Thursday, 26 October 2017

NXT #271 Review - Andrade Almas v Roderick Strong

On 26th October 2017, WWE aired its 271st episode of NXT, taped at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on 4th October. Our Main event was another big TakeOver rematch, this time from back at San Antonio as Andrade 'Cien' Almas took on Roderick Strong. The show also saw the newly formed tag team of Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch take on Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss as well as a 17-Woman Battle Royal for the final spot in the NXT Women's Championship Fatal Four-Way at TakeOver: WarGames. But was it any good?

We get a Regal  cold open as everyone's favourite GM announces that due to Taynara Conti being a complete and utter Conti, Nikki Cross has got a spot in the Battle Royal tonight. Also next week, the Authors of Pain get their rematch for the Tag Team Titles and whichever member of SaNItY isn't competing is banned from ringside. So have SaNItY been competing under Freebird rules this entire time?

Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss def. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch(4:00)

Lorcan & Moss are in to start and Lorcan says 'fuck this' to lock-ups and goes straight in with fore-hand slaps and strikes till Moss powers his to the top right corner, Moss pulls back for an attack but Lorcan speeds out of the corner with a single leg dropkick, pulling him to the top left, Lorcan tags in Burch who works down the larger Moss with forearms, Moss picks up Burch and carries him to the bottom right, tag to Sabatelli who gets Burch in the middle of the ring, Irish whip to the top right corner, goes for a running clothesline, Burch dodges, goes for an enziguri, Sabbatelli blocks it, dodges underneath, Burch goes to the second rope, hits a raised boot and a front dropkick for a 2, Sabatelli responds with a lariat, tag to Moss as the two hit Burch in the corner with a splash, a leaping forearm, a spear and a dropkick for a 2, they attempt to hit a double team manouevre but Burch escapes, crawls underneath the two of them and tag in Lorcan who goes wild hitting slaps on both, a running uppercut to Tino, a blockbuster to Moss, he psyches himself up, goes for a running crossbody on Moss but is caught into a fallaway slam, Moss knocks Burch off the apron, tag in Sabatelli and they hit a Gory Bomb-Running Bulldog combo for the pin. This was a neat, little sprint that did the job of giving Sabatelli & Moss a win that actually means something, a role that Burch and Lorcan excel in, but also builds up the debutting team who are obviously over because who doesn't love a pair of sprinting shit-kickers? My only complaint would be that Moss & Sabbatelli didn't do enough to sell the other team's offence but that's why they're in developmental.

NXT Women's Championship Qualifier Battle Royal: Nikki Cross wins (11:50)

Vanessa Borne, Bianca BelAir, Sage Beckett & Mercedes Martinez all get entrances but to the old NXT theme tune so it's not like they're a priority,  Abbey Laith, Aliyah, Dakota Kai, Lacey Evans, Reina Gonzalez, Rhea Ripley, Sarah Logan, Sage Beckett, Taynara Conti & Zeda don't get entrances so they won't win, Candice LeRae, Billie Kay & Nikki Cross are the only three to get full entrances and therefore the only ones I would expect to have a chance of winning, Cross goes straight for Conti, who of course cheated her out of victory in her Triple Threat two weeks ago, she eliminates Conti who then pulls her under the ropes and slams her into the barricade before Royce throws Cross into the steps, making it obvious at this point that Cross is going to come back and win this, Battle Royal stuff happens, lots of working over on the ropes and in the corner, Bianca BelAir eliminates Rhea Ripley by using Zeda as a battering ram then eliminates Zeda as well to go to break, back from the break and I think Reina Gonzalez was eliminated because I've lost track of her, Sage Beckett eliminates Dakota Kai (your time will come, Team Kick Captain) & Aliyah, Lacey Evans punches Abbey Laith in the bum, Nikki Cross comes back in with a plancha on basically everyone, she then punches everything in the face before eliminating Vanessa Borne, Sage Beckett, Santana Garret and Abbey Laith (your time will come too, Suplex Princess), Martinez & BelAir team up to eliminate Sarah Logan, LeRae eliminates Lacey Evans when BelAir picks up LeRae and gorilla press slams her out of the ring onto Beckett and Logan which leaves us with our final four, Cross, Kay, BelAir and Martinez, BelAir drops Kay onto the apron but she avoids elimination by using BelAir's braid as a rope to pull herself in, the crowd love it, Bianca doesn't and whips the shit out of Kay, Cross tackles Kay out of the ring, BelAir ties up her hair, she battles Martinez to the ropes, they trade near falls till Cross comes and double clotheslines both of them out, Kay tries to flip Cross out and celebrates till she realises Cross is still in, runs at her and Cross throws her out to win. It did what it meant to do, the people they wanted to look good did, especially BelAir who is going to be a megastar in a few years. While Cross is unarguably the right person to be in the match as she and Moon are responsible for Asuka's best matches, the layout of the match and the storytelling around it didn't do anything to make us not think Cross would win. Also, it was quite long at nearly 12 minutes. It was fun for what it was though.

Peyton Royce hits the ring again as a wild Regal appears holding the title, Ember Moon turns up looking like the final boss of the new Virtua Fighter while Kairi Sane turns up looking like everyone's favourite character in that same game. They have the customary staredown around the title.

Drew McIntyre is outside the PC being interviewed by those disembodied hands they keep attached to a camera there, he's heading out on an NXT media tour when up turns Zelina Vega, she's wondering where the contract for the NXT Championship match is, Drew has made it very clear, all Andrade needs to do is come up to him and look him in the eye, like a a man and ask for the match like Roderick Strong did. Zelina Vega does a girl-bye to the disembodied hands because who deosn't miss Cameron?

Aleister Black is making his entrance when Velveteen Dream rises up behind out of the smoke in cowboy boots and double denim, he attacks and ties Black up in the ropes, telling him to say his name, when Black still says nothing he slaps him, and again, Black escapes with a boot and goes for Black Mass but Dream slides out. The build for this feud has been so well done, I hope the match is as good in that we've yet to see longer than a few minutes in the ring for the Dream.

Zelina Vega has a pre-match promo. She talks about how you don't get the success she's had in 'business' by being patient, she and her client have been waiting for a contract from McIntyre but nothing has come, Vega understands how difficult it must have been for McIntyre to climb the mountain of success and now he's at the top, he must have realised the higher up, the harder it is to breathe. McIntyre has been avoiding Almas and tonight, Almas is going to show McIntyre and Roderick Strong that some people just aren't ready to breathe such rarified air.

Andrade 'Cien' Almas (w/ Zelina Vega) def. Roderick Strong (9:06)

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you all that you should appreciate the effort I go to bringing you play-by-play because this was a fast-paced match, lock-up to begin as the two quickly trade holds, they trade strikes as Almas locks in a side tackle, bounce off the ropes and Almas hits a shoulder tackle, Strong grabs him with a left take-down to a grounded headlock, powering to their feet, Strong tries to transition into a hip toss but Almas blocks, goes for a hip toss of his own, Strong blocks and drops him with a backbreaker before laying into him, on the apron and Almas goes for a suplex, Strong escapes, Almas begins elbowing the back of the neck but Strong gets him in a fireman's carry position, Almas escapes and hits a modified GTR onto the apron and rolls Strong back in, pounding on him into the break, back from the break and Almas hits a corner clothesline and slaps Strong's chest, they trade strikes, Strong whips Almas to the ropes but Almas catches him in a rope-hung triangle armbar, back in the ring and Almas applies further pressure to the arm, despite all this arm work, Strong hits an armdrag to escape and another fling Almas out of the ring, Almas is striaght back in but heads right into a boot and an enziguri, they trade strikes, Roddy wins at striking and hits a running forearm, goes for an olympic slam, Almas escapes but is hit with a pop-up gutbuster,  taking a moment to pause, he runs at Almas who is in the corner but Almas gets a boot up, going up top, Almas gets another rope hung armbar but Strong reverses it into a rope-trap stretcher, on the apron, an enziguri and a backbreaker and Almas is rolled back in for a 2, Strong places Almas up top and the two trade strikes till Almas hits a reverse DDT for a very close 2 count, on their feet, they trade Pokemon cards, just kidding it's strikes, Roddy gets a butterfly float over tries to hit a tiger driver but Almas turns it into a rana and hits a spinning back elbow then a corner double knees for a 2, goes for the El Idolo hammerlock DDT but Roddy escapes only for Almas to hit another back elbow, goes for the corner double knees again but Roddy bursts out with a knee strike, an olympic slam, another knee strike and as Almas falls out of the ring, a wrecking ball dropkick, as he rolls Almas back in the ring, Vega hits Roddy with a hurricanrana into the stairs, Almas gets up, rolls Roddy in, hits El Idolo for the pin. This was very good and just a hint below their TakeOver match earlier this year. It was let down a hint by a lack of time but what they were given they made use of going for an intense sprint feel yet they structured it well to make the offence seem impactful. There were certain elements that seemed off, like Roddy going for an armdrag with ease straight after enduring arm work from Almas but with this and Gargano recently, Almas is on a tear looking he could win at TakeOver. There is a certain problem with TV encounters that they can feel like the finish is almost too telegraphed because of time constraints and even though this was well done with Vega showing whatever they're paying her after this week, double it, I couldn't help but feel this could have got in a few more minutes to really make it excel.

Vega and Almas hit the announce booth to announce that next week they'll see if Drew is a man of his word, Almas says Drew won't turn turn up because he's scared, he's asustado, which means scared. He's scared basically.

As Roddy's leaving the ring, The Undisputed Era turn up, Adam Cole is telling Roddy he's not a loser as the gang try to get him to join, telling him it will be best for him and his family. Cole offers him an armband, which Roddy takes but doesn't put on, they tell him to take some time and think about it. Bobby Fish continues to have the best facial hair in NXT. That is all we need take away from this.

On The YouTubes:

Mercedez Martinez is disappointed that she's not going to get her shot at the title at TakeOver: WarGames. When she's asked who's going to win, she doesn't know but she knows it's not Ember Moon.

Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch discuss their loss tonight and how they need to find some way to gel more as a team.

Finally, William Regal makes it official, at NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Andrade Almas will get his title shot. Next week, we're getting a contract signing.

This did everything it needed to, it gave us three good to very good matches and every segment felt like it was pushing a story forward. Even though no-one has ever said 'that was a thrilling Battle Royal', it did its job (though I can't help but wish they'd just given us a fatal five way with the last five competitors). The only question that remains is with two title matches, a WarGames match, Dream v Black all but confirmed, and Johnny Gargano v Shawn Michaels In an AB-OFF, what will round out the card? In terms of screen-time priorities, it seems we're heading towards Lars Sullivan v Kassius Ohno. Hope you like big lads.

Article by Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)

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