The NXT Report Card (9/5/18): Wesley Wins! Wesley Wins!

Look, I know why you’re here and firstly, I wanted to say thank you. Yes, it’s my birthday and no, I don’t think I’m nearly as beloved as I should be. Either way, I’m still here. The NXT Report Card is a commitment and by hook or by crook, I’ll stumble my way through this week’s episode because at core, I’m a professional of the highest order. Speaking of such, I have no idea what’s featured on NXT this week and so instead will enter blind…professionalism.

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.

Kassius Ohno

Everyone’s favorite knockout artist (that’s hard to hit) is back again and this week, he’s taking on Kona Reeves. In-ring, ‘The Finest’s taunting quickly got him dropped here as Ohno seemed generally very angry. That aggression allowed Reeves to briefly turn things around but as he looked for the Hawaiian Drop, Ohno slipped out and landed the KO blow for a quick win. Post-match, Ohno grabbed a microphone and recalled the initial hype surrounding his return. He then promised that he’ll be going after whoever next captures that very same buzz.

I obviously can’t really grade Reeves here as this match was super short but for Ohno, I like this new creative direction. I enjoy when the booking reflects reality and with Kassius, that was very much the case here. He’s a perfect fit for the veteran role and can have a good match with anyone too, making this angle all the more suited. Overall, a neat showcase for Ohno that effectively set up what’s to come.

Grade: B

The Forgotten Sons

Well, it looks like I have some apologies to make. I legitimately forgot about this occasion and frankly, I’m ashamed with myself. As we found out last week, Report Card hall of famer Wesley Blake is back with a vengeance and boy am I excited about it. Blake and Cutler have Jaxson Ryker by their side too, and this week they’ll be taking on The Street Profits. These lads are manly men and that was immediately clear, as Wes took Ford down at the first bell. The babyfaces quickly turned the tide though, sending the Sons to the floor.

The Profits were in control for a portion after that but with a violent lariat, Wes regained the heels’ grip on things, going to work with legitimately awesome aggression. Some tandem offense followed too, as they isolated Ford with good old fashioned tag team fundamentals. The hot tag indeed arrived in the end but as The Profits looked to close the show, Cutler removed Dawkins and with just Ford and Blake remaining, two masked men suddenly appeared.

One stole Ford’s cup and the other was rightly unmasked, unsurprisingly revealing Shane Thorne. Distracted, Ford was left vulnerable for a Ryker lariat and just moments later, some tandem offense had secured The Sons A WIN….MY GOD. Listen pal, history splits us into two categories. Smart people, and dumb people. In twenty years, when Wes is a 16-time NXT Tag Team Champion, I’ll be on the right side of history, at the top of the class too. People initially thought Alexa was the star, now they think Buddy was the star.

Luckily, I’ve known the truth all along.

Grade: A**

(For anyone that cares, this was probably a B or something like that)

The Street Profits

Behind all the flash and fun, this team is subtly improving with each week and even in this relatively short match, I think that showed at times here too. Their initial shine was tremendous, with a pair of dropkicks working as the perfect set-up for Ford’s incredible dive to the floor. They even had a little control segment too, proving themselves as somewhat smart competitors before the cut-off arrived.

In the same vein, Dawkins’ hot tag also ruled and was athletically impressive across the board. The finish even worked and protected this virtually bulletproof team whilst also continuing their conflict opposite The Mighty. Oh, Ford’s DDT looked great too and overall, this was a very positive showing for The Profits.

Grade: B+

Off to Lord Steven’s office now, as The Heavy Machinery get questioned regarding Aleister Black’s attack. Otis immediately conceded that he broke the PC toilet and delved into a discussion surrounding his intestines. Regal looked very scared here but got some actual information in the end regardless, with Tucker explaining that Ciampa was nearby Black’s body at the time of the attack.

Following this, we got a recap of last week’s finish with Ricochet and Dunne before also seeing footage of their wacky mutual challenge. That match will be in two weeks…all hail.

Staying out of the ring, we also got another War Raiders video package. Cool.

Kairi Sane

THE CHAMP IS HERE and this one’s middle names aren't Felix nor Anthony. Sane’s belt is initially in a treasure chest here and she’s taking on Trish Adora. Kairi was immediately too fast for her foe, gaining momentum and hitting two rolling neckbreakers before briefly applying the Stretch Muffler. A kick to the spine followed but then Adora rallied for a moment until Sane’s spinning back fist dropped her, setting up for the Sliding D. The Insane Elbow came next and that was that.

Post-match, Shayna Baszler arrived and much to Percy’s absolute disgust, pushed Sane’s treasure chest to the floor. Baszler then spoke about her inevitable rematch before initiating a brawl, and flooring Kairi with a delightful clothesline. Wacky slaps turned the tide though and Sane then sent Baszler packing with The Interceptor. Fine segment after a decent squash. Nothing much to see though.

Grade: B-

Another Tommaso Ciampa promo came next as the champ (also not Felix nor Anthony) explained that he’s the last man standing, and that with no #1 contender, he’d rather work in his own time only. He then said something about following the buzzards I think.

Back to Lord Steven’s office now as Lars Sullivan concedes that he should’ve notified Regal about his recovery. He also admits that he was indeed there to see Black, but that by the time he got there, Ali was already laid out. Either way, Lars will be rasslin Raul Mendoza next week.

Velveteen Dream vs. Johnny Gargano​​​​​​​

Behind my rage, I’m actually quite looking forward to this match as whilst it’s probably a little forgotten now, I absolutely loved their first encounter. Considering that, let’s rock and roll pal. In-ring, both men were fired up before the first bell but Dream asked for Johnny Wrestling, immediately out-grappling Gargano and baiting him a little too. Johnny fired back with a big strike though, and the grappling again commenced. Gargano was in control this time, dictating the action with a whole new brand of aggression.

‘Johnny Failure’ chants emerged at this juncture but Gargano stayed on top, sending Dream to the floor and landed some big chops on the outside. His over-aggression allowed Dream to cut him off and go to work though, and whilst this match is only just getting started, I must say that that in my mind this is the absolute best version of Dream currently in existence. He’s really just being a standard in-ring heel, nothing overcomplicated. It’s just solid work with awesome Dream antics sprinkled over the top, perfect.

Either way, Gargano eventually fired back and flurried big, even scoring with the slingshot spear as well as a superkick on the apron. The big cannonball came next and looked absolutely obscene but Dream halted Gargano’s in-ring comeback anyway, hitting the famouser for 2. A back and forth sequence followed and Gargano came out on top, scoring a discus clothesline that left both men floored. They then staggered to the apron, brawling from there until Gargano’s knee gave out on a sunset powerbomb attempt.

Dream seized, launching Gargano into the steps and rolling him back in to hit his dope DDT for a big false finish. Velveteen stayed focus regardless, continuing to target Gargano’s leg as trading chants commenced. Dream then looked to close the show with an elbow drop on the apron but Johnny moved, taking advantage with a big dive to the outside. He then applied the Gargano Escape on the floor, and eventually realized that he can’t win that way, rolling back in as Dream beat the count at 9.

Johnny began to think Draping DDT at that point but hit a superkick instead, next looking for a Draping DDT on the floor. The referee seemingly told him not to (?) as Gargano apologetically went over to a young fan of his. At that point, Gargano rolled down his kneepad but became enraged by Dream’s calls of ‘Johnny Failure,’ running right into the DVD as Velveteen got the win out of nowhere. Johnny’s new gimmick of dumb loser was captured perfectly here, and he left to an exchange of ‘Johnny Failure/Johnny Wrestling’ chants….interesting.

The theatrical finish here was very much an element of rasslin that I don’t particularly enjoy but as for the match itself, I thought it was excellent. This is Dream’s best match since he last faced Johnny and he truly wrestled to his strengths here, producing another excellent TV main event alongside Gargano. It was nothing extraordinary but sometimes, that’s a good thing. This was just a very good wrestling match with two popular guys, and it told the story they were striving to tell whilst entertaining throughout. Great job by the performers even if I find the direction to be rather questionable.

Grade: A

Final Thoughts

Until the main event, I found this to be a rather underwhelming episode of NXT TV. My love for Wesley got me through of course but objectively speaking, this week wasn't exactly stacked with ‘must-watch’ content. With that being said, the main event needed to deliver and thankfully, it did. With a pretty lengthy back and forth, Dream and Gargano made this show worthwhile even if their supporting cast somewhat limited the hour’s overall ceiling.

Grade: B

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