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NXT recap & reactions (Feb. 13, 2019): Work the leg!

NXT returned to us last night (Feb. 13) with their second episode from the most recent taping. Find the full results at the live blog here.

Dominik Dijakovic def. Shane Thorne

This match really picked up towards the end. It was fine in the beginning, but nothing that really made me want to see either man face the top of the roster.

But then they built to the finish and both came out of this looking impressive. Dijakovic, nursing a bum arm that Thorne worked over, fired up and brought intensity. He also brought a springboard move from inside the ring to the floor that elicited an audible “Wow” from me, even if it looked a bit sloppy on landing.

Thorne proved he can hang, and I’m interested to see him in some matches where he isn’t the obvious sacrifice for the up and comer.

Humberto Carrillo & Stacy Ervin Jr. are set for a match but are interrupted by Kassius Ohno. Ohno speaks about how his two years back in NXT have been tumultuous. He needs to come out to tell the crowd that they make him sick. He rips into the crowd and tells them he’s out of here. He’s going to go somewhere that he can prove he’s the best who can do it.

Keith Lee walks out behind him and knocks Kassius down with a rolling elbow. Lee then takes the mic and tells a KO’d Ohno that he could have hit him in the “dingly bits” and asks him not to let the door hit him on the way out.

This version of Kassius Ohno is so enjoyable. This man is getting mileage out of the roll of angry consistent jobber.

Running down the NXT crowd may be a face turn for some, but it’s hard to argue that he didn’t have Lee’s blindside coming. After all, he did use a low blow to get the win over the Limitless One weeks back.

Lee showed charisma in his brief promo after knocking Ohno down as well.

I would guess this is going to lead to another match between the two but Kassius did claim he’s leaving NXT and Lee told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Of course, Ohno isn’t really leaving so he’ll probably just reneg on his promise on leaving because that’s what heels do. But it’s an intriguing angle to play up for a little bit.

The Street Profits def. Humberto Carrillo & Stacy Ervin Jr.

The Profits cut a promo post match, claiming they want the War Raiders. But they are interrupted by the European Union. They too want the titles, and are soon interrupted by Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.

The War Raiders come out, looking to fight. Finally, the Undisputed ERA runs out to attack the champions. But after a brawl, it’s the Raiders holding the ring.

The question NXT asked coming into this match was how the Street Profits would respond to their most recent loss.

The answer was with a new aggression. It wasn’t over the top, but it was clear that Montez Ford was fighting with an intensity that was new for him. It was needed after taking that loss to the Forgotten Sons. The Profits, while entertaining, are starting to run the risk of being that midcard tag team that is locked in that spot. Perhaps a new aggression will save them from that fate.

They still weren’t the most impressive team in this match. Humberto Carrillo and Stacy Ervin were. Carrillo is great. I don’t know if this is just some exhibition while his real home is 205, but I’d gladly watch him here more often.

The final segment was your standard, “No we want the titles!” bit that ended with the champs standing tall. Honestly, it didn’t do much for me. Seeing Barthel/Aichner and the BritAm Brawlers was good because it indicating they’re both within the title scene. Why the Forgotten Sons weren’t out there, given they just beat the Profits and should be ahead of them in line, was beyond me.

Aliyah def. Taynara Conti via submission with an assist from Vanessa Borne

After match, Shayna Baszler marches down to the ring. Borne and Aliyah try to hightail it but Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attack them from behind. The three horsewomen attack all three women.

Shayna cuts a promo after, saying that this is realty now. Don’t question them and don’t piss them off.

Well, it looks like this match was meant to showcase Aliyah.

After toiling in the enhancement role for a long while, it looks like they’ve finally settled on a gimmick for her they feel can help her finally ascend. The character was reminiscent of early heel Carmella with the attitude and fancier clothes. Adding a heater in Borne is a good way to get both women time on TV.

While I predicted it was going to be Conti who was going to be walking away here in the preview, she still seemed like she was thinking about what to do next while in the ring. Aliyah looked crisper and more confident.

They were all victims of an angry Shayna Baszler and her horsewomen. Pissed about taking a pin last week, the champ and her cronies laid out all three women. The Baszler cut a quick promo warning everyone not to piss them off. She’s not the cleanest promo, but I feel it works for her. She’s a gritty wrestler and her promos fit that.

Bleeding multiple women’s angles here (introducing us to the new Aliyah/Borne partnership and reminding us how dangerous the horsewomen can be) is a nice touch. It’s a reminder that this is a fluid program that is occupied by many characters and not just singular segments for specific parts. This was also true of the tag segment with the Ohno interruption.

Ricochet def. Adam Cole

The rest of the Undisputed ERA run out post match and attack Ric post match. Aleister Black runs out to make the save but he gets taken out as well.

It shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone that Ricochet and Adam Cole put on a great match. Cole worked Ric’s leg the entire time and they played the injured body part game very well.

Ricochet never stopped selling the leg, which is important when such a crucial body part is worked. The One and Only incorporated his bad wheel into every move, never forgetting his leg was in excruciating pain. He had to alter his game plan, which is tough because high flying is his go to plan. He didn’t abandon it but he sure had to improv, such as with a one-legged springboard!

Cole played his role to perfection, cutting down Ricochet by kicking the leg at every turn. Despite being a cool dude that at this point fans just want to cheer, he does a great job being an a-hole enough to get fans not to. (It’s getting tougher though.)

It was a very different match than their Brooklyn bout, but still very good because these were two pros.

I was surprised to see Cole take another loss. For a crew that’s claiming they’re going to win all the gold, the Undisputed ERA sure seem to be losing often. A Cole win seemed set up with Ric’s bad wheel, which would have evened their series, but he still lost.

Given that the ERA’s backstage promo earlier mentioned that they’ve heard the rumblings about having a bad start to the year, this is likely going to be part of their story moving forward. And NXT has earned enough storytelling trust to see how this plays out.

Aleister Black is still around feuding with the ERA, though it’s starting to feel like we’ve entered Aleister’s lame duck era of NXT. We’ll see if a feud with the ERA, and a match with Roderick Strong next week, comes across as something to do prior to call up or a successful post-championship spot on the brand.

Much of this episode felt very developmental (which is part of their job). The tag scene, the women’s scene, and the opening match were all about getting their up-and-comers time. The main event was for the top stars.

Grade: B

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