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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Nov. 8, 2017): All fall down

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

Heavy Machinery def. Chris Payne and Sean Maluta via pinfall following Compactor. Ember Moon responds to Mercedes Martinez’s trash talk by challenging her to a match. Kairi Sane def. Billie Kay via pinfall following the InSane Elbow.

- Who knows if they’ve improved as wrestlers since their quick title shot, but you can’t deny their appeal. Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight are the kind of act 10 year old Sean would have adored - and I don’t mean that as a slight or backhanded compliment. I bet they’re a blast on house shows, too. Hell, even my grizzled old ass can’t help but smile when Dozer busts out The Worm as the set-up for an elbow drop.

But I’m still not sure how their in-ring abilities or the gimmick translate to a real match or feud, and I can’t see anyone other than jobbers falling for their finisher. For now, I enjoy when they show up for three minutes on my screen every month or so.

- Suppose it outs me as a Shimmer fan from way back, but I find Nigel McGuinness pretending that Ember Moon and Mercedes Martinez have never faced each other to be more outrageous than Michael Cole acting like AJ Styles started in Japan or whatever.

- Speaking of outrageous, why can we still not get “ICONIC” merch from WWE Shop (that’s the kind of thing I think to distract myself when Peyton Royce shows up in that jeans and knee high boots combo, cause... help me out here, Ron)?

Hate to say it, but Kay vs. Sane did very little for me. In fact, the formulaic PeyKay structure did so little to hook me, I drifted off into worrying about Kairi on the main roster, where I fear the Pirate Princess thing could die a worse death than bubbly Emma. The elbow’s always a joy to see, but with the outcome rightly never in doubt, something else interesting, impressive and/or charming should have happened. There wasn’t even much teased between Royce and Sane, and they’re fighting for the title in a week and a half.

But... DAMN!

Kassius Ohno asks for and is granted a match against Lars Sullivan for TakeOver by General Manager Wiliam Regal. A video package on the history of War Games plays up Dusty Rhodes influence and the brutality of the match. Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas are interviewed about their relationship and their strategy for the NXT champion, Drew McIntyre.

- Do I want to see player/coach Ohno big man it up with Lars? Heck yeah! Could they have done a little more to set it up? Heck yeah! After all the time spent telling Sullivan’s story, his TakeOver debut gets booked without he and his opponent ever interacting. Weird.

- Surprise! WWE hit it out of the park with a video package! I also loved the one which opened the show by recapping last week’s main event and final segment, which somehow made a very cool moment in Regal’s announcement seem even cooler. This one also seemed designed to keep Cody Rhodes quiet, but the fact he probably knew the plan was to honor his father and the family’s legacy with WarGames is likely why this is the one WWE/American Dream connection he hasn’t been upset about.

- Suprise redux! Vega makes an otherwise fairly standard interview segment pop with her capital-p Presence. Content-wise, the interviewer asking about the nature of Andrade and Zelina’s relationship, and her frustrated response to this coming up for at least the second time that I can recall, is a great plot point. I hope she eventually snaps and kicks someone’s ass for continuing to insinuate she’s something other than a great manager for El Idolo.

Velveteen Dream def. Cezar Bononi via pinfall following a cartwheeling Death Valley Bomb, then vows to make Aleister Black say his name at TakeOver. Ruby Riot finds out she needs a few more weeks before she’ll be cleared from the injury she suffered when Sonya Deville had her in the ankle lock during their Women’s championship qualifier, and an exchange of words between the two sets up a match for after Ruby’s healthy. Street Profits have another run-in with Tino Sabatelli and Riddick Moss, during which Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford issue a challenge the heels accept.

- The best squash on an episode which mainly consisted of them, Dream continues to handle everything NXT and this angle throw at him. Black is probably destined for bigger things sooner, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Patrick Clark is 2018’s breakout star. Here he was tasked with maintaining an angry edge we’ve only seen flashes of prior throughout the entire match and his subsequent promo. And it was great.

- A tale of two mid-card builds. Riot/Deville is follow-up from their loss to Moon that I wasn’t counting on getting, and a potential feud I didn’t know I wanted until I started to think about it. Sonya’s precise, MMA-based attack against Ruby’s wild flurries should be a lot of fun, and a good way to set-up both for bigger things once a new champ is crowned in Houston.

The Profits/Sabatelli and Moss (we really need to get them a team name) bit, on the other hand, didn’t really do anything last week’s scene hadn’t already accomplished. I dig me some Montez Ford, love when they take the time to give undercard matches context, and am in favor of swagifying as much of Florida as possible. But as with the Martinez/Moon set-up, I could have used at least one fewer segment dedicated to laying the groundwork, especially with so many other story irons in the fire.

Roderick Strong def. Adam Cole via disqualification when Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly pull Strong from the ring before he can cover Cole following a backbreaker onto the top turnbuckle. All three teams who’ll face off in WarGames come out, and the ensuing brawl ends when Roddy superplexes Cole onto the other seven men.

Even before he came to the ring without Fish and O’Reilly, I was looking for this to be Cole’s first really good match in NXT. When I saw he and Strong would mix it up one-on-one for at least a while before the inevitable show-closing melee, I got downright optimistic.

Instead, I got another perfectly-fine-but-nothing-sensational bout. Trying not to get overly concerned, as it’s only been a few months, but when the best things we’ve seen have been a few reaction GIFs... well, and also his entrance. Never noticed how well “Adam Cole, BAY BAY” could be timed to the guitar in Undisputed ERA’s theme. So that’s cool. But otherwise...

Something big needs to happen with the group, either at WarGames or quickly on the other side of it. After a great debut in Brooklyn, they’ve been presented as chickenshit heels and not much else. Cole hasn’t had an opportunity to display his charisma in promos or interviews. Fish and O’Reilly haven’t had much time to show the world what tag team badasses they are. They don’t have to capture all the gold by January (although it might not be a bad idea), but something noteworthy should be in their future.

The post-match stuff was a blast, enough so that I wish it had been a couple minutes longer so each team could have had another opportunity in the spotlight. The last two spots - a dive from Alexander Wolfe and the superplex - were phenomenal. But I’m seriously questioning the decision to end this episode and not next week’s with this scene. I get wanting to build on Roddy vs. The ERA quickly after last episode, and making the NXT title feel special. But WarGames is the draw, right? Send us home for TakeOver with this!

Also disappointed in the lack of any Strong and AoP interaction, anywhere on the show. The way Akam and Rezar marched past Roddy toward Cole and company when they arrived gave us a taste of what their relationship likely is, but a little something to flesh it out would be welcome.

Not too much wrong here, but very little that will stick with me now that it’s over. Still jazzed for TakeOver, but I do hope next week keeps giving more reasons to be excited for Nov. 18 instead of just relying on the ones they’ve already given us.

Grade: C

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