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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (July 19, 2017): Sparks a fire

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Ember Moon def. Ruby Riot
  • More of this please. And by that I mean more Ruby vs. Ember. More of this version of Ember. And more of this kind of match on WWE programming.

  • Working backwards on those requests, here’s hoping this is a template for the Mae Young Classic. I know not every woman in the tournament will have years of experience, but a lot of them will. Letting them put on this kind of match, something we’re accustoming to seeing from big male indie stars - that we just saw from big male indie stars in last year’s Cruiserweight Classic - will open some eyes and hopefully change some minds. Heck, just seeing the acrobatic standoff and test of strength at the start of Riot/Moon felt novel from ladies on a WWE show.

  • Hopefully, this is much more indicative of what we’ll see in the MYC than last week’s qualifier, is what I’m saying.

  • Seeing Ember in that opening sequence also pleased me as someone who’s lobbied for Moon to drop the supernatural schtick in favor of a more straight-forward competitor character. But, I also like the finish and the return to her lycan-self once Ruby pushed her to a certain point. Breaking out a howl or something similar to signal she’s “going to that place” is a great way to meld those two facets of her gimmick. Almost like merging a wolf and a human... hey, I get it!

  • And more of these two in particular, because this was a very good match between two wrestlers with great chemistry, their rival babyfaces story deserves more time and it’s important (especially in the wake of both the rumors some WWE officials thought the women in the MYC weren’t “hot” enough or whatever and the fact there are people in the fan base who agree) for talent who represent different types of beauty and athleticism to be on our screens.

  • Also, more of this. That’s my new favorite sell. Of anything.
Kassius Ohno vs. Hideo Itami booked for next week, Street Profits are coming
  • The slow-burn on the Ohno/Itami program continues, with Kassius responding to their failed tag match by requesting a match against his friend, and Itami getting so mad about it he took his frustrations out on a trash can.

  • We’re probably not getting the heel tag team I wanted out of this, but I’m still intrigued and enjoying it. Never gonna knock a promotion/brand for crafting a story to give guys something to do.

  • Predictions on what exactly Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins’ new team gimmick is range from “Black Twitter personified” to “Cryme Tyme 2.0”. While the latter would be bad, the former doesn’t necessarily have to be a 2017 update on WWE and pro wrestling’s problems depicting race. I’m willing to give it a chance, and hope that Ford and Dawkins are in control of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. That’s what keeps New Day and heel Usos from being caricatures or offensive, and it’s what can keep Street Profits from becoming both.
Oney Lorcan def. Danny Burch
  • Well, this match somehow jumped out of my wrestling nerd brain straight onto the Network. Which is sweet.

  • How many of these five minute mutual ass-kickings have we seen on NXT this year? Is their prevalence a reason for the show’s return to form? They certainly don’t hurt (except for the men involved, as Burch’s bloody face attested).

  • Not gonna stop trying to make #PushOney happen, and I’ll continue to dream about Burch’s underdog run to a title shot on the United Kingdom show we don’t seem to be getting anytime soon (if ever). But in the meantime, having a post-match handshake set-up an at least two match series between the pair works just fine. My just-stated position about not knocking a promotion/brand for crafting a story to give guys something to do applies here, as well.

  • Announcing note: Don’t say “What was that!?!?” about a move the man sitting next to you used to use as a finisher, Percy Watson. Credit to Nigel McGuinness for just working “Tower of London” into his call and not taking Showtime to the ring to demonstrate.
No Way Jose def. Cezar Bononi, then Andrade “Cien” Almas is inspired to get some payback
  • Although I completely agree with his curmudgeonly views on Jose, Nigel McGuinness’ scorn came across as trying-too-hard, Corey Graves light. Alright, enough about commentary (still not feeling it).

  • This did its job, which was to set up the post-match angle with Andrade and Thea Trinidad’s character. And Jose better continue to do his job by doing the job when the match this was establishing happens.

  • Still excited about Almas’ angle (blahblahblah crafting stories etc giving guys somethingsomething), even as I find myself already wondering how long it would be before his lady friend was de-powered and converted from manager to arm candy if they were on Raw.
Drew McIntyre def. Killian Dain to become #1 contender to the NXT championship
  • Why was this nearly my least favorite match on the show?

  • Some of it was that problem from NXT’s past, where they were telling us how important and exciting this was rather than showing us why that was the case. Especially on a brand where there are historic undefeated streaks under every rock, Mauro Ranallo saying “somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go” a lot isn’t gonna cut it. Perhaps partially because of that - or maybe just where this fell on taping night - Full Sail was not excited about this, and that did not do what was already a pretty routine first seven or eight minutes any favors.

  • Business picks up once Dain starts kicking out of Drew’s power offense, and built very nicely to the finish, where the big Irishman stuns McIntyre and the world by kicking out of a Future Shock DDT at one and laughing off a Claymore (yay! they’re calling it the Claymore again!) before the big Scot hits another to end it.

  • Focusing on the “undefeated” stuff hurts the finish a bit, too, because it reminds us that Dain lost instead of marveling about how tough he looked.

  • Ah, well. This is where we knew we were headed, Killian’s got an Eric Young master plan/tag title program to assist with and McIntyre showed some nice fire yelling at Bobby Roode in absentia to close the show. I’m probably just bitter because my man Alexander Wolfe didn’t get any airtime this week.

A couple of really good matches and lots of storyline advancement made for a marked improvement over last week’s edition. Other than nitpicking the main, my biggest beef might have been the number and length of commercials which counted toward the episode’s already brief 51 minute runtime.

This was the last show from the June taping, and it set things up very well for a hot run to Brooklyn.

Grade: B+