Continuing where Part 1 left off...
3. Sami Zayn Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: If you thought the crowd reactions to American Alpha’s title win and Aries’ NXT debut were deafening, those were nothing compared to the reaction Japanese wrestling star Nakamura received from the live crowd in Dallas. This was the best match of the card: one of the stiffest and most brutal matches ever to take place on American soil. Both men sized each other up before trading some of the stiffest blows I’ve ever seen on a WWE show. Nakamura nailed such stiff kicks and chops that Zayn’s back and chest were as red and lumpy as raw hamburger meat afterward. Zayn fought back with a flurry of stiff forearms, busting open Nakamura’s nose. Nakamura fought back with ultrastiff kicks and knees to Zayn’s head and body. HHH wisely allowed Nakamura to retain the ring style and charisma that brought him great acclaim in his native Japan. By contrast, if this was the main roster WWE, Vince would force Nakamura to work a dumbed down style as a comedic jobber. This is what Vince has done to every Japanese wrestler since taking over the WWF, forgetting that when his father ran the company, the Japanese talents were treated seriously and with respect. The match continued to be very evenly matched. Nakamura lands more kicks to the head. Zayn fights back like a prize fighter quickly dodging a stronger opponent. Zayn nailed an armbar but Nakamura reversed it into a triangle submission that turned into a pin position. But Zayn reversed that into a submission of his own. Nakamura and Zayn traded more stiff kicks before the latter locked on the Koji Clutch for a near submission. Zayn misses a Helluva Kick, allowing Nakamura to nail the Blue Thunderbomb for a near fall. They took the action outside the ring where Nakamura dodged Zayn’s running DDT and slammed him hard into the floor. Back in the ring, the action continued to be evenly matched until Nakamura dodged the Helluva Kick once more and finished off Zayn with the running Bomaye knee to the head for the pin. Nakamura paid respect to Zayn by helping him up and embracing as the crowd chanted “Thank You Sami”, appropriate since this was Zayn’s swan song from NXT on the way to the main roster. Let’s hope WWE Creative doesn’t blow it this time with an NXT call-up. ******+++
4. NXT Women’s Champion Bayley Vs. Asuka: In what was one of the highpoints of Wrestlemania weekend, WWE made the long overdue decision to finally end the Divas division, rechristening it as an actual bona fide Women’s division. I’m convinced that this was due to HHH’s commitment to treat women’s wrestling in North America as a serious athletic division worthy of respect. Things have changed so drastically that fans will no longer tolerate the brainless, unathletic gigglefests that the Divas division often consisted of. The NXT women’s division featured some of the standout wrestling matches of 2015. Many believe (myself included) that the best wrestler of 2015 was Sasha Banks, who dominated the women’s title for close to eight months. In fact, several NXT women were strong contenders for that great honor, including the champ in this match, Bayley. Having to follow Nakamura/Zayn would be a tough act for any wrestler to follow, but Asuka and Bayley managed to do just that. The key may have been in making this one of the stiffest women’s matches ever to take place on any show connected to WWE. After a slow start that included some excellent mat wrestling, the match started to pick up steam with some of the stiffest blows ever doled out in a women’s match. Asuka dished out the punishment, but Bayley could dish it right back. The live crowd in Dallas was completely into this match, with their interest never flagging once. The story being told was that Bayley was an underdog who always managed to find a way to win, which made the finale a heartbreaker. Bayley attempted to finish off her rival with the Belly-to-Bayley suplex but Asuka gave her a stiff kick and locked on the Asuka Lock. Bayley struggled to break free but ultimately succumbed to the hold, passing out and giving Asuka the win and the Women’s Championship. Bayley sold a shoulder injury while Asuka played total heel in refusing to see if her opponent was all right after such a brutal match. A strong contender for Match of the Year. ******
Bobby Roode, who recently quit the TNA wrestling promotion, was in the audience here in Dallas. Guess who’s coming on board the NXT locomotive! I’ll bet you Cowboy James Storm is regretting his decision to turn down NXT to remain on board TNA, the current Titanic of professional wrestling.
5. NXT World Champion Finn Balor Vs. Samoa Joe: Balor came to the ring sporting a chainsaw, Leatherface style. Not only was it a tribute to a Japanese wrestling legend, but after all, they ARE in Texas. Let’s see how many people write in failing to get the reference. Since this was technically a grudge match, both men just got right to it by beating each other senseless with one stiff blow after another. Joe busted his cheek open hardway (meaning he didn’t use a blade to create that gash) after taking a nasty spill on the guardrail after a flying senton from Balor. The blood was flowing like wine, adding to the feel of this match being a brutal grudge match. Alas, since Vince McMahon was backstage and he is anti-blood to a sickening degree, the ref stopped the match dead to tend to Joe’s gash. Joe was royally pissed over the ref stoppage and tried to swat the medical staff away to no avail. The live Dallas crowd was even less pleased, making their displeasure over the situation extremely vocal to say the least. Unfortunately, the gash kept bleeding, resulting in several more ref stoppages. All this did was kill the hot momentum of the match and turn a hot crowd against the show in the process. Luckily, Joe and Balor worked extra hard to overcome these handicaps, with phenomenal ring work. Thankfully, it worked. Each near fall had the crowd riled up and energized. The finish was a neat tribute to the classic Bret Hart/Roddy Piper showdown at Wrestlemania VIII: Joe clamped on the Kokina Klutch, but Balor managed to stagger slowly to the ringpost and used his feet to launch himself backwards into a pin to retain his title. This was a stellar match that would have been a surefire ****** gem if not for those awful ref stoppages early on. ****3/4