The NXT Report Card (9/19/18): Farewell For Now Pal

Well friends, after 16 months of covering the ups and downs of Hunter’s wild outlaw promotion, it’s finally time to say good-bye. With 205 Live’s recent move to Wednesdays, I’ve decided that for now, I’ll sadly be hanging up the black and yellow keyboard. However, I couldn't leave you all without a fitting farewell and this week, I’ll try my absolute best to produce exactly that. Coincidentally, The NXT Report Card’s final edition just happens to be focused on a show that features “the biggest NXT TV match of all time.” What are the chances huh? Almost like the office are still reading these things!

Either way, that should be fun and with my tears retained for later, let’s head to the infamous Full Sail one final time. Get the limo ready pal, tonight we party with 'Cien.'

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.

Dakota Kai & Deonna Purrazzo

Incredibly, this legitimately may be the first female tag match that I’ve reviewed on NXT. This one was ‘set up’ last week and Deonna used her technical skill to gain an early advantage. After the heels rallied, Purrazzo and Kai then continued to build momentum, going to work on both their foes’ arms until Evans cut Deonna off. This resulted in a prolonged heat segment of sorts and it effectively built to Dakota’s hot tag too.

Kai’s comeback unsurprisingly contained a whole lot of kicking but Evans broke up the fall and after a blind tag, closed the show via Women’s Right. Whilst the babyfaces didn't go over here, I enjoyed this pairing as they share a nice blend of similarities and contrasts. Not a whole lot to say as this wasn't a particularly long match but both Kai and Purrazzo are certainly solid babyface players on this roster.

Grade: B-

Aliyah & Lacey Evans

Though a little rough around the edges at times, there was quite a bit to like about this team’s performance here. Early on, Lacey established her character right away, halting a technical exchange with a kick and bringing in Aliyah to do same, taunting Kai immediately. With their somewhat opposing personalities established, the heat segment highlighted their differences in some ways. Evans’ cut off was literally just an onslaught of forearms to the spine whereas with Aliyah, she was presented as the less capable performer whilst still really committing to the heel antics anyway.

Some of her character work is a little forced and her flagrant cheating was a little awkward here too but nonetheless, this was an effective showing for both women with Lacey continuing her progression whilst Aliyah looks to finally find her feet. Hopefully she’ll do just that in the coming months too.

Grade: B-

Some character pieces now as The Velveteen Dream talks to the media about his win over Johnny Rasslin, before dismissing an Ali Black question.

The Street Profits followed in a vignette jam-packed with personality and I must say, I’m fascinated to see how this tandem is handled in the years to come as frankly, they’ve not moved an inch in my 16 months reviewing this show. They are certainly talented though, that much is obvious.

Before heading back to the ring, we also get a quick recap of last week’s main event as well as a Bianca Belair promo that was posted online.

Jaxson Ryker

Well this is rather emotional. Considering our journey to this point, it really is quite beautiful that Wesley Blake will be here for my farewell, even if he’s not in center ring where he belongs. Still, his presence is greatly apprecia…nope never-mind, he’s actually not here at all…fitting really.

Either way, Jaxson Ryker is here and he’s taking on Humberto Carrillo. The Forgotten Sons hero immediately overpowered his foe, throwing him to the floor and dominating from the outset. He then grabbed a hold and halted any Carrillo comeback too, literally wiping him out of the air before getting the pin with a slingshot powerbomb. Tremendous squash here and Ryker’s aggression was promising too.

In fact, I’d say that Ryker came in at an 8.26 on The William Regal/Alexa Bliss Facial Expression Scale. Look, I know that wasn't at all warranted but I just had to bring the scale back one last time. Please update your spreadsheets accordingly.

Grade: A

Off to Lord Steven Regal’s office now as Candice LeRae plays supergrass in the hunt to get Tommaso Ciampa arrested. Regal rightly refuted this though and instead questioned Johnny’s whereabouts. She had no real proof of his innocence because he’s a blatant fraud and it seems that at long last, we have our attacker. Great news!

With our main event approaching, we next get a recap of how this Ricochet/Dunne relationship began before moving to a Keith Lee video package. Keith discusses the word “limitless” whilst touching on his backstory and quite boldly asking you to bask in his glory. My god, how arrogant.

Finally, we get a recap of this EC3/Lars conflict as well as some match announcements for next week…very sad.

Champion vs. Champion, Winner Takes All

Ricochet (C) vs. Pete Dunne (C)

Well considering the stakes, it only feels right that we rate this one….TAKEOVER STYLE pal. Let’s rock and roll. Trading chants from the outset here, as these two beloved men did the traditional grappling exchange and face-off gimmick early. I stopped watching the action at this point, instead enjoying Nigel’s burial of the “yanks” but when I looked up, Dunne was running through his hand-focused offense. Ricochet then fired back with some technical grappling of his own but seemed understandably prohibited by his already damaged hand.

Nigel felt this was a tactical error and was basically proven right by Dunne’s consistently intricate counters. The crowd was still going nuts here though, allowing the guys to work a deliberate pace as they traded holds until Dunne unleashed a massive forearm to up the ante. Ricochet responded with some strikes of his own and flurried big, sending Dunne to the floor and hitting a dive too. However, Dunne then turned the tide, countering Ricochet by focusing on his foe’s feet before targeting the left hand once again.

Dunne was back to mutilating his man from there, violently assaulting multiple body parts at once. With a tribute to Konnan though, Ricochet regained some momentum, hitting the Rolling Thunder Lariat and stringing together some offense for a big comeback. He even landed on his feet from Dunne’s X-Plex attempt, scoring a shooting star press right away in response. Just like when he did this spot opposite Tyler Bate, Dunne was forced into an awkward pause here but as he caught Ricochet with an armbar in mid-air, I happily moved on.

Following Ricochet’s escape, Dunne began to stomp on his already battered hand but then walked into a knee out of nowhere. He came right back though, scoring a massive forearm to wipe Ricochet out of the air. The X-Plex successfully followed for a big false finish and before long, Dunne hit another one, this time on the apron after emphatically flooring Ricochet on the outside. As he looked to close the show though, Ricochet fought free and hit a reverse rana for a huge false finish.

One final strike exchange came next and whilst Ricochet came out on the losing end, he fired straight back with a spectacular DDT for 2. The crowd was losing its mind at this juncture and after allowing them to go wild for a moment, the battling champs suddenly fought to the top rope, allowing Ricochet to hit an avalanche frankensteiner as well as a flatliner for yet another 2. Ricochet’s attempt at a final blow was caught though, with Dunne snatching a triangle choke and forcing the North American champ to dramatically power free.

He couldn't capitalize though, with Dunne snatching the fingers once more and applying a double wrist-lock. Ricochet dead-lifted his way to an escape again though, hitting a brainbuster to leave both men floored. With the action at a fever pitch, The Undisputed Era arrived, putting the boots to both. That brought out The War Raiders who chased them to the back and right or wrong, this finish was inevitable from the start. Luckily, the match ruled. With the opposing belts still in their possession, Ricochet and Dunne then stood opposite each other as NXT chants sent us off the air.

Wow, this is probably the best singles match I’ve reviewed on NXT TV. They took their time early and understood the advantages of having an already invested crowd, instead using the first portion to lay the foundations for what was to come. It built beautifully too, eventually culminating in a simply exhilarating final stretch. Just a wonderful match, and more importantly, a perfect final chapter for me personally...we even got some Roddy sprinkled in. Blessed.

Grade: A*

Final Thoughts

Well, it seems that the NXT crew knew of my departure and in response, they delivered big. I mean not really, half of the show was of no use whatsoever but that main event…my god, that was an all-timer. Ricochet and Pete Dunne produced something quite spectacular here and that alone put this episode in an elite category. It’s not quite top of the pack but purely due to the main event, it’s certainly not far off.

Grade: A

This hasn't often been the place for hard-hitting talk but sadly, I now have to be serious for a moment. When I started this project, my only intention was to make it different and if nothing else, I think that was achieved. It got way out of hand at times but I like to think that for some of you, that was part of the charm. Considering that, I’m immensely grateful for all of the undeserved trust granted to me and of course, I’m incredibly thankful for all of the support too.

I appreciate that for 16 months, you guys allowed me to celebrate Wesley Blake, party with ‘Cien’ and of course, shoehorn in any Alexa Bliss’ references available. This series has rarely been good, and whilst some of the compliments I’ve received suggest that most of you must’ve been reading something else, I appreciate it nonetheless. As you wipe away the tears, remember what they say pal: don’t cry because it’s over…smile because it happened.

Bit dramatic? Nope, not dramatic enough if anything. I mean if I was continuing to write a Report Card on the same day but just about a different show, that’d make this all rather silly. Thankfully, I’m no fraud and this really is the en…my bad, see you next week guys. 205! 205! 205!

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