Friday, 29 December 2017

NXT 280 Review // Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black vs. Killian Dane vs. Lars Sullivan

On 28th December, WWE aired its 280th Episode of NXT, filmed at Full Sail University in Winter Gardens, FL on 29th November. Our main event was a Fatal Four-Way for the position of Number One Contender to Andrade Almas' NXT Championship. Our four contenders were Killian Dain, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black & Lars Sullivan. Also on the show were Absolution member Sonya Deville trying to take the NXT Women's Championship to RAW as she faced Ember Moon & Street Profits taking on 

Street Profits [Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins] def. Kris Starr & Riley Apex // Pinfall

Ford and Starr (who has been working Evolve shows as Shane Mercer) to start, lock-up to start as Ford whips into leapfrogs around Starr and hits a shoulder block and a bodyslam before tagging in Dawkins and they hit a bell-to-back splash before hyping up the crowd, this give Starr a chance to tag in Apex who runs straight into a rolling forearm, Dawkins hits a splash on Starr and a corner 360 forearm splash on Apex, he then drops him with a Pop-Up Spinebuster allowing for a tag to Ford and a Frog Splash for the pin.

Quick squash m8. It did what it had to do and nothing more. If WWE decide to run with Ford, they might just have money on their hands.

Post-match, the Profits celebrate their win in the crowd. On the mic, they say how in 2017 the Profits came, they saw and in 2018, they conquer. Then they run down the NXT Tag Team division. Or most of it, they forgot Heavy Machinery and Sabbatelli & Moss but heck, what have they done?

NXT Women's Championship: Ember Moon [Athena] [c] def. Sonya Deville [Daria Berenato] // Pinfall

Deville recently defeated Ruby Riott in a No Holds Barred match so it makes sense that she'd get a title shot, they lock-up to begin as Deville gets a waistlock takedown, she holds on picking Moon back up who gets a standing switch but Deville is straight in with a kneebar, Moon breaks, they circle and returning to a lock-up position and Moon gets a headlock, Deville escapes and runs the ropes but runs them straight into a deep armdrag, they both dodge a succession of kicks, Deville tries to get Moon into a test of strength but when close enough, psyche, she just kicks her in the stomach but Moon immediately returns with a single leg dropkick sending Deville out of the ring and into the ad-break, back from the break and Deville kicks Moon in the gut for a 1, she grounds her with strikes and plants her back down for a 2, she maintains her grounding strikes and picks up Moon into a bearhug, just as Moon is fading, she nails a wheelbarrow facebuster onto the turnbuckle to buy herself some time, Deville goes in for a crucifix but Moon turns it into a butterfly suplex, hits a baseball strike, a low kick, a high kick and a straight right for a 2, rushing Deville in the corner, she gets kicked away and Deville hits a high stomp for a 2, Deville is straight back in but misses whatever she was going for allowing Moon to hit a springboard dropkick, a corner forearm and The Eclipse for the pin.

This was just good enough. Moon looked every bit the champion, selling Deville's offence to make her look good but there just wasn't enough here to make Moon seem in any jeopardy. Deville looked confident out there but this lacked the intensity of her encounters with Riott. Hopefully, with the post-match shenanigans, better things are coming in 2018.

Post-match Kairi Sane comes out, probably to ask Moon if she has any better names for the Insane Elbow, she taunts wanting a Women's Title match. Moon seems into the idea of a match, but out comes Shayna Baszler chokes out Sane on the ramp in an act of revenge for the Mae Young Classic finals. Moon doesn't help out because she's got her title to hold up.

Paul Ellering is hanging out near an old, steel wall. He warns The Undisputed Era that they will not be writing the next chapter, he tells them this is their house, they are judge, jury and executioner and the Era is on borrowed time. So I guess we know what the NXT Tag Title match will be at TakeOver: Philidelphia...

Christy St. Cloud asks Moon what she thinks about the post-match shenanigans, Moon knows the title is a target on her back but should it be Sane or Baszler, she wants to settle it in the ring and that's where they'll find her. So I guess we know what the Number One Contender's match is to find out what the NXT Women's Title match will be at TakeOver: Philidelphia.

We get a video package of the build-up to tonight's Fatal Four-Way.

In Two Weeks Time: SaNItY invoke their rematch clause for the NXT Tag Titles. Next week is the Best of 2017, probably.

NXT Championship #1 Contender's Fatal Four-Way // Johnny Gargano def. Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan & Aleister Black // Pinfall

The four men size each other up till the two bigger lads remember they are big lads and go in with strikes in the corner, Dain destroys Gargano but Black begins kicking everything. knocking Sullivan out of the ring to allow Black to do his fakeout moonsault into a full lotus, goes to the apron, Dain tries to strike but he gets kicked away, Black goes for the asai moonsault onto Sullivan but is caught and we're meant to believe dropped to the apron but Sullivan somehow DDTs himself, Gargano follows with a slingshot crossbody but is also caught and dropped to the apron but this time without obvious damage to Sullivan's head, talking of damage to Sullivan's head, Dain hits Sullivan with a big lad tope suicido onto the ramp and into the ad-break, back from the break, back from the break and Dain hits a corner splash on Gargno for a 2, Sullivan throws Dain out of the ring and rams him to the post before hitting a corner splash on Gargano for a 2, Dain pulls Sullivan out of the ring but Sullivan throws him back into the post, Black is back up and kicks Sullivan up the ramp but Sullivan throws him straight off it, Gargano comes in and tries to light up the man we knew as Dylan Miley but Sullivan just gorilla presses him onto Black, Sullivan tears apart the announce table and tries to powerbomb Gargano through it but Gargano clings to a nearby pillar allowing Black to come in with a knee strike as Gargano superkicks him onto the table and Dain his a running crossbody sending Sullivan through it, Black and Gargano head back to the ring and both are over as fuck, they circle before Johnny runs in with a forearm, Black kicks and sends Johny to the apron, running in Johnny sends him back with a kick, goes for the slingshot spear but is caught with a knee to the head, they continue to throw moves at each other unable to get anything until Gargano lands a SUPERKICK and locks in the GargaNo Escape, before Black can tap, Dain returns with a senton to break it up, he picks up Black hitting a fireman's carry slam and a senton for a pin but Gargano breaks it up, for this Dain hits him with a powerbomb and an elbow drop but can't get a pin without Black breaking it, Dain places Black on the top rope, they tussle for control and Black slides out, unable to hit a move on his own Gargano joins in and they hit a double super-bomb, Sullivan makes his way back to the ring taking down Black and Gargano and hitting a double clothesline sending Black out of the ring, he hits a twisting slam on Gargano but Dain prevents a pin, Gargano is sent out of the ring as big lad things happen, they trade strikes before Sullivan hits a clothesline and Dain responds with a lariat, they run at each other, hitting simultaneous clotheslines dazing each other allowing Black to come in and nail them with all the kicks before hitting a straight-leg moonsault on Sullivan and murdering him with Black Mass but before he can get a pin, in come The Undisputed Era to pull him out but Black easily boots both of them away, he tries to get back in the ring but Adam Cole pulls him out and nails the Last Shot only for Gargano to take him out with a tope suicido, rolling Black back in, Sullivan intervenes but Gargano dodges as he goes into the steps, Dain tries to stop him with a powerbomb but Gargano hits a rana on him into the ring steps, back on the apron and Gargano hits a Slingshot DDT on Black for the pin. Johnny's going to Philly, Boys!

While a lot of fun, this match fell just shy of greatness. It worked well as all four men threw themselves at each other thick and fast with Black being the standout showing a unique integrity to his moves as everything he did was crisp and clean but looked painful as all hell. While Dain played his part well, sadly the disappointment here was Sullivan who never quite seemed confident in his place in the match but then I guess this is developmental so at leat he showed enough to suggest that he could be more convincing with a few more big matches under his belt. This however, was Johnny Wrestling's show. Since Johnny and Tomasso lost the tag titles in January, Gargano has been on something of a rebuilding, having great matches everywhere but not really getting the win (much like Travis Banks' iconic 2016 in Fight Club Pro), it was so gratifying to see him get this and clearly was a great moment as the crowd fully came alive. Depending on how healed up he is, don't be surprised if come January, whether Johnny claims his first WWE singles gold or not, if a certain Mr. Ciampa gets involved.

On The YouTubes

Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford encourage a small child to take up casual drinking by gifting him a solo cup.

Johnny Gargano gets an ovation as he walks backstage but Andrade Almas is there to remind him he beat him. Twice.


It wasn't the slam-dunk that last week's episode was but it was still pretty good with the ending of the main event featuring a pop that I don't think has been rivalled this year. It's been one hell of a year for the yellow ropes and this was a good way to end it with the heart of NXT getting one step closer to being the face of the brand. Now let's just see what the new year brings...

Article By Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)

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