By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired May 23, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped May 9 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
The NXT Intro theme aired. Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson were on commentary. Nigel hyped up the Ricochet and Veveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan in a handicap match. Jonathan Coachman was sitting in the front row in Full Sail watching NXT…
1. “Heavy Machinery” Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic vs. “TM-61” Nick Miller and Shane Thorne. A Steaks and Weights chant ensued. Dozovic easily took down Shane Thorne with his shoulder blocks and Kool-aid man “oh yeah” noises. Knight tagged in and worked on Thorne with a hip toss. Dozovic took down Thorne with a shoulder block and then he did a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag. Heavy Machinery used Shane Thorne like a battering ram into a trapped Nick Miller in the corner. During a rollup exchange, Shane Thorne managed to sneak in a tag which allowed him and Miller to isolate Knight for a quick tag isolation sequence. Miller struggled to suplex Knight so Thorne used a powerful lariat to take down Knight.
Thorne also failed to do a suplex to Knight so he resorted to a uppercut. Knight managed to gain breathing room with a suplex to both TM members. Dozovic ran in for a hot tag. Dozovic body slammed Miller. Dozovic did a dance and then hit the Caterpillar on Knight for a nearfall. Knight and Thorne took each other out on the outside. Dozovic hit Miller with an Exploder Suplex. Dozovic took a second to wipe himself down with TM’s towel which allowed Thorne to stagger Dozovic with a step-up Pele Kick. Nick Miller managed to roll up Dozovic with his feet on the ropes for the dirty win.
TM-61 defeated Heavy Machinery via pinfall in 7:11.
Nigel stressed that Dozovic screwed up wasting time with the towel moment. The commentators cut to a Bianca Belair interview. The interview showed off her power moves. She talked about how significant her roots were. The then hyped a documentary package for next week to find out more about her… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Another win to establish the heel persona of TM-61 with Heavy Machinery looking good in defeat. It was basic, yet smart, to turn TM-61 heel and give them a “fresh start”. Otis Dozovic is still a work in progress as far as in-ring is concerned but he does a good job covering that up with Tucker Knight’s skill and his own energy and charisma.
An EC3 vignette aired where he repeated the promo he cut in his recent squash match. He talked about wanting to turn NXT into NX3. Back at Full Sail, Kairi Sane made her entrance. Lacey Evans followed with her new theme and a military sailor themed outfit this week…
2. Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans. Kairi Sane kicked off her offense right after the bell rang. Evans regained control by powering Sane into the corner and daring her with a chest chop. Sane returned the favor with a chest chop of her own. Sane hit a tilt-a-whirl flapjack on Evans. Evans used power moves and shortarm strikes on Sane for a sequence. Sane escaped a headlock with knees to Evans’ head. Sane took down Evans with an axe kick and blockbuster. Sane hit Evans with her signature “walk the plank” forearm. Evans tried to retreat to ringside but Sane remained in pursuit with a forearm from the apron. Sane went for a diving forearm but she dove right into the “Women’s Right” punch to give Evans the surprise pinfall victory.
Lacey Evans defeated Kairi Sane via pinfall in 5:03.
The commentators stressed that this was the biggest win in the career of Lacey Evans. Evans laughed after the match…
They cut to Cathy Kelley outside waiting for Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. They found LeRae and Gargano. Gargano was wearing a neck brace. Gargano said he sat down with LeRae and came down with a decision that he wants to announce in the ring. Gargano said he might not want to do it but it has to be done… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Talk about reset characters, Evans has done a great job in the past few weeks changing up the weak points of her act and she’s really starting to pull it all together. The military garb is a huge upgrade over the 1920s cosplay. Sane can take a loss and I was afraid that they would halt another Evans push with a Sane win. WWE’s also doing a really damn good job at building up Evans and her “One-Punch” finisher. Can we call her “One Punch Wo-man”?
NXT replayed the highlights from the trios match involving Undisputed Era vs. Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan a few weeks ago. They cut to a new blonde interview lady who interviewed Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. Burch and Lorcan thought that since they got a clean win on the Era that they deserved a title shot for the tag titles. NXT cut to an Undisputed Era NWO-Style promo. Adam Cole recapped the loss and called their opponents lucky and the win was a fluke. Cole called their opponents chumps. Roderick Strong agreed and said they don’t deserve title shots. Kyle O’Reilly said this was Peter “Doone’s” fault and he doesn’t know who Oney Lore-can is. Fish told O’Reilly not to worry because Lorcan and Burch are unknown losers. Strong said he wanted a match against “Mr. Number 2” Daniel Burch. Adam Cole talked about how that was not a fact, that was undisputed. The Era did their Undisputed Era hand signs…
3. Ricochet and Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan in a handicap match. Velveteen Dream was as stylish as usual with jewelry on his shades during his entrance. Dream started the match with Sullivan where he did a hip gyration. Sullivan easily did a hip toss to Dream. Dream tagged in Ricochet to try out Sullivan. Sullivan planted Ricochet face first into the match. Dream had a gameplan and tagged in so there could be tandem offense by the tag team. Dream held down Sullivan’s feet so Ricochet could hit a missile dropkick on Dream. After the five count broke, Dream hit a series of top rope axe handle strikes on Sullivan.
Ricochet and Dream hit a series of corner strikes. Sullivan caught a jumping Ricochet. Ricochet hit a kick and shotgun dropkick on Sullivan. Dream tagged in. Ricochet used a headscissors to hold Sullivan in place for a Dream Superkick. The tag team hit a superkick and pump kick combo. Sullivan powered both opponents off with authority. Sullivan disposed of Ricochet and turned Dream inside out with a lariat and side slam. Sullivan dominated Dream. Sullivan worked on Dream with corner shoulder blocks and then worked on the lower back of Dream. After working Dream over a bit, Sullivan hit him with a delayed power slam. Sullivan hit a diving headbutt on Dream’s back for a two count which Ricochet broke up.
Ricochet ran around the ring to escape Sullivan. The evasion allowed Dream to hit a Purple Rainmaker on Sullivan’s back and allow Ricochet to tag in for the hot tag. Ricochet hit Sullivan with a corner Tiger Feint Kick. Dream hit a diving crossbody on Sullivan. Ricochet hit a standing shooting star for a nearfall. Dream hit a slingshot senton followed by a Ricochet top rope 450. Out of nowhere, Dream hit a cartwheel Death Valley Driver on Ricochet. Dream blamed Ricochet for a miscue earlier. Lars Sullivan took advantage of the dissension and he hit a Freak Accident on Ricochet for the victory.
Lars Sullivan defeated Ricochet and Velveteen Dream via pinfall in 5:49.
The commentators recapped the ending of the match. Mauro made a soccer reference that flew over my head (sorry soccer fans)… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A great handicap match with the built-in out for the tag team with main eventers losing. I did like Lucha Underground’s version of this better with the tornado situation and them putting Mil Muertes over Ricochet and Pentagon Jr. really strong by having him beat both main event players single handedly, but especially with Ricochet just appearing on the NXT scene I understand the screwy protection finish. It’s basic again, but it does push forward the Dream vs. Ricochet while putting Sullivan in the world title picture.
Percy Watson hyped Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai for the NXT Women’s championship for next week (and because of predictability I’m expecting a non-finish here to set up something with Nikki Cross). Cathy Kelley interviewed Dakota Kai about her championship opportunity. Dakota Kai was excited to compete to a title that she saw defended on TV. Dakota acknowledged that it’s unfortunate the match is against Shayna Baszler. Shayna Baszler walked in and did her great bully routine where she talked about how Kai talks big when Baszler isn’t there. Baszler said that Kai has no chance next week. Kai had a little bit of confidence in saying “we’ll see about that”. Baszler had a surprised and snarky look on her face…
Back at Full Sail, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae made their entrance. Gargano had a neck brace on. Nigel McGuinness wondered if we saw the last of Johnny Gargano. Gargano high fived the young fans at ringside. A fan yelled “I love you Johnny”. Johnny responded “I love you too” to the fan. Gargano noted that he was here for a championship match last time but left on a stretcher before the bell rang. Gargano talked about being reminded every day about that moment when he can’t get out of the bed. Gargano teased quitting after sitting down with Candice. Gargano said it was time to think about his and LeRae’s future as a family.
Gargano asked “is it worth it”. The crowd chanted “yes”. Gargano said “yeah, it’s worth it!” as he took off the brace. LeRae didn’t like Gargano’s decision and acted worried as Gargano dared Tommaso Ciampa to enter the ring. Ciampa entered Full Sail and said he was going to finish this. Candice LeRae ran the hell out of the Full Sail arena. LeRae came back with referees to separate Gargano and Ciampa. A “let them fight” chant ensued. LeRae stressed that he has to think about his future. Ciampa grabbed a mic and told Gargano to listen to LeRae like a good little boy. This caused Gargano to storm the ring. Ciampa pushed Gargano off the apron and right into Candice LeRae who took a bump on the steel ramp. The medical staff walked out to make sure LeRae was breathing. This closed out NXT.
John’s Thoughts: This was a pretty good segment that I thought could have been better if given some hype last week. This was a necessary step to build up LeRae’s character in this Gargano and Ciampa feud. What I didn’t like about the whole scene was some of the forced aspects which not only seemed forced but also rushed. NXT did a better job with this “retirement” storyline during the period of Johnny’s career where he was dealing with PTSD and depression around this time last year. The bump by LeRae made sense but I can’t help but feel like it was WWE taking a shortcut to avoid having LeRae take a bump from a direct strike from Ciampa. WWE might get heat for going in the intergender direction, but I would give them heat for making Candice LeRae look like a weak flower when on the Indie scene she’s been presented as a badass chick who can brawl with the men. Ivelisse Velez has made a career utilizing her agility as a strength in intergender situations. I’ll be intriguing to see if WWE will allow some sort of intergender match between LeRae and Ciampa because that’s what this feud is calling for.
I say it every week, but NXT continues to pack a lot in one hour and do a lot. They hype up matches for the following match, they continue to develop their pure-developmental prospects, experiment with characters, and push forward many storylines in a short amount of time. I’ll say it again, every segment on the show serves a purpose. I’ll be by tomorrow with my NXT Hit List and member’s exclusive Audio Review.