By John Moore
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped September 14, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Before the teaser, NXT started off with the graphic that said “Stand with Las Vegas” as prayers go out to the tragic events of this past week. The intro teaser focused on hyping up the Drew McIntyre vs. Roderick Strong NXT championship match set as the main event of this episode…
Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness were on commentary. Mauro hyped up the return of Aleister Black for this episode. Nigel hyped up the main event of this show between McIntyre and Strong. Ruby Riot made her way for a two on one match against the Iconic Duo. This was titled a Tag Team Match?..
1. Ruby Riot vs. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce in a tag team match? Billie Kay dominated early on with a fireman carry takedown. Riot escaped with a head-scissors and dropkick. Royce tagged in. Riot tried to go for a rollup. Riot hit a body slam. Riot punched down Kay and hit a reverse senton splash on Royce. Kay made the blind tag to initiate a two on one on Riot.
Riot almost got the win with a crucifix takedown. Kay blocked the double knees and then took Riot back to her corner to tag in Royce for the double team. Royce mocked Riot for not having a tag partner as the duo continued their double teaming. Nikki Cross then snuck in like the last time and made it to Riot’s corner. Riot escaped a rest hold and hit a facebuster on Royce. Riot was apprehensive but ultimately accepted the tag with Nikki Cross.
Cross made the hot tag and took down both heels. Cross hit a crossbody on Kay. Cross hit a Scorpion Death Drop on Kay. Royce broke up the pin. Royce and Kay hit a facebuster knee combo. Nigel pointed out how he’s seen the duo defeat many opponents with that knee (really? They can’t even beat Ember Moon two on one!) Riot took out Royce and Cross made a rollup attempt. Cross was psychotic on the back of Kay. Riot tagged in and hit both of the women with a double dropkick. Riot won the match with a Pele Kick.
Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross defeated Billie Kay and Peyton Royce via pinfall in 6:53.
Mauro and Watson were trying to figure out the agenda of Nikki Cross. Mauro cut to highlights from Lars Sullivan from last week…
John’s Thoughts: This is not the most logical of builds. For one, they had William Regal flat out refuse to book this match unless Riot finds a partner. I get how Riot won’t team with Cross due to their extreme matchups, but there’s Ember Moon, Lacey Evans, Liv Morgan, Sara Logan, and others who have hated Kay and Royce’s guts. Also, the “Tag team match” billing just telegraphs a moment that shouldn’t be happening in the first place because it just doesn’t make sense.
Christy St. Clair interviewed Lars Sullivan about his rage and how Danny Burch challenged him to a match. Sullivan said he’s in control of all he does. Sullivan said unequivocally and categorically he’s always in control yet his opponents are afraid of his uncontrollable rage. Sullivan said they should be afraid. Sullivan warned Danny Burch to be in control of Burch’s fear to prep for next week’s match… [C]
Zelina Vega was outside of Full Sail on her cell. She was interviewed about Gargano being granted a match against Almas. Vega talked about being able to pull at Gargano’s heart strings without contact in the match. Vega said a win will get Almas closer to the NXT Championship. The interviewer asked about a possible loss. Vega said “Johnny Irrelevant” was brought back to life by sharing the ring with Almas. Vega said that Gargano’s lifeline was “boop” dead. They then cut to clips of Eric Young vs. Adam Cole from last week. Cole’s team is now called “The Undisputed Era” and they would be facing Sanity in a trios match in two weeks…
Aleister Black vs. Lio Rush was supposed to take place. As Black was making his entrance, Velveteen Dream Patrick Clark ran in and beat up on Lio Rush. Clark went to the top rope and did some hip gyrations to taunt Black. Clark hit an impressive high elbow drop on Rush. Black slowly walked to the ring as Clark crawled around on the ground like a snake. Black jumped into his meditation pose in the ring as Clark slithered out to the ramp. Clark asked Black “what’s my name! Say My Name!… Acknowledge me!”. Mauro Ranallo hyped up Kairi Sane (Kairi Hojo) debuting on NXT after the commercial… [C]
John’s Thoughts: It took a while and several reboots of the same Prince rip-off, but Patrick Clark is really coming into his own as a character and I’m very intrigued to see his development from here on out. He’s always been solid in-ring, the problem for the longest time is he’s come off as a generic cosplayer. There’s a little bit of Goldust in him with the flamboyance, but where Clark is currently excelling is he’s finally coming off as original as opposed to being a Prince or Goldust ripoff, it’s more inspired. I want to see this at a takeover now and I want that takeover finish to be a draw to start off Clark’s development.
Kairi Sane made her entrance as Mauro Ranallo and Kayla Braxton announced Sane as the winner of the Mae Young Classic. Her opponent was already in the ring…
2. Kairi Sane vs. Alliyah. Sane dominated the headlock sequence and took down Alliyah with a forearm. Alliyah landed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Alliah hit a few short-arm kicks and a reverse Natural Selection on Sane. Alliyah hit a bow and arrow backbreaker on Sane. Sane escaped with a few knees. Sane ran shoulder first into the ringpost. Alliyah laid in some shots on Sane. Sane came back with her strong spear. Sane gave Alliyah a few chops to corner her. Sane walked the plank into a shoulder tackle and basement lariat. Sane then hit her insane elbow drop for the win.
Kairi Sane defeated Alliyah via pinfall in 3:09.
Mauro said Kairi Sane was already in the NXT women’s championship four way due to winning the Mae Young. Drew McIntyre was shown psyching himself up backstage… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I can’t tell whether it was Sane’s credit or Alliyah’s but that’s the best we’ve seen Alliyah in an NXT ring. On one hand, Alliyah has tagged and wrestled the clumsy Liv Morgan a lot, but WWE even did a documentary on her about how they thought she wasn’t developing (Breaking Ground). She was 19, when they signed her so there’s always time to grow, but she looked good here. Sane is a ball of charisma, character, and intensity. She’s worked with a few of WWE’s greener talents and made them look like a million bucks. Here’s another source of intrigue where it’ll be interesting to see Sane anchor (pun intended) the NXT Women’s division.
Mauro advertised Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce vs. Liv Morgan in a Women’s Championship qualifying match as well as Andrade Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for next week…
John’s Thoughts: NXT prospers by doing a great job hyping matches for the following week as hooks. By the way, they’ve really underplayed this McIntyre vs. Strong championship match with minimal build and video packages. Which has me thinking they are telegraphing Adam Cole interference…
Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions for the NXT Championship match (and good for her for no-selling the crowd’s “One Fall” attempt)…
3. Drew McIntyre vs. Roderick Strong for the NXT Championship. Nigel brought up some figures by saying that the average NXT Championship reign is 140 days with some people like Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn only having the title for a few weeks. Nigel also compared how both men have a similar finisher with the Sick Kick vs. The Claymore. Drew overpowered Strong with a shoulder block as Mauro said one of the stories of the match is Drew’s power vs. Strong’s tact. [C]
Strong hit a dropkick on McIntyre and dominated for a sequence but McIntyre slowed down Strong with a kick. Strong hit an overhead belly-to-belly on Strong. Strong rolled to the outside for some recovery. McIntyre gave Strong a chop and snake eyes on the barricade. Strong snuck in a tiger feint kick on McIntyre. Strong hit a diving tiger knee on McIntyre. McIntyre threw Strong’s back into the apron.
Strong hit McIntyre with a backbreaker on the steel steps. Strong hit a backbreaker on McIntyre back in the ring. Strong hit a basement dropkick and pin attempt. Strong then followed up with a cradle backbreaker Strong put the boots to McIntyre in the corner. Strong locked in a stretch with a gable grip. McIntyre threw Strong into a turnbuckle with an Irish Whip. McIntyre went high risk but was caught midair by a Roderick Strong dropkick.
Strong hit a boot and slicing kick on McIntyre. Strong hit an elbow combo on McIntyre. McIntyre countered with a suplex toss. [C]
Strong and McIntyre traded strikes. McIntyre dominated with a big boot. Strong came back with a boot of his own but McIntyre returned the favor. McIntyre hit a reverse Alabama Slam on Strong. Strong blocked the Future Shock and hit McIntyre with a few knees. Strong hit the Olympic Slam on McIntyre for a nearfall. McIntyre planted Strong into the mat with a popup spinebuster. McIntyre went for a super move but Strong escaped the top rope. Strong staggered McIntyre with an enziguri. Strong hit a Superplex on Drew to get a nearfall. Mauro said we have a new champ, which means Drew would kick out.
McIntyre and Strong traded punches. Strong hit the Tiger Bomb on McIntyre to get another nearfall. McIntyre hit a short headbutt on Strong to get some recovery time for himself. McIntyre lifted Strong in fireman carry and carried him to the top rope. McIntyre hit a Super Celtic Cross on Strong. Strong had his leg on the bottom rope to break the pin attempt.
Drew tuned up the horn, but was caught by a few high knees from Strong. Strong hit three. Strong hit a flapjack slam on Drew. Strong hit McIntyre with the Sick Kick to get the convincing nearfall. Strong went for a seated senton on the outside but McIntyre gave Strong a ringpost power bomb. Drew shook his head in regret and gave Strong the Future Shock. McIntyre then lifted Strong into position to hit the Claymore Kick to pick up the win.
Drew McIntyre defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 16:18 of TV time to retain the NXT Championship.
The commentators talked over replays of the nearfalls in the match. Drew stood in the middle of the ring to acknowledge Strong as a worthy opponent. Drew held out his hand and Strong accepted the handshake. Drew posed and celebrated on the top rope. Roderick Strong walked to the top of the ramp and was met by Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era (who had new T-Shirts). Cole patted Strong on the back and congratulated Strong for a good match…
John’s Thoughts: In-ring wise, that was an amazing match. The match started off a bit slow but Strong has an automatic hype button with his backbreakers which are made even more impressive when he hits them on a giant dude like Drew. As far as match composition, this could have fit in on a Takeover show; but this match had one huge detractor. There was minimal storyline build or connection between Strong and McIntyre. Strong’s story is with Roode and McIntyre is linked closer to an encounter with Adam Cole than he is to Strong. You could see it in the crowd as they had a lack of vested interest into seeing Drew face Strong.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowd also thought we were getting Cole interference. This could have used a promo segment or press conference between the two where Strong doesn’t focus the promo on his family. Another detractor, is the commercial breaks in championship matches. This is where they can learn from Lucha Underground and put their commercial breaks heavy early in the show to prevent having to have them interfere in title matches. NXT continues to roll along as a good show top to bottom with segments that matter. I’ll have more thoughts on this show in my Audio Review…
Feedback is always appreciated and feel free to contact me via twitter @liljohnm to tweet and discuss NXT/WWE. You can also comment and discuss WWE stuff directly with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.