Thursday, 8 February 2018

WWE NXT Review // 7th February 2018

On 7th February 2018, WWE aired its 286th episode of NXT, filmed at Stage Center, Atlanta, GA on 1st February. Our main event saw the two big teams of NXT, SaNitY and The Undisputed Era go head to head in Tornado Tag action. The show also featured action from Bianca BelAir, Heavy Machinery, Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss aswell as Johnny Gargano speaking publicly for the first time since NXT took over Philidelphia. But was it any good?

The first match of this show was set to be SaNitY finally getting their rematch for the NXT Tag-Team Titles but as The Undisputed Era made their way to the ring with Adam Cole, SaNitY would attack from behind and brawl around the ring until the entire security and ring crew had to hold back SaNitY while the Era retreated. William Regal would come out and say 'enough is enough' and book all six men in a tornado trios match in the main event.

Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic def. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss // Pinfall

This was a pretty standard, little tag match and an effective rematch after Moss stole a win over them previously. Otis and Tino started with Dozovic running roughshod over the former American Football players, a tag in to Knight allowed him to work the peril section and give Dozovic the hot tag with a close near fall broken up by Moss who was then sent back out and allowed Heavy Machinery to hit their Trash Compactor assisted powerslam for the pin. The story of Moss having to cover for Tino's shit, aided by a crowd constantly chanting 'Tino sucks' while also building some fun near falls off things like Tino going for a rope-hung pin in echoes of the previous match were effective and added a different flavour to the match but it still suffered from a lack of invention to the heel heat segments. Still, with the rumours of a third Dusty Classic on the horizon, don't be surprised if we end up with a first or second round blow-off match to this mini-feud.

Post-match Riddick Moss goes to help his partner up as the crowd chants 'Tino Sucks', he then decides not to and leaves him to help himself to the back. Are they done? What will happen to the jointly owned Maserati now?

Johnny Gargano Has Something To Say

There's a lot to unpack here as Johnny came out and talked about how he had failed but the response of the crowds and their respect bring him back to life every time and remind him that he's Johnny, Freaking, WRESTLING. He also called out Tomasso Ciampa stating he'll never forget what he's done and he's tried to bite his tongue and move on but he's done ignoring him and wants Ciampa one-on-one, instead of the bald crutchfighter, out come Almas and Vega, Vega taunts Johnny saying all he's done is prove how much of a loser he is and that respect means nothing because he's not Johnny Wrestling, he's Johnny Loser, Johnny then says that beyond getting the audience's respect, his favourite bit of Philly was when Candice LeRae beat up Vega, as if by magic, up turn LeRae to push Vega out of the ring as Johnny does the same to Almas before an enraged Vega asks Johnny what it will take to get rid of him? Johnny responds by saying that all he wants is one more title match and if he loses, he'll leave NXT for good. This was great, everyone played their parts perfectly with LeRae's involvement in this storyline doing more to sell her to the NXT crowd than any number of squash matches could, Gargano continuing to be the best babyface of the '10s (yes, better than Daniel Bryan, don't @ me) and the Vega-Almas partnership showing a smug, callous ruthlessness that is perfectly in character but doesn't sell either of them short. Also, we're getting another Gargano-Almas match, presumably in three weeks time if my knowledge of how tapings work is correct, and that can't be a bad thing.

Shayna Baszler is interviewed backstage, she talks about how since she's turned up in NXT, no one's been able to stand up to her, listing her victims so far and stating that anyone who steps in the ring has three choices: Tap, Nap or Snap. When reminded Ember Moon beat her, Baszler establishes how barely she did so and says that she doesn't think there'll be another match against Moon for he because Moon is too scared before presumably doing her own Arrested Development style chicken dance.

Next Week: Roderick Strong gets his UK title shot as he takes on Pete Dunne.

Tyler Bate is interviewed backstage, he says that he's disappointed to have lost but well done to Strong and he'll be watching next week very closely, he feels great having had the officially voted NXT Match of the Year but is looking forward to this year trying to have more MOTY candidates and expresses a desire to face Aleister Black, Andrade Almas, Johnny Gargano and Velveteen Dream. Insert 'Two Intrigued Eyeballs Looking Down to the Left' Emoji here.

Bianca BelAir def. Jessie Hill // Pinfall

I have no additional knowledge to provide about Jessie Hill, she doesn't have a Cagematch profile so Jessie, if you're reading this, please @ us, we'll fill in the gap here. Anyway, Quick. Squash. M8. The quickest and squashiest as Hill would offer a handshake which BelAir would accept, only to pull her into a backbreaker rack, slam her over and hit the AlleyOop Powerbomb for the pin. This was never going to be a competitive match so I appreciated BelAir looking as ruthless as she did, destroying her quickly and with ease.

We get a video package for Kairi Sane including footage from her appearance at the Royal Rumble. 

Ember Moon tweets to say next week Baszler can have another title shot.

Tornado Match // Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain def. Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish // Pinfall

In what is a nice piece of full-circle storytelling for my ATPW career, on the two-year anniversary of my first contribution to this website, this was as close as we get to a PG TV Monster's Ball. This was a big, dumb match, the kind that I can't write much about beyond just saying, basically every spot in this match was really cool but for a pair of groups with a storied history at this point, there wasn't much storytelling in this, it was just lots of spots, but as previously mentioned, they were all really cool. The advantage of making this a tornado match was with this kind of free-flow madness, there was no time to be stuck in resthold boredom, it was just big thing after big thing, the closest thing to storytelling being that act one-Eric Young gets out a table, act two-Killian Dain puts himself through the table, act three- Killian Dain comes back and murders everything before hitting the Ulster Plantation electric chair driver on Bobby Fish for the pin. I don't know what else you want me to say: Kyle O'Reilly came out earlier playing along to his theme music like his title belt was a guitar, Eric Young kicked out of a Chasing the Dragon/Last Shot combo, Alex Wolfe continues to throw every move like a madman and it's great, just go and watch this match, form your own opinions, I have nothing more to add here.

On The YouTubes

Tino Sabbatelli doesn't care about the crowd chanting that he sucks, he just needs to find his tag partner, or should that be, former tag partner?


Some good-to-very good in-ring action accompanied by a strong focus on character and storybuilding mean that this was an effective and at times, thrilling installment of NXT. It lacked one standout moment to really bring it to the next level but with next week set for two big title matches, it should be a real corker.

Article By Jozef Raczka // @NotJoeRaczka

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