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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Sept. 21, 2016): Learning to fly

Thanks to my colleague Tonya Rodgers for covering for me last week! She did a bang up job, and probably saved you from several hundred words about how awesome Samoa Joe is. Well...


After a video package recapping the former champ’s excellent bait & switch on Shinsuke Nakamura and General Manager William Regal from last week (that’s how - and why - it’s done, Sasha Banks & Raw), the Submission Machine makes his way to the ring with a piece of paper. He informs us this is Nakamura’s medical report, which he obtained with his powers of persuasion. Thanks to Joe’s actions, the NXT titleholder has lower back contusions, an injured elbow and a separated shoulder. While surgery won’t be required, Nak will be out 6 - 12 weeks.

Declaring that he won’t wait that long, he calls out Regal. Joe wants Shinsuke now, or he wants the belt handed to him. The GM reveals he hasn’t been in touch with the champ, because Swagsuke isn’t the kind of guy to call and check in. He acknowledges Joe has created a problem - a problem it’s his job to fix. Claiming he was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, Joey Headrocker jumps out of the ring and storms up the ramp to get in Regal’s face. He gives his boss one week to meet his demands, or he’s taking out the whole roster. He sticks the medical report in Regal’s suit coat and walks off while the Englishman fumes.

After a highlight package of Cedric Alexander’s Cruiserweight Classic (CWC) bout with Kota Ibushi and post-defeat moment with the crowd & Triple H, Andrea D’Marco interviews him about his match against Andrade “Cien” Almas later in the show. Cedric talks about his seven year journey to get to WWE and how often he was told he’d fail. Alexander starts a new journey tonight, and plans to prove to Almas just how good he is.

Charly Caruso checks in with Liv Morgan and wants to know why she thinks she’s ready to face Asuka. The Jersey girl basically indicates she might not be, but Liv didn’t come to NXT to wait around, and is willing to push herself. The Women’s champ walks up and says, “You think you’re ready? Let’s find out” and laughs.


  • Rather than bore you with my love of Joe’s delivery - of which this was a good but not great example - I’ll just tell you for the 100th time how much I wish his NXT run could end in a match against Regal.

  • Writing off Nak makes sense, especially if we’re not going to have a TakeOver until Toronto. If they’re really gonna keep him out for this and at least the next taping, it could be a good opportunity to introduce a surrogate to fight on the GM’s behalf. There are a number of different ways they can go, and I’m interested to see which they choose, which is a good thing.

  • Plus, as much as we all love Shinsuke’s entrance, keeping him as a bit of a special attraction isn’t a bad idea. And if you miss “Rising Sun”, peep Twitter after a live event. There are usually at least ten different videos of it from every house show.

  • Watching Ced do pretty much anything, all I can do is shake my head that Ring of Honor (ROH) never chose to really push him, and wonder how much money he’s gonna make for Vince. He needs practice adding nuance to his interviews, and probably more experience going back and forth in promo duels. But he’s got nearly as much natural charisma on the mic as he has in the ring.

  • Of the group of guys we’ll eventually think of as the CWC class, I’m most excited to watch Alexander develop into a WWE Superstar.

  • Decent job justifying Liv’s death wish, and setting expectations for her crushing defeat next week. As much as I enjoy the Empress’ dismissing of the current division, it would be great if she could show us she’s capable of a Bayley-esque carry job.

  • As we’ll see in the next third of the show, however, I get the feeling the women’s scene in NXT for the next several months is gonna be all about newcomers jockeying for the right to get destroyed by the champ.


Oney Lorcan looks to build on his big win over Tye Dillinger when he faces Austin Aries. A-Double takes him down early and slaps on a headlock, but Lorcan fights out with stiff shots and then takes Aries to headlock city, keeping the hold on even when he has to tackle him back into it. The former ROH and TNA champ puts an end to that by suplexing his opponent back first onto the apron as we head to commercial.

Nearfalls come off a double stomp and a leaping elbow, but Oney eventually gets back into it after a sequence where the two men trade strikes. Aries dodges a charge and sends Lorcan to the floor, following with a flying chop, but gets caught with an uppercut after rolling his opponent back in. A running version gets a long two count, but after missing a blockbuster, the Greatest Man That Ever Lived roars back, ending it with a suplex into a neckbreaker that sets up Last Chancery and a submission win in six & a half minutes.

Afterwards, Aries gets a microphone to address Hideo Itami. He says he wasn’t away because he’s scared, but because he has better things to do. He’s a man’s man and would call out Itami, but Hideo is a coward and wouldn’t respond. That of course cues the Japanese Superstar’s music. A-Double acts like he’s ready to fight, then bails and scurries up the ramp once Itami hits the ring.

We learn that the 6’ 7”, 300 pound Dan Matha will debut in two weeks, and then see a clip from after Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa’s win at the CWC finale. Before the can answer a question about their future plans, The Revival jump them. The duo who call themselves DIY fight off the tag champs. Dash & Dawson run away while Ciampa & Gargano are restrained by officials.

Women’s action as Aliyah faces Billie Kay. The smaller wrestler starts hot and takes the action to the taller Kay, working an arm hold from the apron and hitting her leg drop from the ropes for a nearfall. The Aussie comes back with a discus forearm and a two-count of her own, then hoists her up into a torture rack where she works over Aliyah’s arm. After fighting out, Aliyah gets thrown into the corner, mounting one last comeback with a neckbreaker off a missed boot. Once Billie kicks out of that, she connects with her big boot and ends the match after about three minutes.


  • Now, I get the look Lorcan is going for, and I support it in general. But the high waisted, almost Speedo-like cut of his trunks is unpleasantly distracting.

  • Really enjoyed the match he had with Aries, who continues to settle into a nice groove with his heel run. Oney got in just enough offense, and kept the crowd with him while taking or driving offense, but the right man won, and fairly convincingly.

  • They continue to build Itami’s chase of Aries nicely, although at some point it would be interesting to hear why he chose the Green Bay native as the recipient of his return to TakeOver GTS. Maybe he orchestrated a certain parking lot attack before he signed (look, I know it makes no sense, but a show that bothers to have Regal address Joe’s HIPAA violation shouldn’t have that big of a plot hole sitting out there)?

  • It’s TakeOver-worthy, but I kind of hope we don’t have to wait until November to see DIY/Revival III.

  • Aliyah working babyface(-leaning Tweener) a couple weeks after she worked heel(-leaning Tweener) reminds me a bit of the old days, where newer stars would practice alignments and character tweaks right on camera. Now I wish they’d let Everyone’s Favorite Girlfriend, the good girl gimmick Billie worked on the indies, give it a shot.

  • Both ladies looked good in this bout, though. I’ve been a Kay fan for years and as they give her more time, she’s showing she belongs. Aliyah continues to be a pleasant surprise, and is another talent I’m excited to see develop.


Following the latest Sanity teaser, Dasha Fuentes speaks with Mandy Rose about her issues with Ember Moon. The former Total Divas star says Ember doesn’t have what it takes. She calls her a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Little Red Riding Hood (not a bad combo, IMO), then declares herself the ideal of a NXT Superstar.

We’re informed that Liv will be sacrificed to Asuka next week, and then it’s main event time. Full Sail loves Cedric and still doesn’t love Almas. The two men shake hands to start, then launch into a couple of acrobatic sequences which end in standoffs. A third set of lucha/cruiserweight attacks ends with Andrade catching himself in the ropes for his signature pose, then dropkicking Alexander to the floor and springboarding onto him as we go to commercial.

Cien is working a headlock in the ring when we get back, but the new Raw star breaks it by jaw-jacking the Mexican, then lighting him up with kicks and clotheslines. A handspring manuever sends Andrade to the floor, and Cedric flies with his Tope Con Hilo before bringing him back in for another leaping clothesline that almost ends it.

The luchador returns fire with a powerbomb that gets two. They then trade shots in the middle of the ring. Action leads to Cedric putting Cien on the top rope, but Alexander ends up getting elbowed down to the mat. He dodges a top rope moonsault attempt, but Almas transitions immediately into a standing moonsault for another nearfall.

Andrade can’t believe he hasn’t won off his last two pin attempts, aggressively questioning the referee. Frustrated, he sets his opponent up for the double knees, but Cedric is ready. He dodges and connects with a Lumbar Check to win his NXT debut in eight minutes.

Still frustrated, Almas does eventually accept when Alexander again offers his hand. He then pulls him in for a hug and raises Cedric’s arm in victory as the show ends.


  • Oh, I can’t wait until Mandy hits big and shows everyone what the Eva Marie schtick is like when someone who can talk and wrestle is working it!

  • Rose’s interview also gave me an early 2014 NXT vibe. Even the lighting of the set looked less slick than what we’re used to these days.

  • The main was a fun, competitive match that would have fit right in to the CWC. Especially enjoyed how it built from a showcase to a serious fight, letting both guys “get their $#!+ in” before raising the stakes.

  • With Alexander, aside from the praise I threw around above, I’m interested to see how the Raw cruiserweights will be used between the two shows. Corey Graves & Tom Phillips (and D’Marco in the earlier segment) focused on this as his welcome to NXT rather than editing in footage and comments about his match on Monday night. And is Cedric an example of how they’ll utilize everyone, or is he getting a special spotlight on Wednesdays while the red brand focuses on other guys (TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick, Gran Metalik and maybe the rumored Jack Gallagher push)?

  • With ACA, as Tom referred to him a few times - and I hope that sticks, there were definitely more hints of a slow burn heel turn sprinkled into this match. But his work during the bout, and his actions afterwards, could also be a way to take one more stab at getting the smarkier elements of the NXT Universe to embrace him.

  • Not sure it will work, but after Full Sail jeered his entrance, the response Cien got the rest of way may have shown enough promise to hold off on the full blown turn just yet. On the other hand, with Aries and Joe the only two higher-level singles guys working as rudos right now, they may need Manny to flip over to the dark side for balance.

Tonya commented last week how NXT feels like Developmental again, and there are definitely moments when it does. Segments with greener talent are balanced out with more experienced hands, such as the main event, or even seasoned veterans, like Aries and Itami.

At its worst, NXT has been an unbalanced show. In addition to refocusing on creating new stars, it also feels like they’re figuring out how to synthesize the other elements they’ve incorporated to be their own travelling promotion. That balance makes for a really enjoyable hour of wrestling/sports entertainment each week.

Grade: B+

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