The NXT Report Card (6/6/18): The Rubber Match....Part 2

The road to NXT TakeOver: Chicago is reaching its climax, and as the build-up looks to gain real momentum, this penultimate episode looks set to be a pivotal one. On paper, there’s nothing much that jumps out but with Nikki Cross’ wackiness last week, we’re coming off of a pretty hot angle that’ll likely be followed up on tonight. Truth be told, I have nothing else to say but I feel these intros need to be of a certain length so…oh wait never mind, this sentence has made the intro more than long enough. Perfect, thanks.

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.

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"DO IT" Shayna

Speaking of last week’s hot angle, the champ is here…hang on, why does she already have her belt back? BOOOOOOOO!!!!

On topic, Baszler grabbed a microphone and said that last week, she proved that if you step in the ring with her, you’ll get hit in the face with a hard dose of reality. Ya know, this is a very silly critique but I have to say, I just wish her voice was cooler, that’s all. In fairness though, Shayna was really trying to alter her tone regularly here and that’s always a good thing. Either way, Baszler then shifted her attention to Nikki Cross and before long, NXT’s *checks notes* TWISTED SISTER arrived.

A face-off soon commenced as “Nikki’s gonna kill you” chants broke out in Full Sail. Still on the microphone, Shayna basically called Cross crazy and then actually called her crazy for real. She also She also said the word ‘stunt’ a lot. Baszler then threw the microphone at Cross but Nikki picked it up and dared Baszler to “DO IT” over and over. Cross then moved wildly, scaring Baszler to the point that she dropped her belt. Enraged by this, Shayna made things physical but Nikki immediately got the upper hand, stomping a mud hole in the corner.

As Cross looked to grab the belt though, Baszler punched her in the face and sent her to the outside. Nikki quickly rebounded regardless, sending Shayna scurrying with big crossbody off the top. Baszler was even busted open here and whilst I didn’t love this particular segment, I must say that I do enjoy this dynamic. It’s quite unique. This was a decent opening segment that the crowd legitimately loved.

Grade: B

TM61

Time for our first match of the night now as TM61 get another showcase. Their opponents here wasn't officially announced but I believe they went by the names of Mike Hughly and Robbie Grand. To the action now and Miller immediately cut Hughly off before going to work with some chops. Thorne then came in to join in on the act, with TM61 stringing together a few strikes in the corner. Hughly countered Thorne though and brought in Grand. Sadly, he walked straight into a violent dropkick that Thorne followed up on with some nasty ground and pound.

Miller then came back in and began to fishhook brother’s nose. Grand fired back, landing some punches before being illegally floored by a Thorne knee from the apron. They then closed the show, as Thorne nailed the back of Grand’s head with a clobbering strike. Great stuff here, not only were TM61 super aggressive but they also cheated even against unknown opponents. That’s a subtle thing that’ll really help these guys establish their heel presentation.

They then cut a brief, inoffensive promo declaring themselves as the best tag team in NXT. Oh, and they are also now apparently known as just ‘The Mighty.’ Good showing.

Grade: A

We now moved to a recap of last week’s Aleister Black/Lars Sullivan segment. This was followed by footage of Sullivan murdering a bunch of young hoots. Hysterically, the other classes stopped and watched this violence as about 6 men were left laying within a minute. Look, I’m old-school pal and would rather Lars train in some kind of unknown lair….that said, this admittedly ruled.

Roderick Strong

The leader of the TV Match Banger Clan is back and incredibly, in Danny Burch he’s taking on a fellow senior member. Friends, I am fired up right now. We got started with some tight grappling exchanges and after losing out on the opening encounter, Roddy explained that Burch had “got lucky.” Fair. Strong continued to struggle initially but soon cut Danny off with a massive kick to the brain. He then immediately switched it on too, fish-hooking Burch’s nostrils after seemingly being inspired by Nick Miller’s showing earlier.

Strong’s aggression here was immediately immense, hitting a backbreaker before grabbing a hold. He stayed on top too, flooring Burch with a dropkick and applying an abdominal stretch until Burch made his big comeback. Both men were then floored but soon fought to their feet with a strike exchange. Strong came out worse for wear and Danny rallied with some big offence. This brought out Cole and O’Reilly which in turn, brought out Dunne and Lorcan. A big brawl commenced on the outside but in-ring, Burch grabbed a cross-face on Roddy and looked set for victory.

However, Cole distracted him on the apron, allowing Roddy to a get the win via dope backbreaker. I really wish that this match had gotten more time but Roddy remains great, that much isn’t up for debate.

Grade: A

Danny Burch

Look, if you want an intense wrestling match, Danny Burch will rarely underwhelm and considering the lack of time, that was no different here. I loved that within a minute, his technical wrestling acumen was established as he bettered Strong, immediately going after a limb. On the other hand, once he’d suffered a little Burch approached things differently, punching free and using headbutts to create space.

I really enjoy the way Burch sells and it only elevates his always awesome comeback too. With a missile dropkick, German suplex and lariat, Danny had fired back in fitting fashion whilst never overcomplicating or overdoing things. Burch’s win/loss record probably isn’t great but he was protected here and frankly, rarely leaves a ring looking worse than he entered. He just wrestles with too much vigor for that to be the case.

Grade: B+

Kassius Ohno is doing a photo-shoot…yep, that’s what’s happening now. Thankfully, EC3 interrupted and mockingly called Kassius “a good rassler” but not much more. In response, Ohno asked to fight and they concluded that next week is suitable timing for both of them. Fun.

Aleister Black then spoke in a vignette of sorts and gave his take on the Lars Sullivan matchup.

Following this, we got a much better video package that featured sit-down promos from Ricochet and Velveteen Dream. Ricochet delved into his climb to the top before Dream explained psychology and “making em feel it” brother. Ricochet even mentioned Tough Enough but The Dream said he has no memory of that. You see, The Dream feels that he’s the prince. Why? Because he knows that there’s a bigger crown. In all seriousness, this gave me genuine goosebumps. I’m a foul man but I’m insanely excited for this match…fired up in fact.

Lacey Evans

Rubber match time pal and thankfully, I don’t think Hideo Itami will ruin this one. Evans literally has Kairi’s name on her right hand here and I must say, that’s quite tremendous. She started with some mind-games too, motioning for a handshake before grabbing the hair. Kairi did flurry early but Evans soon turned things around, landing a big knee before following up with a slingshot elbow drop. She then just punched Sane in the gut. This is the 2nd straight week that a women’s match has featured a gut-punch…that rules.

Now in control, Lacey’s arrogance beamed through the screen. She even tried to pin Sane by using her right hand to push Kairi’s head into the mat. A cobra clutch followed and Lacey really was being a big old meanie here. She even swung Sane around in the hold before hitting her bronco buster in the corner. Evans stayed in control too, even halting a brief Kairi comeback with a vicious kick/knee to the stomach. She followed up with a big bodyslam before doing a Big Poppa Pump push-up pin.

As you can probably tell, she was wasting too much time with taunts and by the time she attempted a cool springy moonsault thingy, Sane had moved. Nigel neatly explained that her dominance had lulled her into a false sense of security and Kairi quickly came back. Evans survived the initial onslaught but eventually fell short via Kairi’s Insane Elbow. This wasn't quite as intense as their 2nd match and for Lacey, it felt like a slightly less complete showing. She continues to improve though and once again, showed a lot of potential.

Grade: B

Kairi Sane

Whilst I may not have enjoyed this match quite as much as its predecessor, I thought Sane was excellent once again and down the stretch, showed as much fire as we’ve seen from her in NXT. Her initial flurry was fun and it was only made better by the immediate focus on Lacey’s right hand. See that? A babyface with a brain…I love it maggle. From a selling point of view, Sane continues to be strong and unsurprisingly so. She’s very much your quintessential babyface and thrives in that role.

Her eventual comeback was perfect too in that it had the perfect amount of intensity considering the circumstances. Relatively speaking, this was a pretty heavy feud and it was nice to see Sane get so angry as she closed the show. Hitting three spears helped that element too. Though I understand that the big elbow is super over, I must say that I was more than content with Kairi winning via armbar but nonetheless, I was happy to see the spot even if only as a false finish.    

She’s very good guys, that’s my take.

Grade: A

JOHNNY BADASS

I’m delighted to say that just as promised, Tommaso Ciampa is here. As the crowd’s hate assaulted poor Tommaso, he simply took a seat on the turnbuckle whilst waiting for silence. Eventually, he said that the people disgust him and talked about that selfish fraud Johnny Gargano. In response, the people claimed that Ciampa sucks…they are in fact, liars. Tommaso then rightly laughed at the comical idea of Johnny as some kind of “bad-ass” and reminded everyone of how Gargano’s selfishness had even effected Mrs Wrestling.

Ciampa warned Gargano not to show up in Chicago but before long, the man himself arrived, escaping security as a brawl broke out. Johnny would not be stopped, even hitting a big dive as he chased Ciampa around Full Sail. Gargano remained all over him, violently pushing off security in the process. As he turned his back though, Ciampa seized, laying Johnny out before applying a Gargano Escape of his own.

As he looked to leave, Gargano chased Ciampa down the ramp to a big pop, throwing him into the set. This immediately drew blood but Johnny wouldn't let up, putting on the Gargano Escape and forcing Ciampa to tap wildly as we went off the air. This was a good segment but it felt like the blood may have hindered their execution of it slightly. It just didn't feel as dramatic as I would’ve hoped and part of that may have come from some genuine concern over the blood. Exciting closing nonetheless.

Either way, this was fine development of the feud and TakeOver: Chicago promises to be a lot of fun. Very violent fun.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

Individually, everything on this show was good at the very least. We had some solid story progression throughout and with Burch/Lorcan and Evans/Sane, we got two matches that were very much enjoyable. However, nothing on this show overly stood out to me which in fairness, may just be due to the fact that things are already very much in place. NXT TV has been super considered as of late and in that sense, they haven’t left themselves too much ground to cover. If my only real criticism is that nothing was outstanding, that’s probably a good compliment to the product in general. Good show.

Grade: B

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