This week is a big week. Why? Because I actually know what’s happening on NXT this week. Adam Cole (bay bay) is finally going to make his in-ring debut. If things go well this Report Card could be used as a reference for Adam Cole hall of fame articles in 20 years’ time. On the other hand, this could be the very start of a critically panned run in which an “ROH legend was buried and underutilized.” This is how wrestling works you see and tonight we take another big step in the early days of Cole’s run in Titan Sports. With that now clear, let’s go to everyone’s least favorite wrestling arena and get things started.
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.
Before heading into the arena or even running the opening video, we are first greeted by Lord Steven Regal who announces that at NXT TakeOver: Houston, there will be a fatal 4 way to decide the new NXT women’s champion. The first participant of course being the Mae Young Classic winner, Kairi Sane.
We’re actually in the arena now and Sanity are making their way through the crowd. It should be noted that all four came from different areas which makes one ponder how insane these people really are. Did Eric send a text in the WhatsApp group chat informing them of an in-ring meet time or do they meet beforehand and then go out of their way to split purely to come from all angles. These are the answers I want but I suppose I’ll have to wait for WWE 24: Sanity as far as that goes.
Either way, Eric Young cuts a short promo about his main event match against Adam Cole later tonight. Nothing much to see here but I’m always a fan of promoting a match coming later in the same show, especially in NXT where build-up is usually layered on “next week on NXT” graphics.
Time for our first match now as WWE 2K18 Superstar Lars Sullivan takes on everyone’s favorite wrestler Oney Lorcan. As you can imagine, this was obviously a fun clash of styles with Oney’s grittiness trying to combat Lars’ pure power. That showed early too when after selling briefly Lars just launched poor Oney out of the ring. Lorcan is designed for this role though in many ways and they used that to have him fire back with heavy strikes. After selling these or just legitimately reacting to being hit in the face a bunch, LARS hit a big lariat and his finish for the pin.
Great showing for the big man even if he sold (kind of) quite a bit for a much smaller man. Still have no clue as to how good he’ll be in a match of any real length or where he even fits into NXT but I’m enjoying the journey so far.
Before the match, “The Underdog of the Underground” (wrong guy?) cut a short promo. This was fine I guess and even if it wasn't his music quickly made me happy again. Oney had a nice fiery shine early on and though he was dramatically outsized, his offense is hard-hitting enough to make you believe and more than that, hook you on all of the match’s ups and downs. The best example of this of course being his very violent slaps across the chest and throat. A very nasty little man indeed and it sure is fun to watch.
After the match Sullivan looked to continue his beat-down on Oney but Lorcan’s fellow bald man friend Danny Burch arrived to make the save…well not really, he just kind of stood there but still, you get my point.
Time for a Ruby Riot promo about Nikki Cross now and this was very unremarkable but not incoherent by any means either. Considering that Ruby is one of the better promos in the NXT women’s division right now. Interesting.
Another showcase match for my guys Heavy Machinery up next and whilst not as hysterically wonderful as other times, this was still very fun. Tucker did some cool moves early and this was neat but realistically I was doing the same thing that you were all doing: waiting for big Otis’ arrival. That’s not to say that Tucker isn’t good though, it’s more just indicative of Dozovic’s greatness. However, KING OTIS’ was greeted by some brief offense from opponent Demetrius Bronson, even if only until the big man caught Bronson out of the air and launched him back with a belly to belly suplex.
He then hit a frankly obscene elbow drop including ridiculous mannerisms before the duo scored their tremendous finish for the win. They didn't shine here quite as much as usual for me but this was still great stuff overall.
Lord Steven is back on our screen now and he informs Johnny Wrestling that in two weeks he’ll be receiving his rematch against the greatest professional wrestler of all time: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. Good luck with that Johnny. #NoChanceInHell
An interview with the number one contender Roderick Strong is up next and this wasn't very good. He really tried and did put over the importance of the match as well as using other solid content but this just all felt very bland and unremarkable. I don’t know what Strong needs to change but I’m really not a fan of the delivery he went with here. It felt like forced passion and was just generally stiff and wooden. Luckily, he’s a great professional wrestler.
Yo Yo Yo Yo…..I can’t believe that after all this time this theme is still a thing….incredible. We get a short pre-taped promo before the first bell and yes I remember this being a big problem. Morgan does have great energy though and some charisma, or at least I think she does. She’s wrestling MYC alumnus Vanessa Borne here and after some not so smooth grappling exchanges early, Morgan sold quite a bit before making a solid comeback, hitting a running bulldog and then her wacky finish for the win.
This was smartly kept pretty basic as far as the layout and formula and Liv did have some nice moments but overall still just feels unpolished and a little awkward, especially when in between spots. Perhaps in a longer match against a different opponent she’d look more comfortable though.
I believe I’ve covered Borne in a Report Card before but if not, to sum it I like her and think she has genuine potential. There’s a presence to her as a character and a mean-streak to her work. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still very much rough around the edges and rightly so but at the center of it all I think there’s a lot to like about Borne and what she could potentially become.
After a recap of last week’s angle with THE VELVETEEN DREAM, we see Aleister Black kicking pads before stopping to cut a small promo. He said a lot of words here and even called The Dream ‘Patrick’ (shoot names to pop the boys). I’ve been seeing a lot of criticism for Black’s promos but personally, I’m liking them and think that he is maintaining his unique aura of mystery whilst talking. This will be a pivotal skill for his eventual main roster run so get the growing pains out of the way now.
More hot wrestling action now as CWC alumnus Fabian Aichner takes on everyone’s hero, Kassius Ohno. Aichner is a pretty big guy and though he does lack some presence and charisma for my taste, he’s quite spectacular bell to bell. After being put on the defensive by Ohno’s grappling advantage, the Italian started a wild exchange of strikes before murdering Kassius with a tilt-a-whirl slam. He then hit a spectacular dive that likely has a cool name that I don’t and never will know. Building on that, Aichner nailed a brutal European uppercut and a cool powerslam before succumbing to Ohno’s cyclone kick.
Great showing for the Cruiserweight Classic’s big man and frankly, considering the circumstances I’m really not sure he could’ve possibly made a bigger impression as far as his in-ring work.
As I’ve already said, Ohno’s grappling advantage allowed him success early before he turned to his trademark big kicks, thigh slaps and all. After selling some of Aichner’s wilder offense, Ohno made his big comeback which included an awesome cravate suplex because of course it did. This wasn't really his match to shine in but more a matter of reintroducing Aichner in a strong way while getting Kassius another win whilst he waits for something important to do. Considering that, he did his job very well.
A forgettable Drew McIntyre promo followed. Like most of his work on the microphone, it was fine.
Up next was a video package highlighting Kairi Sane’s Mae Young Classic win in order to promote her upcoming TakeOver participation.
Main event time now folks as Adam Cole (bay bay) makes his NXT in-ring debut and takes on Eric Young. I’m quite worried about this trio as I love all three talents but they aren't particularly impressive at first glance. Luckily, Cole then grabbed the microphone and made everything better by talking with actual confidence and personality which on this show made him feel like 1986 Ric Flair. As far as the match goes there wasn't much to see and I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with that in the NXT climate.
Cole played cowardly heel early with pretty standard stuff excluding a weird up and over spot in the corner. The master of the BAY BAY cut Young off after he was distracted by outside of the ring stable chaos and then we entered the heat segment. I often find Cole’s control portions to be very similar to that of Vince McMahon destroyer Kevin Owens. It’s all fine and sometimes even entertaining but often kind of meanders for me and is somewhat pointless in the match’s overall direction. That’s just a me thing though and Cole eventually picked up the win with a Shining Wizard. Solid showing with a good promo.
Relatively cold TV matches aren't where you’ll see the best out of Young but he’s still consistently good regardless. His shine early on was good fun and included some great punches and he sold well throughout too. Young’s eventual comeback was strong and so was his dive to the outside on top of all involved in the stable war. This match suffered a little because the winner was so obvious from the outset but all things considered, the match was good and Young unsurprisingly performed well.
It seems like I’ve been saying this a lot recently but once again, this felt like a fun hour of NXT that just lacked anything must-see. The main event was good not great and everything else was pretty standard TV stuff. There wasn't really any major angles either but in their defense, the next two weeks will likely be different with a NXT Title match coming up as well as the ‘Cien’ – Gargano rematch of course. There’s stuff to look forward to and that’s always pivotal at the end of the day as it suggests that there’s an overarching direction.
Please comment your thoughts on NXT/Arn Anderson below or just tweet me abuse @JoeHulbert5 on Twitter like many others already do.