Two things pre-advertised for tonight’s episode. We finally get to hear from Johnny Gargano about being betrayed and beaten by Tommaso Ciampa. With Ciampa now confirmed to be undergoing surgery for injuries, with a long recovery time expected, it will be interesting to see how they plan to play out the storyline going forward. And, for the third week running, the main event will be a title match. Authors of Pain will be defending their NXT Tag Team Championships against Heavy Machinery. This will be, arguably, the first time Authors of Pain encounter a team who can come close to matching them for power. Should be a good match.
Aleister Black def Bobby Fish
Vanessa Borne def Jayme Hachey – Mae Young Classic Qualifier
Authors of Pain (C) def Heavy Machinery – NXT Tag Team Championship match
The show opened with a recap of the breakup of #DIY, including bits of Tommaso Ciampa’s explanatory speech, in preparation for Johnny Gargano’s appearance later.
Roderick Strong was shown with his fiancé and mother after last week’s loss to Bobby Roode, before we were told we might be hearing from Roode later in the show. Then we were into the first match of the night.
Aleister Black vs Bobby Fish
I don’t know as much about Bobby Fish as I should. I know he’s a 15 year veteran who has worked all over the world, including for New Japan and Ring of Honor. And I now know he can have a great match with Aleister Black.
I love it when NXT becomes, WWE does the indies, and this was a good example of why. It was a really intricate match. Both guys showed of their martial arts backgrounds, and their understanding of the psychology that can make a good match great. Obviously, there were plenty of teeth rattling kicks and strikes in there too. It was relatively long for an NXT match as well, which gave it plenty of time to develop. Personally, I could have watched it for the whole hour.
I was worried watching it. I’m a massive fan of Aleister Black, and I didn’t want to see him take his first loss on NXT to a debuting star. I needn’t have worried. The Black Mass claimed another victim.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Bobby Fish in NXT now. And, as ever, I hope WWE realise very quickly how much star power Aleister Black really has. His run since debuting seems to suggest they do, but time will tell.
Next up we saw a confrontation between Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno. Itami said they lost their match last week because of Ohno. Kassius Ohno said all Itami has done since Chicago is blame other people and he needs to take responsibility. He’s tried to get through to him but he’s done. Ohno is about action and he’s done talking.
We apparently have a new tag team coming soon. They’re called Street Prophets and their promo video showed them apparently wandering round the performance centre, and setting the alarms off.
The Velveteen Dream refused another interview due to inappropriate setting. Eventually he’ll have to answer a question, maybe they need to ask him what setting he’d prefer.
Vanessa Borne vs Jayme Hachey – Mae Young Classic qualifier
If you think Vanessa Borne looks familiar, it’s because she previously appeared as Danielle Kamela. She took a loss to Peyton Royce, and beat Nikki Cross (by referee’s decision reversal) late last year. Jayme Hachey is also known as Jayme Jameson, has eight years’ experience, and has worked for a number of independent promotions including Shine.
This was a bit blink and you’ll miss it. The entire match was under three minutes. Not bad, both women look decent, but you can’t gather much in the way of data from a match that short.
Vanessa Borne got the win to qualify for the Mae Young Classic.
Video footage of Drew McIntyre being attacked by SAnitY in the car park last week was shown next, before it cut away to William Regal talking to Bobby Roode in his office. He told him the Drew McIntyre and Killian Dain are both undefeated and eyeing the title. Roode said understands Regal is trying to find his next opponent, and that the NXT universe pays good money to see the champ. But he thought that a better match would be to put the two undefeated contenders against each other, although Roode is confident he could beat either on any given day.
Regal suggested Roode just wanted to see his potential opponents soften each other up. Then he set the match. He made it a number one contender’s match, with the winner to face Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship at TakeOver Brooklyn. Bobby Roode looked less than impressed as he walked away.
Johnny Gargano next. He looked to be taking in the adoration of the crowd as he slowly made his way to the ring. The Johnny Wrestling chants started as soon as he got there. The first thing he said is he’d missed that. I believe him. You can’t look at Gargano without recognising that he loves what he does.
He said he used to get excited by the #DIY music because it meant the crowd were going to see something special. But they all saw what happened at TakeOver Chicago and no-one, including Gargano, saw it coming. He never thought Ciampa would turn on him. He’s tried to rationalise it, but he doesn’t understand and never will.
However, he’s not dwelling on the past, he’s looking to the future. You can’t control what happens, only your reactions to it. He’s back and needs to get back to doing what he loves. He wants a match at TakeOver Brooklyn. He needs to be Johnny Gargano again, and more importantly he needs to be Johnny Wrestling. His new theme played him out.
Two matches confirmed for next week. Drew McIntyre versus Killian Dain, and Ember Moon versus Ruby Riot.
Authors of Pain vs Heavy Machinery – NXT Tag Team Championship match
I’ve been looking forward to this one. It’s about time Authors of Pain had some proper big lads to fight. I hope they’ve reinforced the ring.
Big lads wrestling is definitely the right tag for this. If you wanted to see intricate manoeuvres, speed, and high flying, this was not the match for you. But if you like big lads smacking each other around a bit you’ve found a prime example.
Authors of Pain have definitely matured as a tag team since they became champions. There was a lot of solid teamwork going on. There was a lot of solid everything. No fancy moves in sight, just well executed power and strength moves, but that’s all it needs. Haevy Machinery got some decent offence in, and a pin attempt or two but, for the third week in a row, no titles were changing hands tonight.
The Last Chapter finished Otis Dozovic while Tucker Knight was on the outside.
While Authors of Pain were celebrating SAnitY appeared on stage (minus Eric Young) and smiled towards the ring while pages from a book rained down from above. Commentary speculated that they were pages from AoP’s book of dominance. Whatever they were, Alexander Wolfe was eating them. Interesting end to the show.
Strong episode this week. For me, the first match was the best element, but the main event was great too. I’m pleased they showed the entire Mae Young Classic qualifying match this week, it’s a shame it was such a short one. I appreciate the show is time limited, but it would be nice to see a little more from the women WWE presumably want us to invest in during the tournament.
It was good to see Aleister Black get another highly skilled opponent, and still come out on top. I’d love to see Black’s main roster call up happen sooner rather than later, but only if they can use him properly. There have been too many transitions over the last year or so that just haven’t worked.
Next week looks like another strong episode. Drew McIntyre versus Killian Dain should be excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing Ember Moon versus Ruby Riot. We’ll have to wait and see how they fill the rest of the hour.