Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin vs Sami Zayn – NXT #181

Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin vs Sami Zayn

Number One Contender’s Match

Taped 01/07/2016, aired 01/27/2016

Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States

(reviewed 01/01/2017) Hopefully this lives up to how enjoyable I found the Alex Riley vs Bull Dempsey and Elias Sampson vs John Skyler matches before it. Corbin and Joe corner Sami to start things off and Corbin takes a cheap shot at Joe to send him to the floor, but with the way they shoot it, it’s very hard to tell. Sami’s real good here in the opening minutes of the match, selling well for Joe’s strikes and scrambling for the ropes to yank the top one down and send Corbin to the floor when the big man rushes him. At one point, Joe hits a masterful headbutt on the Canadian, stomping his foot just as the camera cuts away to a different angle, creating a pretty gross sound on a safe move. The match picks up for a bit with nearfalls and neat spots, including a Coquina Clutch from Joe on Sami as he leans on the ropes after a nearfall. After Sami avoids a tackle from Joe on the floor, sending the big man into the ring steps, he goes after Corbin in the ring as he recovers from being hit with the Helluva Kick only a few moments before, and there’s an interesting bit of MMA guard work before Sami incorrectly applies a sharpshooter. Joe, sensing that his opportunity to face Finn Balor again is fleeting, rushes into the ring and quickly slaps a crossface on Corbin, who taps a few moments later. After some deliberation over the double submission finish (which yields some lovely pantomime from everyone involved), William Regal comes out and tells them that he’ll have to review the tape. It’s done right next to the ring and off-mic, with only the on-board microphones of the cameras picking it up, adding a wonderful bit of reality to the situation. Joe, unsatisfied with Regal’s desire to review the footage, angrily walks out, holding his hands up as the victor as the show goes off air. Great little bit of main event TV wrestling here. Everything is tight and speedy, with more than enough action to satisfy but little enough to leave you wanting more, which is only compounded by an inconclusive finish that is less screwy and more intriguing. All three guys are great here with their offense, bumping, and selling, with Corbin really shining in the latter two categories. They play well with the nature of three-way matches but don’t go overboard in any way. All in all, a match that doesn’t waste your time, entertains thoroughly, and furthers stories for multiple people in the process. Understated and professional, great stuff all around.

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