clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WWE NXT recap & reactions (Dec. 20, 2017): Epic Trilogy


NXT returned last night (Dec. 20) with a show advertising two big title matches. Find all the action in the best live blog in all pro wrestling here.

Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish win the NXT tag team titles from Killian Dain and Eric Young

Many of you probably already knew this was coming if you partake in spoilers. And even if you didn’t, you probably had a good idea the titles would change here given the fact WWE themselves advertised that there’d be a title change, and this made the most sense. Because of that, some credit should be given to the placement of this match. Being the first title match on a card with two title matches left the possibility that maybe the titles would change here. That’s smart placement. It’s always wise to give us fans at least the sliver of doubt so those nearfalls can really suck us in.

As for the match itself, it ended up being a blast.

O’Reilly and Fish make a great heel tag team. They do a great job using dirty tactics to get the advantage and then grounding their opponent while cutting off the ring. The stiff strike offense of these men, especially Kyle, adds to their overall perceived threat. It sometimes looked like Eric Young may never get to tag out, even though we knew he probably would.

This being Undisputed ERA, Adam Cole got involved when it looked like his boys were down and out. But that brought out Nikki Cross, who attacked Cole in what was the biggest pop of the match. Watching Nikki try to tear into the leader of the ERA put a huge smile on my face.

But her efforts weren’t enough. Security removed her but left Adam Cole, who was shouting “Get her out of here!” which was a nice heel touch. When Killian Dain went to dispose of Cole, Adam pushed him into the steel post. This removed Dain from the equation long enough for Fish and O’Reilly to take care of EY.

Finally the Undisputed ERA have some titles to bolster their image. Outside winning War Games, they’ve felt a bit underwhelming since their debut. Some gold will help raise that status. And watching the former reDRagon defend those belts in future bouts is certainly something to look forward to.

Heavy Machinery try to move a car that’s parked illegally when the owners of said automobile, Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss emerge. They act like smarmy jerks and the two teams jaw-jack before Sabbatelli and Moss drive away.

I’ve slowly come around on both these teams. I appreciate the silliness of Heavy Machinery while I can’t stand the smarmy attitude of Sabbatelli and Moss. I still think these teams need more time before I can view them as part of the upper echelon of the NXT tag division. But there aren’t many teams standing between them and the likes of Undisputed ERA and SAnitY. (Authors of Pain still exist, but they’re in that post championship limbo now.)

Outside the Street Profits, who feel like they could be a title contender sooner than later, there aren’t many teams to fill the gaps as these teams continue to grow. But in the end, this is still developmental and giving teams like these time to hone their craft is still a major purpose.

Lars Sullivan def. Roddy Strong to advance to the fatal 4-way #1 contenders match next week

It’s always interesting to see how a match like this is put together. How do they continue to make a big man like Sullivan look good without making this a squash match, lessening his opponent, in this case Strong?

They ended up doing a good job letting Sullivan look dominant without making Strong look like a chump. Roddy showed the proper urgency the entire match, knowing any offense he put together could be his last. He used his veteran savvy to create a few opportunities, but in the end, he couldn’t get past the brute force that is Lars Sullivan.

This leaves us with a fatal 4-way next week between Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, Lars Sullivan, & Killian Dain. There’s a bunch of mystery surrounding that one because outside Gargano, who I don’t think will be headed to the title picture just yet, the three other guys make sense to win. While Black makes the most sense, maybe they wait on him until the New Orleans TakeOver.

There’s also a decent amount of beef in this one. Always a good thing.

Pete Dunne def. Tyler Bate to retain his United Kingdom Championship

So, uh, these guys are pretty good at this wrestling thing, huh?

Mauro built this up as the rubber match of their series, with Bate winning their first match at the United Kingdom tournament and Dunne winning in Chicago. These men certainly treated this as a finale of a series as they pulled out all the stops.

It would be fruitless for me to try to describe all the action. For one, ReverendKain did a much better job of that in the live blog. But really, this is a “Go find it and watch it” affair.

There were a few spots that I really enjoyed that I wanted to draw attention to because they were just friggin’ cool.

Early on, Pete Dunne was getting tired of Bate bridging out of all his pin attempts so he delivered a stiff kick to Tyler’s side. This enraged the challenger, who chased Dunne into the ropes. As the referee was pulling Bate back, Pete had this wry smile cross his face, as he just enjoyed watching his opponent lose his cool. Little moments like these are just one of the many reasons Dunne is so damn good.

Later on, the Bruiserweight targeted the fingers of his opponent like he’s wont to do. When he delivered a particularly cruel stomp when Bate’s fingers were already contorted, Tyler had to slide into the ropes to try to put his dislocated finger back right. After all his effort, Dunne just went and stomped them again. This came back to hurt Bate later when a really stiff punch that could have knocked out the champ was too painful for the challenger to take advantage.

But again, just go watch it.

The only real issue is it suffered from a much more subdued crowd, who were having trouble getting loud as these guys killed it. (They were also really quiet for the earlier title match.) The lack of crowd noise made the spots at the end when both men were just selling the beating of the entire match feel longer than they should have. Usually the crowd will deliver low levels of electricity for these spots, keeping the buzz going, but this crowd didn’t supply it like the first two crowds who watched these bouts.

It’s a worthy closing match of their 2017 trilogy. One that started in the very beginning of the year and closed out at the very end. We’ll see these guys lock up again for sure, they’ll be connected forever, but hopefully this closes the book on it for a bit.

It’s a shame that these two are tethered to the division without a home because they are too good to fight the same four men over and over. I want to see Tyler Bate play babyface to a ton of other villains in NXT and one day the main roster. And I want to see Pete Dunne just fight everyone. I’d love a day when he’s holding other WWE titles in his mouth.

While we dream about future possibilities for these young studs, we can always kill the time by watching any of their superb trilogy.

Two strong championship matches carried the day while Roddy did his best against the unstoppable Lars Sullivan.

Grade A-

Sound off below.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats