You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. There was a great opening montage featuring an introduction by Paul Heyman. Nigel McGuinness is not on commentary due to illness, so it’s just Mauro and Percy tonight, so time for Percy to finally step up. (Let me swing back to this and say that Percy Watson did great tonight).
Match #1: NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) © v. Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering)
Akam and Rezar ambush Fish and O’Reilly before the bell and scatter them to ringside. Undisputed Era regroups on the outside and we finally get a bell. O’Reilly lands several leg kicks to Rezar, but gets tackled. O’Reilly turns it into a triangle, but Rezar escapes and sends him back to the floor. Fish gets a tag, but quickly gets caught in the AoP corner. Akam comes in along with O’Reilly and O’Reilly gets floored. Undisputed Era decide they’ve had enough and look to walk out.
The Authors stop them and beat them all around ringside. Akam hits a double-team stomp on O’Reilly but appears to tweak his knee. Fish uses a distraction to take out Akam’s knee. Rezar gets in the ring, but Fish spears him through the ropes and to the floor. Now Undisputed Era target Akam’s knee for an extended sequence. A few Akam comebacks get cut off and he finds himself in a knee bar.
Fish enters the ring with a senton over the top onto Akam and goes right back to the leg kicks. Akam uses a distraction to catch Fish with a sky-high back body drop and gets the hot tag to Rezar. Fish eats a press slam and O’Reilly gets a spinebuster. Rezar gets O’Reilly with a fall-away slam with Fish on his back at the same time. O’Reilly catches Rezar with a nasty knee to the head/shoulder. Fish drills Rezar with an exploder suplex for a 2-count.
Rezar fights out of a double team and flattens Fish and O’Reilly. Akam gets the tag and is still favoring his leg. The Authors go for the Last Chapter, but Fish cuts Rezar off. O’Reilly gets Akam in a knee bar, but Rezar flips Fish onto O’Reilly and all 4 guys are down as the crowd breaks into dueling chants. O’Reilly goes back to kicking Akam, but Akam fires up. He catches a kick and delivers a capture overhead suplex and then obliterates O’Reilly in the corner. Fish has a kick caught and takes a lariat on the ring apron for good measure.
Akam hits a buckle bomb on O’Reilly and continues kneeing him in the head. Brutal looking. The Authors set up the Super Collider and hit it, but Akam stumbles due to the bad knee. O’Reilly turns it into a hurricanrana that sends Akam into Rezar, which knocks Rezar to the floor. O’Reilly rolls Akam up on the rebound and gets the pinfall.
Winners: Undisputed Era via pinfall to RETAIN the NXT Tag Team Championship
Thoughts: This was about what I expected. Undisputed Era gets a win over arguably the most dominant tag team in NXT history to solidify them as top-tier and I think the writing is on the wall for the Authors: It’s time to go suffer on the main roster. It’s refreshing to see someone focus on a body part and actually have it play a role in the finish of the match. The Authors don’t look terrible since they were sort of ‘surprised’ for the pin. Overall, a good tag team match.
Match #2: Kassius Ohno v. Velveteen Dream
Prior to the match, War Machine is shown in the crowd. During the pre-show, the Dream guaranteed a 30-second KO of Kassius Ohno. Velveteen Dream is coming out with custom boxing trunks and a servant gives him a mouthpiece that was on a fancy pillow. Good lord, I love this. The crowd is going to count to 30 after the bell. The Dream looks for the knockout and catches Ohno in the jaw at a count of 24 and he’s down!
Velveteen Dream thinks he’s won the match and turns into an Ohno forearm that knocks him on his face and sends the alleged $2000 mouthpiece to the mat. A boot to the face sends the Dream to the floor. Back in the ring, the Dream catches Ohno off the ropes with a spinebuster. There’s a massive Velveteen chant – this guy is over huge. The Dream delivers a suplex, but can’t even get a 1-count. The Dream stands over Ohno and does a Ravishing Rick Rude hip gyration.
The Dream continues beating Ohno down and talking trash. Ohno starts to no-sell and fire up, but the Dream catches him with a double axe handle off the top rope for a near fall. Ohno finally counters a suplex with his own release vertical suplex. Ohno hits a series of strikes and kicks followed by a running senton. Ohno levels the Dream with a Cyclone kick, but the Dream kicks out. The Dream surprises Ohno with a super kick and tried for that awesome DDT move he used on Johnny Gargano last week and well, he got it, sort of.
The Dream jumps off the top rope, but eats a kick. Ohno comes off the ropes and the Dream tried to catch him in a fireman’s carry, but Ohno was too heavy. The Dream tried to save it, but yikes. Ohno drills the Dream with a rolling elbow, but it’s only good for a 2-count. The Dream finally gets Ohno up for the rolling Death Valley Driver, and then delivers the Purple Rainmaker for the 3-count!
Winner: Velveteen Dream via pinfall
Thoughts: The Dream gets a much needed win, although there were a couple rough spots in there. Those might be overshadowed by the spectacle, though. He needs to get a little more loose/comfortable cutting promos and the sky could be the limit for this guy. I’m not sure if Velveteen Dream didn’t realize or appreciate how much Ohno weighs or what on a few of those spots. Overall, it was still a really fun match.
Match #3: NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon © v. Shayna Baszler
Baszler starts out by grinding her forearm across Moon’s face and kicking her leg out. Baszler takes Moon down again, but Moon comes back with several drop kicks to the face that sends Baszler to the floor. Moon dives out and flattens Baszler in the aisle. Baszler catches Moon with several knees and a huge kick that sends Moon across the ring, but Baszler can only get a 2-count.
Baszler does the same elbow stomp spot that she did with Dakota Kai and Moon sells a serious injury. Baszler goes right to work on the arm with submissions and strikes. Moon eventually fires up with strikes and a springboard cross-body for a 2-count. Moon goes to the top rope and nails the Eclipse, but she hurt her arm severely doing it. Baszler is completely out, but Moon can’t capitalize. The medical staff hit the ring to check on Moon.
The match is allowed to continue, but Moon walks right into an arm bar. Baszler can’t quite lock it in all the way as Moon continues to fight and get to the ropes. Baszler locks in the arm bar again, but Moon continues to fight through it and try to escape. Every time you expect a tap out, she manages to survive. Every time you think Moon is going to escape, Baszler manages to keep her in the arm bar. Finally, Moon manages to turn over and catch Baszler in a pin long enough for a 3-count!
Baszler sits in the ring selling shock and disappointment. As Moon is being helped away, Baszler attacks from behind and chokes her out. She comes back to choke her some more for good measure before finally leaving. Mauro is just outraged and hopes she is punished and fined.
Winner: Ember Moon via pinfall to RETAIN the NXT Women’s Championship
Thoughts: This result surprised me because I thought for sure they’d go ahead and give Shayna the belt. Even with this result, no one looks bad here. Ember Moon survived and won and then Shayna Baszler got her heat back at the end. I wouldn’t call this a ‘great’ match, but I think it was good and it was effective. Baszler looked a little lost at times, but she’ll only get better.
Match #4: Extreme Rules: Aleister Black v. Adam Cole
Trevor ‘Ricochet’ Mann is shown in the crowd prior to the match. Aleister Black won pretty much every 2017 NXT award during the pre-show. Barring some legal issues or something, this guy is going to be NXT Champion in 2018. Adam Cole enters alone (No O’Reilly or Fish). Cole tries to trade strikes early, but gets kicked out of the ring. Black does the moonsault into sitting spot, which enrages Cole, who then produces a chair.
Cole says he’s bringing the chair in the ring, but Black doesn’t care. Cole tries to take his head off, but misses. Black kicks him and takes the chair, but Cole bails. Black sits on the chair to wait on Cole. Cole gets sent back to the floor and eats a huge forearm. Cole regains control and starts throwing chairs and a trash can into the ring. Cole produces a kendo stick, but so does Black. They have a stand-off, but Black tosses his aside. Cole can’t believe it and says Black is stupid (Cole’s facial expressions are just great). Black dodges Cole’s swings, but when Black goes for a springboard moonsault, Cole nails him right in the stomach mid-flip. Great spot.
Cole now tees off with the kendo stick and uses it to deliver a back stabber. The crowd chants for tables, so Cole heads to ringside to set one up. Cole is bleeding from somewhere. I don’t know if he cut his hand on the table or what. Cole wants a superplex to the floor, but Black tosses him from the top rope to the mat and partially on the trash can. Black hits a running knee and gets a 2-count. There’s a pause for Cole to get his hand cleaned up, so Black goes out to set up a second table. Black also pulls out a ladder, but Cole baseball slides and drives it into him.
Cole props the ladder up in the corner, but can’t hit a suplex onto it. Cole hits a step-up enzuigiri instead. Cole gets caught in an electric chair and gets dropped awkwardly onto the ladder. That looked painful. Cole is having his hand worked on once again. Black sets up a chair, but Cole recovers and uses it to hit Black in the ribs. Cole can’t capitalize and eats a double stomp. Black again puts Cole’s head on the chair and goes to the top rope. Cole recovers again and throws the chair at Black, who catches it. Cole superkicks the chair into Black’s face and Black falls to the floor and through both tables.
Back in the ring, Cole can only get a 2-count. Cole sets up 2 chairs back to back because he wants to break Black’s back. Unfortunately for Cole, Black catches him and gives him an Attitude Adjustment on the backs of the chairs. Brutal. Black then hits a running knee that drives a chair into Cole’s face. As Black goes for the pin, O’Reilly and Fish hit ringside and deliver Total Elimination to Black on the floor. They drag Black all the way around the ring to the announce tables. Before they can do anything else, SAnitY shows up to attack Undisputed Era.
They fight around the ring and back to the aisle where Killian Dain dives out of the ring to take Fish, O’Reilly, Eric Young, and Alexander Wolfe out. Meanwhile, Black is still slumped by the announce table. He fights Cole off and drives him through the table with a jumping double knee drop. Back in the ring, Black gets caught with a super kick. Cole picks up a chair and says he’s going to end Black. He walks right into Black Mass and that’s it!
Winner: Aleister Black via pinfall
Thoughts: This was a pretty good match. I’m a little torn because I hate seeing the leader of Undisputed Era lose again, but you can’t really beat Black because he’s moving on to the title picture. The next tag team challenge was also set-up with SAnitY showing up to even the odds late in the match. Overall, this was a really physical match and about as good as you can expect in this era.
Match #5: NXT Championship: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas © (w/ Zelina Vega) v. Johnny Gargano
Before the match, EC3 is shown in the crowd. A masked mariachi band plays out Andrade Almas. Almas enters wearing a mask (made for him by Ophidian from Chikara for anyone looking for trivia questions) and Mauro references La Sombra (Although that wasn’t a La Sombra mask). Almas removes the mask for the rest of his entrance. Gargano is the clear crowd choice. They start a little tentative and then go into a sequence of grappling and counters. Just flawless, smooth execution. Candice LaRae is also in the crowd with the rest of the Gargano family.
Almas goes for the Hammerlock DDT, but Gargano counters and goes for the Gargano Escape. Both guys back off and reset. Gargano gets a flying head scissors and a drop kick before settling into an arm bar. Almas fights out and levels Gargano with a big chop. Gargano springs off the second buckle with another flying head scissors and then clotheslines Almas to the floor. Almas misses a moonsault from the ring apron, and then Gargano avoids some strikes, but misses a cannonball senton and bounces off the floor. That was great.
Almas quickly gets him in the ring, but only gets a 2-count. Almas hits a diving kick to the side of Gargano’s head and then locks in the snuggest chinlock I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, what a chinlock. A series of suplex reversals leads to Almas getting caught with the roll-up kick. Almas catches a step-up enzuigiri attempt on the ring apron and sets up Gargano in the Tree of Woe. Almas misses the double stomp and charges right into an overhead belly-to-belly throw right into the corner and onto the back of his head.
After a reset, they trade strikes. Gargano fires up and nails a step-up enzuigiri and flying forearm in the corner. Gargano delivers the corkscrew Flatliner from the second rope, but Almas kicks out. After another sequence, Gargano connects with the slingshot spear, but Almas again kicks out. Gargano lands another step-up enzuigiri and goes for another head scissors, but Almas plants him on his face. Almas goes for a moonsault off the top rope, but lands on his feet and then hits a standing moonsault on Gargano, who had rolled away.
Almas and Gargano trade nasty elbow shots to the jaw and then Almas levels him for a near fall with a back elbow. Gargano springs up with a super kick for a near fall. More dueling strikes leads to both guys collapsing. Almas wants a top rope Hammerlock DDT, but Gargano slips out and super kicks Almas in the face while he was bent over. Gargano goes for a sunset flip powerbomb, but Almas backflips and lands on his feet and then crushes Gargano with the drive-through knees in the corner. Almas charges for a second, but gets nothing but the corner. That was a great visual and impact. Gargano goes for another slingshot spear, but Almas catches him, drops him on his knee, and then drives Gargano’s face into the mat. Almas then hits a tornado inverted DDT from the second rope for a near fall. Good lord. Huge standing ovation as they reset again.
Almas wants the Hammerlock DDT on the apron, but Gargano gets free. Gargano hits another step-up enzuigiri and then a slingshot DDT onto the ring apron. Almas kicks out once Gargano finally gets him back in the ring. Gargano tries for the Gargano Escape, but Almas blocks it and catches Gargano with a jawbreaker. Another back elbow sends Gargano into the corner, but he rebounds to turn Almas inside out with a clothesline. Gargano lawn darts Almas into the second buckle and sets up for a super kick. Zelina Vega distracts him long enough for Almas to drop kick him into the corner. Gargano counters the Hammerlock DDT attempt with a small package for a 2-count. Gargano then drops Almas to his knees with a kick to the gut and then levels him with a super kick for another close fall. This is insane.
Gargano goes to the top rope, but Almas knocks him into a Tree of Woe on the outside of the ropes. Almas then hits a double stomp that knocks Gargano to the floor. Almas then drives Gargano into the ring’s light board over and over. Almas crushes Gargano with the drive-through knee strike, but Gargano kicks out again. Gargano is Sami Zayn-level selling here with the head injury. Almas callously slaps Gargano down, but Gargano gives him some receipts. Gargano scores with another super kick and a reverse hurricanrana. Gargano turns a tilt-a-whirl into the Gargano Escape. Almas can’t quite get to the ropes, but Zelina Vega grabs his hand to draw the referee over. Almas uses the chance to rake Gargano’s eyes and break the hold.
Gargano counters the Hammerlock DDT again and back drops Almas to the floor. Gargano dives onto Almas and throws him back into the ring, but Vega jumps off the ring apron with a hurricanrana that sends Gargano face-first into the steps. Almas brings Gargano back in and spikes him with the Hammerlock DDT, but Gargano kicks out! Vega tries to attack Gargano on the floor again, but Candice LaRae jumps the barrier and spears her. She beats Vega into the crowd and out of the arena. Gargano slingshots back into the ring and spikes Almas with a DDT, but Almas kicks out again! Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape again! Almas teases a tap out, but gets his foot on the rope.
Percy Watson’s voice cracked in there somewhere. On the ring apron, Gargano gets slammed into the post. Almas then crushes him with the drive-through knee strike against the post. Almas drags Gargano over the top rope and drills him with a hanging Hammerlock DDT and that is finally all for Gargano. What a match. Wow.
As Gargano and LaRae make their way up the ramp, Tommaso Ciampa shows up and smacks Gargano across the back with a crutch and stares him down hatefully. Ciampa is sporting an awesome Blackheart t-shirt as well. The show fades out with LaRae holding Gargano and Ciampa limps away.
Winner: Andrade Almas via pinfall to RETAIN the NXT Championship
Thoughts: This was a hell of a way to start out 2018. Someone mentioned that they thought this was the best NXT championship match ever and I’m going to agree. It’s probably too early to say what the WWE Match of the Year might be, but this is already a finalist. I 100% had no idea how the finish would go down, so this was so fun to watch. Anyway, it’s tough to argue that these aren’t two of the best wrestlers on the planet right now. Go watch this again. Apparently there was a lot of ‘backlash’ (Such an overused phrase) over the finish. I disagree. Ciampa and Gargano will arguably be the headline match on WrestleMania weekend – without a championship. I’m convinced that Andrade Almas might be the best wrestler in the world right now and it would be totally insane to take the title off him here. It’ll work out, everyone.
- Undisputed Era beat the Authors of Pain to retain the Tag Team Championship
- Velveteen Dream beat Kassius Ohno
- Ember Moon beat Shayna Baszler to retain the Women’s Championship
- Aleister Black beat Adam Cole
- Andrade Almas beat Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT Championship
- Tommaso Ciampa attacked Gargano after the match
- Notable Crowd Celebrities: War Machine, Ricochet, EC3
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