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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Sept. 12, 2018): Master at work

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For a more detailed recap, check our live blog here.

Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan def. Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude via pinfall following a double-team DDT.

Oney’s back!

That’s my big takeaway. The Boston Strong Style specialist with a funny name, whose controlled frenzies makes him one of the best hot tags in the business, has returned from the injury he suffered during his team’s show-stealing match at TakeOver: Chicago 2, and I’m pumped. Not sure what they’re going to do... Burch was kept to the sidelines while Lorcan healed up and the team who beat them in June has moved on, so there’s no program for them to pick up. The Brazilian duo they faced have a good look, but the length of this match and the work we saw from them doesn’t indicate immediate plans.

Their post-show interview pretty much just states the Brit-Am Brawlers will fight anyone, anywhere. That’s good enough for me.

Cause Oney’s back!

NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa enters to his new theme song. Ciampa explains he’d planned to take out Aleister Black before TakeOver: Brooklyn 4, but someone beat him to it. After bragging about his latest victory over Johnny Gargano and his own greatness, he leaves. Shayna Baszler def. Violet Payne via submission/stoppage with the Kirifuda Clutch. She reapplies the hold and inflicts more punishment before finally storming off. A scene outside depicts Heavy Machinery continuing to look for evidence the NXT Champ attacked Black, sets up a match between Otis Dozovic and Ciampa for the future and ends with the Blackheart headed to General Manager William Regal’s office.

- Don’t hate Ciampa’s new music, but I still hate him.

“No One Will Survive”, or whatever its actually called, is a cool song. Not sure when I’ll get over the loss of the silent entrance or decide if it’s a good fit, but it works better as part of the production than it did as a fan shot video from the taping (duh). The champ’s explanation for adding a theme to his entrance - to shut us up - was pretty dang perfect.

Like just about everything else he does. Including his reason why it couldn’t be him who took out Aleister Black... because he’d never do something like in secret, without an audience to witness his cunning and savagery. It’s lines like those, delivered flawlessly, which are starting to get him some cheers. But he’s so great at playing a smug bastard, he’s never going to get a majority of any crowd on his side.

The NXT Title told him (they talk to each other) to tell us it thanks Tommaso for putting it back on top. And that belt is absolutely right. Long may the Blackheart reign. Son of a b**** that he is.

- Not much to Shayna’s squash, but it did a good job showing how she’s become unhinged without the Women’s Championship. The Queen of Spades was always a sadist looking to make examples of her opponents, but this felt a little different. It was as if Baszler was trying to convince herself of something after getting shown up by Kairi Sane last week.

Felt a little strange to not have the Pirate Princess or Dakota Kai run in to save the enhancement talent here, especially since both were shown in vignettes during the episode. But that’s understandable given what they were trying to accomplish with Shayna.

- Otis Dozovic calling the NXT Champ “Tomato Champion” wasn’t quite as good as his poop story, but I dug it. Heavy Machinery are doing a Scooby Gang thing, and Ciampa is probably gonna run through them for it. Sign me up. It’s what a comedy midcard act is for, and it’ll let Tommaso look strong and keep him busy away from Gargano while he waits for Black to be cleared.

Undisputed ERA have a segment trash talking likely Tag Title challengers War Raiders and setting Adam Cole up as the next opponent for whoever wins next week’s match between UK Champ Pete Dunne and North American Champ Ricochet. Lars Sullivan def. Raul Mendoza via pinfall following a Freak Accident. Both Dunne and Ricochet are interviewed separately, each vowing to leave next week’s match with two belts.

- Have I mentioned how much I love the ERA’s nWo-style promos? I have? Well, I still do. It’s not included in the tweeted video, but I had to rewind and watch it again because I was laughing too hard from Roderick Strong’s opening lines bragging about beating his beating his one year old son in hide ‘n’ seek “every time”. They’re entertaining, they’re d***heads and they kept a tag feud going while hyping next week’s big match. Undisputed is very good, and that, boys and girls, is... well, you know.

- If I was a little surprised Kairi or another face didn’t rush in to save Baszler’s victim, I was more surprised EC3 didn’t even show his face anywhere around Sullivan’s win. It wasn’t as one-sided a beatdown. Mendoza got in his usual flurries to give us a taste of why house show crowds love the guy. But once Lars’ dominance was established, I thought we’d at least get a staredown to continue their issues.

At this point, EC3’s role on the black-and-yellow brand is pretty confusing. If he’s sticking around, he needs some wins, but I can’t imagine he goes over the Loquacious Leviathan. Maybe he’s not even sticking around for that program? Was Sullivan’s assault a write-off?

Sorry, an episode consisting soley of small bricks in the larger wall gets my speculatory gears turning.

- While I’d say Cole did a better job than either of them, Dunne and Ricochet both hyped next week’s match well. The Bruiserweight is amazingly charismatic as a $#!+talking egomaniac, even as a babyface. The One and Only’s script wasn’t terribly interesting, but he delivered it well. The first ever Champion vs. Champion singles match in brand history doesn’t need a lot of selling, but they sold it anyway. I’m definitely buying.

After a Forgotten Sons promo video, the previously released scene of Lacey Evans & Aliyah arguing with Deonna Purrazzo & Dakota Kai is played and a tag match announced for next Wedsnesday. Regal is shown finishing an interview with Kairi Sane for the Black investigation when Kassius Ohno arrives. He’s cleared of wrongdoing in the attack, but his new attitude is discussed. Their talk ends with a tease of a match with Matt Riddle. Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair goes to a double countout, and a post-match brawl makes it clear things aren’t over between the two.

- Dug the hype clip for Wesley Blake, Steve Cutler and Jaxson Ryker’s group, which presented them as an outlaw band of brothers (a trio of John Rambos, if you will). Not sure if that makes them good guys, bad guys or something in between, but I nominate them to face the Brit-Am Brawlers. In fairness, I’m for almost anyone facing Burch and Lorcan. But I am intrigued by the Sons.

- Coming off her usual strong showing as a one-off opponent at Barclays and a win in the Mae Young Classic, I’m taking Purrazzo getting another TV match so quickly as a sign to buy stock in the Virtuosa.

- Not complaining about Ohno vs. BRO. At all. But I had hoped the effort which they’ve put into giving Kassius a character the last two weeks was for more than just the gatekeeper match we were going to get anyway. Can he at least fight Keith Lee, too?

- That “episode consisting soley of small bricks in the larger wall” issue I mentioned above was definitely a factor in the main event.

Really big fan of the story being told... the undefeated Belair ran into someone she couldn’t dominate or intimidate. As this fallout interview with The EST clearly indicates, this rivalry is just getting started. And I sincerely hope it eventually leads to something like the Last Woman Standing match between Cross and Asuka, which remains one of my favorite matches in weekly NXT history. A program between these two gives them both something to do away from the title scene, which Bianca needs for to protect her aura until they’re ready to make her champ, and Nikki needs because it’s clear they don’t plan to strap her at this level, but they also don’t need her at the next one yet. The indie veteran can entertain us while helping a rising star hone her skills. It’s a win all around.

What we got here for a handful of minutes wasn’t super-exciting, though. The countout came just as the fun was starting, and the aftermath was figuratively bloodless compared to the Scot’s past mayhem.

Love the idea, but doubt I’ll remember much about tonight’s execution.


Ciampa’s promo was the standout segment. I liked all the individual pieces, but as an hour of television, it didn’t hold my attention. I’m much more interested in where everything is going than what we got, which is a good thing. But it’s not ideal, and it’s not NXT at its best.

Grade: B-