On the 12th of April, WWE aired the 243rd episode of NXT, taped at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on 5th April. Starting off proceedings with a rather fun new theme tune that sounds like they couldn't be bothered to keep paying Astroid Boys for their UKCT theme and some lovely new opening credits, this was clearly a soft reboot for the developmental brand This week's main event featured the emotional goodbye of the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, as he heads off to Smackdown to make Dolph Ziggler job again. With matches also featuring Aleister Black (neé Tommy End), Drew McIntyre (neé Galloway), Tomasso Ciampa, Jonny Gargano, Ruby Riot, Kimberly Frankele & Oney Lorcan, could it improve on last week's dissappointing presentation?
Not so much a match as a single delayed kick. Hollis bounced around the ring till he jumped straight into a Black Mass from the former PROGRESS & WxW Tag Champ for a quick pin. Black celebrated his quick victory with a Full Lotus in the centre of the ring. Obviously not a technical competition but it served its purpose and the crowd are already willing to take their coffee Black.
- Tye Dillinger talks about his excitement on joining the Smackdown roster but says he has unfinished business with Eric Young, business that will be settled next week in a cage match to stop his pesky friends interfering. Those always keep people out Tye, good call.
#DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa)
Dylan Miley & Michael Blais
Ciampa and Miley start proceedings, Miley looks like every other guy on the WWE roster if Vince re-drew him to his personal tastes, he controls both of the former NXT Tag champs with some big lad offense including a brutal looking stalled suplex at least until he tags in partner Blais who gets rocked easily by Johnny Wrestling and the Psycho Killer who hit the (FINISHER) for the win. After the match, Miley would murder his tag partner for the crime of losing. Some more fundamental, basic structure tag stuff but it did its job in establishing Miley as a monster to watch. That said, it's a shame that even if they got the win, this really had nothing to do with #DIY.
- In the aftermath of NXT Takeover: Orlando, Ember Moon spent an hour or two wandering around the Amway Center as they packed away the set and mournfully contemplating her loss while someone played piano for her. This was actually quite a refreshing change of pace for backstage/promo segments focussing on the emotion of the idea instead of any actual issues between the superstars. It not only built up the prestige of the Womens Title but did a lot to sell a re-match between Asuka and Moon as something special.
- The Iconic duo are mucking about backstage till they go to taunt Aliyah because if you remember, Peyton beat her last week. the segment ends when Liv Morgan pushes Billie into an ice bath. Banter, hijinks, shenanigans. Ha.
- Drew gets a top-of-the-ramp interview talking about how he went away and won stuff, he has RAW talent, can put the SmackDown on anyone but he wants to be on NXT. Do you see what he did there?
Thank You, Shinsuke
- As the show finishes, the NXT roster and Regal come to the ramp to applaud Nakamura as he leaves including a surprise appearance by Finn Balor to rapturous applause, presumably as the cameras cut out, Mahal came in to concuss everyone. Hideo Itami, looking as good as ever is stood next to Regal, hmmm...
With the new opening, the Full Sail debuts of Black, Riot & McIntyre and the fond farewell to Nakamura, this was clearly an episode all about building up the roster after losing arguably its top Main Eventer, Tag Team and Midcard hero in Nakamura, The Revival and Dillinger. It managed to present a lot of potential options going forward with everyone from McIntyre to Miley managing to show something. That said, while the in-ring action was solid if unmemorable, it did enough to present the developmental brand as one moving forward and developing quite nicely indeed. Now if they can just wrap-up the 'Who injured Itami in the car park' storyline...