WWE NXT Spotlight: 1/31/18 By Kurt Zamora

Welcome one and all to the last NXT Spotlight of January, here at TJRWrestling. We are just off the heels of a red hot Takeover event that featured one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen, and a match I’m comfortable saying was the greatest match in NXT history. Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas officially supplanted Nakamura vs. Zayn from two years ago in Dallas. A match that I had the honor and privledge of getting to see live. If you have yet to see Gargano/Almas, go do so now. Afterwards, go check out my thoughts on the entire show if you haven’t done that either. This week we’re not slowing down as we have a little bit of everything: A women’s match, a tag team making their big return, and a huge #1 contender’s match for the UK Title. Let’s get to it!

We start with a video package on Takeover. We are of course still in Philadelphia for this week’s show.

Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans

Lacey’s entrance is pretty cool on a big stage. Nikki comes right out with a cross body block, but Lacey is able to get up quick and land a kick to the chest. Nikki goes to the floor and Lacey tries to follow, but Nikki trips her on the apron and then traps Lacey in the ring skirt and pummels her. The crowd is strongly behind Nikki. Nikki brings her back in the ring and goes to the second turnbuckle but Lacey sweeps the legs out and Nikki takes a hard fall to the mat. Lacey gets a two count on a pin and then follows up with a Thesz press. Nikki is seated in the corner and Lacey hits a nice looking bronco buster, where she props herself up on the top turnbuckle. Lacey misses a moonsaut though and now Nikki is back to the pummeling. She hits her fisherman’s neckbreaker and that’s the match.

Winner: Nikki Cross

K-Tank’s Take: Good to see Nikki get a great reaction here. Her reaction when I saw her at War Games, was a little tepid. She’s great in everything she does, so good to see her get a good reaction. After seeing Lacey’s entrance tonight, and she’s got a tremendous look, I dare say she should go up to the main roster. She’s got something about her that says she’s ready for it, and it doesn’t seem likely she’ll get a title shot in NXT any time soon.

We get highlights for AOP vs. Undisputed Era at Takeover, followed by highlights from Shayna Baszler vs. Ember Moon. We then go to a backstage interview with Baszler after the match. Baszler says that Ember didn’t win, she survived. Barely. Go interview Ember right now and then come back to her and see who’s acting like a winner.

After highlights from Aleister Black & Adam Cole at Takeover, we find out that next week Sanity will get a tag title rematch against Undisputed Era. EY and Wolfe were the members shown for Sanity.

After highlights from Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno, we go to an interview with TVD backstage afterwards. He’s asked why did it take longer than 30 seconds like he predicted? He says all that matters is the fans know the truth. What’s the truth? Read his trunks. Dream Over. Now everyone knows.

TM61 vs. The Ealy Brothers

I’ve officially learned that Gabriel has a tattoo on his right arm and Muriel has one on the left. Let’s see if that helps me keep them apart. Nick Miller and Gabriel start it off. A couple chops from Miller and now Shane Thorne tags in. They hit a double team standing moonsault and fist drop. Both Ealys on the floor and Miller low bridges Thorne as he does a twisting dive over the top rope. That looked good. Crowd into TM61 after that. Miller is back in the ring and he’s beating Muriel in the corner but Gabriel comes in and makes the twin magic switch to get the advantage. They now work on Miller as Gabriel is now legal. Miller is able to give him a clothesline that allows him to tag in Thorne. Thorne cleans house and hits a running leg lariat in the corner on both Ealys. He follows that up with a cannonball in the corner on Murial. Gabrial comes in, back suplex by Thorne and then he tags in Miller who comes off the top rope with a moonsault. Murial gets dropkicked out of the ring and then TM61 hits Thunder Valley for the win.

Winners: TM61

K-Tank’s Take: Great reintroduction for TM61. These guys are so good and Thorne’s injury really came at an inopportune time. As I’ve said for a couple weeks, I fully expect them to be in the tag title scene almost immediately.

We get a recap of some of the NXT Year End Awards. No real surprise except maybe Cezar Bononi winning breakout superstar of the year.

We then go to a TM61 interview in progress, which was weird as nothing happened, they just made a quick point and said they are the mighty and The Mighty Don’t Kneel.

After an outstanding video package for Gargano and Almas at Takeover, we go to footage of Tommaso Ciampa leaving the arena and refusing to answer any questions from the media that caught up to him.

We then go to an interview with Almas and Zelina Vega after his participation in The Royal Rumble. Vega & Almas say this was the plan all along as the defending NXT champion and they just wonder where Johnny Gargano was. They laugh it off before walking off.

We then get confirmation that EC3 has signed to NXT and we will see him soon.

Next week will be another Sanity vs. Undisputed Era match as Adam Cole will take on Killian Dain.

#1 Contender’s Match for UK Title
Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate

11 minutes left in the show as the bell rings. I was definitely hoping for a little longer. Great back and forth action to start. Dueling chants as well. Bate manages to land a picture perfect dropkick and then it’s airplane spin time. He dumps Roddy in the corner and then goes to the apron but gets caught in an double underhook backbreaker. Roddy gets a two count and then continues his offense. Big chops in the corner and then Roddy lands a traditional backbreaker. More chops and kicks from Roddy. Roddy digs a knee right in the sternum. Bate tries to come back with a headbutt but Roddy gets him in another backbreaker and then presses Bate over his head and throws him into the turnbuckles. We go to commercial.

We return to Roddy in control. Roddy with a surfboard over his back on Bate. Bate fights out and lands a headbutt and then a jawbreaker. He lands his sucker punch that knocks down Roddy and gets him some separation. Bate gets sent to the ropes and comes back with a big boot. Running European uppercut in the corner and then comes off the second rope with a knee strike. Bate with a German suplex and bridge but Roddy kicks out. Roddy with a huge back elbow but Bate still manages to nail an exploder suplex. He grazes Roddy with a standing shooting star press and Roddy kicks out. Both me on the second rope now and Roddy tries to go up to the top with a superplex. Bate knocks him off but Roddy recovers quickly and pulls Bate off into a backbreaker. Bate kicks out of a pin. Roddy with a double underhook but Bate turns it into a hurricanrana. The reversals are fast and furious. Bate ends up landing a massive lariat but Roddy still kicks out. They’re cramming a ton into these last few minutes. Bate wants the Tyler Driver 97 but can’t lift Roddy. Roddy then goes for the Strong Hold but Bate turns it into a pin. Roddy kicks out and then two huge knee strikes, followed by his reverse powerslam. He then hits the End of Heartache and that’s able to keep Bate down.

Winner: Roderick Strong

K-Tank’s Take: That action after the commercial break was insane, but just reinforces the fact the match should’ve been longer. Sign me up for Roddy vs. Dunne all day long, though. I cannot wait for that match!

That’s it for this week. NXT is back in Atlanta for their next tapings so that’s where we’ll be next week. Until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after me.