Thursday, 15 February 2018

WWE NXT Review // 14th February 2018

On 14th February 2018, WWE aired its 287th episode of NXT, filmed at Stage Center, Atlanta, GA on 1st February. Our main event was a TakeOver: Philidelphia rematch as Shayna Baszler once again tried to take the NXT Women's Championship from Ember Moon. This was not the only title action on the show as Roderick Strong also challenged Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Title. With action from the newly returned TM61 as well, the show had a strong pedigree, but was it any good?

WWE UK Championship // Pete Dunne (C) def. Roderick Strong // Pinfall

Well, to the surprise of no one, this was a bloody corker. There is so much complexity to Dunne's & Strong's performances as they often work a clean and simple structure but throw in so any little details that you feel like there's no suspension of disbelief required while you ask 'why would that happen?' The match started with the two trying to out-wrestle the other as Dunne worked over the arm and wrist joints while Strong tried to apply early pressure onto the back as set-up for either his Stronghold liontamer or End of heartache suplex/backstabber combination finishers. The action really kicked into high gear when taken around the ring as Dunne, having learnt from previous attempts at stomping the hand on the ring steps, instead stomped for the elbow but still on his third go of steps work was caught into another lethal backbreaker variation by strong as he was dropped right onto those same steps. Dunne's battleplan seemed simple but very effective as he attacked the arms because the messiah of backbreakers can't break his back if his hands don't work but the match still did a lot to show the gutsiness of Strong's babyface performance, even managing to get some convincing false finishes off an angle slam and a Stronghold. Of course, the finish came as Dunne escaped the Stronghold by attacking the arm, nailing a running bicycle kick and the Bitter End pumphandle reverse STO for the pin. This was a very good, exciting way to start a show even if it lacked a certain emotional connection that would have dragged it up into the realms of 'great'.

Next week: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas IV: NXT Career vs Title, we get an accompanying recap of the story of Andrade and Johnny.

Also next week: Velveteen Dream faces No Way Jose, when asked about it, Dream ain't shook, not one bit. He also dismisses the very notion of Tyler Bate. How rude.

Aleister Black turns up looking like the main henchman from Nicolas Winding Refn film, he speaks of paths and how his has tested him but even having succeeded in almost every test so far, there is still a devil on his back. Up turns Killian Dain who tells him that it is in fact he upon Black's back, not the devil and then basically if he wants to go for the NXT title, he'll have to go through him because this worked out well for Dain when he lost his previous two number one contender's matches. Black tells Dain he's going to fade to black. Watching these two try and kill each other should be fun though especially as Black seems to bring out the best in everyone.

Shane Thorne & Nick Miller def. John Skyler & Andrew Duntworth // Pinfall

Quick squash m8. Pretty standard stuff as they condensed the Tag-Team structure down into two minutes. There was a nice moment where Skyler decided to try and pull it back for his team by going after Thorne's repaired knee, suggesting that the Aussie team have presented a target for the other tag teams to aim for. The finish came in the form of a Greetings from Thunder Valley for the pinfall. It was what it was.

NXT Women's Championship // Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon (c) // DQ

Let's look at this not just for the match, which, while solid for the time given, was only really set-up here, there was a much larger angle at play. The story here was that Moon, still taped up from Baszler's post-title match attack, was trying to see if she could put away Baszler before she could attack the arm but Moon got too fired up and putting pressure on the injured arm, especially during a lovely suicide dive onto the announce table, ended up probably causing as much damage to herself as Baszler did. Baszler, noticing an opening would attempt to break what was left of Moon's arm on the outside until up would turn Kairi Sane, seeking vengeance for Baszler choking her out, beating her down and hitting a mighty spear in the ring to send Shayna packing. All three women performed beautifully here with Moon showing great aggression as she started off the match taking down Baszler and trying to just kick her to fuck, Baszler continues to be presented as a terrifying force, even if sometimes it seems at the detriment of Moon but you get the sense of a greater plan at work here and Kairi turning up and sticking it got a good pop out of the crowd. It's hard to judge this purely on its own as this feels too much like a chapter in a story that we'll only be able to properly comment on when we see where it goes next but for what we got, this was a hot main event angle, even if not quite a great match.

On The YouTubes

Roderick Strong is a tad disappointed that he lost. Still, you've got 205 Live aswell now, eh bud?

TM61, on the other hand, seem pretty jazzed that they won. They also call out the entire NXT tag division, I wonder if they're building to some sort of 'Classic' tournament...


Another very good, very fun show with one extremely watchable match in the opening and some great storytelling elsewhere. I wish they'd given the main event a bit more time to develop some drama in the actual match itself but certainly, it's enough to keep me excited to see where this is all going next. Also Dunne's increasingly luxurious hair combined with a black and white edition of his singlet was a great look. I feel like that's what's important here.

Written By Jozef Raczka // @NotJoeRaczka

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