By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired March 28, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped March 7 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
NXT opened up with Tommasso Ciampa driving into Full Sail University and walking into the University. Press members were swarming on Ciampa but Ciampa walked past them to yell at William Regal for Johnny Gargano who has been terrorizing him at his place of work and at his home. William Regal gave Ciampa a chance to get rid of Gargano by booking a unsanctioned match for Takeover. Regal said if Gargano wins he gets his job back and if Ciampa wins Gargano will be banished forever from NXT…
John’s Thoughts: A bit of an odd way to essentially ignore the stipulation of the Almas vs. Gargano match, but this made sense and they had to get here. There were also youtube videos that set this up with Gargano trying to beat up Ciampa’s car and constantly banging on Ciampa’s apartment door at 3 in the morning.
William Regal made his entrance for his huge announcement. Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were the commentary team. Regal talked about how great NXT was and how NXT is a global brand. Regal announced that at New Orleans, NXT will be introducing a “North American Championship”. Regal talked about how the UK Championship has brought together a collection of talent and the North American Championship will do the same.
Suddenly, fresh from getting “Fired” from Impact Wrestling last week, Ethan Carter III, EC3, made his entrance. EC3 is the artist formerly known as Derrick Bateman to long-time NXT viewers. EC3 had a cool theme which bragged about him being in the one percent. EC3 entered the ring and called for the crowd to chant so he can bask in this moment. EC3 said this was too much. EC3 talked about how he was excited to join the hottest brand in sports and in entertainment. EC3 bragged about his lucrative contract and cool theme song. EC3 assumed that the North American Championship was being made for and awarded to him on his first day in the company.
EC3 talked about how North America is the greatest region in the world. EC3 talked about being the greatest money making machine. Regal cut off EC3 and told EC3 that nothing is handed to them and must earn everything in the ring. Regal acknowledged that EC3 has proven himself in the past in this company. Regal announced that EC3 will have a chance to compete for the title at New Orleans in a ladder match against five other wrestlers. The crowd loved this and EC3 had a look that he didn’t. EC3 said they can line up the entire roster but he is going to show the world why he is the top one percent of the industry. Regal left and EC3 stood in the middle of the ring to soak the reaction as his new theme played. Nigel McGuinness announced that Aleister Black will be appearing later…
Mauro cut to Charley Caruso at the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic “Control Center” for a recap…
John’s Thoughts: I wlll miss Ethan’s “TroubleTroubleTrouble” theme, but the new one is pretty damn cool. I do get a chuckle that Impact Wrestling booked and timed EC3’s exit to maintain continuity with his NXT debut. EC3 was as strong as usual on the microphone and looks to be a babyface on the onset. He has it in him to be a badass babyface but hopefully he shifts to being a devious heel down the road.
TM-61 were interviewed next. You could see Shayna Baszler complaining with a trainer in the background (is that Serena Deeb?). TM-61 said their catchphrase and talked about how they were disappointed in getting eliminated in the first round. Suddenly the interview was cut short due to a brawl that ensued between Moon and Baszler which drew the attention of the cameramen…
1. “The Street Profits” Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford vs. “The Authors of Pain” Akam and Rezar (w/ Paul Ellering) in a semi-final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Montez ford tried to yell at an Author but the Author shoved and yelled back at the Profit. Angelo Dawkins tagged in and was beat up by Rezar. Akam tagged in and continued the pain. Mauro talked up the Olympic caliber martial arts ability of both Authors. Angelo Dawkins had a surprisingly strong power rally and cleaned house with the Authors. Montez Ford danced like a maniac and tried to offer Paul Ellering a sip of whatever was in his cup. Ellering refused. This distracted Dawkins enough for the Authors to nail him with the Last Chapter for the win.
The Authors of Pain defeated the Street Profits via pinfall in 2:30 to advance to the Finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Ford and Dawkins had a look of disappointment in the ring as the camera cut to Charley Caruso for another recap…
John’s Thoughts: I’m surprised we got a quick match here but this goes into the weakness of having “developmental” tag teams in this tournament. The right team went over but I’m surprised that we got so little action given how you’d think they want to evaluate the ability of Montez Ford more. Ford does look a bit like a dope though for being extra distracted by Ellering not wanting to drink whatever was in his cup. Hopefully this leads to some evolution for the Street Profits.
Cathy Kelly interviewed William Regal who added Adam Cole to the North American Title Ladder match. Suddenly in a floral shirt and headband, Velveteen Dream showed up and asked for a chance to wrestle in the match. Regal put Dream in the match. Nigel McGuinness announced that Lars Sullivan was returning to action after the break… [C]
A camera was waiting for Aleister Black to drive up to Full Sail. They cut back to inside where Lars Sullivan made his epic silhouette entrance…
2. Lars Sullivan vs. John Silver. John Silver had no chance. He was clubbed down with ease. Sullivan tossed him around like a bag of garbage. Mauro Ranallo went over a few of his nicknames for Sullivan. Sullivan hit a military press on Silver. Sullivan then hit the Chris Benoit diving headbutt and then the Freak Accident for the win.
Lars Sullivan defeated John Silver via pinfall in 1:34.
The replays showed the high impact moves hit by Sullivan.
John’s Thoughts: Not a huge fan of the diving headbutt especially given how it brings back bad memories of Benoit and Daniel Bryan given the focus on the head. Another negative to using the move is the guy is a monster and doesn’t need to do this high flying move. I said the same thing about Jeff Cobb in Lucha Underground when he would do similar things as Matanza. At least the headbutt he hit mostly hit with his shoulder but it can end up worse. Aside from that, It’s great to see Sullivan back. This guy is something else and one of the developmental prospects in NXT who are further along in their development.
Cathy Kelley was wearing heavy red eyeshadow and tried to get more names from Regal for the Takeover Ladder Match. Regal saw Lars Sullivan walking backstage and offered him a shot in the match. Sullivan accepted the invitation but wanted to complete unfinished business by facing Killian Dain. Regal booked the match for next week and Sullivan said “good”…
Dakota Kai was making her entrance for a match but they had to cut to a brawl in the parking lot. Andrade Almas was beating up and dominating Aleister Black. Almas tried to drown Black in ice water for a bit. Almas then beat up Black all the way to the ring. In the center of the ring Almas jabbed a chair into the back of Black. Almas said he was the champion and demanded respect from Black. The referees broke things up and Almas and Vega stood tall on the stage. Black struggled to get to his feet… [C]
John’s Thoughts: NXT has done this several times tonight and it is a nice nuance. They’ve presented NXT as a universe and sporting event with multiple simultaneous occurrences. This is a good aspect of world building as opposed to coming off as a scripted play. Anyway, as for the beatdown, that was well done and they are doing a good job at making Almas look strong and dominant. It’s amazing that this guy was an enhancement wrestler around a year ago.
Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe made their entrance sans Nikki Cross and Killian Dain… Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne got separate entrances…
3. “Sanity” Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne in a Semi-Final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Has Eric Young been bald recently? He looks a bit like “world elite” Eric Young. Strong and Wolfe started off the match. After some chain wrestling, Wolfe dominated Strong with a body slam. Young and Dunne traded strikes. Wolfe managed to get in the blind tag to initiate tandem offense on Dunne. [C]
Eric Young and Wolfe continued to isolated Dunne in his team’s corner. Dunne managed to escape with a right hand to turn the tables on the isolation on Eric. Young blocked a whip by floating over the top rope. Dunne fought thorugh that and targeted the arm of young. Young reversed a body scissors Kimura with a suplex. Strong and Wolfe tagged in and had a even punch battle. Strong fought off both Sanity members. Wolfe hit a German Suplex and Death Valley Driver on Strong to lead to a nearfall. Eric Young hit the Youngblood on Strong for a nearfall.
Wolfe went high risk and right into a punch from Dunne. EY went high risk and was punched by Strong. Eric Young blocked a Strong superplex and hit his signature diving elbow drop on Strong. Strong hit a backbreaker and nearfall on Young. After some madness ensuing Strong hit the End of Heartache on Wolfe. Strong and Dunne hit a double flapjack on Young for the clean win.
Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne defeated Sanity via pinfall in 8:34 to advance to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Mauro Ranallo laid it on thick as an upset and Cinderella story. Mauro also announced that the Finals of the Dusty Classic will be happening next week. Cathy Kelly went back to William Regal’s office to try to get more names from him. Regal said he chose the last person in the match. Ricochet suddenly exited Regal’s office and said “I’ll see you at Takeover”…
John’s Thoughts: I see what Mauro was going for, but Dunne and Strong are seen as main eventers on NXT so it’s tough to buy this being both an upset and Cinderella story. If this were Lorcan and Burch, that would be a different story but Strong and Dunne should be considered favorites. As for the match, it was a bit disappointing given the talents involved. Sanity matches are hit or miss and this was on the miss end. It wasn’t a terrible match but not the barnburner you would expect with all of the experience in the ring. Strong and Dunne vs. AOP should be a great hard hitting brawl next week and something to look forward to.
This week’s episode was a little bit light on the in-ring action, but where the show lacked in wrestling it made up for in storyline development and world-building. The EC3 debut and William Regal announcement was noteworthy. Cathy Kelly constantly running back to Regal’s office was a bit goofy (Kelly is still a bit green as an interviewer but a more natural upgrade over Christy St. Cloud who came off as a bad actress. Not to be harsh on someone who was just released, but she was THAT bad in NXT). I’ll be by tomorrow with an NXT Hit List as well as a Members-exclusive Audio Review.