By John Moore
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped April 5 in Winter Park, FL at Full Sail University
NXT opened with a new intro theme with more of a hip hop-rock beat than usual. Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were the commentators. Aleister Black did the entrance he introduced at Takeover:Orlando. Nigel pointed out how he knew Aleister Black back in 2005 and he’s a different man now who has found peace. His opponent was Corey Hollis..
1. Aleister Black vs. Corey Hollis. Black kept a calm demeanor to start off the match with his hands behind his back. Hollis ate a spinning back kick to pick up the win with his Black Mask finisher…
Aleister Black defeated Corey Hollis in 0:27.
Black sat in the middle of the ring as calm as he started. He had his legs crossed and was almost in a trance or meditating. Phillips cut to Tye Dillinger’s Smackdown debut against Curt Hawkins from last week’s episode of Smackdown…
John’s Thoughts: What more could I say aside from that kick was badass? Believe it or not, even though putting over someone like Andrade Almas was good, I thought this quick squash would have been better for Black. Plus, it would have protected Andrade who deserves way better based on how good he is.
Tye Dillinger was interviewed by “Kayla”. He said the Smackdown moment was what he was waiting for 15 years. Tye brought up having unfinished business in NXT and how William Regal granted him a chance for revenge against Eric Young. Dillinger was happy because Sanity would be kept out due to it being in a steel cage. Phillips hyped Drew Galloway vs. Oney Lorcan. Phillips also hyped the NXT farewell of Shinsuke Nakamura… [C]
2. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano vs. Dylan Miley and Michael Blaze. Miley was the big ol dude and he faced off against Ciampa. The big dude had big hands as he gave Ciampa a handshake. Ciampa managed to get a side headlock locked in which Miley couldn’t escape at first. Miley tossed Ciampa off and no sold a clothesline. Miley grounded Ciampa and went for a Gorilla Press. Ciampa managed to tag in. Gargano locked in a delayed vertical suplex for about 20 seconds according to my stopwatch.
Blaze tagged in as Percy made some bad jokes. Blaze got kicked with Gargano’s basement roundhouse and succeeding neckbreaker. Ciampa tagged in as they isolated Blaze from his huge tag partner. DIY it their finisher double thrust kick to pick up the victory…
DIY defeated Dylan Miley and Michael Blaze via pinfall in 2:56.
Miley stared at DIY from the corner not having anything to do with the decision. The commentators made sure to point that out to protect Miley. Miley was alone in the ring with Blaze as the crowd gave him “Delete” chants. He then manhandled Blaze by slamming his head into the mat. Miley hit a knee followed by a powerslam on his tag team partner. Miley walked out as Blaze rolled around in pain…
John’s Thoughts: Dylan Miley does seem a bit clumsy as most debuting big men do, but the guy does have a big freakish look to him that will work in his favor. Props to DIY for doing their best to carry the guy. Let’s see where they go with Miley, but a decent first showing and a good post-match beatdown.
Phillips cut to the Ember Moon vs. Asuka video package which aired last week. It was centered around Asuka using the ref to help her pick up the cheap win. They cut to an empty arena video where the WWE set was being put away. This was documentary style and Moon walked into the empty arena. Ember said this was supposed to be her moment. She said this was supposed to be her opportunity to show the world that she could do anything. Ember said it was her destiny to win, to go into history, to be “the one”. Ember said that’s where it all went wrong. Moon said Asuka proved that she would do anything to keep the NXT Women’s championship. Moon said she will be the one and the next women’s champion as she looked into the ground in contemplation. Tom hyped the Ruby Riot singles debut after the break…
John’s Thoughts: A nice video package which was the biggest character piece we’ve gotten from Moon. She showed a bit of humanity and it worked. The really shouldn’t rush to Ember Moon winning and they better save it until NXT’s WrestleMania, which is NXT in Barclays.
Ruby Riot cut an inset promo where she talked about confronting Nikki Cross and Sanity. Riot said she was going to start her path to the NXT Women’s Championship. She said tonight “we start a riot”. Get it! Her opponent was Kimber Lee.
3. Kimberly Franklie vs. Ruby Riot. Kimberly had the early advantage as she utilized the corners to beat down Ruby. Ruby got the boot up and landed Kimberly with a huracanrana. Nikki Cross slammed on the barricade to distract Ruby. Kimberly hit a split jawbreaker and got a nearfall. Kimberly did her princess pose and worked on Ruby some more as Nikki Cross watched from outside. Ruby Riot came back with some chops and managed to get a rally. Kimberly hit a kick and a short-arm Pele Kick on Kimberly which gave her the victory.
Ruby Riot defeated Kimberly Franklie via pinfall in 2:18.
Nikki Cross stared down Ruby Riot from the top of the ramp. Tom Phillips cut to the ESPN article noting Drew Galloway’s return to WWE… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Even though I’m more excited to see what Kimber Lee can bring due to my familiarity with her being the former tag team partner of TNA’s Allie, Ruby Riot had a decent showing. The best part is they are trying to tell a real story between Nikki Cross and Riot. I’m not sure what the story is yet, but slow builds aren’t bad. Plus, this makes way more sense than Roderick Strong and No Way Jose’s feud with Sanity.
Billie Kay was walking around the performance Center mocking a bunch of the decor. They called Liv Morgan and Aliyah losers. Billie Kay was pushed into the cold bath as she struggled to get out. After that thing, Oney Lorcan came out for his match against Drew McIntyre, who did not come out to his awesome Broken Dreams theme. Instead, he came out to generic rock music which had Scottish bagpipes in it. He did have his old video wall though…
4. Oney Lorcan vs. Drew McIntyre. McIntyre overpowered Lorcan to begin the match. Lorcan locked in a headlock and managed to get a little rally but McIntyre came right back with a strong powerslam. Percy Watson talked about his history with McIntyre back in FCW/NXT. Drew dared Lorcan to come back at him which Lorcan obliged and gave Drew a strong set of Uppercuts and Tope Con Hilo on the outside. Drew caught Lorcan on a follow up move and hit him with a tilt a whirl backbreaker on the apron.
McIntyre had the upper hand back from the break as Phillips talked about ESPN again. Lorcan managed to escape the corner and hit a running blockbuster over the tall Drew McIntyre. This gave Lorcan a nearfall. McIntyre stopped Lorcan on the top rope with a headbutt. Lorcan managed to push Drew into the Tree of Woe. McIntyre showed amazing core strength by giving Lorcan a Belly to Belly from the tree.
Lorcan recovered enough to hit strong stiff slaps on Drew. Drew came back and hit a reverse Alabama Slam on Lorcan. Lorcan was busted open. Drew telegraphed and hit his Claymore Kick on Oney Lorcan to pick up the win…
Drew McIntyre defeated Oney Lorcan via pinfall in 5:12.
McIntyre received a favorable “welcome back” chant from Full Sail. The commentators recapped the match. Drew McIntyre was interviewed post-match. Drew said this is exactly where he needs to be and he’s worked hard in the past few years to build a reputation. Drew said he could have signed anywhere in the world by having “Raw” talent and the ability to “Smackdown” anybody but he wouldn’t be anywhere else but NXT.
John’s Thoughts: I have a feeling we might have a new top babyface in NXT. To be completely honest, I think this guy is one of the best overall wrestlers in the world. He has the size, look, promo skills, and in-ring ability. He’s also such a great babyface, and while gets a little too sappy at times, he walks the line enough to sound genuine. Just like Chris Hero, I haven’t seen McIntyre have a bad match against anybody since he left WWE. He even had a good serious match against freakin’ Grado. Freakin’ Grado! I think Drew might do better than Nakamura as the face of NXT and I would be down to see a WWE PPV match between Nakamura and McIntyre someday.
Shinsuke Nakamura came out to the ring in a suit and t-shirt for his farewell. Nakamura waited for the cheers to die down a bit. He said one year ago he came to NXT, already with experience, already a champion in Japan. Nakamura said he came to challenge himself to compete with the best in the world. Nakamura said one year later, NXT was his home. He said he learned a lot of things from the NXT stars, coaches, and from “you” the fans. The crowd started a “Thank You Shinsuke” chant.
Nakamura said NXT is its own brand, its own energy, and life. He said NXT was something new and different. Nakamura said he found out one thing, “you… you… you…” The NXT Universe was Crazyyyyy! Shinsuke Nakamura said you create the chants the singing, the innovation, the passion, which is different from the people. Nakamura said NXT is your style. Nakamura said he will always be NXT because “WE ARE N-X-T!!! YEAOH!”. Nakamura struck his Yeaoh pose as the crowd sung his song. The camera crew even managed to find a crying female fan in the crowd. The NXT locker room came out with Hideo Itami and William Regal front and center to applause Nakamura and sing his theme with him. Nakamura went around the ring to slap hands with fans. He gave William Regal a bow as he joined the entire NXT Roster on the stage. Hidden behind everyone was the former Prince Devitt (a/k/a Finn Balor) to legit surprise Nakamura as the show ended…
John’s Thoughts: Nakamura speaks broken English, but he has charisma and he can honestly cut a good promo that is easy to understand. And I’m not grading him on a curve, that was a good farewell promo. It was also a nice short and sweet farewell. Bonus points to the WWE cameraman who found the crying fan because she really added to the moment.
This was a strong episode of NXT with the return of Drew McIntyre and the farewell of Shinsuke Nakamura. The enhancement matches were really good too because they weren’t placeholders and all served a purpose of telling a story. We can’t have every episode like this one, but I would like to see NXT show more consistency in not wasting time with the one hour of TV that they have allocated to themselves. I’ll have more to say in my members’ exclusive NXT audio review on Thursday.