NXT looks quietly brilliant tonight. It’s an NXT on tour episode, from San Jose, California, and there are four announced matches, with Keith Lee versus Lars Sullivan headlining. EC3 faces Marcel Barthel, which should be great, as should Mia Yim versus Vanessa Borne and The Mighty versus Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan.
Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan def. The Mighty
EC3 def. Marcel Barthel
Mia Yim def. Vanessa Borne
Lars Sullivan def. Keith Lee
Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan vs The Mighty
Tag team action to kick the show off and the change in location does give the show a different feel. Faced paced and enjoyable start to the show. Both these teams are working their way back towards the title picture, and it shows.
Burch and Lorcan had the best of the early going and even had a shot at a double submission, but Miller got to the ropes.
The Mighty took control via a distraction and isolated Oney Lorcan for a time with fast tags and double teams. Eventually, Lorcan got to Burch and the pace of the match doubled.
Nick Miller saved his partner from a double team finisher and shoved Lorcan into Burch before tackling Burch out of the ring.
Oney Lorcan knocked Shane Thorne off the apron after a massive suplex. He landed right next to Miller and Lorcan took them both out with the strangest looking dive over the top rope I’ve seen in a long while. I don’t know if he caught his foot or it was meant to look like that, but credit to Thorne and Miller for not letting him land on his head.
The ending was great. The Mighty were about to deliver a double team finisher to Lorcan, Burch barrelled into the three of them and in the pile of bodies, Loran pinned Miller.
The Mighty attacked Burch and Lorcan after the match, to a rousing, ‘you still suck’, chant from the crowd.
We got a recap of the attack on EC3 by Undisputed ERA last month, Bobby Fish’s chair shot to EC3’s knee in particular, which put EC3 out of action. It was just to highlight the fact his match tonight is his first match back.
A recap of Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler’s TakeOver match led into an interview with Kairi Sane, Io Shirai, and Dakota Kai. Sane was asked if she got her shoulder up before the three count. Sane said the referee’s call is final but she’s not finished with Shayna. Dakota Kai and Io Shirai were asked why they helped Sane. Kai said her history with Baszler is not secret, she doesn’t like her. And they’re not going to take the fact she now has Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir helping her. Shirai said Kairi Sane is her best friend and she’ll protect her. Sane said yes, they want all three.
Looks like Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir are getting a tv match.
EC3 vs Marcel Barthel
This should have been amazing, it was just good. Barthel (previously known as Axel Dieter Jr) is great, but has hardly appeared since he arrived at NXT. I was a bit concerned they were going to hand him to EC3 to squash, but that wasn’t the case. I mean, he still lost, but it was a good match.
The first part of the match found them relatively equal. Barthel got the upper hand via a quick kick to EC3’s head in the corner. Sadly, there seems to be a bit of ‘he’s a heel because he’s not from here’ going on. I guess it works in his favour, but it’s the cheapest of cheap.
Predictably, as it was EC3’s return match. He fought back into it and paused to get the crowd to remind him what his name was before he finished Marcel Barthel with the One-Percenter.
After the match, he grabbed a mic and addressed Bobby Fish. He said Fish had tried to take him out, but he didn’t finish the job. He’d allow the rest of Undisputed ERA to lick their wounds after WarGames, but he’s coming for Fish in ways he cannot comprehend. It’s not about an eye for an eye of a leg for a leg, he’s coming for his head, his knees and everything in between.
Big hype package for Dijakovic next (Donovan Dijak/Chris Dijak as was). He’s been used a couple of times on NXT episodes and is a regular on the tours. He’s also one of my favourite wrestlers so I’m hoping this is a great big relaunch on his way to becoming a regular fixture on episodes.
There was an attempt to interview Candice LeRae about the ‘new side of her’ seen against Nikki Cross and whether it was a consequence of everything going on with her husband. LeRae just kept walking.
Mia Yim vs Vanessa Borne
Ok, I’ll say it, the ‘Head Baddie in Charge’ tag that is being used for Yim is just bad. There’s no way for it to not sound awkward and forced. Vanessa Borne is another one like Aliyah, she seems to have settled on a character now, but she hasn’t really made an impact around it. I know she’s supposed to be beautiful and arrogant, but most of the women in the locker room fall into one or both of those categories, it doesn’t tell me who she is or what she’s about.
Borne took Yim’s handshake but slapped her across the face at the same time. Yim almost immediately made her pay for that. Bore took control after pulling the ring skirt into the ring and shoving her thumb in Yim’s eye while the ref was getting rid of it.
It turned into a good match after that. But Mia Yim had just too much for Borne to cope with. She finished Borne with her Seoul Food finisher.
War Raiders were apparently hurt during WarGames. No injuries were declared, but they’re being described as ‘banged up’, with updates to follow shortly.
Tommaso Ciampa had another promo slot from his backstage hidey-hole. He said before he left he told us that when he returned he would be the most dangerous SOB in this company. He told us he only needed one opportunity to win the NXT Championship. And he told us that he is the greatest sports entertainer of all time
When his music hits next week and he comes to the ring, he expects the entire NXT universe to do one simple thing. Follow his lead.
Keith Lee vs Lars Sullivan
There aren’t many matches more deserving of the title, battle of the big lads. When they stood nose to nose there really isn’t much difference in height and Lee is bigger.
They spent the first few moments trying to knock each other over, with no success. Lee rebounded off the ropes and leapt up, and Sullivan caught him. Not too many people who have done that.
A bit of trash talk fired Lee back up and the back and forth began. Sullivan kicked out of the crossbody at one and kicked Lee in the face as he came over the ropes at him. Keith Lee kicked out a Sullivan pin at one after being thrown across the ring, and out at two after a diving headbutt.
Lee spent way too long in a sleeper/chokehold but gave himself a breather when he dodged Sullivan’s charge into the corner and sent him sprawling into the ringpost.
Lee got a two count by launching himself over the ropes. They punched it out a bit and Lee tried to slap the nipples off Sullivan’s chest. By the look on Sullivan’s face, he almost succeeded.
Keith Lee pounced Sullivan out of the ring and followed up over the top rope. He got Sullivan back in the ring, but it was only worth two.
Keith Lee missed the moonsault and Lars Sullivan hit the Freak Accident for the win.
It’s a low-pressure time for NXT at the moment. There isn’t another TakeOver until Royal Rumble weekend, so they’ve got time to let some of their incredible roster out to play. I was sad to see Marcel Barthel in another losing effort, I wanted him to come in with momentum. I’m still optimistic for Dijakovic though.
Overall, this was a great episode, but it does make you think about the depth of the NXT roster. Not one of the people wrestling tonight were even in the conversation for TakeOver and NXT could feasibly do another half a dozen shows without repeating superstars or using any of their main event players. On the one hand, it’s sad to not get to see favourites regularly enough, but on the other, it’s a pretty great time to be watching NXT.