By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
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NXT TV Taping
November 15, 2018 in San Jose, California at San Jose State University
1. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch defeated The Mighty. I was a little late to arrive so I missed this one, but a friend in attendance told me it was a good match and Lorcan and Burch won. Also, The Mighty “get their heat back” after the match by blindsiding Lorcan and Burch to presumably set up future matches.
2. EC3 defeated Marcel Barthel (a.k.a. Axel Dieter Jr.). Standard but effective stuff from EC3, who continues to look solid in the ring. Marcel Barthel continues to really impress in these matches where he loses all the time but gets a chance to show innovative power offense while also having this very confident aura about him. EC3 won via pinfall after hitting Barthel with the TK3. Post match, EC3 cuts a promo calling out Bobby Fish for attacking him.
Backstage Segment: Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly hyped their title defense for later in the show. O’Reilly popped the crowd by calling San Jose “San Josie”. Strong corrected him.
3. Mia Yim defeated Vanessa Borne via pinfall. Borne continues to show immense growth in the ring. She was really bad when she came in (as expected, most people are bad at things when they start). Borne still is doing standard and basic stuff, but she’s really acclimating to that standard and basic stuff. She also continues to wear various stripper clothes to the ring. Mia Yim was really good as usual. A little girl behind me with her family yelled to her mom that “this lady is really cool!” referring to Yim. Great crowd reaction to show that this badass persona gets over with the younger audience. I also find it great that she represents not only women, but African Americans and Asian Americans. Obviously, that appeals to me directly too. Anyway, Mia Yim won via Eat Defeat because Gail Kim did a ceremony once (in 2017) that dubbed Yim as “the next Gail Kim”, so I guess Yim gets to keep Gail’s Eat Defeat.
4. Lars Sullivan defeated Keith Lee via pinfall. A very good big man match. Lars’s methodical but violent style may not be for some of the fans who prefer acrobatics, but personally that type of violent aggression appeals to me. Sullivan also reminds me of Kane because of his ability to keep up movement while not forgetting his character. Keith Lee had this one ugly slingshot move early on, but he made up for it later on with a really cool corkscrew plancha. Because Lee has built a lot of his moveset around Dragon Ball, in my fanfiction I can explain Lee as the result of a Brian Cage and Willie Mack Fusion Dance. Sullivan did his simple, effective, and aggressive stuff while Lee sprinkled around his surprise agility like with the Monty Brown pounce and corkscrews. Sullivan picked up the win with a Freak Accident. Sullivan also does this flying headbutt that looks like hit hurts his arms more than his head (because he performs it where his head doesn’t make contact).
Post Match: Kona Reeves walks out and cuts a really good heel promo on Keith Lee, the best promo I seen Kona cut. It wasn’t the best thing in the world but it was very arrogant that reminded me of a heel Ethan Carter III (EC3). This set up Kona in the ring to try to suck up to Lee but ultimately eat a Jackhammer Powerslam to leave the crowd happy. Lee gave Kona a second jackhammer because the crowd chanted “one more time”.
Backstage Segment: Velveteen Dream video package hyping his Johnny Gargano match while also addressing San Jose for the cheap town pop.
5. War Raiders defeat Strong and O’Reilly (w/Adam Cole) via DQ. Therefore Undisputed Era retains the championships because Bobby Fish ran out and hit a War Raider in the butt with a steel chair. This was a good match. It was so good it might have been the same match we got on NXT a few weeks ago with the exact same ending. The crowd really liked it when War Raiders would lift each other up and throw them at Strong or O’Reilly. After the match, Ricochet darted to the ring in short time and performed a cool crossbody and Fosbury Flop on the Era. Another note, this match also suffered the usual problem of Undisputed Era being more popular despite War Raiders having a really cool and chantable “War!” theme. Once Ricochet ran out, he managed to get the crowd at least 85% behind War Raiders because at least they were cheering Ricochet over the Era guys.
6. Velveteen Dream defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall. One odd thing to start is Gargano wasn’t getting the boos and immense “Johnny Failure” chants as Full Sail gave him when he was in his “conflicted” character. In fact, Johnny Gargano not only hugged a few fans at ringside, most prominently a person wearing a Johnny Wrestling shirt, but he also ran the lap where he high-fived the fans in the front row. Velveteen Dream was extremely popular, but not as popular as I expected. I only compare this to two years ago when “Velveteen Dream” Patrick Clark wrestled and the fans were louder and chanting “Purple Rain” at him at that past show. This year, they treated him like a main eventer, but they didn’t come unglued. As for the match, this was your usual “Triple H paced” match where they started slow and then accelerate to a crescendo. Gargano did work more heel during the match, but not necessarily cheating. He pulled out a Tequila Sunrise hold for a sequence. Dream’s “instant crowd pop” tool was his signature pose. It was a pretty long match but in the end Velveteen Dream won clean after hitting the Dream Valley Driver and Purple Rainmaker.
7. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir (w/Shayna Baszler) defeated Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai. Baszler, Duke, and Shafir were announced as a part of “The Four Horsewomen”. On the heel side, Duke and Shafir were visibly very green with a very limited moveset that consisted of a bunch of restholds and simple kick variations. They weren’t bad in execution. This match just felt like a really slow Ascension match when they were on offense. Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane were really good as usual on their end by doing a good job selling for the heels while also providing a lot of movement during their offensive sequences. Sane in particular was amazing when she was on the ring apron in firing up the crowd. Sane got the loudest crowd pops of the night because everyone was into her and Sane is great as everyone’s “pirate princess”. Since this was more of your WWE House Show type crowd, of course the kids would love them a pirate. Anyway, I couldn’t see how Jessamyn Duke won, but she hit some sort of move and pinned Kai.
Post Match: Baszler, Duke, and Shafir singled out Sane as Dakota Kai was selling a knee injury (I don’t think she was legit injured, but she did sell the entire segment). Fortunately, Baszler accidentally hit Shafir, allowing Kairi Sane to fight off all three heels and hit Duke with an InSane elbow to leave the crowd happy after the match. Kai continued to sell the injury so much that Kairi Sane gave Dakota Kai a piggy back ride to the back (and since Sane was holding Kai’s leg I’m leaning towards Kai just selling).
8. Tommaso Ciampa defeated Aleister Black via pinfall to retain the NXT Championship. People liked singing Black’s theme song, but the guy isn’t as over as he once was. Even though my friend told me it wasn’t, I personally thought that they really jacked up Tommaso Ciampa’s entrance music (which is his gimmick). It was really loud to the point where you feel the bass in your chest. Anyway, Ciampa picked up the win after hitting Black with his signature Underhook Piledriver. This was a result of Johnny Gargano interfering. I, as well as most of the crowd, missed the move that Gargano hit because Velveteen Dream distracted us by blocking the ramp so Ciampa couldn’t escape with the belt. As for match, content, it’s what you expect. Solid heel work from Ciampa and nice kickboxing from Tommy F’n End (Oh do I wish they find a way to bring that chant back).
Post Match: Velveteen Dream left Tommaso Ciampa lying with two twisting DDTs. Velveteen Dream got to pose with the belt. Dream got a hotter reaction here than the reaction he had after his Gargano match (probably because there are still fans conflicted over cheering Johnny Wrestling). Ciampa was the last to leave. After the match, the crowd chanted “Two more days” at him relating to Takeover happening in two days. This closed out the show.
Final Thoughts: This was a good show. It was not as noteworthy and energetic as the San Jose TV Taping from two years ago where they were recording matches for the Dusty Rhodes Classic. While this felt more like a WWE House Show, I prefer this to a WWE House Show because of the match quality being superb (aside from the Duke/Shafir match, but two years ago the Blake vs. Murphy match was the boring one). I would like to see what an NXT house show is like, but they keep changing these San Jose house shows to TV Tapings the last minute.
-There was no commentary table set up so when they air this on the Network, they’ll add the commentary in post.
-The match outcomes don’t give away anything in terms of Takeover. They did this last year when Andrade Almas won the championship yet they aired a taping where it was Drew McIntyre vs. Adam Cole for the NXT Championship despite Drew not being champion at the time.
-Sarah Schreiber was the MC and ring announcer. She wasn’t as good as Mike Rome as MC, but no one is as good as Mike Rome because Mike Rome might be WWE’s best MC at the moment. He just did such a good job at the last San Jose taping. That said, Schreiber is really good an I’m really high on her as a future top broadcast member. Unlike a lot of WWE’s interchangable interviewers (thankfully Kayla Braxton is also solid and stands out in a good way), Schreiber comes off as a person who is not faking it when it comes to enthusiasm for the product. Maybe she is faking it and doing a good job. Either way, she’s good from what I’ve seen from her live and on TV. If she is legit passionate about the in-ring product, I wouldn’t mind seeing Paul Levesque give her a shot in the Percy Watson role because her active engaging personality might make her a better female color commentator than Renee Young, who is better suited for a panel show.
-Behind Kairi Sane and Velveteen Dream, the third loudest pops from the crowd went to Becky Lynch who wasn’t there live; but people would cheer her when she popped up on the Marine and WWE Network commercials.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and John Moore discussing WWE Survivor Series and NXT Takeover: War Games.