April 17, 2015 by gorillapressonline
This week’s NXT came to us LIVE from Wrestlemania Axxess week in California (after the event, which is a bit of an odd choice) and featuring a tournament to decide who would earn a place in the Andre The Giant memorial battle royal memorial.
Video packages start the show, showcasing all the signings and effort the WWE put into every Wrestlemania week and the hype is undeniable.
The crowd are incredibly hot for this episode and the spirit of Wrestlemania flows throughout.
Itami defeated Jason Jordan to grab a spot in the semi final to face an enticing match prospect in Adrian Neville, and as expected this match delivered with both men scoping each other out.
The usually high-flying and daring Neville was uncharacteristically methodical here, keeping much of his offence to the mat, as Itami tried to deliver flourishes of strikes to down the Geordie, to no avail – smart move from Neville with his more aggressive offence proving incredibly effective in the early stages.
Neville worked Itami on the mat, targeting his arms and legs, trying to remove his offence in a smart move. Both men looked, especially with Neville controlling the early stages, forcing Hideo to exert precious energy to escape his rest holds and technical style.
Neville looked as though he had things under control, keeping Itami on the ground and working the Japanese legend over on the mat, however the tenacity of Itami paid off as he fought back through the onslaught, pandering to the crowd’s adoration and using it to fight back, offering a huge clothesline from the top rope to a racous “this is wrestling” chant.
Itami applies a Dragon Sleeper, trying to put out Neville, following it up with a close roll-up pin attempt. Neville landed a massive superkick on Itami before setting up the Red Arrow, but amazingly Itami manages to evade the impressive agility of Neville.
Itami finally gained the upper hand, delivering a running dropkick and earning his spot in the final in an impressive opener
With Itami safely through to the final, would it be his long standing rival Prince Pretty or his former tag team partner and friend Finn Balor who would end up facing him for a chance to compete on the grandest stage of them all?
Balor quickly set the pace for the match, smashing Breeze with a huge dropkick and capitalising on its effect. Breeze landed a boot to the face to shift momentum and tried, much like Neville did with Itami, to keep the Irishman grounded.
However, it was not to be as Balor made quick work of Breeze, in a short but entertaining bout.
Balor chucks Breeze into the turnbuckle before landing a huge Coup De Grace to secure a match against his former teammate for a spot at Wrestlemania
Following the match, another vignette airs for Dana Brooke, who will be making her début next week back at Full Sail. It will be interesting to see how the bodybuilder fits into the impressive Divas division and she could definitely make an impact if branded correctly.
To think that these two Superstars have been in NXT for a little over a year and considering where they both stand it’s marvellous how far they’ve come. NXT is a thriving environment and these two are the pinnacle of the upstart roster – with the focus on wrestling ability these two can showcase it all.
The spot at Wrestlemania was hard fought here, with both competitors throwing everything they had at each other, much to the delight of the crowd at Axxess who are firmly split between the two, the duelling chants echoing in the arena throughout.
As Finn Balor tried to land numerous strikes, Itami absorbs and shrugs off the brunt of them, fighting with everything he has for his spot at Wrestlemania.
The immense fighting spirit of Hideo Itami allowed him to overthrow his friend and land his patented running dropkick to secure his spot on the grandest stage of them all, and to prove to the WWE Universe once and for all what NXT has to offer.
Hideo Itami seals the deal in a stunning Main Event match
This episode was an excellent opportunity for the NXT Superstars to showcase their talent to some WWE fans who may not be as familiar with the product as that of the main roster. This first major event for the upstart division gave fans some excellent athletic wrestling and a taste of the product, which delivers consistently week in week out on the WWE Network.
Although the focus was on only a handful of the wrestlers and it would’ve been nice to have a filler match or two – Bayley and Sasha Banks or even a Baron Corbin squash match could’ve split up the tournament – the omission was surely factored by the allocated time slot, not the combined ability of the hugely talented roster.
With the NXT Takeover shows being some of the best PPVs (or, rather, Special Events) of last year and this Axxess show, NXT could get some major Wrestlemania moments of its own, hopefully becoming integrated in the main programming schedule in the foreseeable future.
Catch NXT LIVE every Wednesday on the WWE Network