Friday, 12 January 2018

NXT 282 Review // The Undisputed Era vs Aleister Black & Roderick Strong

On 11th January 2018, NXT aired its 282nd episode of NXT, taped at Center Stage, Atlanta, GA on 4th January. Our main event of the evening was set to be an NXT Tag Title rematch between SaNItY and The Undisputed Era but shenanigans would occur and, well, you can see in the headline what happened. The show also featured a few big debuts/ returns in the form of Lio Rush taking on Lars Sullivan, Kassius Ohno against Raul Mendoza and MMA star and MYC finalist Shayna Baszler taking on Dakota Kai. But was it any good?

We get a unique cold open as Adam Cole welcomes us to 2018, the year of the Undisputed Era, Bobby Fish says they closed 2017 in style by winning the tag titles, but that's just the beginning, in 2018 they prove to everyone why they're the baddest, Kyle O'Reilly talks of how their year of dominance begins tonight as they're going to take out SaNItY and Cole swears to take out anyone who gets in the way of him becoming NXT Champion.

Shayna Baszler def. Dakota Kai //Ref. Stoppage

Both of these women were in the Mae Young Classic with Kai being eliminated in the Quarter Finals by Kairi Sane and Bazsler by the same woman in the finals, we see backstage footage of Baszler bullying recruits until Kai steps in and most importantly, we get the NXT debut of Nixon Newell, heal up soon, Nixon. They lock-up to start as Baszler powers to the corner, holding the lock, she breaks just before 5 before sweeping Kai's legs out, Kai goes for a waistlock but is forced over into a double wristlock, Shayna wrenches at the finger and elbow joints before applying a leg stretch to the shoulder and hitting a knee to the head, she grinds down the hand with her foot and stomps out the shoulder leaving Kai defenceless for a referee stoppage.

Quick Squash m8. The first and certainly not the last of its kind for 2018 as Baszler announced herself as a cocky, destructive force with just a shade of a certain Bruiserweight to her heelish antics. While there's no story for her at the moment, I hope bigger things are to come for Kai who is too talented to be just developmental enhancement talent.

Post-match, Baszler locks in a Kirufuna Clutch (grounded sleeper) on Kai till Ember Moon comes in to break it up, Baszler walks away signalling that she wants Moon and most importantly, the NXT Women's Title around her waist.

The Authors of Pain speak, not just Paul Ellering but the actual Authors! They speak of being the baddest force in NXT and how anyone who gets in their way will suffer, Ellering says they don't care where or when or who but they want their titles back. How about in Philidelphia, Paul?

Christy St. Cloud backstage with Bazsler being asked about why she broke Kai's damn arm, William Regal turns up and tells her that going around bullying people, breaking arms and attacking people after matches, just call him Shania Twain because that don't impress him much, more importantly, it won't earn her a title shot. Baszler shrugs it off, she ain't shook, not one bit.

Kassius Ohno def. Raul Mendoza // Pinfall

Well, this was refreshing, a match with no outward storyline that wasn't just a quick squash (m8) and begins with a good ol' handshake, you crowds may chant 'this is awesome' but you know what is awesome? Respect. Mendoza starts in with a waistlock transitioning to a headlock but Ohno lifts him with his head to show dominance, Mendoza gets a sunset flip for a 2 but Ohno reverses it into a package of his own for a 2, Ohno with a lateral press for a 1 and throws Mendoza to the corner who flips the ropes, hits a shoulder tackle, goes up top, Ohno picks him up for a powerbomb by Ohno but Mendoza flips him with a hurricanrana, he lays into a seated Ohno with kicks but Ohno is nothin' to mess with and knocks his head off with a boot, in the corner, Ohno hits corner elbows for a 2, picks up Mendoza into a Gory special but Mendoza rolls through for a pin, Ohno is immediately back up and hits a forward slam and a senton for a 2, picking up Mendoza, he immediately springs to life with an arm drag, an enziguri, another arm drag and another enziguri for a 2, he jumps onto Ohno but is caught into an electric chair position, dropped onto the ropes and Ohno hits an elbow to the back of the head and another High Tension running elbow strike for the pin.

This was good work by both men, Ohno was his usual dominant self but he worked hard to make Mendoza look good and the offence that Mendoza got in was crisp and effective. Ohno seems to have been put into the Player Coach role for the forseeable but it works for him and if he can keep putting on enjoyable stuff like this, you won't hear me complaining.

Zelina Vega is getting the 'interview by disembodied hands' treatment. She speaks about how she and Andrade are more on the same page than ever and it's more work to stay the champ than to become it and at Philly, Andrade will put in the work. When asked about Johnny Gargano earning a title shot, Zelina says Johnny hasn't earnt a shot, he got lucky and took advantage of an opportunity, they've beaten Johnny twice and that Ciampa was always the success not him and that Andrade won't need to try to beat him again, when asked whether there'll be a change in tactics for match 3, Zelina refuses to disclose secrets but says there'll be no running for Johnny come Philly.  

Christy St. Cloud is with Jonny Wrestling, he acknowledges a lot of people didn't think he had a chance of winning his shot at the title, suddenly, a wild Velveteen Dream appears, Dream tells Johnny to say it, in this instance 'it' is not his but thank you for him getting lucky as Dream was meant to have the match with Kassius Ohno but he was injured, he tells him that he could have beaten Ohno in 30 seconds, not the twenty minutes it took Johnny, Johnny got lucky against Black and that he can't beat Almas, he tells Johnny that Dream earnt his spot and Johnny doesn't deserve it. I'm fully up for these two having a match, they're both great and I'm sure this match will be.

Street Profits stuff happens, they're backstage being all street and profitty, they eventually get to the point that they want a tag title shot, they go to Regal's office that is now just a table of water, they ask when they get a title shot, Regal announces that next week the Street Profits will take on Authors of Pain for the number one contendership. They seem happy about this.

Lars Sullivan def. Lio Rush // Pinfall

This is Rush's return to TV since he got into hot water for making jokes about Emma losing her job, my guess, this won't go more than a minute, Sullivan rushes but Rush dodges, moving around the ring lightning quick avoiding Sullivan, on the ropes and Rush hits a handspring heel kick, goes for a springboard but is caught and choke dropped by Sullivan, Sullivan whips Rush from one corner to the other, goes for a shoulder tackle but Rush dodges, Sullivan crushes him in the corner, goes for another but Rush dodges again, Rush goes in for an attack but is hit with a massive clothesline and the Freak Accident side slam for the pin.

Well, I was wrong, it lasted longer than a minute. Not by much, but it did. Rush being destroyed here was an appropriate act of comeuppance for him making a bad joke but give him his credit, I haven't seen a crowd get this hopped up by someone just dodging for a long time. Sullivan did his big man thing, it still works.

Post-match Lars is on the mic, he faced opponent after opponent in 2017, sometimes two at once and they all fell, but now he keeps going back to a force he'd never dealt with before but that brings him joy as he wants to destroy, he's going to take Killian Dain and break him like a toy, he grabs Rush, picks him up and hits a top rope Freak Accident on him to make a statement.

Backstage and The Undisputed Era lay out SaNItY or at least the male members. Where's Nikki Cross when you need her?

The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) def. Aleister Black & Roderick Strong // Pinfall

Before the match begins, The Era lads are in the ring and looking real smug because SaNItY aren't there to take their rematch after Cole & The Gang 'kicked the chaos out of them' and promised to do so to anyone who opposed them, before Cole can finish, out comes Nikki Cross who tries to murder everyone while two referees really fail to hold her back effectively, Cole says 'as I was saying...' but before he can finish, out comes Regal to announce that they will still have a tag title match tonight and, but before Regal can finish, out comes Roderick Strong to announce he'd fight them and that he's going to go backstage and, but before he can finish, out comes Aleister Black to announce he'll team up with him, they nod at each other and charge the ring, laying into Fish and O'Reilly as Cole flees just before Black kicks Fish out of the ring and into the ad-break, back from the break and the match proper starts, Black and O'Reilly start as Fish comes in and both members of the era take all the kicks, O'Reilly tries to go for kicks of his own but Black has All The Kicks and throws in some Muay Thai strikes and a knee for a 2, O'Reilly rolls out to recuperate but a wrecking ball dropkick from Strong takes them both out and he rolls O'Reilly back in and straight into an O'Conner roll for a 2, Black is straight onto the arm wrench, Pulled arm-first to the corner and a tag to Strong as O'Reilly is whipped into a single leg dropkick for a 2, Strong hits chops and a backbreaker for a 2, O'Reilly goes to escape but is pulled back again for a tag to Black who immediately goes for yet more kicks but O'Reilly dodges to the apron, Black follows but O'Reilly dodges back again, before Black can follow, his leg is swept by Fish onto the floor and into the second break, back again and Fish and O'Reilly are working quick tags, wearing down Black with a nice near fall off a modified figure-four/slingshot senton combo, Black goes to escape but O'Reilly leaps on him and just hits a shit ton of palm strikes, tag to Fish as O'Reilly runs at Strong knocking him off the apron, both men hit corner forearms on Black and an exploder suplex from Fish gets another good near fall, Fish immediately applies a cravat chinlock but Black elbows out, he's whipped to the ropes but on the rebound gets a sunset flip for a 2, and his back up, dropping Fish with a high knee, this gives Black the breathing room to get a tag, Strong bursts out hitting forearms and dropkicks, there's a lovely spot where he keeps throwing O'Reilly into Fish before chopping him on the rebound repearedtly before he hits a backbreaker on O'Reilly and a belly-to-belly on Fish and a high knee on O'Reilly but Fish breaks the pin, Strong throws Fish out and O'Reilly is back up with a roundhouse but Strong responds with another knee, Black crushes Fish outside and rolls him back in, he goes to follow but Cole pulls him out, Black doesn't like this and chases Cole up the steps but this leaves Strong alone in the ring with two men who hit Total Elimination for the pin.

This was a fun, little match with both teams working hard to pack a lot of content in. It's impressive considering common storytelling logic that Black and Strong were so good that I even thought they might pull it off and walk away with the titles. If I had to criticise the match, I did feel that it was a little too rushed, taking some of the drama and emotion out of proceedings as clearly, it was a lot of set-up for Black and Cole to have another match (and with a Number One Contender's match next week, it would seem odd to have a quick title change so soon before a TakeOver) but as an event in itself, still a lot of fun.

Post-match, Black comes back in and kicks away at the Era but Cole posts him, the three men hold down and batter Black with Cole hitting a shining wizard onto Black before using his foot to lift Black like Black does, Fish and O'Reilly hit another Total Elimination and Cole hits Last Shot onto a chair. Out comes Regal again who has really had enough of this shit for one day and announces that with Philidelphia's extreme history, there'll be a match between Aleister Black and Adam Cole at TakeOver: Philidelphia, and it will be Extreme Rules.

On The YouTubes

Lio Rush has had a lot of time to think since not being ready for everyone's response to his Asuka joke and now that he's come back and still losing, he's got a lot of re-evaluating to do...

Papa Hunter talks about meeting Dusty Rhodes for the first time at the venue we came to you from tonight.

William Regal checks on Black as he's helped to his feet, the audience gives him an ovation as he walks to the back.

Dakota Kai talks about how she's feeling after her match with Shayna Baszler. Not great, Bob.


A good, entertaining start to the new year over here on the developmental brand. Not by any means a standout episode as everything was good but nothing was great but with some strong character work, especially by Baszler and Dream, 2018's looking good over here. The future's bright everyone and the future's not just now, the future's yellow.

Article By Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)

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