Tonight’s episode of NXT is set to be absolutely crammed full. Aleister Black and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas have a contract signing for their TakeOver match for the NXT Championship. We have a UK Championship match between Pete Dunne and Adam Cole. There are two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first-round matches – Sanity versus Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss, and Heavy machinery versus Street Profits. Dakota Kai is set to take on Lacey Evans. And Tommaso Ciampa is going to have another go at talking to the NXT Universe, if they’ll stop booing and chanting long enough for him to speak.
SAnitY def Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
Dakota Kai def Lacey Evans
Street Profits def Heavy Machinery
Pete Dunne def Adam Cole (DQ)
Not expecting any of tonight’s matches to be particularly long, not with four matches, a contract signing, and a few minutes of booing Ciampa in the card. The show kicked off with one of the two Dusty Classic first-round matches.
SAnitY vs Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match
Clash of styles seems to sum up both tonight’s tag team matches. Sabbatelli and Moss with their polished athleticism, and SAnitY with their chaotic scrap it out style.
It worked really well. Alexander Wolfe took a lot of punishment in the first half of the match, until he ducked out of the way of a forearm and Riddick Moss accidentally knocked Sabbatelli off the apron. That gave him the chance to tag in Eric Young who staged SAnitY’s comeback.
Nikki Cross made her presence felt by launching herself off the apron onto Riddick Moss, leaving Sabbatelli without backup for the SAnitY’s finisher.
Wolfe pinned Sabbatelli to put SAnitY through to the next round
Tommaso Ciampa was out try again to talk to the NXT crowd having failed last week. Once again, the arena was filled with Johnny Gargano logo signs, and chants of Johnny Wrestling rang out. Every time Ciampa brought the mic to his face the boos started, and when he dropped it on the canvas everyone cheered. He wandered around starting out audience members amid the chants and boos, then the audience sang him out with Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye.
Lacey Evans vs Dakota Kai
After the initial exchange, Lacey Evans started the match by working over Dakota Kai’s arm which has only just healed from Shayna Baszler’s attack – Kai still has kineseo tape on it. Dakota Kai twisted out of Evans’ grasp and rolled her up for the pin. The entire match was less than a minute in length.
After the ‘match’ Shayna Baszler came out and advanced menacingly on Kai. Ember Moon appeared before she could do anything, with a mic. Moon said it doesn’t matter if she has one arm or two. Baszler may have started this, but she will finish it at TakeOver New Orleans. Then they had a brawl that lasted longer than the actual women’s division match on the card. Dakota Kai got the chance to help out Ember Moon when Baszler had her caught in the ropes, and that allowed Moon to deliver the Eclipse.
Street Profits vs Heavy Machinery – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match
Speed versus power for this one. After being bounced around a bit, Montez Ford tried to win favour with Otis Dozovic by giving his cup to drink from. It worked, for a few second anyway.
Heavy Machinery used Montez Ford as a battering ram on Angelo Dawkins, and generally overpowered the Street Profits until Dawkins was able to put some of his speed to good use.
As Heavy Machinery went for the Compactor on Dawkins, Ford pulled to top rope down on Tucker Knight and sent him sprawling out of the ring. Dawkins DDT’d Dozovic then Montez Ford hit a splash and pinned Otis Dozovic to advance to round two.
Pete Dunne (C) vs Adam Cole – WWE UK Championship match
Guess the contract signing is closing out the show then, which obviously means shenanigans. Pete Dunne must have been wishing he still had some friends when he walked down to the ring and saw all of Undisputed ERA there.
Dunne went outside early on and had a stare-down with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. It gave Cole the opportunity to take control of the match, but he didn’t keep it for long.
Undisputed ERA got up on the apron and distracted Dunne when he was on the top turnbuckle, and completely dominating the match. Cole knocked him backwards and hung him up on the ropes. But, again, the advantage didn’t last long. Pete Dunne was simply the better man for the majority of the match.
Cole kept throwing his best shots at Dunne, and Dunne kept getting up. Cole started trash talking and, as he told Pete Dunne he wasn’t on his level, Dunne forearmed him halfway across the ring into a corner. It looked for a moment like Cole might pull off an upset, when he kicked Dunne out of the air, but he only got two.
Dunne had to get out of the ring to deal with Undisputed ERA, they didn’t touch him so it was ok. When he got back into the ring Cole got another near fall on him. The crowd started to chant fight forever, but Fish and O’Reilly had seen enough. They entered the ring when Dunne went for the Bitter End and started the beatdown. Cole was disqualified, and the three on one beating commenced in earnest.
Roderick Strong ran down to save Dunne, and took quite a kicking himself. In the end, Strong and Dunne worked together to get The Undisputed ERA out of the ring. Once the ring was cleared, he offered Pete Dunne a handshake. Dunne just looked at him, gave him a shoulder shove and sneered, that’s practically affectionate from Pete Dunne.
William Regal brought out Aleister Black out to the ring but when he introduced Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas Zelina Vega came out alone. She said Almas isn’t here, but she is. If he was there he’d destroy Black until there was nothing left. She got very irate that Black seemed more interested in inspecting the table than listening to her tell him Almas was going to humiliate him at TakeOver.
When he got tired of her screaming at him to listen, Aleister Black put his hand in front of Vega’s face. He handed her the contract, moved the table to the side of the ring, sat down and said, ‘well at least now we’re on the same level’. She carried on talking about how Almas was going to humiliate him and destroy him. She signed the contract and gave it to Black.
He questioned whether Almas was absent because he would humiliate him, or whether she was scared he was going to come up a little short, like her (he liked the short jokes about Vega).
Zelina Vega slapped him and he responded by smiling at her, signing, and calmly handing the contract back to William Regal before leaving the ring. He paused at ringside and said he’s happy Vega came alone, because he didn’t. Candice LeRae came tearing out and demolished Zelina Vega. She chased her round the ring and onto the announce table, pounding on her whenever she got hold of her, then got her back in the ring and laid her out.
The show closed out with Black and LeRae on the stage looking at Vega still flat out in the ring.
I don’t want to be that person who goes on and on about the poor treatment of the women’s division. Apart from anything else, I’ve got a weekly column for that sort of thing (Women of the WWE, check it out on Sunday nights). But I thought Kai and Evans got badly short-changed tonight. It’s not a good build of the women’s division if it only promotes a fraction of the roster. However, if they can build something with LeRae and Vega, I might be prepared to forgive them a bit. It’s interesting putting her with Aleister Black, although a touch of context might be nice, but I want to see her in the ring being given a chance to shine.
This felt like an episode that was rushed through, but I guess that’s unavoidable considering the time restrictions. TakeOver New Orleans is shaping up nicely. The stuff with Ciampa is interesting, although I hope they don’t string this bit out too long before moving it on. And the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is looing good, but, again I would have liked to see those matches get longer. All in all, decent enough, but too rushed to be spectacular.