Johnny Wrestling Has Lost His Smile
by: Michael Respass Follow him on Twitter @ApronWorkMikeR by clicking here
Dakota Kai vs. Santana Garrett
NXT wasted no time getting right into the action with this match between Dakota Kai and Santana Garrett. Garrett had been used sparingly with NXT over the years and had not been seen since October 2017, so this was the perfect opportunity to build “The Captain of Team Kick” back up after her more recent string of losses. The match kicked (pun intended) off with some jockeying for position between the ladies, changing between headlocks and wrist locks in some very unnecessary ways to show off their athleticism. Garrett took the early lead with a few submission holds until Kai turned the tables with a big step-up enziguri. For someone known as “The Captain of Team Kick,” Kai has some really weak looking kicks whenever I have watched her wrestle. The weak kicks were all made up for when Kai performed what looked to be her new finisher, which was insane! She ran off the ropes, leapfrogged over a leaned over Garrett and gave her what I can only describe being some type of inverted backstabber. It was really impressive to watch, even in slow motion and hopefully, that sticks as her finisher.
Dakota Kai defeated Santana Garrett at 03:37 via pinfall.
* OK Match But Must Watch Ending *
photo courtesy of wwe.com
In a video from the WWE Performance Center, Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) were shown preparing for their match with some steaks and weights. As Dozovic went to check on the steaks, the sound of chains and a scream were heard. When the camera made its way back, we found Tucker on the ground holding his knee with a weight and chains near him as two unknown men ran away. Who could it have been!? (…that was sarcasm…)
Meanwhile back at Full Sail University, Shayna Baszler’s music played and the NXT Women’s Champion made her way to the ring. Baszler referenced her match at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II against Nikki Cross by saying “When the dog goes rabid, you put it to sleep,” which got a nice reaction from the crowd. She called herself the most dominant force this division has ever seen, which was met with some “Asuka!” chants from the crowd. She ran down all of the women who have put their claim in on the NXT Women’s Championship as of late, specifically Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae, and essentially shrugged off any threat that they may be to her. “The Queen of Spades” has become way better on the microphone, you can tell that she is a huge wrestling fan, just like Ronda Rousey, and is taking her new career seriously.
photo courtesy of WWE.com
Cathy Kelley spoke with Danny Burch backstage and asked about Oney Lorcan’s injury and his thoughts on how they came close to beating The Undisputed ERA at TakeOver. As Burch is speaking, Adam Cole (BayBay!), Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish interrupted him. The members of The Undisputed ERA insulted Burch and Lorcan as they announce that they will be invoking their NXT Tag Team Championship rematch clause next week. Cole claimed that Lorcan and Burch have had big heads ever since he gave Lorcan a shot at his North American Championship which then caused Burch to issue a challenge of his own for a one-on-one match with Cole next week. Cole laughed at the thought of the match and accepted as he and the rest of The Undisputed ERA laugh and walk away.
A video package showed the dominance of War Mach…I mean, the War Raiders…as they were not on last week’s episode of NXT and it is safe to assume this means they will not be on this week’s either; if we see them next week, it will be another squash match over an unknown tag team.
A replay of last week’s interaction between Aleister Black and Tomasso Ciampa is shown which led to the announcement that Black will defend his NXT Championship against Ciampa in three weeks!
The Mighty (Nick Miller and Shane Thorne) vs. Otis Dozovic
The match was introduced as being a two-on-one handicap match by the ring announcer as The Mighty entered the ring, obviously due to Tucky being taken out earlier in the day. Shane Thorne began the match with Dozovic by throwing a towel at him, mostly just confusing him and not causing any real distraction at all. Big Dozer beat both men of The Mighty down as he sent them both to the outside. Nick Miller distracted the ref a bit and Thorne pulled Dozovic by his hair to send him to the outside. The Mighty used their one-man advantage with tags and double-team maneuvers to control the match. Dozovic reversed a double suplex attempt into one of his own. Kept both of The Mighty in the ring for a while using his momentum to beat down both men little by little. As he set both men up, Dozovic pulled out the caterpillar (which is his version of the worm) and then goes for a Vader bomb on Thorne who was pulled away by Miller just in time. Thorne drove his knee into Dozovic’s head and tagged in Miller who hit him with a Northern Lariat for the victory. This was purely a match to further along the storyline of The Mighty’s heel turn and how Heavy Machinery continues to feel cheated by them.
The Mighty defeated Otis Dozovic at 05:51 via pinfall.
* It Accomplished What It Set Out To Do *
photo courtesy of wwe.com
A recording from earlier in the week is shown of Bianca Belair on a boat for her honeymoon. She questioned all of the other women on the roster who believe that they should be the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship when she is undefeated. It was a little repetitive since she said some of the same things that Baszler had said earlier in the night but she got her point across. I expect a battle royal, tournament and/or multi-woman match soon to name the new number one contender.
Kairi Sane spoke to reporters outside (thankfully not in the same spot that Vanessa Borne did last week) and she accepted Borne’s challenge for a match next week while also staking her claim to the NXT Women’s Championship. Even if all of these claims to the title does not go anywhere, it is nice to see that every single one of the ladies have their eyes on the ultimate prize for them in NXT.
Another match is announced for next week as a message on Twitter from general manager William Regal said that next week it will be Burch vs. Cole in a non-title match due to the challenge earlier in the night.
Velveteen Dream vs. Chris Dijak
Chris Dijak, known for winning the 2015 Top Prospect Tournament in Ring of Honor, had an impressive match against Ricochet a few short weeks ago and looked to do the same in this match against the Velveteen Dream. The match began with Dijak yelling “Feast your…” and then Dream hushed him with his finger, stopped him from speaking and then posed in front of him. Not only is Dream extremely skilled in the ring but boy is he super entertaining. Dijak tossed Dream across the ring, beat on his chest, gave an impressive superkick as Dream sat on the top rope and tossed him across the ring once again. As Dijak took his time, Dream finally got something going on as he began to blow after blow to Dijak, wearing him down. Dream hit Dijak with his Rude Awakening neck breaker, taunts before giving a low drop that only led to one count. Dijak worked his way back into the driver’s seat of the match, leaving Dream exhausted. In an awesome turn of events, Dijak was on the apron and had his leg pulled out from under him causing his head to hit the ring steps. Dijak slowly made his way into the ring but got up right into a Swinging Spike DDT for the win. This match did wonders for both men, it gave Dream a victory and it continued to show Dijak as a threat who only really got beat due to him falling onto the steps. Well done by both men.
Velveteen Dream defeated Chris Dijak at 05:01 via pinfall.
* Very Good Five Minute Match *
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
EC3’s music cut Dream’s off as he was basking in the glory of his victory. The announce crew made reference to Dream leaving EC3 during a tag team match that they were partners in at Royal Albert Hall in London during one of the specials from last week.
In a backstage interview with Moustache Mountain, they were asked about The Undisputed ERA invoking their rematch clause for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Tyler Bate and Trent Seven took offense to the comments by The Undisputed ERA so much so that they will do the same thing they did at London next week at Full Sail. Short and sweet, but showed that Bate and Seven are not scared and are ready for the challenge.
EC3 vs. Johnny Gargano
EC3 was already in the ring from when he took some of that spotlight away from Dream and then Johnny Gargano came out with a little more intensity than we are used to seeing. Gargano seemed more like a man on a mission instead of his normal self and when the match started he got after and stayed on top of EC3. This led to a funny moment of EC3 screaming “Settle down!” at Gargano while he has him in a headlock. This match was not a normal Gargano match in the sense that there is a lot of power and intensity in both men’s move-sets. EC3 tried to match the intensity of Johnny Wrestling and then looked to wear him down while screaming “I’m not Ciampa!” at him. Gargano was completely worn down, but he found a way to reverse EC3 by giving him a kick to the head from the apron and then speared him through the middle rope. That was a beautiful move followed up by an even prettier jump to the outside through middle rope onto EC3. Gargano threw EC3 into the ring, missed a run into the corner and then is blindsided by a huge clothesline by EC3. Everytime Gargano tried to get momentum back on his side, EC3 his power move after power move. He deadlifted Gargano and hit a nice sit down powerbomb. Gargano sat up with a deranged angry look on his face and went right back after EC3 as if he saw Ciampa instead. Gargano went right after EC3, hit him with two straight Super Kicks and then exposed his knee to attack EC3 but was stopped. After some more back and forth, Gargano got EC3 in the Gargano Escape which he got to the ropes and he held it up to the four-count before being disqualified. He let go of the hold, applied it again while EC3 was near the ropes and leaves it on up to the four-count again when he got to the ropes. Gargano then finally hit EC3 with his exposed knee and then hit him with the same type of DDT (from the ring apron to the inside of the ring) that Ciampa beat him with at TakeOver.
Johnny Gargano defeated EC3 at 10:05 via pinfall.
* Awesome Match With Great Character Development *
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
From beginning to end, there were just enough wrestling and just enough segments to keep everyone’s storylines rolling and got everyone some type of air time. It was awesome to see them squeeze so much talent in an hour episode that Raw and SmackDown Live seem to have issues with in triple and double the time, respectively. I will continue to sound like a broken record in saying this is the most compelling weekly show around.
* Better Than Last Week…And That’s Saying Something *