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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (May 17, 2017): Hitting the spot

Last episode before Chicago. Let us do this.


Before the opening theme, we see NXT champion Bobby Roode walking into Full Sail with his belt, yelling at a lackey to speed it up.

Our first match is Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta, and the much larger Scot is not impressed. He starts the match on one knee, then easily puts the cruiserweight in the corner. McIntyre lets Maluta fire back with chops, but Drew returns fire and puts him down. A boot and a code breaker from the smaller man leads to a cover, but McIntyre kicks out at one. Forearm strikes only anger the former Intercontinental champion (and mess up his right eye), and Maluta finds himself back in the corner taking a beating. Drew creates separation with a big headbutt and hits Claymore to wrap things up in about three and a half minutes.

As he’s leaving, Kayla Braxton catches the victor on the ramp to ask if he’s concerned about Wesley Blake’s attention from last week’s backstage segment. Drew says he’d be more upset if he didn’t have everyone in NXT’s attention. But if Blake wants to grab a piece of the spotlight, McIntyre will face him next week.

After a recap of last week’s main event, we see the post-show footage of SAnitY’s attack on Roderick Strong, and Roddy asking General Manager William Regal for a shot at Eric Young & company. From there, it’s outside for a promo from EY, who’s flanked by Alexander Wolfe, Nikki Cross and Killian Dain. Young calls back to the “Who is Roderick Strong?” videos and wonders why a man who has so many good things happening in his life would want to pick a fight with SAnitY. He says the group doesn’t usually take requests, but he’ll honor this one - it’ll be EY vs. Roddy at TakeOver: Chicago.


  • DILLIGAF McIntyre may be as good as DILLIGAF Asuka. I’ve been critical of them running similar gimmicks with different performers (BFFs -> Iconic Duo comes to mind), but I’ve got no problem with giving Drew a run as an unstoppable tweener. Let somebody get a dirty win over him early to avoid the burden of a streak, and we’re off. He won’t even have the issue of starting his title run by beating a a mega-popular babyface!

  • This match felt brutal, almost primal. I know folks who are bummed we’re not getting twenty minute classics from Drew on the regular any more, but it feels like he could be on the verge of a special run in NXT.

  • While getting busted in the eye surely wasn’t part of the plan, it made for a great visual during the ramp interview - which is another touch I love from the “new” NXT. McIntyre carried his new attitude extremely well in this promo, too.

  • Can’t say I’m thrilled with the prospect of Young/Strong, but they did a good job selling it at the last minute. As with Roode, you see the experience EY brings to cutting television promos as he tied Roddy’s recent build perfectly into his speech, putting over his opponent while still sounding menacing.

  • Would still like some clearer motivation from SAnitY - are they still recruiting? Was Strong targeted for being Tye Dillinger’s friend? - but as long as Nikki rides Wolfe while he airplanes around industrial park backlots, I’m willing to overlook it.


Tom Phillips, Percy Watson & Nigel McGuiness discuss this Saturday night before kicking it to a video package reminding us of Hideo Itami’s debut on NXT when he took out The Ascension.

The announce team comes back and runs down the rest of the card for Chicago, transitioning to another video highlighting the UK title match between Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne, with highlights from their excellent final round showdown in January’s tournament and quotes from both men. Bate says things have been “wicked” since he won the belt; Dunne believes he’s given people a glimpse into what he does, and how he’s going to win the belt on Saturday.

After the latest teaser for the Velveteen Dream, we get our next Itami video, this one showing him hitting the Go 2 Sleep on Tyler Breeze in San Jose before WrestleMania 31.

Watson informs us that Regal has officially booked Strong vs. Young, then they hype the women’s title Triple Threat before kicking it to an interview with Asuka as she’s being driven to Full Sail. She blows off all the interviewer’s questions, then hams it up for the crowd waiting for her at the arena, but acts annoyed again once she’s out of view of the fans.

Next match features the recently re-named Sonya Deville and Lacey Evans. Deville (the former Daria Berenato) lands some big knees early, but Evans (fka Macey Estrella) goes for a cover. Sonya gets one of her own after a double-leg takedown and after the kickout transitions to a body scissor for a rear-naked choke attempt. Back on their feet, Deville toys with her opponent but gets caught with a big right hand from Lacey. She connects with some kicks of her own, then takes Deville down with a neckbreaker before splashing down on her for a two count. Things end suddenly at about the three minute mark after that when Sonya lands a kick and finishes Evans with a step-up enziguri.


  • In the past, ‘go home’ shows have been as much of an issue for this brand as its main roster counterparts. But Triple H and team really stumbled onto a great formula for last-episodes-before-TakeOver here. The hype for Saturday, recaps and new interviews with guys and gals on the card for Chicago were interspersed nicely with the action, and the Itami stuff built logically to the last segment of the night.

  • When do you think they reveal Dunne is Regal’s illegitimate son?

  • Speaking of NXT going to the same well repeatedly, while it’s clear part of the current NXT title story is “if Hideo hits the GTS, we’ll have a new champ” (a la Ember Moon’s Eclipse for Orlando), still found it strange how they jumped around with the Itami flashbacks. Figured they’d mention he worked ‘Mania in Santa Clara if they were going to show the house show from two nights before.

  • On the subject of Asuka, how great is she in this role? And how wonderfully has this role been crafted for her? Blowing off the interviewer was fantastic stuff, but the crowd scene and aftermath not only furthered her egomaniac character, but it gave us a kayfabe explanation for why she’s full babyface on house shows!

  • The ladies in our second match of the evening have a long way to go, but showed the journey will be a lot of fun to follow. Sonya’s MMA schtick annoys me quite a bit... which is probably why I think she’ll be a great heel. That shined here, especially as she taunted Evans and paid for it.

  • Lacey, in addition to looking like a living, breathing action figure... well, mostly it’s that. She’s easy on the eyes and a believable bad ass (because she is one - in fact, everything about her story rocks. Read it here if you haven’t already). Evans is clearly still putting it all together. The neckbreaker was a good example of things not flowing terribly smoothly yet. But part of NXT’s charm is seeing how/if talents develop, and I’m excited to see the process in action with both these women.


After a recap of Itami’s return to confront Roode and hit him with the GTS, it’s time for our main event - at least match-wise.

Kassius Ohno locks up with Andrade “Cien” Almas early, but the luchador rolls out of a takedown to hit one of his tranquilo poses. The two men dodge each other while running the ropes, showing off their athleticism. They finally go on the attack, but Cien bails rather than take an elbow. He dodges a dive from Ohno, but the big man lands on his feet and hits a big boot. He rolls Almas back in and lays in some chops, but ends up being booted off the apron himself as take a commercial.

El Ídolo is in control when we return, and does the corner slap taunt amidst several more chops. Kassius’ offense is short-lived in the middle portion of the match... his chops are answered with forearms, and even a spot where he puts Almas on the apron ends with him a rope-hung armbar. After the referee breaks the hold, Andrade goes back to the arm, but takes too long to capitalize. He goes for the corner knees fake-out slap again and eats a kick for it. That starts the comeback, which transitions into a series of strikes and a backbreaker, from which he kips up and hits the cyclone kick for two.

Attempting to follow that with a moonsault from the top misses, and Cien is quick to capitalize for a nearfall. Almas can’t get the bigger man up for a suplex and finds himself set up on the turnbuckle eating forearms. He eventually fights Kassius off and sends him to the mat, but leaps into a kick - but then answers that with a cartwheel kick of his own. Andrade actually goes for and lands the corner knees, then looks for the hammerlock DDT, but Ohno fights it off. He still ends up taking a tornado DDT into the corner, but can only get a one count out of it. Cien is shocked, while Kassius is fired up. The luchador tries to land some strikes but runs into a pump kick. He stays on his feet through that and a rolling elbow, but a second one puts him down and ends a hard-hitting affair at just over nine minutes.

We’re told McIntyre vs. Blake and “Aleister Black in action” will air next week in an episode filmed before TakeOver in Chicago, then are shown another recap of Itami’s win against Strong to earn the title shot.

Roode enters the ring to the strains of “Glorious Domination” and grabs a mic. He says everywhere he goes, everyone is talking about Hideo Itami and the GTS. The champ doesn’t get it... sure he’s knocked some people out, and broken a few jaws. Roode can admit it, Itami knocked him out a few weeks back when he was minding his own business - in a $5000 custom made suit, he might add - and Hideo attacked him unprovoked. That will never happen again, though, because in Chicago, he won’t be standing around in a suit. He’ll be taped up and ready to go, and he’ll do to Itami what he’s done to everyone else - beat him, embarrass him and make an example of him. Roode makes fun of the Japanese Superstar being out with injuries so often, and says he didn’t even know Hideo was still employed here when he signed. He compares that to his run, where he’s elevating NXT to another level. Itami is going to have to go back to Japan and look his wife and kids in the eye and tell them he failed again - this time because of Bobby Roode.

Hideo’s music hits, and he walks down the ramp glaring at Roode. Regal and several officials cut him off, and Itami makes like he’s going to leave, then slides into the ring. He takes down Roode before security pulls him off, but then he wipes them out and hits two of them with GTS-es. While he approaches the third, Roode attacks from behind, but Hideo turns the table and sends the champ to sleep again!


  • Really dug the main event, and pretty much am just gonna tell you to go watch it. Since I was talking about NXT finding the formula again lately, a big part of this post-Orlando revitalization is doing a bunch of small stuff and giving us one killer match every week.

  • Also liked how this was a different kind of “raw” feeling fight than the opener, and I don’t think it was strictly because of the duration.

  • Best thing was how everything about this furthered Almas’ story. We not only got to see him showboating while the announce team asked if he was more focused on performing than winning, but saw that attitude likely effect the outcome and then his reaction to it. Really interested in how they follow this up... is it impetus for a shift toward a tecnico work ethic and dedication to his craft, or even more rudo disrespect for everything around him?

  • Actually, I take the previous bullet back. Nigel calling Cien “ingobernable” was the best thing.

  • Still baffled by Ohno’s presentation/role in NXT (and his outfits... the Orlando Magic theme is a nice touch, I guess, but pinstripes over Spanx is still not a great look), but I do think his matches are getting better each time out, so there’s that.

  • The final segment did its job. Especially for me, as someone who’s on record as being in the bag for the champ acting like a smarmy dick and Itami glowering like a man who, well, just had someone invoke his kids to call him a failure. I would pay money to see Hideo put Roode to sleep one more time, even if the guy who’s watched a ton of wrestling figures there’s no chance that happens again on Saturday.

  • Finally... my occassional plea for Regal to upgrade his security. It’s just getting embarrassing.

A touch below some of the shows over the past month, mostly just because of the demands of putting the finishing touches and making the final pitch for TakeOver: Chicago.

But still enough really good stuff to make it worth an hour of your valuable time.

Grade: B+

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