We start things off with highlights of Ciampa turning on Gargano at TakeOver Chicago as well as Ciampa’s promo afterwards. I had forgotten how angry I was at Ciampa, but this video package did the trick and my hatred came rushing back. Johnny Gargano will be here tonight!
We also see footage from last week of sad Roderick Strong hugging his mom and his fiancee after his loss to Bobby Roode in his championship match.
No opening theme song video this week since we go right to Full Sail for action!
Match 1: Aleister Black vs. Bobby Fish
Bobby Fish makes his NXT debut. He’s going to have his work cut out for him though since he’s going up against everyone’s favorite heroic Satanist kickboxer, Aleister Black. Nigel goes apeshit over Fish’s arrival while Mauro puts over his success in Japan and Percy Watson actually mentions New Japan by name at one point.
Both men start off with kicks that are blocked due to their martial arts backgrounds. They pick up the pace and Black does the sitting in the lotus position thing to avoid getting kicked before dropping Fish with a kick of his own.
Fish fires back and connects with some kicks, but Black lays into him with a series of blows and a knee strike that sends Fish out to the floor. Fish gets up on the apron and gets Black in a sleeper hold that he breaks at the count of four. He the trips up Black as we go to commercial. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We come back from break to find Fish in control. He hits a senton atomico and then begins to attack Black’s leg so he can hit his heel hook. Black tries for some kicks, but Fish manages to avoid them. He goes for the Fish Hook, but Black counters into a sunset flip. Fish escapes and gets Black in a sleeper hold.
Black fights out of it and hits a knee strike, but walks into an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Black just looks angry about it and gets fired up. He hits a mess of strikes and a moonsault press before dropping Fish with a jumping knee. He picks up Fish with his foot and then ruins his shit with the Black Mass to pick up the win.
Winner: Aleister Black
A solid showing from local boy done good, Bobby Fish, even if he came up short in the end. He should make a decent addition to the NXT roster. Seeing Black murder dudes is always fun and seeing him go toe to toe with a dude who was more evenly matched was even better. Black and Fish work kind of similar styles so they meshed pretty well together. [***]
Highlights for Children!
We see highlights of Ohno & Itami taking on Sanity in a losing effort from last week before getting some backstage stuff between Ohno and Itami. Itami blames Ohno for the loss and Ohno says that since TakeOver Itami’s been blaming everyone for everything that goes wrong except himself. Ohno says he’s done trying to talk to Itami and storms off.
We get a video package for Street Profits. They’re coming soon to NXT and from this brief package seem to be Cryme Tyme 2017.
Kayla attempts to interview a departing Velveteen Dream. He gets all offended they she’d attempt to interview him in the parking lot and heads off without answering any questions.
Match 2: Vanessa Borne vs. Jayme Hachey
This is a qualifying match for the Mae Young Classic. I’m pretty sure that Jayme Hachey is that Jayme Jameson lady from that TNA Knockouts Knockdown I watched a couple weeks back. Vanessa Borne was apparently a cheerleader or sports dancer or something. Percy Watson seems to think she’s a hot tomato.
They work a pretty short back and forth match. Hachey tries to overpower Borne but Borne outquicks her and kicks her in the back. Hachey delivers a side slam that’s good for one and then grounds Borne.
Borne fights back to her feet and hits a clothesline and a dropkick to Hachey’s shins. She then picks up the win after some sort of spinning slam.
Winner: Vanessa Borne
Both women looked a little rough here, but NXT is, or at least was, a developmental show so it’s not as bad as it would have been if this match had been on Raw or something. I’ve seen people complain that people of this caliber shouldn’t be anywhere near the Mae Young Classic, but I’m of the mind that it needs people that will get eliminated in the first round, just like the UK Tournament and the Cruiserweight Classic did, so if they want to have someone like Mia Yim or whoever make short work of Vanessa Borne before moving on the actual competition it’s no big deal. [*]
Meanwhile Outside Last Week…
We get footage from a fan from a brawl between Sanity and Drew McIntyre out in the parking lot. McIntyre gets laid out after getting chucked into a garbage can.
Meanwhile in William “Steven” Regal’s Office…
Regal is chilling out with Bobby Roode and he tells them that Dain and McIntyre are both undefeated and have expressed an interest in Roode’s championship. Roode is like, “We’re both businessmen. That’s a money match. A lot of people want to see it.” Regal books Dain and McIntyre for next week with the winner getting a shot at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III.
Meanwhile in the Ring…
Johnny Gargano comes out. He’s in street clothes and has DIY’s entrance music still. The fans go apeshit and he thanks them for doing so since he’s missed the roar of the crowd and being in a ring. He says that he was just as shocked by what Ciampa did as all of them were and says, “I never thought the guy I’d take a bullet for, would be the one to pull the trigger on me.”
He doesn’t understand why Ciampa did what he did and doubts he ever will. He doesn’t want to dwell on it because the past is in the past. He says that TakeOver Brooklyn is coming and he needs to be on that card. He needs to be Johnny Gargano again…he needs to be Johnny Wrestling again! Then some new entrance music plays to end the segment. It was a pretty great babyface promo, though maybe not as good as Ciampa’s promo from a couple weeks back.
In addition to the already announced number one contender’s match between Drew McIntyre and Killian Dain a number one contender’s match for the NXT Women’s Championship pitting Ember Moon against Ruby Riot has also been signed for next week.
Match 3: Heavy Machinery vs. The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering)
Four big boys who love to roughhouse going at it for the NXT Tag Team Championship! They hoss it up in the beginning with Knight and Akam exchanging strikes. Tags are made and Rezar and Otis come and stand face to face, pushing their foreheads together. Rezar goes for some clotheslines, but Dozovic is unmovable. He hits a clothesline of his own that drops Rezar. Apparently this is the first time Rezar had been clotheslined to the mat or something, but I don’t think that’s actually true. Otis and Rezar have a hoss-off as we go to commercials. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
Post-break the champs are working over Knight. They keep him isolated in their corner and beat him down, picking up a near fall in the process. Rezar grounds and pounds Knight. The Authors work quick tags and get the heat on Knight until Knight hits a big clothesline and Otis gets the HOT TAG!
Dozovic runs wild, clotheslining, shoulder blocking and tossing dudes about. He cleans house and pins Akam, but Akam kicks out. Otis and Knight then go for the Compacter but get cut off by Rezar. Knight gets tossed and then the Authors of Pain take out Dozovic with a Russian leg sweet/lariat combo to pick up the win.
After the match, Sanity’s music hits and Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, and Nikki Cross show up on the top of the stage as papers rain down from the ceiling. Alexander Wolfe eats one of the pages and the commentary team speculates that they are pages from Paul Ellering’s Book of Dominance. The Authors of Pain do not looked pleased as the show goes off the air.
Winners: Authors of Pain
A perfectly cromulent TV match made a bit better by the fact that it was big boys roughhousing, though I suppose if for some ungodly reason you dislike hoss matches this would be a detriment. I guess this is the end for Heavy Machinery as top contenders for the tag team straps since they seem to be going with Sanity as the next challenge for the AoP, though I suppose they could do some sort of multi-team clusterfuck at TakeOver. Shrug. [**⅝]
The Black vs. Fish match was really outstanding and as I have said before, I’m kind of a sucker for a hoss battle, so I enjoyed the tag team match probably more than typical NXT fans did. The Mae Young Classic qualifying match wasn’t really that good, but it was short and there was no bullshit involved in the finish. It was just two women that wrestled a very basic match, in which one woman pinned the other woman clean, so there’s nothing really to complain about there.
On the talking side of things, the backstage stuff this week was pretty solid as well, advancing existing storylines and setting up a feud between Killian Dain and Drew McIntyre. The Johnny Wrestling promo was also pretty great, but with Ciampa injured, I wonder what they do with him for the next few months.
Nothing on this episode stood out as much as the Strong vs. Roode match from last week or the Nikki Cross vs. Asuka match from two weeks ago, but it was still a pretty decent episode (especially if you like colossal jostles).