By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Aired July 18, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped June 21 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Before the WWE signature, NXT started off with an “in memory of” Masa Saito who recently passed away. The NXT theme aired after a hype video for the fatal four way aired…
Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Dakota Kai made her entrance. Mike Rome was the ring announcer today (notable, since he and Kayla Braxton have been switching off). Lacey Evans made her entrance reverting back to the the lyrical version of her new entrance (I like this move).
1. Dakota Kai vs. Lacey Evans. Dakota dominated with some early lucha offense. Kai then dominated Evans with a series penalty kicks. Evans gained the advantage by dodging the face wash boot. Evans locked Kai in the Tree of Woe and tied Kai’s knees to the tree of woe with the top turnbuckle rope. Evans used this to cleanly hit the elevated Bronco Buster on Kai. Evans mocked Kai for her Team Kick antics. Evans then initiated methodical heel offense on Kai. Kai went for a rollup. Evans hit a nice single leg takedown on Kai. Evans locked Kai in a STF while also grinding her forearm into the face of Kai. Evans double shoulder stretched Kai (which doesn’t look like it hurts due to Kai being double jointed.
What does look like it hurts, is Evans doing double shortarm kicks on the back of Kai. Kai continued to torture Kai against the apron with double boots. Evans hit her high angle slingshot elbow on Kai. Kai dodged a second rope moonsault from Evans. Kai fired up and hit rapid fire shortarm light front kicks. Kai hit two Helluva Kicks on Evans and then stomped a mudhole in her face. Evans hit Kai with a pumphandle side slam. Kai hit her Ling Xiaoyu kick on Evans. Evans surprised Kai with the Women’s Right out of nowhere for the win.
Lacey Evans defeated Dakota Kai via pinfall in 8:58.
John’s Thoughts: I like WWE finally giving Evans a meaningful win. Dakota Kai loses a lot, yes, but she’s really credible. Lacey Evans on the other hand, never gets important wins. It would be cool if they give Evans a string of victories to protect her a bit (I also wouldn’t mind to continue to see her transform her look even further away from the 1920s pinup cosplayer). A good addition to add to the arsenal of Evans down the road is maybe focusing on her knowing MCMAP, a well-known Marine martial art.
Mauro Ranallo cut to Cathy Kelley interviewing Ricochet. Ricochet talked highly of the Undisputed Era with the exception of Adam Cole who barely defends the title. Ricochet said Cole is hiding behind the title. Ricochet declared that he’s going to be the next North American Champion. Ricochet mocked Cole’s “Boom” catchphrase…
Mauro Ranallo announced that Bianca Belair was not medically cleared to wrestle so the fatal four way has turned into a triple threat.
John’s Thoughts: Isn’t this show pre-taped for months so they could have billed it as a triple threat? Anyway, odd. I like Ricochet going after the North American Champion and hope he gets it one day so he can be that showcase weekly Television Champion which he played so well in Lucha Underground.
The Street Profits were finally back via training vignette. They were using the basketball court as a gym and were obcessed with “TM-61” who are now known as “The Mighty”…
EC3 was walking through a lobby. Some random fanboy wanted a selfie. Another fan wanted a t-shirt. EC3 said he doesn’t need money because he was rich. EC3 was met by Kona Reeves who talked about being the “finest”. Reeves didn’t think EC3’s spray tan was the finest. EC3 chewed Kona out for looking low budget. He even accused Kona of winning his chain with Chuck-E-Cheese tickets. EC3 challenged Kona Reeves to a match. Kona Reeves accepted the match. Kona then said that if they didn’t fight “we could be the finest of friends”. What?
John’s Thoughts: There’s more of the Ethan Carter III that we got to know and love back in Impact where he’s doing his rich boy act a little more naturally rather than spewing a bunch of catchphrases. He even did it in a babyface (ultimately he has to be a heel when he gets on the main roster). Kona Reeves was also used in a positive way for the first time ever, even though it was as verbal cannon fodder for EC3. Since Kona isn’t ready, I’m hoping he’s a launchpad for EC3 finally being utilized in a prominent position.
An Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa hype video package aired to hype next week’s title match…
Kassius Ohno is back! It looks like he gave up on the weekly NBA themed jersey thing and has settled on his boxing theme attire.
2. Kassius Ohno vs. Rick Ramirez. Rick ate a discus lariat quickly and lost via pinfall.
Kassius Ohno defeated Rick Ramirez via pinfall in 0:38.
Nigel noted that this was the most dominant victory in Ohno’s NXT career…
The show cut to an Undisputed Era NWO-style promo. They bragged about being the champions again and the UK title loss didn’t count. I forgot to note, Bobby Fish now carries a miniature (and generic) version of the Dusty Rhodes classic trophy. Adam Cole responded to Ricochet’s threat by bragging about being champion… [c]
John’s Thoughts: That was a bit shocking, them giving Ohno something unique to work with. I still will see him as the “Gatekeeper” of NXT until they decide to have him win a feud.
A War Raiders vignette aired which included some of War Machine’s international exploits. The show then cut to a more human vignette. Hanson talked about how they started off as opponents and decided to combine their powers to take over pro wrestling. Highlights from their work in PROGRESS Wrestling was shown. Ray Rowe talked about being inspired by vikings. The War Raiders were shown traveling to various world landmarks. Rowe talked about using that to grow as people. Ray Rowe talked about being in a motorcycle wreck that almost took his life. The documentary moved on to War Raiders talking about their goal of raiding NXT and going after gold. Hanson said Rowe is the smaller guy, but the powerhouse while he’s the big guy who flies. They ended by saying “The War is Here”…
John’s Thoughts: Odd that they focused on PROGRESS footage, but I understand since it’s harder to get ROH and NJPW footage. A great documentary vignette that finally flushed out War Raiders to people who don’t know their work in the past.
It was time for a Velveteen Dream blue screen vignette. It was the cool one where he makes the NXT interview set disappear and he builds his environment into a Purple Rain like universe. Dream recapped some of the highlights of his career. He recapped each of his Takeover matches. This was done like a Prince music video (except he makes it look cool now!). He talked about taking the spotlight at Takeover Brooklyn. Dream over…
John’s Thoughts: Velveteen Dream can do no wrong at this point. He’s even making the Prince stuff work. That reminded me of the old school Goldust vignettes, but Dream is finding a way these days to make “inspired” content more of his own.
Before the next match could start, Shayna Baszler made her entrance to watch the triple threat match. Nikki Cross was acting her cute-crazy self by trying to get some hellos at Baszler…
3. Nikki Cross vs. Candice LeRae vs. Kairi Sane in a Triple Threat for a title shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. Interesting dynamic now with three babyfaces and Nikki Cross as the wild card babyface. Nigel McGuinness congratulated Baszler for her title defense against Toni Storm. The triple threat started off with quick pinfall attempts. Nikki Cross trapped Candice in the ring apron and clubbed her back. Cross also lovingly hugged LeRae while beating her up.
John’s Thoughts: One dream match I want to see one of these days is Nikki Cross vs. Rosemary. Can someone make this dream match happen?
Nikki Cross dominated. The crowd had dueling Nikki Cross and Candice chants. Kairi Sane came out of nowhere with her signature spear to take out Cross. Sane hit the Del Rio footstome on LeRae (she made it a bit more logical by putting LeRae in position rather than LeRae doing a situp. Still not a great move). Triple threat brawling ensued. Shayna Baszler joked about Candice LeRae having hte pants in her marriage. LeRae caught Sane with the Gargano Cannonball to the outside on Sane. Cross hit LeRae with a plant DDT on the ramp. Sane hit Cross with a flying Kabuki Elbow to ringside on Cross.
Nikki Cross caught Sane with a forearm on the top rope and both women brawled. Candice LeRae snuck in to hit Sane and Cross with a Tower of Doom. A Mama-mia chant ensued. More triple threat antics ensued. Sane caught LeRae with a quick backfist. LeRae caught Sane and Cross with a combo Flatliner DDT on both women. LeRae hit Sane with a lionsault. Cross broke up the pin and hit LeRae with a draping DDT to the ringside mat. Cross hit Sane with a series of back suplexes. Cross put Sane on the top rope but LeRae came in and rolled up Cross. LeRae hit Cross with the Unprettier (which Mauro called the Vertebreaker again for some reason?) and a lionsault. Sane broke up the pin with the InSane Elbow on LeRae to pick up the win.
Kairi Sane defeated Candice LeRae and Nikki Cross via pinfall in 10:29 to become number one contender to the NXT Women’s Championship.
Mauro noted that Baszler and Sane have one win a piece against each other and the Takeover: Brooklyn match will be the rubber match for the two. Highlights aired of the triple threat match. Sane celebrated her win as Baszler held up her title up the ramp to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: An immensely fun main event triple threat. How awesome could this have been if the skilled Bianca Belair was in it (it might have been worse, but Belair hasn’t disappointed yet in longer matches). This was your typical indie-style multi-person spotfest, but it involved three very fun workers who got all of their signature spots in. Nikki Cross in particular is special in how she goes in 100% to her crazy, sadistic, and masochistic character. I’m glad in a way at the finish, because it looked liked they gave the finish away last week by having Baszler beat up and single out LeRae in that segment they had together. Thumbs up to Paul Levesque and crew for doing red herrings to break tired wrestling tropes. A fun main event and a logical rubber match set up to conclude the series between Baszler and Sane. WWE’s main roster should utilize this technique of having people come back to storylines down the road rather than put stories in holding patterns.
Last week’s NXT was more of a Takeover-quality show due to the epic main event but this week was simply a good television show. The show did it’s job of pushing forward all of the storylines that WWE wants to push forward. The main event was simple and fun television goodness. What more could you ask for? I’ll be by tomorrow with an NXT Hit List and members exclusive audio review…