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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Dec. 21, 2016): Wait for something more

Even the monkeys in the truck must have been looking to head home for the holidays, cause this episode was uploaded to the Network way early...


We start off with the announced women’s match, and Daria Berenato takes Billie Kay down as soon as the bell rings while Tom Phillips, Corey Graves & Percy Watson remind us why the woman from Jersey is pissed at Kay and her best friend Peyton Royce, who’s at ringside. After eating a couple knees, Billie takes a breather to strategize with her partner, and an early distraction from Royce leads to a nearfall.

After some trash talk from the heel, Daria comes back with clothelines and a double-leg takedown. She takes off her fingerless MMA gloves and lands a flurry of strikes, but Peyton grabs Billie’s leg and pulls her out of the ring, and harm’s way. Berenato makes the mistake of chasing Royce, who ends up driving her into the apron while the official is dealing with Kay. She heads straight into a Big Boot and the Australian covers for a pinfall victory in two-and-a-half minutes.

Microphone time, and Kay & Royce say what they just did to Daria is a message to the division. They claim to be the competition Asuka has been looking for, and as soon as the Women’s champ finds the guts, they’ll teach her who calls the shots in NXT.

Paul Ellering brings the Authors of the Pain to the ring for a match against some enhancement talent. This is that match. While Akam & Rezar smash Anthony Bowens, Jon (Johnny Vandal) Ortagun tries to leave, but gets cut off. He’s brought back in for tandem smashing. After they slam their opponents together head first, they set up to go for their finisher right around a minute into the match, but the ref cuts them off, grabbing the injured Bowens and calling for the bell.

After some replays - and presumably medical attention for the vanquished, Ellering addresses the crowd. He puts over his charges as Dusty Cup winners and says it doesn’t matter who they face in San Antonio, #DIY or The Revival, because they’re on a seek-and-destroy mission to become tag champs.


  • Well... that women’s match was quick, I’ll give it that.

  • Berenato plays her character really well, but she’s got a ways to go as a wrestler. The first clothesline was really rough, and while I convinced myself it was a tribute to Monty Brown, the Pounce-esque takedown was just as bad.

  • Kay’s performance didn’t include any glaring missteps, but it also didn’t do anything to help Daria or distract from her learning curve. As for the non-wrestling parts of Billie & Peyton’s performance, it’s like I’ve been saying. Everything about it is fine, but it’s uninspired and therefore doesn’t connect.

  • Based on Full Sail’s reaction to their promo, it’s connecting with some fans (unless there’s some shoot issues between Billie and the regulars I’m unaware of), so that’s good. I don’t buy them as any kind of threat to Asuka, though, and if the champ doesn’t run through them Styles-on-Ellsworth style, it’ll be dumb.

  • Similarly, everything about the idea for the Authors match/segment was right, but I was taken out of it knowing that Bowen was legitimately hurt. By the way, there’s been no update on his condition since he pulled out of his December dates, but at least he was in good spirits on Twitter as the show aired... even if the Tweets reminded us of the head injury he suffered:
  • Obviously, Akam & Rezar are real threats to win the tag belts, and I have faith in either Dash & Dawson or Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa to be able to help them to a decent ten minute match. Let’s hope they’re cramming at the Performance Center to get ready for San Antonio, though.


The show-opening angle is recapped to set-up an interview with Asuka. The Empress of Tomorrow repeats her claim there’s no competition for her in NXT, and warns Kay & Royce to be careful. Mid-statement, she sees Nikki Cross watching from off-camera. The SAnitY member laughs and exits. The champ smiles in response.

NXT brings one of TakeOver: Respect’s theme songs out of the archives to play over a long video package to set-up the main event. Each of last week’s qualifying matches is recapped, along with pertinent information about the stories of Tye Dillinger, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Roderick Strong & Bobby Roode heading into the Fatal 4Way to determine the next #1 contender to NXT champ Shinsuke Nakamura.

Each man gets a full entrance, and Roode steps aside quickly after the start. Much of the early action is Strong vs. Almas, with the two trading stiff shops and drop kicks around a commercial break. When Dillinger gets back involved, there’s a cool spot where Roddy & Tye are down but manage to avoid a top rope moonsault from Andrade. He lands on his feet and immediately launches another one, only to come down on Roddy knees.

While he regroups, we get a tense staredown between Strong & Dillinger that abruptly ends when Roode re-enters the fray by clotheslining them both. Tye gets thrown to the outside, and Roddy & Bobby go at it. That ends when Strong catches a kick and pulls him into a backbreaker, leading to a nearfall. Dillinger tries to roll-up Roddy but only gets two, and then Strong dropkicks he and Almas from the ring.

The Glorious One goes to work on the former Ring of Honor (ROH) champ, and gets a cover after a suplex and a neckbreaker. Strong counters with a slam, and ends up taking a corkscrew dive onto all three of his opponents on the floor to prompt another commercial break.

When we return, Roode is dominating Roddy and preventing both of the other men from getting back in the ring to do anything about it. Strong eventually connects with a gourdbuster to stop Bobby’s roll. After a running knee, he sets Roode up in the corner, with Almas putting Strong on his shoulders and then Tye running in to suplex Andrade for the Tower of Doom.

Dillinger gets the worst of an exchange with Cien, and after a Big Boot, Tye gets the running double knees, but Strong hits a Sick Kick out of nowhere on Almas for the first elimination of the match after ten minutes of action. Roddy goes right to work on the Perfect Ten, including a nifty back suplex/facebuster, but Tye quickly counters to his finisher, and Strong is out after being pinned at around the twelve minute mark.

So it comes down to the two men who battled in Toronto. Determination is written all over Dillinger’s face, and fists fly after a brief pause. Tye puts Roode down with a flying forearm and follows with the “Ten” stomps in the corner. Bobby blocks a TyeBreaker by grabbing the top rope. After avoiding a superkick, Roode goes outside to get a steel chair, but Dillinger connects on a second attempt at a superkick for a nearfall.

They battle on the ropes, but the action returns to the center of the ring with a Roode spinebuster. He tries for the DDT, but Dillinger counters with his finisher and hits! Tye covers, but Bobby somehow kicks out just before the ref’s hand comes down a third time. He and the crowd are shocked, but quickly regroups to try for a Super-TyeBreaker from the top, but his opponent elbows free. A final try to hit the move results in the former TNA champ dropping him crotch-first on the turnbuckle. That creates an opening for the Glorious DDT, and win for Roode after slightly more than 17 minutes.

The new #1 contender celebrated in the ring while a stunned Dillinger tried to collect himself on the floor.


  • The other reason I want Asuka to take care of the Aussies like Braun Strowman takes care of fake Christmas trees? Because I need her and the artist formerly known as the White Chocolate Cheesecake of Sports Entertainment to light each other up, pronto.

  • Love these little teases, which play like flirtations between two people in love with violence. I whine about NXT not developing characters for new players, but Nikki is showing you can do it in seconds without a line of dialogue.

  • It doesn’t quite make up for them running through this mini-tournament to determine the #1 contender in just a couple weeks, but - damn - did they try with that pay-per-view (PPV) level video package for the Fatal 4Way. WWE’s production team for the win... as usual.

  • Speaking of poor character development (and I will give them a bit of a pass since I think they were planning to use Austin Aries to establish him, but then Nak broke A-Double’s eyehole) but the video was a nice reminder of who Roddy Strong maybe is here in WWE. A real feud would do wonders - and after tonight I know who I want it to be against - but cocky-yet-honorable athlete works.

  • Now let’s use the freaking electric moments where he and Almas were in the ring together as the jumping off point for that feud. There’s chemistry and equal levels of skill there, so let’s make it happen.

  • The match, overall, was pretty good. My man Cain A. Knight’s got me thinking in terms of star ratings for the first time in my life, and I’d probably give this one a 4, give or take a quarter. Picking and choosing when to remember the stipulation is no DQ was annoying, and it stuck to the traditional path for multi-man matches a bit much for my taste, but it also had some great spots and thrilling moments.

  • Most importantly, it was another strong (no pun intended) chapter in Dillinger’s story, and he played his part extremely well. Fire and determination early, desparation toward the end and finally disilluisionment bordering on despair. Great, if slightly painful, stuff.

  • THAT NEARFALL THOUGH. Actually, I thought the first one, on the chair/Superkick spot, was pretty good, but the one after the Tye Breaker was phenomenal... of the “I’ve read the spoilers and they still got me” variety.

  • So, the guy I’m talking about the least is the winner, and likely main eventer at the next TakeOver. That’s not ideal, but I have faith in NXT to build tension between Bobby and Nakamura between now and San Antonio.

  • Plus, my main interest when it comes to Roode is seeing the Perfect Ten finally beat him some day. And since I’m of the opinion that a Dillinger call-up isn’t coming any time soon, I’m willing to accept this loss and a Glorious Strong Style program as a means to an end. Sure, this week has proven good guys (gals) don’t always win in WWE any more, but NXT is usually a little more traditional, so I can still believe Tye will defeat his big bad... someday.

A tale of two shows, with the first twenty minutes not doing much of anything for me, and the last thirty delivering. All the elements of the main event would have been more impactful had they played out over a few more weeks, but in the spirit of moving forward, better now than never.

Grade: B+

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