This week’s main event is an NXT Championship match. Bobby Roode will defend his title against Roderick Strong. After the women’s championship match last week, they have a lot to live up to. Also pre-advertised it the tag match set up by SAnitY’s attack last week. Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain will face Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami.
SAnitY (Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain) def Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami
Bobby Roode (C) def Roderick Strong – NXT Championship match
Before the opening match, we got a quick spiel about the NXT Championship main event, and a shot of Roderick Strong arriving at the venue
Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami vs Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain (of SAnitY)
Wolfe and Dain arrived alone. I expected Nikki Cross to be with them, but I guess it was too soon after the insane last woman standing match.
Ohno and Itami started well. If they’d stuck to their initial strategy, it would have been a quick match and it would have gone in their favour. They had Wolfe trapped in their corner and he was buckling under a barrage of kicks. They didn’t stick with that though, Hideo Itami went his own way, and was soon under pressure from Wolfe and Dain.
Itami took the majority of the punishment in the match. At one point he tried to tag in Ohno, but Ohno wasn’t there, he was squaring up to Wolfe on the outside. He had a couple of opportunities to tag out after that, but chose not to. That petulance cost them the match.
Itami delivered the GTS to Wolfe, but Dain had already been tagged in, and hit Itami with a huge cross-body. That was enough to keep Itami down for the three count.
Ember Moon was asked if she’s ready to take on Asuka again. She said coming back from injury was never easy but she’s been taking advantage of every resource to get ready for another shot. Ruby Riot butted in to say it was her turn to get a shot at Asuka. When she walked away, Moon said she will take on anyone who is in her war path to Asuka.
Looks like it will be Ember Moon vs Ruby Riot for the number one contender’s spot.
We got a recap of last week’s last woman standing match next followed by a look at this tweet, saying Asuka will only come back when there is a worthy opponent.
We were shown a promo package for Drew McIntyre, before an interview where he was asked for his thoughts on the upcoming Roode vs Strong main event. He said it will be a fantastic match, but the next time they discuss a title match it won’t be someone else getting the shot. Previous NXT champions have ended up being at the very top of the business, and that’s why he chose NXT, to join that list. It doesn’t matter who he ends up challenging, all roads lead to him as NXT champion.
Oh NXT, why must you make us relive the pain. Next up was a recap of Tommaso Ciampa’s attack on Johnny Gargano at TakeOver Chicago. There was reason behind the cruelty of making us relive that moment though. It was to advertise an appearance by Johnny Gargano on next week’s episode.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay up next in an interview. They were upset because Billie Kay’s birthday wasn’t properly celebrated. In the background Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas was seen arguing with a woman. He was asked who she was, but all he said was she’s loco. It will be interesting to see what NXT plans to do with this storyline, it’d be good to see them use the woman in question (Thea Trinidad) in some capacity.
Mae Young Classic news next. We got the briefest of highlights of Bianca Belair (sp) qualifying against Aliyah.
Bobby Roode (C) vs Roderick Strong – NXT Championship match
I feel like I should have been more hyped about this match, there has certainly been enough promotional stuff for it, and they’ve shown it repeatedly. Unfortunately, I have found Roode to be quite dull as champion. I get that he’s an extremely arrogant heel, and that he’s very good at what he does, but I’m just not feeling it. And it’s rare, but not impossible, for the title to change hands outside of a TakeOver match, rare enough that it’s tough to get excited over the possibility. That said, Roderick Strong is also very good, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be an excellent main event.
In the pre-match interviews, Strong said victory was the only thing on his mind. Roode said Roderick Strong has been living a fairytale, but tonight he’ll stand across the ring from his reality, and that reality is simply… cue Roode’s music.
In true plucky underdog style, Strong had his mum and fiancé at ringside cheering him on. And in true underdog style the match started with Roode attempting to establish dominance after the briefest of back and forth.
They told a decent story, with Roode returning to work Roderick Strong’s leg throughout the match, and Strong focusing on Roode’s back. Strong showed how much the shot meant to him, making frequent and spirited fight backs, but Roode always seemed to have just a little bit more. A couple of near falls added excitement, and the beginnings of belief that a change might be possible. He even kicked out after a Glorious DDT.
There was a moment when it looked like Roderick Strong had done it. He pinned Bobby Roode for the three count, the announcer started to say, ‘and new’, and Strong started to celebrate. Unfortunately, Roode’s foot was under the bottom rope so the pin didn’t count.
While the ref was explaining what had happened to the ringside officials, Roode attacked Strong and sent him crashing into the barrier in front of his family. He followed him to the outside and delivered a Glorious DDT right in front of Strong’s mum and fiancé.
Roode pulled Strong back into the ring, delivered another Glorious DDT, and got the pin to retain the NXT Championship.
Not my favourite way to end a match, but presumably it was done to keep the rivalry alive for a bit longer. With all the talent waiting for a shot at the NXT title, that’s not one of my favourite decisions either. I’d much rather see Ohno, Black, or McIntyre chasing the title at this stage. But that may just be me. It was a very good main event match.
All in all, this wasn’t one of the strongest episodes of NXT. The two matches we were given were good, but there were only two, and everything else was very fragmented.
It’s good that the Mae Young Classic is getting mentioned on NXT, and showing the qualifiers is a good move too. But there is no excuse to not show the entire qualifier, especially when there was no other women’s match on the show.
Still, one less exciting episode does not a slump make. I’m sure NXT will be back to its best again next week.