On 20th September 2017, WWE aired the 266th episode of NXT on the WWE Network, taped at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on 24th August. The show featured Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish's debut as a tag team against Trent Seven & Tyler Bate, as well as appearances from General Manager William Regal, NXT Champion Drew McIntyre, Roderick Strong, Tag Team Champions SAnitY and Aleister Black. But was it any good? Let's take a look!
Johnny Gargano def. Tino Sabbatelli (3:48)
A continuation of last week's match between Gargano and Sabbatelli's tag team partner Riddick Moss, playing mostly with the same theme, as Gargano battled from underneath to win. Sabbatelli looks serviceable, yet not particularly impressive in the ring, but he did hit a nice dropkick, in between lots of trash talking, before Gargano picked up the win after a superkick and a lovely transition into the GargaNo Escape (Chickenwing over shoulder crossface) for the submission victory.
Roderick Strong met with General Manager William Regal, asking about a match with Drew McIntyre for the NXT title, with Regal agreeing and booking the match for next week. Awesome.
A recap of Asuka surrendering the Women's Championship two weeks ago, sad emotional scenes. This was followed up by a promo from Sonya Deville, where she said that she could've defeated Asuka given the opportunity and put forward her case for getting a chance at the now vacant belt.
Bianca BelAir def. Lacey Evans (4:18)
Similar to a lot of the Mae Young Classic matches, there was a lot of good quality action here, but often a feeling that there was very little linking everything up, leading to a few awkward moments in between the more impressive ones. Both ladies have a tonne of potential and their athletic ability helped to create a number of cool spots, like lovely modified verticle suplex from BelAir and a wicked delayed bronco buster from Evans, yet I feel like BelAir is a step ahead in her character and crowd work, looking much more comfortable with that element of the performance, so it was good to see her get the victory here, even if it was with an Alley Oop for some reason.
Aleister Black met The Velveteen Dream
This segment may have been my favourite part of the show as Velveteen Dream interrupted Aleister Black as the Dutchman spoke for the first time in NXT and while it's a slightly off-centre pick for a feud, but the characters are so different that it was fascinating to see them interact. Dream shone in his role as antagonist, leading to great moment after Black knocked the microphone out his hand with Black Mass as Dream joined Black on the mat in his signature cross-legged pose, crawled up into his face, to a massive reaction, before slinking away, leave Black bemused and me excited to see where these two go from here.
A recap of the feud between No Way Jose and Lars Sullivan, beginning with Sullivan's attack in Brooklyn and concluding with their confrontation two weeks ago.
Dakota Kai put forward her case as a potential NXT Women's Champion, letting us know she's willing to kick people's heads in to make the title hers.
Lars Sullivan def. No Way Jose (3:10)
This was a massive victory for Sullivan as Jose had only previously lost to big names like Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and Eric Young, so seeing Sullivan plough through him really got over the idea that Sullivan is a forced to reckon with on the show. The match kept things simple with Jose trying anything he could to take down Sullivan, only for nothing to work and Sullivan to pick up the win with a diving headbutt and a waist-lift sideslam to conclude the extended squash to win his first televised singles match.
Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish def. Trent Seven & Tyler Bate (8:55)
A strong main event, that felt like a taster package for what these two teams could do together, under different circumstances. The bout was built nicely around a stint as the Super Don in peril for Trent Seven, as Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish did some naughty distraction to take and keep control. Seven works well when fighting from underneath, he's got a scrappy style that suits that role and has a move-set that means he can shift gears and look for the tag at any given moment. The contest built nicely from that point with a Bate hot tag sequence coming together nicely with uppercuts, a cute german sequence, exploder suplex, kip-up and standing shooting star press with the foursome changing gear as they began to work a series of nice reversal and submission sequences and momentum shifts. The last third of the match saw some great wrestling, with a well-done near fall off Chasing the Dragon where Bate got his foot on the ropes and a crisp and physical exchange between Seven and O'Reilly, that concluded with Trent transitioning an arm bar into a single-leg Boston crab. Adam Cole superkicking the fuck out of Bate on the outside was a disappointing, yet understandable way to signal the end was nigh as Seven succumbed to a pair of roundhouse kicks and Total Elimination as O'Reilly and Fish picked up the win. With the chains off and without the need to push Cole, O'Reilly and Fish as a dominant bad guy unit, then you know this match would've been at least two levels above what we got here, but this still a good to very good television main event where the five men involved made the most of what they had to work with and showed flashes of brilliance.
After the match, NXT Champion Drew McIntyre headed to the ring with Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish legging it through the crowd, only to be met by Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain of Tag Team Champions SAnitY, leading a brawl to close the show with McIntyre and SAnitY standing tall at the end.
An enjoyable hour of NXT television this week, with O'Reilly/Fish v Seven/Bate providing a nice cap on a fun evening's entertainment. Whilst I consider the main and the Black and Dream segment to be the only things here that are really worth going out of your way for, the rest of the show had it's merit as well with the continuation of Johnny Gargano's current storyline and the impressive performance from Lars Sullivan providing watchable content that will hopefully begin to pay off over the coming week heading towards Takeover: Houston. The brand really seems to be finding it's footing again recently as a hour-long weekly show with a deep cast of characters to pull from a number of well-developed storylines across the card.
Review by James Marston