Inside Pulse 12

The Fantasy Book on The NXT Invasion We Never Saw Coming (Part 5 – Conclusion – Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon, Bailey, AJ Styles, and More)

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It’s the end. This time, I mean it. While I said it last week, I realized that the enormity of the fantasy booked SummerSlam card probably deserved its own column. Plus, I wanted to leave this fantasy-booked world in a good place. So here goes nothing…

SummerSlam weekend comes along and it begins with the NXT Takeover show that has been bankrolled by JBL with the full support of Shane and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H and William Regal come out to welcome the crowd, followed by JBL, Shane, and Stephanie. Words are exchanged, and Triple H gets into Shane’s face telling him that after this weekend he will never have to see his face again. Stephanie slaps her husband and then Shane and Triple H start throwing punches. JBL goes to jump in, but William Regal grabs him, tosses him into the corner, and crushes him with forearms. Referees and wrestlers charge the ring to separate everyone, including the competitors for the pre-show, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, and Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Giampa.

Giampa and Gargano are on the defensive for the majority of the match as Anderson and Gallows try to make a point to Triple H. For most of the match, Anderson and Gallows dominate and go for the Magic Killer on Giampa. Johnny Gargano slingshots through the ropes to spear Anderson, breaking up the double team move. As Anderson drops Giampa and goes to attack Gargano, Giampa grabs Gallows tights and rolls him up for a surprise three count and the victory. Gargano and Giampa appear ready to challenge for the NXT tag team titles while Anderson and Gallows remain employed but frustrated by their position in the company, setting up an opportunity for them to snap on someone eventually.

The main card begins with the three-way match between Bailey, Emma, and Natalya. Bailey and Emma take turns wrestling Natalya for the most part. They don’t team up against Natalya, but they don’t go after each other either. Natalya knocks Emma out of the ring and then hits a Slop Drop type move on Bailey. She ties Bailey up in the Sharpshooter, but Emma returns to break it up. At that point, Emma dives onto Bailey and goes for a quick pin, but Bailey kicks out. Natalya charges at Emma as she gets up, and Emma dodges, sending Natalya to the floor. Emma turns around right into a Bailey-to-Belly and Bailey gets the victory. Natalya winds up looking strong and was not involved in the finish. Emma and Bailey appear to have a feud set up going forward now.

American Alpha takes on New Day in a non-title match next. William Regal sends Bo Dallas to the ring with American Alpha to counter the third New Day member on the outside of the ring. Woods and Kingston were involved in the match with Big E and Bo Dallas staring each other down outside the ring. The match turns out to be a very entertaining match, with both teams having extended periods of dominance. With the match being non-title, you would think that the New Day would come away with the victory, and you would be right. How they did it was a bit surprising though. When it looked like American Alpha was about to win, Big E slid into the ring. The referee went to stop him and send him out and while he was distracted, Bo Dallas slid into the ring and clocked Xavier Woods with a double sledge to the back. American Alpha started arguing with Dallas and the referee turned back around to deal with that disruption. As he did, Big E returned to the ring, picked up Kofi Kingston, and hit the Big Ending on him. American Alpha looked on shocked while Bo Dallas and Big E beat down Woods and Kingston. Dallas and Big E fist pump before American Alpha attack them and send them out of the ring. So it appears that New Day has broken up, Big E and Bo Dallas are working together, and American Alpha is in for some new challenges from two former NXT champions coming up.

Hideo Itami squared off against Alberto Del Rio in an NXT #1 Contender match. Del Rio worked a stiffer style than he normally does, which allowed he and Itami to trade some wicked shots. JBL came down to ringside during the match screaming at Del Rio to be more and more aggressive. Then end came when Del Rio got distracted for a moment when going up to the top rope, allowing Itami a chance to slam him off the top and then connect for a double foot stomp from the top. After the match, Itami checked on Del Rio and then left the ring. JBL came into the ring to berate Del Rio, going so far as to pick him up and throw a couple right hands at him. Itami returned to the ring and took down JBL, eventually hitting a double foot stomp on him as well. Del Rio and Itami just nodded at each other as Itami left the ring. Going forward, Itami is the #1 contender and Alberto Del Rio essentially turns face with his usefulness in the upper mid-card essential on Raw, Smackdown, or NXT.

Neville received a hero’s welcome upon his return from injury, but Chris Jericho continued to whine about having to wrestle Neville and not the NXT champion. He also teased Neville by saying he already broke his ankle, why would he want more pain? There is an interesting dynamic in the match with Neville trying to speed things up and go high risk and Jericho basically trying to ground Neville and slow the pace. The finish comes as a shock to many of the NXT fans as Neville knocks Jericho down and jumps up to the top rope. When Neville lands on the top rope, his previously injured ankle gave out and he crumbles to the mat. Jericho jumps up, stomps Neville once in the head, and locks on the Liontamer. Neville fights it for a while, but Jericho releases it and then grabs an anklelock and wrenches it in. Neville taps soon after. The injury still allows Neville to work the big face angle after this and Chris Jericho looks like an arrogant but dangerous threat. By being the first WWE main roster superstar to win a match tonight, or in NXT at all, he immediately looks like a threat towards Austin Aries’ title.

The main event was the NXT Women’s Championship between Asuka and Charlotte. Given Charlotte’s history with NXT, it was assumed that this would be an NXT vs. NXT matchup. But Stephanie McMahon accompanied Charlotte to the ring and Charlotte cut a promo before the match disavowing any love for NXT and saying she will take the title away from Asuka who doesn’t deserve it. The two women tear the house down, showing how far the women’s division has come. After several near falls, Asuka gets the victory with the Asuka lock. As Asuka celebrates, Charlotte jumps her from behind, hits her with the title belt and then hits a one-person conchairto on the prone champion. Stephanie and Charlotte leave arm in arm with Asuka laying in the ring. This development keeps Asuka as the strong champion, but really establishes Charlotte as someone who will do anything to take what she sees as the top spot in the women’s division. Stephanie added to Charlotte’s corner gives additional heat and provides Stephanie a role in a major storyline.

With the NXT event completed, SummerSlam is set to begin the following day.

On the pre-show, Bailey and Nia Jax squared off. Bailey, after wrestling the day before against Emma and Natalya, spent the majority of the match bouncing around for Nia Jax, making her look like a monster. Bailey winds up winning her second match of the weekend when she avoids Nia Jax’s legdrop and rolls her up with a small package. Nia Jax come away looking like a frightening challenger to the WWE Women’s title and Bailey continues to look incredible as the biggest babyface in the company.

The second pre-show match was Randy Orton versus Baron Corbin versus Ryback. Of course, Orton and Corbin have been fighting for a while now and no one really knows why Stephanie McMahon added Ryback to the match. As the match goes on, Ryback basically just sits in the corner while Orton and Corbin beat on each other. But as it appears that Corbin is getting the upper hand, Ryback shoots out of the corner with a big meathook clothesline. Ryback and Orton then double team Corbin for several minutes. The crowd is split on this as they don’t like Corbin, but they don’t like the apparent set-up from Stephanie. Ryback hits the Shellshock and then Orton hits an RKO. Orton and Ryback leave the Corbin laying in the ring and walk out, effectively ending the match. From this, we can see a humbled (slightly) Corbin, looking for someone to help him out. Fighting against his “lone wolf” nature, he reaches out to a couple people until Apollo Crews agrees to have his back. Meanwhile, Orton and Ryback run roughshed over people, with Orton telling everyone that Evolution never stops, as you can see in Ryback.

The main show starts with the four-way WWE tag title championship match. The Vaudevillains basically take out the Usos while The Revival makes a strong run at Enzo and Cass. Towards the end of the match, the Usos turn the tables on the Vaudevillains outside the ring, even splashing them through two separate announce tables. Meanwhile, The Revival fall victim to a little misscommunication and Enzo and Cass retain the titles with the Rocket Launcher. The crowd is thrilled with this result and The Revival looks like a strong contender going forward. Meanwhile, the Vaudevillains will want to get revenge on the Usos, with any combination of these four teams being a showcase for any show.

Sami Zayn and Cesaro faced off next for the WWE World Championship #1 Contender matchup. This match rivaled their match in NXT from 2013. Tons of hope spots for both men and lots of near falls have the crowd eating out of their hands throughout the match. After almost 30 minutes, it appeared that Zayn would get the victory after a Helluva kick, but Cesaro barely got his shoulder up. Zayn then missed a top rope crossbody block and Cesaro hit a Swiss Death Uppercut to get a 2.999 count. Cesaro hit the giant swing, but Zayn rolled him up at the end of it for a surprise two count. Cesaro could not get the Neutralizer, but flipped out of a back body drop and nailed a pinpoint dropkick to a charging Zayn. Cesaro then went for a Sharpshooter and Zayn barely made it to the ropes. Cesaro then hits multiple uppercuts on Zayn in the corner and Zayn flops down to the mat. Cesaro then goes outside the ring and climbs to the top rope looking for a crossbody of his own. Cesaro slips slightly climbing the ropes, giving Zayn just enough time to bounce up and meet Cesaro at the top. After fighting on the top rope, Zayn gets knocked down but pops right back up with a big knee to Cesaro’s gut, while he still balances on the top rope. Zayn then hooks Cesaro and hits the BRAINBUSSSSTTTAAAAHHHHHH! Cesaro falls outside the ring while Zayn collapses to his knees in the middle of the ring. Eventually, Zayn rolls outside the ring to pick up Cesaro and roll him back in. Very slowly, Zayn climbs in as well and covers Cesaro for the three count. The crowd is exhausted after this and rightfully so. Sami Zayn is now established as the #1 Contender, no matter who leaves with the belt and Cesaro looks like a main event star in his own right, only bested by one of the sickest moves in the business.

The Lumberjack match for the “US Title” is next with Bray Wyatt “defending” against Sheamus. The match appears to be an excuse to get a good portion of the roster on the card, and a brawl breaks out around the ring midway through the match. The Wyatt Family appears dominant outside the ring and the referee is distracted by the chaos. This allows the official US champion, Kalisto, to slide into the ring and hit the Salida del Sol on Sheamus. Kalisto then grabs the US championship belt from the corner of the ring, where Bray Wyatt had hung it at the beginning of the match. Kalisto looks to the crowd as to whether he should take it. He nods to the crowd and turns around to see Bray Wyatt standing there. Wyatt hits a vicious Sister Abigail to Kalisto. He then crab crawls over the Sheamus, who is just started to stir after the Salida del Sol. Bray hits a Sister Abigail on Sheamus, pulls the referee over, and gets a three count. Going forward, Kalisto will finally get his shots at Bray Wyatt to try to reclaim his belt, while Bray decides that enough is enough and Kalisto needs to be swatted down. Sheamus can move forward as one of the WWE roster guys during the reverse invasion of NXT or have some upper-mid level matches with the newly face Alberto del Rio as a possibility.

The next match showcases Austin Aries defending his NXT title against Big Show. The match features Aries using his speed to avoid any of Show’s offense. There is really not much action aside from Aries hitting some quick strikes and then getting away from Big Show’s lumbering. The finish comes when Show get frustrated and lunges at Aries. Aries avoids him, clips the knee, then hits a running enziguri to the back of Show’s head. Aries rolls him over and gets the three count to retain his title. While not a great match, it does show that Aries wants to take on the biggest and the baddest to show he is the best. Given that Hideo Itami is the new #1 Contender to the NXT title, that should set up some amazing matches. Big Show, meanwhile, didn’t do a whole lot in this match. Given Chris Jericho had been complaining that he should have had this shot, I could imagine a bit of a storyline there. Best case scenario I can see Big Show being down about his performance due to Jericho riding him verbally for a while. Eventually, Jericho would try to boost Show’s confidence back up and wind up “hiring” him as a bodyguard, Big Bubba Rogers type role.

Sasha Banks had cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase to set up the next match against WWE Women’s champion Paige. The two women put on a great match which was just as good as the Asuka/Charlotte match from the night before. The crowd was into this match throughout, buying into every spot. Dueling “Let’s go Paige” and “We Want Sasha” chants continued throughout the arena for the duration of the match. After about 20 minutes of hard hitting and exciting action, Sasha was able to lock in the Bank Statement and Paige had to eventually tap out. Sasha and Paige shook hands after the match as Sasha begins her WWE Women’s championship run. We finally have Sasha as the champion, and the potential challengers to her are many. There will be a rematch with Paige, Nia Jax looks like she might come calling, Natalya is around, Becky Lynch, Emma, and now Charlotte has Stephanie McMahon in her corner. That doesn’t even bring into account the eventual matchups with Bailey and the money match with Asuka down the line.

Samoa Joe finally gets AJ Styles in the ring after being driven through a table at Battleground, costing him his shot at the WWE title. Joe has not been able to get his revenge on Styles yet, so he is very amped for this match. Do I really need to say that this match will be awesome? It is Samoa Joe versus AJ Styles, for crying out loud. Of course they are going to have a crazy great match. Joe’s unfettered rage will be the driver of the match, with Styles trying to outfox Joe. It feels like Joe hasn’t won a big match in quite a while, so he will get a chance to go over here. Styles will undo the top turnbuckle at one point, but fall victim to Joe hitting a snake eyes drop onto the exposed buckle. Joe will then powerslam Styles three straight times and lock on the Kokina Clutch. Styles will eventually pass out and the match will be awarded to Samoa Joe. However, Joe won’t release the hold and Anderson and Gallows will charge the ring to free Styles. Anderson and Gallows stomp on Joe, but he still won’t let go. Eventually lots of referees and wrestlers come out and finally pull Samoa Joe off Styles. It doesn’t look like the war between Styles and Joe will end here, and the inclusion of Anderson and Gallows could provide some additional fresh matchups. Expect several more PPV matches between these two.

In another match attempting to win match-of-the-weekend honors, Kevin Owens will defend his Intercontinental title against Finn Balor. Balor, relatively new to the WWE main roster, comes out as the Demon with full makeup, etc. Owens appears a bit shaken by this entrance, but once the match begins, he reverts back to his awesomely dickish character. Many times the crowd thinks Owens has the match won, only for Balor to reverse the pop-up powerbomb in a different manner each time. Owens becomes almost obsessed with hitting that move, and Balor finally takes advantage of that single-mindedness by hitting a Sling Blade on Owens. However, Balor went for the 1916, but Owens charges him into the turnbuckle. Balor collapses in the corner and Owens tries the cannonball in the corner. Balor moves out of the way and Owens crashes into the bottom turnbuckle. Balor pops up, pulls Owens up, hits the 1916 for the three count and becomes the new WWE Intercontinental Champion. With Balor as the new Intercontinental champ, Owens will want to reclaim the belt, but expect to see a lot of challengers step up. Owens may also make a big push for the WWE World Championship, depending on who walks out as champion.

The second-to-last match of the evening (I’m tempted to call it a co-main event) is between John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura. The crowd is just electric for this match, and it has a very big time feel. We’ve seen Cena step up and put on world-class matches with opponents who are arguably better than him. He continues to expand his move set and does a very good job at telling a story in the ring. As long as he stays away from SuperCena mode, the match would be amazing. Every time Cena would make a comeback, Nakamura would knock some strong-style into his head. Nakamura would win over the crowd (well, the part of the crowd that wasn’t already backing him) and showcase how good he is. Even Cena fans would start cheering for Nakamura, recognizing that he not only carries himself as a star, but backs it up. The end of the match would have Cena “Cena-ing” up and going for the Attitude Adjustment. Nakamura would flip out of it and hit the Kinshasa for the three count to thunderous applause by the SummerSlam crowd.

The main event would be next. Triple H would come out with Seth Rollins. Shane and Stephanie McMahon would come out with Roman Reigns. Finally, Vince McMahon would come out and reiterate the stakes for the match. If Reigns leaves with the WWE World title, Triple H is gone from WWE/NXT forever, but if Reigns loses the title, Stephanie and Shane will be gone. Vince then announces that regardless of what happens, he’s done. He is ready to retire and go live on some tropical island somewhere. Everyone clears the ring and the match begins.

The crowd is completely behind Seth Rollins in this match. Every time Reigns connects with a punch, the crowd boos him out of the building. The two men fight all around the ring, tearing up the ringside area and fighting into the crowd. There is no interference however, and the fight tumbles back into the ring. Reigns hits a Superman punch, but Rollins rolls outside the ropes. Reigns goes to pick him up, but Rollins snaps him across the ropes, creating a little separation. Reigns recovers and regains control shortly afterwards though. Both men are leaving it all out there, as this match is much quicker and harder hitting than the Reigns/Triple H match at Wrestlemania. Reigns goes for a powerbomb, but Rollins reverses it into a Pedigree. Rollins is slow to make the pin attempt and Reigns kicks out at two. Rollins tries to set up Reigns for the Curb Stomp, but Reigns catches him and powerbombs Rollins to the mat. Reigns is also slow to make the pin and only gets a two count. The two work their way to their feet and trade right hands over and over and over again. Eventually, Rollins surprises Reigns with some quick strikes which throw Reigns off balance. Reigns staggers back into the ropes, but springs off with another Superman punch. Reigns tries to set up the spear, but Rollins kicks him on the way through. Rollins then jumps on Reigns and hits another Pedigree. Reigns still kicks out however. Rollins is beside himself, yelling at the referee. He turns around into another Superman punch. Reigns goes for the pin and gets two. Reigns looks like he can’t believe Rollins kicked out. Reigns picks up Rollins again and hits another powerbomb. Another pin attempt only gets two. The crowd is losing their minds with every near fall. Reigns sets up in the corner and finally hits the spear. Reigns does his yell to the heavens thing and goes for the pin. Rollins gets his shoulder up just before the ref’s hand hits the mat the third time. Reigns rolls off and can’t believe it. He is bent over in the middle of the ring, looking exhausted and unable to believe Rollins keeps kicking out. All of a sudden, Rollins flies in and hits the Curb Stomp on Reigns. Rollins is too tired to cover Reigns at first though. With the crowd chanting for Rollins, he drags himself over to Reigns, rolls him onto his back, and drapes his arms across his chest. Somehow Reigns gets a shoulder up just before the three count himself. Both men roll to opposite sides of the ring and use the ropes to get back to their feet. Reigns and Rollins charge at each other, Rollins ducks under a clothesline, both men bounce off the opposite ropes and Reigns ducks under a clothesline. As Rollins continues to the ropes though, Reigns puts on the brakes and spins around. Reigns then hits another spear on Rollins and covers. He gets the three count and the crowd can’t believe it.

Shane and Stephanie jump around cheering like crazy outside the ring and Reigns remains sitting in the ring, totally out of energy. As the referee goes to give the belt to Reigns, Shane and Stephanie are mocking Triple H outside the ring. All of a sudden, the sound of engines roars over the loudspeakers and Dean Ambrose’s entrance music hits. Ambrose comes charging into the ring through the crowd with his Money in the Bank briefcase. He hands it to the referee, and he signals for the bell to ring. Ambrose immediately grabs Reigns and hits the Dirty Deeds DDT, covers, and gets the three count, winning the WWE World Heavyweight title.

Shane and Stephanie just stand there in shock as Triple H comes into the ring, presenting the title belt to Ambrose. The crowd is just going insane at this point. Reigns slides out of the ring in shock as well. Rollins eventually gets to his feet and staggers over to Ambrose. They fist pump and then hug, celebrating Ambrose winning the belt.

SummerSlam ends with Dean Ambrose holding the WWE World title high in the ring while Seth Rollins stands to his side. Triple H leans against the turnbuckle smiling, knowing that he has full control of the WWE.

What would be next? With Ambrose now the champion, he could get into it with his former bro, Roman Reigns, to set up other title matches. Rollins could also request a match against Ambrose just to verify who should be leading this revolution. Kevin Owens could be ready to take his shot at the big belt. We could see Chris Jericho go on a huge winning streak with Big Show at his side and become a major challenger. John Cena could make another run. Shinsuke Nakamura could begin challenging for the WWE title. Plus, we could see the Kane and The Undertaker, the Brothers of Destruction, return at some point. The Rock could re-emerge for a while. You never know when Batista or even CM Punk might return for the WWE. Plus, Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman is still out there. Any of these wrestlers could return at any time to set up a huge main event for WrestleMania. But for the moment, the NXT Era has begun. The Rebellion is here!

 

I hope you enjoyed this too-long series of Fantasy Book columns. Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it, anything you would have changed, anything you didn’t think would be plausible, etc. I appreciate any and all feedback. Now I have to think something up for next week. Until then…

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