Date: January 10, 2018
Location: Center Stage Theater, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Percy Watson
We’re on some hallowed ground tonight as NXT heads to the former home of WCW Saturday Night. The next three shows will be all about setting up Takeover: Philadelphia, which means we need some more matches announced. A good chunk of the card is already set but NXT somehow manages to make the shows building to the big show entertaining as well. Let’s get to it.
The Undisputed Era is ready to start their year of dominance by taking out Sanity once and for all tonight. Adam Cole is ready to start becoming the next NXT Champion. Simple and to the point here with something that you would expect them to say. Just ignore the whole “the beginning of the era of undisputed” making O’Reilly sound like Yoda.
The ring is turned to the side here, meaning wrestlers come to a corner when they come down the aisle. It’s an awesome visual and feels different, which is where NXT excels.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai
This is both of their NXT in-ring debuts. Before the match we see a clip of Baszler randomly attacking Performance Center trainees for fun because that’s the kind of villain she is. Baszler drives her into the corner to start and takes Kai down into an armbar. A stomp bends Kai’s arm at a NASTY angle and that’s a referee stoppage at 1:23. Total squash and Baszler looked awesome here.
Post match Baszler stays on her until Ember Moon makes the save.
The Authors of Pain are ready to take care of the Street Profits. Since when can the Authors speak English?
General Manager William Regal talks to Baszler, saying that’s not going to get her a title shot. Baszler: “We done here?”
Kassius Ohno vs. Raul Mendoza
They even shake hands to start in a really old school move. Ohno grabs some rollups for a few early near falls but Mendoza is too fast. Mendoza hurricanranas him into a side roll but gets his head elbowed off without too much effort. An inverted Gory Special has Mendoza in more trouble until he reverses into a victory roll.
Back up and Ohno charges into a forearm in the corner, followed by a springboard spinning armdrag to drop Kassius again. Mendoza is showing off some very nice high flying here, which is exactly what he should be doing in a match like this. Ohno shrugs him off though and the High Tension Elbow Strike (running jumping elbow to the back of the head) ends Mendoza at 4:26.
Rating: C. This is the kind of thing that both guys needed. Ohno isn’t exactly a star in NXT but he’s great for a role like this: making people look good and using his experience to put together some better matches. Mendoza on the other hand is a rather good high flier and can showcase himself well around here. Mentioning that he’s been in so many matches against top quality talent shows that they’re likely to give him a win soon, which could lead somewhere for him.
Zelina Vega held a mini press conference saying she and Andrade Cien Almas aren’t worried about Johnny Gargano after beating him twice. That’s a fairy tale and Almas is reality. Vega is amazing at this condescending heel stuff and she’s made Almas that much better.
Johnny Gargano is thrilled to be #1 contender but here’s Velveteen Dream to interrupt. Dream wants a thank you for allowing Gargano to get his spot in the competition because Dream would have won it with ease. Gargano needs to thank him because Dream deserves his spot.
The Street Profits loudly come into Regal’s office and think they deserve a Tag Team Title shot. Regal seems to agree so next week it’s the Street Profits vs. the Authors of Pain in a #1 contenders match. More loudness ensues and Regal smiles.
Lio Rush vs. Lars Sullivan
This could hurt a lot. Rush dodges to start and even slaps Lars in the face. A kick to the jaw staggers Sullivan for a bit but he pulls Rush into the ropes to take over. Rush gets whipped hard into the corner but Lars misses a charge. That’s about it for Rush though as one heck of a clothesline turns him inside out, followed by the Freak Accident for the pin at 1:54.
Post match Sullivan talks about destroying everyone until he ran into a different kind of force. That was Killian Dain and Sullivan wants to see him again. For now though, Rush takes a super Freak Accident to really hammer home the punishment.
The Undisputed Era has attacked Sanity in the back. The Era says that’s it for the title shot.
Here’s the Undisputed Era in the arena for a chat. Cole thinks they’re missing something and Kyle asks where Sanity is. Maybe they forgot about their title shot tonight. Cole says they kicked the chaos out of Sanity but here’s a livid Nikki Cross trying to get at the Era. Referees hold her back but so Regal comes out to cut the Era off again. The boss says the titles are on the line tonight and here’s Roderick Strong to say he’ll fight right now. Strong offers to go find a partner but someone interrupts to say he’ll do it.
Tag Team Titles: Undisputed Era vs. Roderick Strong/Aleister Black
The teams are at different corners than the usual WWE formula with the champs on the left side closer to the hard camera. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen the corners changed in WWE. Fish and O’Reilly are defending and get cleared to the floor, sending us to a break before the bell.
Back with the bell ringing and Black kicking away at both champs. A knee to Kyle’s head gets two and Strong adds a dive to the floor. Back in and Black’s Oklahoma roll gets two on Kyle, followed by an armbar to keep him in trouble. Strong comes in for a chinlock as the champs are still looking for their first offense. Fish finally takes Black’s knee out and we take a break.
Back with Kyle holding the knee and Fish adding a slingshot hilo for two. An exploder suplex gives Fish two but Black kicks O’Reilly away. There’s the double tag to bring in Strong and Fish as everything breaks down. The champs’ Ax and Smash is broken up with a jumping knee to the face and everyone is down. Cue Cole to go after Black, who stalks him into the crowd. Back inside, the champs go High/Low to retain at 11:50.
Rating: C+. This didn’t feel like the standard NXT main event but maybe they’re saving the Sanity match for another time. It was entertaining for what it was though and thankfully NXT is smart enough to not put the titles on a thrown together team like you would see so often on the main shows. Fine main event, but it felt more like a big time house show.
Post match Black comes in for the brawl but gets taken out. An AA onto an open chair knocks Black cold. The Era poses but here’s Regal to talk about Philadelphia’s extreme history. At Takeover: Philadelphia, Cole vs. Black will be an Extreme Rules match. Cole and Regal stare each other down to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. This show felt a little off from the norm for NXT but it still did everything it needed to do. The big story here was the arrival of Baszler (nailed it) and some more matches being teased for Takeover. NXT can fill in the gaps over the next few weeks and that’s where they shine. Good enough show, but it didn’t feel like it had the same flow that most of their episode do.
Shayna Baszler b. Dakota Kai via referee stoppage
Kassius Ohno b. Raul Mendoza – High Tension Elbow Strike
Lars Sullivan b. Lio Rush – Freak Accident
Undisputed Era b. Roderick Strong/Aleister Black – High/Low to Strong
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