By John Moore
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped November 29, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
NXT started off with an official William Regal announcement. Regal said he wanted to reiterate something he said on Social Media. Regal said since Drew McIntyre is injured, there is a new opportunity to name a number one contender for the NXT Championship. Regal said there will be qualifying matches over the next few weeks to qualify for a fatal four way and the winner of the four way will become the number one contender. Regal announced Trent Seven vs. Killian Dain in the first one. In the second qualifier on this episode it was supposed to be Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream, but Dream is injured so there will be a replacement named. (By the way, I chuckled at the silhouette since the cutout looks like jacked up Welch wrestler Rob Terry. I guarantee you that this guy is not in NXT).
John’s Thoughts: A little bit of deja vu there since that was the exact same stipulations and announcement that Regal gave right after Asuka got injured. It was exact down to the qualifiers and four way. The only difference is the reigning champ is not injured. That said, it’s cool to have a straightforward “president-type” babyface authority figure that isn’t as formulaic or contrived as the main roster authority figures.
The NXT intro aired, according to the intro Sonya Deville and Ruby Riot(t) are still on the roster. Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary as Mauro wished the viewers “Seasons Greetings” and made Christmas references. Nigel hyped up the Ruby Riott vs. Sonya Deville No Holds Barred Match. Andrade Almas made his entrance. He had his face on the video wall. Andrade walked out wearing a suit and accompanied by Selina Vega. Nigel pointed out how cunning and effective Vega has been. Vega and Almas gloated around the ring. Andrade milking out his celebration outside drew some boos.
Zelina took the microphone for a promo. Vega said this was about to be a historic Championship reign. Vega told everyone to respect the man, embrace the legend, and rise for your NXT Champion, “El Idolo” (The Idol) Andrade Cien Almas. Almas drew “si” chants. Almas said he told everyone that he would be the NXT Champion. Almas yelled around the ring. Almas said he beat McIntyre. Almas mocked the fact that he hurt McIntyre. He said he was going to be champion for long time. He said “lo siento” (I’m sorry). Almas yelled “we are NXT!!!” (wut???). He said he’s the New NXT Champion and El Idolo. Percy Watson wasn’t happy so we know Almas is still a heel…[C]
John’s Thoughts: Mixed thoughts on the Almas celebration promo. It looks like they sent him out there to wing it and he did fine in the parts where he didn’t have to yell, but the yelling parts weren’t that great. He was great in the parts when he was soft spoken. I also didn’t know what he was going for with the “we are NXT” line. The guy’s a great heel and should stick to drawing heat. Vega continues to be a good adjunct to his act and is establishing herself as the Paul Heyman of NXT; and like Paul Heyman and Lesnar, Vega should be carrying most of these promos with Almas adding a few soft-spoken lines. The fact that Vega is tiny does help with the Heyman-Lesnar visual comparison.
Lars Sullivan was interviewed by what I would assume is “the press”. They wanted Lars’ thoughts on his qualifier opponent Roderick Strong. Sullivan said Strong is a hell of a competitor. Sullivan said Strong is also handsome enough to be on a men’s fitness magazine. Sullivan said Sullivan is not handsome. Sullivan said Strong likes to talk about his family but Sullivan has no family. Sullivan said he only cares about getting his hands on Strong in two weeks so he can get the NXT Championship in Philadelphia. The press wanted to know what winning the belt means to Sullivan. Sullivan said he can show the world the superstar he is and no one is going to stop him. Sullivan said the NXT Championship will be in his hands at Philadelphia…
Trent Seven made his entrance. Mauro pointed out that this seems random but Seven secured a chance to wrestle for the Championship at a NXT live event by winning a battle royal in Lakeland, FL. Seven wore a British Strong Style shirt which is his PROGRESS faction of Himself, Pete Dunne, and Tyler Bate. Dain came out to his Irish version of the Sanity theme. Mauro talked about how Dain is inspired by Fit Finlay (isn’t everyone from the UK?).
1. Trent Seven vs. Killian Dain in a Fatal-4-Way qualifying match. Female referee Jessika Carr was the ref. Seven tried to get the jump start on Dain but Dain stopped Seven with one forearm followed by a shotgun dropkick. Dain put the boots to Seven in the corner. Seven tried to muster up offense but Dain no sold everything. Seven managed to get one move in to ground the giant, which was a DDT. Dain blocked a rainmaker. Dain then caught a running Seven with a flying crossbody. Nigel said Seven reaching for Dain’s beard was like him reaching for life. Seven managed to land the rainmaker but Dain kicked out of the pin. Seven couldn’t pick up Dain. Dain slammed down Seven and hit him with a Senton. Dain hit the Vader Bomb for the victory.
Killian Dain defeated Trent Seven via pinfall in 3:12.
The updated graphic showed Killian Dain inserted into the four way. They still don’t know who Ohno is facing. Sonya Deville was shown shadow boxing backstage… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A virtual squash for the giant with Seven keeping some credibility by getting his signature lariat in (even though Okada makes the move look much better). Now that Dain’s a babyface, he should pick up the pace on his offense since that’s what captivates people with his moveset. As for Seven, I still don’t get him. I’ve seen more of his work now that I follow PROGRESS, but he seems much better served as a heel.
Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish cut a backstage promo. Cole said they told the world that they were going to run this place. Cole said they put a stamp on it at WarGames. Cole said they not only survived WarGames, they won. Cole said he was facing Aleister Black next week. Cole said everyone has lost to Black but Black hasn’t fought anyone at Cole’s level. O’Reilly said in two weeks He and Fish were facing Sanity for the Tag Team Championships. Fish said they are going to bring more than Chaos in two weeks. O’Reilly said they are going to shock the system. Fish said at War Games they took the system. Cole said now they rule they system…
Ruby Riott made her entrance and was in full-on babyface mode (this is up-to-date since Riott did make her debut before this episode was taped). Sonya Deville came out next…
John’s Thoughts: Even though it’s a bit jarring with the Riott’s character dichotomy, I do like that a wrestler can be both on NXT and the main roster to allow for some development. This is especially helpful for Deville who is still green yet had her best match to date against Riott in her current program with her. Someone who is in dire need for this type of treatment is Sarah Logan who comes off as a deer in the headlights on Smackdown. Riott’s main roster ready and she’ll probably do fine as long as the creative sticks behind her.
2. Ruby Riott vs. Sonya Deville in a No Holds Barred Match. Deville started the match off with two gutwrench takedowns. Deville landed a gutwrench suplex on Riott. Riott tried for a rollup and then went for shoulder tackles in the corner. Riott caught Deville with a back elbow and kick combination. Riott hit a snap suplex on Deville. Riott went for the Pele Kick but Deville caught it into the ankle lock. Mauro talked about how there are no rope breaks in a No Holds Barred Match. Riott made it to the ropes to try to pull off Deville but Deville added more torque. Deville used her signature double knees to the back of Riott’s head… [C]
Deville gave Riot two ground clinch knees to the gut. Deville ended a Riott rally with a jumping lariat. Deville locked in a kata gatame on Riott. Riot tried to elbow out but Deville locked in the hold. Riott dodged a superman punch and hit Deville with a STO. Riott had a flurry of offense on Deville. Riott slipped and barely hit a springboard bulldog. Riott caught Deville with a suicide dive. Deville caught Riott with a kick and used the ropes to help her with a triangle armbar. Ruby Riott passed out for the loss.
Sonya Deville defeated Ruby Riott via submission in 7:46 of TV Time.
Nigel said the advantage of the triangle is how it does apply a choke…
John’s Thoughts: A good match that’s doing a lot of good for the development of Deville. I’m not sure if she would get a chance to exhibit this a lot yet as Paige’s underling, but I hope they have her play a role similar to Tamina Snuka on Smackdown where Deville is Paige’s heater. They also need to keep her away from taking losses to establish this “real” type of fighting style. Riott loses nothing because she’s a great plucky babyface.
This time “the press/media” interviewed Ember Moon. Moon talked about living her dream and trying to be the best Women’s Champion. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay interrupted. Royce said she wanted to beat up Moon because Moon pinned Nikki Cross and not her. Moon asked who Moon was facing next week. Both women were confused as to who was facing her. Moon called it an “iconic problem” and walked away telling them to figure it out. They figured that Royce should face Moon. Mauro then hyped Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the UK Championship. They cut to the same Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate vignette that they’ve played since The UK Tournament. It fact it presented Tyler Bate as champ even though Dunne is now. William Regal was telling Kassius Ohno who he would be facing. There was no audio… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I hope they don’t overdo the fake press conference setting because it’s cute here but I can see it getting pretty old and cheesy pretty quick. It can work in small doses. Ember Moon was a better promo here but I still feel she should be a silent ass kicker. It also seems like been there done that with Royce/Kay vs. Moon. Moon has wrestled these two and continued to destroy them month after month, week after week. Moon’s constant dominance is part of the reason it’s hard to take Kay and Royce seriously. To my recollection, she’s even beat them several times in two on one situations.
During the commercial break a vignette aired for a mystery wrestler. It looked like a male silhouette walking to the screen based on the shoulder definition. The vignette had the word “Soon” flashed on the screen with the “oo” part being two spades…
John’s Thoughts: When I think Spades I think “Queen of Spades” Shayna Bazler, but the man walking towards the TV looked like a man. Either that or it’s a well-defined woman.
Mauro Ranallo advertised the John Cena body spray (even you too, can smell like John Cena! I guess?). Mauro then advertised Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black for next week. Kassius Ohno made his entrance wearing a Duke Blue Devil themed jersey this week as opposed to his usual Sacramento Kings themed one…
3. Kassius Ohno vs. Johnny Gargano in a Fatal 4-way qualifying match. Ohno started off the match with a handshake after the crowd got the dueling chants out of their system. Ohno manhandled Gargano easily to start off the match. Ohno won the next chain wrestling sequence. Gargano snuck in a pin attempt off a bridge. Gargano caught Ohno with a jumping kick. Gargano went for the slingshot spear but Ohno caught Gargano midair and set him up for a successful elbow strike. [C]
Ohno dominated Garagno with chops. Ohno then gave Gargano a knee drop. Ohno took off his kneepad to put more impact in the knee strike. Gargano tried to fight back but Ohno came back with a thrust kick. Gargano tried to hit Ohno with a right hand but Ohno responded with a follow through elbow. Ohno went for the running senton but Gargano got the knees up. Ohno went for a suplex but Gargano escaped and was able to et a flurry of strikes. Ohno snuck in a nice right hand. Gargano came back with a huracanrana, enziguri, and hit the slingshot spear.
Gargano fired up Ohno with some kicks. Gargano missed the Listo Kick and Ohno hit the running senton on Gargano. Ohno told Gargano that “you’re done”. Ohno gave Gargano a pump kick to send him off the apron. Ohno missed a Tope Con Hilo. Gargano came back with a Suicide Dive into a tornado DDT on the entrance ramp. Mauro pointed out how this wasn’t even for the title. Ohno hit a nice cyclone kick on Gargano for a close nearfall. Ohno gave Gargano an elbow in the corner to soften him up for the Electric Chair. Gargano reversed into a victory roll attempt. Ohno caught Gargano with a bicycle kick and flying elbow. Gargano kicked out of the pin with Mauro exploding on the microphone. Gargano blocked the rolling elbow with a kick combination. Gargano then landed La Mistica into the GargaNo Escape. Ohno tapped out.
Johnny Gargano defeated Kassius Ohno via submission in 11:37 of TV Time.
Mauro and the crowd were super excited for the Gargano victory. Gargano was then added to the four-way graphic. Ohno was shown crying in the agony of defeat in the corner. Gargano called a disappointed Ohno to the ring. Ohno and Gargano shared an elbow bump in respect. The Mauro Ranallo voiceover closed the show…
John’s Thoughts: Mixed thoughts on the booking here, but it’s more positive and intrigued as opposed to positive and negative. The match was great. Ohno and Gargano rarely put in duds so put both of these men in the ring together and get magic. That was a nice 11 minute TV match and just imagine what these two can do with around 25 minutes and a storyline. That’s the problem with Ohno, he’s been protected enough but he’s been roaming around without anything to do for many months after Hideo Itami left him. I thought he’d make the perfect understudy replacement for Drew McIntyre given the size and similar ring style. What holds Ohno back is that McIntyre’s strength is in his body tone while Ohno needs to lose a few pounds.
As for Gargano, I’m not sure where they are going with him because they were writing a great PTSD/Depression storyline with him leading towards a presumed showdown with Tommasso Ciampa. You would think that he’d take the loss here to continue to show the viewers that he’s down on his luck but they are moving forward with him doing something. Maybe he loses the finals, maybe he’s in the four way to take the pin? Maybe? But Ohno could have taken the pin too or even an Adam Cole type. I did peek at the spoilers but I feel like they might found another way to pull the wool over my eyes similar to that stellar Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream feud. I think I know where they’re going, and if they go that way, I’d be ecstatic. I also like that I don’t 100% know what direction they are taking despite spoilers.
Check out this episode. NXT is a delightful show to watch as usual. Now that we’re back to TV Tapings, NXT is back to maximizing their allotted amount of time, moving forward storylines, and setting viewers up for next week’s episode. Next week is the USA Network episode, isn’t it? NXT does a good job on the Network with 10 seconds of dialog so hopefully that 10 seconds of Mauro Ranallo/Nigel McGuinness dialog makes it to USA or Raw commercials. I’ll be back later today with my All Access Audio Review for this NXT show.