WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 27
For weeks, three of NXT's top competitors have jockeyed for position in the hunt for the promotion's top championship. Wednesday night, they squared off in a huge main event match designed to determine the one man one would compete for Finn Balor's title.
Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin may have taken different paths to WWE's hottest brand, but they all endured trials, tribulations, success and heartbreak as they have chased the glory that comes along with championship gold.
For Zayn, becoming the No. 1 contender would put him one step away from becoming the first two-time NXT champion and paying off all the hard work and rehabilitation he has put his body through following major shoulder surgery.
In the case of Samoa Joe, winning Wednesday's match would book him one more date with Balor, whom he pummeled and punished in London, but fell just short of dethroning.
And for Corbin, a win would solidify him as the future of NXT—a former member of the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals who made a successful transition to the mat game.
With so much at stake, and emotions at a fever pitch, a heated match was guaranteed.
Which Superstar emerged from the battle with his arm raised in victory and a title opportunity awaiting him?
The answer to that question, as well as all the highlights, analysis and grades from Wednesday's show is inside.
American Alpha vs. Blake and Murphy
Chad Gable and Jason Jordan continued their climb into tag team title contention Wednesday night, clashing with former champions Murphy and Blake.
Showing why they are former titleholders, Murphy and Blake gained control by feigning injury and then working over Gable's knee.
Jordan received the hot tag and exploded into the match, taking Blake over with a suplex. A spear and Grand Amplitude finished in the babyfaces' favor.
American Alpha defeated Blake and Murphy.
Gable and Jordan are the hottest act in NXT's tag team division, and it is not even remotely close at this point. The ovation they received has not diminished, and they are clearly the favorites to dethrone Dash and Dawson for the tag titles in the near future.
The only issue that may develop sooner than later is the repetitive nature of their matches.
Gable takes the beating, Jordan gets the hot tag and they finish for the win.
They may need to change that up going forward if they are to remain fresh and compelling. Everything else they do, though, is gold.
Liv Morgan vs. Nia Jax
For the first time since TakeOver: London, Nia Jax appeared on NXT television, and it became abundantly clear that she was motivated and had vengeance on her mind, determined to prove that her loss to Bayley in the United Kingdom was an anomaly.
Jax dominated the action from the get-go, wearing her opponent down. Morgan fought back, delivering a well-timed jawbreaker and a series of dropkicks that nearly sparked a comeback.
Morgan channeled Bayley, trying the guillotine choke, but Jax powered out and delivered the big leg drop for the pinfall victory.
Nia Jax defeated Liv Morgan.
This was a demolition, but an entertaining one.
At only two minutes, the contest packed a few different layers into it, including Jax's sheer dominance and Morgan proving to be a student of the game by going back to what worked so well for her predecessor.
Jax's victory keeps her in the mix for another shot at Bayley's title, but it remains to be seen whether or not management will opt to go in a different direction, perhaps with Emma or Asuka.
Bull Dempsey vs. Alex Riley
Alex Riley made his return to the squared circle Wednesday night, squaring off against the most Bull-Fit Superstar on the roster, Bull Dempsey.
Riley controlled from the bell, working over Dempsey with a somewhat bland move set.
Dempsey appeared on his way to fighting his way back into the match when he was caught with a spinebuster. Riley delivered a jumping knee to pick up the win.
Alex Riley defeated Bull Dempsey.
There are numerous ways one wants to come back from injury to make an impression and to kick off a return to glory. This was not one for Alex Riley.
He was wildly unimpressive here. Of course, ring rust should be taken into account when judging his first in-ring performance in months. Even with that taken into account, there was not much here to be excited about.
Dempsey continues to be a fun, over midcard act that cannot seem to catch a break that would elevate him further up the card. He works hard, though, and always seems to have fun in whatever role he is in.
A longer match, with a more comfortable Riley, would likely be a big improvement.
John Skyler vs. Elias Samson
Elias Samson continued his winning ways Wednesday night as he squared off with John Skyler.
Samson dominated, beating his opponent down and finishing him off with a neckbreaker in just two minutes.
Elias Samson defeated John Skyler.
NXT must progress Samson past the stage of squashing enhancement talent. There is no story left to tell going that route.
And speaking of stories, WWE Creative must tell Samson soon because the interest in the character will quickly wane if left to judge him based on the squash matches he's worked to this point.
Samson is a talented guy, and the facial expressions he's utilized to this point have been on point. Once he gets the opportunity to match up with more seasoned wrestlers, and learn on the fly, he will be a much more effective character, and dominating presence, in NXT.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin
The January 27 episode of NXT was a one-match show, hyped exclusively on the back of the Triple Threat match for the No. 1 Contender's spot between Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin.
The popular Zayn found himself constantly cutoff throughout the bout, with his nastier, bigger opponents putting him at a disadvantage for the heart of the contest.
Near-falls ran wild late, with Zayn scoring a two-count off a Helluva Kick to Corbin. Joe trapped Zayn in the Coquina Clutch, only to find himself in the Lone Wolf's grasp and leveled with End of Days for a quick two- count.
Frustration set in late, but Zayn was able to trap Corbin in a sharpshooter. Seconds later, Joe applied a Crossface. With both opponents bearing down on him, Corbin had no choice but to tap, leaving the result up in the air.
William Regal appeared, vowing to review the tape and make a decision, but no winner was declared Wednesday night.
The main event of Wednesday's show will have its haters, but what it does is allow for the story of Zayn, Joe and Corbin to continue while NXT buys time on the road to TakeOver:Dallas.
The match itself was excellent, with dramatic near-falls and a constant feeling of unpredictability. Corbin looks strong since it took two stars to beat him, while Zayn and Joe remain the clear favorites to earn the title shot.