I woke up at 5:15 AM this morning to catch this WWE Network Special from Japan. Before the stream began, there were two surprisingly long dark matches. The show itself began with Chris Jericho taking on Neville. This is one of the matches I was really looking forward to. I think Jericho doing a run with NXT, even if it's just the non-televised stuff, would be good. This was a lot of fun. They went back and forth and were given a little more than sixteen minutes to work with. Jericho can still go. Neville got caught with a massive Codebreaker but somehow kicked out, making me think he'd win. However, he gets caught in the Liontamer which ends this. I appreciate that Jericho busted out the Liontamer over the Walls of Jericho. Really good opener here that made me glad I got up at the crack of dawn. ***1/2
Next, we got a Divas Championship match. The original card had Nikki Bella defending against Paige and Naomi in a Triple Threat match. For some reason, Naomi didn't make the trip and Tamina was placed in here instead. We had the triple threat with Naomi back at Elimination Chamber and it wasn't very good. Surprisingly, even though Tamina isn't very good either, having her in this was an improvement. She did some power stuff but would get knocked out to lead to Nikki and Paige doing battle, which is the best main roster Divas duo we can possibly get. Nikki retains after laying out Tamina with a forearm. Decent enough Divas stuff here. *1/2
Our show now takes a detour into suplex city as Brock Lesnar faces Kofi Kingston. The mood continues to change whenever Brock is around. It's something special. This was expertly booked and went exactly the way it should. Kofi started by running around, trying to avoid Lesnar and springboarding for some offense. Brock shook this off for the most part before busting out the German suplexes. The first one was especially nasty looking. A few of those and an F5 put Kofi down for good. This was the expected squash that was needed. Brock continued the assault after the match and even New Day shows up to take some of the beating. It goes less than three minutes, so I won't really even rate it but it was enjoyable.
The match that most of us were waiting for was next as Finn Balor faced Kevin Owens for the NXT Title. This got a good amount of hype and was given the treatment of a big deal. There were streamers, flowers being presented and "demon" Balor. These two had faced for the title on an episode of NXT earlier in the year and it wasn't nearly as good as this. We had the right amount of false finishes and both guys seemed to bring their A games. I appreciate that Balor didn't kick out of a popup powerbomb, protecting that move and Owens. It took two double stomps for Balor to win, in a very cool moment. More than the opener, this made me glad I watched. The match was great and the moment of Balor winning was even better. Great stuff. ****1/4
That should have actually closed out this show, but we have a meaningless tag match now. John Cena and Dolph Ziggler teamed up to take on King Barrett and Kane. There was still a fair amount of time left on the show, so I hoped it wouldn't go as long. It did. While Jericho/Neville got 16 minutes and Balor/Owens got 19, this match went over 24 minutes. Who thought this was a good idea? It wasn't the worst match ever but it was overly long, dragged and really didn't belong as the main event. Cena wins it for his guys. Not much else to say. *3/4 Overall, I thought this was a ton of fun. Getting up early was strange but a live broadcast from Japan was different and one of the things the Network was built for. The Brock stuff was fun, the opener was really good and the Balor stuff was great. A very enjoyable 90 minutes, but once we got to the main event, things went downhill fast.