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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Aug. 2, 2017): Do what thou wilt

Johnny Gargano def. Raul Mendoza; we learn it will be SAnitY vs. Authors of Pain for the tag titles in Brooklyn and get a Paul Ellering promo.
  • Nice moment where Johnny came out under the #DIY logo to his old theme with Tommaso Ciampa, then points to the ‘Tron which switches to his surname while her new entrance music kicks in. Couldn’t get a great sense for Gargano’s new theme over the cheering (Full Sail loves them some Johnny Wrestling), but it sounds much better than Big Cass or Jason Jordan’s, that’s for sure. You can hear some of it here.

  • Enjoyed the match for what it was, which was a reason to cheer Gargano. Both men looked good, and they struck a very nice balance in making Mendoza look like he could hang without having him get too much offense in on the main man. Johnny hit his signature spots, we got reacquainted with his submission finisher now that he’s a singles guy... mission accomplished.

  • Announcing TakeOver’s tag title match out of a recap seems fitting for the Authors/SAnitY rivalry. Here’s hoping we get a little more intrigue in the next couple weeks leading up to the actual match.

  • Ellering isn’t going to elicit much support for Akam and Rezar cutting promos about books in damp warehouses - were they at the “WWE Archives” that Seth Rollins torched? - but the line about teaching Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain and Nikki Cross that “monsters are real” line was pretty good.
Asuka agrees to face Ember Moon at TakeOver, but declares she’s not ready. Moon says it’s the champ who’s not ready for her, then some mind games backfire on the Empress and she ends up laid out via an Eclipse.
In a sitdown interview, Bobby Roode dismisses Roderick Strong and says he’ll address Drew McIntyre face-to-face next week. An incensed Strong charges in but is restrained before he can get hands on the champ, and General Manager William Regal tells him he can’t give him a match against Roode.
  • Business suit Asuka < Jeans Asuka. At least Ember represented for denim aficionados.

  • Everyone said the right things during the Women’s title showdown, and delivered their promos well enough, but this still doesn’t feel as big as it should - especially if Brooklyn will see the end of Asuka’s epic run.

  • The physical battle which followed was better, especially since it started with one of the baddest women in WWE history basically pulling a grade school slight with her proffered handshake. Aside from the Empress’ streak, Moon’s finisher is the biggest deal in this program and they established she can hit it on the champ here. What does that say vis-à-vis “Reverse Momentum Theory”? Hopefully nothing, since we should see them at least once more before Aug. 19. But it does tell me I don’t love Asuka’s sell of the Eclipse as much as how some others in NXT take that stunner.

  • In case this is your first time reading one of my NXT reactions posts, I love $#!+head Bobby Roode, so his segment clicked for me even though he didn’t say anything new about Roddy, or really anything about Drew. Also, the champ’s tan looked really good here. Hopefully he’s leading a skin care workshop down there at the Performance Center.

  • As a storyline, the scene with Strong and Regal made sense and sets the table for him to crash Roode’s sitdown with McIntyre next week and either a second #1 contender match and/or making Brooklyn a Triple Threat. In execution, I wasn’t particularly moved by Roddy’s plea. They’ve done a lot of good things crafting his babyface character, but he still sounds fairly wooden when he has to emote.
The Street Profits debut next week, and Sonya Deville def. Jenna Van Bemmel.
  • Hopefully, the Florida regulars in attendance are already Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford fans from the house show circuit, because otherwise, the month worth of teasers for the Profits arrival may have turned the crowd against them already. Or maybe that’s just me. Looking forward to not seeing another Snapchat video next week, though, that’s for sure.

  • Much like the opener, the women’s match allowed Van Bemmel (aka Van Muscles) to show off just enough of her power game to make Sonya’s win mean something.

  • Deville’s coming along nicely, and this from someone who was pretty skeptical a few months back. The wrestlers she works with as she climbs the ladder in NXT should be able to help make her mixed martial arts offense work in longer matches, and the way she works the trash-talking elements into her act is starting to feel more natural. She could be a key piece in the post-Asuka era, even as she learns on the job.
An angry Hideo Itami runs into a calm Aleister Black and ends up unconscious when he steps out of line. Aleister Black def. Kyle O’Reilly.
  • Kind of wish they’d played up Kassius Ohno’s absence as being a result of Itami’s attack last week. It’s implied, but I could have used more of that than Mauro Ranallo saying “it’s on like Donkey Kong”.

  • The Bi-Polar Rock ‘n’ Roller drew my attention more than Nigel McGuinness or even Percy Watson this week, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. For every Pancrase reference (completely appropriate given the match O’Reilly and Black worked) there’s a ludicrous comparison to Flair/Steamboat (while it was cool to hear him name drop Tanahashi and Okada on WWE Network, heralding Kyle and Aleister as a potential feud which could rival that is just as ridiculous).

  • Okay, I’ve put off marking out over Aleister Black for as long as I could. HOW FREAKING COOL IS ALEISTER BLACK!?!?

  • Good news is, WWE knows it, as they spent a week building to an episode which featured him, all without telling us anything he was going to do. Basically it’s been “tune in to see Aleister Black” for a week. And, by golly, I did. AND I LOVED IT.

  • I mean, we all saw Heel Itami trying to double back and eating Black Mass, but who among you didn’t shout when he hit it and dropped into a cross-legged seated position to contemplate what he had wrought? If you didn’t at least smile, don’t ever talk to me again.

  • For a variety of reasons I won’t get into here, I’ve never been the biggest O’Reilly fan. Even for someone pre-disposed to not be impressed, Kyle’s debut went about as well as it possibly could have, though. Full Sail’s and the announce team’s reaction to his entrance made it feel like a big deal and he and Black have great chemistry, which helped add an exciting finish to a contest for which we all pretty much knew the outcome before it started.

  • The middle of the 12+ minute match dragged a little for this reviewer, but overall this was a strong main event which furthered the “NXT Strong Style” matches Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, Itami and Black (among others) have established for the brand of late.
No Way Jose vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas happens next week, and Black and Itami weren’t finished with each other when the episode ended.
  • The rollout of Almas with his new manager Zelina Vega has almost been too slow, but I’m very interested in seeing his first match with her in his corner next Wednesday, so, well played, NXT.

  • Really wasn’t sure where Aleister was headed coming out of the episode, but if you can handle some shakey cam, this fallout video helps. He may look calm, cool and collected, but he’s not going to forget that Hideo drew blood.

  • Is that a TakeOver match? What about Ohno? Or the reDRagon boys? Questions are good!

After some necessary but uninspiring work for the title matches coming our way at Barclays later this month - I have little doubt they’ll deliver in the ring, but there’s something missing from the build in each right now - Aleister Black comes along AND TOTALLY REDEEMS THE SHOW.

Well, not just him, and it wasn’t like it was bad before he showed up, but, yeah. He’s really freaking cool.

Grade: B+

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