NXT TV Live Review: Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship, Adam Cole vs. Oney Lorcan for the NXT North American Championship

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

Aired April 25, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped April 11 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

There was no Cold Open this week and the show went straight to the intro theme. Wrestlers called up to the main roster like Sanity were still in the intro (at least for now). Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Nigel McGuinness returned to commentary last night on 205 Live but this was taped during his break. The Undisputed Era made their entrance for an Adam Cole title defense. Roderick Strong joined the crew. Bobby Fish was walking without a crutch but he was limping around with a huge crutch outside of his pants. Kyle O’Reilly continued to do his signature title belt air guitar…

After a Ginyu Force like pose, Cole cut a promo bragging about all of the gold the Undisputed Era has accumulated. Adam Cole proposed that NXT was having a conspiracy against the success of the Undisputed Era and they came out on top. Bobby Fish said at War Games and New Orleans they were thrown at wolves. Fish said the Undisputed Era always stands one step ahead. Fish said they stand here dripping in NXT Championship gold. Roderick Strong said everyone wonder’s “why Roddy why?”. Strong said he’s not here to pat himself on the back but that’s what the Undisputed Era was for. The Era comically pat Strong on the back. Strong said he was looking out for himself and knew that Pete Dunne would betray him soon because he cares more about the UK Championship. Strong said he had a moment of clarity in the middle of the triple threat match and decided to join the Era.

Kyle O’Reilly talked about how times were changing and they were leaving everyone in the dust. Cole said he’s going to prove that point by defending his title against Oney Lorcan right now and on his own. Cole said he won by himself and will defend by himself. Cole then joked that it’s a fact that people don’t need too much help beating Oney Lorcan. Cole said it was time to shock the system…

John’s Thoughts: A strong promo segment where everyone got some fun braggadocious statements in. The huge question was how Strong would fare with his first true heel promo. He didn’t offer much as far as justification was concerned, but he did do well in getting his character across. We saw a preview of this in the pre-show at Takeover. The rest of the Era have been really good on the microphone in recent months so they stood out in a good way. The Undisputed Era are finally starting to click as a credible group and look to be having a lot of fun out there.

Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions…

1. Adam Cole vs. Oney Lorcan for the NXT North American Championship. Cole dominated early on but sold the taped up ribs. Cole caught Lorcan with an enziguri at the apron and started to work on Lorcan with a cravate. Lorcan punched his way out. Cole ended up hitting a backbreaker on Lorcan. Lorcan picked up with some strong style strikes. Lorcan hit a running shoryuken followed by a running blockbuster to get a nearfall. Mauro notes that kickouts put more damage on the ribs. Cole responded with a boot but Lorcan reversed a suplex into a front suplex on the top rope.

Suddenly, The Unidsputed Era brought out a NXT medical guy to check on Cole. The distraction allowed Strong to hit an apron backbreaker on Lorcan. The Era had the comical moment in saying that it was a miracle and “he’s fine! Yay!” as Adam Cole was now fine. Adam Cole hit the shining wizard to the back of Lorcan’s head for the win.

Adam Cole defeated Oney Lorcan via pinfall in 5:50 to retain the NXT North American Championship.

Strong and O’Reilly joined in on putting the boots to Lorcan. Danny Burch ran out for the save but with the help of double flying knees, the Undisputed Era won the numbers game and struck a pose over the prone tag team they dominated. After, a short and sweet Shayna Baszler vignette aired…

John’s Thoughts: I’m usually not a fan of cool heels trying to be cool heels, but the Undisputed Era is clicking and I can really dig and respect the fun stuff these guys are doing. They can always get the heat on the right babyface, especially with Strong’s moveset. This was just fun though. Lorcan is interesting on his end. He is really good and fun to watch, but NXT really needs enhancement guys and he’s stuck in that position. Cole even joked about that. Burch has been an enhancement guy since 2012 I believe.

A really good Bianca BelAir vignette aired where she talked about how she was the greatest, fastest, strongest, and any positive thing with the suffix “-est”. It also showcased her athleticism and strength. The John Cena Make-A-Wish ad aired…

John’s Thoughts: Bianca BelAir is ready for the next level as well. They should really put this girl in a program because she has all the tools to be a star.

2. “Heavy Machinery” Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight vs. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss. The two better ring workers, Moss and Knight, worked against each other to start. Moss ran right into a stationary Dozovic and Heavy Machinery fired up the crowd with their fun energy. Knight and Dozovic caught their opponents and ran into each other. They then treated the heels like surfboards and did flexing poses  on top of the heels. A “steaks and weights” chant ensued. Moss ended the rally with a back suplex and “ground and pound”. Tino tagged in and drew good heat with a “Tino sucks” chant. Tino got a few punches in and tagged in Moss. There was some miscommunication as Moss pushed off Sabbatelli from the apron accidentally. Moss and Knight had a stalemate. Moss went for the tag but Sabbatelli betrayed Moss by dropping off the apron and walking up the ramp.  Heavy Machinery hit The Compactor on Moss for the win.

Heavy Machinery defeated Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss via pinfall in 4:00.

Mauro clarified that Sabbatelli was just returning the favor from a few months ago where Moss did this to him. Tucker Knight called out War Raiders and said they were going to take all the steaks and raid the buffetts. Otis said they were going to raid the gyms and lift all the “weights-ehhhh”. Otis did a funny rotation as the crowd was fired up. They said they were coming! Percy cut to a women’s division vignette which included Nikki Cross, Aliyah, and Kairi Sane…

John’s Thoughts: Heavy Machinery is cheesy as hell, but they are fun as hell too. Otis is a future star. Looking forward to an energetic match against War Raiders. I hope this isn’t the end of Sabbatelli and Moss since they are finally starting to click. Moss is looking more confident and Sabbatelli is getting better in the ring and as a character. Sabbatelli just needs to find out how to work longer matches so he can draw heat. Based off of Mauro saying that Sabbatelli was returning the favor from a few months ago, has me thinking that this might just be a chapter in their development rather than a breakup.

Cathy Kelly and Dakota Kai were looking sad during an interview. This was in reference to Shayna Baszler interrupting Sereena Deeb’s meeting in the women’s locker room. Dakota didn’t want to answer and said she just wants to walk away. Dakota Kai said she understands it’s Kelley’s job. Shayna Baszler walked in and bullied Kai verbally. Baszler said Kai traveled the world to chase her dreams only to find out that a Women’s division run by Baszler is Kai’s worst nightmare. Kai was almost crying and visibly nervous… [C]

John’s Thoughts: More great work by Baszler and good emotion from Kai. This is a really relatable storyline to many women and people in this world who experience bullies. This has the potential to be NXT’s first deep and great feud of 2018 and it will build up both women.

They showed the next part of the Women’s division vignette which included Lacey Evans now wearing military themed garb, Vanessa Bourne, and Candice LeRae. Percy Watson advertised TM-61 vs. Street Profits and Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne for next week.

Johnny Gargano made his entrance for the upcoming Championship match but he was blindsided and beat up by his rival, Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa had his right eye taped up in black tape. Black yelled at Gargano that he will never get rid of him. Ciampa had Gargano in the fireman carry on top of the Announce table. Gargano escaped and took it to Ciampa up the ramp. Ciampa gained control by hitting Gargano in the balls. Ciampa soaked up “you tapped out chants”. Ciampa hit his running knee finisher into Gargano and trashing the LED video wall.

The referees thought they broke things up but Ciampa hit a sick Celtic Cross from the stage to the Table on the floor with a bunch of audio equipment on it. Candice LeRae ran out to check on Gargano. Drake Younger recommended that LeRae not move Gargano’s head due to possible head trauma issues. The paramedics ran out and gave Gargano the stretcher job as Ciampa soaked up good heat from Full Sail. The camera crew stayed glued to the medics and LeRae stretchering Gargano to the back. The NXT roster looked worried. Aleister Black looked and walked past Gargano’s stretcher with worried intrigue. Kassius Ohno tried to comfort LeRae. Tommaso Ciampa was shown on top of the production truck as he did his creepy wave goodbye.

The cameras cut to Aleister Black who was just making his way to the ring. Black was about to call out Ciampa but was interrupted by Smackdown wrestlers Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain. The spotlight focused on Eric Young who had a microphone with him. EY said Johnny Gargano provided hope and Chaos provided hope. Young said out of the chaos they will find hope, greatness, and sanity. Black cut off Young’s strange promo by assuming that Young wants a title shot. Black said “let’s do this”…

John’s Thoughts: What an odd and over-transcendental promo by Young. I’ll get back to the Ciampa and Gargano stuff after the match but it was perfect and near flawless in execution. NXT is building up a fun universe via world building.

3. Aleister Black vs. Eric Young (w/ Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain) for the NXT Championship. Black dominated the early lockup. Mauro noted that Eric Young has been a champion everywhere (where? I only remember him winning every title in TNA? He even beat Zelina Vega for a women’s championship there!). Young managed to get some precision strikes on black. Black countered with a sleeper to end Young’s momentum. Black scared Young with a tope fakeout into his meditation pose. Black dodged a few moves from the meditation pose into a kip up and armbar. Black caught Young with some snug Kickboxing clinch kicks. Young countered Black with a top rope dragon sleeper.

Young hit a neckbreaker on Black. Young went to lock in a cravat on Black. Young moved to a crossface after Black tried to escape. Black got a sunset flip on Young. Black nosold a palm strike into a tiger knee from him. Both men beat the ten count. Black dominated EY’s punches with his superior kickboxing. Black hit a pouncing lionsault on Young. Young recovered and Black in the corner. Black rolled into Young into a suspended Octopus Hold. Young powered through and hit Black with a brainbuster. Young showed off some cool agility but right into the Black Mass by Black for the win.

Aleister Black defeated Eric Young via pinfall in 8:49 to retain the NXT Championship. 

The rest of Sanity ran into the ring only to eat a series of Black Masses. Aleister Black stood tall over Sanity to close out the show. Mauro did close with the line “Damn You!!! Tommaso Ciampa!”…

John’s Thoughts: I just noticed this. Eric Young kinda wrestles like Bobby Roode in that slow start to hot finish kind of way. It must be a Scott D’Amore and Team Canada kind of thing? I’m kidding, but that was how the match was. It was slow and stalling to start but EY managed to pull out some fire in the end. The match was too short and EY has too little singles credibility to have made this any more than filler. Young can be a good singles star, but he needs a chance to shine in that way. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing him shave the beard and grow out the hair to bring  back good ol’ Showtime Eric Young. Anyway, the match was a good showcase for Black, and Sanity were literally kicked out of NXT with a series of kicks.

Back to the Ciampa segment. That was hot. It’s cool to see that the Ciampa and Gargano feud hasn’t ended yet and Ciampa found a great way to get all of his heat back. This guy has monster heat and it helps that Gargano has monster sympathy. That thing at New Orleans was epic and over 30 minutes. Gargano’s matches tend to always improve no matter what so how great or scary is the Barclays match going to be. i’m going to assume this ends Summerslam weekend since NXT’s biggest show tends to be the Brooklyn show. A part of me would like it to make it to the Los Angeles Show right after, but that is just selfish and stalling on my part. I was about to criticize Black not running out to help, but Back isn’t the type of guy who runs and they did have the camera show that he was on the way and didn’t know about the situation. That extended camera shot did one of the things NXT does best and it continued that NXT World Building.

This show is less than an hour, but even with filler this show has more content and development than some 2+ hour shows. With all that they even manage to sneak in advertisements for next week. Next week’s show isn’t going to be as hot at this week since there aren’t as high stakes as the NXT Championship. I say that, but Strong vs. Dunne is a main event quality match. I expect that match to be more angle though, similar to this week’s Black vs. Gargano tease. The only thing missing is William Regal. Why couldn’t they put Hunter in the role because that’s what they did on Takeover. Maybe they’re finally trying to not confuse people with HHH’s dual personality. Anyways, great show and I’ll be by tomorrow with my Hit List and Member Exclusive Audio Review.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. “I’m usually not a fan of cool heels trying to be cool heels, but the Undisputed Era is clicking and I can really dig and respect the fun stuff these guys are doing.”

    I don’t think the Undisputed Era can do any more than they are doing to get booed. They are arrogant, they brag, they are cowardly and they cheat. They are doing everything right (except maybe canning the ‘Baybay’ chant). The problem is that lots of NXT fans need to show off that they know about ROH, so they cheer a very clear heel faction to get noticed.

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