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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (May 3, 2017): The one where no one's ready

Wednesday nights have been pretty great since Orlando... can we keep that going to Chicago and beyond?


Tom Phillips runs down the two matches announced in advance for tonight’s show, and then SAnitY enters. Well, Killian Dain & Eric Young, anyway. Dain is facing Danny Burch, who is immediate thrown into the corner and mauled by the big Irishman. Burch doesn’t back down, however, and connects with a number of shots before he gets slammed down and hit with a senton. Selling the effects of that, the Brit still manages to fire off a head butt and a few European uppercuts, but gets leveled by a drop kick. Dain lifts him up, hits Ulster Plantation and secures the win in under three minutes.

Following a quick shot of a nicely dressed Hideo Itami entering the arena, a vignette airs for the “Velveteen Dream” (he’s not named, but it’s Patrick Clark).

Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic are out next to a great reception from Full Sail. Heavy Machinery faces Ricardo Watts & Hector Kunsman, already in the ring. A textbook squash follows, with Otis throwing around Kunsman (I think?) before bringing Knight in for a double diving headbutt. The domination continues when they both splash his head, then Dozovic picks up both men as his partner leaps onto his back with a Thesz Press so that all 600+ pounds of Heavy Machinery lands on them. He pins them both to end it in under two minutes.

Post-match, the big guys grab microphones. Knight speaks normally while Otis yells stuff. Tucker explains who they are (STEAKS AND WEIGHTS!) makes a case for Heavy Machinery to get more competition or even a title shot (BOOM SHAKA LOO!) - they want the Authors of Pain.


  • It’s only been a month, but I’d forgotten the former Big Damo got that WrestleMania (pre-show) rub in the Andre. Watching him work an actual match, you immediately remember why... he’s really good. You have to wonder if SAnitY is being thought of as a package deal for the long haul, or if he (and a certain someone else who shined tonight) might be up sooner than some of their faction mates.

  • A word on commentary. It’s really been fine... not a perk worth mentioning, but moving things along while being largely unobtrusive. Even Percy Watson has been okay, if mostly just as background noise. But Nigel McGuinness stood out for his Dain intro, and I’m not sure what to make of it. Is casting Killian as being a badass because he was raised in Ireland during The Troubles cool backstory or wildly inappropriate? Help me out, Cagesiders from across the pond.

  • Anyway, my love of Danny Burch/Martin Stone is well-documented, so it’s not surprising I dug this match. Part of NXT’s uptick in quality is that the caliber of squashes has improved, and that’s at least partially due to better enhancement talent like Burch.

  • Hooo-boy with Clark and his Prince schtick. We’ll see, but I’d rather we didn’t have to.

  • Lovers of beef have to be losing their minds at the prospect of Heavy Machinery vs. AoP, right? I mean, I’m only a liker of it and I’m intrigued. I’m definitely anxious to see what Dozey and Tucky can do in a real match.

  • And, here comes grandpa Sean again to play fun police, but... these promos are fun, but imagine them on every Raw for the rest of your life. I hope we’ll see more variety in their act (give me more of the off-camera voiceover stuff from the McIntyre/Almas thing from a few weeks back, and a little less SHAKA LOO, is what I’m saying).


After a quick shot of Bobby Roode counseling Kona Reeves ahead of his match with Itami, Kayla Braxton catches up with #DIY backstage. Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano make some jokes comparing themselves to Heavy Machinery, then say the line for a title shot starts behind them. They’ve actually held the belts, and are still owed a clean, two-on-two rematch against Akam & Rezar.

Itami is still posing during his introduction when Kona attacks him from behind. The referee checks on Hideo, but he wants to go. The bell rings and Itami side-steps a charge from Reeves, only to get caught with a punch and an elbow. But Kona gets over-confident and falls victim to a flurry from Hideo. Kicking the larger man down into the corner, he hits a drop kick, then gets him up for a GTS, finishing things in just over two minutes.

Drew McIntyre gets a quick profile video, from when Vince McMahon named him “The Chosen One” to his return to NXT, then it’s time for part two of “Who is Roderick Strong?” (See it here) This edition focuses on his relationship with his fiance, mixed martial artist Marina Shafir, getting ready for their baby to be born and how that makes him want to be a better person. His journey from the indies to becoming “Mr. ROH” to signing with NXT is chronicled. Asked what he would tell his younger self, it would be “don’t be scared, and everything is going to be alright”. The package wraps up with the birth of his son, and Roddy declaring that everything he does now, he does for his family.

In the General Manager’s office, William Regal is watching the Strong video while Roode is on his phone. Regal asks what he thought, but Bobby wasn’t paying attention to Roddy’s story. The GM gets his attention by saying he wants to talk about his next challenger. The champ says signing him was Regal’s best move, but they’re both going to lose money if he lets Itami run around GTS-ing the face of NXT. Regal hears what Bobby is saying - Hideo needs to earn a title shot, so next week he’ll face Strong to determine the #1 contender. Roode isn’t thrilled, and less so when Regal’s next appointment comes in - Roderick Strong. They have a little staredown before the champ leaves.


  • Ciampa & Gargano have a good argument, but more of them wrestling and less of them talking, please.

  • Like last week’s Reeves/Black affair, my only complaint is that Kona’s match with Hideo wasn’t a little longer. Really glad he ditched the weird “can we be friends?” gimmick and just became a guy who uses his size to mess people up.

  • Don’t really have words to describe how glad I am that Itami is back and kicking people again. Please stay healthy.

  • Will never not be a little wild to see Ring of Honor used as what’s essentially NXT kayfabe - check out those wacky kids Tyler Black and Kevin Steen!

  • Overall, still very impressed with the Strong build we’ve gotten here. A few times tonight I thought it was going to go overboard, but it always managed to feel honest. The line about wanting to tell his younger self not to be afraid really got me, too. Not sure I’d want these for everyone, and (as with everything) follow-up will be key or this could be all for naught, but well done, NXT.

  • Roode not giving a $#!+ about Roddy’s emotional backstory may have been my favorite thing on another strong episode.


Lacey Evans, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross are introduced for our main event, before a commercial break informs us Aleister Black will be back in action on next week’s episode. When we return Liv Morgan, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon also get full entrances to join eight other women in the ring for the battle royal to determine the #1 contender for Asuka’s Women’s title.

The usual chaos starts us off, and part of the fun is trying to spot folks, like this blonde Candice person* the camera keeps finding for some reason. Much of the focus is on the Iconic Duo battling with the much larger Victoria Gonzalez. Peyton & Billie eventually send her over the top rope, kicking off a string of eliminations from the Aussies (Bianca Blair is sent out next, and they also eventually get rid of Evans and Sonya Deville, who then bicker on the floor - possibly setting up something for later).

While Royce & Kay save each from elimination repeatedly, Aliyah dumps Rachel Evers (Ellering) with a forearm, and Morgan drop kicks Sarah Bridges from the ring. Kimber Lee almost manages to powerbomb Riot out of the ring, but she counters to send her over the top with a head scissor.

Candice fights of the Iconic Duo for a while, but a boot from Kay gets rid of her. Cross eliminates Aliyah, then after Ember helps save Ruby from going out, Nikki takes out Liv, and we’re down to five.

The Aussies target Moon, with Billie holding her for Peyton, but she fights them off. Kay tries for a boot but misses; when she ends up on the apron, a superkick sends her to the floor. Royce attacks and gets Ember in the same position, but she then suplexes her over and out.

Riot and Moon look for the double-team, but Nikki strikes first and takes Ruby down. A Cross forearm puts Ember in jeopardy, but Ruby takes out her rival with running double knees in the corner. The partnership is over then, as Moon clears Riot out so she can hit an Eclipse on Nikki. It lands, but she then can’t lift the woozy SAnitY member over the ropes, which allows Ruby to run up from behind to try and dump Moon.

Fighting back with some kicks, Ember hits the handspring elbow on Riot and goes up top for another Eclipse... but that’s when Asuka appears. She throws Moon through the turnbuckles, sending her crashing into the barricade where officials tend to her. Then she levels Ruby and Cross, screams how no one is ready for her, and leaves. While the announcers comment on what we’ve just seen, Regal comes back out and announces a Fatal 4Way for Chicago - Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riot vs. Ember Moon.


  • When *Candice LaRae’s name came up in the spoiler reports, ReverendKain and I thought WWE might spoil her appearance with a story on their website or at least a Tweet. Coming into tonight, I was all ready to do a breakout post on her WWE debut. So I was surprised they played it so low key here.

  • Johnny Gargano’s life partner (sorry Tommaso) still got the rub of being the most featured of anyone who doesn’t currently have an on-screen role with NXT, and you have to think is this is prelude to Candice at least having a Kota Ibushi-like deal for the upcoming tournament show.

  • Battle royals gonna battle royal, but this one did a great job of using the ring-clearing portion to highlight an act in Peyton & Billie who deserve some attention but who weren’t going to factor into the finish, and then making the most of said finish. It’s becoming my NXT refrain these days, but my only knock on the Triple Threat portion of this one was that I wanted it to be longer. And that’s the purpose of a TV match/segment, right?

  • No issues with the finish, btw. It was a no contest/referee stoppage as opposed to disqualification, Regal’s track record for being fair to everyone except heel champs is well established, and Riot, Cross and Moon all convincingly sold (or in Ember’s case, maybe really was) being incapacitated.

  • Plus, it’s a great development in Asuka not only being overconfident, but in being so cocky she’s become unhinged. They’ve built her reign and streak up to such a degree it requires a BIG story to end it. They haven’t done a phenomenal job building the person who will do that (still assuming Moon’s been cast in that role), so at least they’re taking her character to an interesting place that serves that purpose.

The streak rolls on, and I’m not talking about the Women’s champ remaining undefeated.

Grade: A-

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