The stakes were high on NXT this past week as the tag-team titles were defended as well as a new number one contender for the NXT Women’s championship was determined in a Fatal-Four Way.
The Women’s #1 contender match featured four extremely talented women. Mia Yim recently signed with the WWE, Lacey Evans is main-roster rebound, Io Shirai is a renowned star from Japan while sky seems to be the limit for Bianca BelAir.
The show started with the “genius of the sky”, Io Shirai, making her way out first. It has to be said that, for now, at least Shirai has very generic music and gimmick. Similar to her compatriot Kairi Sane, she will need a better-defined character to be more successful on NXT.
The way this match was put together was particularly interesting. Lacey Evans, the only clear-cut heel in this match, decided she wanted none of it in the early on-goings and exited the ring as soon the bell rang and the two babyfaces, Io Shirai and Mia Yim, teamed up to take out the cocky and arrogant Bianca BelAir.
Evans would then try to seize an opening and gain an upper hand on Shirai and Yim but the babyface duo got the better of her as well, double-teaming her for a few moves. After one badly-aimed Mia Yim kick though, that alliance saw its finale.
“The Lady of NXT”, Lacey Evans, turned the tables on Shirai and Yim, dominating both. She even pulled a beautiful-looking slingshot elbow drop out of the arsenal on Yim. A rare manoeuvre by a heel.
BelAir would finally make her return to the match, teaming up with Evans to take out Shirai and Yim for the time being. A series of great sequences between Io Shirai and Bianca BelAir followed with the latter delivering a spear and Shirai responding with a fantastic counter from a pin attempt into a double stomp on the mat. Io Shirai would follow that up with a missile dropkick from the top rope before being thrown out of the ring by Evans.
The end came when Evans hit the Women’s Right punch on Mia Yim but Io Shirai came back in to get the better of Lacey Evans before hitting a gorgeous moonsault from the top rope. However, Bianca BelAir would take her out, sending her on top of her former ally Mia Yim on the outside. BelAir would then finish off the main roster bound Lacy Evans with a burning hammer turned into a front slam for the finish. A fantastic back-and-forth match. But heel vs heel at TakeOver? The fans do pop for Bianca BelAir. It’ll be interesting to see how she is booked from here on in until TakeOver: Phoenix.
Forgotten For A Reason
Jaxson Ryker of the Forgotten Sons (formerly Gunner in TNA/IMPACT) featured in a squash match against an enhancement talent called Mitch Taverna (aka indie wrestler Mike Verna, who also competes in CHIKARA as Sloan Caprice). Ryker finished him off with a rebound powerbomb off the ropes. Crowd was dead for this match, no reactions.
Matt Riddle was announced to be taking on Kassius Ohno next week in a rematch of their 7-second KO finish from TakeOver: WarGames.
The Velveteen Dream featured in a promo as he talked up…well, the Velveteen Dream. He bragged about himself and how the biggest names of the business knew how good he was.
The NXT champion, Tommaso Ciampa, also appeared in a backstage promo. Ciampa talked about how he delivers on his promises. He was glad to see Johnny Gargano listen and follow his lead. Ciampa suggested that Johnny Wrestling could go after the NXT North American title at TakeOver: Phoenix which would see DIY rule over NXT.
Ciampa’s delivery and message conveyed were spot on as usual. The reasons for heels in NXT to do what they do make so much more sense than on the main roster.
It was also announced on commentary that the nominees for the NXT Year End Awards will be announced next week.
Main Event – NXT Tag-Team Championship
Surprisingly, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong came out without their fellow Undisputed Era members.
If this was Heavy Machinery’s final bow on NXT, it was arguably their best match on the developmental brand. Knight and Dozovic showed every move in their repertoire, including a jaw-dropping moonsault attempt by Tucker Knight late in the match. Mauro lost his voice calling that spot.
Undisputed Era finally got the win but they had to hit Dozovic with two high-impact moves to get it. First, the axe and knee combination strikes before Strong with the running knee and O’Reilly with the sweeping kick left the big man out for the count. The heels go over clean in the face’s potential last match on the show.