11/30 NXT in Pittsburgh (2nd report): Almas vs. Cole vs. Strong, O’Reilly & Fish vs. Sanity’s Young & Dane, Ruby Riot vs. Bianca Bel Air, No Way vs. Lars

Kyle O'Reilly (photo credit Wade Keller © PWTorch)


NOVEMBER 30, 2017

The last time I was at an NXT show was on May 15, 2016 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. The main event was Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens but the card also included Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch. Plus, Tommy Dreamer made a cameo to fight Baron Corbin. Due to a poor seating set up, I could only see a third of the ring from the ring being oddly elevated from where I was at but the crowd was HOT.

Tonight in Pittsburgh at Stage AE was a bit of a different story as far as the attendance went.  I was above the ring in the balcony, which still had plenty of seating open. And unlike Philly of 2015, the fans weren’t as charged up, sometimes focusing too much on doing chants, but the talent delivered on a show that was more than satisfying to go to.

Show started off with a dated intro of Triple H welcoming everyone to NXT (I could tell of it’s age because his facial hair was more Miami Vice and less Game of Thrones).

(1) The Street Prophets defeated Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss via pinfall. Dawkins & Ford came out first decked out in Steelers gear which played well to the crowd. Sabbatelli came out with a mic in hand and said that the Street Prophets were going up against two former football players in him and Moss, even adding salt to the wound by saying he played six years in the NFL and remember relishing at beating the Steelers. They then had a short bit where the two teams “played football” with a football the size of a John Elway Vortex. Dawkins threw to Ford first but Sabbatelli intercepted it and on the second attempt he completed to Ford which caused Moss and Sabbatelli to attack. Match went about 15 minutes when Ford finished Moss off with an absolutely beautiful frog splash. Fun opener. It was obvious seeing Sabbatelli talk and interact with the crowd that he has a special swagger. He has clean look and good mic skills that will serve him very well on the main roster if/when he gets a call up.

(2) Lars Sullivan defeated No Way Jose. Jose received a good reaction but everyone knew things weren’t promising for him when Lars steamed out of the entryway. Spotty variations of “Jose” chants occured throughout the contest and he got some good opportunities to showcase his own strength, even picking up Lars for a modified Samoan drop, but Lars ended it with the Freak Accident at about 8 minutes. Alright match. Sullivan has a great look, but still needs a bit of refinement to be marketed properly (ring attire included).

(3) Ruby Riott defeated Bianca Bel Air via pinfall. One of the best matches of the night. Riott, playing the role of babyface, got her Smackdown nod by the announcer as she entered and was one of the most over acts on the card. Bianca Bel Air has something special with her extremely long ponytail as she heelishly used it to her advantage as the match carried on, using it to trip Riott and tie her up in the ropes. The athleticism both showed was also on an above average level that would stand out on the WWE main stage. Went about 12 minutes.

(4) Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish defeated Eric Young & Killian Dane via pinfall to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships. Eric Young got a nice reception and the crowd was into Fish & O’Reilly as well. Dane played the powerhouse role well when given the hot tag, hitting the Red Dragon duo with a succession of corner splashes and double mat sentons that got the crowd into it. Fans shoe-horned an unwarranted “This Is Awesome” chant at some point. The catalyst of this bout was Eric Young by far, who you could tell was the seasoned vet and exuded some good fighting spirit that the crowd fed into. Undisputed got the win when O’Reilly rolled up Young with a handful of tights. Great match to lead the crowd into the 20 minute intermission.

(5) Aleister Black defeated Chad Lail (formerly Gunner of TNA) via pinfall. My personal favorite of the night. Black looks every bit of star as he does on television and a good section of the crowd even got a “Tommy End” chant going for a couple seconds. Me and the group I was with didn’t realize Lail was Gunner until a fan beside us started yelling Gunner. I was super pleased to learn as he had an excellent interview with Pat McNeil on a PWTorch Livecast two years back that showed his professionalism and high wrestling IQ. A couple of missed cues and connections, but still a very good match that showcased Aleister Black and delivered a pleasant surprise with Lail as his opponent. Went 10 minutes until Black hit “The Black Mass” for the W. Trust me when I say if that 2016 interview with Lail is any indication of his potential, then he is going to be a NXT feature soon enough. As Black left the ring he slapped hands with a fan here and there.

(6) Ember Moon defeated Sonia DeVille via pinfall to retain the NXT Women’s Championship. I missed part of this match due to a bathroom break, but that wasn’t any knock against these two who complimented each other really well in the ring. Moon is absolutely over and has charisma that’s out of this world which someone like Vince will eat up once the time rolls around. She’s someone if needed can carry a brand’s women division. DeVille also looked great in this match and her MMA-esque entrance made her stand out. Match ended when Moon hit the impressive Eclipse for the 1-2-3. Went about 14 minutes and the finish had the spotty crowd at one of it’s hottest for the night. Afterwards, Moon gave several photo ops with fans at ringside.

(7) Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Selena) defeated Adam Cole and Roderick Strong via pinfall to retain the NXT Championship. These three lived up to the match’s top of the card billing with it being the match of the night (my personal love for Black vs. Lail aside). For being a triple threat, these three worked extremely well together. It started off with both Cole and Cien going for a powder as good guy Roddy waited for one of them to show some fortitude. Both counted to three to run in at the same time, but as they did Selena held Almas back to leave Cole to fend for himself. This lead to an excellent sequence of Strong getting the better of the two with a succession of quick moves and backbreakers to get the crowd fired up. Finally Cien and Cole ganged up on Strong in a form of unity that lasted for sometime until Cole dumped Almas off the top turnbuckle to the outside in what was a somewhat scary fall. Throughout this match, Cole may have lost two teeth on two different occasions. Strong eventually hit a flawless End of Heartache on Cole, but Cien eventually ended up with the pinfall after a hurricanrana by Selena on Strong. Crowd loved it and Adam Cole probably received the reception of the evening. Almas looks in the right spot as champion and even took time to take some pictures with fans despite his heelish tendencies. This could play up great down the line between him and Selena if they ever decide to put a rift between the two.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite no Kassius Ohno, no Johnny Gargano and no Authors of Pain, NXT was show absolutely worth the $30 price of admission. It was a bit of a bummer to see empty sets and a half-assed crowd who was a little too concerned with doing chants that being invested into matches, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say people enjoyed it. I’d go to an NXT show over a WWE one any day. Former PWTorch writer, Nitro announcer and Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden was front row and the Deep Five’s Rich Fann also happened to be in attendance (who I sadly missed).

NOW CHECK OUT ANOTHER REPORT ON THIS EVENT: 11/30 NXT in Pittsburgh: Almas vs. Strong vs. Cole in Triple Threat main event for NXT Title, Moon vs. Sonya, Aleister, Riott, Lars, more

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