The NXT Report Card (5/9/18): Ohno? Oh Yes...The Sequel!

Well, it’s fair to say that it’s been an interesting week for us dumb wrestling fans. For me personally, it’s been a rather traumatic one. Backlash left me a broken man and had me frozen in fear but as always, I soldiered on and on this week’s 205 Live, I found some reprieve. Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy (totally didn't bring this topic up only to share MY ARTICLE) reinvigorated my love for this silly rasslin thing and that has me somewhat excited for this week’s NXT.

Tommaso Ciampa’s clash with Kassius Ohno should be tremendous, and the big bloke battle between War Raiders and Heavy Machinery promises to be fun too. With that said and my cheap plug out the way, let’s head to the illustrious Full Sail, everyone’s favorite wresting venue.

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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.

Stealing Spotlights and Stuff

‘THE ONE AND ONLY’ Ricochet gets us started here as he comes out to talk about stuff. He reveals that he’s an obscene narcissist, constantly desperate for people to remember his own name. For those not keeping score, this man’s name is an actual word with its own definition, this arrogance is outrageous. Either way, the greatest wrestler ever interrupted Ricochet as Velveteen Dream arrived to call him “babe.” Dream is unsurprisingly confused by Ricochet’s silly nickname and seems to actually believe that he’s the real “ONE AND ONLY.”

Ricochet refused this, reminding Dream that Aleister Black “kicked his head off” and that he’ll now steal Velveteen’s spotlight himself. Dream was annoyed by this and a fight of some kind seemed likely until Velveteen smoothly approached the canvas (fell over) and bailed.

For all my clowning, I thoroughly enjoyed this in-ring verbal confrontation, something not always seen in NXT. Ricochet was decent, he spoke well but did feel a little nervy at times which is to be expected I guess. It’s just a matter of him relaxing, something easier said than done of course. On the other hand, The Dream’s charisma is simply astounding. He speaks smoothly whilst still projecting in the grandest way, a tremendous talent

Grade: B+

EC3

Raul Mendoza is here now and that can only mean one thing, its EC3 time. Mendoza used his speed, startling EC3 to gain an early advantage. However, EC3 then hit a wacky trip maneuver that looked pretty cool before following up with some violent chops and a massive lariat. Raul then made a brief comeback but that only delayed the inevitable as EC3 soon hit his finish for the win.

Cathy Kelley then arrived to interview him but EC3 scoffed at her line of questioning and instead reminded her that he is in fact, a man. He also made it clear that he intends to win all his matches…EC3 is great fun guys.

Mendoza does his job and he does it well, very little else for me to say for him so he’ll go ungraded.

Grade: B+

We now move backstage to some footage from last week as Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch explained to Pete Dunne that they think he’s a very bad person. Dunne accepts this but their alliance opposite The Undisputed Era seemingly remains strong.

Dakota Kai

Action in the women’s division now as last week’s angle between Dakota Kai and Vanessa Borne gets a pay-off of sorts. Big Dakota chants early but Borne quickly grabbed a hold before walking into a big dropkick. Kai missed her follow-up kick though and Borne took control from there. She sold nicely, fighting from underneath with the crowd firmly on her side. Eventually, she made a comeback of big kicks and hit a neat backbreaker thingy for the win.

Standard babyface showing for Kai but before she could celebrate, Shayna Baszler arrived looking smug. She cornered Dakota, who was terrified, before choking Borne out whilst staring down Dakota. Kai bailed, leaving Vanessa’s life in great danger. Cathy Kelley was waiting for her behind the curtain but Kai was still very nervous and Baszler soon interrupted her again. She goaded Kai some more but walked off before long, leaving Dakota alone with just Nikki Cross (remember her?) who was apparently laughing uncontrollably.

This was all well done by Kai but I’ll stress it again, there’s a fine line between a relatable underdog and a dorky loser….just saying.

Grade: B

Vanessa Borne

Honestly, the highlight of this match for me came in the form of Percy Watson’s passionate outbursts during Vanessa’s entrance. To quote him, “Vanessa Borne wants to continue to come out here and show the world that she is..CAN FIGHT.” I don’t think Percy has ever called a Borne match without mentioning that “she’s not just a pretty face.” It’s quite tremendous.

Speaking of such, considering Borne’s gimmick is that she loves her face and likes looking in the mirror, can we scratch the headbutt from her offense? Just a thought. That wacky corner facebuster can go too if I’m being honest. Her character work was a lot of fun here though, literally asking Full Sail to cheer for her (though they refused) before hitting a nice neckbreaker. She then grabbed a hold until Kai made her comeback for the win.

These matches are short and Borne is certainly not some smooth operator but once again, I like her presentation, look and general presence quite a bit. She comes across like a star to me and in this match, showed some nice heel mannerisms too. That’s all undone by having her choked unconscious by another heel though of course.

Grade: C+

Heavy Machinery

It’s a big night for Tucky and Dozer here as they must get serious if they plan on vanquishing the brand new War Raiders. Rowe and Dozovic got us started here with a massive strike exchange before Hanson and Tucker joined in too, making for a wild start. Both Otis and Tucker were then floored by Rowe, and Dozovic sold briefly before turning things around with a massive suplex on Hanson.

That allowed Tucker to make a comeback on Rowe but as Hanson wiped Otis out with a big dive, he was isolated and quickly pinned by Fallout. This was brief to say the least but fun while it lasted. Interested to see where Machinery go from here.  

Grade: B+

War Raiders

Everything about Hanson and Rowe worked here, they simply came across like absolute monsters. Rowe no-selling strikes was awesome and his own offense came with real spite too. Throw in a little tandem offense and Hanson’s big dive and you have a tremendous showcase for this great team. Not much else to say, they are tremendous.

Grade: A*

Following this we got a recap of last week’s TM61 heel turn, before a wonderful video package showcasing The Street Profits’ work ethic. Cool.

Tommaso CIampa

Main event time now as Tommaso Ciampa, entering to only “asshole” chants, takes on Kassius Ohno. Ciampa is sporting a massive shiner here and still has immense heat at Full Sail, making for a great atmosphere. Ciampa was floored early and in desperate need for some reprieve. He soon cut Ohno off though, attacking his leg before landing some vicious strikes to take control. This brought huge ‘Ohno’ chants as Ciampa worked him over with a real nastiness.

However, Ohno soon turned things around with more big strikes and dominated until Ciampa hid behind the referee, allowing himself to fire back, even gouging Ohno’s eye. After a knee to the back of Ohno’s head, one final exchange followed before Ciampa hit some kind of wrestling maneuver for the win.

He then stood in center ring, embracing the heat until opting to assault Ohno with his knee brace. The reaction to Ciampa really is awesome and adds a lot to his matches. Mauro was a little much for me here but generally, this is an element that feels super refreshing in NXT’s universe of everyone generally being cheered. Really good main event, this was a fight and rightfully so.

Grade: A*

Kassius Ohno

Whilst the focus here was always going to be on Ciampa, Ohno was absolutely superb here from start to finish. He showed intent even in his entrance, an aggression that only heightened the intense atmosphere live. His initial strike flurry was awesome too, chasing Ciampa around the ring with incredibly hard hitting stuff. Ohno’s offense (forearms/kicks to the brain) was perfectly suited to the story of revenge being told here, every moment coming with the exact kind of passion and vigor necessary.

I also enjoyed seeing Ohno act almost out of character, driving his elbow into Ciampa’s damaged eye before even dropping his exposed knee on it too. Ohno really tried it all here, even looking for a submission before slamming Tommaso into the mat for 2. He dominated a lot of this match but eventually fell short valiantly, a fitting end to this simple but engaging story of good vs. evil. An unsurprisingly great showing from a brilliant performer.

Grade: A*

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure if it’ll be for everyone but personally, I found the main event to be perfect. Combine that with the fun opening segment and I’m already pretty happy with this week’s show. War Raiders and Heavy Machinery was what it needed to be too and the debut of EC3 served as a suitable icing on the cake. This really was a strong episode of NXT and I’m finding it interesting to see how they continue to adapt to having such a massive roster. Either way, a really good hour of pro wrestling television.

Grade: A

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