12/20 Moore’s NXT TV Review: Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the WWE UK Championship, Sanity vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish for the NXT Tag Titles, Lars Sullivan vs. Roderick Strong in a qualifier for the four-way No. 1 contender match

By John Moore

NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped November 29, 2017 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

The narrator guy hyped up the two big matches for the show which were Sanity vs. Undisputed Era for the tag belts as well as Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the UK Championship. The NXT intro theme aired…

The commentators were Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson. Immediately, Sanity members Eric Young and Killian Dain made their entrance. Mauro talked about how Alexander Wolfe was not medically cleared to wrestle so Killian Dain and Eric Young were defending by themselves via freebird rule. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish made their entrance without Adam Cole. Mike Rome handled the formal ring introductions for the championship match (and of course I approve of him no-selling the fans trying to chant “one fall”).

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1. Eric Young and Killian Dain vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Dain and Fish started the match off. Fish tried to play footsies with the bigger Dain. O’Reilly played the same footsie game to avoid the bigger Dain. Fish tried to lay in some punches but Dain’s girth absorbed Fish’s strikes. Fish went for a sleeper to set him up for O’Reilly but Dain managed to clear both UE members to ringside. After a bit of a reset O’Reilly tagged in and tried to take Young off the apron but Young managed to takedown O’Reilly.

Young tagged in. Kyle tried to set up Young for Fish but Young outsmarted both men. Young blocked a whip and punched down Kyle. Fish tripped Young off the apron heading into commercial. [C]

O’Reilly had Young in a CQC combo in his corner to keep Young away from his partner. Fish followed the same gameplan. Fish and O’Reilly did tandem Muay Thai clinch strikes. Young and O’Reilly traded shortarm punches. O’Reilly grounded Young with a low sweep kick. Young went high risk into O’Reilly’s knee but out of desperation he hit O’Reilly with a running neckbreaker. Nigel pointed out that due to Young being dazed, Young was crawling to the wrong corner. Fish tagged in and tried to punch Dain off the apron but Dain no sold the punch. Nigel pointed out that it was still smart strategy since Dain tried to enter the ring but the referee pushed him out which allowed O’Reilly to illegally sneak in a few cheap shots on Young.

Young flapjacked O’Reilly outside and sidestepped Fish. Young managed to tag in Dain for the hot tag. Dain manhandled both opponents with ease. Dain caught both opponents with rapid fire corner splashes. Dain hit Fish with a dropkick while at the same time giving O’Reilly a running senton. Dain Michinoku Drivered Fish on top of O’Reilly for a nearfall. Dain tried to tag in EY for some combo moves but Fish was able to send Dain outside. Young power bombed Fish and went high risk but Adam Cole ran out and tripped EY off the top rope.

O’Reilly hit Young with an axe kick forearm combination for a nearfall. Suddenly, Nikki Cross ran in to beat up on Adam Cole; and I mean she aggressively went in and beat up Adam Cole. It took multiple referees to save Adam Cole from Cross. A “let them fight” chant started. Young gave O’Reilly a palm strike and punched Fish. Young got a nearfall off a neckbreaker. Dain went to body slam Cole but Cole escaped and pushed Dain off into the ringpost. Young got good height from a suicide dive on Cole. EY was fired up and walked right into a Total Elimination by Fish and O’Reilly. Fish and O’Reilly picked up the win.

Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish defeated Sanity via pinfall in 11:24 of TV Time to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions.

Dain was shown trying to break up the pin but he couldn’t make it in time. Adam Cole was extremely excited for his team’s win. Mauro talked about Young being emotional blinding him from Fish and O’Reilly’s combo finisher. Nigel advertised next week’s number one contender’s match which Dain will be competing in. Nigel then cut to a Roderick Strong video package.

John’s Thoughts: A stellar match that would not have been out of place early on a PPV/Takeover. It was not quite at the level of the DIY/American Alpha/Revival classics, but there was nothing really wrong in this match. Everyone in this match played to their strengths with Dain showing off his agility, Fish and O’Reilly showed off their martial arts acumen, and Young playing the underdog babyface role that he’s good at.

During the commercial a Shayna Baszler vignette aired with Jim Ross and Lita soundbites. After the break, Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) were walking around at night time in the parking lot. The run across Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss’ Maserati. Otis thought it was a Corvette. For no real reason (but it was still funny so it was okay in my book), Otis tried to randomly lift it up before they were stopped by Moss and Sabbatelli walking out of the Performance Center. They bragged about being rich. Moss mentioned “Pork and Weights” being HM’s catchphrase. Otis yelled that it was “Steaks and Weights!!!”. Otis wanted to get it on right here as he made some random noises. The noises scared off Sabbatelli and Moss.

Mauro cut to a highlight package from the Ruby Riott vs. Sonya Deville match from two weeks ago where Riott passed out in the triangle from Deville. The interviewers at the performance center tried to interview Sonya Deville about Absolution. Sonya cut them off and talked about how she was going to beat Ember Moon for the NXT Women’s Championship next week. Deville pointed out that Ember Moon only got into the title match by picking up the pin off of Deville’s ankle lock (She’s right). Deville walked off. Mauro noted that William Regal granted Deville a shot at the title for next week’s NXT. McGuinness advertised Roderick Strong vs. Lars Sullivan for after the commercial. They cut to a Lars Sullivan vignette… [C]

John’s Thoughts: The last few segments with Baszler and Deville showed one theory as to why they called up Deville so soon, to not have the bigger name just marginalize Deville; but Deville was really starting to hit her stride in the feud with Ruby Riot. She discovered her in-ring style as a dominating submission specialist and as a strong heel that the NXT Women’s division surely lacks. Her promo isn’t bad and certainly better than Ember Moon at least. I fear that she’s just going to fade into obscurity on the Raw Roster due to how the main roster’s booking seems very damaged at this point. One lesson (of many) that the main roster should take from NXT is how NXT constantly runs vignettes and character pieces on the wrestlers to characterize them. Look what they did with Roderick Strong, Shayna Baszler, Heavy Machinery, Moss/Sabbatelli, Sonya Deville, and Lars Sullivan all in the last successive segments. All were elevated and characterized and it didn’t take up too much time. Raw has three hours to do this per week.

Back from the break, Mauro commented on highlights from the Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black match from last week while also advertising next week’s number one contender match with the final spot in the match being decided soon. Lars Sullivan had the same entrance theme but got a bunch of cool camera angles. They showed Lars entering the ring with the low 45-degree angle to emphasize his height. He also got some red mood lighting. After he entered the ring, they cut to a camera pointed directly at a spotlight. Lars Sullivan walked into the frame like an eclipse which also made for a cool silhouette.

John’s Thoughts: Oh my word, that was great. I would have saved the Eclipse effect for Ember Moon, but it does also fit the monstrous Lars Sullivan character. That was one badass entrance.

2. Lars Sullivan vs. Roderick Strong in a qualifier for the four-way to determine the No. 1 contender to the NXT Title. Strong quickly smothered Sullivan with quick strikes which Sullivan couldn’t keep up with. Lars managed to block an Angle Slam. Lars gained a moment of respite by taking down Strong with a running lariat. Sullivan softened up Strong with a knee strike. Sullivan dominated Strong by targeting Strong’s back. Sullivan tossed Strong like a javelin. Strong caught Sullivan with several boots. Strong ran right into a bearhug by Sullivan.

Strong went ragdoll but fired up to prevent the knockout. Strong escaped with a thunder clap and jawbreaker. Strong staggered Sullivan with a dropkick but couldn’t get Sullivan off his feet. Strong sidestepped a running Sullivan to cause him to crotch himself on the second rope. As Sullivan was trapped Strong came at him with some drive by punches. Strong sent Sullivan to the outside but Sullivan still was not off his feet. Sullivan caught Strong with a lariat. Strong managed to get Sullivan to the ground for the first time with a Superplex. Sullivan kicked out at one which Strong sold the shock with bug eyes.

Strong hit Sullivan with a knee. Sullivan caught Strong with a lariat which Mauro pointed out was an error by Strong for adjusting his kneepad. Strong grounded Sullivan with an Angle Slam for a two count. Watson said Strong was getting closer and closer with the pins. Sullivan caught Strong with a popup powerslam. Sullivan hit the Freak Accident on Strong to pick up the pinfall win.

Lars Sullivan defeated Roderick Strong via pinfall in 5:43 to advance to the No. 1 contenders four-way.

Mauro put over Strong’s skill and heart by the way he took Sullivan to the limit. Nigel commented on all of the high impact moves that Strong managed to get on Sullivan. Mauro dubbed Sullivan as an “undefeated steamroller”. The Nigel McGuinness voiceover cut in to hype up Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate in the main event of this show… [C]

John’s Thoughts: That was one hell of a barnburner with both men coming out looking strong (no pun intended). Why can’t the main roster do what NXT does all across the board in their booking? This was great. Sullivan continues to dominate and has put in some great back-and-forths with credible opponents. The moves Strong performed in made a lot of sense and made him look like a title contender for being able to utilize hit technique/speed to overcome the size differential. The best part of the story was the game plan that Strong was trying to devise to get the golem off his feet. Strong (and most Sullivan opponents) treated Sullivan like a Dark Souls boss battle. Sullivan is a living breathing Dark Souls boss battle.

After the break, they aired the latest episode of “Street Talk” with the Street Profit. Angelo Dawkins said it was time to spread that knowledge. Dawkins and Ford spread the knowledge with the NXT Universe outside of Full Sail. Nigel McGuinness advertised next week’s fatal four way for to become Number One Contender again, just this time with Lars Sullivan inserted in the graphic… [C]

They cut to Christy St. Cloud interviewing Tyler Bate in the Gorilla Position. Tyler Bate recapped his 2017 and how he’s been battling with Pete Dunne all year. Bate said they tore the house down at Takeover: Chicago but Dunne took the championship. Nigel said Bate was the Youngest inaugural champion in WWE history (sadly, Rene Dupree beat Tyler Bate by a few months for youngest champion overall)… [C]

Mike Rome handled the formal ring introductions for the championship match.

3. Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the WWE UK Championship. Dunne went right into his finger twist spot early on in the match along with his signature joint manipulation. Bate unscrewed his arm to work the joint manipulation of his own. Dunne countered with a triangle headscissors lock. Bate made it to his feet and mocked Dunne with a hand wave. Dunne put Bate’s hand under his foot and locked in a standing surfboard. Dunne escaped with a leg hook and dropkick. Dunne called for a time out and they started another collar and elbow lockup. Dunne grounded Bate and twisted Bate’s nose. Nigel said Pete Dunne’s ground game reminds him of a younger Daniel Bryan (which Nigel knows all too well)

Bate powered through Dunne’s joint twisting with a stiff bridge. Bate fired up and Dunne fired back with a cocky smirk. Nigel locked in a reverse ankle lock. Bate escaped and they showed off some cartwheels. Bate caught Dunne with his signature fakeout punch. Dunne reset things with the rope break and caught Bate with a regular ol’ right hand. Bate came back with a springboard shoryuken. Bate pursued Dunne outside who caught him with a right hand. The two men brawled on the steps. Dunne hit a sick superplex off the stairs to the ground outside. Dunne reset in the ring with a sleeper hold.

Bate tried to come back with gut shots. Dunne grabbed Bate’s nose and punched Bate back. Dunne scissored Bate’s finger on the mat and stomped on it for a sadistic and grotesque effect. Dunne managed to wedge Bate’s finger in a half nelson on the ground and then stomped on it again to gross out the crowd. Dunne stood up and did a confident shrug.

John’s Thoughts: Somewhere backstage, William Regal must be shedding several tears.

Bate sold finger pain even when he used strikes. Dunne overpowered Bate with shortarm boots. Bate yelled and Dunne to come at him. Bate caught Dunne off the shortarm to hit an exploder suplex. Bate gave Dunne several running European Uppercuts. Dunne went for a Suplex on Bate but Bate flipped to his feet. Bate hit a standing shooting star
followed by a deadlift Saito Suplex. Dunne went back for the nose. Bate came back with a running wheel kick to the back of Dunne’s head. Dunne escaped a Tyler Driver into a Triangle Armbar. Dunne softened Bate up with punches. Bate hit a deadlift powerbomb but Dunne bridged himself out of the pin and kept the triangle locked in. Bate adjusted and deadlifted Dunne into the ropes to strike Dunne in the throat.

Mauro pointed out that this episode was going into overtime. Tyler Bate initiated an airplane spin on Dunne. Bate did a reverse airplane spin which Nigel said could help Bate regain equilibrium. Bate was fading but then hulked up to do an even faster Airplane Spin. Dunne and Bate struggled to get to their feet. Bate caught Dunne off the apron and hit a deadlift Exploder from the second rope. Nigel put over Bate’s strength with all of the deadlifts he’s executing.

Dunne recovered and hit aggressive shortarm boots on Bate. Bate turned the tables with a roundhouse kick to the head. Bate returned the favor with aggressive shortarm boots of his own targeted to the head. Nigel yelled “he’s out!” (great call). Bate missed a kick into a pumphandle which allowed Dunne to hit the Bitter End finisher. Bate kicked out at two. Another “U-K” chant started. Dunne dodged Bate with a wall run flip. Bate caught Dunne with a version of the Matt Cross rebound lariat. Dunne came back with a clothesline from hell.

Dunne and Bate then started to trade punches like they were fighting from DBZ. Mauro compared them to Rock Em’ Sock Em’ Robots. Bate managed to land the clean knockout blow. Bate sold pain in the fingers from earlier on in the match. Dunne tried to do Bate’s fakeout punch but Bate didn’t fall for it and punched Dunne square in the jaw. Bate caught Dunne with another Liger kick, this time from the apron. Bate went high risk but was caught by a right hand from Dunne. Dunne hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for another nearfall.

Bate rolled to the outside. Bate hit his rebound lariat from the outside using the bottom rope. The referee almost counted to ten as Bate was forced to break the count with a top rope tope to the outside. Tyler Bate hit the Tyler Driver 97′ to get a nearfall on his end. Mauro said this match might last until 2018. Bate (barely) hit Dunne with the AJ Styles Spiral Tap to get another nearfall. Nigel credited Dunne rolling away for the mostly missed Spiral Tap. Dunne escaped out of a Super German Suplex and hit Bate with the Bitter End for the victory.

Pete Dunne defeated Tyler Bate via pinfall in 23:00 to retain the WWE United Kingdom Championship.

Mauro said this was an instant NXT Classic. Dunne celebrated with the title in his mouth. Dunne then walked over to Bate and did his “meh” shrug. Mauro wished the viewers a happy holidays to close out the show.

John’s Thoughts: Oh my freaking word, this match goes up there with the match of the year candidates. I’ll have to go back and see Dunne vs. Bate at Takeover to compare, but this match was big time PPV worthy. I reviewed an episode of Tiger Mask W where they dedicated a segment to saying how modern pro wrestling is starting to rely too much on high spots. This one told a great story without gratuitous high spots making the high spots that were in the match count. My one complaint would be that it would have made this match better if Dunne could have won without the Bitter End because it would add to the drama of the match ending at any moment and thus making the nearfalls have more impact. That’s just a nitpick but a valid one given how it makes you look for the finisher to find the finish.

Jason Powell mentioned last week with Brian Fritz that he thought USA should eventually air a Takeover Live Special on the Network to give the people a taste of what makes NXT so hype. I would recommend a Takeover sampler platter and this episode was it. This NXT TV show was way better and structured than WWE Clash of Champions and it had fewer matches. It had a solid opener, a fun as hell and smart Sullivan vs. Strong match, and one of the best matches of the year in the main event. I feel confident in saying this, this overtime episode was the best TV episode of NXT all year. I’m mildly confused as to why they didn’t go on and hype this episode to hell since they knew they had in the can. Anyways, go out of your way to check this show out. They even hyped up next week’s show with what should also be very fun with Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Killian Dain. I’ll be back soon with my all access audio review.

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