NXT Review 1/10/18: Taking Center Stage


The show opened with an Undisputed Era promo, saying 2018 would be their year and it would begin with them taking Sanity out. Cole also said he’d take out anyone who stood in his way of becoming NXT Champion.

Shayne Baszler vs. Dakota Kai
This was the first of the tapings from Center Stage in Atlanta. I don’t know if it was a different part of said building or if it’s changed a lot since 20 years ago, but it wasn’t how you remember it from WCW. Or ROH for that matter. There was an actual stage, for one. They showed footage that they’d put up on Youtube during the week, of Shayna at the Performance Center, putting a choke hold on one of the trainees. Here, she dominated most of the match, which was pretty short and the set-up for an angle. Baszler did the spot where you pin the opponent’s hand to the mat and stomp their elbow and they played it up as an injury, with Baszler winning via referee stoppage. They really got their mileage out of the replays too. As medical staff checked on Kai, Baszler then put her in a choke, until Ember came out to ward her off. I like how they’re positioning Baszler as someone who’s going to hurt people for fun and she did a good job of looking cocky about it too. I’d have rather they did more of this type of thing with other people before Ember made a save, but I guess they’d got a Takeover match to get to.

The AOP cut a promo backstage, stating that whichever of Sanity and Undisputed Era won tonight, they wanted their titles back. Interesting to note, both Akam and Rezar spoke, in their own language and with a couple of lines of English thrown in.

Christy tried to interview Shayne as she got backstage, but Regal stepped in and said she knew what type of games Shayna was trying to play. She warned Shayna that attacking people from behind wouldn’t get her a Women’s Title shot, but Shayna didn’t seem phased.

Kassius Ohno vs. Raul Mendoza
Good match. Mendoza got another chance to impress, before ultimately losing. Ohno won with the high tension elbow, which is the flying elbow to the back of the head he hit on Gargano a few weeks ago. I’m not really surprised they’re going with that as a finisher, since it looked so good in that match and it’s something unique from Ohno’s other array of elbows. I’ve always been disappointed by Kassius Ohno in NXT, over both runs, but he’s been on a consistent run of fun matches since the No DQ match with Itami in September and for me it’s the most I’ve been into him in a WWE setting. The crowd were into him here too, which certainly didn’t hurt.

Zelina spoke with the arms holding phones/microphones earlier in the day, saying Andrade understood that it was work to become the champion, but it was always work to stay the champion. One of the hands holding devices asked her about Gargano becoming number one contender, with Zelina claiming he got lucky because the other three people in the match beat the hell out of each other. She pointed out Almas had already beaten him twice and claimed Ciampa was the successful one of the team, not him. She refused to give away Andrade’s strategy and said Gargano was no sweat off their backs.

Christy then interviewed Gargano, but he was interrupted pretty quickly by the returning Velveteen Dream. He told Gargano to say thank you to him, claiming that while Gargano took 20 minutes to beat Ohno, he’d have won in 30 seconds tops. Dream told Gargano he got lucky, he didn’t earn the Dream’s spot and Gargano knew it.

Street Profits and a camera went to Regal’s office to ask for a Tag Team Title opportunity. Regal put them in a number one contenders match with the AOP next week

Lars Sullivan vs. Lio Rush
This was a really fun squash. Rush played cat and mouse really well to start and got the crowd into things, before inevitably getting overwhelmed. There was a bit of a mishap in the middle where they had to repeat a spot, but either side of that this really worked. Sullivan won after turning Rush inside out with a clothesline and hitting a running Freak Accident.

Post match, Lars said he dealt with a force he’d never dealt with before two weeks ago and that brought him joy, but now he wanted to destroy Killian Dain. Lars then gave Rush a Freak Accident from off of the second rope before leaving.

Undisputed Era were shown attacking Sanity in a corridor backstage.

After break, Undisputed Era then came out, with them joking around about Sanity not being there. They all came off way better and more charismatic than they have in the backstage promos with the NWO camera cuts they’ve been doing until now. Nikki Cross came out having to be held back by referees, before Regal appeared to tell them they would be defending the Tag Titles. Roderick Strong volunteered to fight them, quickly followed by Aleister Black, with them clearing the ring of Undisputed Era.

Undisputed Era vs. Roderick Strong and Aleister Black
Black and Strong made a fast start and controlled the opening part of the match, Fish and O’Reilly then cut off and worked over Black. This was all worked at a fairly fast pace throughout, but it still managed to pick up when Strong got the tag and ran wild. As you’d expect, Cole ended up getting involved, landing one forearm before escaping through the crowd in fear of Black. That left Strong on his own in the ring though, allowing Fish and O’Reilly to hit a high-low combo to retain the titles. Black came back and went after Fish and O’Reilly post match, only for Cole to send him into the post and attack Black with Fish and O’Reilly holding him. Black took a high-low, before Cole gave Black a fireman’s carry onto an open steel chair to end the beating. The match was pretty much just a set-up to further Cole versus Black, but the energy was there and it was a good match for what it was.

As Undisputed Era celebrated on the stage, Regal re-appeared and announced Cole versus Black at Takeover would now be Extreme Rules. Cole initially seemed annoyed, but looked back at the injured Black and seemed fine with the decision at that point.


RECOMMENDED VIEWING: The whole show benefited from the change of scenery of Center Stage. A lot of angles on the show and a lot of those were heel beatdowns of one form or another. It certainly felt like a lively show as a result though and the actual action before those beatdowns delivered too. No standouts, but everything was worth the time it got.

NXT WEEK: Street Profits versus The Authors Of Pain in a Tag Title #1 contenders match.

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