Wednesday seems to have come around quickly, but it’s NXT time again. We’ve got quite a comprehensive preview ahead of this week’s episode. Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) have a tag team match against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. Johnny Gargano, who beat Riddick Moss last week, takes on Tino Sabbatelli. No Way Jose faces Lars Sullivan. And we get to hear what Aleister Black wants to tell the NXT universe. This will be the first time he’s spoken since his arrival in NXT (outside of the promo packages). Personally, I’m hoping he’s announcing his intention to go for the NXT title.
Johnny Gargano def Tino Sabbatelli
Bianca Belair def Lacey Evans
Lars Sullivan def No Way Jose
Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish def Trent Seven and Tyler Bate
Tonight’s NXT, like RAW and SmackDown before it, was dedicated to the memory of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.
Johnny Gargano vs Tino Sabbatelli
Before the match started we were shown footage of Tino Sabbatelli calling Gargano’s victory over Riddick Moss a fluke. Moss accompanied his tag team partner to the ring for this match, as Sabbatelli did for him last week.
Great start to the show, although the match didn’t start out two well for Johnny Wrestling. Sabbatelli obviously wanted to show how much bigger and stronger than Gargano he is. He tried to prove it by throwing Gargano around the ring for a bit.
Sadly, for Sabbatelli, fighting bigger and stronger opponents is Gargano’s bread and butter. It was going to take more than a few power moves to put Gargano away. He bounced back, got taken down again, fought back up, and kicked Tino Sabbatelli in the head before locking in the Gargano escape for the win.
During the match, commentary were suggesting a crisis of confidence for Gargano, just as they were last week. It’s an interesting angle for his story to take, but I’m not sure how it fits into two wins in two weeks.
In an office segment Roderick Strong said he told Drew McIntyre he was going to beat Bobby Roode, and then he was next. Now he feels he’s done enough for a title opportunity, and he respectfully asked for one. William Regal agreed Strong had done everything asked of him, and gave him a title match against McIntyre in two weeks
After yet another look at Asuka’s farewell, just to remind everyone that the NXT women’s title is currently vacant, Sonya Deville cut a promo stating Asuka never got in the ring with her, because Asuka knew she’d lose. But now Asuka’s gone, the title is as good as hers. Anyone who has a problem with that can ‘put your hair up, and square up’.
Lacey Evans vs Bianca Belair
This is the sort of thing I was hoping to see after the Mae Young Classic, more women to boost the NXT ranks. Obviously, we’ve seen them before, although Belair has only been on NXT TV once, as part of the battle royal, but the NXT women’s division needs as many additions as possible. After all, it probably won’t be long before it is pillaged by the main roster again.
Both these women are performance centre originals, and they’re two that WWE seem very invested in. They may have very different gimmicks, but they actually have fairly similar styles, a mix of power and athleticism in equal measures, with plenty of confidence thrown in. Because of this, they’re quite evenly matched.
They had a good match, long enough to showcase their skill and style. Bianca Belair’s difference maker is using her hair as a whip. This apparently hurts more than any wrestling move, and incapacitated Evans long enough for Belair to flip her up as if going for a powerbomb, and dump her on her face. Singles debut victory for Bianca Belair.
Aleister Black came out to the ring and talked about how he’s been doing this for 15 years, and all his experiences led him to NXT. Black was talking about his tattoos, which he referred to as scars, and about to start telling us what his next steps would be, when he was interrupted by The Velveteen Dream (got to admit, I wasn’t expecting that). He started by saying ‘all things that fade to black must come into the light’, then said Aleister Black was a man who walked through darkness for 15 years, only to be blinded by the light that is The Velveteen Dream.
The Velveteen Dream doesn’t see Black’s tattoos as scars, he sees a man who is hurt and in pain. Apparently, that’s not Black’s biggest problem, his biggest problem is fear. He’s afraid to show emotion, and afraid of the light. When he said Black has a heart, it’s just in the wrong place (referring to the neck tattoo), Aleister Black finally got bored of listening. The Black Mass kick was perfectly aimed, not at The Velveteen Dream’s head, but at the microphone in his hand.
After he landed the kick, Black sat cross-legged in the ring. The Velveteen Dream dropped to his knees and leaned in so they were face to face, then slithered backwards out of the ring. I guess this is a thing that’s happening then.
Dakota Kai promo next. That’s a wonderful thing to see. She said she knows she’s new in NXT but everyone who watched the Mae Young Classic knows she’s not one to be taken lightly. She’s the captain of team kick. She’s not afraid to kick heads in to make the championship hers.
No Way Jose vs Lars Sullivan
Lars Sullivan is big, strong, and mean. Jose is big, strong, and fun. No Way Jose didn’t like Lars Sullivan wrecking his conga line, attacking him from behind, or laying him out in the middle of the ring when Jose challenged him. Lars Sullivan just wants to beat people up.
No Way Jose started with his customary enthusiasm. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t enough. Sullivan very quickly got the better of him. First he beat Jose up outside the ring, then he beat him up inside the ring. Jose did try for a resurgence, jumping on Sullivan’s back and attempting a sleeper amongst other things. Again, it didn’t last.
Sullivan knocked No Way Jose to the mat, hit a diving headbutt from the top rope, followed it up with a huge slam, and got the pin.
Unusually for Lars Sullivan, he refrained from adding to the beating once the match was done.
Trent Seven and Tyler Bate vs Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish
What a lot of talent on display in this main event. And the NXT crowd were as appreciative of it as they should have been. Tyler Bate, especially, seems hugely popular.
Whichever combination of the four were in the ring at any one time, this was good. There will have been sections of the audience not familiar with one, or both, of these teams. So the match served as a good showcase of their styles and abilities. The only thing missing was Bate’s airplane spin, but he did still get to show off his strength and agility.
Adam Cole got involved a couple of times. Once by distracting the ref so Bobby Fish could drive Trent Seven into the barricade, and once by superkicking Tyler Bate in the face outside the ring.
The finish came after that superkick from Cole. With Bate laid out, and Seven unable to make a tag, O’Reilly and Fish were free to take advantage. A double kick, and a high and low double team, later Bobby Fish pinned Trent Seven for the win. Considering the interference, I doubt this feud is over.
It all got very messy after the match. First, Drew McIntyre’s music hit. He came down to the ring, but as he slid under the bottom rope, Cole Fish and O’Reilly went out of the other side of the ring. They were so busy laughing and trash talking at McIntyre they failed to notice SAnitY come out from behind the curtains. SAnitY soon got their attention though, and the inevitable brawl ensued. Kyle O’Reilly even ended up back in the ring for long enough for McIntyre to get a shot in, before the three escaped.
The final shot was of SAnitY outside the ring, with McIntyre in the ring behind them, holding the belt aloft.
I’m so disappointed in how the Aleister Black segment turned out. I want to see Black in matches at the very top of NXT, not tangling with The Velveteen Dream, who is still largely unestablished. I’ll reserve judgement until I see where they’re going with it, but I’m not happy.
On a small side note – someone tell me what a useful abbreviation for The Velveteen Dream could be please. I’m not calling him Dream, that was Dusty Rhodes. I can’t use VD, because, well… Someone help me out.
Lars Sullivan is being built as a monster heel. He’s looking like NXT’s answer to Braun Strowman. The win over No Way Jose was big for him. It will be interesting to see what kind of personality he’s given, if any. The way it stands now, he could use a mouthpiece.
It sounds very much like Tyler Bate and Trent Seven might get a Moustache Mountain run in NXT. Commentary spent a lot of the match putting over their experience as a team. With the UK show apparently on hold, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them. The crowd are into them, and at least it would mean they get used.
The women’s division is picking up nicely. Four women featured tonight, if you include the promos. I sense something big coming to decide who will face Kairi Sane at the next TakeOver. It will probably end up being a battle royal, but we can hope for something more creative.