By John Moore
WWE NXT TV
Taped April 19, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Before the intro video, a quick teaser aired hyping the Hideo Itami vs. Roderick Strong match for number one contendership for a match against NXT Champion Bobby Roode at NXT Takeover: Chicago. Tom Phillips, who was joined on commentary by Nigel McGuiness and Percy Watson, welcomed us to Full Sail University for NXT and quickly moved on to the entrance of Aleister Black.
1. Aleister Black vs. Cezar Bononi. Cezar was hyped up by Watson as tall and skilled at martial arts. Black out Martial Art’ed him and did a flip to a meditation pose to start the match. Bononi managed to get the upper hand a bit and challenged Black to strikes. Black gained the upper hand with a knee to the face. Black used his knee as a grapple hook to set up Bononi for the Black Mass kick for the victory.
Aleister Black defeated Cezar Bononi via pinfall in 1:29.
They cut to a slow motion clip of Black’s knee to Bononi. Black went back to his meditative pose in the middle of the ring as his music played. Tom Phillips cut to clips of last week’s Women’s battle royal. The focus on the video was Asuka’s post-match attack on her potential opponents. They cut to an angry William Regal backstage who told Asuka that she would be facing all three women.
Phillips then cut to Ember Moon being treated by the NXT nurse and informed the viewers that Ember Moon was pulled from the match due to an injury. Ember Moon said the update was simple, she’s out of Takeover: Chicago and when she gets back she’ll be better than ever. Tom Phillips hyped up the new match which was at Triple Threat minus Ember Moon. They showed Roderick Strong getting hype backstage as Phillips told us that he would be having his first match after becoming a new father… [C]
John’s Thoughts: These Aleister Black squashes haven’t gotten old yet since he finds slightly different ways to exhibit his martial arts repertoire. I was actually impressed by Bononi a bit, as he had a nice strong style aura about him and they can make him a different type of martial artist if they choose to because his strikes weren’t bad.
Back from the break, Tom Phillips announced another Takeover: Chicago match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship. Phillips cut to a video package on Pete Dunne which included clips from his initial vignette as well as highlights from the UK Tournament…
Philips reiterated the earlier point on Ember Moon’s injury changing the landscape at Takeover: Chicago. Cut to a Ruby Riot vignette where she talked about the question “Who is Ruby Riot”? Ruby said she was a small town kid who wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. Ruby said people define her by her tattoos and in some ways they’re right. Riot said each of her tattoos tell a story and new ones add chapters to that story. She talked about giving up relationships in her own life to becoming a champion. She talked about starting a riot. She said no one will see anything like her in the ring. Riot said getting hit makes her feel alive. She said it reminds her she has to fight to be alive. Riot said anyone who steps into the ring with her is in for the fight of her life. She said she was going to break the mold of the NXT Women’s Division…
Nikki Cross was interviewed next, which Phillips said was a hard task to do. The production guys tried to give Cross a microphone but she just toyed with him. She grabbed the mic herself and was a bit inaudible and called for Ruby. She then played around with the boom mic like a cat. They kept cutting to technical difficulties. Cross then yelled “Where is Ruby?!? Where is Asuka?!?” She then went inaudible again in talking about beating her opponents. She slowly walked to the camera to talk about taking everything away from Asuka…
Hideo Itami was shadow boxing backstage in preparation for his match. Drew McIntyre was interviewed on his thoughts of Strong’s and Itami’s match. Drew said it’s going to be a good match but he was a bid disappointed he wasn’t involved. Drew talked about learning something in this business, and that was if something wasn’t happening for you, you make it happen for yourself. Wesley Blake interrupted his interview where he told Drew to leave, again… [C]
John’s Thoughts: It’s unfortunate that Ember Moon got injured but this could be a blessing in disguise as it allows WWE to avoid overexposing her and Asuka in the ring while also giving Moon a comeback quest. Hopefully she gets back in time for Takeover: Brooklyn. That already gives away my prediction for the match and it would be easy to assume that Asuka goes over in Chicago, mostly likely with Riot taking the loss to protect Nikki Cross. Riot can absorb the loss since she has an underdog swagger to her.
Another Patrick Clark “Velveteen Dream” vignette aired where he is still doing his Prince thing. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were already in the ring for a promo. Gargano said the NXT Tag Team Champions were the biggest and the baddest but they have what DIY wants. Ciampa brought up not getting their one on one rematch again. Ciampa said only one team belongs with AoP. Gargano said the line starts behind DIY and Heavy Machinery can’t just rush in front. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli interrupted DIY. Riddick and Tino yelled and talked about the line starting behind them. Ciampa said if there was a line then these homeboys just crossed it. DIY disposed of Riddick and Tino in short order. There was a referee in the ring.
2. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli. Phillips informed us that William Regal set up this match on the fly. Ciampa was caught midair early on by Moss and isolated in his corner. Sabbatelli continued the isolation heel game. Tino and Riddick traded quick tags. Sabbatelli hit a high dropkick on Ciampa. Phillips talked about Tino Sabbatelli’s past as an NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Phillips also pointed out that Riddick Moss was a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.
Ciampa fought his way out of a headlock for a bit. Sabbatelli maintained control until Ciampa countered with a suplex. Johnny Gargano tagged in for his signature spots for the hot tag. Gargano kicked Sabbatelli to the ground and did the reverse tope to Riddick Moss. Ciampa kept the opponents outside with a knee. Gargano hit a long dart Tope on Moss with Ciampa hitting Sabbatelli with a running knee. DIY then hit Riddick Moss with their signature double kick for the victory.
DIY defeated Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli via pinfall in 5:03.
Nigel McGuinness said that Moss and Sabbatelli really proved something tonight. William Regal walked out to congratulate DIY. He announced that only one team deserves a chance at the NXT Tag Team Titles. Paul Ellering and the Authors of Pain interrupt Regal. Ellering threatened that the Authors of Pain will end the careers of DIY. He said that DIY’s blood would be on Regal’s hands. William Regal added to Ellering that he was adding another stipulation and it was that DIY vs. AoP at Takeover: Chicago will be a ladder match. This really pissed of Rezar who yelled as Ellering held back the Authors…
Kassius Ohno was interviewed about his future plans after losing his title shot. Ohno said he came to NXT for that championship. He talked about getting up after falling down. Ohno said he spent three years after falling down the last time. He said NXT has a lot of bricks now with the new setup. He hyped up a lot of the new talent before he was interrupted by Andrade Almas. Andrade called Ohno a perro. Kassius Ohno said he had an opportunity for Almas and he proposed a match for next week. Andrade Almas just walked away nodding…
John’s Thoughts: Another squash, which is the norm for NXT these days, but these squashes mean something now as the writing around the squashes have been much better. They also managed to build up the losers in most of these squashes as well, which is pretty cool. They didn’t have to do too much hype for this one, but I’m looking forward to DIY vs. AoP. Even though we aren’t going to get those Revival classics anymore AoP have proven that they can carry any tag team in NXT to great matches as well.
Chris Jericho was shown in a music video as Tom Phillips talked about Fozzy’s newest single “Judas” being one of the themes for NXT Takeover: Chicago. He then cut to a video package about Tyler Bate…
Roderick Strong was interviewed about his mindset. Strong said this is why he’s here and now it’s time. The interview was from Gorilla position as Strong’s theme played and he went out for his match against Hideo Itami. Hideo was also interviewed in Gorilla, He said he respects Roderick, but he was taking the shot and Roderick will Go to Sleep.
John’s Thoughts: It’s very subtle, but Hideo Itami is really coming off well in the promo department by toning things down to the right amount.
3. Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami for number one contendership to the NXT Championship. The referee for the match was Drake Younger. Strong went for an early leg takedown. Itami maintained a vertical base and pulled things back to standup. Itami and Strong had a stalemate sequence after the test of strength. Itami gained the early advantage by synching in a side headlock. Itami followed up with a shoulder block. Itami teased an early GTS but Strong caught on and rolled out of the ring. [C]
Itami and Strong traded advantages back from the break. Itami gained the upper hand with front kicks to a hanging Strong. Itami managed a one count after a running forearm. Itami toyed with Strong by teasing a leg drop and just wiping the bottom of his boot on Strong. Strong blocked a suplex and reversed into a front suplex on the ropes. Tom Phillips talked about Roderick’s decade long experience in “Sports Entertainment”. Itami kicked out after a Strong backbreaker. Strong converted his guard into a trap armbar. The camera focused on the surgery scar on Itami’s shoulder.
Strong followed up his armbar with a pumphandle backbreaker. Strong locked in a supported Kesa Gatame to further work on the shoulder of Itami. Itami escaped but was grounded by a strong boot by Strong. Strong grounded Itami with a high dropkick on Itami. Strong maintained control with a body scissors and triangle choke. Itami fought out and worked on Strong with roundhouse kicks. Strong pulled Itami off of the apron and hit him with a backbreaker on the apron. [C]
Strong had the side body stretch locked in back from the break. Itami fought out with a jawbreaker. Strong missed a corner splash. They took each other out with a clothesline in the middle of the ring. Itami dominated after the recovery with roundhouse kicks into a suplex. Itami blocked an incoming Strong with a boot and hit a tornado DDT on the top rope. Itami came off the top rope with a clothesline to lead to a nearfall. Itami missed a backfist. Roderick Strong came back with an Angle Slam to get a nearfall on his side.
Nigel McGuinness said both competitors were exhibiting fatigue at this point. Strong hit a back elbow on Itami. Itami came back with a backfist combo of his own. Strong caught Itami midair and hit a backbreaker on Itami. Strong put Itami on the top rope to try to go for a gutbuster but Itami fought his way out of the corner and went for a superplex. Itami did a Super Falcon Arrow leading to a really good nearfall. Strong and Itami traded fatigued strikes from the standing position. Strong gained the knockdown with a strong knee to Itami’s jaw. Itami kicked out at two.
Strong went for the Sick Kick but Itami came back with his signature Busaiku Knee. Itami couldn’t take advantage because he sold a daze. Itami went for a GTS but escaped. Itami hit a running boot to the corner on Strong. Strong struggled to get to his feet and clotheslined his way into Hideo Itami’s Go To Sleep.,,
Hideo Itami defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 15:42 to become the number one contender to the NXT Championship.
Strong and Itami continued to sell the fatigue after the match as the commentators cut to highlights from the match. Itami made it to his feet first and lifted up Strong in a show of respect. The show closed as Itami made his way to the back…
John’s Thoughts: As you would expect, this was a really good match and it’s cool to see Itami still has good matches in him after the extended time away from the ring on multiple occasions. The match was made better for the TV viewer from multiple fronts. First of all, the Strong documentary helped build him up as someone you want to see win. Another nice touch was the camera zooming in on Itami’s surgery scars as Strong was working on the shoulder of Itami. From a technical standpoint, everything was smart and they put together a stellar effort. I would say this is Hideo Itami’s best match in NXT so far, but it’s a bit tough to remember a lot of his early NXT matches given that he’s been gone for so long. That said, I like that Itami is tweaking his in-ring style in NXT to reflect what we knew of him before he came to WWE.
NXT continues to roll on and put on some good television while rebuilding the roster top to bottom. As I pointed out earlier, they are even doing a good job with the losers of the enhancement matches from people like Dylan Miley, Kona Reeves, Tino Sabbatelli, to Cezar Bononi. They are also rebuilding the main event division. The women’s division is being rebuilt and we got some good character packages tonight building up Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot. All across the board, NXT has been solid after WrestleMania.
On a personal note, I will be moving over to writing the Hit Lists for NXT as our lead NXT expert Zack Zimmerman is returning to doing live coverage of the show beginning next week. Dot Net Members will still get one more audio review from me tomorrow.