By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT TV on the WWE Network
Taped January 4 in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage
The show started off with Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era cutting a promo bragging about winning the NXT Tag Team Championships. Kyle O’Reilly declared that they would start their huge year by defeating Sanity. Adam Cole declared that in 2018 he will become NXT Champion. The NXT intro theme aired…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary from Center Stage in Atlanta, GA.
New theme music aired as Shayna Baszler made her entrance. The Mauro Ranallo voiceover cut in and cut to YouTube vlog footage of Shayna Baszler where she was being overly aggressive at the WWE Performance Center. Mauro noted that former UFC Champion Josh Barnett was Baszler’s trainer and gave her the “Queen of Spades” nickname due to her tricks she can employ…
1. Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai. Nigel said Kai is the first New Zealand WWE superstar since the Bushwackers. Baszler took down Kai early on with a chickenwing into a wristlock. Baszler transitioned into an Eat Defeat. Nigel and Mauro pointed out that Baszler was a bully and she was showing it in the ring. Baszler targeted Kai’s wrist with a boot and the referee called for the match to be stopped.
Shayna Baszler defeated Dakota Kai via referee stoppage in 1:34.
The instant replay had a nice visual of Kai tweaking her arm. After the match Baszler attacked Kai with a rear naked choke. Suddenly, NXT Women’s Champon Ember Moon ran to the ring for the save but Baszler released her hold and laughed at Moon. The referees kept the situation from escalating. Ember Moon went to check on Kai while Baszler shrugged up the ramp. ..
They cut to a backstage Authors of Pain promo where one of the Authors yelled in what sounded like a European language. The other Author sounded like he yelled in a middle eastern or Indian language. He said “Winners will suffer”. Paul Ellering said the Authors want their titles. Mauro hyped up Kassius Ohno vs. Raul Mendoza in a match for after the break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Strong debut for Shayna Baszler and she already looks like the top dog of the women’s division in-the ring and as a character. It wasn’t a technical masterpiece showcase but Baszler played the role of Bully really well and instantly caught the eyes of the viewers as a threat that they will like to hate. I hope they don’t rush to Baszler vs. Moon too quick as there’s a lot of fun to be had here and Baszler can be the strong heel that the division has longed-for for so long. The new setting also helped in Baszler’s debut.
Mauro Ranallo thanked the band Asking Alexandria for providing music for the Takeover: Philadelphia show. Nigel and Mauro recapped the last segment and pointed out that Kai may be injured. Christy St. Cloud tried to interview Baszler afterward. William Regal cut in and talked to Baszler. Regal talked about being in the industry for 35 years and how he can see through her games. Regal said that’s not going to get her a title match. Bazsler responded with a “are we done here?” as she walked off…
Kassius Ohno made his entrance wearing a Duke Blue Devil themed jersey. Raul Mendoza got actual theme music…
2. Kassius Ohno vs. Raul Mendoza. Ohno and Mendoza shared a handshake to start off the match. Nigel pointed out the height and weight difference. Mendoza went for a rollup as the two men traded rollup attempts. Mendoza caught Ohno with a shoulder tackle and clunky huracanrana. Mendoza hit a few roundhouse kicks but was flipped up and hit with an Ohno boot. Ohno chopped Mendoza in the corner. It got to the point with Ohno toying with Mendoza. Mendoza escaped a Gory Special with a victory roll.
Ohno dominated after the victory roll and hit Mendoza with a senton. Mendoza hit Ohno with an armdrag. Mendoza slipped through the ropes and hit a slingshot armdrag. Mendoza hit Ohno with a disaster kick for a nearfall. Ohno put Mendoza in the electric chair and kicked him with a big boot. Ohno hit a flying elbow to the back of Mendoza’s neck which he calls the “High Tension Elbow Strike” to pick up the win.
Kassius Ohno defeated Raul Mendoza via pinfall in 4:29.
Nigel said the finish was also called a Northern Forearm. Nigel talked over the highlights which included some impressive work from Mendoza. Mauro backed up Nigel’s hype.
Mauro cut to Zelina Vega addressing the media. Vega verified that Andrade Almas and her are on the same page and the New Andrade will seek to retain the NXT Championship at Takeover. An interviewer asked about Gargano earning the title shot. Vega said Gargano didn’t earn anything, he got lucky. Vega said Johnny Gargano is just an opportunitist who took advantage of three other guys fighting each other. Vega said that Tommaso Ciampa was more successful. Vega said “Johnny Wrestling” is a lie. Vega talked about Almas beating Gargano twice already. Another interviewer wanted to know Vega’s gameplan. Vega said she wouldn’t be successful if she told everyone her secrets and she still won’t tell no matter how many people ask. Vega said she and Almas are taking this situation and there is no running from the NXT Champion, Andrade Cien Almas. Nigel McGuinness hyped up the official match between Gargano and Almas…
St. Cloud interviewed Johnny Gargano. Gargano talked about how no one thought he had a chance in the four way. Suddenly, Velveteen Dream walked in and said “say it… not my name, say thank you”. Gargano looked confused. Dream said Gargano got lucky. Dream mocked Gargano for taking 20 minutes to beat a “guy” in Kassius Ohno because Ohno doesn’t look like a star. Dream said he would have beat Ohno in 30 seconds. Dream said Gargano also shouldn’t have been the one to beat Aleister Black. Dream said Gargano also didn’t earn Dream’s spot. Dream walked away and Gargano shook his head. They showed Lars Sullivan walking thorough the stairwells coming up after the break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Good enhancement for Ohno with Mendoza showing off his ugly offense which actually makes him unique and cool. Moving along strong mic work by Zelina Vega who continues to rise up the WWE ranks as a top manager. Velveteen Dream continues to impress with his promo/character work and that promo he cut on Gargano made since and was delivered well. Watching this Dream development run has been a blast and continues to be a blast.
It was time for a Street Profits backstage skit. The Profits were acting enrgetic backstage. They talked about wanting to step up their gold game. They showd they were heading to Regal’s office. They entered Regal’s office followed by a shakey cam. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins reminded Regal that they want to bring the tag team titles to the streets. Regal said he thinks that the Profits are right and there will be a Tag Team number one contenders match next week. Regal booked the Street Profits against the Authors of Pain for next week. The Profits looked pleased…
John’s Thoughts: Those two are still coming off as stereotypes but this skit was better than most. Regal’s solid acting added to it but Dawkins also got to look a bit more natural and less “acting”.
Oh mah goodness. He’s still with WWE. Lio Rush made his entrance as Mauro called Rush a prodigy. Sadly his opponent was stone golem Lars Sullivan who made his cool as hell entrance…
3. Lars Sullivan vs. Lio Rush. Mauro called Sullivan a “Bomb Cyclone”. Rush showed off his very cool dodging ability to start. Rush actually dominated Sullivan with his agility. Rush caught Sullian with a double heel kick. Sullivan slowed things down with a choke hold to Rush. Sullivan whipped Rush into the corner . Rush escaped and hit a flying thrust kick on Sullivan. Rush sidestepped Sullivan and sent Sullivan into the turnbuckle. Sullivan then turned Rush inside out with a powerful lariat. Sullivan hit the Freak accident for the win.
Lars Sullivan defeated Lio Rush via 1:51.
Sullivan cut a promo after and talked about how he’s beat all of his opponents and even several opponents at once. Sullivan talked about going against an unseen force a few weeks ago. He said that brings him joy because he wants to destroy that force. Sullivan called out “Killian Dain”. Sullivan’s theme aired as he stared at Lio Rush ominously. Sullivan was done yet as he hit Lio Rush with a sick looking Super Freak Accident.
John’s Thoughts: I’m really happy for Rush that he’s back on TV and (hopefully) out of the doghouse. Rush looked really good and dominated 75% of that match but that didn’t make Sullivan look bad because Sullivan still looked like a monster and video game final boss. Sullivan vs. Dain is going to be a fun clash of the monsters and it’ll be cool to see what these two talented and different monsters can do against each other. It would be a battle of power vs. speed just with equal size.
Nigel cut to Undisputed Era and Sanity brawling backstage. The Era dominated and left the former tag champs lying under chain link fences and pipes. The area they fought in looked like an arena storage area with grafitti on the walls which gave it a real street feel… [C]
Mauro talked about how the Tag Team Championship remach was now up in the air wiht Sanity being beat down. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly made their entrance with grins on their face after what they did to Sanity backstage. The crowd gave Cole a huge “Adam Cole Bay-bay” pop.
Cole got a favorable reaction from the crowd. Cole said he feels like they are missing something. O’Reilly and Fish mocked Sanity and said they were looking for Sanity. O’Reilly and Fish joked about Sanity forgetting the match. Cole said “they kicked the chaos” out of Sanity. Suddenly, the referees had to hold Nikki Cross back as Cross tried to storm the ring. Cross escaped and referee Drake Younger had to tackle down Cross to keep her from the ring. Cross got a huge chant from the crowd.
Cole was about to continue his promo after the interruption as Regal interrupted Cole. Regal said that Fish and O’Reilly will defend their titles tonight. Roderick Strong came out and said he’d fight Undisputed Era and find a tag partner. Aleister Black made his entrance and stood by Strong’s side. Black said “as will I” as he and Strong then stormed the ring. The two teams brawled before the break… [C]
4. Aleister Black and Roderick Strong vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish for the NXT Tag Team Championships. O’Reilly and Black started off the match. Black dominated both opponents with his kicks and elbows. Nigel made sure to do what NXT usually does before the main event and hype up next week’s advertised match of Street Profits vs. AOP. Mauro noted that Fish, O’Reilly, and Black all have strong martial arts background. Strong tagged in and caught O’Reilly with a jumping thrust kick. Strong followed up with one of his signature backbreakers. Fish took out Black at the apron with a roundhouse to Black’s shin. [C]
John’s Thoughts: That was a bit odd, two minutes and then another commercial?
O’Reilly caught Black in a corner CQC combination. Fish came in and did some Muay Thai clinch moves. Fish and O’Reilly traded quick tags for the isolation. Mauro noted the Pancrase style of palm strikes that O’Reilly was using to overpower Black’s kickboxing. After more tandem offense, Fish hit an Exploder Suplex on Black. Strong broke up the pin attempt and Mauro noted that the exploder helped Strong reach a shorter distance for the pin break. Black managed to get a sunset flip on Fish. Black gained breathing room with a knockout kick to Fish. Fish made the tag and Strong made the hot tag.
Strong cleaned house. Strong nailed O’Reilly with a signature backbreaker and hit Fish with a Belly to Belly. Fish made sure to break up the pin attempts by Strong. O’Reilly hit Strong with an axe kick which he no-sold into a tiger knee. Black gave Fish a running boot into the steel steps. Adam Cole distracted Black and ran into the crowd drawing Black into the audience. O’Reilly and Fish hit Total Elimination on Strong for the victory.
The Undisputed Era defeated Roderick Strong and Aleister Black via pinfall in 8:10 to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Black’s mouth was a gasp as he entered the ring to clear out Fish and O’Reilly. Fish and O’Reilly won the numbers game. They held Black in place as Adam Cole targetted the head of Black with stiff forearms and a running boot. Cole continued to taunt Black. ReDRagon hit Black with Total Elimination to leave him lying. Adam Cole then hit Black with a Death Valley Driver on a steel chair. The Era held up their UE handsigns and stood standing on Black’s body. The commentators recapped the ending sequence as Undisputd Era was met with boos.
William Regal walked out and said that Philidelphia has an “Extreme” history. Regal changed the Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black match to an Extreme Rules match. Cole looked angry at first but then smirked at the ring to close out the show…
John’s Thoughts: A good match as expected given the four men in the ring. This is a good preview as to what to look forward to in the Fish and O’Reilly tag team reign and we might get back to those strong American Alpha/Revival era matches. I also thought that the closing minutes of the match and show was the strongest Undisputed Era has looked since debuting in NXT. It was also great to have Cole get in some mic work early on before the match.
This was a strong first show from Center Stage and just like when Impact Wrestling/TNA leaves the Impact Zone, it was refreshing to get a new crowd and a fresh setting. The new setting also does a good job in transitioning to a new year. The character development on this show was strong with Shayna Baszler, Lars Sullivan, Lio Rush, and Undisputed Era looking good in ring. We also got some great backstage segments. William Regal showed up more often than usual but he still didn’t overpower the show and the focus was on the wrestlers. William Regal is the best General Manager in WWE now hands down. I’ll be back tomorrow with my NXT audio Review and thanks for reading along with me tonight…