By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired March 14, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped February 2 in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Nigel hyped up the Andrade Almas and Aleister Black contract signing for later on in this episode…
1. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe (w/ Killian Dain and Nikki Cross) vs. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli in a First Round Match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Wolfe quickly dominated Moss early on in the match. Moss tossed Wolfe’s chest into the top rope which allowed him to tag in Sabbatelli for the isolation offense. Mauro noted that it looked like the team was on the same page. Moss hit a hangman neckbreaker on Wolfe as he continued to make quick tags to Sabbatelli. Moss accidentily punched Sabbatelli which counted as a tag.
Eric Young made the hot tag. After a body slam, Young hit his signature diving elbow drop. Moss pulled Young away to break up the pinfall. Nikki Cross gave Moss a flying crossbody which invoked a Nikki Cross chant. Young and Wolfe and Young hit a combination backbreaker and neckbreaker on Sabbatelli.
Sanity defeated Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss via pinfall in 3:42 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
After the match, Mauro tried to go over the Dusty Classic brackets but Tommaso Ciampa made his entrance and like last week was overwhelmed with boos before he could speak. It appeared as if WWE handed out Johnny Gargano’s wink emoji symbol printed on paper to the crowd. The crowd chanted “Johnny Wrestling” with Ciampa yelling back “he’s gone” off mic. The crowd continue to play the same game of booing the mic close to Ciampa’s face and cheering when he drops it. Ciampa made a slow pace around the ring to soak up more boos. A “Ciampa Sucks” chant ensued. Ciampa walked away without saying a word after nananana goodbye chants… [C]
John’s Thoughts: The expected result from the tag team match. Sabbatelli has grown as a hatable character but he still needs growth in the ring. Nikki Cross is the most popular part of the Sanity act at this point. After the match, Tommaso Ciampa continues to maximize his heel time all without saying a word.
2. Lacey Evans vs. Dakota Kai. Kai missed early on with a kick and Evans came back by slamming the wrist that Shayna Baszler injured. Dakota Kai reversed a stretch into a surprise rollup for the victory.
Dakota Kai defeated Lacey Evans via pinfall in 0:53.
Shayna Baszler’s entrance interrupted Dakota Kai’s celebration which struck the look of fear into Kai. Baszler intimidated Kai by slowly walking toward’s her. Ember Moon made her entrance before Baszler could do any damage. Moon had a mic and said that Baszler wants to do this again. Moon said it doesn’t matter if Moon has one or two arms but she’s going to end it at Takeover New Orleans. Moon and Baszler then brawled in the ring with the referees trying to break things up. When the referees created some separation, Baszler managed to get a clean punch on Moon. Moon recovered and got a boot on Baszler. Baszler prevented an Eclipse with a roundhouse. Baszler did a chickenwing to the injured arm of Moon. Dakota Kai kicked Baszler off so Moon could hit a one handed Eclipse to end the segment standing tall…
John’s Thoughts: Obviously, they’re not confident in Lacey Evans to move to the next level yet. She might need a complete overhaul because this current 1920s thing screams unsuccessful prototype gimmick at this point. Kai’s ready and seems to be NXT’s resident sympathy grabber by being the victim to the monster heel. The post match stuff wasn’t anything special but it did it’s job in setting up a Takeover Title Match.
Nigel thanked the band Cane Hill for providing the song “It Follows” for the next NXT Takeover show. Mauro noted that William Regal made the Moon vs. Baszler match official…
3. “The Street Profits” Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford vs. “Heavy Machinery” Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic in a First Round Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match. Ford and Dozovic started off the match. Otis showed off his power with a shoulder block as he made his weird noises. Montez Ford crawled to his corner to take a sip of the solo cup. Ford offered Dozovic a sip of whatever fluid was in the cup which made him yell “oh yeah!” as he hulked up and beat up Ford. Ford skinned the cat after Knight tagged in but HM caught him and used him as a battering ram to jab Angelo Dawkins. Ford used punches to escape a bear hug. Dawkins came in after the hot tag.
Dawkins hit a 360 Stinger Splash. Knight no sold it and hit a Thaez Press. Machinery went for the compactor but Ford pulled the rope down to send Knight outside. Dawkins hit a DDT on Dozovic Montez Ford hit a Frog Splash on Dozovic to secure the victory.
The Street Profits defeated Heavy Machinery via pinfall in 3:39 to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Nigel McGuinness was shown doing the dance to the Street Profits theme… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A big and unexpected win for the Profits. There wasn’t much from in-ring technical-wise but the match was fun due to the charisma of both teams. Ford continues to be limited on offense but he’s increased his time selling. Heavy Machinery doesn’t lose anything in the loss since the Profits just had the better gameplan in the end.
Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions for the title match with Drake Younger as the referee…
4. Pete Dunne vs. Adam Cole (w/ Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) for the WWE UK Championship. Mauro noted that Cole is trying to become the first American born UK Champion. Dunne quickly went to ringside to face-off against Fish and O’Reilly. Mauro argued to Nigel that Dunne’s inexperience gave Cole the advantage due to him being sidetracked. Dunne gained control by hitting a clean punch on Cole. Dunne landed his signature finger break spot and stomp. Dunne stared at Fish and O’Reilly while kicking the left arm of Cole. Dunne caught Cole’s arm with a diving boot. Dunne gave Cole an X-Plex on the apron. Cole tripped off Dunne from the top rope heading into commercial. [C]
Cole dominated Dunne back from the break. After some rapid fist of the North Star Punches, Dunne regained control and hit a stomp on the targeted arm of Cole. After some offense, Dunne went for the Bitter End but Cole reversed into a backstabber. Dunne locked in a body scissors chickenwing on Cole. Cole escaped and hit a Last Shot on Dunne. Dunne responded to Cole’s taunting with a punch. Both men traded strikes with Cole gaining the advantage by giving Dunne a roundhouse in the middle of a Dunne moonsault.
Cole went for the Wizard but Dunne countered with a Suplex. Rather than continue, Dunne decided to trip off Fish and O’Reilly from the apron. Cole took advantage with a superkick and another Last Shot to get a nearfall on Dunne. Dunne caught the hand of Cole and did the finger snap on him. Kyle O’Reilly gave Dunne a low kick to invoke a DQ.
Pete Dunne defeated Adam Cole via DQ in 9:00 of TV Time to retain the WWE UK Championship.
Roderick Strong ran out for the save. It looked like Undisputed Era still had the numbers advantage but they were overpowered by Dunne and Strong. Dunne and Strong stood tall in the ring as Dunne’s theme played. Strong offered a handshake to Dunne but Dunne stayed true to his character by flashing his signature smirk and brushing Strong off… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Good TV match with a finish to continue the feud somehow. We’ll see where this goes with Roderick Strong interjected. Maybe a triple threat? Maybe a Tag Team battle? Cole continues to lose matches, but he is so good at being a confident worm that he can shrug off these losses. He does need a win soon though. Can they pull out Cezar Bononi for him to beat up again?
William Regal handled the contract signing between Andrade Almas and Aleister Black. Aleister Black came out first in his cool all black suit. Instead of Almas, Zelina Vega walked to the ring instead which gave Black a bit of a perplexed look. Vega noted that Almas was not here tonight. Black comically looked under the tiny table for Almas. Vega yelled at Black for ignoring her. Black didn’t say a word and handed Vega the contract. Black then politely moved the tiny table aside.
Black went into his Indian sitdown pose. Black joked that he was now at the same level as Vega. Vega yelled at Black and said he will reap what he sows and be humiliated. Vega signed the contract. Black wondered if Almas wasn’t here because he will come out “short” and not “measure up” to him which were shots against Vega’s height. Vega slapped Black. Black signed the contract. Vega yelled “you are nothing” at Black. Black said he’s happy that Vega came out alone because he didn’t. Candice LeRae ran out to put the beating on Vega. Candice beat up Vega all over ringside. LeRae hit the move known to WWE Fans as the Stratisfaction on Vega to leave her lying in the ring.
John’s Thoughts: If you told me that Aleister Black was going to be cutting height jokes, I would have been a bit afraid, but he pulled it off in his cool and collective demeanor which made it work. It also worked in that it allowed Black to fire back at Vega without getting physical contact. Nothing special as usual but it was effective at getting two things done: setting up Almas vs. Black and potentially LeRae vs. Vega. LeRae vs. Vega should be a treat. Hopefully NXT gives LeRae some promo time for casual viewers unfamiliar with her independent work.
Another good edition of NXT. As expected, the Cole vs. Dunne was more of an angle and not as good as Alexander vs. Strong from the prior night but that match last night was something unique. The best part of watching these weekly shows is that they can enhance your Takeover viewing experience by adding story to your in-ring spectacles. By the way everyone, sorry I was a bit late on the live coverage. Real life phone call I had to make. Anyways, thanks for reading along. I’ll be by later on for the Dot Net Members with an audio review of the show…