Shinsuke Nakamura def. Sami Zayn
Stepping inside the ropes of NXT for the first time, Shinsuke Nakamura laid to rest any fear that the many accolades hoisted upon him were exaggerated.
As the NXT Universe showered him with chants of “Nakamura,” NXT’s newest Superstar made a hero’s entrance, while his popular opponent, Sami Zayn — seemingly contemplating what the match would mean for his hard-fought legacy in NXT — sat stoically in the corner. Once the bell rang, the two warriors embarked on a feeling-out process, trading holds as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center exploded into dueling chants of “Nakamura” and “Sami Zayn.”
Quickly, Nakamura’s Strong Style pedigree shone through as he battered Zayn with hard knees to the midsection and boots to the face. Zayn fought back, diving over the ropes onto Nakamura on the floor, then drilling him with a brutal Michinoku Driver back inside the ring. Once both Superstars were back on their feet, they began trading forearm strikes, one of which drew blood from the nose of Nakamura. Zayn downed his foe with a hard clothesline, but was soon caught in a cross armbreaker, which Nakamura transitioned into a Shining Triangle hold.
The leader of the Zayniacs withstood the punishment, escaped and even managed to lock Nakamura in the Koji Clutch. He misstepped moments later, however, when he went for a DDT through the turnbuckles, only for Nakamura to rock him with a kick to the head. After a fiery exchange that prompted the NXT fans to chant “Fight forever,” The King of Strong Style evaded Zayn’s exploder suplex into the corner and flew off the top rope with a vicious knee to the back of Zayn’s head. Seconds later, he followed up with the Kinshasa knee strike, named after the city in Zaire where George Forman and Muhammad Ali’s famous Rumble in the Jungle took place, and pinned NXT’s longtime ace.
With the all-important win, Nakamura began a fresh chapter in his remarkable 14-year career and earned the respect of the NXT Universe. As the sold-out crowd applauded both competitors, Nakamura shook Zayn’s hand and left the ring to his opponent, who took in the adulation of the NXT Universe ... possibly for the last time.