Date: July 25, 2018
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson, Nigel McGuinness
It’s a big match night as we have a rare NXT Title defense. Aleister Black is putting the title on the line against Tommaso Ciampa, who would make a rather terrifying champion. We’re less than a month away from Takeover: Brooklyn IV and that means it’s time to start putting things together. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at the setup for Black vs. Ciampa, with both of them talking about being the devils of NXT. Ciampa says he needs one chance to win the title and his ascension will be complete.
Adam Cole vs. Sean Maluta
Non-title. Maluta goes straight for a rollup before switching to a neckbreaker to bang Cole up. That’s about it for Maluta’s offense as Cole kicks him in the ribs and superkicks him out of the air. The Last Shot puts Maluta away at 2:15. Just a squash.
Post match Cole says he’s the hottest commodity on any brand and is defending his title around the world. Tonight he gave this guy an opportunity so if anyone…and here’s Ricochet. Oh I think I could go for this. Ricochet congratulates him on not running from his competition for once, even though Cole couldn’t even remember his opponent’s name tonight. All Cole has done is become a coward but if he wants to prove otherwise, how about a title match in Brooklyn?
Cole passes and leaves so Ricochet calls him a coward again. That’s too far for Cole so he goes back to the ring but Ricochet is ready for him, sending Cole back to the floor while Ricochet flips into the superhero pose. That brings out Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong but the War Raiders are right behind them. Was there any reason to not push them straight to the title picture? Actually there is, as Moustache Mountain pop up to chase the champs into the crowd. I could go for moustaches vs. beards for the title shot. Going from one Takeover match to three in about fifteen minutes is pretty nifty work.
Earlier today, William Regal (welcome back) held the contract signing for Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane. Baszler didn’t want to call this a rematch because not only has she beaten Sane since the Mae Young Classic but she’s not the same person. Sane hasn’t done anything since then and things are going to change. Sane signs and says they both know she can win. Baszler sneers that off because Sane is just a fake pirate. She signs as well and seems rather annoyed at what Sane said.
We look back at Velveteen Dream walking out on EC3 during the UK show.
Tenilla Price vs. Lacey Evans
I can’t find anything about Price but she gets an entrance. Lacey throws her into the corner for the slingshot Bronco Buster but a moonsault hits knees. That’s it for Price as the Woman’s Right is good for the pin at 2:04.
Bianca Belair is injured but doesn’t need to explain anything. She’s still way ahead of everyone else and she’s un-de-feat-ed, which she says four times in less than thirty seconds.
Candice LeRae tries to go after Shayna but gets held back.
NXT Title: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black
Ciampa is challenging and still has no music. He even breaks up Black’s pre-match poses like a real villain. They lock up hard to start with Black getting the better of a technical exchange on the mat. It’s almost weird to see Ciampa wrestling but it makes sense because his hatred is at Johnny Gargano alone. A small package gives Black two as they’re still firmly in first gear. The hanging DDT is quickly broken up and Black hits his first kick to the chest to keep Ciampa down.
More kicks have Ciampa on the floor and Black moonsaults into the seated position so he can mock Ciampa’s wave. Back in and Ciampa gets in his first real shots to put Black on the floor for a whip into the steps. Now it’s Ciampa’s turn to mock Black’s pose because what’s good for one devil is good for another. Ciampa stays on the back with a backbreaker and an abdominal stretch.
Nigel is right there to talk about how this will weaken the Black Mass because it’s based on core strength because Nigel actually knows how to analyze a match. A Texas Cloverleaf switches over to the legs but Black is in the ropes pretty quickly. Black is fine enough to escape a super White Noise and a collision gives us a double knockdown, continuing the odd theory of one move balancing out a long stretch of offense.
More kicks have Ciampa in trouble and the standing Lionsault gets two. A hard kick to the head is good for the same and some kicks to the chest (Black: “TWEET ABOUT THIS!”) rock him even more. He’s fine enough to hit a top rope DDT for two but Black is right back with kicks to the head. A big spinning kick to the head sets up a German suplex for a near fall and Ciampa bails to the floor. Black misses a moonsault though and Ciampa sends him into the cameraman.
Back in and the hanging DDT gets a VERY close two so it’s time to pull the ring mats up. The referee starts yelling so Ciampa comes back in, only to be shoved into the referee, knocking him to the floor. Black Mass connects but there’s no one to count. Ciampa goes for the eye and grabs the title but here’s Gargano to superkick him. Gargano tries to take the belt away, sending it square into Black’s head. Ciampa sends Gargano outside and a lifting sitout Pedigree (Christopher Daniels’ Angel’s Wings, a FAR better finisher than that lame neckbreaker Ciampa was using) finishes Black at 22:18.
Rating: A-. It’s basically Shawn/Bret/Undertaker at Summerslam 1997 and that’s not a bad place to be. You could easily get to a triple threat from here and for once I like that idea instead of going with the trilogy. Black vs. Gargano could be awesome on its own and you could really milk the build to Gargano vs. Ciampa III where Gargano goes back to his normal self (how fitting of a first line to his theme music: “Be yourself, can’t be no no else.”) to defeat the evil once and for all.
The match itself was a great piece of drama with Black knowing he had the big weapon ready to win in the end but getting caught by outside interference and Ciampa being evil enough to take him down. Black is kept very strong as he knocked Ciampa cold and didn’t lose clean, making this another near perfectly booked match.
The lack of music makes it all the more eerie and thank goodness the fans boo him out of the building instead of the YOU DESERVE IT stuff. Ciampa poses to end the show.
Overall Rating: A. Sweet goodness they know how to do this stuff. This was a tremendous episode from a storyline advancement perspective as we now have a big time main event plus several other midcard feuds ready to go. You can pretty easily see the Takeover card from here, which says a lot given how little of it was set coming into tonight. The main event is great and worth seeing, but now I’m a lot more interested in Takeover than I was. They always have that one show to draw you in and that’s what they did here.
Adam Cole b. Sean Maluta – Last Shot
Lacey Evans b. Tenilla Price – Woman’s Right
Tommaso Ciampa b. Aleister Black – Lifting sitout Pedigree
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