Humble apologies, readers. I messed up the episode number last week, which means I did not adequately prepare for this week's 400th episode special. In honor of the occasion, NXT has prepared the Strong/Roode title match for our main event tonight.
First, though, Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno team up to try and get revenge on SAnitY for that beating last week. Before the bell, we get a very good look at Alexander Wolfe stroking Damo's beard, and really? I got nuthin' to add to that. Anyhoo, once the match gets started, KO takes advantage pretty quickly with a big boot, and brings in Itami. Itami lays in a series of kicks, followed by some knee drops and his scuff kick. Wolfe reverses an Irish whip, but it does him little good as Itami gets a boot up to greet him, and follows with his tornado guillotine. Damo manages a distraction on the apron, though, and Wolfe hits good old regular guillotine across the top rope to take control. He puts the boots to Itami, then tags in Damo to also put the boots to Itami. Damo nails a corner avalanche and a small splash, but Itami starts to fight back. He eventually hits his strike combo and looks for a tag, but KO is nowhere to be seen, having wandered off...somewhere. While Itami's looking for him, Damo hits another avalanche, but Itami doesn't stay stunned for long. He comes back with a spinning backfist and a trio of clotheslines, and now KO's on the apron and looking for a tag. This time, though, Itami blows him off, landing a forearm shot and a fisherman's buster for two. He follows up with a falcon arrow, but when he goes for the cover, Damo makes the save with a big senton. KO just invites himself in, now, nailing Damo with a big boot and getting in Itami's face about not making the tag. KO heads back out to the apron, and Wolfe bicycle kicks down to the floor, but Itami nails him with a forearm and sets up for the GTS. What Itami doesn't see is Damo making a blind tag, and as soon as he nails the GTS on Wolfe, Damo wipes him out with a big running crossbody, and gets the three. Match Rating: A Pretty Decent Match That Moved The Plot Along.
We catch up with Ember Moon, who's doing another Bayley promo about how she wants to get another shot at Asuka and the title. Truth? Those Bayley promos are really working for her. I legit don't know what they're going to do when they send her up to the main roster and she has to follow a script (which, emphatically, SHE CANNOT DO), but for now, this is really working. Anyhoo, Ruby Riot interrupts to let her know that she feels she deserves the next shot, so probably we're going to get a match? Sound alright by me.
We recap the women's last man standing match from last week, and seriously, if you didn't watch it for some reason, do that right now.
Also, here's a Drew McIntyre package, followed by a Drew McIntyre promo. Drew wants to be the champ, because the men who've been the champ have been the men to lead the future of the WWE. And Bo Dallas. Ahem. Anyhoo, he also seems to plant the seeds of a feud with Damo, so I guess we're doing that.
Remember DIY? Yeah you do. Johnny Gargano returns next week. You know, if we can get Gargano/Ciampa to be a feud for the NXT championship, I will be a very, very happy individual.
We also take a minute to catch up with the Aussie Mean Girl Squad. Seems Billie Kay's had a very bad birthday, as no one (besides Peyton) wished her a happy birthday, or got her a gift, or got her a cake. She just wants cake! But as you might have surmised, this was once again the two of them vamping (wonderfully) while something more important happens in the background. In this case; Andrade Almas (El Idolo!) arguing with his mystery woman. It's a heated exchange, but it's in Spanish, and I am extremely mono-lingual. Our on-site mic stand asks Almas if he cares to comment, but he does not.
And we get a quick shout-out (hey!) for Bianca BelAire, who has qualified for the Mae Young classic by defeating Aliyah, thus preventing Aliyah from being a part of the tournament, and securing Bianca a special place in my heart.
We run the same Roderick Strong package from last week, and it's time for the main event. Both guys get a quick comment before the match starts. Strong limits himself to one word (Victory.) which means someone in a position of importance has noticed that we have a problem here. Roode's a bit more verbose, but it's all just going to his catchphrase, so I'll skip it. It's also worth mentioning that Strong's wife and mother are at ringside, although Nigel says you have to wonder if the title or his family is more important to Strong, which...Does Nigel think Strong's family is up for grabs in this match? Because, like, otherwise it just seems like more motivation to win the title? Anyhoo. Bell rings, and we get a couple lock-ups before Roode clamps on a headlock. Ooof, not the start I was looking for. Roode decides he wants to get some taunting in out of the gate, though, so Strong punishes him with some chops and a dropkick. Roode goes out, but Strong chases him and sends him back in, but this just gives Roode the high ground, and he takes full advantage of it. Roode escapes the boots, though, and hits an urinagi backbreaker for two. Roode goes out again, but this time when he comes back he just eats another backbreaker, followed by some chops and punches. Roode nails a kick, then pops up to the second turnbuckle and comes off with a blockbuster. He hits some more boots and goes for a suplex, but Strong blocks it, escapes, and then catches Roode with another backbreaker. He sends Roode outside, then comes after him with a dropkick through the middle ropes. He follows Roode outside, but that's where his luck runs out. He falls through the gap between the ring steps and the ring, and Roode takes advantage by driving the steps into his leg. Now that Strong's got an obvious weak point, it's time for Roode's patented methodical offense. Okay, use your imagination for a bit, and then we'll kind of skip ahead to the part where Roode's clamped on some kind of weak-ass toe hold. Strong kicks his way out of that, then pulls Roode face-first into the middle turnbuckle, stunning him. The two of them start trading blows, and Strong comes out ahead, allowing him to let loose with a trio of clotheslines and a boot to the head. Next is an enzuigiri and an absolutely beautiful Angle Slam. He charges Roode int he corner, but Roode gets an elbow up to stop him, going up to the second turnbuckle again, but Strong nails a catch backbreaker. He can't really capitalize, though, so Roode gets the chance to hit a chop block to the bad knee. He's laying in boots, again, when Strong rolls him up for two. Roode's answer to that his his spinebuster, which he feels is a good set up for the Glorious. Strong escapes, though, and counters with a gutbuster for two. Roode pulls Strong to the ring post and wraps his knee around it, but Strong uses his good leg to hit another enzuigiri and hits a backbreaker across the top of the ring post. Roode rolls outside, and by the time Strong gets him back in, he can only manage a two count. Strong goes for a suplex, but Roode punches his way out of it, only for Strong to hit an elbow strike. He goes for a running knee strike, but Roode dodges, and Strong almost hits the ref. That distracts Strong just long enough for Roode to hit Glorious. He stalls on the cover, though, and he only gets two! Strong manages to mount a comeback on an incredulous Bobby Roode with a jumping knee strike, then another knee followed by his nameless backbreaker finisher. He's waay to close to the ropes, though, and sure enough, Roode gets his foot under. The ref's hand comes down on three before he sees it, though, and before he can wave it off, the asshole timekeeper rings the bell. The ref DID NOT call for a bell, dipshit. Do your job. Anyhoo, the bell rings, Strong's music plays, and Roddy's out celebrating with his wife, when the ref comes over to try and get the match going again. As soon as Strong gets back on the apron, though, Roode, who was still in the ring, shoots him off into the guardrail, right in front of his family. Roode heads out and nails Glorious on the floor right in front of them, then back inside for a second and final Glorious for three. Match Rating: Great On Paper.
Gonna level with you guys, I wasn't feeling this one. I'm sure a lot of people loved this, and you're not wrong to because it was technically very sound. But they didn't manage to suck me in. I just never believed that Strong could win. Scratch that, I never believed in Roderick Strong, period. He's too much of a blank slate to me, a "jar of mayonnaise wearing a backwards baseball cap" as I once called him. His wife at ringside was already five times the character he was, and her facial expressions were selling the drama of the match in a way that I felt Strong himself wasn't. He needs someone to talk for him, or to be part of a tag team, or something. I'm just never going to be able to invest in him otherwise.
Anyhoo, just my opinion. I hope you all liked this match a bunch. I'm not sure there are any more big TV matches lined up for a while, so next week it looks like our big item is Gargano's return, which actually I am legit looking forward to.
The triple threat should go on last. It's a title match, and it's had a good month more direct build than the Smackdown title match. Also, I think there's a lot more interest in HHH/Benoit/Michaels among the masses than there is in Guerrero/Angle.