NXT fans once again converged on Full Sail for another round of television tapings. This round of tapings featured some new faces, Takeover fallout, and was a heavily DIY-centric round of tapings. The following recap contains spoilers for three episodes of NXT.
Before the evening began introduced Mike Rome introduced Tom Philips, Corey Graves, and the newest member of our NXT announce team, Percy Watson. From the sounds of the reaction, it appears plenty of fans remember the FCW/Season Two NXT star.
Dark Match: Wesley Blake vs Tian Bing
This was a short and evenly contested match. To his credit, Wesley Blake seemed to be a little more animated than he was the last time I saw him in Tampa, but still seems to be missing something. Tian Bing, on the other hand, is looking better and better with each outing. Bing is not a small guy, and he delivers speedy and believable looking strikes and kicks with a lot of power behind them. Bing definitely has the potential to do interesting things in NXT with the right booking. After a back and forth match, Blake missed a beautiful moonsault and made it to his knees to be met with a superkick from Tian Bing for the win.
Newly crowned tag champs Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa made their way out first to a huge pop from the crowd. DIY celebrated with the crowd making their way up and down the bleachers, before heading back to the ring. Before they could speak, they were already interrupted by Paul Ellering and the Authors Of Pain. They tell them that their celebration is premature, but before Ellering can elaborate much further he is interrupted by the Revival. Dawson says that they are here to claim their rightful spot as number one contenders. The Authors and Revival come face to face outside the ring, but the Revival wisely backs down. Ellering gets the last word, his Authors are going to be champions.
No Way Jose & Rich Swann vs Sanity (Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe w/ Nikki Cross)
The contagiously fun team of Jose and new cruiserweight champion, Rich Swann never fail to get the crowd pumped. Out next is the ominous Sanity; conspicuous in his absence was Sawyer Fulton. Eric Young was carrying a jacket with him, and it appeared to be Fulton’s. I’m sure it will be explained later with a backstage vignette. As more and more people are learning, Rich Swann is an amazing athlete, and perhaps the most charismatic performer in NXT. Unfortunately, after a strong start the size disadvantage would come into play. Sanity took control punishing the much smaller Swann. Wolfe has improved considerably in NXT, and the Sanity gimmick fits him well. I like Sanity a great deal, but for me Nikki Cross is what really makes this group. Nikki Cross is one of the most talented women in WWE/NXT. She has also embraced the crazy; her skulking around the ring yelling at fans and being weird is so much fun. I can’t wait to see her becoming more of a presence in the women’s division.
The fight spilled out of the ring and out of nowhere came Big Damo, leveling Jose. Eric Young took advantage rolling Jose back in the ring and nailing him with a modified neckbreaker for the pin.
Afterwards, an angry Damo heads up the ramp leaving Sanity looking confused as to what the big mans intentions were.
Kimber Lee vs Ember Moon
This was a really fun match, that actually saw Kimber Lee getting a fair amount of offense. However, in the end she was no match for the amazing Ember Moon. Ember finished off Kimber Lee with her top rope stunner for the win. Kimber Lee looked comfortable in a WWE ring, and I’m hoping we see her back next year for the women’s tournament. I’m enjoying the build of Ember Moon and can’t wait for the inevitable clash between her and Asuka. I’m not exaggerating when I say that match up has all the potential to be the greatest women’s Takeover match ever.
Otis & Tucker vs Johnny Knockout & Brandon Knight
Most people (including myself) remember Johnny Knockout best as the Braun Strowman jobber that liked big sweaty men. Unfortunately, for him and Brandon Knight, this match didn’t go much better than the Strowman squash. However, speaking of two big dudes, Otis and Tucker are two big powerhouses that are making more and more new fans with every match. This was a very short and one-sided match… but nonetheless Tucker and Otis are a fun team to watch.
This episode would feature four qualifying matches, where the winners of each match would be placed in a fatal four-way match to determine a new number one contender for the NXT title.
Ty Dillinger vs Eric Young
The first qualifying match would be a very short contest when Dillinger gained a DQ victory after Nikki Cross attacked. Afterwards, Dillinger thwarted an after match beatdown from Sanity… only to be attacked by Big Damo out of nowhere. Damo laid out Ty with a huge front slam followed by a senton. Another confusing stare down between Damo and Sanity followed.
No Way Jose vs Andrade Cien Almas
Jose is not the most impressive wrestler on the roster, but his energy is contagious, and he is showing a lot of improvement. Almas, on the other hand, has been absolutely great in his heel run. This was a good match defined not so much by moves, as much as the cocky and “tranquilo” attitude of Almas. What a good heel! Andrade Cien Almas won the match via pinfall after a hammerlock DDT.
Elias Sampson vs Roderick Strong
Sampson is out first with his usual banter and song, but I honestly couldn’t hear any of it, due to the nuclear heat from the crowd. This is probably one of the fastest paced Sampson matches I’ve seen, as opposed to his usual chinlock filled bouts. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t show the crowd much other than punches and kicks. Roderick Strong looks at home in an NXT ring, and here he carried Sampson through a good match. Roderick Strong finished Sampson with his gutbuster/single legged dropkick combo for the pin.
Oney Lorcan vs Bobby Roode
This was another very entertaining qualifying match, and even though I knew better, I found myself hoping for an upset victory. Lorcan gave Roode one hell of a fight, a fight that included some of the meanest uppercuts in all of the WWE. In the end, Roode managed to put Oney Lorcan away with a DDT. Bobby Roode has had a long and successful career, but one has to wonder if he would be this over in NXT without that damn catchy song… I really don’t think so, but he does make a damn good heel.
Sarah Bridges vs Peyton Royce
The former “Crazy Mary” started off the match with a fierce intensity… and yes, she is still crazy, letting out crazed yelps and dropping Peyton with a vicious running knee. Peyton managed to turn it around, slowing the pace and pinning Sarah with a fisherman’s suplex for a clean victory… despite Billie Kay at ringside. Peyton and Billie are both overdue for some sort of push, but I’m more excited to see what they do with Sarah Bridges.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Patrick Clark
“The Velveteen Dream” Patrick Clark is out first looking more and more like Prince with the music to match. Then the place exploded for the charismatic King Of Strong Style Shinsuke Nakamura. Early in the match, Nakamura backed Clark into the ropes, doing his signature spot where he rests his head on his opponent and dangles limply. Clark answered by gyrating his hips in Shinsuke’s face, which fired up the former NXT champion. Not long after Nakamura would defeat Patrick Clark with a Kinshasa.
Daria vs Billie Kay
Daria started off really strong here and was possibly one of her best outings. She actually dominated Billie, until Peyton interfered. This was the only opening Billie needed, and she finished off Daria with a big boot for the win. Afterward, the mean girls took to the mic, again I couldn’t really hear much of what they had to say due to a raucous crowd. From what I gather they were sending a warning to the entire locker room… including women’s champ, Asuka.
The Authors Of Pain vs Johnny Vandal & Anthony Bowens
Our second squash match of the night was more of a massacre than anything else, with AOP absolutely decimating the competition. They finished with their double powerbomb spot, afterwards Rezar attempted to pick up Bowens for their finisher, but he crumpled and the referee called the match. Ellering cut a promo while medics attended to Bowens, who eventually made it out on his own two feet with help from the medics.
Number One Contenders Fatal Four Way
Dillinger vs Almas vs Strong vs Roode
Andrade started off really strong punishing Strong and keeping the other men out of the ring. It wouldn’t be long before all men were involved, and all the craziness you would expect in a near fall came along. All four men looked great in this match, that featured many great spots including the now mandatory four man suplex spot in the corner. Surprisingly, Almas was first eliminated after a one legged dropkick from Roddy. However, a few moments later Ty would eliminate Strong with a firemans carry neckbreaker. Ty and Roode immediately start trading punches, reinvigorated and fired up. Dillinger gets a real close count after a mean superkick, and then an even closer count after a firemans carry neckbreaker on Roode. It seemed Dillinger would finally get his shot, but after distracting the referee and dropping Ty onto an exposed turnbuckle, he finished with his DDT. Bobby Roode is the number one contender for the NXT title.
NXT Tag Title Match
DIY vs The Revival
You don’t need me to tell you that these two teams have amazing chemistry, and kill it every time they are in the ring together. In my opinion, The Revival are the best team on the planet right now, and DIY are easily in the top five. So it goes without saying that this was a match to send the crowd home happy. This was another great back and forth match that, of course, saw the good guys retain after nailing Scott Dawson with their finisher. Great match, and an altogether fun NXT tapings.