On 21st December, WWE aired its 279th Episode of NXT, filmed at Full Sail University in Winter Gardens, FL on 29th November. Our main event saw the third WWE match this year for Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate as Bate sought to regain the UK Championship. The card also featured Lars Sullivan [Dan Matha] taking on Roderick Strong for the last spot in the NXT Championship Number One Contender's Fatal Four-Way & a Tag Team Title match as The Undisputed Era's Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly took on SaNItY. But was it any good?
NXT Tag-Team Championship: The Undisputed Era [Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly w/Adam Cole] def. SaNItY [Eric Young & Killian Dain w/ Nikki Cross] [c] // Pinfall
Fish and Dain to start, Fish kicks to the legs of Dain, ducks under the ropes, tags in Kyle, Kyle does the same shit, tag to Fish, Kyle ducks a strike from Dain, lays into him but Dain remembers he's a big lad and no sells their shit, tag to Fish who dodges under a lariat and jumps on Dain's back, applying a sleeper,Kyle comes in to help but Dain just bumps him away and throws off Fish before htting a lariat on Kyle sending him out of the ring and Fish follows, chilling on the outside, back in and a tag to Kyle who runs into a tag to Young and a gutbuster-knee drop combo, Young goes in for the attack but Kyle immediately tries to lock in an armbar, Young escapes, laying in with forearm palm strikes, Kyle slides out, Young chases him, ducking a roundhouse from Fish and punching him away, he slides back in after Kyle and straight away is back on top with strikes, he's whipped onto the apron but he hits a shoulder tackle, only for Fish to pull his leg out from under him sending us into an ad-break, back from the break and the heel team play quick tags beating down Yong in their corner, a slingshot senton earns Fish a 2 and they are immediately back on the corner kicks, Kyle keeps him from crawling back to his corner with an elbow-lock, Young manages to escape but is straight into a high knee, Kyle places Young on the turnbuckle but Young boots him away, he goes for a dive but Kyle roundhouses him straight out of the air, Young responds with a swinging neckbreaker, he tries to crawl but in a dazed moment heads towards Fish instead of Dain giving Kyle time to make a tag instead, as Dain tries to join the fray anyway, the heels use the distraction to stomp the hell out of Young's back, Young throws Kyle out of the ring and low bridges Fish and crawls towards Dain but Kyle pulls him back, trying to keep him in the centre of the ring, Young kicks him away, crawls underneath and makes the tag to Dain, Dain runs insane throwing forearms with the force of a train, clotheslines Fish so hard he impacts his brain and drops a hot senton-dropkick move combo chain, he hits a michinoku driver on Fish onto Kyle for a 2, throws Fish aside, tag to Young, they set up for a powerbomb-combo, Fish low bridges Dain out of the ring but Young still hits the bomb, he forces himself up top for an elbow drop but Adam Cole comes from the crowd and knocks him off, a spinning kick and a forearm hit Young for a 2, Cole is playing coach in the corner when Nikki Cross comes in and hits an apron crossbody and repeatedly punches Cole in his face till the refs come and drag her away, Young lights up both men with palm strikes and hits a leaping neckbreaker for a 2, Dain on the outside picks up Cole but the baybay slides out, posts Dain but takes a tope suicido from Young for his troubles, back in the ring and Young is hit with a Leg Sweep-Jumping Kick Combo for the pin. NEW CHAMPION!
This was a good, fun match with both teams playing off each other well, even if the crowd were weirdly muted, they still brought enough energy to get them involved, especially by the end as Full Sail clearly adore Nikki Cross (and so they should). Beyond the frustrating booking where Young always seems to be the one taking the pin at the moment, this match lacked a certain excitement or invention that could really push it over the merely 'good' mark but certainly we know the ReDragon boys are capable of some spectacular tag work and I can't wait to see what they do next.
We get a Roderick Strong video package ahead of his semi-final match tonight.
We also get another hype-up video for Shayna Baszler.
Heavy Machinery are trying to lift Sabatelli & Moss' car so they can park there. The joint car owners don't like this and an argument starts out when Moss fucks up their catchphrase saying 'pork and weights'. Why do all their feuds revolve around their joint car ownership and what the fuck even is joint car ownership.
We get a recap of Sonya Deville defeating Ruby Riott last week, in a 360p backstage interview, Deville declares that she's going to beat Ember Moon for the NXT Women's Title next week.
As with Roderick Strong, so Lars Sullivan also gets a video package.
NXT Championship #1 Contender's Tournament Semi-Final: Lars Sullivan def. Roderick Strong // Pinfall
Strong is straight in with strikes but pushed away, he goes straight back but gets pushed to the corner, he escapes and continues striking, Roddy tries to go for a throw but I guess he's not, Strong enough, goes for more strikes but takes a clothesline and a grounded knee strike, ullivan hits a huge pair of forearms to the back, he splashes Strong on the ropes and ragdolls him for a 2 before immediately applying a big bearhug, Strong tries to slide out but Sully keeps it going, Strong escapes with a pair of bell-clappers and some forearms before hitting a single leg dropkick, an enziguri and some big slaps, this serves to make Sullivan extra angry and he charges but Strong dodges, catching Sullivan in the ropes, allowing Strong to hit some running forearms from all directions, Sullivan is sent out of the ring but comes straight back in, knocking down Strong with a double axe handle, Sullivan goes up top but Strong follows with a superplex for a 2, he hits knee strikes but Sullivan goes for a lariat, Strong dodges hitting an olympic slam for a 2.5, Strong is straight in with strikes and goes for the first proper backbreaker of the match but Sullivan says 'nahh' and slides out, hitting a pop-up powerslam and The Freak Accident for the pin.
This was way better than it had any reason to be with Sullivan having so quickly made his spin on the standard WWE 'monster heel' act incredibly entertaining, helped out by a performance by Strong that made him look ten times better. They couldn't help that the one down-side of Sullivan's position is it makes anyone beating him clean seem like it's never going to happen but if anyone can make him look beatable, it's Strong. Now the Number One Contender's match is set: Dain v Gargano v Black v Sullivan. This could be very interesting...
A recap of last week's Street Talk.
Christy St. Cloud is backstage with Tyler Bate, Bate talks about how he and Peter go way back, trading titles with each other, tonight is his night and he takes back his title.
UK Championship // Pete Dunne [c] def. Tyler Bate // Pinfall
These two have had an incredible year be it teaming up with or competing against each other and here's hoping this is the perfect capper to their WWE Trilogy. They feel each other out to begin before Dunne rushes in and immediately grabs Bate into an armbar before manipulating those finger joints, eventually Bate manages to do a flipping escape and locks in a wristlock of his own but Dunne manages to power him down and uses a head-clamp leglock before going back to the arm, Bate attempts to escape but is powered down by Dunne until he manages a superb release practically bouncing off his own head, Dunne is unimpressed with the flippy stuff and goes straight back onto the arm, slapping at the shoulder and elbow before getting Bate in a knee-assisted modified surfboard, Bate powers to his feet and hits a dropkick to escape but even this isn't enough to keep Dunne from attacking the arm as he pushes Bate's arms down, he tries to go for pins but Bate maintains a strong bridge, Dunne tries to use his full body weight to push Bate down but it's not enough so Dunne just kicks him in the stomach and retreats to the ropes for safety, Dunne pushes Bate over, trying to wrench and bite at the foot but Bate escapes as Dunne cartwheels away, Bate kips up and hits Bop & BANG for a 2, attempting to lock theankle, Dunne crawls to the ropes and as Bate separates, Dunne hits a big ol' forearm and chops him into the corner, Bate escapes with a knee lift release and a second rope diving uppercut to send Dunne out of the ring, Bate follows out into a forearm, Dunne drags him to the steps and goes to stomp the hand but Bate is wise to his tricks, dodges and instead stomps Dunne's hand, Dunne powers through and hits a low angle suplex off the steps, back in the ring and a penalty kick leads to a rear chinlock as Dunne puts more weight on Bate's shoulders, Bate crawls to the ropes but Dunne separates, kicks him in the back and pounds at it with forearms, Dunne wrenches at the nose and hits another forearm before stomping on a floored Bate's hand, one of Bate's fingers has popped out of place but he jams it back in, Dunne with no mercy hits a judo throw into a hammerlock and is back on the injured arm, stomping the elbow and kicking him to the ropes and back again until Bate's ear is bleeding, Bate calls for more kicks, Dunne obliges but Bate hulks up and hits an exploder, he drops running corner uppercuts till Dunne grabs him by the hair, he goes for an X-Plex but Bate flips out of it and hits a running shooting star press & a belly-to-back suplex for a 2, Dunne gets up with a forearm but Bate hits a rolling kick, he goes for the Tyler Driver '97 but Dunne manouvres into a triangle armbar, hammering Bate's head with forearms, Bate powers through into a powerbomb but Dunne doesn't let go of the triangle, Bate powers through again and traps Dunne's neck between the second and top ropes before whipping him upwards, on the ground and Bate picks up Dunne for a triple aeroplane spin covering for a 2, Dunne crawls to the apron but Bate climbs to the second rope and hits another exploder sending Dunne back into the ring for a 2, Dunne gets back up and kicks Bate in the head but Bate responds with a roundhouse and some head kicks of his own, Bate picks up Dunne who twists into a Bitter End for a 2.9, Bate throws Dunne to the corner, he flips over it and hits a step-up enziguri, Bate responds with a rebound lariat, Dunne with a clothesline but Bate with another clothesline, the two lads are down, from their knees to standing they just lay into each other chests with punches Bate dodges a shot from Dunne and lands a massive forearm but with the previously injured hand, on the apron and Dunne throws up Bop but Bate hits BANG, Dunne with a forearm, Bate with a rolling kick, back in the ring and Bate dives off the top rope into a forearm, Dunne goes for the X-Plex, can't quite get it so turns it into a sit-out powerbomb for a 2.9, Bate rolls out, Dunne follows and tries to throw Bate back in but he hits a rebound lariat onto the ramp, rolling back in, Dunne appears to be accepting a countout to avoid losing so to stop the count Bate hits a big ol' tope and rolls Dunne back in and hits the Tyler Driver '97 for a 2.99, he climbs up top and just about hits a spiral tap on Dunne for a 2, Dunne's elbow is now visibly bleeding as he sees Bate heading back up and heads up too, Bate powers into a super German suplex but Dunne flips out of it, hits a suprise Bitter End for the pin.
Holy shit-snacks everyone, this was just about as good as it gets. Over 23 minutes (presented as an early Christmas gift, without ad-breaks) these two put on a dramatic contest that not only cemented the legacy of Dunne and Bate as having put on the best trilogy of matches in WWE 2017, maybe only rivalled by The New Day vs The Uso series in terms of consistency. As a match, this was full of callbacks to the former two contests but it still managed to weave them in so seamlessly that I don't think you'd need to see the other two to understand it. The only real negative of this match is that it did perhaps feel a little flabbier than their outing in Chicago but outside of wider context, this was as good a contest as you're ever likely to see, especially on TV. Maybe they should just give the Main Event every week to the UK lads. I can't see anyone complaining.
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