Welcome one and all to another installment of the NXT Spotlight here at TJRWrestling. First & foremost, I just want to say a good thought for Roman Reigns. Getting to write about something I love, it makes me appreciate more what these superstars go through, day in and day out. I was absolutely heartbroken to hear the news Roman provided us on Monday. I wish him absolutely nothing but the absolute best and that he will show leukemia that this is his yard. As it pertains to the Yellow & Black Brand, tonight could be a huge episode as we grow ever closer to finding out who took out Aleister Black. He returned last week and we’re waiting to see if Nikki Cross told him what he wanted to know. Let’s get to the action and see what takes place.
We see William Regal earlier today with security outside the arena and he says that it’s imperative that they make sure Aleister Black comes and sees Regal before anything else, when he gets to the arena.
Mauro Ranallo is out of the booth, replaced by Vic Joseph. Mauro will be back at Takeover: War Games.
The Undisputed Era Meets NX3
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Kyle O’Reilly doing the air guitar with his title isn’t your favorite thing in wrestling, we can’t be friends. The group is offiically in tact with Bobby Fish being back. They are offically 100% according to Adam Cole. If you don’t believe them, ask the War Raiders about last week. The Undisputed Era demolished them. If anyone else wants to get in their way, they won’t be in their way for long because they will make short work of them. People will fear NXT because of the Undisputed Era. The fans aren’t NXT, The Undisputed Era are NXT. That brings him to Ricochet, who is holding his property. Ricochet beat Pete Dunne, he didn’t beat Adam Cole. He can’t and he won’t. When he gets his rematch against Ricochet… With that, EC3’s music hits and cuts Cole off.
EC3 comes out wearing a coat that looks like it came from Mantaur’s collection. EC3 says Cole doesn’t deserve a rematch against Ricochet. Cole asks EC3 if he thinks its a good idea to try and mess with the Undisputed Era right now? EC3 says the Era stands full of bravado and are 100%, but it matters not because he is the Top 1%. Cole tells him to shut up. Cole challenges him to a match and says he wants to make an example of EC3. EC3 accepts, a ref comes to the ring and here we go.
Adam Cole vs. EC3
Cole on the offense as soon as the bell rings. Stomping away at EC3 in the corner. EC3 reverses Cole and then lays in the chops. Bodyslam by EC3 and then his jumping elbow drop off the ropes. EC3 clotheslines Cole over the top rope. The rest of the Era aren’t able to distract EC3 long enough for Cole, and EC3 faceplants Cole on the apron. EC3 throws him back in the ring, but as he follows him in, Cole lands a superkick. Solid neckbreaker by Cole, followed by a knee drop. Cole goes for a cover after a suplex but only gets a one count. Bicycle kick by Cole, but again EC3 kicks out quickly. EC3 misses a splash in the corner and that leads to Cole with the DVD into the neckbreaker over the knee, but again just a two count. Cole with a front face lock, but EC3 uses his strength to suplex Cole and get out of it. Back elbow by ECW, followed by a flying forearm. German suplex by EC3 and then for the 1-Percenter, but Cole fights out. EC3 ends up grabbing him and dropping him with a sitout powerbomb, but Cole kicks out. The Era gets on the apron and distrcts EC3 enough to allow Cole to superkick him. EC3 gets up quickly though and clotheslines the hell out of Cole. The Era distracts once again and Cole gets EC3 down for the Last Shot, but EC3 moves and ends up rolling up Cole, 1-2-3 and he steals a win!
Post match, Cole is incredulous. EC3 goes to leave, but gets blindsided by Total Elimination on the outside by the tag champs. All 4 members of the Era take turns destroying EC3 as they work up to the top of the stage. They hold EC3 up for Cole so that he can land the Last Shot. Fish appears not to be done and finds a steel chair. He drives the chair across the right knee of EC3. EC3 immediately signals he’s injured as the Era finally leave.
K-Tank’s Take: Basic match, I’m sure saving something for down the road. Good way to establish Bobby Fish back in the group. EC3 not exactly setting the world on fire… lost to Velveteen Dream, lost to Lars Sullivan, gets taken out by Undisputed Era. Perhaps he’s a member of a team in War Games, or maybe he’s legit injured and needed to be written out for a few weeks.
We get a vignette for Mia Yim, who is making her official NXT debut tonight, after being signed to the brand recently.
We go back outside the arena with security waiting on Aleister. Nikki Cross shows up and is giddy as she tells them all that he’s coming.
Mia Yim vs. Aliyah
Great reaction for Mia. Mia with two nice arm drags to start and then a dropkick that sends Aliyah to the floor. Aliyah is able to drape Mia over the middle rope to get the advantage. Aliyah yanks Mia down by her hair and then a series of elbow drops leads to a two count. Aliyah with a Thesz press and punches, followed by another pin for two. Forearm strikes in the corner by Aliyah. Really nice Northern Lights suplex for a two count. Mia fights out of a submission attack and hits a couple of big boots, a clothesline, and then a front dropkick. That sends Aliyah to the corner, where she hits another big boot and then a cannonball. Mia sets Aliyah up for Sole Food and that gets the win.
Winner: Mia Yim
K-Tank’s Take: I’m not the biggest fan of debut matches where the enhancement talent gets more offense than the superstar that’s making the debut. Aliyah controlled way too much of this match. Luckily the crowd is behind Mia and I think we all know how talented she is from her work in the two Mae Young Classics. I expect big things for her in NXT.
We go to the backstage area where William Regal is with Bianca Belair, who tells him he needs to treat stars like stars. She’s undefeated and she wants a title shot. Regal says he will take it under consideration. Cathey Kelly now wants to interview him and ask him if he knows the name that Nikki Cross told Aleister Black last week. Regal says he does not know the name, but he knows that Aleister will reign hell tonight. The Undisputed Era show up and complain about what EC3 tried to pull tonight. They tell Regal to get his act together. Regal says it’s them that need to get their act together. Next week the War Raiders will be back and they’re taking on Bobby Fish and Adam Cole.
We get a really nice video package for Roman Reigns’ announcement on Monday. Considering they only had two days to put that together, it was well done.
After that, is a video package hyping up Lacey Evans.
We then see Tommaso Ciampa pacing back and forth, while clutching his title, as he prepares to find out who his Takeover: War Games opponent will be.
Then, it’s time for a long video package that previews the NXT Women’s Title match at Evolution between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler. This too was very well done.
Kassius Ohno vs. Justin Xavier
Ohno cut his hair, for those that come here for that kind of information. Ohno looks disinterested with this match. Ohno pie faces Xavier after a shoulder tackle by Xavier doesn’t work. Xavier comes back with some nice athleticism to catch Ohno off guard, but it doesn’t last long as Ohno lands a massive pump kick. Big shots in the corner by Ohno, who is now angered. Ohno drops Xavier with Wasteland, and then a big running legdrop. Ohno says, “this ain’t what I asked for Regal”. Xavier tries to fire up, but Ohno with another huge kick and two running senton splashes. He pulls Xavier up and lands his ripcord rolling elbow for the win.
Winner: Kassius Ohno
Post match, Ohno is looking for Regal’s shiny new toy, and then Nikki Cross shows up and says that he’s coming.
K-Tank’s Take: I liked the aggressiveness from Ohno in this match. He’s obviously waiting for Matt Riddle, so that should be one hell of a hard hitting affair. Maybe it was the haircut or the bright yellow outfit, but it looked like Ohno has bulked up again.
BRO! We see a vignette hyping up the debut of Matt Riddle, which will be next week!
William Regal’s Big Announcement… And A Bigger Reveal
William Regal is in the ring to close our show with his big NXT Title announcement. He says we are 4 weeks away from Takeover: War Games, so it’s time to announce who will face Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Title. That cues up the champ’s music and he comes to the ring, clutching his title. Regal and Ciampa size each other up before Ciampa gets on the mic and tells him to wipe the smug look off his face. He tells Regal to make his announcement. Well, before Regal can speak, here comes The Velveteen Dream. Dream says hold the phones and stop the presses, because the headline is here. He says he’s got the scoop himself. The people want an Experience at War Games. It’s about what Dream wants though, and Dream wants Regal to say his name. Dream makes it to the ring, which then cues up Lars Sullivan’s music and he makes his way out. Lars says this isn’t up for debate, because they are standing in Lars Sullivan territory. Dream better move, because Lars is NXT’s worst nightmare and the NXT title belongs to him. Dream says he understands Lars is a nightmare, but when he speaks to Dream, he needs to put on some pants. Lars grabs Dream by the throat, and here comes Nikki Cross, who says he’s coming!
Aleister Black is now shown outside and he is kicking every security guard’s ass. Nikki is dancing in glee as Black makes his way very angrily to the ring. Lars Sullivan gets a massive Black Mass kick as Ciampa scurries away. He gets in the ring and grabs Regal, asking “where is he?!” Regal looks behind Black and Black is turned around and it’s Johnny Gargano! Gargano superkicks Black! Gargano is wearing the black zip-up hoodie that was seen at the scene. Gargano gets the mic and says, “I’m right here.” and drops the mic on Black as the show ends.
K-Tank’s Take: Wow! So there it is. Johnny Gargano was the man that took out Aleister Black after all. I think logically it made the most sense, but I just didn’t think they’d go that route with Gargano. Did Gargano do this because Ciampa had officially broken Gargano mentally? Will we see Gargano team back up with Ciampa and accept the dark side? Will the fans actually boo Gargano? He definitely was boo’ed at the end of this show, and Black got the loudest Full Sail ovation he’s gotten in some time, so from that perspective this has worked. My guess is that Gargano won’t turn full heel. Ciampa was/is just in his head and he was going to do anything he had to do to ensure he got another 1 on 1 opportunity with Ciampa. Black was just a victim of unfortunate circumstance. Clearly Black won’t understand that, so this will still be a hell of a rivalry. Eventually though, I think Gargano gets one more shot at Ciampa and finally wins the title, and goes back to being the best pure babyface WWE/NXT has.
BUUUUTTTTTTT, if they go full heel with Gargano, I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. Everyone knows the bigger the face or heel you are, the better your turn eventually will be. That would be the case here with Gargano. I just don’t think they’ll go full heel with him, because ultimately the fans will sympathize with his mindset and know why he did what he did. There are no shortage of routes they can take though, and as great as this story has been for over a year, I know HHH and the NXT creative team still has some aces up their sleeves. That’s what makes this brand so good.
K-Tank’s Take (Part II): I’ve gone back and watched the closing moments of this show quite a few times, and there are a few other small items I wanted to touch on. First, it’s a shame Mauro wasn’t on the call for this. The announcers laid out for the majority of the segment, with Vic just saying, “It’s Johnny Gargano!” but no real emotion between it. I think Mauro would’ve had a great call. Secondly, Nikki Cross knew “he was coming” the entire time. Could my theory still be true and Gargano aligns with Nikki? Remember, Candice LaRae eventually wanted nothing to do with Johnny from a professional standpoint anymore, and even said that Johnny left her that night for a while. Lastly, and I preface this by saying I could be reading way too much into it, but there was something about William Regal’s reaction that makes me wonder if he’s a part of this somehow. For a guy who was trying for WEEKS to find out who took out Aleister, if he didn’t know it was Gargano, then why wasn’t he more incredulous when it plays out right in front of his face? His reaction was somewhat confused, but in a subdued manner. Again, could be reading too much into it, but with a storyline this big for the brand, I just wanted to cover all corners.
What did you guys think of Gargano being the culprit? Sound off in the comments below!