Exciting episode on the cards tonight. First, Mauro Ranallo joins the NXT commentary team as of tonight. I know Ranallo has a tendency to divide viewers with his distinctive style, but I really enjoy his commentary, and I think he’s a fantastic fit for NXT. Commentary has lost something since the departure of Corey Graves. It hasn’t been terrible, but it just hasn’t been the same. I believe Mauro Ranallo will fix that. Second, WWE.com have teased Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami potentially starting a proper feud. Finally, and most importantly, the main event of the night will be Asuka and Nikki Cross in a last woman standing match, for the NXT Women’s Championship.
The Velveteen Dream def Hoho Lun
Hideo Itami def Oney Lorcan
Asuka def Nikki Cross – to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
The Velveteen Dream vs Hoho Lun
The signing of Hoho Lun was a big deal last year when he was brought in for the cruiserweight classic. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that much from him since. The Velveteen Dream has looked dominant since debuting this persona, but has yet to be fully tested.
Short match to start things off, not a quite a squash, Lun did get a little offence in at the beginning. It was largely ineffective though, and very short-lived. The Velveteen Dream hit a jackhammer and the Purple Rainmaker to add another win to his record.
Asuka was being interviewed in the car as she arrived for the show. She was just telling the interviewer she was confident about the match when there was a thud from the front of the car. That turned out to be Nikki Cross, on the bonnet. Asuka let out a torrent of Japanese and got out of the car as security dragged Cross away kicking and screaming. Asuka was then shown warming up for the match.
Recap of Hideo Itami vs Oney Lorcan from a couple of weeks ago, where Itami went over the top with the GTS’, which led to the announcement that they will have a rematch tonight.
In William Regal’s office he announced that Heavy Machinery have earned a shot at Authors of Pain’s titles. This will take place in two weeks. After Heavy Machinery left, William Regal advised Paul Ellering and the Authors to get well prepared for the match, as Heavy Machinery are formidable opponents.
Hideo Itami vs Oney Lorcan
This might have been the shortest rematch in NXT history. Lorcan went straight for Itami and caught him with an elbow, or a forearm, or both. When they broke apart, Itami’s nose was pouring blood, and the match was stopped so he could go for medical attention.
Next up, we got an extended advert for next week’s main event, where Bobby Roode will defend his NXT Championship against Roderick Strong. The advert was in video package form including footage from Strong’s excellent video story, and highlights of the interactions between Roode and Strong from the last couple of weeks. I hope the match lives up to the amount of hype it’s being given. I haven’t found Roode the most exciting of champions.
Ok, so Itami and Lorcan had another go after the promo for next week. Itami had padding up his nose to stem the blood, which mostly worked, and some obvious swelling. This time, he was the early aggressor. Lorcan fought back hard, and Itami briefly slumped into the corner. While the ref was checking on him, he kicked out and caught Lorcan on the knee, apparently doing some damage.
The knee gave out as Oney Lorcan fought out of the set up for the GTS and he crumpled to the ground. That was all the opening that Itami needed.He hit the Go To Sleep and got the win.
After the match Itami called Kassius Ohno out to the ring. Ohno arrived, but before anyone said anything Nikki Cross appeared, followed by Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain. Wolfe and Dain attacked Ohno and Itami, clearing them out of the ring so Wolfe could take to the mic. He said that they had to end the lies of all the forced friendships, support and pleasantries with chaos. Eric Young is apparently working on a master plan, and the first note of it was to be Nikki Cross taking the title from Asuka.
Nikki Cross then waved her stablemates away and waited for Asuka to arrive for their match.
During the main event, it was announced that Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami will team up next week to face Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain.
Asuka (C) vs Nikki Cross – Last woman standing match for the NXT Women’s Championship.
You always know you’re in for something a bit special when the main event of the evening starts with 25 minutes left of the show. This one didn’t let us down. We all know how wrestling works, but if someone told you these two had agreed to go out and kick seven bells out of each other, you’d find it hard to argue.
It didn’t take long for foreign objects to come into play. Nikki Cross caught Asuka up in the ring apron, and used the opportunity to start dragging chairs from under the ring. Asuka added to them shortly after, and they made good use of them. They threw each other into the steel stairs, and Nikki Cross ended up being kicked around while wearing a metal bin for a time. A few recognisable wrestling moves sneaked in, but it really wasn’t that kind of match.
This match was never going to stay in, or even around, the ring. They brawled up the ramp. Asuka forearmed Cross off the top of the ramp, then hit her with a hip attack. Now in front of the announce desk, Cross hit a spinning neckbreaker which kept Asuka down for a nine count, then they found a table and ladder to play with.
Nikki Cross laid Asuka on the table and climbed the ladder. Asuka climbed the other side, and the commentary team scarpered. They were right to. Asuka suplexed Nikki Cross from the top of the ladder through the announce desk. They were both down and looking like it might go to a double count out. Asuka made it to her feet at nine, albeit very briefly, Cross was still down when the show went off air. Both women had huge smiles as the show concluded. Asuka earned hers through victory, Nikki Cross’ might have been a character quirk, but I hope they were smiling because they knew they’d nailed it.
I feel like I say, ‘what a main event’, a lot at the moment, but tonight really deserves the exclamation. In a week where the women’s divisions have main evented all three weekly shows NXT still managed to steal the show. Sadly, there isn’t really anywhere for Nikki Cross and Asuka to go after this, by rights they should be finished. I can’t wait to see where the storylines take them both next. Mauro Ranallo is a perfect fit for NXT. His brand of commentary works so well with the style of the show, I hope it’s a long-lasting relationship.
Next week looks like it’s going to be another good show. We already have an NXT Championship match, and an intriguing tag match announced. Ohno and Itami’s recent interactions haven’t all been peaceful, and we have no idea what Itami was going to say tonight. It will be interesting to see if they can withstand the teamwork of SAnitY without turning on each other. I look forward to finding out.