5/17 Zim’s WWE NXT TV Review: Kassius Ohno vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas, Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta, final hype for NXT Takeover: Chicago

By Zack Zimmerman

NXT on WWE Network
Taped April 19, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

“Earlier today,” NXT Champion Bobby Roode was shown arriving to Full Sail Arena… The new opening video played…

Zim Says: Ah, it’s good to be back from the dreadful abyss that is 205 Live. Thanks to John Moore for filling in for me during the schedule shake-up, and god bless him going forward as he takes over on 205 Live coverage.

Inside the arena, the much-improved Drew McIntyre made his entrance. His opponent, CWC competitor Sean Maluta was out next.

1. Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta. McIntyre was very calculated and deliberate, not rushing into anything. He repeatedly backed Maluta into the corner, but broke the hold and offered Maluta to re-center himself in the ring. Malta fired a shot at McIntyre, which just angered the larger man. McIntyre chopped away at Maluta and then tossed him hither and yon.

Maluta made a brief comeback with a diving codebreaker, but McIntyre cut him off promptly with a stiff kick to the mid-section. McIntyre pounded Maluta in the corner and came off the top with an axe handle. Maluta threw a punch, but Drew threw a straight headbutt which crumpled Maluta. McIntyre followed up with the running Claymore kick for the win.

Drew McIntyre over Sean Maluta in about 3:20.

McIntyre stoically looked down at his fallen opponent. Replays aired before McIntyre was interviewed on the ramp. He was asked to address Wesley Blake. McIntyre said that doesn’t concern him. He said it would concern him if he didn’t have the attention of everyone including Blake. He offered to give his undivided attention to Blake next week if he’ll step into the ring with him…

A recap showed Hideo Itami beating Roderick Strong to become No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship last week. The video proceeded to show Sanity coming out and attacking Strong after NXT went off air last week. Backstage, a beaten-down Roderick told NXT GM William Regal that he wants to fight Sanity…

In a parking lot somewhere, Sanity was standing by for a promo. Eric Young spoke for the team, backed by Cross, Dain, and Wolfe. Young accepted Strong’s challenge for a fight at Takeover Chicago…

A graphic advertised Sonya Deville (f/k/a Daria Berenato) vs. Lacey Evans (f/k/a Macey Estrella) for later in the show… Another graphic promoted the main event match between Kassius Ohno and Andrade Almas… [C]

Zim Says: Drew McIntyre left WWE at the bottom of the barrel with the 3MB schtick, only to go out, set the wrestling world on fire, and come back looking like a completely legitimate main eventer. Good on him. He has looked nothing shy of super impressive thus far, though admittedly he’s only been featured in squash matches. McIntyre is one of the guys I’m really excited about tracking and covering the progress of.

The commentary team: Tom Phillips, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness talked up Saturday’s  Takeover Chicago show. They threw to a video package which recapped Kenta coming to NXT and changing his name to Hideo Itami when he arrived…

Graphics aired running down some of the Takeover Chicago card, including Hideo Itami vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT title, DIY vs. The Authors of Pain for the NXT tag titles, and Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the WWE UK title.

They transitioned to a recap of the WWE UK Championship Tournament, which concluded with Bate beating Dunne to become the inaugural champion. Brief personality pieces also aired on Bate and Dunne, respectively. Dunne said that he’s out to crush Bate’s dream. Bate said he has overcome Dunne once and he’ll do it again…

A graphic promoted the main event once again… An exclusive interview with Asuka was advertised to be coming up… A Velveteen Dream vignette aired… Another Hideo Itami video aired, this one recapping the match where he re-debuted the Go To Sleep maneuver in a match to defeat Tyler Breeze… Fozzy’s song Judas was advertised as a Takeover theme…

A graphic promoted Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young, apparently one-on-one, for Takeover Chicago… A graphic advertised the three-way match for the NXT women’s title with Asuka defending against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot…

Asuka was being interviewed on a car ride somewhere. She seemed bothered to be being interviewed and dismissed all of his questions without an answer, before rudely asking if the interview was over. Asuka got out of the car, which had arrived at Full Sail Arena, and she acted phony as she soaked in the fan cheers and took selfies with the cheering crowd in the background…

Back in the arena, Lacey Evans made her entrance doing a very visually fitting pin-up girl gimmick. Sonya Deville was out next doing the same MMA fighter gimmick she was doing under her previous name.

2. Lacey Evans vs. Sonya Deville. Nothing good in the opening minute. Sonya took off one of her gloves to land some body shots, but Lacey fired back with a wicked shot that dropped Sonya. Lacey hit a nice kick and a unique knee strike in the ropes, before delivering a neckbreaker for a two-count. Moments later, Deville hit an ugly looking running enzuigiri for the win.

Sonya Deville pinned Lacey Evans in about 3:00.

Replays aired and Nigel McGuinness on commentary stretched his credibility by calling for a title opportunity for Deville already… A graphic hyped the main event up next… Another Hideo Itami video aired, this one recapping his return from injury last month to lay out NXT Champion Bobby Roode…

Zim Says: That was pretty rough. Both ladies look like they could put the pieces together and be decent, but working together on TV at this stage of their careers is pretty far from ideal. Time will tell with these ladies, as they face some stiff competition with some recently debuted and incoming talent.

Back in the arena, Kassius Ohno made his entrance in vintage Orlando Magic-inspired gear. Andrade “Cien” Almas was out next.

3. Kassius Ohno vs. Andrade Almas. The commentators spent some time talking about how Almas was partying hard and it may be impacting his focus. After a very brief early exchange, Almas laid out into the tranquillo pose and talked some trash. There was a very nice lucha exchange between the two to close out the opening minute.

Ohno nimbly landed on his feet when Almas avoided him diving to the outside, and Ohno rocked Almas with a boot on the rebound. Almas returned the favor moments later however, with a boot to the face that knocked Ohno to ringside. [C]

Back from break, Almas was aggressively beating on Ohno in the corner and against the ropes. On commentary, Nigel McGuinness called Almas “ingobernable” as Almas slapped the hell out of Ohno. Almas stayed in control with rapid left and right elbow smashes before coming down on Ohno with a springboard missile dropkick for two.

Almas had done some damage to the arm of Ohno, so he went to work on that with an armbar. Once again, Almas sat Ohno in the corner and charged, but this time Ohno got a boot up and he fired back. Ohno rocked Almas with several front head kicks, and then hit a running front flip neckbreaker. Ohno leveled Almas with the discus boot for a near-fall.

Ohno slammed Almas to the mat and went to the tope rope, but he came up empty on a huge moonsault attempt. Almas followed up with his backbreaker/final cut combo for a near-fall of his own. The two battled up to the top turnbuckle where Almas fired off a wicked series of shots to the head to knock Ohno to the mat, but he leapt right into a boot from Ohno.

Ohno looked to follow up, but Almas caught him with a handspring Pele kick and followed up with the running double knees in the corner. Almas set up for the hammerlock DDT finish, but Ohno rammed him backwards into the corner. Almas called an audible and hit a wicked looking swinging tornado inverted DDT (think springboard Destino), but Ohno caught the fighting spirit and kicked out at one!

Ohno defiantly got in Almas’s face and invited the fight. Almas hit the ropes, but Ohno was right there to catch him with a boot. Ohno hit one rolling elbow that left Almas dazed, and then leveled him with a second. Ohno made the cover and scored the pinfall…

Kassius Ohno defeated Andrade Almas in about 9:15 of TV time.

Almas took his lumps and walked to the back, while Ohno regained himself and enjoyed the win…

A graphic advertised Wesley Blake vs. Drew McIntyre as official for next week’s show… Aleister Black was advertised to be in action at Takeover Chicago…

Zim Says: I really, really enjoyed that match. They kept a great pace, both guys got a bunch of good looking stuff in while making the other guy look good in the process, and Ohno really needed that win. It could’ve gone longer and I would’ve been happy for that, but I have no complaints at all as it was. Thumbs up from me.

Another Hideo Itami video aired, the final one showing him defeating Roderick Strong to earn the title shot in Chicago… A graphic advertised Hideo Itami challenging Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship at Takeover Chicago…

Back in the arena, NXT Champion Bobby Roode made his entrance in a suit. Once in the ring, he addressed Hideo Itami and said that’s all anyone is talking about these days. Roode admitted that Itami has knocked a few people out with the Go To Sleep, reluctantly admitting himself included. He explained that he was completely unprovoked and unprepared to compete when Itami did it, and promised that it will never happen again.

Roode explained that he won’t be standing in the ring in Chicago in a custom suit, but in his boots and gear. He said that he’s going to embarrass and make example of Itami. Roode mocked Itami’s career for being so off and on with injuries, meanwhile Roode has been consistent and is taking NXT to new heights. Roode said that Itami will have to fly back to Japan and tell his wife and kid that he failed again, this time it’ll be because of Bobby Roode.

Finally, Hideo Itami’s music hit and he walked to the top of the ramp looking mad as hell. He walked toward the ring, but NXT GM William Regal came out to plead with Itami. Security came out to form a line at ringside, and only then did Roode roll up his sleeves and invite the fight.

Itami suddenly charged to the ring, blowing past security and getting a few shots in on Roode before Roode slipped out. Itami began laying out security guys with the GTS. Roode tried to jump him from behind, but Itami caught him and put him to sleep one more time. Itami stood over Roode and motioned for the title around his waist as the show closed…

Zim Says: Strong go-home segment. I think Roode hitting home like that adds some intensity to a feud featuring a guy (Itami) who could really use some intensity for his character’s sake. Itami getting off two clean Go To Sleeps on Roode seems to bode poorly for Itami in Chicago, but hopefully it’ll be the big performance we’ve all been waiting from out of Itami regardless of the finish.

I am so happy to be back covering NXT. Sure, this week was a go-home show with a squash, a bad women’s match, and a bunch of video packages, but everything feels so much more on-the-level and fresh than 205 has the capacity to be in its current form. Maybe the shine will wear off, but everything about NXT feels fresh and new to me again from the talent to the production so I’m looking through rose-colored glasses for the time being.

I’ll have much more to say in audio form tomorrow, so be sure to check out DotNet membership so you can hear what I have to say each and every week! Thanks for reading along!

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.

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5/17 Zim’s WWE NXT TV Review: Kassius Ohno vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas, Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta, final hype for NXT Takeover: Chicago

By Zack Zimmerman

NXT on WWE Network
Taped April 19, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

“Earlier today,” NXT Champion Bobby Roode was shown arriving to Full Sail Arena… The new opening video played…

Zim Says: Ah, it’s good to be back from the dreadful abyss that is 205 Live. Thanks to John Moore for filling in for me during the schedule shake-up, and god bless him going forward as he takes over on 205 Live coverage.

Inside the arena, the much-improved Drew McIntyre made his entrance. His opponent, CWC competitor Sean Maluta was out next.

1. Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta. McIntyre was very calculated and deliberate, not rushing into anything. He repeatedly backed Maluta into the corner, but broke the hold and offered Maluta to re-center himself in the ring. Malta fired a shot at McIntyre, which just angered the larger man. McIntyre chopped away at Maluta and then tossed him hither and yon.

Maluta made a brief comeback with a diving codebreaker, but McIntyre cut him off promptly with a stiff kick to the mid-section. McIntyre pounded Maluta in the corner and came off the top with an axe handle. Maluta threw a punch, but Drew threw a straight headbutt which crumpled Maluta. McIntyre followed up with the running Claymore kick for the win.

Drew McIntyre over Sean Maluta in about 3:20.

McIntyre stoically looked down at his fallen opponent. Replays aired before McIntyre was interviewed on the ramp. He was asked to address Wesley Blake. McIntyre said that doesn’t concern him. He said it would concern him if he didn’t have the attention of everyone including Blake. He offered to give his undivided attention to Blake next week if he’ll step into the ring with him…

A recap showed Hideo Itami beating Roderick Strong to become No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship last week. The video proceeded to show Sanity coming out and attacking Strong after NXT went off air last week. Backstage, a beaten-down Roderick told NXT GM William Regal that he wants to fight Sanity…

In a parking lot somewhere, Sanity was standing by for a promo. Eric Young spoke for the team, backed by Cross, Dain, and Wolfe. Young accepted Strong’s challenge for a fight at Takeover Chicago…

A graphic advertised Sonya Deville (f/k/a Daria Berenato) vs. Lacey Evans (f/k/a Macey Estrella) for later in the show… Another graphic promoted the main event match between Kassius Ohno and Andrade Almas… [C]

Zim Says: Drew McIntyre left WWE at the bottom of the barrel with the 3MB schtick, only to go out, set the wrestling world on fire, and come back looking like a completely legitimate main eventer. Good on him. He has looked nothing shy of super impressive thus far, though admittedly he’s only been featured in squash matches. McIntyre is one of the guys I’m really excited about tracking and covering the progress of.

The commentary team: Tom Phillips, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness talked up Saturday’s  Takeover Chicago show. They threw to a video package which recapped Kenta coming to NXT and changing his name to Hideo Itami when he arrived…

Graphics aired running down some of the Takeover Chicago card, including Hideo Itami vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT title, DIY vs. The Authors of Pain for the NXT tag titles, and Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the WWE UK title.

They transitioned to a recap of the WWE UK Championship Tournament, which concluded with Bate beating Dunne to become the inaugural champion. Brief personality pieces also aired on Bate and Dunne, respectively. Dunne said that he’s out to crush Bate’s dream. Bate said he has overcome Dunne once and he’ll do it again…

A graphic promoted the main event once again… An exclusive interview with Asuka was advertised to be coming up… A Velveteen Dream vignette aired… Another Hideo Itami video aired, this one recapping the match where he re-debuted the Go To Sleep maneuver in a match to defeat Tyler Breeze… Fozzy’s song Judas was advertised as a Takeover theme…

A graphic promoted Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young, apparently one-on-one, for Takeover Chicago… A graphic advertised the three-way match for the NXT women’s title with Asuka defending against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot…

Asuka was being interviewed on a car ride somewhere. She seemed bothered to be being interviewed and dismissed all of his questions without an answer, before rudely asking if the interview was over. Asuka got out of the car, which had arrived at Full Sail Arena, and she acted phony as she soaked in the fan cheers and took selfies with the cheering crowd in the background…

Back in the arena, Lacey Evans made her entrance doing a very visually fitting pin-up girl gimmick. Sonya Deville was out next doing the same MMA fighter gimmick she was doing under her previous name.

2. Lacey Evans vs. Sonya Deville. Nothing good in the opening minute. Sonya took off one of her gloves to land some body shots, but Lacey fired back with a wicked shot that dropped Sonya. Lacey hit a nice kick and a unique knee strike in the ropes, before delivering a neckbreaker for a two-count. Moments later, Deville hit an ugly looking running enzuigiri for the win.

Sonya Deville pinned Lacey Evans in about 3:00.

Replays aired and Nigel McGuinness on commentary stretched his credibility by calling for a title opportunity for Deville already… A graphic hyped the main event up next… Another Hideo Itami video aired, this one recapping his return from injury last month to lay out NXT Champion Bobby Roode…

Zim Says: That was pretty rough. Both ladies look like they could put the pieces together and be decent, but working together on TV at this stage of their careers is pretty far from ideal. Time will tell with these ladies, as they face some stiff competition with some recently debuted and incoming talent.

Back in the arena, Kassius Ohno made his entrance in vintage Orlando Magic-inspired gear. Andrade “Cien” Almas was out next.

3. Kassius Ohno vs. Andrade Almas. The commentators spent some time talking about how Almas was partying hard and it may be impacting his focus. After a very brief early exchange, Almas laid out into the tranquillo pose and talked some trash. There was a very nice lucha exchange between the two to close out the opening minute.

Ohno nimbly landed on his feet when Almas avoided him diving to the outside, and Ohno rocked Almas with a boot on the rebound. Almas returned the favor moments later however, with a boot to the face that knocked Ohno to ringside. [C]

Back from break, Almas was aggressively beating on Ohno in the corner and against the ropes. On commentary, Nigel McGuinness called Almas “ingobernable” as Almas slapped the hell out of Ohno. Almas stayed in control with rapid left and right elbow smashes before coming down on Ohno with a springboard missile dropkick for two.

Almas had done some damage to the arm of Ohno, so he went to work on that with an armbar. Once again, Almas sat Ohno in the corner and charged, but this time Ohno got a boot up and he fired back. Ohno rocked Almas with several front head kicks, and then hit a running front flip neckbreaker. Ohno leveled Almas with the discus boot for a near-fall.

Ohno slammed Almas to the mat and went to the tope rope, but he came up empty on a huge moonsault attempt. Almas followed up with his backbreaker/final cut combo for a near-fall of his own. The two battled up to the top turnbuckle where Almas fired off a wicked series of shots to the head to knock Ohno to the mat, but he leapt right into a boot from Ohno.

Ohno looked to follow up, but Almas caught him with a handspring Pele kick and followed up with the running double knees in the corner. Almas set up for the hammerlock DDT finish, but Ohno rammed him backwards into the corner. Almas called an audible and hit a wicked looking swinging tornado inverted DDT (think springboard Destino), but Ohno caught the fighting spirit and kicked out at one!

Ohno defiantly got in Almas’s face and invited the fight. Almas hit the ropes, but Ohno was right there to catch him with a boot. Ohno hit one rolling elbow that left Almas dazed, and then leveled him with a second. Ohno made the cover and scored the pinfall…

Kassius Ohno defeated Andrade Almas in about 9:15 of TV time.

Almas took his lumps and walked to the back, while Ohno regained himself and enjoyed the win…

A graphic advertised Wesley Blake vs. Drew McIntyre as official for next week’s show… Aleister Black was advertised to be in action at Takeover Chicago…

Zim Says: I really, really enjoyed that match. They kept a great pace, both guys got a bunch of good looking stuff in while making the other guy look good in the process, and Ohno really needed that win. It could’ve gone longer and I would’ve been happy for that, but I have no complaints at all as it was. Thumbs up from me.

Another Hideo Itami video aired, the final one showing him defeating Roderick Strong to earn the title shot in Chicago… A graphic advertised Hideo Itami challenging Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship at Takeover Chicago…

Back in the arena, NXT Champion Bobby Roode made his entrance in a suit. Once in the ring, he addressed Hideo Itami and said that’s all anyone is talking about these days. Roode admitted that Itami has knocked a few people out with the Go To Sleep, reluctantly admitting himself included. He explained that he was completely unprovoked and unprepared to compete when Itami did it, and promised that it will never happen again.

Roode explained that he won’t be standing in the ring in Chicago in a custom suit, but in his boots and gear. He said that he’s going to embarrass and make example of Itami. Roode mocked Itami’s career for being so off and on with injuries, meanwhile Roode has been consistent and is taking NXT to new heights. Roode said that Itami will have to fly back to Japan and tell his wife and kid that he failed again, this time it’ll be because of Bobby Roode.

Finally, Hideo Itami’s music hit and he walked to the top of the ramp looking mad as hell. He walked toward the ring, but NXT GM William Regal came out to plead with Itami. Security came out to form a line at ringside, and only then did Roode roll up his sleeves and invite the fight.

Itami suddenly charged to the ring, blowing past security and getting a few shots in on Roode before Roode slipped out. Itami began laying out security guys with the GTS. Roode tried to jump him from behind, but Itami caught him and put him to sleep one more time. Itami stood over Roode and motioned for the title around his waist as the show closed…

Zim Says: Strong go-home segment. I think Roode hitting home like that adds some intensity to a feud featuring a guy (Itami) who could really use some intensity for his character’s sake. Itami getting off two clean Go To Sleeps on Roode seems to bode poorly for Itami in Chicago, but hopefully it’ll be the big performance we’ve all been waiting from out of Itami regardless of the finish.

I am so happy to be back covering NXT. Sure, this week was a go-home show with a squash, a bad women’s match, and a bunch of video packages, but everything feels so much more on-the-level and fresh than 205 has the capacity to be in its current form. Maybe the shine will wear off, but everything about NXT feels fresh and new to me again from the talent to the production so I’m looking through rose-colored glasses for the time being.

I’ll have much more to say in audio form tomorrow, so be sure to check out DotNet membership so you can hear what I have to say each and every week! Thanks for reading along!

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.

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