After a busy week on national television, we are back at Full Sail University for a very big episode of NXT TV, I’m Scott Hammond and I’ll be steering you through the ups and downs.
Aleister Black vs Roderick Strong
Well, things started hot with the entrance of Aleister Black, fresh from his appearance’s on both RAW and SmackDown Live (man those live crowds were awful), and out next was Roderick Strong, who was back in singles action after his tag team title reign with Kyle O’Reilly. Black started with takedowns, followed by a sick looking Muay Thai kick to the head. That was physical. Strong recovered quickly, and outside the ring hit an innovative backbreaker on the steel steps. Strong continued to work the back, with a chin lock whilst applying the knee to the middle of Black’s back.
Strong then threw Black to the outside and rammed Black back first into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Strong continued his unique offence with a back body drop into another backbreaker. Black begins to recover, hitting a middle rope moonsault on Strong, both then trade offensive strikes, with Black getting the better of it, hitting another knee to the head into the Blackout brainbuster for a two count.
Both men fight onto the apron, where Strong took Black and put him in a torture rack, before throwing him back first into the ring post. Strong gained back control, setting up a suplex before Black reversed and hit Black Mass out of nowhere for the pinfall victory. Good opener, that told a great story. After the match, the Undisputed Era sans Adam Cole hit the ring and attacked Black, before Ricochet made the save with a springboard plancha. Black and Ricochet cleared the ring to finish the segment.
Winner: Aleister Black
A promo aired for Bianca Belair next, teasing conflict with her previous tag team partners, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai, as well as her feud with Shayna Baszler. Great work again from the WWE here. She finished with her ‘Un-De-Fea-Ted’ line. Didn’t she pass out to Baszler at the last Pay Per View? Yeah, I got it, she didn’t get pinned or submit, but still.
In two weeks, the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic returns. The Undisputed Era, Forgotten Sons, Street Profits, and Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner have been announced for the tournament with four other teams to be revealed next week. The winner of this year’s tournament will face the War Raiders for the titles NXT TakeOver: New York on April 5 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Mia Yim vs Xia Li
Both competitors looked very colourful in their entrances. The match started quite slow, and I was hopeful that the pace would quicken. It didn’t. Li had a great little kick combination that didn’t connect with Yim at all but it was good visually. Yim hit Li with a dropkick in the corner, but Li came back with an enzuigiri in the corner. A short time later Yim hit the Protect Ya Neck for the pinfall victory. Really strange match here. The pacing was off and there was little crowd investment.
Not the greatest way to build these two. Straight after the match, Shayna Baszler, Shafir and Duke hit the ring and attacked both Yim and Li. A random group of NXT female trainee’s hit the ring to make the save and are easily disposed of by the Horsewomen. Baszler hit a running knee strike on Yim to left everyone laying to end the segment
Winner: Mia Yim
Short little promo with Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae here. Tommaso Ciampa was standing just past Gargano’s left shoulder, the promo wasn’t much, but the devil on the shoulder imagery here was excellent.
Next up was a sit-down interview with Jeremy Borash (Jeremy Freakin’ Borash, T-Shirt design right there, sorry Rollins), talking with Matt Riddle about his feud with Kassius Ohno being over (thank the heavens). Riddle noted he was coming after gold in NXT. There was something distinctly unlikable about Riddle.
Velveteen Dream vs Johnny Gargano (c) for the NXT North American Championship
The Velveteen Dream is a star. Full stop. Gargano was out next. I worry for him on the main roster, as there has been a lot of chatter about his size (or lack thereof), he should not be put in 205 Live. Both men started with chain wrestling, as the camera cut to Ciampa watching from what appeared to be a box up in the rafters of the Full Sail crowd. After the chain wrestling, Dream hit a handspring and then slapped Gargano square in the face, sending Gargano to the outside. Gargano cut off Dream in the corner and began to take control of the match. Gargano hit a snap mare into a back dropkick and followed up with a hangman’s neckbreaker. Gargano then put Dream in an armbar and began wrenching back on his arm, this looked pretty nasty, great visual.
Gargano then began working Dream with chops on the outside and high-fived a few fans at ringside, which was odd given that he was the heel in this contest. He put Dream in an abdominal stretch, who fought out and managed to connect with an impressive Double-A spinebuster, followed by a clothesline on Gargano over the top rope to the outside. Dream then ascended to the top rope and hit a double axe handle to the outside. Dream then rolled Gargano back into the ring and hit a Fame-Asser for a two-count. Dream made it to the second rope before Gargano connected with a superkick through his legs and moved seamlessly into a middle rope spinning flatliner. Crazy stuff here, thick and fast pace. Both men ended up on the ring apron, and Gargano hit another superkick, followed by a tope Suicida to the outside on Dream.
Back in the ring, both men perched themselves on the middle rope, with Dream getting the upper hand and hitting a middle rope Dream Valley Driver and only getting a two count! Gargano then rolled out of the ring to recover, only for Dream to again fly from the top rope but this time got caught with yet another superkick. Gargano then hit a suplex on the steel ramp way. Back in the ring, both men traded blows, before Dream hit a Dream Valley Driver out of nowhere. Roll through into another Dream Valley Driver. Dream then hit the Purple Rainmaker for the three-count! We have a NEW NXT North American Champion.
Winner and new North American Champion: The Velveteen Dream
NXT went off the air this week with The Velveteen Dream celebrating his impressive title win, and Tommaso Ciampa looking very unimpressed with Gargano’s performance.
A solid show this week. Only three matches, but the bookend matches were good to great in their respective places. The women’s match lacked any emotional investment from the crowd and was weirdly paced, but the build-up for the Horsewomen continued.
All photos courtesy of WWE.com