Images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service.
- Third Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match: Kalisto VS Lince Dorado; Kalisto wins and advances to the second round.
- Fourth Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match: Hideo Itami VS Roderick Strong; Strong wins and advances to the second round.
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205 Live and the Cruiserweights have entered a new phase!
We have our first-ever General Manager for the Cruiserweight Division, “Rockstar Spud” Drake Maverick!
With Spud at the wheel, the WWE Universe can expect the amazing action they’ve always wanted out of the superstars of 205 Live. And to start it off, the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament has begun! Only one man will be the new Cruiserweight Champion and crowned at Wrestlemania, and we already have two through the first round. Cedric Alexander defeated Gran Metalik, and TJP defeated Tyler Bate. Tonight, two more matches will see two more superstars move on to the second round!
Third Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match: Kalisto VS Lince Dorado!
The King of Flight and Golden Lynx may be amigos in the #LuchaHouseParty, but they’ll put friendship aside if it means getting gold. Which luchador will score a win and move one step closer to the Grandest Stage of Them All?
The bell rings, the amigos shake hands to assure everyone this is going to be a respectful match. But then Lince holds on to let Kalisto know he’s going to treat him like any other opponent. The two circle, tie up and Lince gets the waistlock slam. Lince puts on the facelock, but Kalisto silps out to a wristlock. Kalisto arm-drags to a takedown but Lince hops right up. He flips Kalisto away then takes him down with a standing STO. Kalisto sits up, catches Lince’s kick and flips him away, both men stand up and stare down. The fans applaud, but then Lince rushes Kalisto. Kalisto arm-drags Lince, but then Lince arm-drags him back. Kalisto sweeps the legs, covers but Lince kicks out. Lince sweeps the legs and covers, Kalisto kicks out, double dropkicks and handsprings, the fans applaud this evenly matched match-up. Kalisto starts the “Lucha! Lucha!” chants, and the two circle again. Kalisto gets the waistlock to headlock but Lince powers out. Lince tosses Kalisto up but Kalisto narrowly balances on Lince’s shoulders!
Kalisto hops down, but Lince dropkicks him down. Lince runs at Kalisto in the corner but gets a back elbow. He tries again but Kalisto boots him down. Kalisto runs out but Lince manages to monkey flip him over. Lince gets up, Kalisto comes back with kicks. Kalisto whips but Lince reverses, swings but misses and Kalisto hits a tilt-o-whirl headscissors! Lince ends up outside, so Kalisto runs and DIVES!
Kalisto sends Lince into the announce table! The “Lucha! Lucha!” chants start up again while Drake Maverick watches from backstage.
Lince resists but Kalisto still gets him into the ring. Kalisto shoulders in then slingshots over but Lince sits on the sunset, TWO. SUPERKICK from Lince!
Kalisto is staggered, Lince throws him out to then build speed and DIVE!
A tope suicida senton topples Kalisto over! The fans applaud while the referee checks on both men. They’re both alright to continue, and fans already say “This is Awesome!” Lince gets up and gets Kalisto up for a stiff chop. He puts Kalisto in the ring, covers, ONE. Lince doesn’t slow down, he stomps and covers again, ONE. He puts Kalisto in a half clutch, saying he needs this win. The fans rally and Kalisto stands up, but Lince rocks him with a European Uppercut and throws him out. Lince hammers away, then stares at the Cruiserweight Championship belt. He puts Kalisto back in and jackknife covers, TWO! Lince returns to a chinlock, squeezing Kalisto. The fans build to a rally, Kalisto feeds off that energy to stand up. He fights out of the hold, then runs but into Lince’s slinger facebuster. Lince gets to a corner and climbs up. He takes aim, jumps but has to bail out when Kalisto rolls out of the way. Lince runs into Kalisto’s kick, then Kalisto climbs up. He reaches the top rope but Lince chops him. Lince climbs up but Kalisto fights back. Lince slows Kalisto down with headbutts, then stands up with him on the very top, for a SUPER STEINER!
Kalisto crashes down but Lince can’t make the cover right away. Both men are down while the fans applaud and the referee checks on them. Lince crawls to ropes and pulls himself up. He then crawls over to Kalisto just as Kalisto crawls over to him. The two friends brawl on their knees, then brawl on their feet. Lince chops Kalisto again and again, then runs into Kalisto’s enziguri. Kalisto fires off kicks, then runs to springboard for the corkscrew crossbody! He keeps going, mule kick and run for the spike-rana, but Lince counters into a seated cover! TWO! Lince staggers to a corner, Kalisto runs in but into a boot. Lince hops up, but Kalisto rocks him with a kick! Kalisto climbs up, Lince headbutts him a couple times, only for Kalisto to kick him again. Another try from Kalisto, SUPER Victory Roll Bomb!
TWO!! Both men are exhausted, but somehow still moving. The fans start up the “Lucha! Lucha!” and the two men feed off the energy. Kalisto is ready, waiting for Lince to turn around. Lince does, but he denies the Salida with a shove. Kalisto turns things around, roll for the Listo Kick, but Lince caught it! Lince drags Kalisto up, shouting that “I need this!” Kalisto enziguris but Lince ducks it, to handspring and hit the Golden Rewind stunner!
Lince doesn’t stop there, he gets to the top rope again. He aims, and hits the Shooting Star!
The impact was so strong, Lince bounced off! Kalisto rolls and escapes the ring. Lince pursues, and drags Kalisto up and in. Kalisto surprises him with a small package, TWO! Salida Del Sol outta nowhere!
Kalisto- no, ROPEBREAK!! Lince survives by mere seconds! Both men are exhausted but Kalisto forces himself over. Lince grabs ropes, then shoves Kalisto away. Kalisto returns, but Lince backslides, TWO. Kalisto runs, springboards back and hits a Poison-Rana!
THEN Salida Del Sol!! Kalisto wins in furious fashion! But because they’re still friends, they each raise the other’s hand in turn.
Spud is still watching, of course, and he likes what he sees. Can Kalisto go all the way to Wrestlemania to attempt becoming a two-time Cruiserweight Champion?
205 Live takes a look at Roderick Strong.
The Savior of the Backbreaker normally competes in NXT, but he’s being given a huge opportunity in this Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Strong endured rough times as his parents struggled with their inner demons. “Professional Wrestling saved my life.” Strong vows to give everything he has for as long as he has to, and will “risk it all” for victory. This isn’t just his journey, it’s his family’s. Can Strong do his family proud here tonight?
Cedric Alexander speaks.
The Carolina Kid won his first round match, and he’s one step closer to the championship. No one is going to stand in his way. However, Mustafa Ali surprises him from behind!
Ali warns Alexander to be careful or someone might sneak one on him. Ali takes his leave, saying there’s an 0-5-4 with Alexander’s name on it. Alexander counters that “it’s all fun and games until somebody’s lumbar gets checked.” He’ll be watching round one, but now he feels he’ll need to watch his back.
The “Cruiser-Great” reads the Tweets and comments about his controversial victory over Tyler Bate. He was holding the tights, which is why many in the WWE Universe posted things like “Great match, wrong guy.” TJP feels that “it really sucks to dedicate 20 years of your life to something just to get booed for succeeding at it.” Back in the Cruiserweight Classic, TJ Perkins “lived and died” on the idea that he was giving the fans someone to believe in. But now he must ignore the fact that the fans don’t. TJP did what he had to in order to win. This time, he’s not doing it for the fans, but for himself. Can the selfish former champion succeed by any means necessary and compete for the title at Wrestlemania?
205 Live takes a look at Mark Andrews.
The High-Fiving, Stage-Diving “Mandrews” is normally of the WWE United Kingdom Division, but he qualifies for the Cruiserweight Division so why not give him a chance? He helped put both UK and Wales on the map for professional wrestling back in the inaugural WWE UK Championship tournament. Next week, the fun-loving high-flyer gets a chance against former Cruiserweight Champion, Akira Tozawa. Can Andrews succeed as a crossover competitor for both himself and all of Wales?
Akira Tozawa speaks.
The Stamina Monster knows he faces Mark Andrews next week in this Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Andrews has talent, but he can’t beat Tozawa. To prove it, Tozawa asks a backstage worker who they think will win. “Mark Andre–” “Hey, hey, hey! You don’t know.” Tozawa promises to win, and then this guy, “You’re Fired!!” Tozawa then grins and swaggers away like once Vincent Kennedy McMahon might. Will the former champion’s confidence help him or cost him in this tournament?
Drake Maverick is visited in his office by Drew Gulak & Tony Nese.
The Cruiserweight Crusader and the Premier Athlete are both glad to meet with the GM, and know Spud wanted to talk with them about something. Is it perhaps about Gulak’s #Drewtopian plans for a #Better205Live? Something like that. By the way, thanks for the flowers. Spud asks Gulak, “What happened to you?” Gulak asks what he means by that. Spud explains that Gulak used to be “the most rugged grappler” on 205 Live. But Spud sees a Gulak who has PowerPoint presentations and picket signs. “When did you become such a goof?” Spud asks. Nese chuckles, but then Spud calls him out on it. Nese is the “most physically gifted athlete” here, but he wastes it on flexing and counting! “Congratulations, Tony, you have abs.” These two are the two most wasted members of the Cruiserweight Division, because while they have their own futures in their hands, all they do is resort to comedy acts. Spud says “that train” has left the station, 205 Live has changed. Therefore, the Cruiserweight Championship tournament’s first round will have Tony Nese VS Drew Gulak! The two PowerPoint pals look at each other with cold realization.
And now that it’s sunk in, Spud wants to know which one of them will step up. He dismisses them from his office and returns to his work. With only one week until they face off, what will Nese and Gulak do to get the edge over the other?
Fourth Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match: Hideo Itami VS Roderick Strong!
The Innovator of the GTS was in NXT with the Savior of the Backbreaker not too long ago. Now Strong joins Itami in 205 Live for a chance at a championship. Itami declares 205 Live his home, and Strong doesn’t belong. Will Itami kick Strong out to ride down the road to Wrestlemania with respect?
The bell rings and the two circle. The fans are already chanting for “Roddy! Roddy!” as he and Itami tie up. Itami gets the waistlock but Strong the takedown. Itami catches Strong in the headscissor hold and Strong can’t pop out of it. Strong endures the squeeze then shifts up to slip out, and gets Itami into a Bow ‘n’ Arrow lock!
Itami endures the bend then pops out to a cover, ONE. The two back off and the fans applaud before they circle again. They tie up, push each other back, but Itami gets the wristlock control. Strong reverses to his own wristlock and brings Itami to the mat. Itami keeps his shoulders up, then headscissors Strong again, but this time Strong pops up with a kip-up. The two stare down again, and fans applaud. Each man dares the other to bring it, so they both tie up again. Strong gets the wristlock to an armbar, but Itami pushes and whips Strong to a corner. Strong goes up and over and catches Itami, but then Itami slips out of the half-nelson. Itami puts on a headlock and grinds Strong down, keeping hold even as Strong pushes. The fans rally for Strong, Strong gets to his feet and fights out with body shots and a shove. However, Itami runs Strong over and things speed up. Strong hurdles over Itami then holds ropes, and hits Itami with a big calf kick!
Cover, TWO, but Strong is not deterred. He brings Itami up for a stiff shop. Itami ends up in the corner, Strong chops him again. Strong backs off, then runs back in, but Itami puts him on the apron. Strong rocks Itami with a forearm, then goes around the corner. Itami sees him coming, and kicks him between the ropes a few times. Itami positions Strong right and hops up to the second rope, for a flying guillotine knee!
Strong goes down, clutching his head, and Itami covers. TWO, and Itami grows a bit frustrated. He brings Strong up and whips, bringing him down with a kitchen sink then lighting him up with a stiff kick to the back. Itami drops knees on Strong’s head, even bringing the knee pad down, for the jumping heel scrape. Itami poses to gloat, then stomps Strong in a corner. Strong reverses the corner-to-corner whip, but Itami boots him away. Itami hops up, goes for the tornado hotshot, but Strong blocks and adjusts for a shoulder gutbuster!
Cover, TWO! Strong keeps on Itami with stomps again and again. He drags Itami up, but Itami fights back. Strong chops Itami down, then bumps him on a buckle before ramming in shoulders to the torso. More chops, then Strong brings Itami out for the butterfly suplex, cover, TWO. Strong grabs Itami in a seated abdominal stretch, mirroring it to go after the repaired left shoulder. Fans rally for both men, Itami stands up and fights out. Strong knees low, then brings Itami up for a pumphandle backbreaker!
Cover, TWO, but Strong doesn’t lose focus. He grab Itami’s hands to help in a stomp into the mat. Strong dares “Kenta” to get up, toying with him even. The fans rally while Strong throws hands, Itami feeds off them. They brawl back and forth, Itami runs but into a big dropkick! Cover, TWO, now Strong feels some frustration. Strong keeps on Itami, bringing him up and back into a seated position. But instead of the abdominal stretch, Strong puts Itami’s legs in an Indian deathlock, and then a modified crossface.
Itami endures the bend and stretch while fans build to a rally. He pries his way out, then fights out with a jawbreaker. Strong runs in but misses in the corner, Itami counters into a DDT! Both men are down, but Itami crawls his way to a corner. Strong stands up and Itami runs out, Itami starts rallying. He kicks, then Fisherman suplexes Strong over, firing up! He boots Strong in the corner, then dumps him down to climb up to the top. Itami jumps for the flying clothesline! It connects, and Itami covers, TWO! Itami brings Strong up, gives him some strikes, but Strong counters to a fireman’s carry. Itami slips out and shoves Strong to ropes, which Strong grabs hold. Strong boots Itami back, then enziguris him before hitting an Olympic Slam!
Cover, TWO! Itami gets to the ropes while Strong stands up. Strong walks over and joins Itami on the apron. He brings Itami up, but Itami senses what he’s after so he grabs onto the ropes. Itami fights back with elbows to Strong’s head. The two start brawling on the apron edge, back and forth with chops and forearms. Strong gets the edge then takes a step back, but Itami boots him in the face! Itami goes to kick Strong again, but Strong catches the kick to yank him down. Strong wants the cradle backbreaker but Itami fights out. They brawl again, forearms and chops back and forth. Itami starts kicking, but Strong ducks one to pick Itami up and throw him into the apron edge!
Itami falls to the ground in a heap while Strong rests against the barrier. The referee checks on Itami, Itami is somehow okay to continue. Strong puts Itami in the ring, covers, TWO! Strong catches his breath before standing up. He drags Itami up to his feet, preparing something with the facelock. Itami resists, Strong clubs away, but Itami still resists. Strong chops him, then tries again, but it’s Itami who hits a Falcon Arrow! Cover, TWO! Both men get up, and fans know “This is Awesome!” Itami runs into Strong and hits him with a hip attack against the ropes. Itami keeps going, but Strong catches the shotgun knees! Strong puts Itami down and goes for the Strong Hold! Itami crawls for the ropes, but Strong keeps him away. Itami gets a leg free and kicks Strong again and again until he lets go. Strong staggers but comes back, he and Itami brawl with forearms again. Strong gives a stiff trio of elbows, but then Itami counters into an armbar takedown. Itami floats over into a modified Rings of Saturn!
Strong endures, and drags himself with his legs! He reaches with his feet, and gets the ropebreak! Itami lets go, but neither man is giving up just yet. Itami starts kicking, then runs to try again, shotgun knees hit! TWO! The fans fire up as Itami calls for the end, but Strong reverses out of the dragon sleeper hold to a fireman’s carry. Itami slips out, but Strong rocks him with a back elbow. Itami boots Strong, then runs but into Strong’s POP-UP gutbuster!
Then in the corner, big shining wizard, and the Cloud Nine facebuster! TWO! Strong can’t believe it, but he won’t stop here. The fans repeat that “This is Awesome!” while Strong lifts Itami up to the top rope. Strong climbs up with him, for another fireman’s carry, but Itami fights out again. Itami rocks Strong with a big kick, then climbs back up to be the one in control. He tries but Strong resists the superplex. Itami headbutts away on Strong, then adjusts for a SUPER FALCON ARROW!
Cover, TWO!! Itami is shocked! Both men are down while the fans cheer Strong on. Strong and Itami flounder but stand back up to brawl again with haymakers. They shift to forearms, but then Itami swings a big right to rock Strong! He back hands but Strong ducks, to then dodge Strong’s jumping knee. Itami catches strong with the backhand, then goes corner to corner for the skateboard dropkick! He fires up, and calls for the end again, but Strong again reverses to hit the jumping knee! Itami staggers, and into Strong’s End of Heartache!!
Strong WINS!! The Strongest Workhorse actually wins to move on in this Cruiserweight Championship tournament! Can Strong keep going to grab a Wrestlemania Moment for himself?
What an incredible episode! There was great character work in just about every part from start to finish, especially with Rockstar Spud. I know I said I enjoyed Gulak’s politician gimmick, but I also like Spud calling him out for how it softened his in-ring presence. Instead of being both a funny character and a tough competitor, Spud points out how #Drewtopia actually weakened Gulak while also pointing out Nese is essentially jobber to the stars. If Spud getting on their cases helps revitalize one of them into a more serious serious competitor, I’m all for it. Especially in a match against each other, as WWE as of just tonight has shown how good friends facing each other brings out the best in both. Lince VS Kalisto was such a match, and there was great story there that while Kalisto wants to be champion again, Lince wants to be champion for the first time at all. It really helped up the physicality of the match, and it really got me invested in wanting Lince to win. However, Kalisto wins, perhaps because he is the more experienced in the “WWE style” and pace. Hopefully this means that while Kalisto aims for singles gold, there will be some way of getting Lince and Gran Metalik to represent #LuchaHouseParty in the Raw Tag Team Division. (Probably not, though)
Great character promos from Alexander/Ali, TJP and Tozawa to frame how each of them feels about the tournament. Tozawa being a sort of Cruiserweight Vince McMahon is becoming a fun little theme for his promos, but I’m thinking it’s best left as just that. We don’t need there to suddenly be a Japanese Vince running around trying to boss people around. Then in the main event, there wasn’t exactly character work, but that wasn’t really needed as Strong VS Itami was excellent on their in-ring skills alone. I knew this match-up would be hard hitting, and it did not disappoint. And best of all, it surprised me by having Strong go over! Strong, despite still being part of NXT, wins this opening round as a major sign that we should expect the unexpected on the “main roster” for once. I hope Strong at least makes it to the semi-finals to give one hell of a match against Cedric Alexander or TJP, who are still my two choices for the Wrestlemania match.
My Score: 8.5/10
Mitchell’s WWE Monday Night Raw Live Report! (2/19/18)
All images courtesy of the WWE’s official Twitter
- Six Woman Tag: Mickie James, Bayley & Sasha Banks VS Alexa Bliss & Absolution w/ Paige; win.
- Seven Man Gauntlet Match: John Cena, Elias, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, The Miz, Finn Balor & Braun Strowman; wins.
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Mitchell’s Ring of Honor Report! (2/10/18)
ROH WRESTLING TELEVISION, Episode 334
All images courtesy of the Fite.TV app and streaming service
- The Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas w/ Silas Young VS Team Coast 2 Coast; no contest.
- Six Man Tag: Silas Young, Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas VS Kenny King & Coast 2 Coast; King & C2C win.
- First WOH Championship Tournament Opening Round match: Madison Rayne VS Mandy Leon; Mandy wins and advances to the second round.
- ROH World Heavyweight Championship: Dalton Castle w/ The Boys VS Punishment Martinez; Castle wins and retains the ROH WHC.
PLAY BY PLAY
Dalton Castle speaks.
The Peacock and ROH WHC is “always ready, always limber and never surprised.” He can go left, he can go right– Wait were both Boys here this whole time? “Not much can surprise me.” And that is why the second the ROH WHC became his, Castle knew that he was “instantly the biggest target in ROH.” So when someone like Punishment Martinez attacked from behind, Castle wasn’t surprised. “Who can blame him? I would do the same thing, if I was a big lummox with eye-liner.” Castle would try for any advantage possible, “especially if I had to fight me.” Martinez clearly understands this isn’t the same Peacock from before, he’s “gonna be looking face to face with a champion!” Castle is “a man willing to fight to protect what he’s earned!” Castle is a man “with no other plan than to come out swinging, and do everything he can to insure that he leaves Nashville still your world champion!” The Peacock is brimming with confidence, can he keep the Reincarnation of the Purple Mist at bay?
The Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas w/ Silas Young VS Team Coast 2 Coast!
The Last Real Man and World Television Champion accompanies the newest and literally biggest team in the ROH Tag Team Division as they make their in-ring debut. However, they go up against a team that not only went #DoOrDie against another big team in War Machine, but Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni beat Hanson & Rowe to stay together! Can the Kingpin and the Keg Master crush C2C like a couple of beer cans? Or will Ali & LSG ride the wave all the way to the top?
No Code of Honor given because Milonas & Bruiser go right at them with cheap shots! The bell rings but everyone’s still in as Bruiser puts Ali in a corner and Milonas brings LSG to another. The big hoss boys coordinate and go corner to corner, but run into boots from C2C. C2C hops up, they both jump, but they both get caught! Milonas & Bruiser sandwich Ali & LSG before throwing Ali away and bumping LSG of a buckle with Snake Eyes. LSG staggers back into Milonas’s tackle, then Bruiser gives a hollering elbow drop!
Cover, TWO, and Bruiser is already annoyed. Silas protests the count but Bruiser brings LSG over to his corner for a haymaker. Milonas tags in, and turns around to ram his king-sized backside into LSG over and over! Silas taunts LSG, “How did that feel, boy?” Bruiser tags in, he drags LSG up and scoops him. LSG slips out and dropkicks Bruiser into Milonas! Hot tag to Ali, and Ali rallies on the big men with forearms and headbutts! Bruiser gets a kick in and Ali staggers into Milonas, but Ali ducks to let Bruiser’s haymaker hit Milonas. Milonas goes down and Silas freaks out, but LSG comes in and together, hit Bruiser with the Half Nelson Complete Shot!
Cover, TWO! Ali keeps his focus on Bruiser and brings him up, but Bruiser fights back with back elbows. Bruiser shoves Ali to a corner then runs in, but Ali evades to retaliate with a swing kick. Ali snapmares Bruiser and prepares a kick, but Silas grabs his foot! Ali is anchored in place as Milonas runs in for a corner splash! Milonas backs off while Ali slips out, but the referee is busy keeping the protesting LSG in and Silas gets away with cheap shots. However, Kenny King comes in to even the numbers!
Silas slips into the ring and now it’s a chaotic brawl! The referee can’t do a thing, so he throws out the match! Silas and his bruiser buddies get out of the ring, leaving it to C2C and the K I N G. We go to break so ROH can sort this out.
Six Man Tag: Silas Young, Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas VS Kenny King & Coast 2 Coast!
We can tell how this match came about. The current ROH WTVC, Silas, and former champion, King, start for their teams. The bell rings, and King takes the fight right to Silas! But then their teammates come in and we have another six man brawl! Milonas throws LSG out but King slips behind and rocks him with the spinning roundhouse! Bruiser keeps Ali back while Milonas rolls out of the ring. King sees his target and fires up the fans before hitting Milonas with the slingshot corkscrew!
King topples Milonas down and takes his time to celebrate, but he turns around into Bruiser’s cannonball!
Bruiser gets up but C2C regroups! LSG fakes Bruiser and Milonas out, it’s Ali that FLIES!
The fans fire up but Silas hits LSG with the springboard lariat! Silas takes aim at everyone on the outside and fires himself up, then builds speed, but tumbles to the apron when he sees no one there. He boots King in the face from the apron, then catches Ali into a yurinagi on the apron!
King returns but gets rocked with a haymaker, Silas returns to the apron to slingshot double stomp Ail. Silas dares someone to come back in, but he doesn’t see LSG behind him. He turns around and gets LSG’s boot right to his face! LSG throws Silas out onto everyone, then starts climbing up top. However, Milonas returns and stops him halfway, then Bruiser also returns. Milonas drags LSG out and holds him up, Bruiser dropkick-starts the swinging sidewalk slam! Cover, TWO! Everyone returns to their corners as Milonas brings LSG back up. He tags Silas, Silas kicks LSG in the ribs. Silas takes off his shirt and throws it at LSG, LSG throws it back. Silas dares LSG to “hit me like a man!” So LSG slaps him across the face! Silas comes back and LSG hits him again with a forearm, so Silas hits LSG back with a forearm. They go back and forth with forearms, but Silas gets the edge and rocks LSG to his knees. “That’s how a man gets it done!” He brings LSG back up but LSG breaks free to swing on him. Silas suplexes but LSG slips out to tag Ali. Silas swings but misses LSG, who then springboards and forearms Silas down. Ali then grabs Silas for the big Complete Shot!
Cover, TWO! Ali drags Silas up and tags King. King and Silas brawl, King getting the edge. King whips and knocks Silas down with the spinning heel kick. He stalks Silas to ropes as the fans rally. Silas hides behind the ropes, but Bruiser comes in with a cheap shot clothesline on King. Milonas also comes in, and the three “real men” surround King. C2C protest and the ref tries to back them off, but Silas still rocks King with a knee right to the face. Then Bruiser and Milonas run in to sandwich King between their beer bellies!
C2C come in but get rocked by rights, then go at King again to squash him between their beer buttocks! Silas covers, TWO!! Kenny rolls away while C2C stands up. C2C baits Bruiser & Milonas, to dump them out! Silas gets up, he and Ali run at each other for a big double clothesline. Ali, Silas and King are all down, but LSG sees Milonas and Bruiser getting to their feet. The Human Rocket climbs up, takes aim, and hits the springboard Phoenix senton!
LSG takes Milonas & Bruiser down and the fans fire up! Silas brawls with Ali from the mat to their feet, back and forth like mad. Silas gets the edge because “You ain’t nothing, boy!” He runs, but into C2C’s double hip toss cradle, and King returns to make it Tu Lo ROYAL FLUSH!
King and C2C win! A big victory for all, can King make the Last Real Man #BendTheKnee in their ROH WTVC rematch?
The Dawgs are watching backstage.
Big Rhett asks if Lil’ Willie can see what’s going on, but clearly he can’t. Will Ferrara can’t stand that those two “dingle berries” Ali & LSG are getting the reaction they are. Rhett Titus tells him to calm down. Rhett’s been around ROH long enough, he’s “seen them come and seen them go.” Well right now, they’re here. Ferrara mocks the “Rocket Man, Rocket Man”, Tu Lo Sabes “You Know It”. He wants to “send them packing”! Titus agrees, C2C is gonna be sent packing, “courtesy of The Dawgs!” “Knick Knack Paddy Whack, give these dogs a BEER!” A lot of bark from Rhett & Ferrara, will their bite match up to it?
The ROH Women of Honor Tournament has its bracket!
Mandy Leon and Madison Rayne each speak on their paths to this historic tournament. The Exotic Goddess is a product of the ROH Dojo. She trained for five long years, and was a pioneer in creating this premier Women’s Division within ROH. Meanwhile, the Queen Bee knows that Women’s Wrestling around the world is bigger than it’s ever been. Women’s Wrestling is at the forefront of the industry, and now that WOH has firmly established itself, Mandy wants to fulfill a dream of becoming the inaugural WOH Champion. Madison knows that this 16-woman invitational is truly “history making”, and even humbling to be selected. Mandy won’t anyone in the field of 16 stand in her way, while Madison’s 10 year career validates her as a serious competitor.
Mandy will acknowledge Madison as a “world-class talent”, and knows Madison’s been a champion everywhere she’s gone, “but you haven’t been here.” The Exotic Goddess was a WOH “day one” wrestler. Being champion here is all Mandy has ever wanted. Madison knows all that, and gives Mandy “tremendous credit”, but Mandy seems to have forgotten Madison was already here years ago. Even though there was no WOH Division, ROH had women wrestlers, so it was Madison who laid the foundation. Madison wins titles, makes history, and belongs at the top. Mandy still declares that she will be the first WOH Champion. Can the Exotic Goddess’ dream survive the Queen Bee’s drive?
Deonna Purrazzo joins commentary for this next match.
The Virtuosa is another of the 16 women from around the world entering this historic tournament, so she has vested interest in the results. At the same time, she and Mandy were the two women in the first official WOH Division match, so perhaps she wants to cheer on her fellow pioneer so they can meet next round.
First WOH Championship Tournament Opening Round match: Madison Rayne VS Mandy Leon!
History begins here! Sixteen women will be whittled down to eight, who will be the first moving on and the first going home?
The Code of Honor is upheld and the two go to their corners as the bell rings. The fans already applaud this great match-up and build to a rally. Madison and Mandy circle then tie up. Mandy backs Madison into a corner, then honors the break. She and Madison tie up again, now Madison backs Mandy down. Madison also honors the break, and they go again. Madison gets the headlock, shifts to a hammerlock then back to the headlock. Mandy fights out and gets a headlock of her own. Madison powers out but Mandy knocks her down. Mandy poses then runs, rolls over but Madison rolls under to arm-drag Mandy down. Madison gets up but runs into Mandy’s arm-drag. The two back off and the fans applaud the back and forth. Mandy and Madison circle and the fans rally for them again. Madison lunges but Mandy slips behind to get a hammerlock, then slips back to the front for a snapmaer. Mandy starts running and hits Madison with a kick then comes back the other side for the neck snap.
Cover, TWO, but Mandy keeps going. Madison sweeps her legs, though, and covers, TWO. Madison uses a leg sweep to roll Mandy into a cover, TWO. They both stand up, Madison whips Mandy to the ropes, but now Mandy rolls Madion up on the return, TWO. Mandy keeps moving but Madision follows to SPEAR!
Mandy’s back up, so Madison knocks her down with a sharp enziguri! The Queen Bee has control while we go to break.
ROH returns and Madison keeps control as she hits Mandy with a neckbreaker. Cover, TWO, and the frustration grows within the five-time Impact Knockouts champion. They get up, Madison kicks Mandy then runs but misses the second. Mandy swings but Madison ducks and they both run for double facebusters! Both women are down and a ten count begins. They stir at 2, and get to opposite corners. They crawl to each other and then brawl on their knees. The brawl moves to their feet as Mandy headbutts and Madison replies with a forearm. Mandy replies with her own forearm, then catches Madison’s return with the downward spiral, into the Koji Clutch!
Madison endures and drags herself forward, then gets the ropebreak with her foot. Mandy lets go and Madison rolls out, but Mandy pursues. Mandy takes aim at Madison from the apron, and runs in for the Penalty Kick! But she’s not done there, Mandy runs back in for the cannonball!
The Exotic Goddess topples the Queen as the fans fire up. Mandy puts Madison back in the ring then rallies the fans as she climbs up top. Madison stands up, Mandy drops her with the missile dropkick! Cover, TWO! Mandy’s own frustration grows, and she calls for the end. She grabs Madison for an underhook but Madison slips behind her, wristlock spin-out for the Rayne Check cutter!
Cover, TWO!? Madison can’t believe Mandy survived her signature move. She drags Mandy up, Mandy surprises her with an inside cradle, TWO. Madison hits Mandy with a forearm smash, then picks Mandy up for a Fisherman drop!
Cover, TWO!! Frustration boils over for Mandy, but the fans cheer for Mandy. Madison climbs up top while Mandy gets to her feet. Madison leaps, but Mandy gets clear out of the way of the flying crossbody. Mandy comes back and picks Madison up in the pumphandle package driver, Astral Projection!
Mandy wins! Her dream lives on with this possible bracket buster!
As for Madison Rayne…
Mandy turns to her opponent and the two shake hands and even hug. Madison raises Mandy’s hand in victory. Can the Exotic Goddess continue through to the end and become the one true Queen of Honor?
ROH has exclusive footage after Episode 333 went off air.
The American Nightmare finds The Young Bucks backstage. He’s upset, and demands to know where they were. They apologize for running late. Why were they running late? Was their flight coming in from Winnipeg? Is it “a Kenny thing”? Because the Bullet Club doesn’t need anymore “Kenny things” right now! “That’s over, that’s done with!” The fans were literally chanting for the Young Bucks out there while Cody was getting his ass kicked by The Kingdom! He points out his black eye and busted hand with no Ring of Honor. Matt Jackson apologizes again, they just arrived. Cody accepts that. “All I’m saying is, everybody wants us to break up.” The Bullet Club breaking up is good for everybody else, but he won’t allow that. Cody expects better from everyone, especially the Bucks. The Bucks scratch their heads and roll their eyes as Cody leaves, but then Marty comes in with a “sweet Marty Scurll sign.”
“Now’s not the time, man.” They don’t like it? No, they didn’t even spell his name right. Misspelling aside, is the Bullet Club just one wrong move away from breaking up?
The Briscoes speak.
Specifically, they speak to the Motor City Machine Guns. “Lemme explain something to y’all boys.” Jay & Mark have reached that point in their careers where they “don’t care about our opponents’ well being.” The Briscoes “don’t care if the people cheer for us.” All the Briscoes care about, “is making statements.” Mark agrees, because there’s “one statement in particular” they want to make: that they are “the baddest tag team to ever walk this planet!” Jay & Mark don’t care if they break bones, cripple opponents and make them get carted to the back. They don’t even care if you live or die. It’s nothing personal against MCMG, it’s personal against everyone. The Briscoes are on a war path, but the MCMG just happen to be the ROH World Tag Team Champions. Jay & Mark think of those as their property, so they’re coming to take them back. When it’s Sandy Fork VS Everybody, can anyone hope to survive #DemBoys?
Marty Scurll joins commentary.
While there is much to discuss about The Bullet Club, The Villain is here to focus on tonight’s main event. For it was last week that Scurll struck a deal with the challenger: if Martinez becomes the new ROH World Heavyweight Champion, he would allow Scurll the first shot at him.
ROH World Heavyweight Championship: Dalton Castle w/ The Boys VS Punishment Martinez!
The Reincarnation of the Purple Mist earned this chance at the ROH world title when he won Survival of the Fittest 2017. And when he came to tell The Peacock of his challenge, he did it with actions in the form of a sneak attack. Castle granted his challenge and thus we have this highly anticipated main event on ROH TV! Will the monster come away with the gold to then take on The Villain? Or will the Peacock reign supreme to roll on towards Honor Rising 2018?
Scurll rants about how he is “disgusted” with Castle being so full of himself, and even says Castle doesn’t deserve to be champion. However, that may only be because Castle defeated Cody, who is Scurll’s good friend within Bullet Club.
The fans chant “Fan up!” even before the bell. Castle offers the Code of Honor handshake, but Martinez shakes his head “No”. That’s fine by Castle, he fires himself and the fans up. Scurll rants and complains about the fact both Castle and Martinez received WHC title matches before him while Boy 2 gives Castle a certain something. Castle tells Martinez, “This is for you.” When Castle opens his hands, there’s nothing there, but a slap across Martinez’s face! Martinez grabs Castle and powers him back to a corner, then swings only for Castle to duck under and hit him back with a right hand. Castle chops, haymaker, chops and haymaker again, but Martinez shoves him back. Martinez swings but misses again, Castle goes for the waistlock but Martinez throws him right off. Martinez grabs Castle around the throat but Castle breaks free, to slap Martinez again. The monster gets mad, and glares at Castle as he chases him down, but Castle dumps Martinez out over the top rope. Martinez stays on his feet but Castle quickly builds speed and DIVES!
Castle sends Martinez rolling whiel the fans fire up and the Boys fan up. Martinez gets up quickly but Castle is right on him. Castle knocks him into the barriers along the walkway, then off the apron edge. The fans fire up for Castle, and he snaps his fingers. The Boys become steps, and Castle uses them to LEAP at Martinez!
But Martinez catches him! He goes to lift but Castle slips out and then shoves Martinez into a post! Martinez bounces off but manages to get back in the ring. The champion has control while we go to break.
ROH returns to see Castle grab Martinez in a waistlock. Martinez powers Castle back into a ring, which breaks the hold, but Castle reels him back into a new waistlock. They go backward again, and Martinez adds a back elbow to keep Castle back. Martinez runs back in but Castle boots him away. Castle hops up, but Martinez hits him with a spinning roundhouse! Castle topples down from the top rope and to the ground. Scurll laughs at The Peacock, even as The Boys “Fan up!” Martinez slips to the outside to fetch Castle, but as Martinez puts Castle in the ring, he swings around for headscissors. Martinez blocks the rest of the swing so Castle unleashes right hands. It’s not enough, though, as Martinez uses even more power to lift and Last Ride powerbomb Castle on the apron!
Scurll starts to reconsider his deal with the monster as he watches Castle writhe in pain. Martinez grins while the fans boo and jeer. Scurll critiques Martinez’s lack of urgency, even as Martinez rocks Castle with a right hand. The 20-count reaches 8 before Martinez puts Castle back in the ring. He toys with Castle as he stalks him to a corner. The fans cheer for Castle, even as Martinez whips him corner to corner hard. The Boys hurry to fan their leader before Martinez drags him back up. Martinez scoops Castle to then slam him down, to then hit a springboard senton!
Cover, TWO! Scurll complains that people should want him to be champion while Castle rolls out of the ring. The Boys fan him again, but Martinez comes out to scare them off. Castle pounces! He goes at Martinez with fire and fury, but Martinez snuffs it out with another right hand. Martinez waits for Castle to stagger back over before knocking him down with a SUPERKICK!
Martinez drags Castle up again, to then whip him hard into barriers. The fans boo and jeer again, but Martinez ignores them as he drags Castle up again. He goes to throw Castle but Castle gets loose. Castle hurries to get back in the ring, but he can’t get away, Martinez drags him out to throw him back into barriers. The referee comes out to get them to put this back in the ring, and Martinez obliges. He covers, TWO, but Martinez keeps hold of Castle while the fans start to rally. Martinez turns Castle around to put him in a chinlock while we go to break.
ROH returns once more, to find Martinez now on the defensive. Castle slinks back into the ring and grabs the dazed monster in a waistlock. Martinez elbows him away, then takes aim at Castle in a corner. He runs corner to corner and jumps for the big back elbow, but Castle catches him in the waistlock! Castle uses his super strength to carry Martinez out to the center, and hits the German Suplex pin! TWO! Even the Boys are feeling a bit of the exasperation. But Martinez suddenly sits up and grabs Castle by the throat! Castle fights against it and hammers Martinez to the mat. Scurll protests but the referee can’t hear him from all the way at the announce desk. Castle grabs Martinez in another waistlock and drags him up. Martinez powers out, then swings kick after kick and forearm, but Castle dodges them all to get another German Suplex! But Martinez springs right up again! He wobbles around, Castle catches him for an overhead suplex. Castle stands up while the Boys “Fan Up!” Martinez also rises, Castle runs in, but into Martinez’s clobbering right hand. Martinez drags Castle up, suplex for the Falcon Arrow!
Cover, TWO! The monster keeps his cool while the fans build back to a rally. Martinez drags Castle up while the fans chant, and prepares another powerbomb. Castle resists, goes to lift Martinez, but Martinez clubs him down. So Castle instead powers Martinez back into a corner! They separate, Castle runs in but into Martinez’s driving boot. Martinez walks it off while Castle slips out of the ring. The Boys “Fan Up!’ again, but Martinez spots them all gathered. He runs corner to corner to FLY!
He wipes out Castle and the Boys, then gets right up to put Castle back in the ring. Martinez climbs up and leaps for the spinning heel kick! TWO!! Martinez is shocked, and Scurll thought that was the end. The fans continue to cheer while Castle slowly stirs. Martinez goes to drag him up but Castle is out of it. He waits for Castle to rise, brings him up the rest of the way and gets the choke grip. Castle pries the hold off, but Martinez puts it back on, only for Castle to break it again, and rock Martinez with a back elbow. Martinez rocks Castle right back with a roundhouse, and Castle falls down in a heap while Scurll laughs again. That’s not all, Martinez brings Castle up for a rip-cord roundhouse! Castle drops to the mat again, eyes glazed over. Martinez drags him up a third time, and lifts him into a torture rack position. Castle revives to fight his way out, then rolls Martinez into a small package! Castle wins!! Martinez’s face shows shock and anger at being beat by only a split second.
He takes his frustrations out on a buckle pad, but that isn’t enough. Martinez goes after The Boys! He wipes Boy 2 out, then gives Boy 1 a choke slam onto the apron!
Martinez goes back for Boy 2, and powerbombs him onto his twin!
The fans boo and jeer as Martinez makes his exit. Scurll himself is also shocked, but the damage is done to The Boys. Will Martinez find his way back to a title shot? Will Castle’s Boys be okay to accompany him to Honor Rising?
A really great episode here, all in all. ROH put an interesting yet logical and entertaining twist on the opening tag team match. Kenny King helping Coast 2 Coast out against Silas’ trio was great given the story building between them for the ROH World TV Championship, and the Six Man was also really solid. Both teams looked great together, especially Milonas & Bruiser already working out some double-team moves. C2C continuing a feud with Bruiser & Milonas would be good for both teams, to help sort out who goes for ROH World Tag Team Championships first. Briscoes VS MCMG still has to happen, and #DemBoys had another great promo, but I’m going to assume the Faces VS Heels dynamic will be kept in the following program. In other words, Briscoes VS C2C and MCMG VS Bruiser & Milonas. The ROH World Six Man titles are also in question, as SoCal Uncensored already gets a shot against The Bullet Club’s Hung Bucks next episode. ROH is doing a great job integrating the building Bullet Club Civil War, so I’d imagine the only reason SCU wins is because of dysfunction on Bullet Club’s part rather than beating them cleanly.
There was a lot of anticipation for this ROH WOH Championship tournament, and I feel bad for saying this, but this opening match wasn’t as good as it could’ve or should’ve been. I’ve always liked Mandy Leon’s ROH run, and Madison Rayne has the résumé to be here, but there was a lot that could’ve/should’ve been more polished. I swear I saw Mandy let up on a pin half a beat too early for Madison’s “kick out.” Their promos were great, but being pre-taped probably means they were able to rehearse them to be on point. Logically, Mandy wins because she is, as her promo said, the pioneer of ROH’s official WOH and it will mean more if she lasts all the way to the end. The bracket is also set up so that she could end up facing either her old friend Jenny Rose, or WOH’s newest addition in Tenille Dashwood, for some real good story behind the match. But WOH match aside, the ROH WHC made up for it because it was some great stuff. Castle-Martinez were great in the ring and Scurll was great on commentary, but I had a feeling Castle would still win. Castle is too big a star to lose his first defense ever, even if it was against another rising star like Martinez.
My Score: 8/10
Mitchell’s WWE NXT Report! (2/14/18)
All images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service
- WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne VS Roderick Strong; Dunne wins and retains the WWE UK Championship.
- TM61 VS John Skyler & Andrew Duckworth; TM61 wins.
- NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon VS Shayna Baszler; Shayna wins by disqualification, Ember retains the NXT Women’s Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne VS Roderick Strong!
No need to wait, this highly anticipated crossover match starts NXT off! Can the British Bruiserweight hold on to his title when faced with the American Savior of the Backbreaker?
The bell rings and they tie up right away! Dunne powers Strong to ropes while the fans duel. Strong and Dunne spin around and end up in a corner, the ref calling for a break. The break is anything but clean, but the two cool off to circle again. Strong keeps Dunne from getting too close to ropes before they tie up again. They end up in another corner but then come right out. Dunne gets the armbar takedown but Strong gets right up to attempt a high stack cover, ONE, but Strong transitions into an attempt at his signature hold. Dunne resists and rolls to flip Strong, but both men are right back up on their feet. The fans applaud this evenly matched match while we go to break.
NXT returns to find Dunne in control of Strong. He brings Strong up and goes after the fingers. Dunne brings Strong’s arm down to the mat and bends it back, before kicking it!
Strong rolls out of the ring to give himself time but Dunne is right on him. Dunne bends that arm and teh fingers all over again, then brings them to the steel steps. He bends Strong’s arm again, then stomps on it!
The Bruiserweight is merciless as he stalks Strong around the corner. He grabs that arm again to bend it from wrist to elbow as he leads Strong all the way to the other steel steps. Dunne wedges Strong’s hand inside the gap between steps and post, then clubs the arm to twist it! The ring count is refreshed before Dunne keeps on Strong with a chop. He puts the arm back on the steps, but Strong pulls it out of the way in time. Strong then pulls Dunne off the steps to throw him into them!
Dunne falls to the ground while the referee checks on him. Both men are apparently okay to continue, so Strong brings Dunne into the ring. Cover, TWO, but he clobbers Dunne with low boot after boot. He grinds a knee into Dunne’s ribs, pulling him in add pressure. Dunne uses his legs to fight out, the fans duel as Strong staggers back. Strong returns and grabs Dunne again, for a pumphandle backbreaker!
Cover, TWO, but Strong keeps his cool. Dunne clutches his back as Strong brings him up into a corner. Strong chops Dunne, Dunne slaps Strong. Strong boots back and rocks Dunne, then brings him back up for yet another backbreaker. Dunne rolls to a corner but Strong won’t let up. Strong stomps a mudhole into Dunne, even as Dunne tries to fight back with finger manipulation. The fans duel as Strong brings Dunne up and to a corner. Strong hoists Dunne to the top rope then climbs up with him. He goes for a superplex but Dunne gets a hold of the fingers again. Dunne clubs and slaps Strong to the floor, then adjusts to jump and stomp Strong’s arm on the way down!
The referee checks on Strong but Strong won’t give up just because of that. He and Dunne get up onto the apron, Dunne runs over but into Strong’s boot! Strong continues with an enziguri, then a fireman’s carry, just to drop him on the apron!
The fans applaud the severity of this action while we go to break.
NXT returns again, and Strong stomps away on Dunne. He grabs for Dunne but Dunne scrambles to ropes. The ref counts the break, Strong backs off, and Dunne comes out with a stinging enziguri! Strong is dazed but still hits Dunne with back elbow and forward elbow. Now Dunne is a bit dazed as the fans rally. The two men slowly stand up, and Strong whips Dunne to a corner. Dunne goes up and over to enziguri Strong again, to then Falcon Arrow him into the armbar!
Strong rolls so Dunne adjusts into the hammerlock and stretch! Dunne even isolates fingers, before pulling back and letting it fling forward! Strong writhes in pain as Dunne gets himself to a corner. Dunne climbs up but Strong anchors a foot. Dunne fights him off but then Strong yanks him off the top into the cradling hold. However, Strong’s bad arm keeps him from holding Dunne up, so Dunne gets Strong in powerbomb position, for a swift sit-out!
TWO! Dunne’s back hurts too much for him to be frustrated. The two men stir with fans cheering them both on. Dunne stands up first as the fans duel again. He toys with Strong, then drags him up by that bad arm. Dunne bends the fingers but Strong powers Dunne into a corner. The buckle impact breaks the hold, and Strong gets space. He runs back in but misses, Dunne throws him back with a German Suplex. Dunne then hurries out and up, and jumps, only for Strong to dropkick him out of the air!
Strong crawls to a cover, TWO! It was a close call, but Dunne still got out. The fans rally for both men again as Strong pursues Dunne. Strong chops Dunne, then runs side to side for the forearm smash! He lifts Dunne but Dunne counters to a pin, TWO and Strong slips Dunne to a crucifix pin, TWO! Dunne jumps but Strong catches him into the cradling backbreaker!
Cover, TWO! The fans applaud as both men are down on the mat. The fans build back to a rally, then duel as the two men stand up again. Strong brings Dunne over for forearms and chops, then wants the Olympic Slam, but Dunne slips out to shove Strong into buckles. Dunne gets Strong on the rebound with a Half ‘n’ Half!
Dunne raises his fist, but rocks Strong with a swift kick, then covers! TWO! Both men are exhausted but the fans keep rallying for them. Dunne kicks Strong from the mat, then grabs that bad arm for teh triangle! Strong makes it a cover, Dunne fights back, so Strong deadlifts Dunne and brings him to ropes, for an elevated rope guillotine! Dunne slumps down against ropes, but he still gets himself under the bottom rope. The fans duel as Strong and Dunne get up on both sides of the ropes. Strong climbs a corner and brings Dunne over. He brings Dunne up to the top with him, but Dunne resists. Strong clubs Dunne in the back, then hits the SUPER Olympic Slam!!
The crash landing sends Dunne far away, Strong has to crawl to the cover, TWO!! Strong feels the frustration building as he and Dunne rest on the mat. The fans rally once more, and Strong goes over to Dunne. Dunne grabs the bad fingers, but Strong breaks the grip to then rock Dunne with a jumping knee strike! He runs at Dunne in a corner for another big knee strike! And then throws him with the running mat slam! Cover, TWO! Strong feels how close he is, but the fans hope they “Fight Forever!” He brings Dunne back up, prepares a suplex but Dunne hits the X-Plex outta nowhere!
He’s not done there, he grabs Strong in the pumphandle, but Strong slips out of the Bitter End! Strong forearms, back elbows then throws more elbows from both sides. Dunne catches Strong with a forearm to the back of the head! But this only gives Strong the momentum for a running knee! Strong grabs Dunne in the double underhook, and hits a tigerbomb! TWO, but Strong rolls Dunne for the Strong Hold!
However, that bad hand makes it tough to hold it. Dunne manages to roll it back and grabs the bad hand. He snaps the fingers! Strong flies back in pain and tumbles out of the ring! Dunne grins as he gets up and kicks Strong on reentry. Then, Bitter End!!
Dunne wins! The UK Championship stays with the UK superstar! What will it take to dethrone the Bruiserweight from his championship throne?
Johnny Gargano raised the stakes on himself in regards to the NXT Championship.
Even though he went into NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia “the most confident” he’s ever been in his career, he did not defeat El Idolo. However, what he earned that night meant even more to him than a title, “Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling” earned the NXT Universe’s love and respect. But in an attempt to add insult to injury, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega came out to denounce everything Gargano said. Respect? Who cares! The championship is still theirs, and Almas has defeated Gargano in a 3-0 sweep. Gargano isn’t Johnny Wrestling, he’s “Johnny Loser.” Gargano reminded Vega of the hand she played in that match, as well as what Mrs. Wrestling, Candice LeRae, did to her in return. And when Vega started getting in Gargano’s face, Candice appeared! Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling then ran Almas & Vega off, and it pissed Vega off so much that she granted Gargano a rematch, but on one condition: if Gargano loses this time, he LEAVES NXT! Johnny Wrestling accepted the challenge, but will he come to regret it?
NXT Paparazzi caught up with Velveteen Dream.
The Patrick Clark Experience opens by saying he refuses to answer questions regarding Kassius Ohno. Secondly, he addresses his coming match with No Way Jose. “No Way Jose brings the Fiesta, The Dream will bring The Experience. That’s all.” But not really, as he now addresses Tyler Bate of the WWE UK Division. A former UK Champion at only “five foot nothing”, yet Bate sees himself as a big enough star to wrestle Dream 1v1? They ask if he could elaborate. Is he saying he’ll give Bate a match? He refuses to comment, and tells them to get out of the way. The NXT media still has a lot to ask Dream, but that will have to be for another time.
Aleister Black heads to the ring.
While the Embodiment of The End is still on a dominant 1v1 streak, he isn’t here to make someone #FadetoBlack. He walks to the ring to an ovation from the fans, and wishes to speak. “This path has always led one way.” It has put Aleister “face to face with a sensation, led to an Experience, and pushed my limits in the face of an Era.” But now Aleister has a “devil” on his back. That devil drives Aleister, because “that devil is the NXT Championship!” Aleister must possess that title. However, a certain Beast of Belfast appears!
Equally dominant in his own right, Killian Dain is here to make his presence known. He joins Aleister in the ring to speak his mind. “The devil isn’t on your back. I am!” And Dain will not stop until the NXT Championship is around his waist. But if Aleister has a problem with what he’s saying, then Dain will warn him: “Your path will be stopped by chaos.” The two stare down, but Aleister is not intimidated. Dain goes to leave when Aleister calls his name. Aleister continues by walking up to Dain, and saying, “You crossed me, so now you must Fade to Black.” Dain grins, liking Aleister’s moxie. Dain leaves all the same, and the two stare down one more time as Dain reaches the stage. What will happen when order and chaos collide on the road to the title?
TM61 VS John Skyler & Andrew Duckworth!
Shane Thorne & Nick Miller are back to continue proving The Mighty Don’t Kneel. Can they also prove that The Mighty Deserve Championships with another win?
The bell rings and Miller starts against “The Southern Savior” Skyler. They tie up, spin around and end up at the ropes. Skyler lets go, only to chop Miller at the ropes. Miller fires off forearms fast, then chops Skyler in return. He whips Skyler and knocks him down with a forearm, then chops him in the Mighty corner before tagging Thorne in. Miller whips Thorne in for a big back elbow, then comes in for a corner clothesline of his own. Then he feeds Skyler to Thorne’s lariat! Duckworth rushes in but gets a back suplex from Thorne. Thorne goes after Skyler with a running European Uppercut, then goes for a suplex, but Skyler blocks and kicks at that repaired leg! Skyler clubs Thorne into his corner, then tags Duckworth in. Duckworth and Skyler mug Thorne in their corner, then Duckworth goes for a back suplex of his own. Thorne slips out, shoves Duckworth, then dropkicks him on the rebound. Tag to Miller, tag to Skyler, but it’s Miller who rallies! He knocks Skyler down, sees Duckworth coming and puts the bigger man into an open corner. Miller suplexes but Skyler slips out and around. Miller throws a back elbow but Skyler ducks it, only to end up in a DDT! Duckworth runs back out, but into Miller’s spinebuster!
Miller tags Thorne while Duckworth and Skyler end up in the same corner, Thorne leaps for a big cannonball sandwich!
The fans fire up as The Mighty pick Skyler up, and hit him with Thunder Valley!
TM61 wins! Miller & Thorne are on a roll, can they roll right up to the Undisputed Era’s NXT Tag Team Championships?
NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon VS Shayna Baszler!
The Prophecy of Flame may be the #Shenom, but she was still tested like no other against the Queen of Spades. However, Shayna’s claims that Ember only survived rather than won got under the champion’s skin, so this rematch was granted to put the rumors to rest! Can NXT’s War Goddess remain on top against the merciless Submission Magician?
It should be noted that Ember still has Kinesio Tape on her left arm. She may be medically cleared, but is that tape going to be nothing more than a bullseye for her opponent?
The bell rings and Ember dropkicks Shayna in the face immediately! She keeps going, hammering away on the “bully” Baszler. Shayna takes it and goes after the bad arm! Ember slips away, kicking Shayna on the mat. Ember throws more hammer fists and Shayna grabs at the bad arm for a Kimura, but Ember still narrowly escapes. Shayna sits up, and Ember kicks her square in the shoulder! The rage does not subside, Ember keeps hammering away on Shayna. She brings Shayna up just to knee her back down, then stalks Shayna to ropes. The fans cheer as Ember kicks and clubs away at Shayna, but the referee counts. He backs Ember down, but Ember still rocks Shayna with an enziguri! Ember roars as fans fire up, and boots Shayna right in the chest!
Shayna is uncharacteristically on the defense and down on the mat as Ember goes to a corner. Ember climbs, and we know what that means. She takes aim, but Shayna sees her rising, so she slips out of the ring. Ember watches Shayna catching her breath on the outside, so she hops down to build speed and DIVE!
Both women crash into the announce desk, and that unfortunately aggravates Ember’s bad arm! She writhes and screams in pain while the fans chant “NXT! NXT!” The referee also checks on Shayna, and she is still okay to compete. A ring count begins and gets past 7 before Shayna gets up and over to Ember. The count gets to 8 as Shayna puts Ember back in the ring, and this match continues. Shayna goes after that bad arm with a kick, then lets her hair down as her frustration boils up. She tortures Ember with a seated double wristlock. Ember endures and refuses to quit, so Shayna bends that arm back and stomps on it!
She isn’t done, she grabs Ember’s arm and goes for the cross armbreaker, but Ember quickly clasps her hands. The fans cheer Ember on, and Ember rolls Shayna like back in TakeOver: Philadelphia! TWO, and Shayna grins, telling Ember it won’t end like that again. She kicks that bad arm, then tries the cross armbreaker again. Ember again clasps her hands to hold it off, but can’t hold on, Shayna gets the full extension! Shayna even adds on a wristlock twist! Ember endures and drags herself around with her legs, and manages the ropebreak by a toe! The ref counts, Shayna lets go at 3, but then comes right back. Ember holds onto the rope but Shayna pries her away to then drag her by her hair. Ember surprises Shayna with a victory roll! TWO! Shayna gives Ember a knee, then throws her into a post! Ember tumbles all the way out and to the ground. Shayna walks around and catches her breath while the ring count begins. Champion’s Advantage prompts her to fetch Ember, but not without adding on a little extra. She exposes the barriers and threads Ember’s bad arm through the gaps, to then stomp away without resistance!
Shayna then shifts to pulling on Ember’s arm with the barrier between them! The referee comes out to count, Shayna lets go to keep from being disqaulified. Ember gets free of the guard rail, but Shayna grabs her arm again, torturing it with how she bends it. But then, coming in from the crowd, it’s the Pirate Princess, Kairi Sane! She climbs up the steel steps and jumps at Shayna for a flying forearm!
Kairi gets payback on Shayna for her sneak attack weeks ago, both physically and in that the match is disqualified! Ember will retain her championship! Kairi keeps going as she hammers more forearms into Shayna, then pursues her into the ring. Shayna swings on Kairi but Kairi evades to rally on the Queen of Spades! Every time Shayna gets up, Kairi knocks her down. She knocks Shayna out of the ring, but dares her to come back for more. However, Kairi makes the mistake of checking on Ember, and Shayna slips back into the ring! Shayna rushes Kairi but she’s ready for it, and hits Shayna with the Interceptor Spear!!
The fans are thunderous for the Mae Young Classic winner, and she’s still fired up to fight Shayna. Shayna isn’t as eager, she backs down. Shayna wins the match but we know Ember retains, will the controversy only delay the inevitable? And as Kairi stares down her MYC opponent, will Shayna have to get through her to try again?
A pretty great episode of NXT here. I was surprised but not at all disappointed with having the WWE UK Championship match first. This was an amazing match, Strong looked strong and it really bolsters Dunne’s own strength for him to win. Of course, it was a bit of a foregone conclusion that an American wrestler wasn’t going to win the UK Championship just yet, but maybe even for just a second it felt like Strong could’ve done it. There’s still a lot WWE needs to do to show their commitment to the UK title and its Division, but as long as we’re getting great matches while we wait, I can be patient. The crossover work helps, such as how Velveteen Dream is taking issue with Tyler Bate. I don’t doubt Dream VS Bate will make for a great program and match, I’m just not sure where it’ll lead either man afterward. However, Aleister VS Damo definitely will lead to an NXT Championship down the way. I can’t see Aleister losing in singles competition just yet, but their match result may depend on next week’s Almas VS Gargano NXT Championship match. There are a lot of variables and moving pieces with the NXT Championship, I’ll likely be pleased by any of the outcomes.
When I saw TM61 coming out for their match, I was a bit concerned about the timing, considering we still had the NXT Women’s Championship match to go. In the end, it was a fast match, putting the returning Skyler and the debuting Duckworth away easily. With the Authors of Pain still in NXT but feeling on their way out to the main roster, TM61 should be the ones to challenge reDRagon next. Then in the NXT Women’s Championship, it was shorter and ends in “controversy”, but it was still solid work from everyone. Ember and Shayna play their characters perfectly, the angry “underdog” champion giving the arrogant upstart challenge a small taste of her own medicine, only for Shayna to get the better of Ember. I almost thought we were getting a referee stoppage to give Shayna the belt, a la Kevin Owens pummeling Sami Zayn until he couldn’t fight. Instead, Kairi Sane makes the save! Kairi and Shayna have unfinished business, but they both want to be champion, so I would hope that while Ember is grateful for the save, she and Kairi keep a competitive tension between them. In fact, I would love if it somehow becomes an NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat for TakeOver: New Orleans to really make Wrestlemania Weekend something to watch.
My Score: 8.5/10