Four matches and a visit from Kassius Ohno for a chat is the previewed card for tonight’s episode. Dominik Dijakovic faces Shane Thorne, The Street Profits have unnamed opponents, Taynara Conti takes on Aliyah, and the main event will be Adam Cole versus Ricochet. Sounds busy,
Dominik Dijakovic def. Shane Thorne
Street Profits def. Humberto Carrillo & Stacey Ervin Jr
Aliyah def. Taynara Conti
Ricochet def. Adam Cole
Tonight’s show was dedicated to the memory of Pedro Morales
Dominik Dijakovic vs Shane Thorne
Shane Thorne, formerly of The Mighty, is currently making his way as a solo star in WWE after Nick Miller left the company. I’m not sure Dijakovic is necessarily how he wanted to start.
He certainly wasn’t intimidated by the size, power, or agility advantages of Dijakovic, and he took the fight straight to him and gained the first advantage by hanging Dijakovic’s arm over the top rope.
Dijakovic’s arm was giving him trouble on the fight back, which seemed to annoy him more than actually hamper him too much. Thorne kept going back to it though and it was enough to keep putting Dijakovic down, if not enough to keep him there.
The first sign Thorne was in real trouble came after Dijakovic had superkicked him out of the ring, when he turned to find Dijakovic corkscrewing through the air at him from the top rope.
After that, it was a simple matter of the Feast Your Eyes to end the match for Dijakovic. Nice opener.
Undisputed ERA had a group promo next. They’re sick and tired of people saying they’ve had a bad start to the year. Has no one heard of ups and downs, or speed bumps? Now Strong and O’Reilly have lost the tag titles, they are going back to Fish and O’Reilly as the tag team of the group (as it was before Bobby Fish got injured). Roderick Strong will be going for individual gold – I wonder how they sort out which of the titles he and Cole will be going for.
An interview with Io Shirai and Kairi Sane, conducted after their victory with Bianca Belair last week, was shown next. Io Shirai said she showed she can beat Shayna Baszler and she’s coming for the title. Kairi Sane was about to say that she is too, when Bianca Belair arrived. Belair said it’s cool that Io pinned Shayna and she has no problem with either of them, but she’s the one who had her beat at TakeOver Phoenix, and tonight. They need to fall back. The title is hers because she’s un-de-fea-ted.
Kassius Ohno came out to the stage at the start of the tag match and say he’s been back in NXT for two years and it’s been a tumultuous two years. He was sitting out the back watching as the cameras panned the Full Sail crowd, and saw a sea of familiar faces. He just had to come out and say that each and every one of them makes him sick. The chants, the noises, everything. They think they know everything, but here’s something they don’t know, he’s out of there. He’s going to go somewhere he can show he’s the best to ever do it (NXT UK, apparently).
Keith Lee walked up behind him and punched him in the face as soon as he turned around. He told Oho it could have been much worse, he could have punched him in the dangly bits like Ohno did to him. He told Ohno not to let the door hit him on the ass on the way out, then apologised to the crowd and to Humberto Carrillo and Stacey Ervin Jr, who had been patiently stood in the ring waiting for their match.
Ohno was still on the floor when Street Profits made their entrance. Montez Ford laid down next to him and was ‘resurrected’ by Angelo Dawkins so they could continue to the ring.
Street Profits vs Humberto Carrillo & Stacey Ervin Jr
Humberto Carrillo is too damned good to be in nothing tag matches, even nothing tag matches where he gets to look as good as he did in this one.
It was Carrillo’s partner, Ervin Jr, who took the punishment on behalf of his team, Carrillo’s job was to showcase some of Street Profits’ talents, particularly Montez Ford’s. The early part of the match contained some lovely exchanges between the two of them.
A friendly handshake turned nasty when Ford kicked Carrillo in the gut and briefly tagged in Dawkins to add some muscle.
The punishment to Ervin Jr started with a near pantsing incident. Dawkins was under Carrillo’s control, courtesy of a kick in the head, when Carrillo tagged Ervin Jr in. He landed a shooting star press on Dawkins, but as he went to rebound off the ropes, Dawkins caught hold of the back of his sparkly gold tights and he became the recipient of a shoulder in the ribs.
Carrillo got back in thanks to the last burst of speed his partner had left, and he got to show off a little more of his impressive moveset before a failed double team pin on Dawkins, and a brief outbreak of chaos, led to Ervin Jr taking Street Profits’ electric chair blockbuster finisher.
After the match Street Profits said their ride in NXT had been a bit of a rollercoaster, but rollercoasters are fun. They want the gold now though. They started to call out War Raiders but got Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner instead. They said opportunities against War Raiders are sacred and no one deserves an opportunity more than them, so Street Profits need to stand aside. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan came to the ring to join the fun and everyone started yelling.
War Raiders arrived on stage and said there is a lot of talk about their titles, and no fighting. The started to walk to the ring and invited someone to make a move. Someone did. When Rowe and Hanson were part way down the ramp, Undisputed ERA (minus Cole) attacked them from behind and chaos broke out. War Raiders threw everyone out of the ring, then threw Oney Lorcan onto them.
We got a big hype package for Johnny Gargano before the next match. He’s going to show the NXT locker room how dangerous he is. Dangerous appears to be his new buzzword. He has his first North American Championship defence next week, against Velveteen Dream.
Taynara Conti vs Aliyah
It’s great to see some women’s division action that isn’t solely focused around the title picture. I think it’s fair to say both have struggled to find their niche within the division, although Aliyah’s struggle has been longer. She’s still got the designer gear and arrogance thing going on (think Carmella meets Jinny). Conti is still relying on her martial arts background, and it works for her, she’s just not been well used.
Conti had the best of Aliyah early on, forcing her to get to the ropes to break an armbar attempt.
Vanessa Borne strolled down to ringside about a minute into the match, and just stood there watching.
The rest of the match was short but fine. Taynara Conti got Aliyah in an armbar over the ropes and had to drop to the outside when she released her. As she got back onto the apron and started to climb, Vanessa Borne grabbed her leg.
Conti didn’t get chance to recover from Borne’s distraction. Aliyah slammed her to the mat then submitted her.
Borne got in the ring and made sure Aliyah knew she’d helped her. Shayna Baszler came out while they were celebrating, and they quickly retreated. They thought they’d got away until Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked them from behind and threw them in the ring. After they’d both been wiped out and thrown out again, and Conti had been dispatched as well, Baszler demanded a mic. She said this is the reality now. Do not get in their way, do not question them and absolutely do not piss them off.
Velveteen Dream’s hype package came just before the main event, showing highlights of his Worlds Collide tournament victory and subsequent challenge to Gargano.
Ricochet vs Adam Cole
It’s always nice to see Adam Cole come to the ring on his own, doesn’t always mean he’ll stay that way, but it’s good to start things with a level playing field.
Great match and a worthy main event (I still don’t like Adam Cole though). Cole got Ricochet tangled in the corner with his left leg twisted awkwardly. That was the opening Cole needed and he worked that leg mercilessly to keep Ricochet grounded and in trouble. Every time Ricochet got anything back, Cole was straight onto the knee again.
Even on one leg, you apparently can’t keep Ricochet down. He landed a tiger feint kick, a diving uppercut and a standing moonsault, but when he tried to throw Cole across his shoulders, his knee gave out again.
Cole was straight back on the knee again to subdue Ricochet’s offence, but a kick to the head and a fireman’s carry neckbreaker still only got him two.
Ricochet ducked the Last Shot and almost managed to roll Cole up in his surprise. He took a kick to the knee again, but brought Cole down with a reverse-rana.
Ricochet tried to climb the top turnbuckle but couldn’t do it. Instead, he sprung up to the top rope, on one leg, and flipped onto Cole, but only landed across his legs.
An exchange of kicks and strikes was what it came down to from there. Adam Cole came out on top, with a two count, and they were both down for a while. Cole recovered first, dragged Ricochet into the corner and sat him on the top turnbuckle. Ricochet slipped out from under him, climbed back up, got knocked back down, then they both came down via a Ricochet frankensteiner.
The adrenaline rush got Ricochet then and he finished Cole with a couple of suplexes and a Vertigo.
The rest of Undisputed ERA ran down to beat Ricochet up as soon as the bell signified the end of the match. Aleister Black came to help, but all that happened was he got beaten up as well.
Tonight, NXT felt like it started to move forward again. The tag division and the women’s division both have more direction, enough to fuel more than one storyline as well.
Kassius Ohno heading off to pastures new (NXT UK) is, sadly, not a loss to the division. I never thought I’d be saying that, but he came back to NXT after an incredible indie year and did nothing much. I’m aware he has other, behind the scenes, responsibilities, but I wanted to see more from his triumphant return.
William Regal confirmed Roderick Strong versus Aleister Black for next week’s show via tweet.