The NXT Report Card (8/29/18): Building After Brooklyn

With TakeOver: Brooklyn in the rear view mirror, it’s now time to enter the next chapter of NX…actually you know what? No, we aren't playing this game today. This week, I’ve suffered greatly for you guys. After covering 205 Live and attending last night’s London house show, I personally think that you guys should actually be covering this week’s NXT for me. As usual though, this is a rather one-sided relationship and so instead, here I am again: notepad at the ready, sweating bullets at Full Sail live…figuratively speaking of course (about Full Sail, not the sweat).

With that being said, if you even think for a second that you deserve an actual intro for this venture, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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.

Johnny Failure?

To no music, Johnny Gargano is here and there’s “Johnny Wrestling” chants in response. He talks about the people having his back but admits that he doesn't deserve that right now, as he broke a promise and lost at TakeOver. Unsure of where he’ll go from here, Johnny admits that in Brooklyn, he became Tommaso Ciampa.

As someone that watched the show, that’s a lie.

With Johnny seemingly suffering a mental breakdown, Lord Steven arrived to ask about Black’s recent assault….my god pal, timing. Gargano made Regal’s job tougher, claiming that the answer in in his eyes but luckily, The Velveteen Dream soon arrived. He’s tired of Johnny’s sulking and says that tonight should be about him, even calling Gargano ‘Johnny Failure.’ This enraged Johnny and Regal booked a match between them for next week.

This was a strong in-ring talking segment, Dream is always money on the microphone and though he veered into overacting a little for me, Johnny did very well here too. Good stuff.

Grade: B+

Off backstage briefly now, as we get a shot of The Undisputed Era talking shop.

Dakota Kai

Back in-ring now as Dakota Kai takes on Aliyah. They got things started with some grappling exchanges early until Kai unleashed a few of her kicks, taking control briefly before Aliyah cut her off. Selling for the next portion of the match, Kai played babyface and did it unsurprisingly well, eventually fighting free and making her comeback. This included her big kicks in the corner and not long after, Kai closed the show after hitting her finish.

This match wasn't anything special but Kai is always fun to watch and most impressively, she elevated Aliyah a little just with her selling. A solid outing.

Grade: B

Aliyah

Whilst I can’t help but feel as though there’s just a general lack of presence to Aliyah’s performance, she was really making an effort here as far as character work. This was the most committed she’s been to the heel role, even getting Percy to question her character, a pivotal element to being a villain. In-ring, I enjoyed her cut-off too as it was actually quite intelligent, a layer that nicely contrasts with Aliyah’s naive arrogance.

She had nice aggression too even if I’m unsure that the Lou Thesz Press belongs within her heat segment. In the end, too much taunting cost Aliyah and I’m always a fan of that, especially when establishing a heel character. Overall, I continue to find Aliyah’s in-ring performance to be solid, it’s just a matter of rounding out her skill-set.

Grade: B-

Wesley Returns

Back to Lord Steven’s office now as he wraps up his interrogation of The Velveteen Dream. Up next are The Forgotten So…OH MY GOD, IT’S WESLEY BLAKE. I told you, I told you all, he’s getting ready pal, you may not have been able to see him but his time is quite clearly now. As I wiped away my tears, I believe that I heard the lads ask for an opportunity but first, Wesley politely explained why they are innocent.

His explanation felt like something Regal should’ve already known but that doesn't matter because next week, they’ll have a tag match. My god, incredible.

Grade: A*

EC3 vs. Raul Mendoza has been advertised for this week’s show but we are now shown the image of a battered EC3 backstage. In the background, Lars is seen leaving the crime scene.

We return to Regal’s office now, as Nikki Cross spins in her chair, throwing pens. In a quite pivotal admission, Cross said that she saw it all and moreover, “it was beautiful.” She even claimed to know who did it, but then did a fake phone call rather than telling Lord Steven who. Bianca Belair came in at this point, understandably angry and asking for a title shot. Nikki wants to play too though, which I’d imagine means that they’ll be rasslin soon. Regal was delightful throughout this chaos, fun segment.

Back in-ring, Raul Mendoza is waiting for EC3 but instead, Lars is here with a microphone in hand. He looks bigger than ever here and conceded immediately that there’s no mystery, he was the one that injured EC3. He then battered Mendoza and hit all his signature offense. Neat.

Elsewhere, Tommaso Ciampa is on his own, enjoying peace and quiet whilst celebrating his success. He goes on to claim that he’s the greatest sports entertainer of all time. Fair.

Keith Lee

The limitless lad is here again now, and he’s taking on Luke Menzies. The big Brit immediately landed some strikes but Lee responded rapidly, scoring a wacky hurricanrana. However, he took too long taunting, and ate another shot from Menzies before unleashing some massive strikes of his own. Menzies indeed fire back one more time but Lee’s power came to the fore again, launching Menzies across the ring and landing…*checks notes*…Grizzly Magnum.

The dope Spirit Bomb followed, and this one was over. Lee is obviously impressive but what’s more promising is his confidence and comfortability. He looks a great fit already.

Grade: A

Before we move to our main event, it’s time for a video package about Oney Lorcan’s upcoming return alongside Danny Burch…that rules.

Ricochet & Pete Dunne vs. The Undisputed Era

Before the action can begin here, Cole switched with O’Reilly, so fired up by Ricochet’s presence that he wanted to fight. Nothing but love for Cole but I can’t lie, this upset me a little. Oh by the way, we are grading this one TAKEOVER/205 style pal. At the bell, Dunne and Strong went right into some tight grappling exchanges, before Cole came in and ate a lariat for his troubles. Dunne then went to work on Cole’s fingers but Ricochet soon came in and went at with Roddy in a clash that feels almost unfair to watch.

Ricochet immediately flurried with brilliance, taking out both Cole and Strong until a blind tag allowed The Era to take control via RODDY BACKBREAKER OF DOOM. The heels were in control now, cornering Ricochet and roughing him up with some tandem offense. Ricochet unsurprisingly sold all of this well and on the other side, Roddy was outstanding as usual, working with intensity, desperation and aggression. That’s not a knock on Adam of course, Roddy just operates on a level above us mere mortals.

Eventually, a big clothesline created some space for Ricochet and after evading Cole, he tagged in Dunne who run wild on Roddy and floored Cole along the way too. He even X-Plex’d Cole onto Strong but Roddy soon fired back, landing some kicks before walking into a massive German Suplex that forced Cole to break the fall. Ricochet soon wiped him out though, and a moonsault from Dunne floored both The Era too. However, as his partner looked to join in on the fun, Roddy and Cole moved, leaving Dunne in the firing line for Ricochet’s tope suicida.

The Era seized too, with Roddy flooring Ricochet and Cole pinning Dunne after The Last Shot just moments later. This was a very enjoyable main event that with a little more time, probably could’ve been truly spectacular. As was though, these four still produced a strong closing match and moreover, this finish opened up some new opportunities creatively too. Overall, this was a lot of fun.

Post-match, they then went after Ricochet, stringing together some fabulous offense until The War Raiders arrived. The Era bailed in response and Hanson and Rowe stood tall in center ring as we went off the air.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

As we begin our build to a brand new TakeOver event, this NXT featured some of the building blocks for that very show. The main event was obviously the best example of that but this show was bookended quite effectively, with a Gargano/Dream promo opening the hour too. Elsewhere, there wasn't a whole lot to see but Wesley Blake did show up which feels far too important to ignore. To conclude, an enjoyable episode of NXT that featured nothing bad even if it also failed to have a segment that truly hit must-see levels.

A solid start too this new chapter, but I’d expect things to heat up as we go along.

Grade: B

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