It is Yellow Brand time! Huge episode tonight as we are just 3 days away from Takeover: Chicago, and this will be everyone’s last chance to make an impression before the big event. It looks like The Glorious One will be looking to do just that as we get video of him walking in to the arena from earlier today right before the NXT intro. Action kicks off immediately afterwards, with Drew McIntyre’s music playing and him heading down to the ring.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sean Maluta
Drew looks to be in a zone as he comes down to the ring and kneels in a corner while waiting on Maluta. McIntyre showing his strength advantage early as he pushes Maluta into two different turnbuckles and then giving clean breaks. A couple of chops and a suplex get Drew going but Maluta comes back with a version of the Codebreaker from the top for a 1 count. Drew has a bloody mouse under his right eye now. McIntyre then comes back with a counter kick to stop Maluta’s momentum, followed by a splash in the corner with flying chop off that same turnbuckle. Maluta tries to fight back but a vicious headbutt and a Claymore put the member of the Samoan Dynasty away for the night. We get some words on the ramp from Drew after the match. He is asked about if last week’s confrontation with Wesley Blake bothers him. He said no but that is more than willing to take Blake on next week.
My Take: I want to see Drew’s title build start to include some guys around his own size, on a more regular basis. Maluta looked so much smaller than 2017 McIntyre. I think a Drew-Sanity feud would be really good because it would allow McIntyre to work with Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe in the ring, and against Eric Young on the mic.
We see footage from last week’s #1 Contenders match between Roderick Strong and Hideo Itami. After showing the highlights and ending, the footage continues and shows that Strong was attacked by Sanity after the match. A little later in the back, Strong is shown limping in the back and runs who to William Regal who asks if he is ok. Strong replies that he wants Sanity. A Sanity promo is then shown with Cross and Wolfe being on another planet mentally and Dain standing behind Young, who does the talking here. He states that Strong sounds crazy for wanting them and that normally, they don’t take requests. E.Y. then ends by accepting Strong’s challenge and makes it for Takeover. Before break, it is announced that Sonya DeVille will take on Lacey Evans tonight, as well as Kassius Ohno taking on Andrade “Cien” Almas in the main event.
Back from break now and into a video package spotlighting the intro of Hideo Itami to the NXT Universe from way back at Takeover: Fatal 4 Way in 2014. After running down the Takeover card, we see highlights from the finals of the WWE UK Title tourney finals when Bate and Dunne previously squared off. We then hear new comments from both men. Dunne says that there isn’t anything he won’t do to win to the title and that he will crush Bate’s dreams. Bate on the other hand is very humble about the match. Before break, we learn that we will see an exclusive interview from earlier today with Asuka. The Itami spotlight continues after the break with footage of Itami vs Tyler Breeze from a match in the spring of 2015 at a live event when Hideo first hit the GTS in a WWE ring.
Asuka is in the backseat of an SUV being asked questions. She is first asked how she feels about defending against two women, and replies with “Next question”. She has the same response when asked how she feels about Ember Moon not being in the match. The reporter then asks what Asuka’s ultimate goal is as NXT Women’s Champion and The Empress of Tomorrow is clearly annoyed and replies, “Is this interview over?”. The reporter says it is and thanks her for her time as they pull up to Full Sail. A small crowd is chanting and cheering for her, and she smiles and takes selfies before walking into the arena.
Lacey Evans vs. Sonya DeVille
Women’s action now as two up and comers square off here. It’s the military cabaret star vs She-Shamrock. Alot of MMA-based offense from DeVille leads to two quick 2 counts. She then gets Evans in a body scissors and they trade 2 counts before DeVille lets her up. She takes her gloves off and showboats but that gives Evans a chance to counter and start her offense. A nice neckbreaker gives Evans a 2 count but she follows up slowly and takes a side kick to the stomach before DeVille charges out of the corner with a standing shining wizard for the win.
My Take: I will reserve my judgement on both, for now. I do want to see more of DeVille though.
Before our next break, the Itami spotlight this time focuses on Itami’s return last month to confront Bobby Roode, which led to Saturday’s title match. We’re back and K.O.’s music is playing and leads us into our main event.
Kassius Ohno vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
Ohno is out first and is in some Orlando Magic-type attire patterned after their old black uniforms with the pinstripes. Very nice pop for Ohno here. Almas is out second and the commentating team make sure to point out how it seems like Almas only cares about partying. Slow start here highlighted by some Almas showboating. Ohno goes for the rolling elbow early but Almas smartly rolls out of the ring. Ohno goes to follow with a DIVE but instead handsprings off the apron and to the floor once he sees Almas move out of the way. Almas then runs to attack Ohno from behind but runs into a big boot. The crowd is into this one early on as both men are now back in the ring. Kassius hits Andrade with a big chop and then counters Almas’ irish whip attempt by flipping over the top rope and hanging on. But it ends up being pointless as Almas hits his own big boot and leaves Ohno on the arena floor as we go to break.
We return to see Almas pounding away on the K.O. Artist in various ways before hitting a slap on a seated Ohno and showboating. A brief rally for Ohno doesn’t last long as Almas traps him in an armbar from the apron. After breaking it, the former masked luchador comes off the top with a missile dropkick and a garners a 2 count. Upon breaking the cover, Almas rolls right into another armbar that is eventually broken, then goes to slap Ohno again but is countered via a front kick by a seated Ohno. Kassius is fired up and fighting back with chops and kicks, then highlights the momentum shift with a spinning neckbreaker. A follow up Cyclone Kick only gets a 2 count and then Ohno goes up top for a moonsault but misses. Andrade capitalizes with a Final Cut, but only manages a 2 count of his own. They both fight for a suplex but Ohno gets the better of it and puts Andrade on the top rope. He cannot follow up though and Almas knocks him off the turnbuckle but he himself gets caught jumping off the top by a boot to the face from Ohno. Both men are stunned but out of nowhere, Almas hits a handspring Pele kick, followed up by a running double knee smash in the corner to a seated Ohno. He goes for the La Sombra DDT but Ohno counters it by pushing him into the corner. Almas still manages to hit an inverted tornado DDT out of the corner but can only get a 1 count due to Ohno “Ohno-ing up”. Almas lays into Ohno, who then hits a jumping front kick and 2 rolling elbows that starch Andrade and leave his shoulders down for the count of 3.
My Take: Can I see this again? Please? Very good match between two quality workers. Ohno seems to be readapting to the WWE style rapidly and Andrade is showing off more and more of his underutilized arsenal. I for one cannot wait until “Serious Andrade” comes back.
Before a break, we learn that McIntyre-Blake is official for next week and that Aleister Black will also be in action on the show. After the break, the Itami spotlight finishes up with a look back at last week’s Itami-Strong match. After that finishes, the music of Bobby Roode comes on and the entire Full Sail Arena breaks out in song. He makes his way down to the ring. He immediately says that everywhere he goes, all he hears about is Hideo Itami. He admits that Itami laid him out but that it was totally unprovoked and that it won’t happen again. He makes light of Itami’s spotty and injury plagued track record, and says his NXT track record is much better. He says Itami will lose and disappoint his family yet again and this brings Itami out to the ring. Regal comes down with security and stops Itami as Roode preps to fight. Itami then breaks away from them and hits the ring. Roode escapes to the outside after taking a few shots and as the security men try to stop Itami inside the ring, he takes 2 of them out with the GTS. He is approaching the 3rd when Roode attacks him from behind. Hideo quickly gets the upper hand though and hits the champion with the GTS, and stands over him as the show ends.
Pretty solid show. They added to the Takeover card, which I certainly loved. I am also all-in on cocky/heel Asuka. I think the balance they have to find though is allowing this new persona to shine, but not in a way that takes away from her incredible in-ring ability. If they strike that balance, I think they will be able to print money with her once she moves up.
Well, that is all I have for this show but if any of you are in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area then be sure to come see NXT Live over at NKU tonight at 7:30pm. I will also be live tweeting during the show so go ahead and follow me on Twitter to catch that. I will be posting a brief article on the show tonight on the site as well. I hope to see some of you tonight, and back here Saturday for my Takeover review!