We start with the George “The Animal” Steel tribute graphic, which is a wrestler death I didn’t expect to hit me that hard which is still making me tear up almost a week after it happened. Rest in Peace & Power, sir.
After a short video promoting the #1 contender Triple Threat, the entrances for that match begin, with Billie Kay of course accompanying Peyton Royce.
The three legal competitors start with a bit of a melee, and Ember Moon goes crashing through the ropes to the floor - a recurring theme in this eight minute match - when Liv Morgan throws Royce. With just those two in the ring, Liv tries a couple of pins. Morgan gets the best of their encounters until Peyton counters an attack and they both end up outside. Ember comes back in and springboards over the ropes, but Billie pulls her Iconic partner to safety, so Moon only takes out Liv.
After a commercial, Royce is in control of Morgan with Ember again on the floor. Stomps and a foot choke lead to a snapmare that earns a nearfall, but when Peyton kicks Moon off the apron, Liv is able to roll her up for two. The Aussie gets back in control, alternating between stretching Morgan in the ropes and kicking Ember whenever she tries to crawl back in to the ring.
The Jersey native finds a couple openings for offense against Peyton - a head scissor from the corner doesn’t get her too far, but her double stomp/bulldog combination allows her to go for a cover, but Moon makes it back in to break up the pin. Ember finally gets some offense in with a kick, but she’s sent right back out by another Morgan head scissor takedown. She and Royce end up in the corner with Peyton trying for a Superplex when Ember hops back in to connect with a sunset flip on Royce which triggers that spot. Moon tries to follow up with Eclipse, but Kay interferes. Billie ends up taking Ember’s finisher, after which Liv dumps Moon one last time. She turns into a running knee from Peyton, which is followed up by a fisherman’s suplex that Royce bridges to secure the pin.
Around intro videos for tonight’s United Kingdom wrestlers and a Kassius Ohno teaser, Tom Phillips updates us on Shinsuke Nakamura’s rehab.
- Setting aside my, I believe, still valid criticisms about why Peyton was given this opportunity rather than Billie, and WHERE IN BLUE HELL WAS NIKKI CROSS, the Triple Threat was a decent piece of business.
- It’s still ridiculous that Ember wasn’t just given the title shot, but she was protected well enough. Her getting kicked to the floor went from ridiculous to sublime. It was also helped tremendously by, as we learned last week, the fact that she takes a great apron bump.
- The mission was to make Royce look like a star, and... mission accomplished. Really enjoyed her character work, as always, and all of her offense - but particularly the combo she ended with - was sharper than anything we’ve seen from Morgan or Kay.
- While I was grateful to get a Liv match without the wacky rolling pinfall bit, and though there was nothing in particular I could point to as being a deficient in her performance, she still strikes me as really not ready for prime time. NXT needs a female midcard for her to toil in for the next six-to-twelve months, minimum.
Both Mark Andrews and Pete Dunne get nice reactions from the Full Sail crowd. The first third of their ten minute match is the Bruiserweight punishing the Welsh high-flier, with much of his attention focused on Mandrews’ fingers. Mark counters a powerbomb into a drop kick, and when Dunne heads outside to regroup, he moonsaults after him. Pete catches him, but Andrews transitions to a nifty arm drag takedown. His time on top doesn’t last long, however, as he’s thrown into the apron by Dunne, who follows that up by stomping his hand on the steel steps and a release suplex onto the apron.
The Bruiserweight inflicts pain and talks trash on both sides of a commercial break, but Andrews creates separation with a rana before hitting a running shooting star press that gets a two count. After springboarding into a forearm, Dunne again utilizes the release suplex for a nearfall of his own. He goes for his finisher, the Bitter End, but it’s countered. Pete tries for the pumphandle flatliner again, but this time a reverse rana leaves both men wiped out.
Back and forth they go, with Dunne connecting with a German suplex off the ropes before Andrews lands another rana that he bridges to almost get three. When he still can’t land his finisher, Pete goes back to working the fingers, but is rolled up with a small package for a two count. Mark counters the release suplex with Stundog Millionaire, but when he tries to follow that with a SSP, Dunne gets his knees up. That’s the opening he finally needs to hit Bitter End and win the match.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton tries to interview the Icons about Peyton’s big win. She manages to reveal that the match against Asuka will take place next week, but otherwise is cut off by Royce. The new #1 contender drops some facts, including that she’d have won the title in San Antonio if not for “crazy Nikki” and that she’s taking the belt to Australia after she beats the champ next week.
A series of announcements about next week, started by a teaser for Patrick Clark being in action, followed by a reminder that #DIY gets their tag title rematch against Authors of Pain and a graphic for the Women’s title bout.
- For the second week in a row, the UK guys have the match of the night. I’m not complaining about getting good matches, except that I am a little bit. Nigel McGuinness mentioned that the winner of tonight’s semi-final rematch should be next in line for a shot at Tyler Bate’s championship, and I’d just like to know where I could watch that.
- Though I remain bullish on Bate - at 19, if he stays healthy and continues to improve, he could have a career similar to WCW cruiserweights who eventually succeeded in the ‘E - Dunne was the star of the tournament, and we got a crash course in why here. Tyler could be WWE champ in 2028. The Bruiserweight could carry the Intercontinental title tomorrow.
- Andrews is a good hand who should be in the current cruiserweight scene soon. These guys delivered a fun match with an electric finish.
- Tyson Kidd facts > Matt Hardy Facts > Peyton Royce Facts
- Still just don’t think I want anything to do with this Prince gimmick from Clark.
They show a video where Braxton catches Tye Dillinger entering the Performance Center and asks about SAnitY. The Perfect Ten says Roderick Strong & No Way Jose have his back and he has there’s, so Eric Young and company won’t be able to out-number him anymore and he continue pursuing his agenda.
Our main event features two of NXT’s most popular entrances, and Bobby Roode & No Way Jose take their time so Full Sail can enjoy them. The champ even yells at everyone not to rush him as he poses and takes his robe off.
Roode gets the early takedowns and taunts his less GLORIOUS opponent, but Jose returns the favor, dancing away after a takedown & mocking Roode. They trade strikes before a spinebuster from the champ sends us to commercial. Returning, Bobby’s trash talking and rest holding - with a suplex mixed in - before Jose counters a TKO for a back elbow and some punches. Roode tries for a DDT, but that’s turned into a slam and a nearfall for his Dominican rival.
After dodging the fastball punch, Roode gets hit with a forearm, but rolls out so Jose can’t cover. No Way expends a bunch of energy bringing his opponent back into the ring, which was a set-up for the champ to hit the Glorious DDT and a pinfall after about seven minutes.
Though he’s halfway up the ramp, Bobby decides to head back to the ring and chop block Jose when the official is helping him up, then locks on a half-crab. The champ is looking to put No Way on the shelf like he did Nakamura, but “OH NO” hits the loud speakers. Kassius jogs to the ring in jeans and a sport coat.
The champ asks him who he thinks he is, and Ohno replies that the crowd knows who he is. He’s Kassius Ohno and he ain’t nothing to mess with. Kassius says he was here before, but he has unfinished business. Everywhere he’s been, he’s taken what he wanted and needed - and now he wants and needs Roode’s title. Bobby fakes crying, but walks back to the ring saying he’s a fighting champion and they can do this right here, right now.
Encouraging Ohno to take off his blazer is another ruse, as the champ attacks his knee as soon as Kassius turns his back to drop it outside the ring. Roode starts working over the leg, but Ohno breaks free. He hits Bobby with a series of elbows, a back body drop and even throws his shoe (which fell off in Roode’s attack) at the champ to send him scurrying away, leaving the returning Superstar to stand tall as the show ends.
- Kind of annoyed that his “if I can’t win I quit” story has been resolved with “did you see they put me in the Rumble!”, but Tye got real good at delivering these defiant babyface promos, real quick.
- Jose vs. Roode was pretty much exactly what you’d expect if someone told you we were getting a Jose vs. Roode match. I don’t mean that to sound as negative as it does, but it was standard mid-card face vs. heel champ stuff, and mostly existed to get to the post-match angle.
- It’s probably better on a house show, where they’d have time to do more fun, comedy match stuff at the beginning.
- Anyway, the post-match stuff... it was well executed, but it failed to wow me. My favorite thing about was Roode’s mostly non-verbal disbelief and scorn during the Ohno promo.
- My big concern is... why do we think Kassius’ 2017 run will be treated differently than his 2012 - 13 one? I guess there’s nothing wrong if it goes the same way, but I understand fans who are upset he’s gone from big fish in a bunch of small ponds to possibly being a NXT main event gatekeeper.
- Cause that’s kind of what this feels like. And I dig that we’re not immediately diving back into Nakamura/Roode - NXT has gotten a little formulaic with the rematches, even in a company where every title story is based on them - but shouldn’t he win a bit to re-establish himself with fans who weren’t watching NXT four years ago and don’t follow the indies?
- Or maybe this is Triple H and team recognizing that most of NXT’s audience does watch Evolve and promotions at that level? (This has been the latest in an occassional series I like to call, “Sean talks himself in a circle”)
- Shout out to everyone in the audience who sang Biz Markie, right on cue.
The most important thing about this week, and why I liked it a little more than last week’s episode, was how they set next week up to be a big show. Two title matches and hopefully some follow-up on Roode/Ohno will make for a big show, and it’s nice to have a big show when we still have more than a month to go before the next TakeOver.
It wasn’t great, but it’s important they’re learning how to not have the show feel inessential for weeks at a time between live specials.
Did NXT have what you needed this week?