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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Sept. 13, 2017): Lying in wait

For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.

Ruby Riot goes it alone against The Iconic Duo in the handicap match she asked William Regal for... until she gets an aggressive and unrequested partner in Nikki Cross. The SAnitY member cleans house and lays Billie Kay out with a swinging neckbreaker, then tags a confused Ruby back in and leaves. Riot hits a senton off the top for the win.

Sorry Team Slap Happy devotees. I would have dug a Dakota Kai appearance here, too, but this is better.

Honestly would have been a bit worried if we’d gone another week without anyone from the group who holds tag gold showing up at Full Sail (and now that I think of it, mighty odd the former tag champs have been silent and absent, too... could be evidence of call-up plans, or just a symptom of SAnitY vs. Authors of Pain being a weird feud getting a weirder follow-up due to the circumstances... but I digress). Nikki’s antics have been missed more than anyone other than Alexander Wolfe, however. And from slinking in through the crowd with a grin to tagging herself in by delivering a chop to her old rival’s chest, this was perfect.

Decent enough match, but this was all about the story. Even with Cross as a fan favorite, there’s no reason she and Ruby should suddenly play nice, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the tension and confusion we saw here cost them this feud in the long run, continuing the gradual elevation of Peyton Royce.

Until we know more about the Women’s title plans, that’s all just speculation. In the meantime, this made me smile. Which is probably why I’m more than willing to overlook things like why the officials would start the match when we just saw a clip of William Regal saying he wouldn’t allow a handicap match, or why the referee allowed a tag in said handicap match.

No Way Jose challenged Lars Sullivan to a match for next week. Johnny Gargano fights through the numbers game and another episode of paralyzing self-doubt to pin Riddick Moss despite interference from Tino Sabatelli.

Got nothing specific against Jose. Really! But this was a boring interview, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing No Way get murked by Lars next week. Sorry (not sorry).

Trying to not hold anything against Moss, but those images of him slamming Hideo Itami on his neck at a house show won’t leave my mind. And honestly, based on this match, the year that’s passed since that incident hasn’t added a lot of seasoning to the big man.

Again, the story was the thing here. Not only does Johnny Wrestling’s betrayal-induced crisis of confidence make for an intriguing character arc, it also allows Gargano to play to his strengths as an underdog in a way his newer fans are familiar with; his flashbacks to betrayal (or whatever they are) essentially make him his own hot tag. It’s strange they did two variations on a two vs. one program in this hour, but Johnny vs. Moss and Sabatelli works for this angle.

Now let’s hope Tino - whose match against Gargano was established in fallout videos - is a little more polished than his tag partner.

Street Profits pick up a win over The Ealy Brothers with Angelo Dawkins’ spinebuster followed by Montez Ford’s frog splash. They celebrate into the crowd.

Wow. Has this act won me over. I only hope others I’m on the fence about (*cough* Velveteen Dream *cough*) can do the same.

It’s still pretty much a one-man show. No offense to Dawkins, but from the over-reliance on “stirring it up” to his basketball-based offense, he seems like a relic of another time compared to Ford, whose infectious energy makes even the moves (dance and wrestling) we’ve seen from him before feel fresh.

The Ealys are definitely worth the effort WWE is putting into coaching them up, but they’re probably better suited to the back-up role they’ve been working with former football player and Booker T-trainee Brennan Williams on the Florida circuit at this point in their career. They hit their spots and made The Profits look good, though, so kudos.

By the way, look out Asuka - and see what I mean about Montez?

Speaking of the Empress of Tomorrow...

Asuka’s remarkable run on the black-and-yellow brand gets WWE’s top notch video treatment. General Manager William Regal informs Christy St. Cloud he’ll have a plan for how the next Women’s champion will be decided in the coming weeks. We learn that Aleister Black will address the NXT Universe for the first time next week.

Not to rehash the debate from last week (thanks to everyone who engaged in the comments. Wish I had the bandwidth to do it more often, because discussing what works for different folks and why always gives me a better perspective on what we’re all here to try and enjoy. There I go digressing again...), but just giving us this video package, and presenting her farewell as a behind-the-scenes moment within it, would have been preferable.

Really, it all comes down to the stripping of the title - which still wasn’t addressed here despite Tuesday’s announcement Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane will compete for it at TakeOver: Houston. We still don’t have an in-story reason why Asuka wasn’t allowed to do what Paige and Kevin Owens were in the past, and take her NXT title to Raw.

And we’ll probably never get one. At least I can go back and watch this video to remember the amazing run which took us to the point where they made a weird decision.

After backstage interviews with both competitors, Pete Dunne defeats Wolfgang via pinfall following The Bitter End to retain his United Kingdom championship. Post-match, Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly attack Dunne, who is save by the man he just beat. After retrieving his belt, The Bruiserweight leaves Wolfie to take the beatdown. Trent Seven and Tyler Bate run in to check on The Last King of Scotland, and have a staredown with The Undisputed.

Dunne did a lot with very few words to really cement his championship swag in the audience’s minds - starting by answering Christy’s question by simply putting his belt strap in between his teeth and ending with a great tease that he might do the right thing and help his countryman before confirming that here in WWE, he’s only looking out for number one. The young titleholder isn’t as exciting on the stick yet, but the way he carries himself is reminiscent of former NXT champ Kevin Owens.

The match itself was the usual nice change of pace the UK crew brings. It wasn’t as thrilling as something that involves both Dunne and Tyler Bate, as Wolfgang can do impressive things for a man his size, but sprint through a match isn’t one of them. The fact that there was no chance of a title change, and the lack of anything close to a suspenseful nearfall, kept this from ever becoming anything more than a good match.

Pete’s 'Grade A' $#!+heading wasn’t the only thing to like about the aftermath, either. While I wish the announcers had done more to sell how this meant Cole, Fish and O’Reilly are coming after everyone as opposed to changing targets, it definitely drove home the point The Undisputed Era aren’t afraid of Regal.

And maybe we can just call them “The Undisputed”? That’s what Bobby said after Cole again declared this their NXT, and it’s a much cooler name without the “Era” tacked on.

Regardless, I’m ready for Moustache Moutain vs. reDRagon (the challenge is here). Take your time processing the fact that’s something you’ll be able to pull up on WWE Network soon.

Solid stuff all around, as NXT continues to develop multiple stories simultaneously around some good in-ring action. Still not up to the high of the first show from this taping, but we’re back to feeling like we’re building to another peak like that one soon.

Grade: B

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