NXT General Manager William Regal wasted no time in kicking 2016 off the right way. After thanking the NXT Universe for their incredible support in 2015 and reiterating that Bayley’s next challenger would be determined in the evening’s main event, Regal welcomed Sami Zayn back to the Full Sail Arena for the first time since his injury.
While Zayn is determined to recapture the NXT Championship and bring NXT to new heights, his path to a title showdown with Finn Bálor will not be an easy one. As soon as Zayn stated his goal of becoming the first two-time NXT Champion, Samoa Joe arrived to confront him. With his loss to Bálor at TakeOver: London still fresh in his mind, Joe said the next time he and the NXT Champion collide, Bálor won’t be so lucky.
But just as Samoa Joe threatened to reinjure Zayn’s shoulder, Baron Corbin interjected himself into the proceedings. After his victory over Apollo Crews in London, The Lone Wolf declared himself the uncrowned champion and No. 1 Contender, and wasted no time reminding Zayn and Joe of that. Corbin soon escalated things by attacking Zayn from behind. Zayn turned things around on The Lone Wolf before backing Joe off. Later in the evening, Regal informed all three competitors that they will face off in two weeks in a Triple Threat Match to determine the No. 1 Contender.
Tommaso Ciampa made a name for himself in NXT when he stood toe-to-toe with Samoa Joe in one of the hardest-hitting matches in recent history. The Milwaukee native looked to capitalize on that in his battle with London-born brawler Danny Burch. The Brit tried to wear Ciampa down, but received a vicious open-hand strike to the face for his troubles. Ciampa has become known for his striking prowess, but showed off his submission skills this week, trapping Burch in a modified armbar that forced the Brit to tap out.
Dash & Dawson proved they deserved to be considered among NXT’s best in 2015 after capturing the NXT Tag Team Championship. However, they faced a tough test this week, in the form of The Ascension, the team that held those titles longer than any other duo in history.
Dash Wilder showed no fear in the face of the monstrous duo, walking right up to Viktor and shoving him away. Viktor returned the favor, pummeling Wilder in the corner. Scott Dawson cut Viktor off before he could continue the attack, leading the champions to trap him in their corner. Viktor caught Dawson with an STO, finally giving himself the opening to tag in Konnor. The powerhouse bludgeoned Dawson and nearly had the victory, only for Wilder to distract the referee. Dash & Dawson took advantage of the opportunity and connected with the Shatter Machine to earn another impressive victory.
After making an impact in his debut in London, Elias Samson looked to follow up on the first edition of NXT in 2016. The Drifter did just that, unleashing his aggression on Corey Hollis. Samson seemed to be taking pleasure in dishing out punishment, toying with Hollis before putting him away with a lightning-quick neckbreaker.
Tensions were high as the women of NXT gathered in the ring for the over-the-top-rope quarrel to determine Bayley’s next challenger. Eva Marie was fuming after Asuka cut her extravagant entrance short and confronted The Empress of Tomorrow inside the ring. However, Asuka was in no mood for chatter, instead choosing to clock the “Total Divas” star with a roundhouse kick that temporarily made her a non-factor in the battle.
The match soon broke down into a melee, as NXT veterans like Emma and Alexa Bliss, newcomers like Liv Morgan and Aliyah, and independent competitors like Deonna Purrazzo all battled for the ultimate opportunity. Asuka was the target of the other women, as they all took turns ganging up on her.
After overcoming a 2-on-1 advantage and eliminating Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, Asuka thought she had won the Battle Royal, but there was still someone left — Eva Marie, who never went over the top rope after Asuka kicked her at the start of the match! The “Total Divas” star hurled The Empress of Tomorrow over the top rope, much to the dismay of the NXT Universe. Eva gloated, thinking she had the title match in her clutches, but another competitor had never been eliminated. Having rolled out of the ring after being attacked by Emma, Carmella scrambled back into the ring and dumped Eva to the arena floor to win the melee! As a fuming Asuka watched from ringside, Bayley came to the ring and celebrated with her best friend, and now, the No. 1 Contender to her NXT Women’s Title.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Becky Lynch defeated Natalya
- Dark Match: The Big Show defeated Heath Slater
- Tommaso Ciampa defeated Danny Burch by submission (3:41)
- Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson defeated The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) (4:18)
- Elias Samson defeated Corey Hollis (2:22)
- Carmella defeated Alexa Bliss, Aliyah, Asuka, Billie Kay, Cameron, Deonna Purrazzo, Emma, Eva Marie, Liv Morgan & Peyton Royce in a NXT Women’s Title No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal (9:15)