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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Aug. 8, 2018): Take me out tonight

For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.

Keith Lee makes his NXT debut defeating German competitor Marcel Barthel.

Tonight’s NXT was all about making a statement and what better way to say “I have arrived” than winning your debut match in NXT?

Earlier in the evening Lee introduced himself to the NXT universe via well done video package in which he talked about strength and perseverance in pursuing one’s dreams. This of course means a lot from Lee who is, according to Mauro, making his third attempt at a WWE career. This Keith Lee is different, he is limitless.

Lee faced a relative unknown competitor in NXT, Marcel Barthel, who was immediately a great heel. He has a smug face and an “I’m better than you” attitude that really makes it easy to root against him. Honestly, he had a evil German guy straight out of an Indiana Jones movie vibe and it works.

Lee coming into NXT from the indies has quite the reputation and needed to look strong in his first match. While Barthel was determined to derail Lee, opening the match with a series of beastly kicks, he would ultimately succumb to the power and prowess of Lee. My personal favorite moment was when Lee delivered a double handed chop to Barthel that made the room gasp.

Bask in the glory of Keith Lee because he’s just getting started in NXT.

Taynara Conti defeated Vanessa Borne for the final spot in the second Mae Young Classic.

The Mae Young Classic began taping tonight (for full spoilers click here), but on NXT there was one final qualifying match to be had. Yes, this was a little anti-climatic considering if one watched the MYC Parade of Champions than the results of this match were spoiled, but that being said, however, this was a heck of a match.

The Vision, Vanessa Borne, has grown on me a lot. Although her character is a little underdeveloped - hot, mean girl wears dominatrix clothes and thinks she’s better than everyone else - she has been doing well in the backstage interview segments and her in ring work has been steadily improving. Borne is a natural trash talker and her character, however underdeveloped it may be, comes to life in the ring.

We still don’t know a lot about Conti aside from her work in last years MYC and her short stint has Undisputed ERA’s female sidekick, but it’s safe to say that she has a unique, strong style coming from her martial arts background.

This match was intense. It began with a collar and elbow tie up that truly looked like it was a struggle for both competitors. Often times that move looks like “the move we do to start a match”, but not here. This was a fight for dominance. Conti breaks the lock-up with a judo throw and began her assault on Borne.

Borne got a few good licks in here and there, like relentlessly slamming Conti’s head into the middle turnbuckle and locking her into a submission hold, but the real star of this match was Conti.

The entire time I was watching this match I found myself comparing it to Ronda Rousey’s style. Conti comes from a Judo background and has really found a good balance using judo based moves in a wrestling ring with a style that doesn’t make me pull my eyebrow hairs out with fear. Don’t get me wrong, Conti looks ferocious and powerful executing the moves but additionally they look like something that belongs in a wrestling ring and they look well executed.

Conti wins by reversing a crucifix pin attempt and slamming Borne into the mat. 1-2-3 Conti is on her way to the MYC.

Aleister Black fought Johnny Gargano but their match was interrupted by the NXT Champion Tommasso Ciampa.

It’s 100% Johnny Gargano’s fault that Ciampa won the title from Aleister Black. Just like the song says, he’s not good, he’s not evil, he’s mad! Aleister entered the ring with a murderous look in his eye. A look that we haven’t seen in some time. It was really refreshing and helped to remind me why this guy was made champion in the first place.

Gargano came out rubbing his jaw and looking not to please with Aleister or the black mass he delivered last week.

Mere seconds after the bell rang these two were on each other, but Aleister got the upperhand with a series of devastating knees. Johnny got a quick kick in on the side of Aleister’s head, knocking Alesiter out of the ring and setting up for a suicide dive from Johnny. Back in the ring the knee strikes continue, Aleister even shuts down Johnny’s signature sling shot spear with a neck breaking knee.

Aleister may be mad, but Johnny has heart and the match eventually evened out. No one could get the upper hand and they both were laid out by each other’s clothesline. A great match up, on it’s way to becoming a classic. But not if NXT Champion Tommasso Ciampa has anything to say about it.

Ciampa storms the ring, throws Johnny out and focuses his attack on Aleister Black. Johnny pops back into the ring and focuses his attack on Ciampa. Aleister pops up and focuses his attack on both of them! Chaos ensues, the crowd goes wild, but Mr. Regal has had enough. Regal comes out to put a stop to this madness once and for all! He makes the NXT Championship match at TakeOver Brooklyn a three way. Johnny is happy, Aleister is annoyed, Ciampa looks scared.

Regal, as always, truly doing what’s best for business.

All the rest

  • Nikki Cross defeated Amber Nova in the opening contest. Amber Nova put up a good fight, but Cross proved to be too unpredictable for her. Nikki Cross continues to kill it on the NXT stage, but when will she debut on SmackDown Live??
  • The Undisputed ERA laid out Ricochet before his scheduled match. Not entirely a surprising move for the heel faction, but taking him out in the dark and blue balling the audience with his entrance was a nice touch. Not to mention a cool visual reveal as Adam Cole emerged from the smoke. Cole claims that in Brooklyn he will be “The One and Only” North American Champion.
  • Kassius Ohno crushed the dreams of Adrian Jaoude with several clubbing blows to the head. It’s nice to see Ohno win things.
  • EC3 visted The Dream at his pool. They verbally sparred. EC3 threw Dream into the pool. Their chemistry together is palpable and should tear the house down in Brooklyn. Then they should star in a buddy cop film with lots of banter.

This episode was interesting because there were several matches that had no TakeOver consequences (Lee, Cross, Ohno), but that were still important in establishing/reestablishing the characters in the match.

The TakeOver matches continue to be promoted with a focus on the fallout from Ciampa’s title win. We’ll see next week how they sort out Black’s absence from TakeOver (though I think it will have something to do with this).

Grade: B+

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