Johnny Gargano started a new chapter of his NXT career, while NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa responded to the Velveteen Dream’s allegations about him. Lars Sullivan and EC3 also clashed in an entertaining brawl to end the show.
NXT last week kicked off with the deranged Nikki Cross seen backstage in a smoky, hazy corridor like area, surrounded by windows. Cross directly addressed Bianca BelAir, commenting on how she was looking forward to ‘playing’ and ‘not behaving’ again. Then, in a sudden shift from Belair in intensity, she would go on to repeatedly “I know” at the camera, again insinuating that she may have knowledge of the Aleister Black’s identity.
The in-ring action for the show also kicked off with the women. Candice LeRae came out for her clash with the Lady of NXT, Lacey Evans. LeRae had won a bout between the two earlier this two so this was Evans’ opportunity to exact some revenge, especially after getting inside the head of Candice Wrestling.
The match would follow the same theme with a back-and-forth encounter coming to an end after Lacey Evans’ one last jibe at Candice LeRae’s husband, Johnny Gargano, calling him a loser. The remark caused Candice to snap as she hurled punch after punch at the much taller Evans. As the referee would pull her away, Evans would seize her moment and connect with the Women’s Right and fall on top of Candice for the pin. Big win for Lacey Evans.
Bianca BelAir was interviewed by Cathy Kelley in the middle of the show and it was clear to see that Bianca’s promo work is still not on the same level as her in-ring character work and storytelling. She said that, unlike Nikki Cross, she “wasn’t here to play” and called Cross a “scraggly-haired widow”. She would finish her promo by calling herself “undefeated” thrice in a very cringe-worthy manner.
The build-up to the first-ever all-Women’s pay-per-view finally began with a sensational video package showcasing the journey of both Shayna Baszler and the NXT Women’s champion, Kairi Sane.
It’ll be interesting to see how they step it up with this feud with three weeks left till Evolution.
Aleister Black’s Attacker
The main suspect in the investigations, NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, was interviewed backstage as he held on to his dear NXT championship. The Sicilian psychopath would respond to the Velveteen Dream’s allegations that he was the one behind the attack on Aleister Black. Ciampa would advise Dream to “be careful” and keep his theories and accusations to himself, while also staying out of the champ’s spotlight. He would then add that if the Dream doesn’t do as he is told, then Ciampa would have no problem turning “the Dream into a Nightmare.”
It should be riveting to see these two fascinating characters square off not just inside the ring but in a promo battle, hopefully sometime soon.
Speaking of suspects in the Aleister Black investigation, Johnny Gargano faced Tony Nese, who was making a rare appearance on NXT the past week. The night hadn’t started well for the Gargano family with Mrs. Gargano getting her lights knocked out thanks to a Woman’s Right from Lacey Evans.
The match was a very hard-hitting, high-flying yet technical bout between Johnny Wrestling and the Premier Athlete. The outcome was a bit predictable with Gargano only last week proclaiming that he has to start afresh now, a Gargano defeat thus seemed implausible here. Tony Nese looked decent in defeat. Gargano would grab a sign saying “Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling’ from the stands after the match and lift it up like a title inside the ring.
The Forgotten Sons, the team of Jaxson Ryker, Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake, got their own vignette the past week on NXT, just before their in-ring debut.
They would take on the team of Cesar Rise, Torry Kirsh and Vinny Mixon, a trio of enhancement talents for the night. The NXT veterans, Cutler and Blake, along with the newcomer Ryker would make quick work of their opponents. It should be added that Jaxson Ryker’s (fka Gunner from TNA) finisher looks better every time you see it. Cutler and Blake look a little out of their depth with their character work sometimes coming across as too over the top and corny. Ryker is the undisputed star of this team. The commentators did a great job of putting the Forgotten Sons over during this match, big props to Mauro, Nigel and Byron for this match in particular.
Speaking of forgotten no more, the past week’s NXT also showed a video package for Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. The two misfits who have now seemingly found home in NXT told their story of how they went from wanting to tear each other apart to gaining their respects and almost becoming NXT tag-team champions. Their match against Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong from TakeOver: Chicago earlier this year is still one of the best opening TakeOver matches in NXT history, highly recommended to all. It’s interesting to see how and where Lorcan and Burch will fit into the current NXT tag-team scene.
A mouth-watering triple-threat match for NXT North American championship is in store for us this week on NXT and a terrific video package was broadcast last week, building up to how we’ve got to this point. The sleazy Adam Cole and the honourable champions of their respective divisions, Ricochet and Pete Dunne look all set to steal the show.
Nikki Cross versus Bianca Belair was also announced for two weeks later, the same time as the tag-team title match between the War Raiders and the Undisputed Era. Also following up on previously built stories, Keith Lee gets his hands on NXT’s Finest as Kona Reeves looks to protect his good looks from the Limitless One this week on NXT.
EC3 and Lars Sullivan’s clash was just as expected. An extreme car crash.
Sullivan’s entrance and walk to the ring is a sight to behold. It comes across as more fear-inducing than the scream sound that precedes Braun Strowman’s arrival to the ring on the main roster. EC3 was all business as he made his entrance, making a beeline for the Leviathon, wasting no time doing his usual pompous entrance.
The one-percenter took it to Sullivan early on as it now. What was most intriguing from this match was EC3’s apparent face turn. Although slightly out of the blue, it hasn’t felt forced or inorganic. EC3 has good reason for it and the Full Sail crowd has backed him in his pursuit for vengeance on Lars.
Sullivan would eventually pick up the win in a hard-hitting contest but it was the manner of the finish that shocked many. Sullivan would deliver the Freak Accident on the ring apron before climbing to the top turnbuckle. He would then deliver a monstrous diving headbutt which would leave EC3 bloodied the hard way.
A hellacious match with EC3 not really being hurt by the defeat as he is only at the beginning of his face turn. Future plans for both are still unclear and it will be interesting to see whether Matt Riddle clashes with Lars Sullivan anytime soon.