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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (July 26, 2017): Ruy Lopez

Ember Moon def. Lei’D Tapa, then cut a promo lobbying for a match against Asuka in Brooklyn
  • Probably not interesting to anyone but me, but I had to go check a list of Mae Young Classic competitors, as it struck me as odd they’d bring TNA-ex Tapa in for this but not use her for the tournament. It was a smart move, as she’s a name enough people will recognize, and seeing Ember cut down the nearly six footer made for a nice statement win on her road back to Asuka.

  • The structure of the match also supported that idea, as Tapa showed off her power early with a lariat and some head butts before Ember got focused and took care of business. This also continues something I liked from last week, which is Moon “flipping a switch” and dominating from that point forward. And, of course, they made a point of selling the Eclipse. It might just be the move which ends “the longest undefeated streak in WWE history”, so it better leave Lei’D Tapa needing help to get to the back.

  • In terms of the content and verbal delivery of her post-match promo, this was one of the best things Ember’s given us since debuting on NXT (and there’s a bit of “damning with faint praise” in that statement, yes). Even so, there’s something that’s still off. One thing which bugged me tonight were her facial expressions. They didn’t always seem to match the fire she was going for, and I don’t know if she’s wearing some dental prosthetics to go with her colored contacts, but it looks really weird when she smiles in response to the supportive crowd - which is probably something she should avoid during an impassioned speech, anyway
Aleister Black is a badass (take 1), SAnitY’s mind games against Authors of Pain continue and Street Profits are still coming
  • You know how cool the former Tommy End is? He’s get-two-videos-in-one-show cool.

  • Maybe it’s my love of Nikki Cross and Alexander Wolfe, or maybe it’s just that this was a big step over “pages from the Book of Domination” in terms of psychological warfare tactics to deploy against the tag champs. But sneaking up behind the enhancement talent team of Bumpers and Ramos (which is what I’m gonna call the billiards hall/bail bonds fusion joint I’ve always dreamed of opening some day) and taking them out before their match with Authors of Pain, then choosing to laugh off the beating Akam and Rezar laid on Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain was a pretty fun scene.

  • Well, Dain didn’t laugh it off, and the means of protecting him coming off his first loss was well handled, as it took both Authors to put him down, and then he very much had to be convinced by Nikki and Wolfe to leave the fight for another day.

  • How does it accomplish their objective, whatever that is? Where’s Eric Young? Who are we supposed to cheer for (Full Sail’s sided with SAnitY, but I’m not sure that’s Creative’s intent)? So far, I don’t care, which I guess is a good thing. Their minute long brawl was probably my favorite “match” on this episode, so...
Zelita Vega confronts No Way Jose, Velveteen Dream def. Cezar Bononi and continues to refuse to be interviewed, and William Regal announces Moon vs. Asuka for TakeOver: Brooklyn III
  • Like but don’t love Thea Trinidad’s new name, but I’m still very much into this storyline with her and Andrade “Cien” Almas. Her line to Jose about his having “lit a fire you can not dance around” was great, and she basically killed that whole brief scene.

  • Even a grumpy old hater-of-fun like me kind of feels bad for No Way at this point, though. Given his record of late, he’s got to just be a speed bump en route to something bigger for the Almas/Vega team. Ah well, he’s usefully as a house show act and mid-card babyface, so he’s fine.

  • Nothing that happened here changed my opinion on Patrick Clark’s act. Solid looking match that was also too short to really gauge his abilities? Check. Nigel McGuinness saying things on commentary that made me doubt WWE’s ability to handle any kind of even vaguely queer gimmick? Check. Really fun heel-ish interaction with Kayla Braxton? Check.

  • Bononi is impressive-looking, especially the more we see of his offense. Would be nice to have it be put together in a slightly longer match and incorporated into a character.
Drew McIntyre vows to take back NXT from Bobby Roode, Aleister Black is a badass (take 2)
  • Have watched a couple different versions of this promo from Drew now and I have to say, I think he gets better at it each time. This was worlds better than when he was rah-rah-ing about fighting for professional wrestling when he showed in TNA, that’s for sure.

  • He sounds great. He looks like someone you’d want to follow into battle. And, while it’s not the most innovative angle in the world, they’ve established Roode as the right guy to use these lines against. It’ll be interesting to see how they play off one another face-to-face.

  • Still think I like Roderick Strong’s personal animosity toward the Glorious One better than another round of “for the soul of the brand”, though.

  • You know how cool the former Tommy End is? He’s get-two-videos-in-one-show-without-even-having-anything-in-particular-to-hype cool.
Raul Mendoza thinks Johnny Gargano needs to get ready to face him next week, Kassius Ohno def. Hideo Itami via disqualification and gets violently sent 2 Sleep in the aftermath
  • Really like them giving us a little something on enhancement talents, like this Mendoza interview (he may not end up a jobber, but he’s jobbing next week) or even Bononi, whose throughline from the past couple tapings is a low-key angle. It makes NXT feel like a real place and not just a backdrop for unrelated stories.

  • Wanted to like the main event a lot more than I ended up liking it. It wasn’t bad, so maybe it was a case of high expectations spoiling something I would have enjoyed more with fresh eyes. It seemed to lack any real sense of urgency, and as a result, I didn’t feel much more invested in at the end than I did at the beginning.

  • The DQ finish is a bit of let down, even though it makes perfect sense as part of Itami’s full blown heel turn in the aftermath. Ohno is probably as sympathetic as he’s ever been in WWE coming out of this, so I’m still interested.

  • Still not feeling the commentary, and the return of Mauro’s hip-hop references doesn’t help. I do appreciate Ranallo working to convince us that a kick to the nuts from Hideo hurts more than a regular kick to the nuts, though.

While I was typing up the results, this felt like a jam-packed episode. It was certainly more a table-setting show than one which payed much of anything off, and that’s fine. But looking back over my notes to react, aside from the tag team hoss fight and the last two minutes of the show, nothing really moved me.

One to grow on, but I’m ready for next week... or to go back and watch Moon/Riot and Lorcan/Burch from last week.

Grade: B-

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