NXT Review 11/22/17: Johnny English (with Takeover War Games thoughts)

NXT TAKEOVER WAR GAMES

KASSIUS OHNO vs. LARS SULLIVAN: This was pretty effective in what it was there to do, make Sullivan look unstoppable. Ohno throwing everything he had at Sullivan and Sullivan taking it is a simple story, but it worked. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but Sullivan delivered with his performance and the crowd didn’t reject the idea of him being presented as superior to Ohno. Easily Sullivan’s best match, but it might have been the most meaningful thing Ohno’s done in NXT too this side of his match with Regal another NXT era ago.

ALEISTER BLACK vs. VELVETEEN DREAM: The match itself was really great, but it was fascinating to see how well the crowd responded. I’m very happy to see Dream getting over. I wasn’t expecting the crowd to almost side with Dream and I wasn’t expecting them to get involved with the ‘say my name’ storyline so strongly. The level of crowd reaction for the spot where they mimicked each other’s poses was unexpected as well. The fan reaction, the storyline and the callback spots (in a first time match no less) really added to what was a strong match from an action perspective, including the finish, with Black hitting Black Mass as Dream was trying to get Black to say his name. I was super into this coming in, but it went down better than I expected.

EMBER MOON vs. KAIRI SANE vs. PEYTON ROYCE vs. NIKKI CROSS: An entertaining fourway. Ember winning was probably the right call, I can’t help but feel if Ember hadn’t won here, the crowd in Full Sail were on the verge of giving up on her.

DREW MCINTYRE vs. ANDRADE “CIEN” ALMAS: Great match. Might be one of my favourite NXT Title matches all time, if I really went back and thought about it. I didn’t call the finish at all either. The DDT looked sick and as it turned out, it was about as dangerous as it looked. I’m not sure where Almas goes from here as champion, the only obvious challenger would appear to be Aleister Black. If that’s the case, it might be another short title reign.

WAR GAMES MATCH- UNDISPUTED ERA vs. SANITY vs. AUTHORS OF PAIN and RODERICK STRONG: Considering all the maneuvering they had to do to get to this match, with the non traditional rules, I’m not sure it was worth it. You lost basically all of the drama that the match used to create. Once the weapons got brought into the match, it got over, but it ended up relying on spots and set-pieces to work which was never really the selling point of the stipulation. That’s what TLC and MITB are for. It felt like a lot was left on the table doing it this way. It did end up being entertaining for what it was though.

 

NXT AUGUST 23RD 2017

Ruby Riot vs. Sonya Deville
They showed footage from Raw and Smackdown of Sonya and Ruby’s debuts. Paige, Sonya and Mandy Rose is a bit of a weird pairing, but at least there’s a link there. Ruby, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan is a bit of a weird pairing, but at least… well, no, actually, it’s just odd. This was a decent going away match. Sonya targeted Ruby’s injured ankle through the middle part of the match. Ruby was able to make a comeback but got caught in a triangle choke, which Sonya transitioned into an ankle lock. Ruby managed to make the ropes and Sonya argued with the ref, distracting her long enough for Ruby to recover and hit the pele kick for the win. Sonya’s improved, but there were still some hesitations and awkward moments here and there which is to be expected. Hopefully being in a three woman team on Raw will be a good cover, because she is still learning.

Recap of Dream versus Black and Ohno versus Lars. Sullivan was interviewed after the match, saying he took Ohno kicking him in the face like a man. He said tonight was only the beginning and he was sending a message to the rest of the locker room, if they stepped in his way, they too would be destroyed by his hands only. They seem to be going the opposite route of Braun Strowman, where Lars is a monster, but he talks normally between being a monster. I feel like WWE have tried ‘the intelligent monster’ before and I can’t remember it ever working, but we’ll see how Lars fares.

Ember winning the Women’s Title was covered and Ember had an emotional interview about winning.

Recap of Drew versus Almas. Drew was interviewed in the trainer’s room and he was emotional too, talking about his injury. It was pretty obvious something was up from the moment he took the DDT. I guess it’s good that it wasn’t his neck, which was my first thought, but it’s not much of a consolation. Time away and a comeback story might be good for Drew in the long-run, but short-term it obviously sucks for him and you could tell he knew it pretty much straight away.

A video from WWE.com from after last week’s show was aired, with Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss confronting Street Profits outside the arena as they celebrated with the fans.

Recap of the War Games match. Sanity and Undisputed Era were shown walking backstage after the match.

WWE UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Pete Dunne (c) vs. Johnny Gargano
How many UK matches do you have to have had to be eligible for this title? I guess Gargano was in PROGRESS once, so it’s okay. This was a little more condensed than a Takeover match, not a show stealer by any imagination, but it was still more than worthwhile. Gargano took an X Plex on the apron after attempting a tornado DDT from the apron, allowing Dunne to focus on the fingers for a bit. They turned things up in the final few minutes, with Dunne escaping a Gargano escape by taking out his mouthguard to bite the fingers. Gargano reversed the Bitter End a couple of times and after noticing the mouthpiece was out, he hit a kneeling superkick for a near fall. An elbow to counter the spear from the apron turned things back in Dunne’s favour though and the Bitter End finally got him the win. Crowd were very much into both guys and the big moves.

 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Dunne versus Gargano was reasonably short, but worth watching and Ruby versus Sonya was solid as well.

NXT WEEK: Street Profits versus Moss and Sabbatelli and Kairi Sane against Peyton Royce.

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