NXT Recap: Episode 323

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March 4, 2016 by gorillapressonline

NXTNXT is fast becoming the place to be for exciting and up-and-coming wrestling talent from around the globe. This week’s episode sees the highly-anticipated début of Austin Aries, but all eyes will be on Takeover: Dallas, which is scheduled to air the night before Wrestlemania, for the arrival of NJPW star Shinsuke Nakamura.

An excellent Main Event is also scheduled for tonight, as WWE Superstar Neville returns to NXT to face the current champion, and NXT‘s current hottest commodity, Finn Balor.

With just sixty minutes to play with, there’s no time to waste:

The Vaudevillains Vs Hugo Knox and Tucker KnightVaudevillains winThe tag team division in NXT is absolutely loaded with talent, and as a result, it can sometimes feel like the attention is spread a little unevenly. The Vaudevillains have been off TV for some time now, and this match is a gentle reminder of how talented they actually are.

Hugo Knox is in tremendous shape and will surely catch the eye of ol’ Vinnie Mac if given half the opportunity – he also has an impressive drop-kick in his repertoire, which he displays early on in this bout.

The dynamic in-ring styles and physicality of the newcomers, Knox and Knight, offers a fresh take on a tag team, even though aesthetically they are a million miles apart. They function perfectly well as a unit, although sadly the final result was never in doubt and things are quickly wrapped up with a Whirling Dervish.

The Vaudevillains are wrestling more like heels than they were before and this tonal shift could add a new lease of life to the duo. This idea is cemented in a backstage segment later on in the show, with the Hype Bros, which hints at more to come.

Vaudevillians win this short opener

Emma Vs Santana Garrett006_NXT_01222016ej_2903--bc7f3df7f5b167c17624ba36cd10ebfdEmma has been coming into her own during her NXT tenure; a step down from the main roster has done her career the world of good, her confidence and persona shine in this setup, and she is a woman honing her craft from week to week.

That being said, she still isn’t at the pinnacle to compete with the current Divas landscape on the main roster. That isn’t a dig at Emma, merely it’s a reflection of the strength of the main roster girls.

This is a thoroughly one-sided affair, with Emma providing most of the offence, dictating the pace of the match. Santana Garrett, a former Wonder Of Stardom world championship and NWA women’s champion, is firmly over with the crowd (most casual fans may know her as Brittany from TNA).

Garrett does well selling in this match, and has a decent in-ring chemistry with Emma. It will be interesting to see more of her ring work, particularly given teh interesting and innovative offence she showcased, in the brief window she was given to do so this week.

Emma takes the victory with the Emma Lock

A brief backstage segment with NXT GM William Regal follows, announcing that Eva Marie and Nia Jax will face Bayley and Asuka in tag team action.

This is a wise move from NXT, pairing Eva Marie with Jax will allow some of the natural heat from the former to embellish the heel duo.

Austin Aries Début

010_NXT_01222016ej_3066--0f61bbfb831104f750217cb492a13c20

Double A makes his much-anticipated début next and, as he struts to the ring, is ruthlessly attacked by Baron Corbin as William Regal looks on in disgust. Corbin quickly hits an End of Days, before making his exit, leaving Austin Aries crumpled at ringside.

It makes perfect sense to allow this to happen. Throwing the indy superstar into a start-up feud with Baron Corbin immediately gets some heat on the newbie, while also helps someone who could use the help of a ring general such as Aries to help him get over with the crowd.

Ellias Samson Vs Steve Cutler
elias samson steve cutler
The “Drifter” Ellias Samson has taken this gimmick and not only ran with it, he’s knocked it out the park. This is testament to how the NXT crew and wrestlers work tirelessly on gimmicks and experiment before solidifying their characters.

Cutler and Samson face off in the ring and the tension is palpable as they square off, each man taking his time before deciding to make a move. The arrogance of Samson plays out wonderfully as, at one point, he plays air guitar over his fallen opponent before hitting some wonderful Suplexes – these little flourishes are what are going to really separate him from the pack at NXT.

Ellias Samson quickly wraps things up with his signature neckbreaker, but it’s hard not to note the lack of response The Drifter gets from Full Sail. Hopefully they warm to this gimmick and the talented wrestler portraying it in due course.

Elias Samson steals the win with a neckbreaker

Main Event: Neville Vs Finn Balor

021_NXT_01222016ej_3452--da0f87e670a73ca154b4ad7f6ce68346These two competitors have it all and, to whet our whistles before the match, an adrenaline-fuelled promo video acts as a brief introduction to anyone who might not know Neville.

The sheer prospect of the match alone was a dream and oh boy did these two deliver – this is easily one of the most kinetic and frantic matches so far this year on NXT TV.

Both men had an serene wave of calmness approaching the match, seemingly safe in the knowledge they could throw everything but the kitchen sink at each other and create greatness and the crowd would be behind them 100%.

Finn Balor has a white hot rapport with the fans in attendance (not to mention most of wrestling fandom). He exudes an untouchable style and a coolness that is rarely replicated in pro-wrestling.

The two lock up to start, weighing each other up as they transition into some fluid chain wrestling to kick off the match. Neville gets the better of the exchange with a beautiful dropkick.

He and Balor click from the outset, and the man that gravity forgot throws an excellent snap Suplex early on – both perfectly executed and completely vicious looking. Things progress further with each man upping the ante and the risk factor.

The complexion of the match shifts as Balor throws Neville over the ring-post onto the steel steps. Not to be outshone, Neville lands a springboard moonsault from the ropes.

The timing and pacing of this match is outstanding – even the rest holds are exciting and captivating. Finn Balor is wrestling with a darker attitude and more aggressive style, which add credence to rumours that The Bullet Club are soon about to reform in NXT.

Neville collides with a particularly nasty-looking hurricanrana, yet he can’t quite manage to hit the Red Arrow for the second time in this match. Balor quickly shifts momentum with a frantic Sling Blade and a double dropkick/Coup De Grace combo and the NXT champion puts away the challenger ending an incredible contest.

The two men face off once again after the match, this time in a show of respect as the NXT champion applauds for his opponent and the two graciously shake hands.

Just another week on NXT.

Catch NXT every Wednesday on the WWE Network

One thought on “NXT Recap: Episode 323

  1. […] I haven’t watched NXT properly in yonks. Usually, my exposure to it comes mainly from what I read, or maybe the odd match here and there (Neville Vs. Finn Balor was a particular highlight). As a […]

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