By Zack Zimmerman
NXT on WWE Network
Taped at Full Sail University
The opening video played… Inside Full Sail arena, Liv Morgan made her entrance to kick things off. Peyton Royce was out next with Billie Kay alongside.
1. Liv Morgan vs. Peyton Royce (w/ Billie Kay). The two went right after each other, brawling in the center of the ring. Peyton got the better of Liv and hung her up in the ropes with a wacky looking stretch. Liv picked up some momentum using her agility before planting Peyton with a bulldog. Billie Kay tried to jump up on the apron but Liv fended her off. Liv had Peyton locked in a deep guillotine choke and looked to have the match won when Billie Kay ran in and attacked her for the DQ.
Liv Morgan won via DQ in about 2:12.
Afterwards, the Aussie ladies were putting a beating on Liv when Aliyah tried to run out and make the save. The damage done to Liv was enough of a disadvantage however that the heels got the better of them. They hit their double team facebuster onto the knee, but then Ember Moon’s music hit and she made a direct line to the ring. She hit a springboard crossbody onto Billie and Peyton and then teed off on them with a knee strike and splash in respective corners. Ember and Liv cleared the ring with tandem dropkicks, and Aliyah managed to make it back to her feet. The heels backed up the ramp and the babyfaces celebrated in the ring…
The commentators, Tom Phillips and Corey Graves turned their attention to this Saturday’s Takeover Toronto show… They threw to a replay of Andrade Almas turning on Cedric Alexander last month and hyped that the two will face off in the main event tonight…
The mysterious return vignette aired and promoted the return for up next… [C]
Zim Says: So, Ember Moon debuted months ago with a win over Billie Kay, has been winning squashes to build herself up, and has now graduated to a feud with… Billie Kay. Huh? Unless it’s setting up a trios match, in which case who would be put with Billie and Peyton? This ladies division is certainly a work in progress at this point.
The Authors of Pain vs. TM61 in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was advertised. The commentators noted that GM William Regal has added the stipulation that The Authors’ manager Paul Ellering will be hung above the ring in a shark cage. Wild…
They aired a video package recapping this year’s Dusty Classic round by round which made it seem way better than it was. It was spliced in with old footage of Dusty Rhodes and NWA-era managers being suspended in shark cages…
Back in the arena, everything went dark before an acoustic guitar strum could be heard. The lights came on and the “Drifter” Elias Samson was sitting on the stage. He began to strum his guitar badly and welcomed everyone to the return. He continued to sing and play badly as the crowd heckled him and chanted “drift away.” He finally ceased, only for his arena music to play and he embarked toward the ring because he’s wrestling too. Oh boy. His opponent sort of just appeared and the match was underway.
2. Elias Samson vs. Nathan Cruz. Samson backed Cruz into the corner and gave him an arrogant face-wash. The commentators remarked upon the Drifter’s physique, as he appears to have added 15lbs of muscle while out with an injury. Drifter toyed with Cruz by lifting him overhead with a single arm wristlock, and when Cruz managed to slip out and get the better of Drifter, it didn’t last long. Drifter showed a new level of aggression but didn’t really do anything different. He hit a running knee and an elbow drop, but lifted Cruz before the three count. A few moments later, Samson hit a reverse Roll of the Dice and scored the pinfall.
Elias Samson pinned Nathan Cruz in about 2:25.
Replays aired and the commentators appropriately closed “like it or not, that was the return of the Drifter…”
Backstage, Aliyah, Liv Morgan, and Ember Moon were standing by with the interviewer, who asked what brings them together, and they responded that they weren’t going to let Peyton Royce and Billie Kay think they run things. Liv said Peyton thinks she’s a character from the worst Batman movie and Billie looks like Olive Oil from Popeye. Liv said it’s been a numbers game and now they’re up, so she invited Billie and Peyton to find a third and come fight them… [C]
Zim Says: I’ve got nothing. Give me a little bit to cope with the reality that the Drifter is a thing that I have to cover weekly again. Can we talk to his doctors and see if he should take some more time off as a precautionary measure?
A graphic promoted NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura defending against Samoa Joe at Takeover Toronto… A graphic promoted NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival defending against #DIY in Toronto… A lengthy video package aired recapping #DIY’s run for the titles. It showed them coming up short in Brooklyn, coming up short in the Dusty Classic due to The Revival, and brawling with The Revival on numerous occasions. It hit a nice peak to give one final push for their title match on Saturday… Andrade Almas vs. Cedric Alexander was advertised for later in the show…
A graphic promoted NXT Women’s Champion Asuka defending against Mickie James at Takeover Toronto… A graphic promoted Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger in Toronto before a video package aired recapping their formation and dissolution as a team in the Dusty Classic leading to the match. Bits of a sit-down interview with Dillinger were included where he talked about his previous stints in the WWE system including OVW in 2006. He was shown losing to Super Crazy, Ricky Ortiz, and Finlay on WWECW and noted that he was fired the following week. He said he worked for 5 years to find his way back. Roode scoffed and called him pathetic. Dillinger said it wont mean anything to be “glorious” when Bobby gets his ass kicked in Toronto. Roode said Dillinger will fail miserably again in Toronto…
They advertised a “championship preview” for the Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Samoa Joe match for later in the show… Cedric Alexander vs. Andrade Almas was advertised up next… [C]
Back in the arena, Andrade “Cien” Almas made his entrance. Now that he’s a heel he hits a kneeling pose on the ramp while two piddly little streams of sparks shoot up behind him. There was a cool touch though where a glowing circle on the video wall and the camera angle made it look like a religious idol halo around his head. Cedric Alexander was out next. He was all business and wanted to go right after Almas. Meanwhile, Almas was sitting care-free on the top turnbuckle.
3. Andrade Almas vs. Cedric Alexander. A fired-up Cedric went at Almas, but Almas backed into the corners and ropes repeatedly to stall. Once he saw his opening, Almas took it and leapt into a headlock on Cedric. Cedric managed to work his way free with a handspring, but Almas did the signature Ingobernable roll into the tranquillo pose on the mat. He continued to pose and act like he couldn’t care less while Graves talked him up as “el idolo” the idol.
Cedric finally managed to get to work and wasted no time putting a beating on Almas. He hit several vicious chops that lit up the chest of Almas. Almas slipped out to ringside for a powder, but he carelessly turned his back on the ring and Cedric caught him with a dropkick through the ropes. Cedric looked to be in control, but Almas fired off a hard dropkick when Cedric hit the ropes and halted all momentum. Almas set Cedric up in the corner for his running knees, but rather than hitting them, he stopped short and simply slapped Cedric across the face.
This served to fire Cedric up, but Almas managed to turn his aggressiveness against him as he caught Cedric with a dropkick coming off the ropes. [C] Back from break, a suddenly-aggressive Almas fired off a series of strikes and finished off with a high-speed sliding kick to the face. Almas continued on offense with a Mafia Kick in the corner. He teed of with a sequence of rapid elbows and then hit a snap Northern Lights suplex for a two-count.
Almas slapped Cedric in the face and then applied an armbar, stopping short of it being a kimura. Cedric fought free, but Almas tripped him up and applied a rope-hung triangle choke which he could only hold for four seconds but was good for another near-fall. Almas looked to continue on offense when Cedric caught him with a low dropkick. Cedric began to rally and connected with a handspring enzuigiri, selling the bad arm in the process. Almas once again went out to ringside, and once again Cedric went after him, this time with a big flipping senton over the ropes.
Cedric hit a Finlay roll but missed a split-legged moonsault, and Almas followed up with a schoolboy bomb for a near-fall. Almas once again set up Cedric in the corner, but as he charged for the knees, Cedric popped up and hit the Lumbar Check. Almas managed to roll over near the ropes and clunkily crotched Alexander on the middle rope before hitting the hammerlock DDT for the win.
Andrade Almas defeated Cedric Alexander in about 13:11.
Replays aired and the segment closed with Almas hanging in the ropes doing his tranquillo pose…
They went to the show-closing championship preview for the main event of Takeover Toronto. A video package recapped the Nakamura/Joe feud from after Nakamura won the title through the contract signing last week to promote the match and that closed out the show…
Zim Says: Fun main event match. I really like Almas as a heel more than I did as a babyface and I don’t really think there’s an argument against this being the best Almas has come across since his NXT debut. The final video package followed the trend of the night, which was really strong hype packages. I liked this as a go-home show for the most part. I thought everything except for the Asuka vs. Mickie James match got some nice attention tonight that made me more excited for Saturday than I was going into the show tonight. I’m still interested in Asuka/Mickie, I’m just curious why such little attention has been given to it after the initial announcement. The ladies match was more of a set-up for the trios match and the Drifter match was a Drifter match, but between the Takeover build and main event I thought there were enough redeeming aspects of this show that it wasn’t too bad a waste of time. Although it’d be perfectly reasonable to jump in after the Drifter match to just catch the video packages and main event.
As for me, I’ll be back on Saturday night with live coverage of Takeover and audio with Jason Powell. I’ll also be providing a report from the NXT Boston show tomorrow night and if you missed it I joined Jason for Dot Net Weekly earlier today which is available exclusively for Dot Net Members. What I’m saying is, you’ll be getting your fill of me this week, so I’m going to stop writing for now.
I know I said I was done, but not quite. You can also check back tomorrow for the Member-Exclusive DotNet NXT Audio Recap, plus Darren Gutteridge’s NXT Hitlist which will be available to everyone.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.