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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (June 20, 2018): Slight-Est

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

Before we dive into this episode (such as it is), have you read Henry T. Casey’s awesome profile of NXT’s next big thing, Keith Lee? You should. It’s here.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of Leon “Vader” White, and a scroll of Superstar and Legend remembrances rolls across the opening video about TakeOver: Chicago 2. Bianca Belair def. Dakota Kai via pinfall following her torture rack-sitout gutbuster.

Between the “Who is...?” profile and this, the proverbial rocket is firmly strapped to The Est of NXT. This was a nice six-ish minute showcase of her in-ring skills, but it didn’t really show us anything we hadn’t seen before. It just showed her doing it against a bigger name than someone like her opponent on the previous episode, Aliyah.

Dakota is a bigger name, right? If you didn’t follow her pre-WWE career as Evie, I’m not entirely sure you know that. Yes, she’s just coming out of a prominent program with Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler. It was a nice story of overcoming the fear a bully can instill in a person, and led to a nice match between Baszler and Kai. But it was a contest the New Zealander definitively lost, then was nearly assaulted again in the same way which traumatized her in the first place. It’s the kind of arc you’d like to see someone commentary keeps telling us is the Captain of Team Kick come out of doing a little more kicking. Maybe even with a team to be a captain of.

That’ll come, I suppose. Dakota’s certainly not “buried”, especially if Belair is headed toward the heights most of think she is. Her comeback tonight got a pro-Bianca crowd on her side for a few moments, because it looked great. Unfortunately, while being used in this spot probably didn’t hurt her, it didn’t help her much, either.

Good news for Bianca and the folks pushing her is the crowd loved her. And for detractors who don’t like her hair whip schtick, they seem to be moving away from it. Or at least treating it as something silly her opponents know to avoid.

That delayed vertical suplex is here to stay, though. It’s out of this world.

All of TakeOver: Chicago 2’s matches are recapped, and the previously released fallout videos shown. EC3 is interviewed heading into the Performance Center. He vows to never miss another TakeOver and is headed to General Manager William Regal’s office to demand more opportunities to show why he’s the best.

- Excellent video packages, as usual. Unsurprisingly, the one on the Tommaso Ciampa/Johnny Gargano Street Fight was the standout, but the production done on the NXT Championship match was really impressive, too. I liked the match we got, but I loved the story they told with this version.

- Post-TakeOver editions of NXT are always thin, but there was even less to this one than usual. What disappointed the most were the interviews filmed Saturday night. Velveteen Dream’s is intriguing, and at least we learn Ricochet knows the proper way to pronounce GIF (yeah, I said it... and it didn’t sound like the peanut butter brand when I did). Otherwise? They’re mostly interviews of people declining to be interviewed.

- For those wondering, Undisputed ERA are not featured beyond the recap of their win over Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. That’s understandable, because they were likely racing off to catch a plane to London. What happened with them in England is likewise not addressed at all during the show we got on Wednesday night.

- If there’s one thing I’d encourage folks to check out, it’s the one minute interview with The One Percenter in the tweet above this section. EC3 continues to walk the face/heel tightrope, but until he’s in a feud - and as long as he remains this entertaining while doing it - who cares? This way he can face, as he says, “EVERYBODY!”

War Raiders def. The Mighty via pinfall following Fallout

The trenchcoats and long tights look Nick Miller and Shane Thorne rocked in Chicago is another positive part of their ongoing reboot, as was the decision to use the coats as part of a pre-bell attack. They get to be the first NXT duo to get much offense in on Hanson and Rowe, which is something, but otherwise the booking here raises the same questions using Kai in the opener did.

It’s a crisply enough executed, fast-paced four minute affair, and watching The Raiders mess dudes up is never not fun. If part of the test was making sure a larger crowd got behind Rowe and Hanson (not sure why there would be any doubt), then mission accomplished. Beating former Dusty Classic finalists is a nice building block for a team which should be in the title picture sooner rather than later, but it’ll be up to the announce crew to remind us that Thorne and Miller were that once, and not just the corner-cutting mid-carders we’re getting used to seeing them as now.

45 minutes, about ten of which was wrestling we haven’t seen before. I feel bad even grading it, but if you’re looking for a letter to help you decide whether or not to dedicate your precious time to this, the one I’d give it is...

Grade: C-

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