The NXT Report Card (6/27/18): Royal Albert Hall Hangover

It’s another week of NXT TV and in Moustache Mountain, we have BRAND NEW TAG TEAM CHA…man, I’m not even going to disrespect you all like that. The title of this week’s Report Card suggests that I’m a very well-prepared, educated young man. However, as many of you already know, this is far from the truth. In fact, I haven’t even watched the big title change from London and frankly, I’m ashamed of myself. When it comes to my own backyard, I’m far too wary of Hunter’s underlying evil master-plan to enjoy his professional wrestling shows.

With that said, let’s head to Full Sail and review another week of Hunter’s outlaw promotion. Much love.

Nick Aldis Would Love To See Curtis Axel (Joe Hennig) In The NWA

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.

Face to Face with the Devil

We start tonight’s episode with the champ (apparently) Aleister Black. He’s got a microphone here and in all seriousness, I’m glad to see that they keep sending him out there as it’ll only make him better in the long term. On the other hand, his promo here went right to discussion about adversity and was generic babyface stuff that felt somewhat odd for Black’s character. Either way, he eventually said that he made Lars, his adversity, fade to black.

In response, Tommaso Ciampa emerged on the ramp way. One quick thing: I love the no music gimmick but can we complete the presentation and remove the glossy name graphic please? Not everything needs to look so polished and pretty lads. Nonetheless, Ciampa said that it’s time for Black to “stand face to face with the devil.” That’s him by the way, Ciampa, he’s the devil. Tommaso says that he beat Gargano with his hands tied behind his back and more than that, he sees right through Black.

They then began to threaten each other until Ciampa sat cross-legged in a tribute to UFC Welterweight Phil Brooks, waving at Black smugly. This enraged the champ and he left the ring but Ciampa walked off, still waving. Black continues to be a work in progress on the mic but Tommaso was tremendous here and in a few sentences, sold me on the match. Big thumbs up to the psycho bald man.

Grade: B+

Whilst on the topic of the champ, we are next told that at TakeOver: Chicago, Lars sustained a broken jaw during his title match with Black. That’s one big tough brother pal.

Speaking of rugged competitors, Vanessa Borne is here now and she’s talking to the media. She understandably questions Kairi Sane’s fascination with pirates before rightly calling herself “a vision”. My note taking isn’t always full-proof but from what I can tell, she said something about selling all her goodies here and I think I’m best served just leaving that talking point alone. Seriously though, Borne was pretty good here and continues to impress me as a character. She’s super confident and carries herself like an absolute star…we’ll see where that takes her.

Kona Reeves

THE FINEST is back again and he’s taking on Max Humberto in yet another showcase match. Reeves had wacky facials from the outset here and taunted Humberto whilst immediately controlling the action. Once again, he was super aggressive, at one point simply launching Humberto to the floor before following him, and continuing his attack on the outside. A butterfly suplex followed as well as that bizarre gimmick that Mauro apparently now calls the “reverse diving elbow.”

Reeves then grinded Humberto’s face into the mat and with a big boot, halted his brief comeback before hitting a messy Hawaiian Drop for the win. Nothing more to say really, I see the raw ingredients that they like but I’m still unsure as to how I’m supposed to take this act. Interested to see where it goes though.

Grade: B-

Up next, I’m reminded of my disgraceful behavior as we see a recap of Moustache Mountain’s title win. Looks fun pal, and tonight they are IN ACTION like Razor Ramon on a 1994 episode of RAW.

Side note: that Extreme Rules “no explanation” ad is absolutely awful. Like seriously, I fully endorsed the Great Balls of Fire content and even I think that this sucks. Just bad.

Candice LeRae

Some women’s division action now as Candice LeRae takes on Lacey Evans. “Candice Wrestling” chants are already rocking and rolling before the bell has even rung and after being overpowered early, LeRae fired back with some arm-drags and a nice dropkick. Evans soon turned things around though, taking control and getting the heat for a portion. Candice sold this beautifully, coming back with the odd roll-up attempt whilst mostly looking in sheer agony.

Eventually, LeRae made a comeback and still sold her arm along the way. This led to a double down but soon enough, Candice continued her attack regardless, unloading with her working arm and running wild tremendously. She then hit a bulldog of sorts off the middle rope and daftly picked Evans up to hit an Unprettier before closing the show via awesome Lionsault. Wow, this was a marvelous showing for Candice who ticked every single box you’d look for in an elite white-meat babyface.

She had great energy, sold brilliantly and showed immense fire in her comeback. Best of all, she even had some flashiness down the stretch. Simply sublime.

Grade: A*

Lacey Evans

It’s actually becoming a lot of fun to watch Evans continued improvement on NXT TV and this week was no different. Logic is always key for me (unless I want to praise a match that lacks it) and for that reason, Evans immediately establishing her power advantage was tremendous stuff. Moreover, cheating is also key and grabbing the hair was a nice touch that made Lacey’s cut-off all the more effective. I also loved her work on the arm, initially using the ring-post to target it before continuing her attack in center ring.

She continues to be delightfully aggressive in control too, and I can’t stress enough how much she’s improved since I saw her wrestle Kairi live in NOLA. It looks like she could end up being a real success story in this division.

Grade: B+

Johnny Gargano is being interviewed next and he claims that Candice is his favorite wrestler. Hmmm, I guess he never saw a prime Wesley Blake. Either way, he says that it was hard to focus on LeRae’s win as his mind keeps replaying TakeOver: Chicago. Not all of it, just the part where he had his head driven into wood by a man with his hands tied behind his back. Basically, Johnny really wants a rubber match as he feels that this ends when Ciampa does. Cool.

To Heavy Machinery now and they are coming for The Mighty. They say no more fun and games and this is very sad for me.

Twitter next as Lord Steven Regal has tweeted that Johnny needs to move on from Ciampa and next week, he’ll face EC3. Very nice.

In the final backstage shenanigan before main event time, Candice LeRae says that she needs to worry about herself now. This is good for all involved.

Moustache Mountain & Ricochet vs. The Undisputed Era

Main event time now as the NXT Tag Team Champs are IN ACTION against Dave Dixon and Carl Axelrod. However, before this highly anticipated bout could commence, Roddy kneed one of these men in the brain and the Era laid them both out. This included Strong hitting an insane backbreaker on one of the lads before all three cut promos on my beautiful country. I’ll let it slide just this one time, but only because of Roddy.

Back to the action now and The Era looked set to beat the Moustache lads up when Ricochet made the save and did a cool back-flip before wagging the finger. This led into an impromptu six-man tag (TAKEOVER GRADING) with Bate and Kyle getting us started as Tyler used his speed advantage before bringing in Trent for some tandem offense. This also somehow led to Ricochet doing a flip of his own and the babyfaces kept dominating including Seven hitting an ARN ANDERSON FAKE OUT DDT.

Bate came back in next and some wackiness followed as the babyfaces continued to flurry to great acclaim. With the referee’s back turned though, Cole illegally stunned Bate from the apron and after a Roddy backbreaker, the heels went to work. Vicious strikes rapidly followed as the heat begun. This portion slowed the pace and beautifully highlighted The Era’s frustration whilst also not overstaying its welcome. It was all just very smartly done and Bate’s strong selling helped along the way too.

With a big exploder suplex, Bate eventually earned some reprieve and brought in Ricochet. His hot tag involved cool moves being hit on all three Era men and Full Sail was once again rocking. O’Reilly’s initial guillotine attempt earned him a northern lights suplex but Ricochet then rolled through back into the choke and needed Trent to save him. Seven did just that, hitting a “spinning” back “fist” as well as some kind of slam thingy before his tag to Bate was halted by Cole on the outside.

In-ring, O’Reilly rallied with a low-kick and the Era went back to work with a salvo of signature offense. Things quickly broke down, leaving just Cole and Seven but Adam’s plans for a shining wizard were soon stopped by a big lariat from Trent. Seven then brought Ricochet back in and things continued to be wild with big strikes landing everywhere until every single man was left floored. Each with a partner, all 6 men then fought to their feet and continued to brawl with Roddy and O’Reilly winning their individual battles on opposing aprons.

Just Cole and Ricochet now remained in-ring and after getting the better of Cole, Ricochet somehow evaded Era’s high low before refocusing on the North-American champ and heading up top. He indeed hit the 630 but Kyle saved Cole, dragging him to the apron and immediately looking terrified by the consequences. As he feared, Kyle found himself wiped out by a Ricochet dive but Roddy seized, hitting a version of End of Heartache on the apron. He then threw Ricochet back inside, allowing Cole to get the pin.

Wow, this simply ruled and was thrilling from start to finish. Every guy shined with Ricochet especially being the star by design. Goderick Strong continued to rule too, what a man that hero really is and continues to be. Exceptional main event and a thank you to all involved.

Grade: A

Final Thoughts

As is almost inevitable with a one-hour show, this episode of NXT was obviously reliant on its main event. Thankfully, that main event was quite extraordinary and on its own, made this episode a very worthwhile investment of your time. Moreover, everything else on this show was solid at the least and the Evans/LeRae match was an underneath highlight too. Overall, this was 50 minutes of very fun pro wrestling and the last 15-20 minutes of it were pretty much must-watch by any standard. Really great stuff.

Grade: A

See you all next week for 205 Live, and the very scary 4th chapter of the Mustafa Ali/Buddy Murphy cinematic universe. Also, follow me on Twitter @JoeHulbert5 for ground-breaking content including EXCLUSIVE BEHIND THE SCENES footage surrounding this very Report Card. All the best lads.

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