It’s NXT time and we’re coming to you from Wrestlemania Access, with the final rounds of the qualifying tournament for the Andre the Giant battle royale at Wrestlemania.
We kick off with a montage of NXT stars at Access, incluing Kevin Owens smiling broadly next to The Rock. Recap of the first round of the tournament, with Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Finn Balor and Adrian Neville coming out on top. Good call on not showing us the Bull Dempsey match, NXT.
Match 1: Adrian Neville vs Hideo Itami
Face off and shove by Itami to start, then a feeling out period. Neville dodges kicks from Itami, then we go into a nice series of reversals. Neville eventually comes out on top and locks in the armbar, but Itami reverses into a hammerlock. Pin and a one count from Itami.
Neville takes a break to interact with the crowd, and he seems to be playing the heel tonight. Neville hits a shoulderblock but Itami reverses an Irish whip into an armdrag and big kick to the head. Neville goes to the corner as Itami appeals to the crowd for a nice face pop, then kicks the crap out of the Englishman and sends him to the outside. Neville uses the ten count and then forces Itami into the corner, hitting a cheap shot and a kick to the back. Knees to the back of Hideo’s head, then a pin and a kick out. Neville slams Itami’s head into the turnbuckle and hits some chops, then a powerslam for a pin and a one count. Chinlock by Neville, followed by a back elbow for a two count.
Snap suplex into a cover by Neville, then into a rear facelock. Leapfrog spot and Itami reverses, hitting kicks then a tornado DDT over the top rope and a top rope clothesline. Action gets too fast to call for a while until Itami locks in a dragon sleeper, but Neville makes the ropes. Big suplex from Itami for a two count, and the crowd chants for the GTS.
Itami gets Neville up on his shoulders but the Brit reverses, then hits a superkick for a long two count. Neville sets up Itami for the red arrow, but Itami rolls out of the way and hits the hesitation dropkick in the corner, followed by the running kick for the pin and the three count!
Fast paced opening match with a nice job from Neville as he heads up to the main roster.
Match 2: Finn Balor vs Tyler Breeze
Long entrance sequence for Balor as Breeze lounges in the corner with his phone. Lockup and armdrag from Breeze who returns to the corner to lounge, then grabs a headlock. Leapfrog sequence into a dropkick from Balor, who lounges in the corner before rolling up Breeze for two.
Kness to the gut from Breeze, but he misses a splash in the corner and Fin hits some kicks. Reversal and big clothesline from Breese gets two, so he stomps a mudhole in Balor in the corner. Furry boot choke and a leg drop gets one, so Breeze goes to the old favourite rear chinlock. Balor fights out and reverses and sunset flip into a dropkick, then hits a pair of clotheslines. Corner enziguiri from Balor gets a two count, then he goes for the reverse Bloody Sunday but Breeze slips out.
Sling blade from Balor followed by the shotgun dropkick sets up the coup de grace, and Finn Balor gets the pin and the three count.
Another good match, could have been given a bit more time.
Match 3: Hideo Itami vs Finn Balor
Lockup into some fast chain wresling to a face off and ‘this is awesome’ chant from the crowd. Rolling wristlock from Itami is reversed into and armbar from Balor, into a legsweep from Itami. Irish whip into a big dropkick from Balor and the action is fast and furious!
Pin from Balor gets two. Crowd is split as Hideo hits a running knee to the gun for a pin and a two count, then into a rear chinlock transitioned into a facelock. Sunset flip reversed into a dropkick from Balor, but Itami reverses in the corner, only to be hit by an enziguiri for a two count.
Itami hits a running knee in the corner and then the rope DDT. Top rope flying clothesline gets a two count but Balor kicks out, so Itami sets up for the GTS. Balor slips out and the pair exchange strikes, with Itami coming out on top with a kick to the head countered into a Pele kick from Balor.
Both competitors are stunned but Itami drags himself to his feet, only to be met with an elbow from Balor. They exchange strikes once again, but Itami hulks up and hits the strike combination and hesitation dropkick. Itami goes for the running kick but Balor reverses into the sling blade and goes to the top, but Itami pushes him off, sets up the shotgun kicks and hits it for the pin and the three count.
Hideo Itami is going to Wrestlemania to join the Andre the Giant Battle Royale! Balor gets to his feet and goes toe to toe with Itami, but eventually they hug it out.
Next up we’ve got a behind the scenes look at Hideo’s trip to Wrestlemania. It’s a really moving package, despite featuring Hulk Hogan trying to steal some heat from KENTA in Japan. The best bit is when Daniel Bryan talks about how Hideo Itami has the hardest kicks in the world.
It’s all a bit of a bummer when Itami quickly gets eliminated by the Big Slow at Wrestlemania, but he gets a good pop from the crowd and the final montage with his kids is very moving.
A great episode of NXT featuring some first class wrestling.
Tags: Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, NXT