Another crammed episode of NXT ahead by the look of the preview. Kassius Ohno has accepted Keith Lee’s invitation to come and have a match. Johnny Gargano, Street Profits, and Dominik Dijakovic all have matches against unnamed opponents. And Bianca Belair will be talking about her upcoming TakeOver match against Shayna Baszler.
Street Profits def. Chris and JC Metro
Dominik Dijakovic def. Adrian Jaoude
Johnny Gargano def. Humberto Carrillo
Kassius Ohno def. Keith Lee
Street Profits vs Chris and JC Metro
Upbeat tag action to get things underway this week. The commentary team sold the Metro Brother as a big deal, up and coming talent looking to take the opportunities presented by superstars moving to the main roster. Two problems with that. One, NXT needed the clear out because they are overstuffed with talent. Two, this was little more than a standard squash with a few additional antics from Street Profits.
Montez Ford got the pin with a frogsplash.
The real business of the match came while Street Profits were celebrating their victory. Forgotten Sons stormed ringside and beat Dawkins and Ford down. They saw Angelo Dawkins climbing back into the ring as they started to leave, and went back for another go. That should be a good feud.
Matt Riddle was asked if he was going to be ringside for Keith Lee’s match against Kassius Ohno. He said he can’t because he’s not medically cleared but there is nothing he’d like more. He just hopes Lee leaves a little piece of Ohno for him.
Aleister Black had a promo segment for his match with Tommaso Ciampa. He said all the usual stuff about getting his title back then invited Ciampa to meet him on next week’s episode to start the fight early.
Bianca Belair talked about sending Nikki Cross packing and said it’s going to be her year. She sent a message to Baszler that she was taking the title because she’s undefeated, but she didn’t get all the way through it because Baszler came out with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.
Baszler said she doesn’t see the whole EST of NXT thing. She knows about Belair’s records at the performance centre and she’s clearly the strongest and the fastest, but she’s very obviously not the smartest. If Belair had half a brain she would understand it doesn’t matter how big and strong her arms are, Baszler is going to tear them off at TakeOver Phoenix.
Belair said the only thing her arms would be doing is holding the title over her head.
Baszler said she’s just like everyone else who comes out and won’t even fight her. She’s afraid Baszler will break her arm, silence the hype, and change her vocabulary from undefeated to overrated.
They squared up and Belair looked unsure as Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke crowded in close to Baszler. Baszler asked if she was worried about Duke and Shafir and made a show of ushering them into the corner. When she turned back, Belair slapped her in the face.
Shafir tended to Baszler while Duke went for Belair. She missed, as did Shafir as Belair slipped past her and out of the ring.
Adrian Jaoude vs Dominik Dijakovic
Interesting choice of match for Dijakovic, who is still being established for more casual viewers. Jaoude is a known quantity. Good, very quick and precise. If Dijakovic was being given the star treatment, I would have expected a lesser opponent or at least a quicker result.
Two very different skillsets on display. Jaoude had the clear advantage when it came to grappling and tried to keep it low to the mat. Dijakovic had the power and height advantage and mainly wanted to chuck Jaoude around and hurt him.
They both got their way to a certain extent, but it was Dijakovic that got the pin.
War Raiders promo for the tag championship match at TakeOver Phoenix. They were doing a ritual while they talked about the respect they had for Undisputed ERA and the fact they are going to take their tag titles in Phoenix. At the end of the speech, they set a couple of Undisputed ERA chairs, on a plinth with some hay, on fire. Lovely promo.
We got a longish recap of NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool next. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out. There is talk of a lot more crossovers between the brands, and there is a network special being filmed at the Royal Rumble Axxess event featuring NXT, NXT UK, and 205.
Johnny Gargano vs Humberto Carrillo
Humberto Carrillo was on 205 this week as well, against Buddy Murphy. We were told he was picked because his style is comparable to Ricochet’s, which makes sense. It’s just nice to see him being used more because he’s really good.
Carrillo is so quick and so skilled that Gargano spent the first part of the match mainly trying to keep up and defend himself. A slingshot spear took Carrillo down and gave Gargano the opportunity to take control.
It didn’t take long for Carrillo to take to the air again and Gargano was back to keeping up, until he got his feet up as Carrillo came off the top turnbuckle. He quickly followed up with a superkick and lawn darting him into the turnbuckle.
Humberto Carrillo didn’t have time to recover from the onslaught. A slingshot DDT got Johnny Gargano the win.
After the match Gargano got in close to the camera and told Ricochet, if he wants his respect, he should turn up next week and Gargano will give him all the respect he can handle.
They’re having a face to face on the TakeOver ‘go home’ show next week.
In Tommaso Ciampa’s answering promo to Aleister Black, he said they would be waiting for NXT TakeOver Phoenix before they fight because the champ only fights on the grandest stage. That’s what a main event player does. His final message was – ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
Velveteen Dream got a hype package cataloguing his achievements, narrated by him in third person. He’s going to be on next week’s show.
Kassius Ohno vs Keith Lee
I believe the correct term for this is ‘Hoss fight’. Big lads wrestling at its finest. They’re also two guys who don’t mind throwing themselves around like cruiserweights at times.
Lee was a bit more than Ohno wanted to handle to start with, so he took an extended break on the outside. Once he was back in they settled into a ring-shaking back and forth of big blows and even bigger kicks.
A senton from Ohno got him a two count but left him in control of the match. Nothing he threw at Lee was enough to keep him down though.
Another senton backfired when Keith Lee put his knees up. Lee ended up on the apron and dived back into the ring over the ropes into a crossbody, but Ohno only stayed down for two.
Lee’s pounce knocked Ohno halfway across the ring. Lee hoisted Ohno onto his shoulders but Ohno held onto the top rope. Kassius Ohno shoved Lee into the ref. When Keith Lee went to check on him, Ohno delivered a low blow. He followed it up with a rolling elbow in sight of the ref and got the pin.
Matt Riddle ran down to the ring pursued by officials and Ohno made a hasty exit as Riddle arrived.
I really like the attitude Bianca Belair is going into her title match with. She’s not scared, she’s got all the sass, and Baszler is going to have to alter her game plan to deal with her. She’s a very different prospect to Kairi Sane. Baszler doesn’t often have to deal with opponents whose power matches or exceeds her own.
I’m not sure what to make of the direction they’re taking Dominik Dijakovic in. He’s had the hype, but the match this week didn’t mark him up as a top star in waiting. It was a good match, but it just didn’t feel important or decisive.
NXT TakeOver Phoenix is shaping up to be a great show. I’ll preview it properly after the ‘go home’ show next week, hopefully, we’ll have the final match by then.
One last reminder. Voting for the NXT year-end awards is still open.