By John Moore
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped October 4, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
The NXT intro theme played. Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness checked in from the commentary table. Nigel cut to a clip of a Drew McIntyre tweet saying that Andrade Almas has finally grown a set. William Regal responded to Drew’s tweet by tweeting that he was booking Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade Almas at NXT Takeover: Houston. Mauro Ranallo hyped a Drew McIntyre and Andrade Almas contract signing for this episode. Nigel hyped up that Sanity will defend their Tag Team Championships against The Authors of Pain in the main event of this episode.
Taynara Conti then made her entrance wearing a Judo Gi over her ring gear. Taynara bowed before entering the ring which is a cardinal rule for a martial arts practitioner (and part of the reason Quinn Moose Ojinaka deserved to get his ass beat by an MMA gym on the Impact Wrestling show. Sorry about my TNA allusion but this was timely). Percy and Mauro talked about her expertise in Judo. Nikki Cross made her entrance, but before going down the ramp she stood in front of the NXT Women’s Championship on a pedestal like she was Gollum and the belt was The One Ring. Nigel talked about how Conti cost Cross a chance to win the championship, but Regal undid her interference by giving Cross a second chance which Cross succeeded at…
1. Taynara Conti vs. Nikki Cross. Jessika Carr, was the referee for this match. Cross went crazy on Conti to start off the match. Conti tried to run outside but Cross maintained pursuit. Cross trapped Conti in the cloth apron and laid punches on her. Conti tried to hold on to the ropes to escape Cross but Cross kicked her hand off the rope. Conti snuck in an overhead kick and gained an advantage over Cross. Conti introduced some of her Judo moves in a form of an arm trap pin attempt. Cross made it to her knees and had a masochistic smile on her face.
Cross ordered Conti to attack her with no resistance on Cross’s end. Conti gave a roundhouse kick to the shoulder of Cross. Conti gave Cross some short-arm boots after Cross asked for more. Cross escaped and did a double knife throat punch to Conti. Cross grounded Conti with a shortarm lariat. Cross then continued her onslaught. Conti was stuck in the Tree of Woe where she received boots from Cross. Cross then gave Conti a Scorpion Death Drop. Cross hit Conti with the fisherman neckbreaker for the win.
Nikki Cross defeated Taynara Conti via pinfall in 2:34.
Nigel commented on the highlights from the match. Nigel gave more hype to the NXT Women’s Championship Fatal Four Way. They then cut to a shot of Paul Ellering standing in front of the Authors of Pain locker room. He was clutching his hands and ring like everything was going according to keikaku. Nigel told us that Johnny Gargano would be facing Fabian Aichner after the commercial… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Pretty much a one-sided squash in the favor of the established Nikki Cross. However, as I’ve been harping on for weeks, every segment on NXT serves an actual purpose and the purpose of this match was to tie up a loose end from a few weeks ago where Adam Cole sent Conti to disrupt Cross/Sanity. Nice attention to detail as usual from this show. As for Conti, she still needs a little more seasoning in the ring and she needs a better character. I’m not digging the generic mopey heel demeanor. She also comes off as too adorable to be badass so maybe NXT should focus on the adorable aspects of Conti?
Power Trip was hyped us as one of the bands providing theme music for NXT Takeover: Houston. Mauro cut to Christy St. Cloud interviewing Mercedes Martinez after her elimination last week. Cloud wanted a prediction from Martinez. Instead, Martinez decided to throw some shade in the direction of Ember Moon by saying that Moon can’t win big matches…
Fabian Aichner made his entrance. Mauro talked about how Aichner has gained enough weight since the Cruiserweight Classic to move up to the heavyweight division. Mauro called Aichner an “agile heavyweight”.
John’s Thoughts: Fabian Aichner knows what’s up! All you have to do is gain a lot of muscle/weight to avoid being sent to 205 Live Hell! Joking aside, Aichner impressed during his first showing and I was hyped up to him at the recommendation from former Dot Net staffer Darren Guttridge’s Progress Wrestling reviews.
2. Fabian Aichner vs. Johnny Gargano. Aichner and Gargano started off with a chain wrestling sequence. Gargano had the advantage rolling on the ground. Mauro pointed out that Aichner is the second ever wrestler to be under a WWE Contract that was born in Italy. Mauro said the first ever was Bruno Sammartino. Gargano slipped into a sunset flip bomb for a two count. Gargano then hit Aichner with a huracanrana and dropkick to get a two count. Aichner caught a flying Gargano and hit him with a jumping powerslam. Gargano sidestepped Aichner to send him outside. Gargano went for a plancha but Aichner showed off his strength by catching Gargano mid-air and hitting him with Snake Eyes on the barricade. [C]
Mauro talked about Aichner locking in a Bruno Sammartino like bear hug. Gargano caught Aichner with a back elbow and set up his signature basement rolling roundhouse. Gargano took down the big man with clotheslines and forearms. Aichner ran the ropes and ran right into a slingshot spear from Aichner. Gargano got a two count. Mauro talked about how Gargano used the slingshot spear to dispatch Riddick Moss. Mauro also talked about how Gargano currently looks depressed after not being able to beat Aichner with his signature move.
Aichner hit Gargano with a delayed front suplex. Aichner showed some impressive agility with a slingshot into a springboard moonsault which Gargano sidestepped. Gargano came back with an innovative slingshot DDT. Lots of slingshots. Gargano got a two count and Nigel pointed out the frustration that Gargano is showing from not putting away his opponents. Gargano hit Aichner with a knife edge chop. Aichner pushed Gargano off. Gargano caught Aichner with a boot. Aichner caught Gargano again and hit him with a backbreaker and pancake powerbomb pin. Gargano kicked off.
Gargano and Aichner traded strong strikes. Aichner pushed Gargano into the ropes to set up Gargano for a pop up tilt a whirl backbreaker that would make Roderick Strong blush! Gargano sidestepped another Aichner springboard moonsault. Gargano hit Aichner with a roundhouse in the corner Aichner blocked La Mistica which sets up GarganNo’s Escape. Aichner used a La Magistral cradle to pick up the win on Gargano.
Fabien Aichner defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall in 6:44 of TV Time.
Mauro sold the upset that Aichner just earned over the established Gargano. Gargano’s face continued to sell disappointment and PTSD from being down on his luck. Mauro called NXT a proving ground and “Land of Opportunity” (somewhere Shane McMahon shed a tear). Drew McIntyre was shown in William Regal’s office where he signed the contract for his match at takeover (wait? I thought we were getting this in-ring?)… [C]
John’s Thoughts: What a splendid match. Gargano and Oney Lorcan are two wrestlers where you see their name on a card and you know you are going to get a must-watch spectacle on that show. Aichner was impressive for his second showing in a row. Aichner reminds me a bit of Apollo Crews (f.k.a. Uhaa Nation) in being the perfect mix of power and agility. Where Aichner currently has the edge is Crews always has a stupid grin on his face while Aichner’s face sells intensity. Going back to Gargano. As I said, this show makes sure to make every segment mean something and they are continuing to build up the Gargano and Ciampa feud with nice subtlety Gargano’s struggles are also very relatable because they are alluding to real life mental health issues that people struggle with every day, PTSD and depression.
An Aleister Black cinematic played from Black’s gothic church. Black said Patrick Clark wishes to be loved and adored by many and wants to make a name of himself. Black said NXT Takeover: Houston will be a day that Dream never forgets. Black said Dream wanted Black’s attention and now he’s got it. Black lifted his head out of meditation and the candles in Black’s church shrine blew out. Nigel McGuinness told us that Aleister Black will be facing Velveteen Dream at NXT Takeover: Houston. Mauro then did his plug for NXT action figures.
John’s Thoughts: Oh my lordy! That was very Lucha Underground-esque and I’m not complaining because it was good. Plus, Aleister Black seems like a character that would fit well in the supernatural Lucha Underground universe. Oh! I get shivers in my spine every week they develop this feud! Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream is, and I say again, my favorite feud in professional wrestling at the moment, which boggles my mind. Who would have thought that Patrick Freakin’ Clark would evolve to such a dark and intricate character and how well it would mesh with the gothic Aleister Black character?
They cut to the Street Profits taking a video of them admiring someone’s Maserati. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli walked in and talked about how it was their car. Angelo Dawkins had the perfect reaction and said “our?” in regards to both Moss and Sabbatelli holding dual ownership over a car. Sabbatelli and Moss talked about being rich. Moss said Montez Ford was wearing fake gold chains. Moss then asked that the Profits stay away from their car. Ford talked to the camera and said that Moss and Sabbatelli are just hating on people that work hard…
Back at Full Sail, Drew McIntyre made his entrance with the title match contract in hand. Andrade Almas blindsided McIntyre at the top of the ramp and put the boots to him. Zelina Vega was also around. Almas put the boots and punches on McIntyre. Almas quickly took the title and aggressively threw it on top of Drew. Andrade Cien Almas signed the contract. Almas took chewing gum out of Vega’s mouth and put it on the contract paper to literally stick it to Drew McIntyre as Mauro put it. Drew McIntyre was writhing in pain as they cut to commercial… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Simple, effective, and unique. What more could you ask for? This was a solid segment. I still think they’re going to this title match a bit too soon because Almas could use more time rebuilding his credibility and this match is not too far removed from Drew McIntyre defeating Almas in a squash match right before Thea Trinidad joined NXT.
The Marmozets were shown as the second band providing the official theme song for NXT Takeover: Houston. Mauro Ranallo then ran down the card of NXT Takeover: Houston which just had Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade Almas added to it for the NXT Championship. Nigel cut to footage of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay at the performance center. Kay and Royce were ranting about Billie Kay not being in the fatal four way. Kay and Royce also mocked Kairi Sane’s pirate gimmick. Kairi Sane walked in with her navigator wheel. Sane pointed her elbow at Kay which freaked out Kay. Sane smiled, saluted, and walked off. Royce asked Kay why did she point her elbow at Kay? Mauro then advertised Billie Kay vs. Kairi Sane for next week…
John’s Thoughts: Shout out to a dot net reader who recommended that I listen to the Marmozets, and I have to say that this Takeover’s theme “Play” from the band sounds really fitting and good. Not to mention, I’m a huge fan of punk rock and good usage of minor chords, so great recommendation and that song was good background music for the NXT matches bumper cards. I also like to mention, that NXT is hitting home runs in my book with their music choice for the Takeover shows! They’ve done a good mix of different rock genres. They even had JPop for the Brooklyn show!
Back at Full Sail, Sanity made their entrance sans Killian Dain and Nikki Cross since Regal banned them from ringside. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe were representing Sanity. The Authors of Pain came out next with Paul Ellering leading them to the ring. Ellering stayed away from ringside. Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions (hmmm? Where’s Mike Rome? Not to knock on Kayla, but Mike is just such a good MC for NXT.)…
3. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe vs. Akam and Rezar for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Eric Young was overpowered by an author. We found out that this was Rezar. Akam then tagged in and yelled in a foreign language while beating up EY. EY did some of his EY yells and punched Akam to his corner to tag in Wolfe for some tandem offense. Mauro talked about Wolfe being the first German recruit of the Performance Center and how Wolfe started his “sports entertainment” training at the age of 13. Akam kicked out at one. Young and Wolfe made quick tags to keep Akam isolated. Wolfe gave Rezar a boot. Akam was able to blindside Wolfe and hit him with a Death Valley Driver in his corner to allow for the tag to Rezar.
The Authors traded quick tags to turn the tables and isolate Wolfe from Young. Nigel pointed out how it was conspicuous that Paul Ellering was not at ringside and questioned whether if it was smart to not have him providing a gameplan. [C]
Rezar dominated Wolfe with a guillotine choke. Mauro talked about how Rezar was the youngest NXT Tag Team Champion when he won the title at the young age of 22. Wolfe tried to rally to his corner but Rezar gave him a knee. Akam tagged in and did a tandem legdrop on Wolfe. Akam spoke in his language and said something about NXT. Rezar tagged in and continued the isolation game. Wolfe grounded Rezar with a desperation boot to allow a small window of opportunity for a tag. Both men tagged their partners and Young was the one with the hot rally. Young caught Akam with a jumping neckbreaker. Wolfe gave Rezar a German Suplex and EY hit Akam with a diving elbow drop.
Wolfe blind tagged himself in and surprised Akam with a top rope clothesline. Sanity hit Rezar with a reverse 3D. Rezar broke up the pin attempt. Rezar took down Wolfe with a strong lariat. The AOP came out on top and hit Sanity with the Super Collider. The Authors then hit Eric Young with the Last Chapter. Adam Cole then broke up the pin to lead to a no contest since the Undisputed Era ran in to beat up everyone.
Sanity vs. The Authors of Pin ended in a no-contest in about 7:29 of TV Time.
The Undisputed Era dominated since they had the numbers advantage over isolating the pairs against their trio. Killian Dain ran in looking like a Shield member but he was too late since the other pairs were dispatched which allowed Dain to get smothered three-on-one. With everyone laid out Roderick Strong made his entrance wearing casual clothing. The Era struck a fighting pose but Strong calmed them down by showing that he was accepting the Undisputed Era armband. Fish and O’Reilly held up an author and yelled at Roddy to take him down. Roderick Strong swerved the Era and attacked Cole. Cole retreated to the crowd. The Authors of Pain joined Strong to outnumber reDRagon three-to-two. Fish and O’Reilly retreated with Cole holding his jaw in shock on the outside. William Regal then showed up at the top of the ramp. Regal had the NXT Takeover: Houston behind him. Regal said he was booking a Trios Triple Threat between Sanity, The Undisputed Era, and The Authors of Pain w/ Roderick Strong. Regal said this wasn’t going to be a regular match because they have to contain this chaos. Regal talked about how this special match hasn’t been used in over 20 years. Regal booked the Trios Triple Threat in two rings in a War Games match. The Takeover Logo changed behind Regal to re-brand the show as NXT Takeover: War Games. Sanity and the Authors looked pleased while Adam Cole held his head in shock and fear.
John’s Thoughts: While not as good as their Takeover encounter, Sanity and the Authors still put in a good performance in a match that was not meant to steal the show given that the focus was on the post-match angles. I give credit to the Authors though, they have definitely evolved in the ring and have become very dynamic monsters. The only slight nitpick with them is the crowd is obviously at-odds as to whether to cheer or boo them which was the position they were in in the last tag title match. Luckily, Sanity have proven to be strong enough fan favorites on their end but it would help if they settle the Authors into a specific role. Maybe they are faces now since they are attached to Roderick Strong who is an epitome of the title “White Meat Babyface”.
Speaking of Strong, it was a bit clunky the way they created this forced swerve situation that didn’t need to happen. It looks like they’re trying too hard to make Undisputed Era an NWO/DX copycat to the point and it just makes it look like Adam Cole is just setting up shop by opening up his branch of the Young Bucks’ Elite franchise. Thankfully, this clunky iota can be ignored since inserting Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly into what was already an entertaining Sanity vs. AoP feud can only make things better.
Yet another solid NXT episode in the books and NXT continues to be the best and most efficient wrestling show on television today. Raw and Smackdown are extremely inefficient, 205 Live sucks most weeks, Impact Wrestling has hit rock bottom, and ROH is hit or miss, so I feel safe in saying that. Again, it’s all about making every single segment serve a purpose. They also do all this great build in a small one hour package. I’ll be back later today with my NXT audio review.