Welcome to NXT Future Five on Last Word On Sports, where each week we analyze the latest episode of World Wrestling Entertainment Network’s hottest program, NXT and rank the five performers who made the biggest impact.
NXT Future Five: Week of September 30, 2015
Highlights of the Night
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Update: The show opened up with Kyle Edwards hyping up next week’s NXT Takeover: Respect event and showing us live event footage of The Hype Bros. vs Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, with the amateur duo were victorious against the high combo of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley, sending them into the semi-finals against Baron Corbin & Rhyno. From there, it was a recap of the tournament so far and hype for the opening contest.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass with Carmella vs Samoa Joe & Finn Balor: The uber-popular team of Amore & Cass began with some high praise for the tournament’s name sake. Both Balor and Joe have slightly modified their entrances, with the Samoan Submission Machine’s being a huge improvement in my opinion, and Balor’s a bit of a step backwards. In all fairness, it does separate the demon entrance a bit more, which will make it feel more special when it does happen. Joe and Cass started out trading shoulder blocks until Cass actually took the advantage and sent Joe to the outside. Joe pulled Cass out with him, prompting both Enzo and Finn to follow suit with a double dive heading into the break. Back from commercial Balor and Amore were in the ring, with Balor in control until a diving second rope DDT from Enzo. Both men made the tag and while Cass took the lead at first, Joe came back with a vicious STO. Big Cass fired back with a pair of big boots for both his opponents and an Empire Elbow for a two count. Joe fired back with some stinging chops but got caught with a swinging sidewalk slam. They hit Air Enzo but Joe flipped the pin fall over, carried Amore into the corner for a Muscle Buster while Balor took out Cass and set up for the Coup De Grace and earned the three count to advance into the semi-finals. Next week they will take on the combo of Dawson & Wilder. I was really disappointed not to see a post-match handshake between these teams, considering their cult status with the fans and their mutual respect for Dusty Rhodes would’ve made for a tremendous moment in my opinion.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Chiampa Promo: Gargano took the lead talking about having some ups and downs the last few weeks, and being disappointed that they lost. Chiampa talked about not meeting their own expectations but exceeding the expectations of everyone else. Johnny talked about how this was only the beginning for them. I hope they’re correct. Gargano spoke about being friends with Apollo Crews, and how he was happy to have a match with him tonight. This brought out Tyler Breeze to talk trash and challenge Tomasso to a match tonight. Chiampa agreed and promised to mess up Tyler’s face.
Johnny Gargano vs Apollo Crews: Crews started out with a shoulder block, but Gargano’s fast offense quickly put him ahead with stiff kicks, leverage maneuvers, and multiple roll ups. All of that momentum was quickly stopped however, with a beautiful drop kick from Crews. Johnny almost got dumped to the outside, but instead launched himself at Apollo for an impressive spear. Johnny changed up his strategy and moved onto an abdominal stretch variation that slowed down Crews until Apollo used his strength to hip toss out of the move. Gargano slapped on a front face lock to regain the advantage and stayed on Apollo every move he made. Sadly he wasn’t fast enough to anticipate a standing suplex from an almost flat position, a series of clotheslines, a corner splash and a jumping clothesline that had the crowd going mild. One Gorilla Press Slam and Standing Moonsault later, and Apollo crews was victorious over his former Dragon Gate pal.
William Regal, Emma and Dana Brooke Backstage: NXT General Manager William Regal had Dana Brooke and Emma in his office to recap last week and inform Dana that she would face Asuka next week at NXT Takeover: Respect. Dana and Emma laughed out the announcement until Regal took his laptop and showed them footage of her training. Their faces quickly turned from looks of confidence to those of fear. Emma gave her friend a wish of good luck and left the office, leaving Dana dumbfounded.
Dana Brooke & Emma vs Billy K and Peyton Royce: Peyton almost ended the match three times in 10 seconds with a series of roll ups, but it was not meant to be. Billy was tagged in and continued to impress with a flying head scissors and a hanging vertical suplex on Emma. One distraction from Brooke allowed Emma to pull some hair and take control, leading to a double team in the corner, with the two evil doers trading stomps on the fresh faced rookie. Dana locked on a body scissors and mocked Billy while squeezing the life out of her. Back into the corner, Emma was tagged in and decided to choke out Billy on the second rope. After a failed pin attempt, Emma continued to stomp on Billy and applied a body scissors of her own while Katie tried to rally her partner on the outside. It must have worked because Billy was able to fight her way out of the hold, but Emma was quick to knock her back down with some forearms to the face. Billy was able to land a big kick that facilitated a hot tag and a series of athletic kicks from Peyton. She went to the top but lost her footing and Dana capitalized. Royce found her second wind with a dropkick, but when she went for the pin, all four women got involved. Peyton disposed of Emma to the outside, but that would come back to haunt her as Emma would grab a hold of her feet with the referee distracted, allowing Emma to hit her Sit Out Slam for the pin fall victory.
Chad Gable & Jason Jordan Promo: Gable seemed to take great offense to the implication that Baron Corbin & Rhyno would be a challenge for them. Jordan was able to calm his partner down, and he was all set to deliver his Ready, Willing, and Gable line when they were interrupted by Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder who made mention of a comment from the amateur duo regarding their chances of facing them being unlikely. The two teams bickered non-stop to end the promo. I liked how this actually created some doubt about what the finals could end up looking like next week and showed some personality from Dash and Wilder.
Tommaso Chiampa vs Tyler Breeze: Some chain wrestling to start, with the series ending in a fish out of water sequence that left Breeze riding on top of Tommaso. Chiampa came back with a hard chop in the corner and a pair of running knees that only scored a two count. A spinning neck breaker put Prince Pretty back in control, allowing him to stomp a mud hole on Chiampa. Breeze grabbed a front face lock and began wrenching on Tommaso’s face. Chiampa broke free and threw Tyler off, followed up with some more chops, a running boot, and a hanging top rope face pant for a near fall. Tommaso signaled for a power bomb, but Breeze fought out of it. Chiampa would not be denied and came back with a series of chops, kicks, and a spinning lariat. He then headed to the top turnbuckle, only to be caught by Prince Pretty. Tommaso fought him off and leaped through the air, only to have Tyler nail him with a picture perfect drop kick. Back into the corner, Tyler stomped away at Chiampa, then dragged him to the centre of the ring to nail the Unprettier for a count of three and the win.
Bayley vs Sasha Banks Video Package: It started with a recap of the NXT Women’s Championship match between the two at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. The recap had that WWE production value that we’ve become accustomed to, with lots of alternate angles, filters, and slow motion shots. There were a few great shots of Bayley’s mom in the audience that were used to great effect. Just watching the highlights made me want to go back and watch this match again. They even included some backstage footage taken right after the match which added to the emotion. The video fast forwarded to their in ring show down, challenge, and subsequent stipulation addition by William Regal. Then we got to see both Bayley and Sasha training for the match cut with sit down interview sound bites and set to the backdrop of the Bring Me To The Horizon song being used for the event. In a nice touch, they spliced the video with footage of previous Ironman matches in WWE history. This thing literally gave me goosebumps.
The Future Five
5. Tyler Breeze: Prince Pretty proved this week that not only can he talk the talk but he can walk the walk as well. Breeze issued a challenge to Tommaso Chiampa and despite taking quite the beating at the hands of the popular newcomer that likely left his chest looking like hamburger meat, came out victorious by not only out classing his opponent, but by putting away Chiampa with a new move for his repertoire. Adding the Unprettier is a great choice for Breeze, and if this week’s match was any indication, it should serve him well in the future.
4. Johnny Gargano: While both Gargano and his partner Tommaso Chiampa didn’t pick up the bigger purse at the pay window this week, Johnny had a much better night than Chiampa. Johnny dazzled the Full Sail University crowd from the get go, looking like he has quite capable of handling the bigger Apollo Crews. In fact, I would say that Gargano was in control for the majority of that match. Considering his opponent is one of the fastest rising stars in NXT, that is quite impressive.
3. Enzo Amore & Big Cass: A heavy favorite to win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament, many fans were disappointed to see Enzo and Cass eliminated from competition this week. Despite the loss, their fans can’t be disappointed with the effort put in by both men. Amore and Cass were in firm control for most of their match against one of the most decorated indy stars of all time and the current NXT Champion. Even though these two didn’t walk away as the victors, it is safe to say had the match gone the other direction, few would have been surprised.
2. Dana Brooke & Emma: Emma and Dana Brooke have become one of the best heel tandems in NXT. The crowd truly despises them and they are incredibly effective at getting under the skin of everyone they meet. They rank high this week not just because of the solid match they had, but their fantastic facial expressions during their backstage segment with William Regal. The way their faces changed watching the video of Asuka training was perfect and really told the story without words.
1. Samoa Joe & Finn Balor: When it comes right down to it, a big win is a big win, and the team of Joe & Balor earned their way into the semi-finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic this week with a victory over one of the top regular tag teams in NXT. Despite being on the defensive most of the match, this dream team managed to come back in a big way, and sometimes it isn’t about how you start, but how you finish. These two managed to finish with their hands raised in victory, and that’s all that matters.
I didn’t have high hopes for the go home edition of this week’s show. NXT Takeover: Respect hasn’t had the same kind of buzz heading into it as its predecessors. It really is a one match show in terms of advertising, so I anticipated a lot of video packages and tying up of loose ends. While we did get some of that, it was executed so well that the hour of entertainment just flew by. Everyone worked hard on this episode and made me more excited for not only the Takeover special, but for the product in general.