By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired March 21, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped March 7 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary after the intro theme aired. Nigel hyped up Adam Cole vs. Kassius Ohno for later in this episode…
Tommaso Ciampa walked out for his weekly silent promo. Mauro Ranallo compared Ciampa to garbage. The boos were heavy and the fans held up their Johnny Gargano emoji signs. There was an overwhelming “we want Johnny” chant with a few pro-heel “psycho killer” chants sprinkled in there. Ciampa continued his gimmick of trying to get out words before being stomped out by the overwhelming support of Johnny Gargano. Ciampa finally said something in saying “HE’S GONE!!!”. Ciampa said Gargano will not come down the aisle because he was gone.
This only caused the anti Ciampa chants to grow with “you suck” chants. Ciampa struck a star pose and soaked in the heat. Ciampa slowly paced around the ring to eye up the fans who held up emoji signs in his face (there were a few contrarians trying to gain the favor of Ciampa). Ciampa ripped up some fan signs and drew great heat by messing with an old lady. After Ciampa pulled away a giant sign, Johnny Gargano emerged and put the beatdown on Ciampa. “Security guards” ran out and pulled both men apart. A “let them fight” chant ensued. Mauro cut to the Dusty Rhodes Classic bracket as things calmed down…
Mauro cut over to Charley Caruso in the “control center” for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Charley gave comments and a summary of the matches that already occurred in the tournament. Charley noted that Mustache Mountain will not be able to compete as she cut to Tyler Bate being interviewed by Kathy Kelley. Tyler Bate revealed that he would be out of action for two weeks and his team has to withdraw from the Dusty Classic. Charley cut to Roderick Strong cutting a selfie promo to ask for a chance to compete in the Dusty Classic. Charley noted that Roderick Strong and a mystery partner will get the chance to face Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch… [C]
John’s Thoughts: More great limited promo work by Ciampa. The moment Ciampa spoke was powerful and that only magnified the heat which Ciampa visually took advantage of. I would have liked to see Gargano gone longer, but hiding behind a sign worked like a charm in the moment. I don’t know the spoiler on this one but I would assume that this will lead to Ciampa and Gargano at the next Takeover in some sort of Unsanctioned situation…
The Undisputed Era trio were mocking the idea of Roderick Strong being inserted in the Dusty Rhodes Classic. Adam Cole joked about having to face Kassius Ohno and said that Ohno is so easy that Fish and O’Reilly don’t have to be at ringside. Their promo ended with them holding up their Undisputed hand signs…
John’s Thoughts: As I thought, these backstage promos are growing on me. The camera angle and music are starting to match the “Storytime with Adam Cole” format that I was looking for and he’s getting better chemistry with O’Reilly and Fish. It’s taking a while but the Era are starting to truly click.
1. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a first round match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Strong and Lorcan started off with the collar and elbow. Lorcan and Strong then traded positions on the ground. Lorcan got the shortarm to tag in Burch. Strong got the shortarm on Burch to tag in Dunne. Dunne went into his signature joint manipulation with pin attempts. Burch escaped and had a nice flying drop toehold on Dunne. [C]
Dunne had the joint manipulation locked in on Burch back from the break. Dunne slapped Burch over to his corner to tag in Strong who hit one of his signature backbreakers on Burch. Dunne and Strong hit some tandem offense on Burch. Burch managed to make the escape and hit a top rope dropkick on Dunne. Strong and Lorcan tagged in. Strong avoided Lorcan’s slap combo but Lorcan didn’t relent and kept going rapid fire with stiff and strong moves. Strong caused disorientation by shoving Burch into Lorcan. Dunne hit the X Plex on Burch.
Strong tried to isolate Lorcan away but he ate a Shoryuken from Lorcan. Lorcan suplexed Strong on Dunne. Burch locked Dunne in a crossface and Lorcan locked Strong in a half crab. Strong pushed Lorcan into Burch to break both holds. Burch dominated Dunne with an exploder. Strong got a blind tag and hit a backbreaker and End of Heartache on Burch for the win.
Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne defeated Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch via pinfall in 7:14 of TV Time to advance to the second round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Nigel noted that Strong and Dunne were going to face Sanity in the next round… [C]
John’s Thoughts: That was some tag team madness. Strong continues his reputation of being the ultimate utility player of NXT where you can plug him into the most random of situations and he will just make it better. Dunne and Strong had great chemistry and meshed well with their opponents. Burch and Lorcan continue to be a great duo stuck in a precarious situation. Those two guys are too talented to be enhancement wrestlers yet they do such a good job in enhancing their opponents.
A Ricochet “Coming Soon” vignette aired during the commercial. The video focused on his high flying moves from the NXT live events…
2. Ember Moon vs, Aliyah in a non-title match. Both women had a quick chain wrestling sequence early on leading to a stalemate. Aliyah slammed Moon’s head onto the mat. The camera cut to Shayna Baszler on the stage who joined the commentary team. Baszler put her foot on the table and bragged about herself saying that she runs the division. Moon and Aliyah were pretty even for the most part. Moon dominated after a popup samoan drop. Moon hit a flip into a lariat and then finished off Aliyah with the Eclipse for the win.
Ember Moon defeated Aliyah via pinfall in 2:56.
Moon stood up on the turnbuckle as Baszler taunted her from the top of the announce table. The two women jawed at each other from a distance. The screen cut to the Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler graphic for takeover. Percy Watson advartised Authors of Pain vs. Street Profits for next week as well as Strong and Dunne vs. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe…
Raul Mendoza was about to make his entrance for an upcoming match but Andrade Almas blindsided him and tossed him aside like he was trash. Mauro noted that Almas was not tranquillo today. Almas cut a promo in Spanish. Almas (in Spanish) talked about how he has the title and should be respected. Almas said he was the idol. Almas called Aleister Black a “Piece of [expletive]”. Mauro said that Almas was calling out Black… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I like the emotion from Almas but the guy does have to learn how to speak English better. Either that or have Zelina Vega do all of the talking. Brock Lesnar never says anything, so it’s possible to do. Hopefully I translated Almas’ Spanish part of the promo good enough with my three years of high school Spanish and several years of reviewing Pentagon Jr. promos.
During the commercial, a Lars Sullivan return vignette aired as Sullivan’s return is set for next week. Mauro Ranallo then thanked Cain Hill for providing both themes for the Next Takeover show. They cut to William Regal’s office where he said that next week he will have an announcement that will change the landscape of NXT forever…
Adam Cole made his entrance for the next match…
3. Kassius Ohno vs. Adam Cole. Nigel and Mauro noted that Ohno wins a lot of matches but loses all of his big matches. Cole and Ohno had dueling chants. Ohno dominated Cole from the shortarm position. Cole came back at Ohno with some knees to the gut. Ohno showed off some agility in dodging Cole. Cole tried to show agility with a leapfrog but he jumped into the boot of Ohno. Ohno backtossed Cole to the apron where he apparently tweaked his knee. It was a faux injury as he drew in Ohno with an Enziguri and then put the boots to Ohno. [C]
John’s Thoughts: Before I get to my final thoughts on the match, I have to say that fake knee injury spot was great and vintage Adam Cole.
Cole had Ohno dominated back from the break with boots and suplexes. Ohno nearly escaped a chinlock but Cole followed up with a lungblower. Cole taunted Ohno and called him a loser. Cole teased the “Adam Cole Bay Bay” but pulled back on the fans. Ohno surprised Cole with a discus right hand. Ohno initiated a rally with a series of boots. Ohno landed a running leg drop on Cole.
Cole kicked out of the pin at two. Ohno caught Cole with a big boot and cyclone kick for two and three quarters of a pin attempt. Ohno kept hitting Cole with precision strikes. This fired up Cole with rapid fire stiff punches. Cole came right back and hit the Last Shot on Ohno for a nearfall. Cole went for the Shining Wizard but Ohno drapped him on the top rope and hit the High Tension Elbow on Cole which sent him outside. Adam Cole reversed a pin into a crucifix. Cole hit a series of superkicks on Ohno followed by a Last Shot and Shining Wizard to the back of Ohno’s head for the victory.
Adam Cole defeated Kassius Ohno via pinfall in 9:31 of TV Time.
NXT closed with Cole doing his Bay Bay thing…
John’s Thoughts: I feel safe in saying this, but Adam Cole had both his best match and best night in NXT so far. As I mentioned earlier, he cut a small produced promo early on that was similar to the unique “Storytime with Adam Cole” promos. In the match, he got in a lot of his wormy traits but also looked more aggressive than we’ve seen him in a long time. That match also goes on to show how valuable Kassius Ohno is in his gatekeeper role in that he does the perfect job setting up people for the main event scene. Props to both men for having some very compelling nearfalls down the stretch. This match was what Adam Cole was missing and hopefully he can get a few more of these.
A strong edition of NXT this week book-ended with two entertaining matches. These are the type of shows I love covering, which are the ones that blow away my expectations. This episode did what NXT usually does in setting up the following week’s show well while also doing everything else that it sets out to do. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Audio Review for the Dot Net members.
Feedback is always appreciated and feel free to contact me via twitter @liljohnm to tweet and discuss pro wrestling or anything for that matter. You can also comment and discuss professional wrestling topics directly with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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