The NXT Report Card (8/9/17): They Gave Almas a Chance

Here we go again for another week in paradise. Seven days ago we witnessed Johnny Gargano’s return and Kyle O’Reilly’s debut in what was all in all, a very good episode of Hunter’s outlaw promotion. Now it’s time to get serious though, real serious. We are one week away from the go-home episode on the road to Brooklyn and things are really heating up. So far I’ve become the biggest Ember Moon fan in the world, Bobby Roode has solidified his spot as the best wrestler ever and Aleister Black keeps kicking people in the brain. There’s a lot going on and it’s now all coming to a head so keep your hands up and your chin tucked folks because Full Sail could explode at any moment.

DISCLAIMER: any wild predictions I make that you disagree with will likely be proven completely wrong in the coming weeks, months and years anyway so don’t worry too much. Basically, take everything you read from this point forward with a grain of salt as its credibility is preposterously low.

Following our usual opening video package, we are welcomed by Mauro Ranallo and the team before the sound of Nikki Cross’ shrieking suddenly emerged. Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain soon joined her as they “called out” The Authors of Pain. A returning Eric Young jumped Rezar first though and they isolated Akam before eventually laying them both out. I really don’t have anything to grade here from a skill point of view but this was a cool beat-down excluding one problem: the crowd.

Though they tried in pretty awesome fashion, AOP garnered zero sympathy from this Full Sail crowd with them instead even chanting “Sanity” a little. Pretty sure that the aim was to paint AOP as babyfaces here but regardless, this should be a good monster battle at TakeOver.

We now got a recap of last week’s absolutely awesome Asuka/Ember Moon angle. I really am very excited for this match.

The Iconic Duo

This was a sub-minute segment in which Peyton Royce and Billie Kay attempted to give a makeup tutorial before being distracted by the sight of Ruby Riot. I’m going to come at this from a different angle because as I watched whilst sipping my ice cold Pepsi Max, it suddenly all clicked for me why this was so brilliant. I normally write off these tiny segments as the ungraded pointless parts but in around 50 seconds, these two women were so committed to their silliness that they told you absolutely everything that you really need to know about them.

These aren't ground-breaking characters but they’re easy to understand and sometimes, like here, very entertaining. I’m giving this a massive thumbs up because it achieved all you could ask for and the format was unique. I’m in a good mood this week guys.

Grade: A*

Street Profits

It’s time folks, it’s time for the greatest tag team since Blake and Murphy to finally arrive. THE STREET PROFITS ARE FINALLY HERE. This is, of course, their debut, as they take on the Metro Brothers in a showcase match. Firstly, I just have to say that I’m a big fan of this act. They have a great look as a unit but are still very much immediately different both in appearance and style. Montez Ford absolutely jumps through the screen as far as charisma goes and stands out in an instant. Dawkins, on the other hand, is lacking the big mannerisms and such but is still clearly a good athlete and technically solid.

Ford is super quick and whilst I have to admit that I know nothing about his background, he looked pretty good mechanically, great athletically and more importantly than all of that, his personality is just absolutely magnetic. I’m saying it now, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he becomes a real superstar on his own down the line. Dawkins himself made a hell of a hot tag though and that already seems a good spot for him. I want to make it clear that this team may soon be officially MONEY-MARKED and as we all know, that’s a big deal, a very big deal.

They obviously won here and I want to take this opportunity to discuss a bigger aspect of this debut. In my opinion, this team and Heavy Machinery are signs that the minds behind NXT are finally starting to understand the main roster a little more as frankly, these two teams are quintessential Vince McMahon, World Wrestling Federation tag teams. The reason I say that is because historically, teams in that promotion are less of a priority, serve as a mid-card act and have 12-minute matches rather than titanic 2-out-3 fall classics. Basically, WWF/E teams usually get over more on personality…just like singles acts.

Previous NXT teams like Blake and Murphy, American Alpha and yeah I’ll say it, The Revival have been more old school and for me, felt like teams Triple H and co enjoy rather than teams that will fit well on the main roster. Blake and Murphy were a throwback meat and potatoes team that purely served to make babyfaces look good and while that would’ve been great in an 80s territory, on the glitz and glam main roster product, it would’ve made them a non-factor. Alpha and Revival are different in that they can be legitimately spectacular if given some time to make magic but that’s not always the case on RAW and SD.

If you showed a casual viewer the entrance of those two teams, how would they feel if that was all they saw? Would they leave an impact on them? Compare that to The Usos and New Day, two pure WWE style tag acts. To me, Heavy Machinery fit that bill and so do the Street Profits. They’re over the top and in your face with the actual in-ring mechanics taking a backseat to the presentation and personality. This has been a lot of rambling but I hope it made some sense as in my opinion, it’s a real thing to consider.

Nothing to say about the Metro Brothers other than that they should definitely not dress like Deuce and Domino. Nonetheless, perfect debut for Ford and Dawkins. I’m in a VERY good mood this week kids.

Grade: A*

Time now for a brief update on Aleister Black’s recently begun feud with Hideo Itami and the announcement of their TakeOver match. Sounds good to me.

Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre…FACE OFF…Roddy’s there too

It’s time for our FACE OFF as William Regal introduces the champion and challenger. Roode’s level of promo is often disputed but I personally think he’s very, very good. He arrogantly laughed off Drew’s comments last week and reminded the audience that he’s done everything he said he would so far. That’s something that really helps a heel get heat, especially when he’s proclaiming the whole promotion as his own. Basically, Roode is my favorite NXT champion of all time and it’s really not even close. Drew, on the other hand, does nothing for me and just shouts every single week. Already tired of it.

Roderick Strong then came out and cut a pretty nice impassioned promo all things considered. He’s never going to be a great talker but this was fine. Roode interrupted him and got very angry, suggesting Strong and Drew wrestle next week. Regal informs Bobby that “HE MAKES THE MATCHES” but after some more debating, ‘Lord’ Steven did indeed make the match anyway. The champ was great here but overall this was kind of odd and left me completely uninterested in Drew challenging for the belt. Still some good stuff in there though.

Grade: B

Johnny Gargano

Our mate Johnny is being interviewed next and he makes his intentions to compete in Brooklyn clear. He wants to wrestle at TakeOver so I guess I’ll put my name forward now. I’m more than happy to come in and pop the territory Hunter so just give me call, no jobs though. Fine promo.

Grade: C+

Oney Lorcan

Time for Oney’s rematch with Danny Burch and man, I wish you guys could see my reaction to this little lunatic’s music hitting. I’m a very miserable human but he brings a real smile to my face, I truly cherish his penchant for violence. Just to be clear, if he wrestled in Japan I’d call him an undersized mark that doesn't know it’s a work. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. So what? After a feeling out process, which I loved, Oney threw a liver shot and that was absolutely awesome. Some grappling followed before both men began to absolutely batter each other as only they can.

Oney soon went to nailing chops that seemed to be legitimately brutalizing poor Danny but he was quickly cut off and had to ‘sell’ (I know right, why?) Before long he was back to murdering Burch with European uppercuts though and his ability to just explode at any moment is phenomenal and allows him to stand out massively against almost anyone. His real shining moment here though was when he began to kick and stomp on Burch when trying to secure the Single Leg Boston Crab. He was unsuccessful regardless and big Danny rolled him up for the win. Very fun match.

Afterwards they shook hands and there were a couple of comments about this being their second match. Wasn't this their third though or was it just production flaw to call their last match a rematch. I was confused then and I’m just straight befuddled at this point. Who cares I guess.

Grade: B+

Side note: That very weird graffiti style SummerSlam advert played here so I thought I’d just confirm that yes I’m insane enough to be covering the 21 hour event next weekend. Wish me luck.

Danny Burch

In the early going Burch did a real good job of selling not only the physicality but also the intensity all just with his face. Everything that Burch does is good and looks more than solid even if he lacks that next level at times for me. That excludes his chops though, which looked absolutely obscene here at points. As an Englishman that’s often surrounded by blokes that like a pint and talk SPORT, Burch’s act confuses me because I’m not sure if it’s forced or just too real in a way that really scares me.

Just like Oney, Burch’s best moment came in the Boston Crab spot as he fought Lorcan off with kicks directly to the face. I really appreciated the way he sold his surprise roll-up victory too as it emphasized the win’s significance which in turn elevates Oney’s standing in NXT. It was a big deal to beat Lorcan and simply put, that helps both men.

Grade: B

No Way Jose

Main event time as Jose takes on the GOAT. Okay I’m getting Jose’s part of the way here:

His entrance is great as always and I hope he’s up to the main roster soon but he was just a supporting actor in the motion picture masterpiece here. He played his role and did it fine. He did what was best for business.

Grade: C+

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

If you’ve read these awful pieces of literature since day one (ish), you’ll know that this was an emotional moment for me and my Pepsi Max. It was almost three months ago that I first professed my love for Andrade and it’s been a tough ride since. I’ve tried to start campaigns for change and I’ve attempted to build a movement from the ground up. Together we’ve fought valiantly. We’ve made it clear to Hunter that we’re not going to take it anymore and that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND ITS TIME FOR CHANGE.

Between us as friends, I promised myself that I’d quit forever if Andrade lost this match; such was its importance in my heart and soul.

Now onto this beautiful bout. Firstly, I like the addition of Zelina Vega. I’m always for giving a guy an attractive valet as it really adds something to the aesthetic and overall presentation. In-ring, these guys really just told a simple story as Vega stopped Almas’ usual antics twice which led to ‘Cien’ DESTROYING Jose with violent strikes. He suddenly got real nasty and aggressive and not just in spurts like before--this was his new approach full-time. He even cut out the usual scream and slap corner spot, instead just straight kneeing him in the brain.

Almas is insanely smaller than Jose but carries himself like such star that it feels completely irrelevant. The finish came when Vega instructed that he “FINISH IT!” I suddenly got very nervous but Almas actually just picked him up and hit his finish…for…the…win. ANDRADE ALMAS JUST SQUASHED THIS MAN.

IT’S HAPPENING. THEY GAVE ALMAS A CHANCE. THE BOYHOOD DREAM HAS COME TRUE.

After the match, Vega called out Johnny Gargano which probably means that he’s losing at another TakeOver. I’m going to ignore that though because tonight is a night for celebration. We did it, guys. Together we changed the world.

Grade: A* mandatory

Final thoughts

On paper, this episode probably wasn't actually that great in that it didn't really have anything must-see for the sporadic viewer. However, I have to say that I just really thoroughly enjoyed watching it. The opening beat-down was fun, the Street Profits and B Roode ruled, Oney fighting Danny is awesome and ANDRADE ALMAS WON. This is probably the best night of my life but objectively, while I can’t quite put it in the absolute top bracket,  I still have to rank this show as one of my favorites thus far.

Grade: B+

Please celebrate this momentous occasion in the comments below or just tweet me abuse on Twitter @JoeHulbert5 like many others already do. Until next time folks!

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