Moore’s NXT TV Live Review: Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno, 2018 year-in-review

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

NXT TV 
Aired January 2, 2019 on WWE Network
Taped November 28 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

Before the signature, the show started off with an “In Memory Of…” Gene Okerlund. There was a WWE statement on the passing of Okerlund in a crawler during the NXT opening theme…

Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in from Full Sail University. Mauro hyped the NXT Takeover: Los Angeles rematch between Kassius Ohno and Matt Riddle. Mauro passed it over to Cathy Kelley in the “NXT events center”…

Cathy hyped up the End of the Year Awards nominations. She then moved the show on to a recap of the NXT North American Championship ladder match to become the inaugural North American Champion at NXT Takeover: New Orleans…

John’s Thoughts: Happy New Year everyone! Looks like it’s going to be an easy live review tonight due to it consisting of “Best of…” material. Looking at this opening recap on New Orleans, you forget how many great matches NXT has in a given year. This was a strong North American Championship ladder match (and if you’re more of a regular of main roster viewing, a good preview to Lars Sullivan and Ethan Carter III). You also forget that NXT had big plans for Killian Dain as a main event singles act due to his size and agility. Another note, reviewing the show live, I didn’t recognize that Mauro Ranallo compared the Marvel Infinity Stones to a human’s testicles.

Cathy Kelley cut to quick clips of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 where Ricochet won the North American Championship away from Adam Cole (bay bay). Cathy Kelley introduced the nominees for NXT “Breakout star of the Year”: Ricochet, Dakota Kai, Lars Sullivan, Rhea Ripley, War Raiders (Hanson and Ray Rowe), Lacey Evans, Ethan Carter III, and Bianca Belair…

Cathy Kelley gave more hype for Ohno vs. Riddle… [c]

John’s Thoughts: A long list of nominees that I’m going to assume are going to be fan votes as usual. It looks like NXT UK is being considered as NXT overall due to Rhea Ripley’s inclusion (though, if that were the case I would have included people like Toni Storm, Dave Mastiff, Eddie Dennis, and others). I’ll probably come up with my own NXT End of the Year awards for Dot Net later on. Last week I posted my Impact Wrestling year end awards that I compiled.

The pre-match vignette for the Unsanctioned Match between Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa aired leading into the recap of this year’s Unsanction Match for Johnny Gargano’s NXT career at NXT Takeover: New Orleans…

John’s Thoughts: If you asked me before this show I would probably tell you that this were my overall pro wrestling match of the year. Let’s see if this show can convince me of better matches in NXT which is possible due to the high bar that Takeovers usually usually meet. This recap was more of a recap than showing a majority of the match due to it being around half an hour long. Lots of heat for Ciampa which started that trend. All things considered, what separates this from a regular hardcore and “unsanctioned” match is Drake Younger wearing an all black polo shirt as opposed to referee stripes.

Cathy Kelley noted that Johnny Gargano spent most of 2018 tortured by Tommaso Ciampa and that ending was one of the few proud moments of victory for Gargano in 2018. They cut to NXT Takeover: Chicago clips where Gargano got DDT’d on exposed floorboards in his loss…

Kelley noted that Andrade “Cien” Almas started off 2018 as NXT Championship. They cut to more NXT Takeover: New Orleans recaps, this one with Andrade Almas (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Aleister Black for the NXT Championship. This feud might or might not have been the beginning of a real life marriage between Black and Vega…

John’s Thoughts: So far, it looks like Takeover: New Orleans might be the Takeover of the Year, but I might have different thoughts after they show more recaps due to the recency effect of the highlight packages.

The next highlight package was Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa  for the NXT Championship on a regular NXT Episode at Full Sail. This match had Black losing the title with the accidental help of Johnny Gargano and a REF BUMP…

Cathy Kelley recapped the Aleister Black “parking lot mystery” of 2018 which put Black on the “Injured Reserve” and changed the main event of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn (due to Black’s real life groin injury). I remember Hideo Itami’s famous twitter post talking about how bad parking lots are. The video package heavily featured Nikki Cross as the person who knew who attacked Black. Johnny Gargano was the person who attacked Black…

Cathy Kelley hyped Black vs. Gargano in Los Angeles clips for later in the show… [c]

Mauro and Nigel cut to a recap of the entire seven second match at Takeover: War Games between Kassius Ohno and Matt Riddle and the subsequent attack of Riddle by Ohno after Riddle’s match against Punishment Martinez…

Kassius Ohno was shown shadow boxing backstage…

The next award reveal was Tag Team of the Year: Lorcan and Burch, Street Profits (current Evolve tag team champions), Moustache Mountain, War Raiders, and Undisputed Era (Fish, O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong)…

Kelley sent things over to a match replay of Strong and O’Reilly vs. Lorcan and Burch at Takeover: Chicago. Vic Joseph was on commentary in place of Mauro for this Takeover. Undisputed Era beat Lorcan and Burch by hitting Lorcan with Total Elimination. They showed just about most of this long match in the recap…

John’s Thoughts: Personally, I would have picked the Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain series of matches as NXT’s best tag matches of the year. Lorcan and Burch did put on a great match though to move into the tag team main event scene and out of being NXT’s designated enhancement singles wrestlers. Lorcan and Burch also deserve a lot of credit in this match for overcoming the uphill battle set by the Chicago crowd loving the cool heel Undisputed Era act. On a tangental note, Undisputed Era (Strong and O’Reilly) served a similar role to Santana and Ortiz of the Latin American XChange in regards to guaranteed good matches. That’s a future dream match in the waiting. Hell, there was almost a NXT vs. Impact dream match betwen LAX and Street Profits before Impact put a stop to that (Impact did have good reason to stop that, they just should have stopped it before the match was announced). Looking at the recap, is it just me or does Oney Lorcan look like the American doppelganger of Liverpool’s number one Zack Gibson?

The next nominations were for Rivalry of the Year: Gargano vs. Almas, Baszler vs. Moon, Ciampa vs. Gargano, Moustache Mountain, Kairi Sane vs. Baszler, and more since they ran through this recap so fast that I wasn’t keeping up. Kelley announced Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair for Takeover: Phoenix…

The next award was newcomer of the year: Matt Riddle, Mia Yim, Keith Lee, Forgotten Sons (two of them aren’t  necessarily “new”), Candice LeRae, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke (why?), Kona Reeves (kinda why? but I get it. He was good at the last house show I was at), Dominik Dijakovic (who lost a lot this year), and Io Shirai.

The next award was Match of the Year when they said included some of the matches we’ve already seen on this episode. Kelley forwarded viewers to WWE.com for the full list. Kelley then cut to Bianca Belair vs. Deonna Purrazzo at the Takeover: Brooklyn pre-show fallout tapings…

John’s Thoughts: With Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans out of the division, people like Purrazzo and LeRae could get more TV time. Someone to look out for in 2019 in my opinion is Chelsea Green (f.k.a. Laurel Van Ness). Green won me over in a match back in March where Green wrestled male luchador Pentagon Jr. in a stellar main event of Lucha Underground.

Cathy Kelley gave more hype for Shayna Baszler vs. Bianca Belair at the next Takevoer… [c]

Mauro, Nigel, and Percy checked back in from Full Sail. Nigel hyped Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black at Takeover: Phoenix. Mauro cut to the highlight video of Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano where Black was out for revenge against Gargano for the parking lot attack. Gargano was dressed up as Marvel’s Punisher…

John’s Thoughts: This might have been the match (along with the subsequent matches) that revived my love for live pro wrestling since I was in attendance for this sold out show at Staples Center. I even got a chance to talk to Triple H about how NXT has too many damn people on the roster (I didn’t necessarily say it like that though). Jason Powell texted me to punch Triple H in his bruised pec to put myself in the main event of WrestleMania, which I resisted 😉 …

They cut to a quick recap of the recent Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black match which ended with DIY hitting their finisher on Black…

Sarah Schreiber interviewed Johnny Gargano about the possible reunion of DIY in the cage match. Gargano talked about absolving Black of his sins. Gargano also talked about how Johnny Wrestling is the hero of the story. Gargano deflected Sarah’s inquiring about collusion between Gargano and Ciampa…

Mauro hyped up the nominees for “Competitor of the Year”… [c]

John’s Thoughts: Well, “competitor” is better than “Sports entertainer” but still not as good as the streamline term “wrestler”.

Male “competitor” of the year candidates: Adam Cole (bay bay), Pete Dunne, Andrade Almas, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, and Tommaso Ciampa…

Female “competitor” of the year candidates: Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Kairi Sane, Bianca Belair, and Shayna Baszler…

Cathy Kelley reminded viewers that out of the entire male and female list would come an “overall” competitor of the year… [c]

Nigel McGuinness thanked the band Alien Weaponry for the song Holding My Breath which is going to be one of the themes for NXT Takeover: Phoenix…

1. Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno. Ohno wore his boxing themed gear this week. Mauro noted that most New Year’s resolutions last only seven seconds. This match already went longer than the Takeover match. Riddle hit a flurry of offense in the corner and an Exploder Suplex. Riddle hit Ohno with a running Senton. Ohno made a comeback with a right hand and then planted Riddle with a release suplex. Ohno clocked Riddle in the corner and followed up with some boots. Ohno hit a standing Judo Roll on Riddle for a two count. Ohno showboated during the pin attempt.

Ohno hit Riddle with an Atomic Drop. Riddle came back with a flurry of chest slaps and deadlifted the larger Ohno with a German Suplex. Riddle gave Ohno some shot roundhouses. Riddle came back with a high knee and cyclone kick. Riddle responded to Ohno’s clubbing blows with fighting spirit. Riddle hit rapid fire slaps on Ohno. Ohno caught Riddle with a right hand and two senton splashes. Riddle caught Ohno off the third senton into the Bromission. Riddle added some stank on the submission with some elbows in the clinch. Ohno tapped out.

Matt Riddle defeated Kassius Ohno via pinfall in 6:05. 

Mauro noted that Ohno is a pro wrestling veteran yet never ascended to the top of the NXT roster.  Riddle called for a fistbump after the match. A “fist bro” chant ensued. Ohno walked to the back which drew some boos. The crowd wasn’t all that hot for the close. Ohno looked despondent. Ohno then walked to enter the ring as a “bro no” chant ensued. Ohno got on his knee and threw out a fist bump. Riddle milked it out. Ohno then pulled Riddle away and tossed him into the ringpost. Ohno tossed Riddle into the ring steps to leave Riddle lying. A “you still tapped” chant ensued. Ohno tossed Riddle into the ring steps again. Ohno pinned Riddle against the ringpost and asked Riddle if Riddle knew who Ohno was. Ohno gave Riddle a rolling elbow. The crowd started chanting “you suck” to the theme of Ohno (Kurt Angle would have chuckled). Ohno then mockingly grinded his fist into Ohno’s fist to mimic a fist bump. The crowd chanted “you tapped out” to close the show…

John’s Thoughts: A solid television main event, albeit a bit underwhelming given the type of main event caliber match I’m used to seeing from Matt Riddle. Ohno has had similar main event caliber matches before his return to NXT but his establishment as the perennial loser of NXT hurts the drama of his nearfalls. He beats people like Kona Reeves or Cezar Bononi but will lose to anyone above the mid-card. That said, Ohno did a great job getting some heat after the match. There was a part of me that feared that Ohno was going to be honorable and Ohno did a job pulling that away. Riddle does look like a dope, but his character is that he’s a lovable dope who wrestles really well, so it works. This can build up credibility for Riddle in the end of the feud. Hopefully Ohno can gain something somehow but it’s tough because you would expect Riddle to come out of this feud on top.

This was a good stroll though memory lane and I’ll recommend the show as a good refresher to the rest of 2018. NXT has a bunch of great Takeover shows so it’s easy to forget some of the gems you see throughout the year. The only match I really thought was missing was the television match between Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era with Trent Seven and Tyler Bate as NXT Tag Team Champions. No need for a Hit List this week due to it only having one match and the rest of the show being a “best of…” show. I should be by tomorrow with an Audio Review for the Dot Net Members. Maybe I’ll go into “best of…” there in preparation for my End of the Year article…

 

 

 

 


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Readers Comments (2)

  1. When you look at the list like that, kind of slim pickings on the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ front, isn’t it?

  2. Man, I wish THIS was the Vega/Almas duo we got on Smackdown….

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