Welcome one and all to an incredibly late edition of The NXT Spotlight here at TJRWrestling. First off, I clearly need to apologize for getting this out so late. I’ve had a lot go on in my real life job and also in my personal life, so this past week just completely escaped me. I fully intended to get it up on Friday and here it is Monday and I’m just now getting to the show. So again, I truly apologize. I wasn’t going to just skip the week though because I was really excited to watch and recap the huge main event we have between Hideo Itami and Roderick Strong. So let’s get to it!

Aleister Black vs. Cezar Bonani

Bonani is 6’6 according to the announcers and has a pronounced size advantage. Black starts out with a kick that grazes Bonani but he goes to the outside to regroup nonetheless. Black fakes a dive and does a lionsault into a seated position in the ring. Bonani comes back in and Black gets caught with a atomic drop and a dropkick. Bonani with a pin but Black out at 1. Black then blocks a series of strikes and then drills Bonani with a jumping knee strike to the jaw. Then a knee right to the spine. Bonani gets up just enough to have his head kicked into the 3rd row by the Black Mass and that’s it. That finishing move will be as popular as the RKO, that’s my hot take for this week.

Winner: Aleister Black

We go to a recap of last week’s women’s battle royal to determine Asuka’s challenger for Takeover: Chicago. After the footage, we go to exclusive backstage footage from last week where William Regal confronts Asuka about what she did. He lets her know that she now has to go into a Fatal Four Way match and Asuka doesn’t like the sound of that. We then go to more recent footage of Ember Moon updating us on the status of her shoulder which was clearly hurt during that assault. She needs 4-5 weeks to recover. She lets us know she’s out for Chicago but she’ll come back better than ever. It is now a Triple Threat match at Takeover between Asuka, Ruby Riot, & Nikki Cross.

It was announced the weekend before this episode that at Takeover: Chicago, Pete Dunne would take on Tyler Bate for the UK Championship. We then go to a video package showcasing Dunne.

We then go to a video package showcasing Ruby Riot and talking about her tattoos. Not quite on the level of the Roderick Strong packages (and they weren’t trying to go that deep) but still a good package that can get fans more invested in her.

After that we go to an attempted sit down interview with Nikki Cross. I was just going to insert the video here with no description and let you enjoy it, but WWE didn’t put it up online for some reason. This was pure gold. There’s so many little things at the beginning that made me legit laugh out loud. She eventually just talks to the camera and asks where is her championship and where is her opponents? Ruby, she’s going to draw a line right through her name and then Asuka, she’s going to take EVERYTHING from her. If you have the Network, please go find this. It was gold.

Now we go to Drew McIntyre backstage who is asked about tonight’s #1 contender’s match. He says it’s going to be a great match but he’s a little disappointed he’s not involved. He’s learned in the last 16 years, and more importantly in the last 3 years, if something isn’t happening for you, you make it happen yourself. Wesley Blake comes in and interrupts and says if anyone deserves a second chance, it’s him. A former NXT Tag Team Champion. He says why don’t we just skip this second chance for Drew and he can just leave again.

We then see the same vignette for Patrick Clark that we saw last week, where he will apparently be known as The Velveteen Dream.

DIY vs. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss

Before the match, DIY cuts a promo in the ring calling out Authors of Pain. They’ve never had a fair one on one (two on two?) rematch and they want it at Takeover: Chicago. Before any other team thinks they can get in line, they need to know the line is behind DIY. Moss and Sabbatelli interrupt and say its not about DIY and it’s not about fat lumbering guys anymore. That line they’re talking about, it starts behind them two. Gargano tells them if there was a line, they just crossed it. DIY attacks both guys and sends them to the outside. Moss and Ciampa get in the ring to start the match.

Moss starts with a big knee to the midsection. Ciampa comes back with a chop. He gets caught on what looked to be a leapfrog and Moss turns it into a fallaway slam. He gets Ciampa in his corner and tags in Sabbatelli. Both men beat on Ciampa in the corner. Sabbatelli hits a great looking dropkick and goes for a pin but Ciampa out at two. Moss tags back in and drills Ciampa with a running elbow. Sabbatelli tags back in as they continue to cut the ring in half. Ciampa knees Sabbatelli in the head when he was sent up for a suplex and turns it into a suplex of his own. Gargano and Moss now both get tagged in. Gargano dropkicks Moss on the way in and then hits a jumping neckbreaker. He ends up on the apron and kicks Sabbatelli and then hits a spear through the ropes on Moss. Sabbatelli comes in and breaks up the pin. Sabbatelli and Moss are both on the outside and Gargano dives on Moss and Ciampa comes off the apron with a knee drop to Sabbatelli. They get Moss back in and they Meet in the Middle to get the win.

Winners: DIY

William Regal comes out post match and agrees there’s only one team that deserves to challenge for the NXT Tag Titles. Paul Ellering and AOP interrupts before Regal can continue. Ellering says his team of dynasty will end their careers if Regal is going to put them in the ring together. Regal says that’s a chance he’s willing to take. Ellering says then that the blood is on Regal’s hands. Regal asks if Ellering would like to hear the stipulation for the match. It’s going to be a tag team Ladder Match for the titles in Chicago. DIY is happy and AOP is angry.

We go backstage to Kassius Ohno who is asked where he goes from here after not capturing the NXT Title from Bobby Roode. He says he fell down but he’s going to get right back up. That’s what happened 3 1/2 years ago when he was released. He says he’s gotta take the skyscraper down brick by brick and there’s a lot of bricks in NXT now. Andrade Almas interrupts the interview. Ohno gets on him for being talented but only worrying about what happens after the match and not what happens during it. He challenges Almas to a match next week and Almas accepts.

We now go to a video package showcasing Tyler Bate. It’s the same one we’ve seen in previous weeks.

Roddy Strong is caught up with right before he goes out for his main event and is asked what his mindset is. This is why he’s here and this is what he’s worked for. His music hits and we go to ringside for his entrance. Then we go back to Itami as he makes his way to enter and is asked the same thing. He says he respects Strong but he’s the one going to Chicago and Strong is going to sleep.

#1 Contender’s Match for the NXT Title at Takeover: Chicago
Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami

We have 20 minutes left in the show as the bell rings so this should be as advertised. Dueling chants as they tie up. Both men grapple on the mat and then end up in a stalemate. Test of strength now and again some grappling that leads to a stalemate. Both men sizing each other up to start. Itami gets a headlock and then comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Both men miss strikes and then Itami tries to go for the GTS but Strong escapes and goes to the outside as we go to commercial.

We come back to both men fighting in the corner. Strong sends Itami to the other side and charges him. He ends up on the apron and Itami delivers two stiff kicks. He brings Strong back in the ring and shoots him into the ropes and catches him with a back elbow. He goes for a pin but barely gets a one count. Itami drops a couple knees and them a back kick while Strong is down. Itami goes for a suplex but Strong blocks it and then reverses into a front suplex that drops Itami on to the top rope. Strong now on the offense and lays in a couple of loud chops. He then hits a traditonal backbreaker. Strong then stretches out the previously injured shoulder of Itami. That scar is just gnarly. Strong turns it into a pumphandle backbreaker but Itami kicks out of a pin. Strong now hooks on a one armed Camel Clutch, focusing on that shoulder. Itami breaks it and sends Strong to the corner but gets caught with a big boot. Strong with another pin but Itami out at two. Itami starts fighting back but again cut off, this time with an incredible dropkick. Strong now locks on a bodyscissors. Itami manages to break it but turning it into a pin for himself. Itami with some quick strikes to get separation and he sends Strong to the outside. Strong grabs his leg though and basically sweeps Itami into his arms and then proceeds to toss Itami back and ribs first into the apron. We go to commercial.

We come back to Strong working another submission on Itami. Itami hits a jaw jacker. Strong still comes back with a clothesline in the corner. He goes for a second and Itami moves. Both men then come off the ropes and have the same idea for a clothesline and both men are down now. Itami first one up and hits a couple short clotheslines and some quick kicks. He connects with a suplex. He catches Strong with a boot and then goes for a Tornado DDT but drops him neck first over the top rope. That was cool. Strong is stumbling in the ring and Itami goes to the top rope and hits another clothesline. Strong kicks out of a pin attempt. Strong connects with a couple kicks and a picture perfect Angle Slam. Itami kicks out of a pin. Strong with with forearm and elbow strikes but Itami comes right back with strikes of his own. Strong is in the corner and goes for a boot but Strong catches the leg and turns it into a backbreaker. Itami kicks out again in a great near fall. Strong puts Itami up on the top rope and follows him up there. Itami blocks whatever Strong was attempting. Both men club each other but Itami finally manages to hit a Falcon Arrow off the second rope! Strong kicks out in another great near fall. Both men struggling to get up and trade blows once again. Strong connects with a jumping knee right under the chin and that looked to be it but Itami somehow kicks out. Strong goes for the Sick Kick but Itami moves and comes off the rope with his own jumping knee. Both men once again hardly able to get up but Itami tries for the GTS. Strong gets out and goes for a suplex. Itami knees him in the head and then hits a big boot in the corner. Itami charges with his hesitation dropkick. Strong still has some fight left in him but Itami gets him up for the GTS and he has EARNED his title shot against Roode after that battle. That went a little over 18 minutes when including the two breaks.

Winner: Hideo Itami

Post match, Itami helps Strong to his feet and raises his arm as both men show respect. That ended the show on the Network but on WWE.com afterwards, it was shown that right after the show cut off, Sanity came out and attacked Strong. The video below also has a backstage interaction with Strong and Regal where Strong tells him that he wants Sanity.

K-Tank’s Final Takes

  • That main event was simply fantastic. Great storytelling, the physicality was off the charts. I’m glad they stuck with a clean finish and allowed that match to have its moment and then do the beatdown afterwards.
  • I’m sure a lot of people would think Strong would get the title shot after the video packages shown for him, but I think this works out better for him. I’m not sure where, but there will be another Takeover between Chicago and Brooklyn. (Maybe in Dallas before the terribly, horribly named Great Balls of Fire show. It times out well on both ends.) I would expect Strong to get the shot there and then McIntyre at Brooklyn. It could also be flipped but either way, Strong will get a shot soon.
  • I really enjoyed seeing Moss and Sabbatelli on this week’s show. They get a lot of praise for their work on the live events and would really like to see them get more TV title. The tag division definitely needs the help.

I’ll be back rather quickly obviously for this week’s edition of the Spotlight. It will be the last episode before Takeover: Chicago. We have 4 matches signed and I think the 5th is pretty much set with Strong vs. Sanity in some form. Until next time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… but if you do, name it after men!