We start this week right with Heavy Machinery! Steaks and weights, baby! Then it immediately goes wrong, as they'll be fighting Sabatelli and Moss. There's a lady screaming like she's being killed as they enter. They're certainly killing me, so I'll keep this one brief. Sabatelli starts off with a legitimately very nice dropkick, then Heavy Machinery takes over for a while. Knight's got a cool thing where he locks in a front chancery and spins the guy, and he does that to both opponents, then Otis comes in and they do a Bushwacker's double-team smash, followed by Otis doing the W-O-R-M. Ha, that was fun. Then Otis eats a chop block, Sabatelli and Moss do some shitty offense, and Moss gets his feet on the ropes to score a pinfall. Boo. Match Rating: Sabatelli And Moss Are Certainly Accomplished Athletes, But They Are Not Wrestlers.
They can do the moves, they just can't string them together.
We catch up with The Era, and let me tell you, these guys just keep reminding me of Mom's sons from Futurama. Cole is the oldest and evilest, Fish is the more-or-less competent middle brother, and O'Reilly is the idiot youngest son. Tell me I'm wrong. Oh, their promo? More or less by the numbers based on what I just wrote. You can practically hear Kyle saying, "Mom said you have to bring me too!"
Our next match is Strong vs. Aichner, and this one looks real promising on paper, but it turns out that I didn't love it in practice. Strong starts with a headlock, transitions into a hammerlock, then into an armlock. Aichner counters with a shoulderblock. Jumping knee from Strong. Knee strike from Aichner. Elbow from Strong. A do-si-do, then a powerslam from Aichner, and an abdominal stretch. Chop from Strong, countered back with a tilt-a-whirl slam from Aichner. He sets up a powerbomb, but Strong escapes and hits the Angle Slam. Aichner comes back with an armdrag, Strong with a backbreaker. Okay, you can probably see why I didn't like this; too much "you do a move, I do a move." The back and forth meant that the story of the match never really had time to breath and develop, in my opinion. Anyhoo, Strong eventually nails an uranage backbreaker, then locks in the Stronghold for a submission. Match Rating: Have We Seen The Stronghold Before In NXT? I Like That Somebody Brought Back The Liontamer. After the match, Roddy has the mic. Oh no. He calls out Lars, because he wants to overcome a challenge that's unlike any he's faced before. Huh. That wasn't bad at all. I actually believed the words coming out of Roddy's mouth for once. Good job, Roddy!
On the other hand, last week Lars called out Damo, so I have no idea where this is going.
Hey, TM61 will be back soon, so they've got a two-part video package to explain why you should care. This part talks about their early years in Australia, then attending a Harley Race seminar where they picked him up as an advocate. He got them a try-out for NXT, but it was the same group with Xavier Woods, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. Yikes, can you imagine competing for a spot against those monsters? Anyhoo, they went to Japan after they failed the try-out, and that's more or less where part one leaves off. This was really fun; a great look into their background, and they were having a bunch of fun fucking around while they narrated their story. I wound up way more invested in TM61 than when the package started, so mission accomplished.
Oh no, Aliyah still works here. She's up against Lacey Evans, the former Marine who works a retro gimmick. I like Lacey and I hate Aliyah, so guess how I'll respond to the match. Lacey starts by besting Aliyah in technique, then in power. Aliyah manages to rally with a takedown, but Lacey bridges out of a pin attempt and goes for a backslide. Aliyah is supposed to escape, but she botches it, bad, and lands flat on her ass. Look, stop. Stop a minute. If I had any, and I mean any authority in the company, that spot at this point in her training and career, would get Aliyah fired. It's inexcusable. She is not, and never will be, capable of performing at the level required of a WWE Superstar. There. I said it, you can quote me. In ten years, if she turns it around (fat chance), you can dust this off and shove it in my face. But that's me on the record. Fire Aliyah. Anyhoo, there's a cool slingshot elbow in here from Lacey, then she gets the pin with a punch. A Punch. Match Rating: Fire Aliyah. I'm Not Joking. Afterwards, Lacey gets on the mic and heels it up, playing up the old-timey gimmick in sort of "things were better, then" sense. She calls Aliyah trash (she ain't wrong) and the other women classless. Lacey calls out Nikki Cross, Ember Moon, and Kairi Sane, which is the order you do it in if you want increasing audience booing. It works. She gets Shayna Baszler instead, so she wisely takes a walk. Baszler instead chokes out Aliyah. Yay Baszler! Ember Moon is out to make the save. Boo, Ember! Moon dares her to make a move, but Baszler says she isn't ready, so Moon tells her to name the time and place. Obviously, Baszler names Takeover.
Backstage, GM Regal decides to allow it, since the champ wants it. This is a bit of a departure for Regal, but you know what? Man's got a lot on his plate. Let this one work itself out. Zelina Vega interrupts, because she doesn't think Johnny Gargano deserves a title shot. She thinks Johnny should have to defend his shot against Velveteen Dream. Regal, veteran that he is, thinks that's a stupid idea, and that Gargano should just take his title match.
In the ring, though, Johnny Gargano has other ideas. Of course he's going to do it, obviously. But he says it's time to shut up the doubters, the Vegas and the Dreams. He is not broken. He is not a "loser." His win was not a fluke. He knows exactly what he is. He is Johnny Gargano. Johnny Freakin' Wrestling. And the next NXT champion.
That promo was fire. This is the first time he's really shown me that he can be the guy on the mic that he is in the ring. I want him to beat Almas for the title, then I want him to fight a returning Ciampa. And I want him to beat Ciampa so bad that they become friends again, and it'll be the best match of the year!
Got a little worked up there. Won't apologize.
The main event is the Street Profits vs. the Authors of Pain for the #1 contendership, and let's be real; ain't no way Angelo Dawkins is going to be in contention for anything. So, Ford goes for a crossbody and gets caught. Akem takes him to the corner, where we get some clubberin'. Rezar locks in a full nelson, and transitions it into a monster half-nelson slam. Honestly, the AoP just do some real solid tag team work in this match. I just really wish they'd sell a bit more to add some drama to their matches. Anyhoo, Ford does a really cool bit where he manages to push his way forward while he's in a front chancery, all the way into his corner for the Hot Tag. Standard Hot Tag offense from Dawkins, until they hit a combo missile dropkick/spinebuster. It gets two, until Rezar breaks up the pin attempt. He clotheslines Dawkins into oblivion, then it's the Super Collider and the Last Chapter. Match Rating: Never Really In Doubt.
Surprisingly dense show this week. Next week is the go-home for Takeover, and you all know how much I like those. See you next week.
Heavy machinery has stopped doing it for me. Dunno why. And actually I like the old school cockiness that the other two have. But I agree, in ring they are not interesting or good at all. They're good "hey, let's insult someone (usually car related) so we can job to these someones" fodder.
Strong looked good, but it's obvious they wish to push Aichner too. Thus the 50/50 match and the commentators pointing out his skills.
Loved the TM61 promo. More personality than in their first run in that little promo. Obvious that WWE decided that this time we should care for them outside of the ring too. Liked how they showed all the Japan stuff. And simply saying "Harley likes em" will help them as now the commentators can point out that these guys must be cool or Harley wouldn't say so.
Good that they're giving Evans a character instead of "retro girl with military background" and Aliyah is yea..the world needs jobbers too (maybe she can team with Sabatelli & Moss?)
Vega was solid again on the mic, and Gargano's fired up reply was awesome. It makes me very excited for this match. It also scares me because while I'd love to see Gargano win the title I'd hate it if Almas loses it already. And right now I have no clue who will win it. But please let Chiampa get involved sooner than later?
Main event..yeah the outcome was never in doubt. AOP have developed well in my opinion and the Profits should not be near a title match yet. They're a great gimmick tho and get the crowd going. I'd keep building them until some new team needs to show up..ya know..like War Machine.