breeze hit a number of forearms, he walked into a Sling Blade which saw Balor hit the Coup de Grace for the win.
Before the final we have a few video packages that air, Dana Brooke will make her NXT debut next week, we see a video package on the NXT house show where 5000 fans were in attendance and it’s confirmed that next week on NXT, Rhyno takes on Sami Zayn.
Balor is the favourite in the final and the fans show it and both men start off equally. Balor hits a few kicks and a dropkick for a two count whilst Itami fought back with some kicks to the chest before Balor hit back with a basement dropkick.
Finn hit the enziguri which knocked Itami off of the top rope but he jumped off and hit a flying clothesline. He teased the GTS once again but it wasn’t meant to be as Balor hit the Pele kick. More back and forth action followed as Balor looked to have had the match in the bag, hitting the Sling Blade but the Shotgun Kick send Hideo Itami to WrestleMania.
ITAMI GOES TO WRESTLEMANIA
We then saw a great video package of Itami’s journey to the WWE, from his official signing in Osaka, his debut on NXT and we also finally saw him hit the GTS on Tyler Breeze at a house show.
As we know, Itami represented NXT at WrestleMania in the battle royal as he eliminated Bo Dallas, but Big Show eliminated him early on, regardless of the result it was definitely a massive moment in his career and even The Big Show told Itami he looks forward to working with him again.
It wasn’t too bad for Kalisto and Adrian Neville either, they might have missed out on the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal, but Kalisto debuted on Monday Night Raw the following night as The Lucha Dragons picked up a win, whilst Adrian Neville – who now goes by Neville – picked up a win over Curtis Axel, finally moving up to the main roster.