This week we are promised an appearance by Aleister Black. To be honest, that’s all I need to declare it an episode worth watching. Also announced ahead of this episode is Johnny Gargano’s in-ring return, he will be facing newcomer Raul Mendoza. And we are due to be graced with the presences of Bobby Roode and Asuka, but it seems likely they will feature in talking segments rather than matches. It should be a good episode, but it may be a bit talk heavy.
Johnny Gargano def Raul Mendoza
Sonya Deville def Jenna Van Bemel
Aleister Black def Kyle O’Reilly
Johnny Gargano vs Raul Mendoza
The show opened with Gargano’s entrance, and a nice symbolic moment. He came out to the #DIY theme, then it changed to his new one while he was on the stage, putting his old tag team and Ciampa’s betrayal behind him. It’s a shame Ciampa’s injuries mean they couldn’t do the program between them immediately, but it’s one of the few feuds that I don’t think will be damaged by the delay. Apart from anything else, commentary aren’t going to let us forget about it any time soon.
Anyway, the match was a strong opener for the show. Raul Mendoza’s background is in the Mexican luchador tradition, and he’s considered a high flyer. It made for a fast paced and entertaining match. Gargano always looks like he’s having the time of his life in the ring, maybe that’s why the crowds love him so much, and tonight was no different.
It wasn’t a walkover match for Gargano, Mendoza was a reasonably tough opponent to come back to. He had plenty of chances to show his skill, but Gargano has come back with a new determination to prove he can succeed on his own. And succeed he did. Johnny Gargano won the match with the Gargano escape.
We were shown a bit of background for the TakeOver Brooklyn III tag title match between Authors of Pain and SAnitY’s Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain, leading into a promo by Paul Ellering which went like this: ‘SAnitY, they showed their sanity when they attacked the Authors of Pain. At TakeOver Brooklyn we will write the chapter but between now and then be prepared. Monsters are real.’
Asuka was up next. She came out, in normal clothes, to address the matter of her TakeOver opponent. When she got to the ring she said: ‘At NXT TakeOver Brooklyn I will fight Ember Moon for the NXT Women’s Championship. I have beaten Ember before. I will beat her again. Ember Moon is not ready for Asuka.’
Ember Moon came out at that point and made her way to the ring. She said, ‘Ever since TakeOver Orlando I have been doing everything in my power to get back where I belong. Fighting for the NXT Women’s Championship. You can sit here and say that I’m not ready Asuka, but I know that I’m ready, these people know that I am ready, and you know that I’m ready Asuka. Deep down inside, underneath all of that arrogance you know the truth, and you are afraid of the truth Asuka. The truth is that Asuka isn’t ready for Ember Moon.’
In response, Asuka held out her hand for the handshake, then removed it before Moon could take it and slapped Ember Moon across the face. Moon took the bait and forearmed Asuka across the face, initiating the brawl. Asuka threw Moon out of the ring and turned her back gloating. Moon climbed to the top turnbuckle and hit the champion with an Eclipse.
With Asuka laying, unmoving, in the ring, Moon crouched down and looked like she was going to pick up the belt. She stopped herself and said, ‘I’ll get that when I earn it’, then left the ring with Asuka still flat out in the centre.
Bobby Roode didn’t even come to the ring for his talk segment. He was shown interviewed backstage. First he was asked about Roderick Strong. He went back to the Bobby Roode lottery analogy he’d used before to suggest that Strong doesn’t belong in his NXT.
Moving on to Drew McIntyre’s comments last week, Roode said McIntyre was here before and now he’s back and he says he’s a changed man, he’s a new man, well maybe he is. Then he announced that next week he and McIntyre will have a sit down conversation in the ring.
As he was leaving, Roderick Strong tried to jump Roode. He was restrained and William Regal appeared. Strong asked what he’s supposed to do. Roode disrespected his family. Regal told him to be professional and Strong said he’d do anything if Regal would just give him Roode. Regal said his hands are tied the TakeOver match between Roode and McIntyre is decided. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with this one.
Street Profits promo next. They’ve seemingly made their live show debut, and they’ll hit NXT tv next week. They look entertaining, I’m looking forward to that.
Sonya Deville vs Jenna Van Bemel
Van Bemel looks like another powerhouse, apparently nicknamed ‘The Bionic Beast’. I love that there is more variety in the shape, size and style of the athletes in the women’s division. It’s a good sign that talent is more important than look and that’s been a long time coming.
Despite giving up size and strength to her opponent Deville looked dominant. She used her speed until it was time to put her power into play. Bemel had a little offence, nothing that made Deville look in danger of losing the match, but enough to make her credible.
Sonya Deville won the match with an armbar submission.
Hideo Itami was interviewed backstage. He was explaining that he isn’t showing people respect because no-one is showing him any. The interviewer tried to cut him short by saying they needed to cut back to the ring, but Itami grabbed the mic and strode out to the ring himself. Itami continued his diatribe about respect when he got there while a ref tried to get him to leave the ring. Aleister Black then appeared.
Black was scheduled for a match against an undisclosed opponent. He got into the ring and faced off with Itami. They had a stare off and Itami looked to be leaving the ring. He turned back, and Black hit him with the Black Mass then sat cross legged in the ring. It was looking like Itami vs Ohno at TakeOver, but I was Itami vs Black now.
Before the main event, No Way Jose vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas was announced for next week.
Aleister Black vs Kyle O’Reilly
Aleister Black’s undisclosed opponent turned out to be the debuting Kyle O’Reilly. It worries me when it’s a debuting opponent, I’m not ready for Black’s undefeated steak to end. But at least they’re not giving him squash matches.
Kyle O’Reilly has a career spanning 12 years. He’s worked all over the world for promotions including Ring of Honor, New Japan, Rev Pro, PWG, and has held multiple titles. Basically, he’s a big signing for NXT.
What a match. This was TakeOver worthy. O’Reilly spent a lot of time working Black’s left arm, in all sorts of creative ways. They poured their collective experience and talent into every moment of the match. O’Reilly clearly wanted to make an impact on his debut, Black wanted to protect his undefeated streak. They both got what they wanted.
We got a bit of everything. The closest of close calls, and counter after counter, not to mention some extremely stiff looking strikes. There were periods of technical submission attempts, fast paced martial arts based sections, and some all out strike for strike fighting. In the end, Aleister Black finished the match with the Black Mass.
Kyle O’Reilly is the second big indie debut fed to Aleister Black in a short space of time. Considering these names would normally win their debut matches, I think it says something about how high they are on Black at the moment. I’m all in for that, I think Aleister Black is a huge talent and I get a kick from seeing him being built so strong. It makes you wonder who will take that undefeated streak, and how much of a big deal they’ll have to be to do it.
All in all, another strong episode this week. A lot of talking, but it all served a purpose, and three good matches. NXT is keeping the standard consistently high recently. Long may it continue.
Final, final thought of the week. People give Brock Lesnar a hard time for not defending his Universal title often, but I’m not sure if Bobby Roode is any better. I think Lesnar might even be more of a fighting champion that Roode. I hope that when the inevitable title change comes, it goes to someone who will defend it a bit more often.