Tonight is a very special night in the Yellow Brand’s history, a night in which an entire division will be changed. NXT Womens Champion Asuka will address her and the title’s status due to her injury and it is certain to leave everlasting shockwaves. Also tonight, Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno will square off in a No DQ match. The show opens with a video package highlighting their broken friendship. Our first match of the evening though, is a chance for us to see Zelina Vega.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/ Zelina Vega) vs Cezar Bononi
This is a rematch of a match that actually turned the tide of Almas’ NXT career as he was upset by Bononi and then cut out all the partying and showboating. Vega goes over to join the broadcast booth as Almas makes his way to the ring. Andrade is all over Bononi early as Vega talks up her managerial acumen. Bononi never had a chance here, as Vega stands up and yells out for her client to “finish him” and he delivers by hitting the La Sombra DDT for the win.
My Take: It’s weird to see Bononi squashed after seeing him contest Almas so closely before. But we got to see and hear from Vega so I will just be thankful. Almas is in a great position right now. I will be interested to see where he goes next.
After that match, we get a video recap of the end of the show as the ROH Invaders destroyed Drew McIntyre as he stood on the ramp. We shoot over to William Regal who says that the trio will stop jumping people and compete in the ring only. Before we take a break, we see footage of Ohno and Itami warming up backstage.
We return and a NXT correspondent is in front of Asuka’s locker room door hoping for a word with her but the Velveteen Dream comes and grabs her mic. He says he knows he said he wouldn’t talk until the ambiance was right but, he saw someone at Takeover Brooklyn who needs his experience so he will speak soon.
Lars Sullivan vs. Three Jobbers
Sullivan is out with some new music that fits him. Before the match starts, he tells the ref that he wants all 3 men in the ring at the same time. RIP to all 3 as Sullivan proceeded to DESTROY them and pick up a quick win. Sullivan beats them up after the match and suddenly No Way Jose’s music hits. He comes down to the ring and asks how tough Sullivan is when they are face to face, not when Sullivan is jumping him from behind. No fear in Jose’s eyes and it’s really helping this segment. He then hauls off and nails Sullivan with a right hand but eventually he falls victim to Sullivan’s uranage slam and is left in pieces as Sullivan walks off.
My Take: Seems to be the Squash Brand tonight. It also seems like they have nothing for Jose to do. He seems to be the guy they go to in order to show what other guys can do. I have yet to feel like he was in a meaningful program.
Next we go to footage from earlier this week of Johnny Gargano down at the Performance Center. He is being interviewed by various people and is asked how the end of his Takeover match affected him. He says it didn’t. The interview is then interrupted by Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli. They say that they haven’t seen them since they “essentially broke up DIY”. They taunt him about not cutting it as a singles wrestler and advise him to go get another partner. Johnny challenges one of them to a match next week and they walk off. A highlight package featuring Sonya Deville follows and we take a break before her match.
A Sanity promo greets our return and E.Y. tells ReDragon that attacking them was a mistake and that all they care about is chaos, not them. Chilling stuff. You could hear Nikki Cross laughing in the background but could not see her.
Sonya Deville vs. Zeda
Two women with MMA experience in this matchup so this could get ugly in a hurry. Quick start with a Deville ducking under and taking Zeda down. Deville is pretty quick and I haven’t really noticed it before. Another squash here as Deville hits a knee strike and immediately rolls Zeda into a triangle armbar to pick up the victory.
My Take: It looks like they are really going to push Deville as a dangerous wrecking machine, which is totally ok now the current state of the women’s division. One thing I didn’t like here was her squashing another superstar that is entered into the Mae Young Classic, which is supposed to be a highlight in the company at the moment. They should have kept the MYC entrants off TV until it was finished. No need to kill their credibility right now.
We go back to the P.C. and see Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in the ring working on tag team moves as William Regal looks on. As they wrap up, Ruby Riot approaches Regal and asks for a handicap match against Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. Regal denies her request but tells her to find a partner and she can have a tag match against them.
No DQ Match: Kassius Ohno vs. Hideo Itami
Both men are all business here early on, but Ohno takes control. Itami fully embraces his heel path here as well and really works Ohno over on the outside once he gets some offense going. A hesitation dropkick then gives Itami his first near fall of the night. A tug of war over a chair then leads to a failed “rolling elbow Van Ohno-nator” and leaves Kassius on the ground in pain. After a prolonged period of being assaulted, Ohno lands a rolling elbow that ends up knocking Itami to the outside. The crowd is now clamoring for tables. They don’t oblige, and Hideo ends up hitting a suplex on the ramp that has him back in charge of things. Back in the ring, Itami puts a chair over Ohno in the corner and nails a nasty hesitation dropkick that gets a 2 count. This one has gotten brutal. The end comes with Ohno going for yet another rolling elbow and Itami going for another low blow kick that’s blocked. He then throws a thumb in Ohno’s eye and goes for the GTS but our Hero drops behind him and nails a low blow of his own that Itami sells in an amazing way. A follow up rolling elbow ends this match, and our in-ring action for the night.
My Take: This was a decent match. It left me wanting more, as if they really could have done so much more had it been on a Takeover show. Ohno himself is truly capable of so much more than he has been allowed to do since his return.
We learn that Ruby and a partner will square off against The Iconic Duo next week, and that the United Kingdom title will be on the line as Pete Dunne defends against Wolfgang. I’m calling it now: That will contend for NXT Match of the Year.
Asuka Addresses The NXT Universe
Regal is in the ring and introduces the champion, and she is welcomed with a very warm reception. “Asuka” chants roaring before she speaks, as well as a “Thank you Asuka” chant. She states how much she loves NXT and how much she grew here. Crowd is showing love after every few words. Regal also praises her and says that he and Asuka have started negotiations with Raw and Smackdown Live for her services, and that she will be relinquishing the title. The entire NXT locker room comes out on the ramp to salute her along with the crowd, which is at a fever pitch by this time with another “Thank you Asuka” chant. She gives a final farewell and Ember Moon suddenly appears and walks down to the ring. She extends her hand to Asuka and then pulls it back, just like Asuka had done to her weeks earlier. They laugh and then embrace. Beautiful moment. Asuka looks to be very emotional. As they continue to hug, Triple H comes down to the ring and presents Asuka with roses. He then grabs the title belt and a mic and states, “Ladies and gentlemen, one last time. I give you the undefeated, 523 day reigning, NXT Women’s Champion, The Empress Of Tomorrow… Asuka!”
My Take: Great segment. Nothing else can really be said. Just all around great 9 plus minutes.
Tonight’s show really picked up steam as it rolled along and I’m so glad it did. It was looking bleak early on. Very bleak. But the Yellow Brand closed the show well and seems loaded next week with a major women’s tag match and a UK title match. Add that into some possible development of the women’s title picture and it should be a very stacked show. I’ll be here next week to see, I hope you will too!