By John Moore
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped April 19, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
After the opening intro montage, Tom Phillips introduced us to NXT at Full Sail University. Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness were also on commentary. Watson hyped Hideo Itami vs. Kona Reeves. Phillips hyped the women’s number one contender battle royal…
Suddenly Sanity’s theme played. Only Killian Dain and Eric Young entered the arena as opposed to the usual four. Tom Phillips noted that this was odd for the group. Phillips noted that this was a Dain singles match. His opponent was Danny Burch who Nigel McGuinness called one of the most underrated competitors in NXT today…
1. Killian Dain (w/Eric Young) vs. Danny Burch. Dain smothered Burch in the corner until the ref broke it up. Burch showed some fire with some strikes. Dain ended that rally by tripping Burch off the top rope. Dain came back with strong strikes of his own over a knelt Burch. Burch showed more fire with forearms but Dain caught him in the Fireman carry slam to the running Senton.
Dain hit a running elbow to keep the pressure on Burch. Burch made another rally with a missile dropkick and a kip up. Burch followed up with a headbutt and uppercut. Dain ran through Burch’s signature uppercut with a running dropkick. Killian Dain hit an Electric Chair Driver (similar to Omega’s One Winged Angel) for the victory. I think they called it Ulcer Plantation…
Killian Dain defeated Danny Burch via pinfall in 2:50.
After the match, Hideo Itami was shown arriving to Full Sail before the commercial break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Good showcase for the artist formerly known as Big Damo. The guy has a lot of agility for a guy of his wide frame. Danny Burch has also gotten himself in good shape and deserves another look at by WWE as more than just NXT’s perennial jobber.
A Patrick Clark prince-esque vignette aired where he was called the Velveteen Dream. After the break, Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic made their way to the ring. They faced local jobbers…
2. Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic vs. Ricardo Watts and Hector Kunsman. Otis ran through one of the jobbers quickly and hit him with a Suplex. Knight tagged in and they hit a double headbutt on one of the guys named Watts. Kunsman was tossed around and was pressed by the stomachs of Heavy Machinery.
Kunsman was given a belly to belly followed up by a splash to both men in the corner. Dozovic grabbed both men up and they hit their assisted World’s Strongest Slam move for the win.
Heavy Machinery defeated Ricardo Watts and Hector Kunsman.
HM grabbed the mics after. Knight talked while Dozovic yelled. Otis said boom shacka loo. Knight said they love having a good time, carb sodas, and hitting the buffet before gym. Otis yelled “Steaks and Weights baybay”. the crowd chanted Steaks and Weights. Knights mentioned how they squash bodies. They said they had a few appetizers but want the main course, the Authors of Pain, now. Knight said the AoP have defeated every team in front of them but have not faced Beef like Heavy Machinery. Knight said he and Dozie were getting hungry so it was about time they ate…
John’s Thoughts: Heavy Machinery continues to surprise me every time they show up. They are rookies, and they seem limited, but they are the best example of playing to your strengths. Otis has been my favorite and he kinda looks and acts like a much much heavier Sami Callihan both in look and feral mannerisms. Tucker Knight impressed me a bit with some competent mic confidence in the end there and I continue to enjoy watching the growth of this fun and energetic big man tag team.
Chris Jericho was shown as Tom Phillips told us that their new single Judas was the theme for the next Takeover show. DIY was interviewed next on their responses to Heavy Machinery. Tommaso Ciampa called them Big and Guys. Johnny Gargano said they were big guys with the size to win the prize. Gargano said DIY are guys not with the size but they want to win the prize the NXT Championship. Gargano talked about being owed a fair rematch for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Gargano talked about the line starting behind DIY. Kona Reeves made his entrance back in the arena. Phillips recapped a clip where Roode was chatting with Kona Reeves before the match…
3. Hideo Idami vs. Kona Reeves. Kona Reeves pummeled Hideo before the bell. Nigel approved of the attack and said that the pre match attack was probably due to the Roode influence. Reeves ran into turnbuckle early on but managed to gain the upper hand. Reeves went for a few quick pin attempts early on. Reeves shoved the face of Itami next. Itami nosold a boot and slapped the face of Reeves.
Itami mounted a rally and topped it off with nice roundhouse kicks. Itami hit a punch on Reeves. Itami hit roundhouses on Reeves in the corner followed by a running dropkick. Itami hit the GTS on Reeves to pick up the victory.
Hideo Itami defeated Kona Reeves via pinfall in 2:09.
Highlights from the match were shown. Percy Watson hyped the women’s number one contender battle royal. Phillips told us we were getting Part 2 of the Roderick Strong documentary for after the break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A lot of squash matches tonight, but all effective squashes in showcasing the movesets of many wrestlers. NXT is back in business with the development of talent as opposed to presenting random house show matches. Itami looks great so far and carries himself more like a star now. I like how his moveset has refined itself to look very similar to all the good parts of Daniel Bryan’s moveset with a little CM Punk in the end, but of course he innovated this moveset for the two aforementioned wrestlers. The key with Itami now is that he stays healthy because his crux has been the injury bug, but maybe the injuries gave him time to be introspective and train as to how to be a WWE star.
A Drew Galloway vignette aired that showed his quest from being Vince McMahon’s chosen one to signing with NXT. His promo of having Raw talent and can Smackdown anybody overlayed clips from his matches. Percy Watson talked about how Drew was one of the toughest guys he’s ever faced. Tom then transitioned to what Roderick Strong is currently up to in “Sports Entertainment”…
Roderick Strong was shown unpacking stuff with his fiancé. Strong told us his fiancé was Marina Shafir, who was at WrestleMania as one of Ronda Rousey’s four horsewomen. Strong was shown setting up a baby crib. Strong said you can’t write this happy story especially now that he’s a dad. Strong said he has a checklist he’s working on becoming a dad.
Strong said it’s his dream to be with his soulmate and to have a child. Strong said he’s the best person of himself, a dad, a person. He then let out a “holy shit”. Strong talked about this being only the beginning. Strong’s mom said he was board to do this and Wrestling was who he was. They showed clips of Strong’s independent career. Strong said he always knew there was a world beyond St. Petersburg, Florida and how he will reach success in this business.
Strong said he saw wrestling on television yet didn’t know how big independent wrestling was. Strong said the indies are a good place to make your mistakes before you make it to the next level. Scott Hall congratulated Strong backstage. Strong was shown training in his ROH shirt. He was doing judo rolls. Strong said Ring of Honor was where pure wrestlers shine. He said he busted his ass to try to earn respect. Strong said he was with ROH for 13 years and became Mr. Ring of Honor. Strong said he wasn’t okay with being in the opening match and wanted an opportunity.
Strong said he got the call from NXT to sign and he said “yep!”. Strong said he wants to carry NXT on his back as a workhorse. Strong said he is where he never thought he would be. He said if he went back in time to talk to a kid Roderick he would tell him to not be afraid. Strong cried at this point. Strong said he would tell a child him that everything was going to be okay. Strong was shown giving his baby a kiss. Strong said he wasn’t doing this for just him anymore. Strong said professional wrestling saved his life. Strong said he’s motivated by so many things and that will never change. Marina said this was special. Strong said he wasn’t winning the NXT for himself, he was doing it for “my fiancé, my child, I’m doing it for my family, and for the first time in my life, I get to do something for MY family!”…
Roode and Regal were shown watching the documentary from Regal’s simple office. Regal said that was quite the story while Roode made it look like he was more distracted by his cell phone. Regal said he was discussing Roode’s next opponent with him. Roode cut Regal off and said Regal was doing a good job by signing a person like Roode. Roode talked about drawing the most money at Takeover: Orlando. Roode said Roode’s face is the money and nobody wants a paycut. Roode called Itami reckless. Regal said he thinks Roode is trying to say that Itami has to earn an opportunity. Regal said Roode was right. Roode said he was impressed by Roderick Strong from the video and next week we’re getting a Roode vs. Itami match for number one contendership at Takeover: Chicago. Roderick Strong entered the room for a meeting with Regal. Roode glared at Strong on his way out…
John’s Thoughts: I only draw tears when it counts, and that documentary counted. I didn’t think they could top last week’s emotional masterpiece and they did with more of a feel-good one. I would definitely recommend you go out of your way to see both parts of the Roderick Strong documentary. Props to the Full Sail and WWE production teams for doing this. Now I want to see the guy win the NXT Championship for his family.
Lacy Evans (Macey Estrella) entered the ring first for the battle royal. Tom Phillips reminded us of her military background. She had a 1920s prohibition era gimmick. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce were out next. They both wore “Iconic” tank tops. Nikki Cross came out by herself without her Sanity teammates… [C]
We were told that next week Aleister Black was in action, presumably to kick someone’s head off again. Liv Morgan was given the next entrance as the ring was filled up with a few unknowns during the commercial. Ruby Riot was also given a full entrance. Daria Barrinato was in the ring. Ember Moon came out last. I’m pretty sure we all know who the favorite is. Moon didn’t wear her red contacts this time…
4. 15 Women Battle Royal for number one contendership of the NXT Women’s Championship. Madness ensued. Victoria Gonzalez was the tallest/biggest of the women that the commentators pointed out. I think I see Rachel Ellering in there somewhere. Lacy Evans saved herself from being eliminated. Is that Candice LaRae? I’m not sure, there was just your usual Battle Royal madness… [C]
Madness continued to ensue. Victoria Gonzalez was the only woman eliminated. Bianca Blair was yanked off the apron by her braided ponytail to eliminated her by Royce and Kay. Ember Moon and Aliyah tried to double team to eliminate Ellering. More madness ensued. Royce skinned the cat during this. Aliyah eliminated Rachel Ellering which drew some boos. Sarah Bridges was eliminated followed by Daria and Lacey Evans. Daria was pissed at Evans.
Kimber Lee was eliminated next by Ruby Riot. I got a laugh out of Sarah Bridges who wore regular person clothes to the match. Candice LaRae was eliminated next which drew more boos. They just called her Candice, but I assume it was Larae due to the crowd knowing who she was (the camera didn’t show her face). Aliyah was eliminated by Nikki Cross. Cross hugged the second rope to avoid elimination. We were down to five women at this point.
Ruby Riot Skinned the cat followed by Liv Morgan. Cross ripped off Morgan’s hands to eliminate her. Kay and Royce double teamed moon as usual. Moon eliminated Kay with a superkick off the apron. Moon avoided elimination and dragged Royce with her to the apron. Moon managed to suplex Royce to the outside. Cross, Riot, and Moon were the final three.
McGuinness assumed Moon and Riot would double team Cross due to past history and they did. Cross managed to get the upper hand over both women. Nikki Cross slowly managed to get Moon over the top rope. Riot hit Cross with double knees to the back of the head. Moon then hit Cross with the Eclipse. Moon was dead weight at this point. Moon gave some kicks to Riot who was in good condition. Moon hit a signature forearm on Riot. Asuka ran out to trip Moon off the top rope to cause the Disqualification
The Battle Royal ended in a no-contest/disqualification in about 11:20 of TV time.
Asuka hopped around in the ring and kicked Ruby Riot. Asuka gave a basement dropkick to Cross. Asuka jumped around in the ring in joy and said no one was ready for Asuka. Asuka was in street attire as her three possible contenders were all laid out in the arena. Ember Moon sold a shoulder injury. Riot and Cross struggled to get up. The commentators didn’t know what to talk about at this point and went into somber mode.
William Regal came out. He said Asuka will face all three ladies in a fatal four way. Moon still struggled on the ground with what may or may not be a legit shoulder injury. The show ended with Nikki Cross laughing sadistically…
John’s Thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of these get everyone on the show battle royals, and I was afraid it was going to be a waste of time by the end of it, but it wasn’t. Nikki Cross in particular looked strong in dispatching of the cannon fodder women early on. It was also a good job by NXT for putting independent darlings Ellering, Kimber Lee, and LaRae in to keep their attention and it worked. Cross looked strong here and some good developments happened with the ending sequence and subsequent Asuka run-in. Even though this was a “TNA finish”, NXT doesn’t do it every single week, so it worked and Asuka is showing more confidence in her more heelish persona.
Most of this show was enhancement and squashing, but it all served a purpose. NXT is starting to get back to where it used to be and I’m starting to like this “new era”. NXT worked on the Tag Division, Women’s Division, and main event division tonight, all in one solid hour. I already made a TNA reference in the last paragraph, but NXT is truly “Making NXT Great Again” without using the Donald Trump tagline and also unlike Impact Wrestling, this is not just lip service. NXT is trying old things but with a new twist and the shows are getting fun to watch again. Look, if you don’t like squash matches, you have to at least watch the Roderick Strong documentary. I’ll have more to say in my NXT Audio Review for members tomorrow morning.