The big preview this week is the number one contender’s match between Hideo Itami and Roderick Strong. This one is intriguing because, unusually, it really does feel like it could go either way. Strong has been built up via the two-part getting to know you video, shown over the last two episodes of NXT, which made his motivations clear. Hideo Itami is just back from injury, looking to put some seriously bad luck to rest, and regain his place in the pecking order of NXT. Also advertised for this week, Aleister Black will be in action. His opponent hasn’t been named, but a win for Black is presented as a foregone conclusion.
Aleister Black def Cezar Bononi
#DIY def Tino Sabbetelli and Riddick Moss
Hideo Itami def Roderick Strong
Aleister Black vs Cezar Bononi
Aleister Black’s unique entrance opened the show tonight. His opponent, Cezar Bononi, might have been taller, and in great shape, but a non-name wasn’t going to be the first to beat someone being built as strong as they’re building Black. He got a tiny bit of offence in during the less than two minute match, but there’s a limit to how much anyone can do in that time.
Aleister Black won with the Black Mass.
I’m a huge fan of Aleister Black, and I appreciate they’re familiarising the NXT crowds with him right now, but this is a guy who is capable of putting on great matches of a decent length. I know knocking out an opponent in under two minutes makes him look unstoppable, but surely actually getting a chance to show how good he is would be more impressive.
Next up was a recap of the women’s battle royal from last week, including William Regal telling Asuka she will have to face Nikki Cross, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon. We were then officially informed that Ember Moon will not be able to compete in the TakeOver match due to a grade one shoulder sprain. She is expected to be out for four to five weeks. In a soundbite interview, Moon said she’s out of that match, but when she comes back she’ll be better than ever.
A quick ad for the main event of the night formed the bridge between segments.
Commentary announced the UK Championship match for TakeOver, and the fact Pete Dunne had won the opportunity to challenge for the title. Then they showed a short intro video for Dunne. I love seeing the UK guys getting airtime on NXT,
There was another getting to know you style video next, this time for Ruby Riot. Not as in-depth as the Roderick Strong package, but interesting nonetheless. She talked about her tattoos, and the sacrifices she’s made to get where she is. Her passion for wrestling is obvious which should give the crowds reason enough to invest in her.
For some reason NXT decided a sit down interview with Nikki Cross was a good idea. She slapped away the technician trying to mic her up, then grabbed him from behind and took the mic off him. Instead of answering questions Cross called repeatedly for Ruby Riot and Asuka and her championship. Bizarre, but strangely effective.
Drew McIntyre was asked backstage what he thought of the number one contender’s match. He said it was going to be a great match. He was a little disappointed to not be included, but he’s learned that if something isn’t happening for you, you have to make it happen. At that point, Wesley Blake appeared and said McIntyre didn’t deserve a second chance, he did. Blake suggested that McIntyre just skip the failed second chance and leave again. Guess we’ll be seeing those two in a match soon then.
The teaser promo for The Velveteen Dream formed the next break between segments.
#DIY vs Tino Sabbetelli and Riddick Moss
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano got some mic time in-ring to say they want the fair one on one rematch against Authors of Pain that they’ve never had. The line starts behind DIY. They were interrupted by Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbetelli who said that now they’ve arrived it starts behind them. Ciampa said Moss and Sabbatelli just crossed the line, and threw them out of the ring. Then the match started.
Moss and Sabbatelli isolated Tommaso Ciampa at the start of the match, and showed some good tag team skills, isolating him and using plenty of quick tags and double teaming to inflict punishment. But DIY aren’t ex-champions by chance. Their opponents might have the size advantage, but both Ciampa and Gargano are highly skilled competitors. Ciampa fought back and tagged in Johnny Gargano and from there it was all #DIY.
After a display of why they’re so highly regarded, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa hit their double team finisher (it’s been suggested it may be called meet in the middle, but I’m trying to find confirmation) on Riddick Moss for the win.
William Regal came out to the stage and announced that #DIY will face Authors of Pain at TakeOver Chicago. He was interrupted by Paul Ellering, with Authors of Pain behind him. Ellering said that Authors of Pain will end #DIY’s careers, and their blood will be on Regal’s hands. William Regal asked him if he wanted to hear the stipulation for the match, then announced it will be a ladder match.
Kassius Ohno was interviewed backstage about missing out on the championship. He said he when you fall down you can stay down or you can get back up, and that what he does, he gets back up. The interview was crashed by Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, who asked why he came back. Ohno said Almas squanders his talent and is only interested in the post-match celebrations, then challenged him to a match next week. The match was immediately confirmed.
After an ad for the UK Championship match at TakeOver, and the little intro video for Tyler Bate that we’ve seen before, with just a frame or two of new footage I think, it was time for the main event.
Roderick Strong vs Hideo Itami
Weirdly timed pre-match promo’s started this one. Strong was asked what his mindset was, and just about managed to say that this is why he’s here before his music kicked in. Itami said he respects Roderick Strong but he’s going to TakeOver Chicago and Strong is going to sleep.
This was a main event worthy of the name. Strong had the best of the early part of the match, but it by no means looked decisive. The impression throughout was of two evenly matched competitors fighting for something important to both of them. They both absorbed a huge amount of punishment, and they both threw out their most effective moves.
Note: The too sweet on every two count needs to die now please. It’s stupid and is just the crowd popping for themselves. It’s more than a bit disrespectful to the people in the ring. Stop it and watch the wrestling.
They gave their all, but the finish had to come eventually. Itami landed a huge kick to the head in the corner, followed up by the double stomp into the corner, to set up the GTS. It looked for a moment like it wasn’t going to be enough. A disoriented looking Roderick Strong staggered to his feet and slapped Itami.
As Strong went to strike him again, Hideo Itami finally hoisted him onto his shoulders and hit the Go To Sleep for the win.
The show ended on a show of respect between the two. The perfect way to finish a match like that.
Not the most packed episode of NXT tonight, but functional, and the main event was superb. I’m over seeing Aleister Black squashing guys now, I want to see him wrestle. He’s easily among the best they’ve got on the NXT roster, so hopefully he’ll get a decent TakeOver opponent and we can watch him in a match that lasts longer than a couple of minutes.
Disappointing that there was no women’s division match this week. There were plenty of potential matches created from the battle royal last week, I’m sure one could have been fitted in. That said, I’m glad to see the character development for Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross, I guess you can’t have everything in a one hour show. More and more these days, as the roster gets increasingly impressive, I think NXT should be given an extra half hour a week.
On the subject of the main event, I think Itami versus Roode will probably be the better match of the two possibilities. It doesn’t look like Roderick Strong is being put on the back burner though. WWE.com posted this video shortly after NXT aired, showing Strong being attacked by SAnitY after his match and him staggering backstage to tell William Regal that he wants them. With Tye Dillinger now on SmackDown, it will be interesting to see if he gets anyone to help him.