Okay, I gotta hustle on this one. Too much to do! But also, this episode was too good to skip.
We start with an extended recap of the KO/Itami feud, which ties into our big no-DQ main event tonight. From there, we go straight to the ring, where Andrade Almas is doing another round with Cezar Bononi. Honestly, I don't know why; they already did the revenge match. Zelina is on commentary for this one, apparently mostly so that Perry can pepper her with some exceptionally pointless questions This dude is bad at his job. Anyhoo, Almas with the Hammerlock DDT. Match Rating: That's Another Finisher That Needs A Cooler Name.
Seriously. How is Strong's finisher the End of Heartache, and Almas's is just a description of the move? That's a criminal injustice.
Lars Sullivan mashes Los Jobbers Trio, but I'm not sure if anybody else had this problem, about a minute into it, the feed cut out and edited over to a recap of last week's CORRE beatdown. I reluctantly admit that Cole & The Gang is a superior name, but if you think that's enough to get me to stop making CORRE jokes, then you haven't been paying enough attention.
Anyhoo, SAnitY's got a bit of a response vignette, where they promise that all the CORRE's going to get from them is chaos.
Sonya Deville has a quick match against Zeda, lately of the first round of the MYC. This is the first appearance on NXT for any of the competitiors (outside of the ones we saw prior to the tournament, natch), but Zeda isn't exactly the most electric choice. Deville does plenty of mock-MMA style offense, I suppose to remind us that she was here before Baszler, and then spears Zeda out of the ring. Real talk people: men shouldn't be allowed to do the spear anymore. They never do it as well as the women. The MYC is demonstrable proof of this. Anyhoo, Deville ultimately wraps this one up with a triangle choke. Match Rating: Wraps Up! Hah!
If I got payed for this job, they'd fire me for that joke.
We check in on practice at the PC. Hey, it's Lorcan and Burch! But we're not here for them. Ruby Riot wants a moment of GM Regal's time, so she cuts in and demands a handicap match against the Aussie Mean Girl Squad. Regal demurs, but offers a tag match if Ruby can find a partner. I wish we'd done enough legwork to get to Riot and Cross teaming up, but most likely it's somebody new. Should be fun to see who next week.
Main event! I'm going to have to keep this one regrettably brief, though. Ohno takes the early lead with his power offense, but Itami is able to take control by tossing him out of the ring and working him over on the stairs. Itami is the first to take advantage of the no-DQ stip with a chair, but KO takes it away from him and throws it at him. Unfortunately for Ohno, Itami catches it and block a discus punch with it, severely hurting Ohno's hand. Itami's not able to take much advantage, though, and Ohno comes back with some solid offense, including a really cool shining wizard. Itami is able to eventually counter back in with an arm wringer, and looks for the GTS. Ohno escapes and hits a TKO into a Roaring Elbow, but Itami rolls out of the ring to avoid the pin, and the two brawl up the ramp, until Itami is able to revers a suplex onto the ramp itself. He takes KO back to the ring and hits a hesitation dropkick with a chair, but that's only good for two. KO tries to come back with a kick, but Itami blocks it and pokes him in the eye. He wants the GTS again, but KO escapes again, nails a low blow, and then Roaring Elbow for the win. Match Rating: Better Than My Recap, That's For Damn Sure.
I really want to know where this losing streak is supposed to be going, because we're entering the "sad" phase of it.
Hey, we get Dunne/Wolfgang for the UK title next week. Nice.
Finally, the reason I powered through this recap this week. GM Regal is in the ring, and he brings out Asuka for a statement about her condition, and her future in NXT. Asuka says that she's been here about two years, has fought some great opponents, and loves NXT! Awww, we love her too! She grew a lot as a wrestler here, and is grateful for every opportunity. Regal commends her on the run she's had, especially as champion, and makes it official. They're sending her up to the main roster when she heals. This means that Asuka must relinquish the title, which she does with grace and courtesy, and tells us we already know what the main roster is going to learn; "No one is ready for Asuka!"
It's a pretty great moment, a tremendous culmination of one of the best runs in wrestling, and...wait, we're not done. Up on the ramp, all the ladies come out to applaud Asuka. Then all the men. Then all the staff and crew. Wow. Asuka's got the mic again, "You are NXT! I am NXT! And wherever I go, NXT comes with me!" Those are probably the best parting words anyone has had yet. Ember Moon walks down to the ring, and they do a little tease, but ultimately Moon offers a handshake. But it's a too-slow fakeout! Nice callback. They do a hug instead, and now HHH(!) is out. Asuka is getting absolute rockstar treatment here, as she deserves. Everybody's favorite wrestle-dad has brout flowers, which he exchanges for Asuka's title belt. HHH gets the mic - "One last time! The undefeated, 523-day reigning, NXT champion, the Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka!"
I'm not crying, you're crying! Shut up! Man, forget what I said earlier. It's not one of the best runs, it is the single best run in wrestling history. No undefeated streak comes close. Matches like the the two with Bayley, the fatal fourway, the triple thread with Riot and Cross, the last man standing, and the Ember Moon match - who can touch that list? Who can even come close? When NXT lost Finn Balor and most of their established male talent, Asuka picked this brand up on her back and carried it, and has been carrying it for over a year. She will be sorely missed, by me certainly, and by everyone who holds NXT dear, I think. I wish her good luck and good fortune on the main roster.
As much as I hate to infuse CM Punk in yet another thread, there was supposed to be a WWE-themed edition of @midnight back in February with Punk, Miz, and a player to be named later (speculation was Mick Foley). But...well...stuff happened.