Tonight is NXT’s return to Full Sail after WrestleMania weekend. The preview for the show is all about Drew McIntyre’s debut/return to NXT. I expect to see a lot of the new faces, and the start of new storylines to build towards the next TakeOver event.
Aleister Black def Corey Hollis
#DIY def Dylan Miley and Michael Blais
Ruby Riot def Kimberley Frankele
Drew McIntyre def Oney Lorcan
Aleister Black vs Corey Hollis
Great start to the show with the Full Sail debut of Aleister Black. Bit of an anti-climax for anyone wanting to see him fight, but a strong statement of the level and positioning of the wrestler. One single kick, the Black Mass, was the sum total of the ‘match’. Aleister Black has arrived and he’s going to be awesome.
Tye Dillinger’s SmackDown debut was shown before a quick backstage interview. He said he couldn’t be happier to be on SmackDown but he has some unfinished business with Eric Young. He’s spoken to William Regal about it and has been granted permission to finish things up next week – in a steel cage match.
Commentary then announced that tonight will be the farewell to Shinsuke Nakamura.
#DIY vs Dylan Miley and Michael Blais
Dylan Miley is twice the size of Tommaso Ciampa, and there is apparently quite a buzz about him in NXT. He certainly looked powerful holding Ciampa above his head, and then holding Gargano upside-down. I guess he’s one to watch.
His mistake in the match seemed to be tagging in his partner, Michael Blais. Blais came in on Gargano when Miley had already done damage, but it took less than a minute for Johnny wrestling to turn things around. Ciampa knocked Dylan Miley off the apron, and #DIY’s double team finisher (someone give it a name or tell me what it’s supposed to be called please) sealed the deal on the match for Gargano and Ciampa.
After the match Miley attacked Blais, adding further fuel to the ‘one to watch’ tag.
After a recap of Asuka’s win over Ember Moon at TakeOver Orlando, by foul means when she used the ref to knock Moon off the turnbuckle, Ember Moon was shown wandering around the TakeOver arena while it was being packed up, talking about how it was supposed to be her moment. It was her destiny, her chance to go down in history, but Asuka proved she’d do anything to keep the NXT women’s championship. Ember Moon made it clear she’s not done in her quest to become NXT women’s champion. Looks like a rematch is on the cards.
Ruby Riot vs Kimberley Frankele
It really is show off all the new people week this week. Presumably this is to show off two new people as Kimberley Frankele (better known as Kimber Lee) got a proper entrance.
There was a commotion in the crowd just at the start of the match, which turned out to be Nikki Cross clanging barriers to make her presence felt. She stood at ringside for the rest of the match.
Neither of the women let Cross put them off though. Frankele got a decent bit of offence in before Ruby Riot took over. It was another super-short match, but there is definite quality in both competitors. Ruby Riot got the win with a Pele kick, staring down Nikki Cross the whole time.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay with a video diary segment, walking round the performance centre talking about redecorating. They ran into Liv Morgan and Aliyah, and Morgan pushed Billie Kay into a large tub of water. It’s nice to see some, much needed, character work going on.
Drew McIntyre vs Oney Lorcan
Half an hour into the show, and it was main event time already. The match was only just over five minutes long. And Oney Lorcan ended up bleeding. It was decent though. Lorcan has been going from strength to strength recently, and McIntyre is clearly (and quite rightly) going to be a dominant force in the division.
It looked like McIntyre caught Lorcan with an elbow to cause the bleeding from his head, but he didn’t have to wait for long to get treated. Drew McIntyre kicked him in the face and got the pin a few seconds later.
Post-match interview on the ramp. McIntyre was asked what brought him to NXT. He said he’d built a reputation around the world, could have signed anywhere. He has all the raw talent and could put the smackdown on anyone but he doesn’t want to be anywhere but NXT.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s farewell to NXT was the final segment of the show. He talked about having made NXT his home, about it being a brand on in its own right, and about the fans. He finished by saying he will always be NXT because ‘we are NXT’.
The whole NXT roster took to the stage to wish Nakamura farewell. In the closing moments Finn Balor appeared from within the roster to stand between Nakamura and Regal. Balor and Nakamura embraced to close the show.
NXT really are building themselves a ferociously good roster, in all divisions. With the women’s tournament announced for summer, and another main roster raid due in a few months, it is more than likely there will be a large number of debuts coming up. Things are finally starting to pick up again for NXT.
The landscape of professional wrestling and sports entertainment is changing, and NXT is going to be a big part of that. I’m genuinely excited to see what the rest of the year holds for the brand.