The preview for tonight’s show tells us to expect Street Profits versus Authors of Pain for the number on contender’s spot at Undisputed ERA’s titles, and Fabian Aichner versus Roderick Strong. We are also to be given a reintroduction to TM61, via a look at their history as a tag team. With TakeOver less than two weeks away, I’d put money on there being a whole bunch of build for that as well.
Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli def Heavy Machinery
Roderick Strong def Fabian Aichner
Lacey Evans def Aliyah
Authors of Pain def Street Profits
After the initial housekeeping, we’re straight into the first match. Back at Full Sail this week.
Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli vs Heavy Machinery
Heavy Machinery have new gear. Someone in the crowd liked Sabbatelli and Moss a bit too much judging by the screaming. During the entrances they showed the build up to this match, where Heavy Machinery got into trouble for touching the car Moss and Sabbatelli own together.
Fun opener. Heavy Machinery are an entertaining team. They did a little tribute to The Bushwackers, and Otis Dozovic did Scotty Too Hotty’s worm. But, while being entertaining, they also manage to do things like catch Tino Sabbatelli in mid-air. Moss and Sabbatelli are exactly as annoying and unpleasant as they are aiming to be, they’re also very good.
It wasn’t their athletic ability or any superior wrestling skills that got Moss and Sabbatelli the win though, it was cheating. The referee failed to notice that Riddick Moss had his feet on the top rope when he pinned Tucker Knight.
Undisputed ERA promo next. TakeOver is their event. Adam Cole is planning to mangle and embarrass Aleister Black, and Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish don’t care who wins the number one contender’s match, they’re going to drop them whoever it is.
Aleister Black’s answer to Cole came in the form of a video package in which Black said he doesn’t require extensions of himself, he was born a weapon. He will show true strength by exploiting Cole’s weakness. I love the imagery and stylisation of Black’s promo videos.
Fabien Aichner vs Roderick Strong
Aichner is looking to climb the ranks of the NXT roster now he’s no longer a cruiserweight. Roderick Strong still seems to be looking for his place within those ranks. They’re both out to prove their worth.
Fast paced and technical, this was a good watch. Let’s be honest, with the depth of talent on the NXT roster, poor matches should be something of a rarity. Not the longest match, but enough to show that both these guys deserve the chance to fight for their place. Aichner needs some character, and Strong needs a direction, but they’re fun to watch.
For the finish, Roderick Strong made Fabian Aichner tap to the Stronghold.
After the match Strong took to the mic and said he feels the same way as Lars Sullivan about having stepped through all the competition, but Sullivan represented a force like no other he has faced, and he wants to destroy it.
The first part of the TM61 package was interesting. It took us through their journey from Australia to NXT, with interview clips, and promo outtakes, to display their personalities. They’ve had interesting careers so far. Part two of the package will be shown next week.
Lacey Evans vs Aliyah
It’s interesting now to see who is being used from the NXT women’s roster. There are several places in the division up for grabs, after all the recent call-ups, and there are spaces in the first women’s Royal Rumble match to fill. Lacey Evans has a good chance on both counts. Aliyah, maybe less so, and I’m not sure why. She’s good, the Full Sail crowd like her, but the character still comes across as confused.
Lacey Evans seems to be a heel now, which means Aliyah is probably a face again, but I’m sure she was a heel last time she was on – see, confused. Anyway, another good, but not long, match. Evans has always looked like she was earmarked for success, and this might be her chance.
They put on a decent match, then Lacey Evans got the win by punching Aliyah out cold.
They gave Lacey Evans a live mic after the match. She trash-talked the locker room, calling them the lowest form of societal trash. She specifically mentioned Ember Moon and Nikki Cross as being on her radar, but she soon disappeared when Shayna Baszler arrived on the stage.
Baszler went to the ring and put the Kirifuda Clutch on Aliyah, until Ember Moon ran down to the ring and saw her off. Moon then challenged Baszler to try that on her, there and then. Baszler said she didn’t have her gear, and she’d do it when it was for Moon’s title. Moon said Baszler can name the time and place. Baszler named Philadelphia, TakeOver.
William Regal immediately confirmed, saying it was against his better judgement, but he’d acquiesce to the champions wishes, and made the match. Baszler versus Moon at TakeOver it is.
Zelina Vega interrupted William Regal’s interview and said that everyone knows Johnny Gargano doesn’t have a chance against Almas at TakeOver, and doesn’t deserve the opportunity. But that Velveteen Dream had a good point last week, he deserved his spot in the tournament, so Gargano should put his number one contender’s spot on the line. William Regal said he would advise Gargano not to do that. Vega replied of course he would, because Regal knows he would lose, but if he wants to see Johnny Gargano in the most humiliating TakeOver match in history, they’re happy to oblige.
No Way Jose did a promo, just to say that 2018 is going to be the year of No Way Jose, and it starts next week.
Johnny Gargano stormed down to the ring. After accepting the Johnny Wrestling chants, and pacing, he said he’d seen the conversation William Regal had with Zelina Vega. He knows what everyone is saying behind his back. They all doubt his ability to beat Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. But Gargano is done being doubted, he’s not a broken man, he is not a loser. This is his time, and no-one is going to stop him. Then he said he’ll put his opportunity on the line against Velveteen Dream next week. Because for the first time, he knows who he is. He’s Johnny Gargano, Johnny Wrestling, and he’s the next NXT champion.
Authors of Pain vs Street Profits
This was short for a main event, less than ten minutes.
Authors of Pain have matured greatly as a team, huge improvements over the last year. Street Profits are faster, and arguably more skilled, but sometimes there is no answer for sheer power.
There were a couple of moments for Street Profits fans to get their hopes up. Montez Ford took a ton of punishment, but Angelo Dawkins finally came in, fired up, and Street Profits even managed a double team on Rezar, which led to a two count.
Sadly, that was the closest they got. Paul Ellering gave the thumbs down, and the end came, as so many of Authors of Pain’s matches have ended. Super-Collider, followed by a Last Chapter on Montez Ford.
This week WWE announced the signing of Ricochet, Candice LeRae and War Machine. NXT is going to be great this year. Ricochet is rumoured to be heading to 205 Live, but I’d be amazed if he didn’t show up on NXT, I hope he does anyway.
I’m a big fan of these getting to know you packages NXT have started doing. It lets you see more of the personalities than interviews or short vignettes can (do love a good vignette though), and it gives you a reason to care. It’s also a huge step forward for WWE. It’s still a fairly recent thing that they will even acknowledge other wrestling promotions exist in anything more than abstract terms, letting their talent talk about where they came from and how they got there is fantastic. It’s a significant step to bridging the gap between casual and knowledgeable fans, and will probably lead to some checking out some indie wrestling as well.
The TakeOver card is shaping up. We now know that Ember Moon will defend against Shayna Baszler, Adam Cole and Aleister Black have an extreme rules match, and Undisputed ERA will face Authors of Pain. We will find out next week whether Johnny Gargano, or Velveteen Dream, will face Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. Ciampa’s return is hanging heavy in the air over NXT now. We should also be getting one more match for the TakeOver card next week unless they’re planning to deviate from the five match format, which seems unlikely. Sullivan versus Strong seems most likely at this point, but we’ll see.
Don’t forget to vote in the NXT year end awards. It’s a nice way to have a say on what worked last year in NXT.