SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT TV REPORT
MARCH 21, 2018
TAPED IN ATLANTA, GA. AT CENTRE STAGE
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY JUSTIN JAMES, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
[Q1] Adam Cole is booked to face Kassius Ohno. I think that Ohno may actually have a better record than Cole.
Christy St. Cloud was released. She was super awesome to my oldest son and his friend (who had never watched wrestling before) at an NXT Live event last year, and did the “answer questions to win stuff” routine with them. I hope wherever she ends up is a good place. It is not clear who will fill in.
Tommaso Ciampa comes out to boos. He closes his eyes as if he is exasperated. We are back at FSU this week. Ciampa gets the boos, thinks about speaking, then doesn’t. Eventually he cracks and shouts “He’s gone! Gone!” in response to a “Johnny Wrestling” chant. He tells the crowd that Gargano will never come down the ramp again and gets a “you suck” thrown at him. Ciampa soaks in a “Ciampa sucks!” chant, drops the mic, then leaves the ring. Looks like the heat is frustrating him. He yanks a Gargano sign from a fan and rips it up. Then does it to another one. He even slaps the sign out of a elderly lady’s hands, she gives him the thumbs down. He takes another sign, it turns out it is Johnny Gargano. Gargano pops Gargano and jumps the barricade. Security is there to pull Gargano off. It takes four burly men to carry the 190 lbs. Gargano out. Ciampa is having a meltfown in the ring, clutching his nose. The camera follows security and Gargano to the parking lot.
Charly Caruso is in the “Control Center” to update us on the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Kathy Kelly interviews Tyler Bate, it seems he was injured. Bate is supposed to be out for two weeks and Mustache Mountain’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match is scheduled for this week, so Mustache Mountain is withdrawing. Selfie video with Roderick Strong. He says he has been a model wrestler, and politely asks William Regal for a match. Kelly tells us that Regal has granted the match, and we will find out next who Strong has picked as his partner. Fingers crossed for Pete Dunne.
[J.J.’s Reax: I can’t remember the last time NXT went a full Q1 without a match. ]
[Q2] Apparently the Cole – Ohno match came about because Cole and Ohno jawed via Twitter. Backstage, Undisputed Era whines about Roderick Strong getting into the Tag Team Classic. Fish says that maybe Strong could get Regal to be his partner, but it doesn’t matter because they will beat whoever wins the Classic. Cole says that Ohno is such a light challenge that Fish and O’Reilly don’t need to bother showing up ringside and can stay in the back.
[ J.J.’s Reax: Likely a swerve coming up here. ]
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch come out. Just noticed that Lorcan holds up one finger and Burch holds up two. It must mean something.
And yup, Pete Dunne is Strong’s partner. Dunne is actually slightly smiling on his entrance and the crowd is on their feet. This is the right way to turn Dunne tweener to acknowledge the crowd’s like for him without compromising his character or what words for him.
(1) RODERICK STRONG & ? vs. ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 1 Match
Strong and Lorcan start with a really tight lockup then onto the mat. Really, really solid work being done here. Burch tags in and continues but Strong gets the edge and lets Dunne tag in. Burch gets victimized by Dunne’s unique brand of work. Burch slips out. The action breaks down. The ref gets control of the action and sends to break [c]
Dunne is taking Burch’s arm off out of the break. Burch is winning an Emmy for his selling here, doing a great job. Strong tags in, backbreakr for two. Dunne tags back in. Double front suplex then stereo chops for two. Dunne huffs and puffs as he considers his next move. Big chip, but Burch gets a boot up, dropkick off the top and Dunne is down. Double tag and Lorcan and Strong go toe to toe with strikes. Lorcan speeds things up, running uppercut for two, brutal clothesline for another two, running blockbuster for two-and-a-half. Lorcan is so underutilized but he always makes the most of his minutes. Burch in, Strong eludes a double suplex. Dunne tags in. Stomps the arm fromt he second rope, X-Plex but Burch breaks it up. The much is nuts. Burch and Dunne hold each other’s wrists and slap the tar out of each other. Burch stalks Dunne, German suplex, then Lorcan intercepts Strong with a half-and-half onto Dunne. Crossface onto Dunne, Strong gets caught with a single leg crab to keep him from interfering. Strong kicks Lorcan off, he lands on Burch to break up the hold on Dunne. Giant ring from Burch, enziguri from Dunne, exploder suplex to Dunne. Blind tag brings Strong in, Dunne feeds Burch to Strong, backbreaker, Strong’s End of Heartache finisher for the win.
WINNERS: Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne in 8:29. Lorcan and Burch got far more offense than I expected given that Strong has been a challenger to the NXT championship and Dunne is the UK Champion who has beaten all comers. This match was super exciting and a ton of fun. I really enjoyed it. Strong and Dunne are telling a good story. I like how they got to this match. Burch and Lorcan gained in the loss.
Post-match, Dunne does his smirking routine, but he does it in a way that shows respect to Strong. Dunne is such an asset.
[Q3] Vignette on Ricochet. He is being called “Ricochet”. “Coming Soon.”
Aliyah is out to face NXT Champion Ember Moon. She has her hair out instead of doing that cat ear’s hairdo. Moon has added a cloak of sorts to her entrance. Moon has two fingers taped up.
(2) NXT Women’s Champion EMBER MOON vs. ALIYAH
Friendly handslap to start the match. They trade takedowns and escapes. Moon acknowledges that Aliyah is doing well. Shayna Baszler comes out to come to the announcer booth. She throws a headset on and puts her feet up on the booth and says she runs the women’s division. Ranallo tells her that she won’t run the division until she is champion. Nice touch. Moon sets up the Eclipse, Baszler complains about it. Baszler gets mad and says that everyone in the women’s division is helpless. Moon gets on a turnbuckle, Baszler on the booth and they yell at each other.
WINNER: Ember Moon in 2:57. Decent match to get Moon over and provide a chance for Baszler to say some words and show her arrogance without overexposing her.
Next week, the Authors or Pain face the Street Profits and Sanity squares off against Strong and Dunne in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Raul Mendoza, who has impressed me so far, is out for a match. He acts like a face and gets some cheers. Then NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas ambushes him. Almas is furious and rants about Aleister Black disrespecting him. He calls Black a piece of bleep (yes, they bleeped him).
Quick video package on Lars Sullivan. So good to see them preparing to bring him back. He is returning next week.
Black is book to “appear” next week.
William Regal in his office, he has an announcement that “will change the landscape of NXT forever.” Hmm. Secondary title? Women’s tag team division? New general manager?
(3) KASSIUS OHNO vs. ADAM COLE
[Q4] Dueling Ohno – Cole chant. Ohno is in the heel corner for some reason. Ohno overpowers Cole from the beginning. Wristlock into an overhead press. Kick to the middle stops Ohno coming off the ropes. Shoulder block actually knocks Ohno down. That took some suspension of disbelief. Ohno big boots Cole out of the air and follows with a running senton. Ohno sends Cole over the ropes, Cole seems to injure his knee. But it’s a ruse and Cole lands an enziguri. Cole mocks his fake injury. [c]
Cole picks up a two count out of the break. Backstabber for two. Cole slips out of a suplex, but Ohno has a huge right for Cole. Cole is down had and Ohno’s momentum carried him to the mat and Cole recovers first. Cole eats a knee then Ohno starts to build momentum. Running leg drop gets two. Big boot through the ropes, cyclone kick and Cole barely kicks out. Forearm to Cole, Cole fires back, then a big boot to Cole. Cole with his suplex to a neckbreaker to a shoulder breaker for a very close nearfall. Cole wants the Shining Wizard, Ohno catches in, fall away powerbomb into the ropes, running elbow to the back of Cole’s head sends him up the ramp. Fireman’s carry puts Cole back int he ring, Ohno covers, Cole with a cricifc for two. A pair of superkicks to Ohno, then another. Then the suplex/neckbreaker/shoulder breaker, shining wizard for the win.
WINNER: Adam Cole in 10:57. The match was fine but the booking was a mess. Cole took a ton of offense from a gatekeeper on a Wednesday night, and needed to hit his finishing sequence twice to win. How is Cole supposed to look like a credible threat like this?
FINAL THOUGHTS: Fun episode highlighted by the return of Johnny Gargano, and the really good Tag Team match. Baszler is still feeling her way, she has the swagger and body language but still sounds a bit rushed on the microphone, but I think that this is her only weakness. Dunne and Strong are compelling TV to me. Can’t wait to see Lars Sullivan come back.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 3/14 NXT TV Report: Tomasso Ciampa returns, Adam Cole vs. Pete Dunne, Almas-Black contract signing, Sanity vs. Moss & Sabbatelli