This week’s edition of NXT took a look at the groundbreaking WrestleMania Week in California for the next generation of Superstars and Divas. The show included a special look at NXT’s sold-out debut in San Jose and the excitement of the NXT Experience at WrestleMania Axxess. But most importantly, it gave the WWE Universe a very personal look at Hideo Itami’s journey to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
To get to the semifinals of the tournament, Itami beat Jason Jordan, while Neville emerged victorious over Kalisto in a battle of high-flyers. Itami and Neville started the match slowly, getting a feel for each other before kicking into high gear. The two exchanged holds on the mat before Itami took control with his trademark kicks.
After retreating to the floor, Neville slowed things down and gained the upper hand. The high-flyer surprisingly kept the bout on the mat, methodically picking Itami apart. Eventually, Itami dug down deep and battled back, stunning Neville with hard-hitting strikes, advancing to the tournament finals with his patented running dropkick.
The enigmatic Finn Bálor earned his spot in the semifinals by defeating Baron Corbin, while Prince Pretty toppled the 300-pound Bull Dempsey to advance. Despite his best efforts, Tyler Breeze was not able to evade Bálor for long, getting clocked with a big dropkick.
Breeze took control after catching his opponent with a boot to the face, keeping Bálor on the mat. Despite Prince Pretty’s best attempts to keep things grounded, Bálor fought back to his feet and sent Breeze crashing into the turnbuckles, leaving him in perfect position for the Coup de Grace. That set the stage for a showdown between Bálor and Itami, with a spot on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the line.
These two friends and former tag team partners clashed once again, with bigger stakes than ever before. Their familiarity with each other showed in the opening moments of the match, as Itami and Bálor traded holds, neither Superstar able to gain the upper hand.
The WWE Universe watching the bout at Axxess was split between the two competitors, but in awe of the exciting action unleashed by both men. Though each Superstar seemingly had an answer for every one of his rival’s moves, it was Itami who finally emerged with the upper hand, his fighting spirit allowing him to absorb all of Bálor’s strikes and prevent him from hitting the Coup de Grace. Itami kicked out of a rollup and immediately hit his running dropkick to win the match and earn the right to represent NXT on The Grandest Stage of Them All!
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Hideo Itami defeated Neville in an Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Semi final match (11:16)
- Finn Balor defeated Tyler Breeze in an Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Semi finals match (5:21)
- Hideo Itami defeated Finn Balor in an Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Final match (7:58)