The upshot of the loaded roster NXT is working with these days? These episodes are PACKED. Let’s dive in.
During the introductions for the first match we get an inset promo from Victor Andrews, Lars Sullivan’s local talent tag partner for the opener. He plans to make the most of his opportunity, and tells Lars he’s ready. This is called foreshadowing.
In the ring with Heavy Machinery, Sullivan starts with Tucker Knight. They more or less hoss their way to a stand still, with neither man going down to shoulder blocks. Lars eventually slams him to the mat, and Andrews tags himself in. The smallest man in the match (by far) runs right into a bearhug. Knight tags in Otis Dozovic and throws Andrews to him; Dozer catches him in another bearhug. A belly to belly suplex leads to another tag, and HM splashes their opponent and celebrates by splashing into one another. They hit the Compactor (Knight launches himself onto Otis’ back while he slams their opponent) and wrap it up in under four minutes.
Afterwards, Sullivan tried to control himself, but ends up taking his partner apart with clubbing blows to the head, knees to his midsection and a couple of big throws.
After a recap of last week’s main event, the fallout video where Christy St. Cloud informed SAnitY about Killian Dain’s match with No Way Jose tonight is shown. Dain promises “no one is safe, especially not No Way Jose”.
As promised before a break, Roderick Strong is out to address the NXT Universe. He says the last year’s been a roller coaster. He’s in NXT, he’s got a beautiful fiancée and a handsome baby boy. The biggest thing, however, was he opened up to the fans about his story, and we accepted him. He thanks us, but there’s something he wants, something he needs and that’s the NXT title. It’s not just Roddy vs. the World anymore, it’s Roddy, Marina & Troy vs. the World, and that will make him even more driven, inspired and passionate to be the best.
“Glorious Domination” hits the loud speakers. NXT champion Bobby Roode appears, crying into a handkerchief. He says it’s such an emotional story, he needs a minute. Roddy’s got a lot going on: marginally hot wife, relatively normal kid, he’s even finally winning. Now he wants to play the Booby Roode lottery in hopes of moving out of the trailer park into the mansion on the hill. The champ understands, those diapers are expensive after all. But that’s not how it works in his NXT. You don’t just wish your way to a title shot. Strong is a good hand, but he’s not championship material. Maybe one day they can take a selfie together and he can go home and show his son, “there’s the champ, and there’s your old man”. Bobby would do that for Strong - but he doesn’t get to the play the Bobby Roode lottery.
Nikki Cross is in the rafters, obsessively talking about Women’s titleholder Asuka and wanting to “play again”. Tom Phillips reminds us there’s an elimination Triple Threat for the title next week with Nikki, Ruby Riot and the champ. Then it’s another Paul Ellering-narrated Authors of Pain promo video, showing potential challengers Heavy Machinery, Tito Sabatelli & Riddick Moss and SAnitY. They may not understand, but they’ll have no choice but to accept the pain.
- Is your friendly neighborhood NXT recapper still a grumpy old fart? Well, if lack of excitement about Heavy Machinery is a barometer of age, temperment or flatulence, then yes. Yes he is.
- Pretty interested in Lars Sullivan, though! We’re not getting too much to tell us how well he’d hold up in a match on his own yet, and if this storyline is designed to cover while he learns - it’s even more brilliant. His power moves look great, he plays what could be a tricky role well and it’s a new twist on a familiar gimmick (or at least something that hasn’t been used - to my recollection - since Cactus Jack in WCW), so it’s fresh without needing a lot of explanation. More please.
- Victor Andrews, whoever he is, got us started on a great night of folks selling other folks’ offense, too.
- Been watching Roddy for a lot of years, and this was one of the better “live” mic performances of his I can recall. Which is to say it was pretty okay. He leans a little too heavily on scripted phrases like “handsome baby boy”, but he got the message out. Strong’s best work in this segment was his non-verbal, slow burn reaction to the champ’s continued slights.
- Oh, d-bag Bobby Roode. How I love you. There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who laughed out loud when he hit the stage, mock crying into his pocket square, and those who didn’t. If you’re the latter, we’re probably gonna fight someday.
- Very much looking forward to this feud, if only to see what much-better-talker-than-wrestler Roode and much-better-wrestler-than-talker Strong can get up to.
- Meant to bring it up last week, but that’s an issue with these overstuffed episodes - too much to talk about! Anyway, are they quietly splitting Cross off from SAnitY? Since her behavior still meshes well with the group, I imagine they’ll keep quiet about it so they have the option of using them all together when it serves the story. But letting her establish herself on her own within the women’s ranks is a great call.
- Cool to get a peek at who the bookers consider possible tag title contenders, even as it’s weird two-thirds of them are heels. Don’t think I’m terribly intrigued by any of the options aside from EY & Wolfe, though.
The typically Iconic entrance brings Peyton Royce to the ring, along with Billie Kay. Pey is set to face Sarah Logan, who used to be known as Mary Dobson. Nigel McGuinness gives us some of her backstory during the opening moments of the bout - born in the woods of Kentucky, used to watch pro graps with her grandmother and grew up practicing wrestling with a goat. He also puts over her legit training to good effect.
Peyton doesn’t take Logan seriously at the start (probably because of her Hacksaw Jim Duggan meets Stone Cold Steve Austin attire) and that gets her scooped up into a fireman’s carry before Sarah works the arm. Royce hits a big kick for a nearfall and locks on a modified STF, but that’s countered to a cover from Logan. A flurry of offense including a couple nice suplexes still doesn’t finish off the newcomer, so Peyton flips out. That’s the opening Sarah needs for a headbutt and drop kick, then a big running knee for two. The Aussie doesn’t waste any time coming back, however, and ends it with a fisherman’s suplex not long after in another sub-four minute match.
We get highlights of Andrade “Cien” Almas’ latest loss from last week, followed by video of him leaving Full Sail with three ladies. As St. Cloud tries to get a comment, another woman (Thea “Rosita” Trinidad) approaches and slaps his hat off his head, asking “is this who you are now?” Almas watches with a bit of a smirk as she storms off.
During his entrance, we’re shown an interview posted today on WWE.com with Hideo Itami. He tells Christy he’s not going back to Japan. He worked too hard to get here to give up after one loss. He’s not done.
His match with Oney Lorcan starts with some grappling, which Itami ends with a vicious clothesline that earns an early nearfall. Lorcan fires back with some strikes but is taken down with knees. Hideo charges into the corner but meets a boot, and takes a running blockbuster for a two count. Oney tries to dive onto his opponent, who’s rolled outside to regroup, but eats a knee as he’s going through the ropes. A top rope drop kick leads to another cover from Itami. The Bostonian reverses with a school boy and hits some chops. Itami encourages him to keep hitting him, which was a cool visual but not a great plan, as Lorcan puts him down with hard slaps and running European uppercuts. After a somersault dive to the floor puts Oney firmly in control, Hideo feigns a knee injury and strikes out at Lorcan’s knee while the referee checks on him. A flurry of kicks sets up the Go 2 Sleep, but Itami refuses to cover. He hits his finisher twice more and starts to try to lift an unconcious Lorcan up for a fourth when Kassius Ohno runs in to stop him.
Trying and failing to reason with his friend, Kassius is shocked when Hideo again shoves him away. With a conflicted look on his face, Ohno returns the favor and sends Itami flying to the mat. The official calls this a no contest. The Japanese wrestler leaves as he glares at KO.
- It’s not Corey Graves for Eva Marie/Mandy Rose levels yet, but Nigel marking out for PeyKay is pretty good. Or it could just be that it matches my inner monologue when I see Ms. Royce hit the ramp. She’s so great as this character, and delivered a good in-ring performance here, too.
- Logan is a good worker who definitely helped, but... that’s kind of a weird gimmick. And I don’t mean that in the “will stand out” way. It could work, but it’ll take a lot more capital-A acting from the former Crazy Mary Dobson. And she has it in her, because she used to be Crazy Mary Dobson. Hopefully it’s just early days, and she was told to play a more subdued, clear-cut babyface while working with Royce.
- PSYCHED for Thea as the Latina Lana (original controlling version) who whips Andrade back into shape. At least, that’s my hope for where this is going. Almas’ reactions are great - this was a good night for those, too.
- Gonna need at least another ten minutes of Oney and Hideo stiffing each other. This was almost exactly what I wanted it to be. Somehow, without a resolution between the two competitors they managed to get a great rhythm going and really tell a story - even before they got to the real story...
- Which was incredibly well played by both men, especially Ohno. His “man I really don’t want to do this but you keep putting your hands on me and nothing else is getting through to you” non-verbal response to Itami’s latest aggression was a highlight of not only this episode, but his whole second run with NXT to date.
- Hideo’s done a great acting job with his turn since Chicago, as well. I almost hesitate to call it a “turn”. He’s obviously going to wrestle heel, but this should be another case of justifiable villainy in NXT. Itami’s tried Ohno’s way, and those half measures got him to the same spot Kassius is in... without a belt and on his last chance. He has to go all out now, and he can’t worry who gets hurt in the process.
- Special shoutout to Lorcan’s sell of the GTS. And everything Oney does, because Oney is the best. #PushLorcan
A Drew McIntyre hype piece serves as a way to tell us the Scot is in action next week, and then we get another interview with St. Cloud. This time she’s speaking to Ember Moon. She acknowledges coming up short in her first Women’s title shot. Having her second one taken away from her by Asuka-induced injury forced to her to examine who she is. She needs to take care of her “Peyton & Billie dilemma”, but guarantees her next opportunity at the title will be THE opportunity.
Main event time, and Dain enters with Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe to his own version of the SAnitY theme. Interestingly, after the intros, EY and Wolfe leave.
The match starts with a striking battle, and the big Irishman puts No Way Jose down. But Jose gets right back up again, shoving Dain in the face and telling him to bring it. No Way does everything he can to put Killian on his back, to no avail. Even sending him to the outside doesn’t work, as the SAnitY member lands on his feet as we head to a break.
When we return, they’re still clubbering on one another in the ring. A big crossbody puts Jose on the mat, and Dain follows with elbow drops. A comeback from the Dominican ends with a Wasteland and a big senton, but when Killian looks for the finish, No Way says “no way” and lands some strikes. After failing once, he dodges some offense and gets Dain up for a TKO and a two count, but the Irishman meets Jose’s baseball punch with a headbutt. Missle drop kicks send him into the turnbuckles, and then it’s a trip to Ulster Plantation for a seven minute victory.
After a commercial for next week’s Women’s title rematch, that’s a wrap.
- So, is taking out the red contacts and downplaying the lunar puns a sign they’re re-tooling Ember’s character? I wouldn’t complain, because it wasn’t connecting, but I’m not sure generic good girl competitor is the answer either.
- They’ve got a couple months to figure it out, cause you’re all thinking what I’m thinking - that Royce won tonight so Ember’s next win over her is a more meaningful building block in her road to Asuka at Brooklyn III.
- Dain’s Irish-infused riff on “Controlled Chaos” is dope, and leaving him to handle his business on his own is a nice touch. SAnitY gets so many little things right, it’s frustrating their overall mission in NXT still seems to have been “beat Tye Dillinger until he goes to SmackDown so he can not appear on television”.
- Is your friendly neighborhood NXT recapper still a grumpy old fart? Well, if lack of excitement about No Way Jose is a barometer of age, temperment or flatulence, then yes. But he does shake his middle-aged ass a little bit during Jose’s entrance, if that makes you feel any better.
- Didn’t love the main event, which was basically an extended squash they tried to inject with some hope spots for No Way, and failed to flow for me as a result.
- This is also the first time I’ve looked at Dain and wondered how he’ll break from the pack on the main roster. But that could be frustration that another athletic big man I enjoy, Luke Harper, seems adrift/absent on Tuesday nights.
- Anyway... this was fine, but just kind of there. It wasn’t helped by the fact I’m not sure what story they’re telling with SAnitY right now - Tye’s gone, Roddy’s moving up the card, Nikki’s been spun off - so I wasn’t terribly invested in the outcome.
I do love how much happens every week in Bobby Roode’s NXT, but I didn’t love this week as much as last. Make Itami/Lorcan the main and close with Ohno angle and I probably nudge this up a grade.
As it is... they can’t all be A’s. Doesn’t mean this wasn’t worth seeking out and spending an hour on.