NXT TV Live Review: Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan in a No DQ match, Zelina Vega vs. Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano returns, Ricochet debuts on NXT TV


By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

Aired April 18, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped April 11 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

This week’s NXT started out with an “In memory of Bruno Samartino” before the signature. The NXT Theme aired…

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae made their entrance to start off the show. Mauro Ranallo talked about how Johnny exercised the demon known as Tommaso Ciampa. A “welcome back” chant ensued. Gargano talked about how he dreamt about this moment going into Takeover. Gargano said it’s good to be home. He said for a long time he was defined by two words “Tommaso Ciampa”. Gargano talked about Ciampa being his best friend and breaking his heart. Gargano talked about how he couldn’t even say Ciampa’s name. Gargano talked about being in the ring for 37 minutes of his life. Gargano was glad to get his life back and being back in NXT.

Gargano said it has been the toughest part of his career but the thought of the crowd shoving the Gargano signs in Ciampa’s face and chanting Gargano’s name, that deserves a thank you for having Gargano’s back. Gargano brought up his wife Candice. Johnny talked about how the past few months have been tough. The crowd “awwww”d at the hand holding. Gargano thanked Candice. Johnny handed the mic to Candice LeRae who announced that she was facing Zelina Vega. Gargano noted that if Almas tries to get involved he will drop Almas like he was Tommaso Ciampa. Gargano then set his sights on Aleister Black and the NXT Championship. Gargano closed with the “We are NXT” line…

Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Nigel McGuinness is out this month due to becoming a new dad. They hyped up the upcoming matches including Ricochet debuting in singles action… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Pretty standard and effective stuff by Gargano and LeRae. This was the logical step to move past Ciampa. Looking forward to see what LeRae and Vega can do in the ring tonight. I haven’t seen Vega wrestle since she was starting out in TNA so that will be cool to see. It also looks like Gargano is putting his name down as the face of NXT with that “We are NXT” line…

Killian Dain cut a promo in some random lot. He said he was going to take something from Lars alone without his teammates….

Mauro provided an update on Nigel McGuinness who was out being a father.

1. Ricochet vs. Fabien Aichner. Ricochet and Aichner had a collar and elbow lockup to start out with Ricochet winning the subsequent agility battle. Aichner hit a gutbuster and backbreaker on Ricochet. Mauro compared Aichner to Bruno Sammartino (Mauro does this on the regular and this was taped last week). Ricochet shoved Aichner away with his feet and followed up with a rolling front dropkick. Ricochet caught Aichner with a 619 and European Uppercut. AIchner kicked out after a standing Shooting Star from Ricochet. Ricochet went for the 630 but Aichner crotched him on the top rope for a superplex attempt. Ricochet fought off Aichner and hit the 630 for the win.

Ricochet defeated Fabien Aichner via pinfall in 4:36.

Mauro said Ricochet was NXT’s skywalker and always higher than Canada. Percy Watson noted that Ricochet almost didn’t make it to NXT. Kayla Braxton interviewed Ricochet after. Ricochet talked about it feeling great. Ricochet soaked up the cheers and said he wasn’t mad at it. Ricochet talked about how superstarts like Bayley, Sami Zayn, or Seth Rollins made a name for themeselves. He said it was hit turn now. He said it was time to make a name for himself. Ricochet said he is going to prove why there is one and only Ricochet…

A War Raiders debut replay aired from last week…

John’s Thoughts: Fabien Aichner is ready to move into the next level whenever they are ready since this guy is amazing in the ring. He has the potential to be what WWE never got out of Apollo Crews. Ricochet did his usual cool Ricochet things with the unparalleled agility which he makes looks so easy. That post match promo wasn’t bad. His promos were so bad in my covering for years and he’s improved a lot if this is the style of promo he can deliver. The confidence is up and it wasn’t awkward.

After a EC3 vignette, Lars Sullivan cut a similar promo as Dain did earlier…

2. “The War Raiders” Hanson and Rowe vs. JC and Chris. JC and Chris look like Deuce and Domino cosplayers and they had no chance. Hanson showed of some agility with a cartwheel. They hit powerslams on their opponents. War Raiders hit the Fallout on one of the enhancement guys (a side slam leg drop) for the win.

The War Raiders defeated JC and Chris via pinfall in 1:47. 

Mauro said the match lasted the length of an Instagram story…

Shayna Baszler forced a camera man to record a meeting she was heading to. Shayna Baszler stole the scene from Serena Deeb and was was shown talking to the NXT Women’s locker room. She ripped off the “Ember Moon” name from Moon’s locker and left her calling card. Dakota Kai tried to walk out but was yelled at by Baszler. Baszler said to get in line behind her or get run over…

John’s Thoughts: Baszler is on of the best heels in WWE now and also give credit for the NXT production crew for setting the scene for her well. Go out of your way to see that. The War Raiders had a good debut and some cool generic music.

A vignette aired for Kona Reeves who is now fashionable and flamboyant? Pete Dunne was shown walking as he said he’ll return in a few weeks to rip off the head of Roderick Strong. Dunne said it in a calm voice…

Lars Sullivan made his cool eclipse entrance as Mauro ran though the man nicknames he has for Lars…

3. Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain in a No-DQ match. Dain dumped Sullivan to the outside with Sullivan pulling Dain out to continue the brawling. Dain tossed Sullivan into the steps. Dain showed off some of his agility with a Tope Suicida but Sullivan caught Dain and hit him with a suplex on the ringside. It looked like they were supposed to cut to commercial but instead they are going on with the match. Sullivan gave Dain clubbing blows in the center of the ring with Dain crumbling to the ground. Sullivan hit Dain with a Deadlift German Suplex. Sullivan hit Dain with a top rope lariat to the outside which invoked a “NXT” chant.

Sullivan hit the top rope headbutt or a two count. Dain was bleeding from the face at this point. Sullivan tossed in some chairs. Sullivan yelled that it was his territory. Sullivan worked over Dain with a chair. Dain responded with a running dropkick. Dain hit Sullivan with a front slam, to a senton, to a Vader Bomb for a nearfall. Dain gave the crowd what they wanted in pulling out a table. Dain softened up Sullivan with a chair to the back. Sullivan fought off Dain and hit him with a front slam (impressive that he lifted the huge 300 pounder with ease). Dain attempted a headbutt to a chair (luckily he didn’t hit the chair at all).

Sullivan instead caught a flying Dain and hit a power slam. Dain responded with a bicycle kick. Dain hit Sullivan with his signature running sandwich crossbody into the table. Dain stompped a mudhole into Sullivan with the help of a chair. Dain then used a chair to go for a Van Terminator but Sullivan stood up and got a chair punched into his face. Sullivan jabbed Dain in the gut and then hit Dain with the Freak Accident onto a pile  of chairs to pick up the pinfall win.

Lars Sullivan defeated Killian Dain via pinfall in 10:45. 

Replays from the match aired. A Candice LeRae and Zelina Vega video package aired… [C]

John’s Thoughts: A great hardcore match with them taking some liberties that you don’t see too much in hardcore matches these days. This was better than their last match, but their last match was not even a match and moreso a setup for the ladder match staredown.  Killian Dain is going to be great on the main roster with his nice mix of power and agility. It will be interesting to see him mix it up with people like Big E or Samoa Joe. As for Sullivan, this guy is a hidden gem in NXT. His cardio is amazing and he can keep up with a plethora of opponents. A great match that if it were at takeover would have been better since the ending was abrupt and they could have used more time.

The Undisputed Era was walking around backstage confidently. Bobby Fish was walking without a crutch. Roderick Strong had his Tag Team belt with him. All four men did a photoshoot. This led to hype for next week where Roderick Strong will give an explaination as to why he joined the Era. Percy Watson also advertised Oney Lorcan vs. Adam Cole for the North American Championship. A John Cena Make-a-Wish commercial aired…

4. Candice LeRae vs. Zelina Vega. Gargano and Almas weren’t out at first. Vega had a really small two piece on. Vega tried to jaw with LeRae but LeRae easily shoved Vega away. LeRae hit a lift facebuster on Vega. Andrade Almas ran in for the distraction which allowed Vega to gain control. Johnny Gargano ran out to equalize things. Vega went for a dragon sleeper but LeRae powered Vega to the corner. After the setup, Vega successfully hit a meteora on LeRae for the nearfall. LeRae blocked the hammerlock DDT. LeRae came back with forearms and corner power moves. LeRae hit a missile dropkick for a nearall.

LeRae hit the La Mistica into the GargaNo Escape. Almas tried to run in for the interference but Gargano hit his La Mistica into his own GargaNo Escape. Zelina Vega tapped out.

Candice LeRae defeated Zelina Vega via submission in 3:27. 

Johnny Gargano noted how that was awesome and how there was one piece of unfinished business. Gargano said with Almas and Vega out of the way he was challenging Aleister Black. Aleister Black cut off Gargano with his entrance wearing a nice three piece suit. Black said “You want it, then next week you shall have it”. Gargano’s theme closed the segment. Mauro Ranallo wondered if we were getting Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship next week to close the show…

John’s Thoughts: The match wasn’t a five star classic or anything, but it was good for the limited time allocated for it. It seemed like the last two matches were cut short to allow it to stay under the one hour time limit of the show. Vega is a solid wrestler but it does stand out that she is tiny when she is in the ring against someone who is usually considered tiny. The Gargano and Almas stuff was integrated well too. The post match stuff was fine but there was the noticeable absence of William Regal who Mauro noted was “under the weather” a few weeks ago. Here’s hoping everything is fine with him because he’s so good at delivering simple news and booking matches.

This was one of the higher end episodes of weekly NXT that I’ve remembered in a while. We had a few introductions in Ricochet and War Raiders. The rest of the show was dedicated towards tying together loose ends. The Dain and Sullivan thing hung out there for a long time with the Sullivan injury and Roderick Strong being a part of it at one point. The Vega and LeRae would have made sense at a Takeover show, but looking back that takeover was stacked and didn’t have enough time. It also made more sense to keep Gargano focused on Ciampa rather than have him split between Almas and Ciampa. One of the things I keep praising about NXT is their efficient use of time and this episode  was very efficient. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Hit List and Audio Review for the Dot Net Members.


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