The NXT Report Card (9/6/17): Nobody is Ready for Asuka

As many of you know, this has been a pretty hectic and historic week here at Report Card headquarters. This Monday I headed into the vault and covered the debut edition of WCW Monday Nitro from all the way back in 1995. The real shocker though was that I actually thoroughly enjoyed the show and even gave it an elusive A* grade. What this means is that firstly, Ray Traylor rules and more importantly, yes I’ll do anything for an Eric Bischoff Retweet. I have to concede though that I’m actually quite concerned. After watching such a tremendous mainstream wrestling product I’m unsure that Hunter’s outlaw promotion will hold up if I’m being honest.

Nonetheless, I’ve been rushing back from the Mall of America since Monday and I’m here anyway, even if admittedly very anxious. Hopefully Hunter is ready to impress me and by that I of course mean that hopefully Andrade wrestles for 50 minutes this week. Why has this intro been so not about NXT you ask? Well basically I wanted to shamelessly plug the WCW Nitro Report Card (available in all good book stores now) and I have no earthly idea what is on NXT this week. Usually I’d just make Wesley Blake jokes and reference Alexa Bliss in this situation but thankfully, World Championship Wrestling has provided me with an out. Either way, let’s get on with this agony.

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.

We open the show this week with a big video package hyping up tonight’s main event between Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami (oh yeah) and though I was previously unaware, it seems that this is actually the greatest feud in professional wrestling history. Who knew right?!

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

Guys I’ve done this job for almost 18 years (4 months) and this is undeniably the greatest NXT opening of all time. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas is here and the world is a better place for it. During his entrance we cut to a female literally fanning herself in response to the man’s presence. This is real pro wrestling brothers. He’s here of course to rematch that fraud Cezar Bononi in a bout I’ve been waiting years for. Almas is laughing at this man. Incredible. He then literally just murders the poor fellow with strikes, treating him like a Jim Crockett Promotions carpenter back in the studio days.

Bononi comes back with some brief offense before being destroyed by ‘Cien’s back elbow. More forearms followed before Vega stood up on commentary and screamed “FINISH HIM!” He does just that and wraps this match up immediately. ANDRADE ‘CIEN’ ALMAS IS ON FIRE folks. We can't forget Vega though who is already very much on route to joining Carmella and Alexa Bliss in the Valet Wing of the illustrious NXT Report Card Hall of Fame.

See, I told you I make Alexa references when I have nothing interesting to say. You just can’t keep a good man down….

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming to Bring You This Very Important Public Service Announcement

As you all know, I like to keep these woeful pieces of content positive but sadly, I’ve recently been informed of a tragedy surrounding King ‘Cien.’ My Fightful companion and all around good man of men Alex Pawlowski has made me aware of the news that Almas won’t be featured on the upcoming WWE 2K18 video game. Sadly, this news doesn't surprise me and I guess together we have to concede that our work here isn’t really done yet. Our tremendous social media campaigns changed the business and I’ve already been penciled in as Andrade’s eventual Hall of Fame inductor but the reality is, we’ve got a long way to go.

We can’t be deterred though, we have a job to do here and we must push forward, video game or not it doesn't change the fact that Almas is the world’s greatest and we’ll continue to fight his cause proudly until he is recognized as such. We are a team and together we have and will change the wrestling world. Thank you.

Grade: A* mandatory

William Regal now shouts down the camera about the NWO’s recent NXT invasion. That was followed by a short Velveteen Dream promo about someone that “needs the experience.” This was very short but I liked what we saw nonetheless.

Our resident 1985 monster heel Lars Sullivan l is here friends and he’s fighting three men as a punishment of some kind. Why is it three unknowns you ask? Because wrestling. He of course destroys them all with some awesome offense until the camera cuts and we instead go to an Eric Young promo about NXT’s NWO. This was fun but very Wyatt Family. Oh wait Zeda is apparently now here to wrestle Sonya Deville (sigh) and this match doesn't have an ending I guess. I’m told that No Way Jose eventually showed up on the live version but as of this writing, that doesn't exist on the Network replay. Not my fault, blame Hunter.

Either way, they better give me something to rate here because otherwise I’ll have to revisit the Alexa No Mercy ad again and we all know how that went last time. Very sad.

Sonya Deville

I honestly have nothing new to say. If you want to read my detailed thoughts on Sonya Deville then please click here, here or here. The pros and cons all still exist. Sonya as a talent seems solid and I do believe that she very much has potential. This gimmick for me though is laughably bad and one of my least favorite things in wrestling right now. Don’t understand the appeal in the slightest. Again though, that’s not a knock on her at all, it’s just not for me.

Grade: D+

We now move to footage of Lord Steven Regal watching Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch team up before Ruby Riot came in and got a tag match booked against The Iconic Duo. This was very organic and actually pretty creative if you ask me. Good stuff.

Kassius Ohno vs. Hideo Itami

It’s time, it’s time, its TAKEOVER SCALE TIME. Let’s go! Hideo begged off early before big Kassius began to tear into him with strikes and wrestling maneuvers but fortunes soon changed when Hideo launched him into the ring post. This led to Itami gaining control and absolutely battering Ohno with brutal kicks in the corner. He then got a chair and used it to block Kassius’ ill-advised rolling elbow. Ohno soon Hulks up though, brother, and stops feeling pain on the way to firing back with his own offense.

Ohno’s “ANSWER TO THE GTS” is soon revealed as he counters it into a fireman’s carry of his own and a big rolling elbow out of it. They then fought up to the ramp where Itami scored an awesome looking suplex. He then took Ohno back into the ring and nailed him with a hesitation dropkick in the corner….oh yeah and there was a steel folding chair in between them too. Hideo then went for his other finisher (the low blow) but Ohno blocked it and hit his own. They are trading finishers like its 2001!

Itami sold the groin shot in obscene fashion like any good pro wrestler would and Ohno closed the show with another rolling elbow. This was a very fun match with some really violent looking strike exchanges and the finish was a nice moment of storytelling that finished this feud in quite fitting fashion. Really enjoyable TV match.

Grade: B

Asuka Leaves the Territory

Well it’s that time folks. It’s time for top talent to leave the territory. Tissues at the ready guys. Asuka is here and she’s putting over NXT like some kind of whitemeat babyface, I’d be confused but let’s be honest we all know what’s coming here so let’s just roll with it. Regal announces that together they’ve started negotiations with both RAW and SmackDown and Asuka reiterates that….wait for it….”NO ONE IS READY FOR ASUKA!”

The boys in the back soon turn up on the ramp and applaud the now former champ before Ember Moon emerges from the pack and makes her way to the ring. Asuka and Moon embrace in a quite heart-warming hug for a moment that I hope stands the test of time considering their simply brilliant TakeOver match together. Hopefully we see them opposite each other at least one more time someday though. Our mate Hunter arrives next and this is all too much for Asuka who is genuinely emotional and seems truly humbled by it all.

Others have connected more with Asuka than myself and I’ll likely always question the way she was booked in NXT but her match catalogue is undeniably great and I have to say that she’s been an absolute pleasure to cover personally since I started this silly review series. Hopefully we get some more great matches on the main roster but if not, I hope you guys enjoyed this Asuka run while it was here as unless something goes very wrong, I sense people will look back on it quite fondly in history. Nothing to really grade here but this was one of those moments people will always remember and it all came across as very sincere. A great way to send her off.

Let’s just hope that she takes the DDT well!

Grade: A*

Final Thoughts

Well I must say, I thought this was a very fun episode of NXT. We had an awesome Almas squash match, a really nice main event bout and a pretty damn cool send-off for an NXT legend. We did have Sonya though and technical difficulties with Lars’ match so it wasn't completely perfect. Overall though it’s just another good week of TV for a product that seems very much on track right now. In fairness, it ought to be considering their resources but nonetheless, that doesn't change the fact that I’m really enjoying it on most weeks right now.

Grade: B+

Please comment your thoughts below or just tweet me abuse @JoeHulbert5 like many others already do.

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