WWE NXT on April 26, 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida
Another week of the new-look NXT is here, as we start off with the deranged Nikki Cross scrambling into the ring. She calls out Ruby Riot, asking her to “come out and play” and to “be friends”. Of course, we know that being friends in a WWE ring is just another way of saying let’s kick the high heavens out of each other, and we’re treated to the expected brawl between the two. I’m really excited for the eventual confrontation between Riot and Cross, which will likely occur at TakeOver: Chicago.
Andrade Cien Almas vs. Drew McIntyre
Thank you almighty wrestling gods for giving us this match on NXT. Drew really did an excellent job of redefining himself to the WWE audience with his initial NXT match-up versus Oney Lorcan. Almas, however, poses a different type of threat to McIntyre. The usual “tranquilo” shtick of Almas earns him a swift and thunderous kick from Galloway which really sets the pace of the match. The story of the match was built around Almas not taking Galloway seriously, for all intents and purposes. Everything that Almas does to a normal, perhaps lesser opponent, only served to infuriate the big Scotsman, paving the way for an incredible devastating big boot that turns Almas up, down, and inside out for the three count.
We’re treated to a look at the life of Roderick Strong so far and his rise to the top from the independent scene and the struggles he had to overcome in his childhood to the impressive action he’s been apart of so far in NXT. If you’re one for mini-documentary series, which WWE does often and well, give it a look. Otherwise, you can probably just skip forward to the match that follows it.
Kona Reeves vs. Aleister Black
I do not envy anyone who has to get in the ring with Aleister Black. With only a handful of matches in NXT to show so far, there’s a constant theme at play here: Black has a mysterious vibe coupled with a killer instinct and vicious striking game that sets him apart from the crop that currently calls NXT home. Unfortunately for Kona Reeves, his fate is the same as the rest who’ve shared the ring with Aleister Black, suffering through a barrage of strikes and eventually succumbing to the Black Mass Kick. Vicious, beautiful, and effective. There’s not much more you can say about it.
Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross
Riot and Cross never actually manage to have their match, as the two brawl around ringside and on the entrance ramp until they’re separated by security. I really want to see this match, honestly, and it’s good on NXT to build the anticipation by showing the clear hatred the two have for each other. William Regal is shown backstage with Asuka, as he announces that next week’s edition of NXT will have a battle royal to decide who gets the honor of facing Asuka at TakeOver: Chicago.
WWE United Kingdom Championship: Tyler Bate (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
Jack Gallagher has become my favorite talent of WWE’s recent incarnation of the Cruiserweight division. Not only does his character manage to be massively entertaining in a division that lacks good characters, but he can bring it in the ring unlike any other. On the other hand, there’s something about Bate that just doesn’t ring with me. I don’t know what it is, I can’t really place my finger on it, but it’s something about him that just kind of puts him off my radar. After the anticipated slow and technical start to the match, Gallagher and Bate really hit their stride, including a lovely spot where Bate attempts for a suicide dive but is knocked clueless by a stiff headbutt to the chest by Gallagher. Bate manages to seal the deal following the Tyler Driver ’97, with a quick cut to Pete Dunne, Wolfgang, and Mark Andrews in the crowd. More than anything else, this match was worked based around the narrative that it was a strength versus technique match-up. Bate tried to press the strength advantage, while Gallagher tried to disable any sort of offense that Bate was capable of with punishing submission after punishing submission. It was a great match, but I felt it could have been a little better if the closing stretch wasn’t crammed into the three or five minutes at the end where Gallagher utilized some headbutts. We know that Gallagher is a great technical wrestler, but I was hoping they’d showcase the speed and agility as well with Gallagher.
NXT REVIEW ON APRIL 26, 2017
Strong Effort - 7/10
NXT makes some strong steps forward in not only showing some continued development behind performers such as Almas, Strong, and McIntyre, but managed to showcase some good wrestling bouts as well. While I personally didn't like the closing bits of the main event featuring Gallagher and Bate, it's an all around great episode of NXT and one that if you have some time to set aside, is worth viewing.