Date: March 21, 2018
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Percy Watson
We’re in the home stretch towards Takeover: New Orleans and you can guess most of the card. NXT knows how to set up things down the last few weeks and I have no doubt that they’ll pull it off again. We also have more from the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which could be a lot of fun by the end. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Tommaso Ciampa, still without music, to open the show. The fans have their Johnny Gargano signs to annoy him even more, which are a great touch. Ciampa has a mic and again the fans won’t let him get a word out. After being cut off over and over, Ciampa finally shouts that HE’S GONE. Gargano isn’t walking down the aisle because he’s gone.
Ciampa drops the mic and heads to the floor to glare at the fans, eventually ripping up the Johnny signs. He pulls away one from a fan….and it’s Johnny Gargano. The fight is on until security pulls him away as Ciampa looks like he’s seen a ghost. Johnny is carried out into the parking lot as the fans want to see them fight. Another great segment here and a moment that needed to happen.
Charly Caruso recaps the first round of the Dusty Classic. There is a change to announce as well: Tyler Bate has injured his knee so Moustache Mountain has to be replaced. A surprise team will replace them tonight. Roderick Strong will be one member, but his partner will be revealed later.
The Undisputed Era laughs off the idea of Strong winning anything in NXT. Adam Cole is so confident that he’d like Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to stay in the back for his match tonight. In other words, Fish is injured.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round: Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch vs. Roderick Strong/???
Ok so it’s later and the partner is…..Pete Dunne. Well that works. Strong and Lorcan hit the mat to start with Roderick grabbing something like an STF to keep the pace slow. Burch comes in and gets dragged over to the corner with Dunne coming in to crank on the arm. The twisting only gets Dunne so far as Burch takes the leg out and tries a kneebar, drawing in both partners as we go to a break.
Back with Dunne still working on the arm, followed by a shot to the face to send Burch into the corner. Stereo chops get two on Danny but he comes right back with a middle rope dropkick. Lorcan comes back in for a running boot to the face and a running European uppercut gets two on Strong.
The running Blockbuster gets the same as the pace stays white hot. Everything breaks down again and Strong dives into another uppercut. Burch throws Strong with a release German suplex and Lorcan suplexes Strong onto him in a big crash. Dunne gets caught in a Crossface but Strong kicks Lorcan onto Danny to break up the hold. A blind tag brings Strong back in and End of Heartache finishes Burch at 10:15.
Rating: B-. Dunne didn’t get to shine as much as usual here but it was still a heck of a hard hitting match with all four looking good. Strong and Dunne could make for a solid team built on respect, though I’m not sure how far they’ll go outside of the tournament. We got in a good match here, but it makes me want to see Dunne on his own more than anything else.
Ember Moon vs. Aliyah
Non-title. Aliyah’s headscissors on the mat doesn’t get her very far so she pulls Ember out of the corner and onto the mat for some more success. Cue Shayna Baszler to do commentary, with her feet on the table of course. Aliyah grabs a chinlock for a bit before Moon counters a crossbody into a Samoan drop. A flip clothesline in the corner sets up the Eclipse for the pin at 2:57. Nothing match and little more than a way to have the women on screen together.
Raul Mendoza comes out for a match but gets jumped by Andrade Cien Almas. Andrade and Zelina Vega get in the ring with the former ranting in Spanish about how great of a champion he is. Almas wants Aleister Black to face him next week and to show him some respect.
Lars Sullivan is back next week, along with Aleister Black and Almas going face to face.
William Regal promises an announcement next week to change the landscape of NXT forever.
Adam Cole vs. Kassius Ohno
Ohno grabs an arm to start but gets run over by a shoulder. A big boot to the chest breaks up a leapfrog and there’s a heck of a backsplash to crush Cole in a painful looking landing. Cole gets sent outside and comes up limping but of course it’s just goldbricking, meaning a jumping enziguri rocks Ohno again.
Back with Cole kicking him down for two and getting the same off a neckbreaker. We hit the chinlock for a bit before a Backstabber gets another two. Cole tries a charge and runs right into a punch to the jaw to get us right back to even. Ohno’s big boot into a slam into a legdrop (well he is wearing yellow) give him two of his own and Cole’s head gets knocked off by the cyclone kick.
They forearm the heck out of each other until the Last Shot gives Cole two more. Cole’s Shining Wizard is reversed and the High Tension Elbow knocks him out onto the ramp. Back in and three straight superkicks set up the Last Shot and the running knee to the back of the head (called the Last Shot here) end Ohno at 13:00.
Rating: C+. Ohno is at his best here when he’s putting someone over and making them look awesome. That’s what we got here and the match was a lot of fun with Cole talking trash and hanging in a fight at the end. This gives Cole the little bit of momentum back that he’s been lacking as of late so hopefully this leads somewhere else for him.
Overall Rating: B. They’re getting closer to New Orleans and most of the card is already set. I’m liking the idea of the NXT Title match more and more every week as it’s starting to get out of the shadow of Gargano vs. Ciampa. Having Gargano show up again made for a better show as well, as it was a necessary step to take. Good show here, as they’re starting to make the fans’ mouths water again.
Roderick Strong/Pete Dunne b. Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch – End of Heartache to Burch
Ember Moon b. Aliyah – Eclipse
Adam Cole b. Kassius Ohno – Last Shot
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