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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (June 21, 2017): Heroes eventually die

After a reminder tonight’s main event should rock all of our dumb asses, we’re off!

Recap

The Iconic Duo are out first, with Billie Kay escorting Peyton Royce to the ring for her match with Ember Moon. This is Ember’s first on-screen match since being cleared from the shoulder injury she suffered (definitely in kayfabe; possibly for real) when Asuka threw her from the ring into the barricade during the #1 contender battle royal before TakeOver: Chicago.

After trading holds, Ember comes on strong with a forearm splash to the corner, but Royce fights back eventually trying to suplex Moon from the top rope. That doesn’t work, but as Peyton bumps the referee a bit, Kay pulls Ember down and snaps her recently injured arm off the top rope. After sending her shoulder first into the post, Royce covers but can only get a one count. We get an early commercial.

The Aussie villain is still working the arm when we return, but a forearm from Moon (using her good arm) starts her comeback, which includes some kicks and the springboard cross body. Royce shuts that down with a boot to the face. The trade reversals and dodge more leg strikes until Ember gets a takedown with a head scissor and heads up top for the Eclipse. Billie pulls Peyton to safety, so Moon launches onto her instead, flattening her on the ramp. More back and forth in the ring until Royce catches her opponent and nails her with a Widow’s Peak for a long two count. Frustrated that didn’t end, Peyton runs right into an elbow in the corner. She’s thrown into the turnbuckles, and from there Ember hits her finisher at about the six minute mark.

Hideo Itami approaches Kassius Ohno while he’s stretching backstage. He apologizes for shoving him, saying he’s frustrated because he hasn’t achieved the success here he did in Japan. Ohno says he meant it when he said he knows what he’s going through. People expect things of them, and when they don’t deliver, they (KO and Hideo) get angry. But they’re not done. Kassius is going to the ring tonight to prove they have more left in them.

Reactions:

  • My crush, and the crush of most humans who are drawn to attractive women, on Royce is well-documented, so while that plays a part in this, it’s not just because I think she’s the dreamiest... PUSH PEYTON.

  • Seriously, she’s got all the character chops of someone like Summer Rae and she can work. She makes everyone she wrestles look like a million bucks which, as my man Chris pointed out on Twitter, is why everyone on the main roster who’s asked wants her to be among the next batch of call-ups.

  • Or, maybe it’s just that the Widow’s Peak reminds me of an old crush. Whatevs.

  • This did what it needed to for Ember, partially because of Royce, but also because Moon doesn’t look like she’s missed a beat. The story showed she can deal with her arm being less than 100% and outsmart something like a two-on-one advantage... just what she needs en route to a rematch with Asuka in Brooklyn.

  • In-ring’s never been Ember’s issue, though. The other aspects of her performance will be crucial at the next couple tapings to see if she’s ready for the rub it appears they’re going to give her in August.

  • Ohno’s motivations for asking Regal for his match tonight make more sense after his scene with Itami, but I wasn’t crazy about Hideo apologizing. There are some interesting directions they can take things from here, though, and I’m the guy who likes when NXT doesn’t make things black and white, so I’m gonna trust them.

Recap

The Ealy Brothers (Gabriel and Uriel) get a full entrance for their match against SAnitY. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe are representing the group, and just the two of them enter. Wolfe and Uriel start, with both getting early tags. EY is able to get Gabriel in the corner where SAnitY isolate him and, after some dancing and a boot from Alexander, literally tag in a rotation for a while. Wolfe then remains in to toy with Ealy, keeping him just out of reach from his twin.

When Wolfe misses a corner splash, Gabriel reaches Uriel and they quickly set up for a tandem move. EY enters and hits him with a neckbreaker he doesn’t see coming. While they roll out of the ring and the ref checks on that, Wolfe put his thumb in the other brothers eye. A pump kick later, he lifts the twin up for Young to hit a leaping neckbreaker from the middle rope and SAnitY wins by pinfall in just over three minutes.

A recap of last week’s show closing brawl serves to remind us we’ll have a Last Woman Standing match for the title between Asuka and Nikki Cross next week. Then an extended version of the Sonya Deville vignette from last Wednesday tells us she’s next!

Deville gets to face Rachel Evers (Rachael Ellering), who the Full Sail crowd is clearly behind. Sonya takes advantage of her opponent acknowledging the fans to land some quick strikes and a knee, but Evers takes her over for a brief cover. Deville responds with kicks to the mid-section and a sliding knee, then transitions into a body scissor. Rachel slips out and fires back with a jawbreaker and a boot. Sonya tells her she messed up. She dodges a swing by Evers, then puts her down with punches to the mid-section. Removing her gloves, Deville applies a kimura-like submission Nigel McGuinness calls a seated double wristlock to end it in a little more than two and a half minutes.

Reactions:

  • The Ealys have a great look, and someday their wrestling ability will hopefully catch up to it. When that happens, WWE should give them an entrance that doesn’t scream ‘03 Velocity jobbers. But this isn’t that day. At this point, it seems agents mostly ask them to be in the right place at the right time.

  • Wolfe is turning into my favorite member of SAnitY (provided we put Cross in her own category). The combination of painful looking offense and deranged charm really works for me. I could watch the sequence where he eats a kick while doing his little ska dance, then fires back with a running uppercut for hours.

  • EY’s stable picks up another needed win after putting Roddy over and... yeah.

  • Pretty impressed with Deville’s debut. I remain dubious about how the straight MMA gimmick works for longer matches and feuds, but she’s very convincing in a bout structured like this, and is 100% invested in the character (loved the “you just messed up” line before the final stretch) - enough to keep me engaged long enough to find out.

  • They did her a solid by getting Ellering as her opponent, for sure. I have to think the only reason the Lance Storm-trained second generation wrestler isn’t signed is because she doesn’t want to be. She’s looked polished every time she’s appeared on NXT.

Recap

We’re shown the promised footage from Bobby Roode’s photo shoot. The champ is giving the photographer direction when Roderick Strong enters with fiancé Marina Shafir and their son Troy in a stroller. Roode sees them and says “if you keep popping those out, you’re gonna need that double-wide sooner than you thought”. He also tells Marina to look him up if she wants to get with a real man, at which point Roddy attacks! They’re separated pretty quickly, and Roode yells he’ll give Strong a title shot “any time, anywhere”. We then learn they’ll face off over the title in two weeks!

Main event time, with Ohno and Aleister Black both getting full entrances. They grapple to a stand still at the outset, with Kassius actually getting the better of their exchanges due to a strength advantage. Black manages to take him down, which leads to a chop from Ohno being answered by a kick to the chest from Aleister. That stuns KO, so his opponent looks for Black Mass, but Kassius senses it and rolls out. Black makes to dive but sees Ohno move, so he springboards back into a cross-legged position. He meets KO with a flurry of strikes, but one big elbow sends him to the outside and us to a break.

Things are still even when we get back, as it looks like Aleister has the upperhand, but a pump kick from Ohno quickly leads to a nearfall. Another takeover sets up a upper body hold, then Kassius hits him with a running senton. Feeling the momentum, Ohno sits cross-legged himself, and uses Black’s frustration for another takedown, kick and cover. KO asks if the Dutchman is good or evil, which turns out to have been a bridge too far, as his baseball slide off a whip is met with a vicious double stomp to the chest.

Big kicks from Black until one is caught, then Ohno sends him into the corner with another pump kick. An elbow attempt gets met with a boot, but Kassius answers with one of his own. LOUD striking exchange. KO tries a cover after getting the better of a kicking battle, then Aleister counters another elbow with a roll-up as they trade nearfalls. ANOTHER exchange nets pinfall attempts for both men, then we get a cool sequence where Black stops a forearm with a kick followed by Ohno stopping a kick with his forearm. A suplex puts Kassius in the driver’s seat, and when he only gets a two count, he gears up for the rolling elbow one more time, but is met with Aleister’s Black Mass kick. 1 - 2 - 3 later and the show is done after a thirteen minute match.

Reactions:

  • Was tempted to give the episode an A+++ rating just for Bobby’s double-wide joke, but I refrained because I’m a G-D professional. Just thought you should know.

  • As mentioned in my post on the title match announcement, really like their doing multiple title matches at Friday’s taping. Whether or not either the Asuka/Cross or Roode/Strong feuds continue to Brooklyn, this is a welcome change from the model they employed for much of 2016 where we knew what the championship match-ups would be for each TakeOver months in advance but nothing meaningful happened until the last couple episodes before the show.

  • Plus, no offense to Roddy (or Bobby), but this opens the door for Black and/or Drew McIntrye as main eventers the Saturday before SummerSlam. Which is something I very much want.

  • Black/Ohno wasn’t quite the slice of wrestling nirvana I’d dreamed it would be, but it was a really good match which felt different from the standard WWE fare, built nicely to some really big moments and took the live and home audiences along with it.

  • Kassius continues to settle into his elder statesman role nicely, and I’m hoping his story will either address why he continues to be optimistic in the face of mounting losses or show him start to display some of the same frustrations Itami’s exhibiting. This fallout video seems to point toward the latter.

  • His opponent showed me a lot in his first extended match since beating Andrade “Cien” Almas in Orlando. Not only did Black’s wrestling work over a longer stretch, but we got more glimpses into the character as a result. Aggravation, anger and resolve all played out in his body language during this battle... now we need a promo or proper interview.

  • Good night for in-ring banter, but - really Kassius? “Are you good or evil?” Have you even listened to the song, man? If not, you should. It’s really good.

Much lighter on interviews and vignettes than other episodes from this taping, so even though we got good-to-very good matches to start and end the episode, it felt a little lighter than what we’ve been getting.

With the big matches coming the next two weeks, nothing wrong with a little palette cleanser - especially when it comes with fun action and the chance to watch a few folks develop before our eyes.

Grade: B

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