Three matches and a visit from the NXT Women’s champion on the agenda for tonight’s show. Heavy machinery get their chance for revenge on The Mighty. Johnny Gargano takes his first step towards moving on from Tommaso Ciampa, as per William Regal’s instructions, by taking on EC3. And Chris Dijak faces Velveteen Dream in what should be an exceptionally good match.
Dakota Kai def Santana Garrett
The Mighty def Otis Dozovic
Velveteen Dream def Chris Dijak
Johnny Gargano def EC3
No preamble this week, just straight into the first match.
Dakota Kai vs Santana Garrett
Good to see Mae Young Classic competitor Santana Garrett on NXT tv, and this was a nice match to get the show underway. I really enjoyed this match, technical and athletic in equal measure with just a smattering of power moves from Garrett.
While Garrett had the best of the technical opening parts of the match, Kai turned things to her advantage by the midpoint. Dakota Kai in incredibly fast and once she got into her stride with her series of kicks, Garrett had no answer for her.
Short match, but NXT matches often are. Dakota Kai got the win from, you know what, I’m not sure what it was but it looked cool. Nigel McGuinness called it a Kai de Grace, I hope that doesn’t stick.
EC3 and Johnny Gargano were shown arriving at the arena earlier. EC3 was relaxed and happy, high-fiving people and smiling. Johnny Gargano still had that hunted look about him.
Heavy Machinery promo, and least I think that’s how it started. Otis Dozovic was talking about steaks while Tucker Knight was supposed to be sorting out the weights. There was a yell from Knight and by the time Dozovic got to him he was lying on the floor holding his leg. You could just make out figures approaching Knight before the yell, so he was clearly attacked. No prizes for guessing who by.
Shayna Baszler said people keep asking her how you handle someone crazy like Nikki Cross, but when the dog goes rabid you put it to sleep. People asked and in Chicago, she answered. She’s the most dominant force in NXT. She encouraged the crowd to ask (presumably who her next opponent was going to be, or who’s the best in NXT, I’m tired, it wasn’t clear, I’m lost).
The best athlete in the performance centre, Bianca Belair? The pirate with the elbow drop, Kairi Sane? Candice LeRae, who Baszler thinks should stay at home and look after her husband? She’s the reason they have to have a second Mae Young Classic this year. They have to scour the globe to find a challenger for her. Whoever faces her she will put them to sleep and still be NXT women’s champion.
Oney Lorcan picked up an injury during the TakeOver match. Danny Burch provided an update saying he’s had surgery and is recovering. Undisputed ERA interrupted and said that even if Lorcan does recover they are at the back of the line for a tag team title match. Undisputed ERA are at the front and they are invoking their rematch clause next week.
Cole called Burch a loser and they tried to shoo him away. Burch mocked them for losing the tag title to Moustache Mountain and reminded Adam Cole he’s pinned him once.
Adam Cole asked where the big head is coming from and Burch challenged him to a match. Adam Cole was incredulous that Burch had the cheek to do so.
William Regal later confirmed the match for next week via tweet.
War Raiders hype package next. Nothing in it we didn’t know, they’re big, they’re scary, they want the NXT tag title. If you want to know more about Rowe and Hanson they did a Q&A on WWE.com recently.
Aleister Black vs Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship has been announced for three weeks’ time.
The Mighty vs Otis Dozovic
Tucker Knight was injured in the performance centre incident and was unable to compete in the match, so Dozovic decided to take on Shane Thorne and Nick Miller alone.
It was all Dozovic at the beginning of the match. In the first minute or so it looked like it could be an easy victory. But Shane Thorne dodged out of the corner and Dozovic went face first into the turnbuckle. He also had to contend with the double teaming on the frequent tag switchovers.
On one of the double team attempts Dozovic managed to double suplex The Mighty, and that was the start of a mammoth fightback which included a Caterpillar on Miller and an elbow drop on Thorne.
Nick Miller saved Shane Thorne from the Vader-bomb and Otis Dozovic never recovered from the impact on the canvas.
A northern lariat from Thorne while Miller held Dozovic still was enough to put the big lad down for three.
Bianca Belair video promo from her honeymoon (she married Montez Ford last week). She said she keeps seeing comments from the other roster members saying they deserve to be number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. After running through a list of reasons why they don’t, she pointed out she’d undefeated then said she’d get back to her honeymoon and let the other women try to catch up.
Kairi Sane responded to Vanessa Borne’s comments from last week. She said she heard what Borne said, but maybe she should concentrate on fighting. But it’s ok, they’ll have a match, she’ll beat her and make her walk the plank. Then she’ll take the treasure, the NXT Women’s Championship.
The match is set for next week.
Velveteen Dream vs Chris Dijak
I really like both Velveteen Dream and Chris Dijak, so this match was awesome. More objectively, it was very good.
When Dijak tried to do his ‘feat your eyes’ catchphrase Velveteen Dream reached out and put a finger on Dijak’s lips to shush him. Dijak started off almost amused by Velveteen Dream’s complete lack of respect, but he quickly found out it doesn’t pay to take Velveteen Dream too lightly.
There aren’t many people who have thrown Velveteen Dream around like a rag doll, but Dijak chucked him around like he was made of paper.
Velveteen Dream came back with pure aggression and it worked for a while, but Dijak can play that game too.
As Dijak stood on the apron Velveteen Dream sent him face first into the steps. When Dijak got back in the ring, still clearly suffering, a DDT finished him off. An important win for Velveteen Dream.
EC3 came out at the end of the match and Velveteen Dream looked rightly worried, and a little annoyed that his celebration was cut short. Velveteen Dream abandoned EC3 during their tag match at the Royal Albert Hall. Strangely, he didn’t stick around to find out
Tyler Bate and Trent Seven talked about their annoyance at Undisputed ERA calling them jokes and their win a fluke. They said they beat Undisputed ERA on home territory and next week they’ll beat them again.
EC3 vs Johnny Gargano
This is the new Gargano. There’s an aggressive edge to his style that wasn’t there before the battles with Ciampa. There are more strikes and less quick clever stuff. Gargano seems to want to fight more than he wants to wrestle right now.
That suited EC3 to some extent, he’s larger and more powerful than Gargano but it still took him a minute or so to get properly into the match. Once he did they settled into a very entertaining back and forth, considerably more raw and brutal in style than Gargano’s usual matches.
Towards the end of the match, Johnny Gargano lowered his kneepad to expose his knee, a la Tommaso Ciampa. He looked horrified at himself and the hesitation meant EC3 was ready for him. He went for a fireman’s carry, but Gargano countered into the Gargano escape. EC3 got to the ropes and Gargano used all the ref’s five-count before breaking the hold, then he did it again.
After a knee that sent EC3 to the apron, Gargano delivered a DDT through the ropes, just as Ciampa did to him at TakeOver. It got him the victory in this match, but it’s clear that Johnny Gargano is a long way from moving on from Tommaso Ciampa.
NXT feels like it’s on its way back to its best again. There are feuds and building storylines, and not all of them are directly connected to the titles.
I know I need to be more patient, but I have a mild concern for Chris Dijak’s start in NXT. Little or no hype before his arrival, and he’s lost to Ricochet and Velveteen Dream in his first two matches. It’s much too early to worry, but it’s definitely not what I expected.
It’s good to see Dakota Kai in the rebuilding phase of her broken down to be rebuilt storyline. The women’s division still has a way to go to get back to its former strength, but it’s on the up. Bianca Belair’s promo today suggests there might be a number one contender’s match of some sort in the offing. That could be interesting.
Most of next week is already set. Kairi Sane versus Vanessa Borne, Adam Cole versus Danny Burch, and Undisputed ERA versus Moustache Mountain, and an appearance from Aleister Black. Looking forward to it already.