February 6, 2015 by gorillapressonline
The main selling point of the go home show before NXT Takeover Rival is the final for entrants to the #1 Contender Match as Finn Balor faces Hideo Itami for the very first time, while Adrian Neville squares off against Baron Corbin. The tournament has already offered up some excellent encounters, with the culmination leading into what could potentially be a show-stealer at the PPV.
Divas Match: Carmella Vs Emma
The show opens with a Divas bout, as Carmella takes to the ring with Enzo Amore and Big Cassius in tow. Once again, she disses Ole Blue Pants (Leva Bates) but tonight she faces returning superstar Emma, the dancing Aussie who had a successful first run in NXT, before faltering on the main roster and who, much like Curtis Axel, wants to re-establish her career in developmental as a result.
Emma starts out aggressively, hitting Carmella with a succession of hard dropkicks and a spider submission on the ropes. However, her opponent proves she has what it takes when she trips Emma as she runs the ropes, showing great in-ring awareness. Then, after Emma‘s taunting gets the better of her, Carmella capitalises with her trademark submission move, taking the win.
It must be noted that this is the first time Enzo hasn’t interrupted Carmella‘s bout by distracting her, allowing her a much-needed clean win against some fierce competition.
It’ll be interesting to see where Emma slots into the NXT Divas championship run. It’s seriously hot at the moment, especially as it’s between four women who are destined for bigger things – will Emma replace one of them as they get moved onto the main roster? Only time will tell.
Carmella gets the (clean) win via submission
NXT #1 Contenders Semi Final: Adrian Neville Vs Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin has been making some waves during his short tenure with NXT, decimating his opponents in record time, and making short work out of rival Bull Dempsey, who was carving a similar path for himself. He now faces his toughest competition yet in Neville, the high flying Geordie firecracker and former champ, for a shot at the title.
Corbin takes the early advantage with a clothesline that wipes out Neville. He takes his time, slowly targeting his opponent – this is a new side of Corbin and his confidence exudes tenfold as he assaults Neville in the ring.
There are a number of close calls throughout. The NXT fans have never seen Neville man-handled like this, furthering the legitimacy of Corbin as a monster. This is the best way to build him up and keep Neville over simultaneously.
Just as Corbin is set to finish off the man that gravity forgot, Bull Dempsey annoyingly gets involved, attacking his nemesis by smashing him into the ring-post, leaving him flattened for a 9 count.
Corbin manages to recover just enough, and rushes back into the ring, forcing Neville to take advantage, hitting a dropkick followed by his top rope finisher, the Red Arrow, getting the win and advancing to the final.
Although Corbin suffered his first defeat, it furthers his feud with the New York Nightmare, which can only be a good thing. Following the match, Corbin takes to the microphone and challenges Bull to a No Disqualification match at NXT Takeover Rival to settle this once and for all.
Corbin impresses from week to week; he has the physique, is a talented wrestler and understands how to work the ring. He could very quickly be called up to the main roster, if he continues down this track.
The man that gravity forgot progresses to the Final of the #1 Contenders Tournament
Divas Match: Bayley Vs Becky Lynch
The last stop before the fatal fourway for the Divas championship sees Becky Lynch trying to take out some of the competition by targeting the recently injured knee of Bayley in a smart move, to kick off this entertaining bout.
The Irish heel has been pushed a little to the side as part of Team BAE, alongside the scene-stealing Sasha Banks, but she has also learned a lot from her tag partner, slowly becoming a ruthless fighter, and she certainly has what it takes to become the next champ, too.
On the other hand, Bayley‘s new-found aggression and drive from has done wonders for her – the passion she brings to this already brilliant ladies division is a breath of fresh air and just goes to show how tight a ship NXT is.
Becky Lynch takes full control of the early stages of the match, focusing all her attention on the knee. Bayley manages to stage a comeback, yet Becky once again slows down proceedings with a Dragon Screw to the happy-go-lucky Diva.
Bayley offers some retribution, singling out Lynch’s left leg, the mean streak coming out in her once again, although she still has a lot to prove both to herself and the NXT Universe.
A half crab forces Lynch to crawl to the ropes – smart ring awareness forcing the hold to be broken. Banks pushes Becky back into the ring, square into a Belly-to-Bayley Suplex as she takes the win.
All hell breaks loose in the ring as the tag team partners gather to shove the shit out of each other. Charlotte Flair comes out as, once again, all four of the former friends face each other down.
This was just another example of the wonderful build-up to this feud, and it is genuinely hard to confidently predict a winner out of the four.
Bayley gets a hard fought victory leading into NXT Takeover Rival
Prince Pretty himself Tyler Breeze is backstage talking to Devon as he advises that he will be closely watching the upcoming semi final bout between Hideo Itami and Finn Balor.
Before the match starts, however, another of the mysterious broadcast hacks appears for Solomon Crowe, the screen once again flickers with his logo, flashing for the briefest of moments.
This is an interesting and innovative take on teasing a new arrival on the part of NXT, reminiscent of how Y2J was plugged during the build-up to the millennium.
#1 Contenders Semi Final Match: Hideo Itami Vs Finn Balor
This is a dream match-up for fans from both sides, as both Superstars have been making waves both in NXT and in the wider world of professional wrestling. All eyes will be on this bout, to decide who will face Neville at NXT Takeover Rival.
The two competitors know each other inside and out, countering the other’s sequences fluidly and effortlessly in the early stages of the match, keeping the fans on tenterhooks in anticipation for what’s to come.
Itami is the first to gain a slight advantage with a flurry of strikes and kicks, but Balor wastes no time rebuking him, hitting the Japanese star with a Sunset Flip and a creative armbar submission applying torque to the fingers of Itami.
Balor keeps applying the pressure, going for pin-falls and forcing Itami to exert precious energy, which is smart ring psychology that is clearly taking it out of Itami.
The strategy that Balor uses keeps Itami off his feet, thereby eliminating most of the Japanese legend’s arsenal – it’s little things like this which add a tonne of depth to the match.
The momentum shifts as Itami manages to hit his over-the-rope DDT, quickly following it up with a flying clothesline as he once again teases the GTS on Balor (the crowd are going to flip when he actually uses his signature move that CM Punk adopted). The Irishman lands a Pele Kick and both men are downed, as the NXT Universe erupt chanting “THIS IS AWESOME” and, indeed, it is.
Balor counters an assault, landing a Slingblade on Itami, and swiftly following it up by smashing his chest with a brutal dropkick into the corner, before rushing to the top rope to finish things off with the coup de grâce double foot-stomp.
An excellent match and clearly the highlight of the night, boasting a wonderful story told between two stars at the top of their game, who put everything on the line to give us the best bout possible.
In an incredible show of sportsmanship, Balor extends a hand to his friend who graciously takes it, showing mounds of respect for both the fans and each other.
Balor wins and will face Adrian Neville in the #1 contenders tournament
In case it wasn’t clear before, the upcoming PPV is a must-watch. It might even ease the pain slightly from the disappointment of the Rumble. Maybe.
The NXT special Takeover Rival will air live on the WWE Network on February 11th
NXT is broadcast Wednesdays on the WWE Network