Well, we said we’d revisit NXT after TakeOver, and since we’re staying up late in the UK for the Cruiserweight Classic finale… why not tonight?
Samoa Joe comes out to start the show, and it’s an in-ring promo to open this week’s NXT. Tom Phillips notes that Samoa Joe is still not cleared to compete. Joe tells us he’s destroyed friendships and choked out enemies. He stops short of telling us about the time he choked out a now-disgraced British wrestler who hit him with a pillow (to be fair, it was karma in advance), but Joe wants to go face-to-face with Shinsuke Nakamura.
The NXT champion comes out with his strobe-light-tastic entrance, and Joe finally tells him that he meant everything he said before TakeOver: Brooklyn, including that Nakamura was an undeserving contender. Joe concedes that he is, however, a worthy champion… but he wants his rematch as soon as he’s cleared. “Rematch? *bites fingers* *facial expressions* You’re on.” – in three words, Nakamura shows more charisma than just about anyone on the main roster. But we already knew that.
Joe goes to leave, but returns to shake Nakamura’s hand… and then makes his way to the back. Nevermind, Joe pops back out as Nakamura made his return, and peppered the champion with punches and knees. Nakamura fights back, but gets tossed head-first into the ring steps, before the champion’s given a uranage onto the lower half of the ring steps. Shinsuke takes a ride out of the arena in a stretcher, just as William Regal and Corey Graves march down to the ring to look at the wreckage. Still, they at least made sure to drape the NXT title over Nakamura as he’s carried out…
Back from break, we’ve got Tom Phillips and Corey Graves recapping what just happened. We then cut back to Regal storming outside, but he’s too late as Samoa Joe’s driven away.
Liv Morgan vs. Rachel Fazio
And we follow that heavy angle with a women’s match, featuring the daughter of Paul Ellering – albeit with a different surname.
Morgan goes for a sunset flip pin early on, then rolls Fazio around the ring a la Jack Gallagher before settling for a near-fall. A hiptoss drops Fazio, but she takes Morgan into the corner with some shoulder charges.
Morgan comes back with a dropkick, and then wriggles out of a Fireman’s carry before she hits a slow-motion DDT, and holds on after rolling through into a guillotine for a tap-out. Well, if they’re building up Liv, she needed the win; and the match was short enough not to expose either woman, but this really highlights the paucity of talent in the NXT Women’s division after the recent call-ups. *¾
Liv gets the mic after the match, and she demands a fight against Asuka. That’s going to be the closest thing to legalised murder in NXT…
We get another promo for SANITY – the same one that aired on TakeOver: Brooklyn II.
Drew Gulak vs. Hideo Itami
Gulak tries to slap away Itami at the bell, before they briefly go to the mat. Itami locks up, and gets taken into the ropes by Gulak… and then slapped HARD. That riles Itami, who fires back, and runs into Gulak with some knees to the midsection.
A PK-style knee rocks Gulak, as Itami pulls down a knee-pad for a swerved knee-drop… instead just backheeling the head of Gulak on the mat. Gulak gets a boot up in the corner, before connecting with a dropkick, then gets a near-fall after bodyslamming Itami in the ropes.
Gulak stomps on Itami, before he works a toe-hold and snaps it back into an Indian deathlock. Itami’s arms gets stretched behind him, which doesn’t look good for that repaired shoulder, before a belly-to-back suplex gets Gulak a near-fall. More slaps from Gulak anger Itami, as he takes Gulak into the corner for a Shibata-style dropkick, before the Go To Sleep gets the win. Itami sold a lot more than I expected, but he continues his successful comeback… but man, that scar on his shoulder is unnerving. **¾
Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) vs. Unnamed Local Competitors
I don’t think I’ve seen the Authors of Pain since their debut at TakeOver: The End, so I’m going to struggle to tell these guys apart. Rezar knocks down Mystery Jobber One before taking him into the corner, where Akam comes into pound away on him.
Rezar claw’s at Mystery Jobber One face on the apron, before Akam drags the other jobber into the ring the hard way. Rezar powerbombs Mystery Jobber Two. Mystery Jobber One takes a side Russian legsweep and clothesline combo, as the Authors of Pain seal the squash win. Total throwaway match. *
We’re backstage with Tye Dillinger – he’s still the perfect ten. Fair enough.
No Way Jose vs. Bobby Roode
They actually made a stop sign t-shirt for Jose?! Of course, Bobby Roode gets a good reaction, all because of that theme music… in Full Sail, he’s got a spinning podium, rather than a descending podium, which is a thing.
Roode starts with a headlock, and snapmares Jose to the mat before bellowing “glorious!” to the crowd. Another lock-up, and another headlock, with Roode keeping hold, before a shoulder tackle knocks Jose to the mat. They trade hiptoss attempts, before Jose lands a clothesline, a hiptoss and then a bodyslam as he gets a smattering of boos from a somewhat pro-Roode crowd.
Jose chops Roode into the corner, and gives him a back body drop out of it, as a clothesline sends Roode to the outside. A diving chop off the apron takes Roode down, and we go to a commercial break.
We return to see the pair inside the ring as Jose keeps up with chops, before kicking away a telegraphed back body drop attempt. Roode drops him with a spinebuster anyway, and we get another inserted update on Shinsuke Nakamura, as the storyline update has the champion pegged as having feeling in all extremities… and then Tom Phillips’ voice changes as live commentary resumed.
Roode takes Jose down with a stalling suplex, but Jose fires back with a crossbody off the ropes, forcing a two-count out of Roode, who hits back with a back suplex for a near-fall of his own. A grounded headlock keeps Jose at bay, but he slips out of a suplex attempt and matches Roode punch-for-punch.
Jose picks up Roode for an airplane spin into a TKO for a near-fall, before he gets caught with a hangman’s neckbreaker after Roode ducked a punch. An implant DDT follows, and Roode gets the win – and thankfully seems to have ditched that pumphandle bomb as a finisher. Not a fantastic main event, but Jose more than held his own against a guy who’s perceived to be higher up the pecking order. ***¼
Well, it was an episode of NXT. Aside from the show-opening angle with Shinsuke Nakamura, this was utterly forgettable, and only served to perpetuate the narrative that NXT’s gone downhill since their spate of call-ups earlier this year.
We’ll keep checking in on NXT sporadically, in the hope that the shows aren’t all throwaways if they’re between TakeOver specials – which are now looking like they’ll be before the “big four” PPVs.