The NXT Report Card (7/11/18): Tag Team Brilliance

A few weeks ago, Hunter Hearst Helmsley brought his outlaw promotion to the UK for what by all accounts, was a couple pretty good wrestling shows. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy lying to myself about football coming home and still to this day, I’ve yet to watch that content. Thankfully, I’m not expected to cover NXT every week and therefore, I’ll get to it whenever. Anyway, back to my intro for the NXT Report Card now and I must say, I’m rather excited for this Moustache Mountain/Undisputed Era match. Considering that, let’s get to it.

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.

NXT North American Title Steel Cage Match, Toni Storm vs. Zoey Stark Set For 5/18 WWE NXT

Adam Cole

We begin our night with a match that was set up last week, as Adam Cole takes on Danny Burch. The frequency of Adam Cole singles matches has dropped greatly as of late, which is both neat and also slightly strange considering his champion status. Nonetheless, I like it to feel cool when stars wrestle so thumbs up in that regard. To the action now and after losing out on some early grappling exchanges, Cole quickly adjusted, landing a forearm before Burch fired back with more technical skill.

Though sent to the floor by a big Burch forearm, Cole soon cut him off, pushing Danny into the ringpost and hitting a swinging neckbreaker on the floor. Burch made it in before the count of 10 but Cole continued the attack, hitting a 2nd neckbreaker and maintaining control. He stayed on top too, roughing Burch up in the corner and halting a brief comeback via bicycle kick. Burch’s strike-filled comeback soon came regardless, and included a range of his signature offense until Cole responded with some big kicks and the USHIGOROSHI.

Burch kicked out of that but Cole continued the onslaught, landing a vicious superkick, the suplex neckbreaker and finally, Last Shot to close the show. Cole was fun here and pretty much worked as a straight villain too. The biggest thing to me was that in the end, he won in dominant fashion. To me, it makes Cole’s arrogance even better if he’s presented as being actually brilliant as far as talent. Misplaced arrogance is easily dismissed but when backed by success, that’s where the heel heat (good luck) is in my mind.

Grade: B+

Danny Burch

I’m a big fan of this recent trend in which early on, Burch’s mat wrestling prowess is immediately established. It gives his style a clear identity and allows his matches to have consistent patterns. It’s also an element that’s made even better by Burch’s strikes down the stretch, each coming with more frequency as he gets increasingly fired up. His comeback was a good example of that here, featuring punches, kicks, European uppercuts and best of all, the odd headbutt too.

His selling is always good also and with this well-deserved credibility now finally on his side, his value to NXT is only increased. He’ll always have good matches and hopefully, will continue to be featured in Oney’s absence.

Grade: B+

We now move to footage of Candice LeRae who’s walking and talking. She bumps into Shayna Baszler and after questioning her briefly, slaps her in the face. Yep, that’s what happened here. Understandably, a brawl broke out in response. Cool.

Staying in the women’s division, Dakota Kai then spoke to Cathy Kelley about her intention to earn another title shot. Lacey Evans interrupted this though, and said that she has dirty paws. Harsh and probably not even fair. Evans feels that the belt needs class and sophistication, something that Kai simply doesn't have. Harsh but this time, possibly slightly more fair. As a comeback, Kai simply challenged Evans to a match next week. Man, Regal’s job is so easy with the way everyone makes their own matches these days. Incredible gig.

Vanessa Borne

Firstly, a big boo to Vanessa’s music changing. I know that this ‘vision’ talk is her new thing but come on pal, I loved that old theme. Either way, she’s taking on Kairi Sane here and Percy Watson claims that Borne has received 17 marriage proposals. Ms Borne, allow the report card master to make it 18, much love. In-ring, Vanessa bullied Sane into the corner but she quickly turned it around and made Borne flinch. Mugged her right off to be honest.

Vanessa was very angry about this but her over-aggression allowed Sane to flurry and focus on her leg. However, Borne countered Kairi’s crucifix, scoring a Samoan Drop to turn the tide. She then grabbed a bodyscissors and began to scream in Sane’s face, that ruled. A big twisting suplex followed and some nasty ground and pound to boot. She then hung Sane in the ropes and went to work with some kicks to the spine before stepping on her like a young Alexa Bliss…oh no, I can’t contain Borne and Bliss talk in one sentence, it’s just too much for my little heart.

Back on track, Borne stopped to demand that Full Sail cheer her, this allowed Sane to make a comeback. Vanessa did cut Sane off on the top rope though, yanking her to the floor and attempting a cool roll-up before tapping to The Anchor. I love that Borne’s arrogance is actively hurting her success as that makes sense but the young talent improving in defeat shtick is a slightly strange angle for a heel. She rightly didn't win here but she will have to start winning at some point, otherwise the character is without credibility. I love the trash talk though, big fan.

Grade: B-

Kairi Sane

Behind all of the smiley silliness, Sane is consistently represented as a savvy competitor and that was immediately the case here, as she focused on the leg after hitting an early dragon screw counter. I always love babyfaces attacking a limb, even if only briefly and that’s certainly the case when it’s such a white-meat babyface like Kairi. You have to show a desperation to win, that’s the aim after all. After the cut-off, Sane sold well and the people were with her as usual. I’d imagine she’s only behind Candice as far as sheer Full Sail popularity.

Her comeback was strong, with the strikes looking solid and I’m always happy to see the interceptor too. I believe that this is the first time I’ve seen ‘The Anchor’ but I must say, it’s a pretty awesome submission and a nice extra string to Sane’s bow. Post-match, Kairi grabbed a microphone and I’m happy to report that her English was good here, as she went right to the point in saying that she’s beat Baszler before and she’ll do it again, again, again.

The crowd was behind this and I’m always behind professional wrestlers referencing their own hunt for metaphorical treasure. Fabulous. Seriously though, it’s definitely good for Kairi to get practice speaking in front of the friendly Full Sail crowd. It’s almost impossible for her to fail and will only make her better.

Grade: B+

Whilst on this topic, we now find out that next week, we’ll see a fatal 4-way between Sane, LeRae, Nikki Cross and Bianca Belair. That’ll decide the #1 contender. Makes sense to me pal.

As promised, Aleister Black is here now and he’s also walking and talking. He bumps into Johnny Gargano who tells Black that Ciampa can’t be the NXT Champion. John, I believe Ali agrees with this mate. For reasons my notes don’t explain, Gargano next said that he knows “exactly what he’s doing” and the two go their separate ways.

As we looked set to move to a merchandise ad though, Ciampa jumped Black out of nowhere and DDT’d him off a table. Man, Ali should count his lucky stars that this wasn't Alexa’s DDT, he’d be in real trouble then. Yep, that’s two Bliss references in one report card. This is a strong week, I’m on fire.

NXT Tag Team Titles

The Undisputed Era (Goderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Moustache Mountain (C)

Considering everything I’ve heard and more importantly, the people involved, this one has to be done TAKEOVER STYLE pal. Let’s go. Trading chants at the bell here as the fittingly aggressive Era immediately jumped the champs. Bate and Seven turned it around in an instant regardless, getting on top early with some wacky tandem offense, forcing The Era to bail. Dualling fake out punches continued the champs’ flurry and by the way, those trading chants are still going as the teams brawl on the floor.

In the end, Kyle got the better of Bate and distracted Seven, allowing Roddy to drop him knee-first on the steel steps. The challengers had a target now and went right to work, battering Seven’s leg and even removing his knee brace. This was vicious, ruthless and quite frankly, tag team perfection already. Both Strong and Kyle showed marvelous aggression here, assaulting Trent’s leg to a horrific degree. Oh by the way, those trading chants…still going. Seven did catch a quick roll-up but Era maintained control, keeping him cornered with teamwork, by hook or by crook.

This included O’Reilly yanking Bate off the apron at the last minute as The Era continued to work poor Trent’s leg. A DDT from Seven did finally earn some reprieve but Kyle again took Bate out, halting a potential tag before grabbing a heel hook on Trent. Defiantly refusing to tap, Seven eventually kicked free and at long last, made the tag. Bate run wild, taking out both Strong and O’Reilly in a big comeback that culminated in an immaculate standing shooting star press.

O’Reilly briefly stalled Bate with a rear naked choke but Tyler simply couldn't be stopped, continuing his onslaught on both men and even using a double airplane spin. He then hit a dead-lift German on Strong but Roddy kicked out, leaving all four men briefly floored. Strong soon fired back at Bate but Tyler responded immediately, hitting a massive lariat and the Tyler Driver, forcing O’Reilly to break the fall. Bate removed Kyle in response but no matter what Seven said, knew that he couldn't make the tag in good faith.

He’d pay the price too, eating a massive backbreaker from Strong as The Era went right back to work. A miscommunication allowed Bate some reprieve and as he was kicked into his own corner, Seven made the tag himself and stumbled in to land some big strikes on both men. The Seven Stars Lariat landed too but Roddy got his shoulder up and this was now at a level of brilliant almost startling. Unsurprisingly, Seven’s injury would soon cost him though, with Roddy taking out his leg and applying the Strong Clutch.

Desperate, Bate broke the hold but O’Reilly came right back in to put on a hold of his own, a heel hook in fact. Seven just wouldn't tap and this was simply marvelous pro wrestling. A brief exchange of slaps and an onslaught of kicks got Trent free but O’Reilly wouldn't stop, next applying some form of ‘double kneebar.’ Tyler now had the towel in his hand and after ignoring Trent’s pleas for as long as he could, Bate threw in the towel. As the bell rung, Bate rushed to Trent’s aid as The Era scurried away with their titles.

Cole and Fish soon joined them and this was an emotional journey that I frankly wasn't ready for so soon after World Cup heartache. The work on Seven’s leg was immaculate and Trent sold it all beautifully. The story element of Tyler trying to protect his mate really worked for me and this whole match was an absolute treat. This is probably the best match I’ve ever reviewed on NXT TV and is in my mind, absolutely up there with those famed DIY/Revival classics. Just brilliant, tag team wrestling at its best.

Grade: A*

Final Thoughts

Considering how much I loved the main event, it was impossible for me to be anything but positive towards this week’s NXT. Fortunately, I also enjoyed the opener and more than that, got the chance to propose to Vanessa so overall, this was an incredibly successful episode. Seriously though, I enjoyed that main event to an insane degree and that alone makes this week’s show a special one to me. The fact that there was anything else worth watching is simply a bonus. Based purely on the last 25 minutes, this is one of the finest episodes I’ve ever reviewed. Loved it.

Grade: A*

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