Pretty much the whole of this week’s show was announced last week. Kassius Ohno versus Hideo Itami in a no disqualification match is the main event of the evening. Asuka will be making an appearance to talk about her future (despite the fact the outcome of this has been widely announced and discussed already, it will be interesting to hear her reasoning). Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas has an opportunity to redeem himself against Cezar Bononi. And Lars Sullivan will be in a three on one handicap match, William Regal’s punishment for Sullivan continually beating up tag team partners. With all that pre-announced, I can’t imagine that there will be much time left over for anything else, it would be nice if they fitted in a women’s division match though.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas def Cezar Bononi
Lars Sullivan def Jake James, Alfred Watkins, & Ricky Martinez
Sonya Deville def Zeda
Kassius Ohno def Hideo Itami
The show opened with a recap of the events leading up to tonight’s main event between Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami. Then, after a quick run-down of what to expect in this episode, we were into the first match.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Cezar Bononi
Zelina Vega joined commentary for the match. She explained that she met Almas about seven years ago, and he brought her in to help him with his career. When Percy Watson asked if there was anything more than a professional relationship, she told him to mind his business.
Unfortunately having her on commentary detracted from the in-ring action, as it so often does. The match was short and sweet. Good, but you’d expect nothing else from Almas. He went aggressively for Bononi from the outset, clearly determined to wipe the memory of losing to him in their last match. Bononi fought back, but Almas under Vega’s guidance is a different creature.
To wrap things up, Vega screamed at him to finish Bononi, and Almas did as he was told.
Recap of the end of last week’s episode next, with Fish, O’Reilly and Cole attacking Drew McIntyre on the stage. This led to the following statement from William Regal.
‘Based on what we’ve seen I’ve made sure, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole and Bobby Fish understand there will be no more jumping people in the car park. There’ll be no more attacking people at the PC All the fighting goes on in the ring. They can be a part of NXT, but they will compete in the ring only.’
Backstage, outside Asuka’s dressing room. Whatever was about to be said was interrupted by The Velveteen Dream (does anyone else hear Velveteen Dream and think Velveteen rabbit, or is that just me?). He said, ‘I know The Dream said he wouldn’t speak until the ambience was right, and it’s not. But watching NXT TakeOver Brooklyn The Dream was compelled. The Dream saw a man who needs the experience, so The Dream will speak, soon. Very soon.
Lars Sullivan vs Jake James, Alfred Watkins, & Ricky Martinez
So, the three on one handicap match designed to teach Sullivan not to beat up his tag team partners, was against three enhancement talent. Lars Sullivan opted to take on all three at once, and squashed them in a minute or so. Once he’d got the win, he carried on beating the three guys up.
No Way Jose crashed the post-match beat down. He called Sullivan out for breaking up his conga line. Then told Sullivan to attack him to his face rather than from behind, and threw the first punch as an incentive. It didn’t work out too well for him. In a very short amount of time Jose was left laying in the middle of the ring, bleeding from the mouth. They really are building Sullivan up to be a monster.
Johnny Gargano was shown being interviewed at the performance centre. Essentially repeating what he said in his backstage interview recently – Brooklyn was amazing, it was a special night, one he’ll never forget. It was his fault the T-shirt Zelina Vega threw in the ring put him off, it was a lapse in concentration and it won’t happen again. Tino Sabetelli and Riddick Moss came and interrupted. They said Gargano should find himself another partner because it didn’t look like he had a chance as a singles star (someone doesn’t pay attention to the indies). Gargano offered to face either one of them in a match.
Promo package for Sonya Deville next, as a precursor to her having a match. I was sad not to see her in the Mae Young Classic, but I’m glad they’re making her a big deal on NXT.
Before that match, Eric Young cut a promo on Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish, with Nikki Cross cackling in the background throughout. He said, ‘We wanted to welcome you guys to NXT. We noticed something about you straight away, you dance different. So do we. At the end of your life you’re going to look back at TakeOver and you’re going to realise that was a huge mistake. We don’t care about where you’re from. We don’t care about who you think you are. We don’t care who you think you’re going to be in this universe. The only thing we care about is chaos.’
Sonya Deville vs Zeda
While Deville missed out on the Mae Young Classic her opponent, Zeda, did take part. She went out to Shayna Baszler in the first round. Zeda has a similar background to Deville, they both have some MMA experience, so their styles mesh well.
Zeda was dispatched fairly quickly in the MYC by Baszler, Deville may have taken her down even quicker. I’ve been a big fan of Deville since her first appearance, and she’s proving me right every time she steps in the ring.
Short match, which Sonya Deville won with a triangle armbar submission.
Axel Dieter Jr sighting on NXT! In a clip of a training session, leading to a conversation between Ruby Riot and William Regal. Riot asked for a handicap match against Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. Regal said he couldn’t give her that, but she could pick a partner of her choice and he’d give her a tag match. Shout out to two of the three Progress co-owners, Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph, who were stood watching the training with William Regal in that clip.
Kassius Ohno vs Hideo Itami
Ok, so this was still the main event of the evening, even if it’s not the final segment. I guess Asuka deserves to close the show all things considered.
There comes a point in a rivalry, and a broken friendship, where the only way to solve the accumulated problems is with a no DQ match. This is where Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami have found themselves.
Kassius Ohno is usually known as a good guy. This didn’t appear to be the case in this match. He was beyond his normal aggression and into disrespectful and unpleasant territory in places. Hideo Itami has been like that for a while now.
The match started normally enough. Pretty soon though, the ring steps were brought into play, closely followed by a chair, both used to punish Ohno. Once Ohno was back in the ascendency they ended up on the ramp, where Kassius Ohno used the arm that Itami had been punishing to forearm him in the face. As he hit him he shouted, ‘I don’t care how much this hurts’. Itami retaliated with a fisherman’s suplex on the ramp, before they made their way back to the ring.
And so it went on, with both looking more like they wanted to inflict damage than win the match. Itami went for the GTS, but Kassius Ohno struggled down from his shoulders. Then Ohno made Itami regret low-blowing him previously, by letting him know exactly how that felt. After that it was a simple matter of another Rolling Elbow from Ohno to finish Itami.
Two match announcements for next week. Ruby Riot, plus partner, versus Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. And a UK Championship match between Pete Dunne and Wolfgang.
Final segment time. William Regal brought Asuka out to the ring, and she allowed the crowd to show their appreciation before she started to talk. She also had to stop a couple of times during her short speech to let the chanting die down.
She said, ‘I have been in NXT for almost two years. I have fought so many great superstars. I love NXT. I’ve grown so much here. I am grateful for NXT.’
William Regal said, ‘Asuka since becoming the NXT women’s champion you have done nothing but defend that title with honour. You have been willing to risk everything to defend that title, which was evident at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn. I can honestly say that you are one of the greatest champions in WWE history.’ He then announced that he and Asuka have started negotiations with the general managers of RAW and SmackDown. But it’s a bittersweet moment because Asuka will be stepping down as NXT women’s champion. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Asuka because the rest of the world will know what we already know –
Asuka finished, ‘No-one is ready for Asuka’.
The crowd chanted ‘Thank you Asuka’ as the stage filled with the NXT locker room, and what looked like most of the Mae Young Classic competitors.
Asuka’s last message to the NXT universe was, ‘You are NXT, I am NXT, and wherever I go NXT comes with me’.
Ember Moon stepped to the front of the crowded stage and made her way to the ring. She and Asuka smiled at each other, swerved a handshake, and hugged.
Triple H appeared, hugged Asuka and gave her some flowers. It’s well documented that he’s incredibly proud of her. He grabbed a mic and said, ‘One more time I give you the undefeated, 523 day reigning, NXT women’s champion, The Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka’.
The show ended with both the crowd, and the people on the stage, chanting ‘Thank you Asuka’.
That was a packed to the hilt episode. Four matches, Asuka’s big goodbye to NXT, and a load of business covered, all in the space of an hour. Great episode.
One odd point. Ember Moon raised Asuka’s left arm in celebration, Triple H raised her right arm (admittedly not as high). Is she not supposed to be recovering from a broken collarbone, shouldn’t that hurt? On a lighter note, I can’t wait to see where she ends up. My guess is RAW, but I think she’d have better matches on SmackDown.
It’s good to see Mae Young Classic competitors being used on NXT. I hope that continues. It was also good to see a brief sighting of Axel Dieter Jr in a clip. Can’t wait to see him on NXT. If you’re not familiar with his work, check him out, he’s awesome.
Already looking forward to next week’s show. The UK Championship match will be brilliant, and the women’s tag should be excellent too. Can’t wait to see what else is in store.