Moore’s NXT TV Live Review: Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black, Keith Lee’s in-ring debut, Vanessa Borne vs. Taynara Conti, Ricochet in action


By John Moore, Staffer (@liljohnm)

Aired August 8, 2018 on WWE Network
Taped July 18 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

The opening highlight video video showcased Tommaso Ciampa’s NXT Title win and subsequent promo segment the following week where Gargano interrupted and was kicked by Aleister Black. Johnny Gargano agreed that he deserved to be hit with a Black Mass kick in a quick interview after the segment. The NXT theme aired…

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Former Impact Wrestling knockout made her entrance. In Impact they billed her “From the Garage” (that was a running joke), but here they billed her from South Carolina. Mauro explained that she’s from the garage because her father is a mechanic. Just like in Impact, she’s probably here to lose since she’s facing Nikki Cross…

1. Nikki Cross vs. Amber Nova. Nikki had her crazy grin on her face. Cross shoved Nova to the corner during the collar and elbow. Cross creeped Nova out with creepy hand motions. Cross hit Nova with a back suplex for a two count. Nova hit an innovative headscissors to top turnbuckle move. Nova then went to the ground and pound. Nova then locked in a straightjacket back stretch. Mauro noted that Nova is in her second year of “Sports entertainment”. Cross suddenly hulked up and then ran through Nova and hit some barbaric ground and pound. Cross caught Nova with a high crossbody and then did the gorilla chest beat. Nikki Cross hit the Purge for the win.

Nikki Cross defeated Amber Nova via pinfall in 3:23. 

John’s Thoughts: We got more offense from Nova than I thought we would get and certainly more than she’s gotten in Impact. Other than that this was your usual Nikki Cross squash match and unless she’s called up already, Cross is back to being in wheel spinning mode which she was in most of this and last year.

Mauro Ranallo hyped up EC3 joining Velveteen Dream in “the experience” later in the show… [c]

A Keith Lee vignette aired with some solid mic work from Lee and the look of a boxing vignette. Lee asked the viewers to “bask in my glory”…

Ricochet was making his entrance for the upcoming match. Ricochet started his entrance but Adam Cole was shown under the lights. Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era laid out Ricochet during his entrance routine. Cole talked about how he’s the “one and only” North American Champion. he also stated that it was Undisputed that he will retain the North American Championship at takeover…

Mauro talked about how there was supposed to be a match but Cole stopped that with his numbers game advantage. Mauro then cut to a Vanessa Bourne interview backstage. This was to hype Bourne vs. Taynara Conti for a spot in the Mae Young Classic (which they already gave the result of right before this show). Bourne cut a promo about how she deserves the spot in the classic. She shooed off the interviewer for interrupting her stretching. Nigel McGuinness hyped up Bourne vs. Conti and mentioned how both women were in the Mae Young last year. Percy Watson hyped Keith Lee’s debut…

WWE Performance Center rookie Adrian Jauode made his entrance with one of WWE’s generic entrance themes. He wore a Karate Gi that looked like he was heading to an Anime Convention dressed as Ryu from Street Fighter. Kassius Ohno made his entrance and was wearing his Basketball Jerseys again. This week it was a Duke Blue Devil themed gear…

2. Kassius Ohno vs. Adrian Jauode. Jauode struck a capoeira stance and used it to get behind Ohno. Jauode managed to lift the larger Ohno and even had a little rally of offense. Ohno quickly ended that with a quick boot and running senton. Ohno then smashed Jauode with a face wash. Ohno stomped on Jauode with sortarm boots. Jauode showed some intense strength and determination by hitting the larger Ohno with a a Suplex. Jauode then crumbled to the ground with a running elbow from Ohno. Ohno hit Jauode with a discus forearm for the win which they are now calling the “Dream Crusher” (Velveteen Dream reference?)

Kassius Ohno defeated Adrian Jauode via pinfall in 2:56.

Mauro hyped the Velveteen Dream Experience after the break… [c]

John’s Thoughts: I’m wondering if they are planning something big with Ohno sooner rather than later? Seeing is believing on that one because they did this before and that was so he could lose to every new indie talent . He’s still due to lose to Keith Lee one of these days sooner than later. Jauode looked really good here and pro wrestling can always use a Ryu from Street Fighter.

Mauro Ranallo thanked the band Grandson for providing the theme for Takeover. The show cut to Velveteen Dream at his mansion and sitting poolside. EC3 joined Dream poolside on lounge chairs. Dream invited EC3 to sit then to take a walk. Dream teased tossing EC3 in the pool in a joking way (Vince McMahon reference?). EC3 and Dream traded patronizing shots and then EC3 hyped their upcoming match. EC3 said it was the One (allegedly) vs. the Top One Percent. Dream blamed EC3 for disrespecting him when he showed him respect. Dream then dropped his glasses. Dream tried to toss EC3 in the pool but EC3 called it coming and gave Dream a TK3 into the pool. Dream acted like he was drowining. EC3 said it was only three feet deep…

John’s Thoughts: While that was a bit disappointing from what I expected, it was still very fun and funny. I just expected more given the strong character work by both men. This also looked to be a Jeremy Borash production with the multi-camera cinematic shots.

Marcel Barthel (a.k.a. Axel Dieter Jr.) made his entrance…

3. Keith Lee vs. Marcel Barthel. Lee struck a kickboxing stance but Barthel managed to get a back punch to Lee. Lee then dominated Barthel with a punch. Barthel yelled “nein” at Lee. Barthel hit a hand thrust to Lee but Lee responded with a leapfrog and dropkick. Barthel tried to fight out of the corner but Lee no sold him. Barthel managed to get one boot in. Barthel yelled “nein” again (he’s German) and gave Lee an enzuigiri.

Barthel hit Lee with a running draping basement dropkick. Barthel stompped a mudhole in Lee in the corner. Lee caught Barthel with a headbutt. Lee then hit a double chop to the chest of Barthel. Barthel dodged a corner splash and hit Lee with a European Uppercut. Lee was to heavy to lift with a n uppercut. Lee flipped out of the corner and hit Barthel with the Monty Brown Pounce. Lee hit Barthel with the modified Jackhammer for the win.

Keith Lee defeated Marcel Barthel via pinfall in 4:24. 

Mauro noted that he’s over 300 pounds wiht that agility.

John’s Thoughts: A good taste of what Keith Lee can do and viewers should expect a lot more down the road from him. Expect him to be in an important match in the Los Angeles Takeover show (either that or he’ll have an expected win over Kassius Ohno). Marcel Barthel is someone to look at down the road and he’s a real blue chipper. I was introduced to him from PROGRESS wrestling as a part of the Ring Kampf stable where he teamed with Big Daddy Walter.

A Street Profits vignette aired where they were chilling in front of an ATM. They continued to make fun of TM-61. They then made fun of the name change of “The Mighty”. They had some fun comedic banter and hyped up beating the Mighty down the road…

John’s Thoughts: Good mic work from Dawkins here. He’s probably been in NXT as long as Danny Burch with a similar singles win-loss record. Here’s hoping he pulls it all together.

4. Vanessa Bourne vs. Taynara Conti for a spot in the 2018 Mae Young classic. Conti and Bourne traded guard positions by rolling on the ground. Conti hit Bourne with a nice Judo hip toss. Conti turned a monkey flip in to a pin attempt. Bourne used the hair to escape a wristlock. Bourne took down Conti with a clubbing blow and then rubbed Conti’s face in the second turnbuckle. Bourne then locked in a front chancery on Conti. Conti was crying while Bourne had her locked in a body scissors. Conti escaped. Conti fired up and shoed a mean streak with kicks and punches in the corner. Conti then hit Bourne with a PK. Conti tossed Bourne around a bit. Conti hit a strange looking side slam on Bourne to pick up the win.

Taynara Conti defeated Vanessa Bourne via pinall in 4:05 to win a spot in the 2018 Mae Young Classic.

The show cut to commercial after the highlights… [c]

John’s Thoughts: A good talent gauge here. Bourne used to be very bad in the ring and has improved immensely since those early days on TV. Conti was fine here too but I think it would be better if she stuck to her cute Judo gi gimmick that she had last year. She’s still a work in progress in the ring as that finish wasn’t all that great…

Highlights from last week’s Candice LeRae vs. Shayna Baszler non-title match was shown. A few matches for next week were advertised. Former UFC Champion Cain Valesquez was shown in the crowd…

Aleister Black made his entrance for the main event. Mauro Ranallo advertised Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black in a singles match for next week’s takeover (huh. That’s a twist, but totally makes sense becuse why should Gargano get a title shot. Does he win here?). Gargano wasn’t all smiles but he still did get hyped up with the fans.

5. Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano. Black nosold Gargano’s early offense and took down Gargano with a kick. Mauro reminded viewers that Gargano was the first person to defeat Black via pinfall. Black hit Gargano with a Muay Thai combo. Gargano got Black outside and then followed up with a Suicide Dive. Gargano went for his slingshot spear and then got caught with a front kick. Black hit a boxing combo on Gargano. Black dodged and countered Gargano’s Listo Kick. Gargano and Black dodged each other’s kicks. They then took each other down with lariats. Tommaso Ciampa ran in and then put his hands on both opponents.

Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano ended in an apparent no contest. 

Brawling ensued. The crowd also expected a Triple Threat because the chanted “Triple Threat”. The segment had Black pummeling Gargano with the Ground and Pound. The referees ran in to break things up. William Regal made his return to Full Sail as his entrance played. William Regal said he’s going to let this thing happen. He booked the Triple Threat match for next week that everyone expected. A “Thank You Regal” chant ensued. Ciampa yelled “no fair!” to close the show…

John’s Thoughts: A surprisingly underwhelming and rudimentary segment given the players involved. I just expected more here and they probably should have integrated Ciampa into this more somehow since he has solid heat. This also goes to show that the “Crazy Tweener” character with shades of grey is not a great character to put out there. On Impact, they tried this with Eddie Edwards the last two weeks and the crowd didn’t know how to react and the crowd was just as confused on NXT in reacting to Eddie’s analog. Them advertising Black vs. Ciampa also made me think a bit and question the move for a triple threat given the current story. In the current story, Gargano doesn’t deserve a title shot. I’ll just chalk this more up to Regal giving the fans what they want, but they didn’t sell it that way.

This was an underwhelming episode of NXT all across the board, but it wasn’t a bad one. NXT hasn’t been bad in a long time (since 2016 to my recollection). While every segment did serve a purpose this was the most “filler” type of NXT show that we got in a long while with a lot of developmental prospects showing up. Even the Keith Lee thing was more of a taste than a must-see event (though I think they are handling Lee right in that case). I’ll be by tomorrow with a Hit List and Audio Review for the show.



Readers Comments (3)

  1. Barthel looked a real quality performer, but please don’t let him be stuck with “I am so evil with all my foreignness” gimmick. That ‘Nein’ was like someone had watched Zoya the Destroyer on Glow and decided it wasn’t hokey enough.

    • Totally agreed. He already has such a good look that you can already tell that he’s a tough German dude without him bashing you in the head with it.

  2. I think in the day and age we’re in, the tweener character that operates in the gray area can work. You probably wouldn’t want a ton of those guys- but a few creates some nice versatility, and can add depth to a story when written properly.

    I feel like you’re right in that it failed here, but I think that’s more of the Full Sail fans maybe not wanting to embrace Gargano in this role. I don’t mind Gargano, because he’s an alright babyface- but he’s so loved by that crowd. They want to cheer him. Had they been able to frame Black somehow in the role, I think it plays better.

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