Well, it's a post Takeover show, and while these have been getting better, they're usually not awesome. So let's get to it.
We start with a quick overall recap of Takeover, then move down to the ring for Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans. Cross is going to murder her. In fact, she comes out immediately with a lunging crossbody, and she's all over Evans. Evans comes back with what was supposed to be a roundhouse kick, but only the knee connects. It actually still looks good, but it's not good enough as Cross sweeps her off the apron, then traps her in the ring skirt while she goes to town. Cross takes Evans back inside and goes up to the second rope, but Evans brings her down hard and follows up with a Thesz press. Cross crawls into the corner, but Evans runs in with a wrecking ball. Evans then goes all the way up top and pulls a beautiful moonsault, but Cross is long gone by the time she hits the canvas. Cross follows up with some wicked forearm shots and takes Evans down to the mat. Cross is really feeling it now, and a swinging fisherman's neckbreaker seals it up. Match Rating: Murdered Her.
We follow up with some more focused recaps of the individual matches from last Saturday, starting with the tag and women's matches. We caught up to Baszler after her match, and she seems pretty happy with herself. After all, Ember Moon barely survived that match, so who really won?
Uh, the champion. The answer is that whoever is the champion was the winner of that match.
Anyhoo, we take a look at Ember Moon's performance in the Royal Rumble, where she entered one-handed, and was utter and completely incapable of getting one up on Asuka. Give it up, girl, it ain't happening. We also take a look at Cole and Black's Extreme Rules match. Afterwards, the Era was caught backstage behaving even more like Mom's Boys. That's who they'll be to me - forever. Then we move on to Dream vs. Ohno, and see what Dream had to say about his win. Mostly it's nothing until he tells the mic stand to read his tights, and follows that up by stealing my Paul Ellering bit by telling her "Good talk." That's my bit Dream! I need my bits!
Anyhoo, TM61 make their long awaited (2 weeks) return to action against perennial NXT jobbers the Ealy Brothers. TM61's whole presentation has shifted, and they look a lot more polished and professional now. They haven't been wasting their time off. They start off with some fast paced offense, including a huge Danger Zone dive from Thorne, but the Ealys manage to take control with Twin Magic. Thorne eventually fights his way free of their mediocre offense and makes the Hot Tag to Miller. Miller is truly the underated member of this team - the Janetty, if you will - and he's looking in rare form in this performance. He hits some great high-octane offense, and uses a backdrop suplex to set up a really nice moonsault. That, in turn, sets up Thunder Valley, and the pin. Match Rating: Lotta Moonsaults Tonight. We catch up to TM61 after the match, and they imply that they may be going back to The Mighty Don't Kneel, a change which I am utterly ambivalent about.
We recap the NXT title match from Takeover, and holy shit guys. Seriously. Watch the match if you haven't already. Hell, watch it again if you have. I'm typing this up on February 2nd, and I'm pretty sure we all already watched the best match of 2018. It's going to be damn hard for anything to surpass it. After the recap, we get some bonus footage of Ciampa, post-attack. The "reporters" are trying to get comments on his actions or about his return to the ring, but he just slowly walks past all of them, dragging his mangled crutch behind him. It's surprisingly effective.
We also catch up to Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega. Vega wants us to know that, between the title match and Almas' performance in the Rumble, we're finally starting to see the real Andrade "Cien" Almas. Almas wants us to know that this is only the beginning for el Idolo.
Side note: He's been their champion for almost three months, and the only shirt you can buy for Almas is still that hideous money-themed monstrosity that he debuted with. Is there a phone number I can call to get someone to fix this? This is an unacceptable state of affairs. Do you know how fast I would buy an el Idolo shirt? Hell, I'd lump it together with that awesome Johnny Wrestling shirt I keep talking myself out of (I own so many T-shirts, you guys). I would immediately give them $50 if they would just let me.
And while I'm at it, why the hell can't I buy a Drew Gulak shirt? He wears that shirt to the ring and I can't buy it! This is an outrage!
Ahem. I've been having some issues with product management at WWE Shop. Moving on.
Let's see, we've got some notes here. Apparently, EC3 (I guess we're sticking with that?) will be a part of NXT moving forward. And we've got the Era facing off with SAnitY next week, as the champs defend against Young and Wolfe, while Cole fights Damo. I thought Cole was the smart one?
Our main event is...wait, that can't be right. This is a post-Takeover show. By all rights, the best match on this show should've been Cross/Evans. But no, this says our main event is Tyler Bate vs. Roderick Strong for the #1 contendership for the UK championship. Okay, let's do it! We start off with some proper NXT main-event style, until Bate gets the advantage with a dropkick. He immediately does the airplane spin (gotta get the spots in), then Strong murders him. Murders him dead. He catches Bate through the ropes and nails a hanging double-underhook swinging backbreaker. Yeah, read that again. He gets a cover for two, then cuts away at Bate with chops and punches, then a more standard backbreaker. He keeps up the striking offense, then applies what Mauro refers to as a "can opener," a neck hold that looks a bit like a reverse chin lock, if you can follow me. It's kind of neat as a rest hold - something we don't see every day. Anyhoo, Bate headbutts his way out of it, only to be promptly stopped by Strong with a catch backbreaker. Just catches him right out of the air. Then, he picks up Bate - you know Bate is bigger than Strong, right - and just tosses him into the corner. Strong hoists Bate up onto his back in a rack position, but slides him lower into a bow and arrow lock. Honestly, this one looks like it might hurt Strong worse. Bate gets loose, and they throw hands at each other, until Bate finally gets an advantage with a jawbreaker. He throws up Bop, and here comes Bang! Now he's all offense; European uppercuts, a big boot, and then a running European uppercut. Strong tries to cut him off in the corner, but Bate counters with a knee strike, and then a knee from off the second turnbuckle. Then a German suplex, for two! Bate wants the exploder now, but Strong is able to counter it with an elbow, but Bate comes right back and hits the exploder anyways, following it with a standing shooting star press for another two count. Bate goes up top, but Strong follows him. Bate sends him down, but Strong gets back to his feet and pulls Bate off the turnbuckle into a backbreaker for two. Strong wants a tiger bomb, but Bate reverses into a 'rana, and follows it up with a rolling kick. Strong counters back with an enzuigiri, and Bate counters that by catching the ropes with his shoulders like he does. Bate wants the big clothesline, but Strong is ready, so Bate transitions into a crucifix for two. Strong misses with a jumping knee, and here's the big clothesline for two. Bate looks for the Tyler Driver, but his injured back won't let him pull it off! Strong comes back for the Stronghold, but Bate counters with a rollup. Strong comes right out of the kickout with a jumping knee, then another in the corner, then what I think was supposed to be the Angle Slam, but he couldn't get rotation on the bigger man. So instead, he just slams Bate face-first into the canvas. Strong's got it now; with blood in the water, Strong hoists him up, and hits the End of Heartache to get the win. Match Rating: The Best Tyler Bate Match Of The Week, And That's Saying Something.
Wow, great main event. If you were at Takeover, and this was your first match and Almas/Gargano was the last, I'd say you had a pretty great night. We return to more regular programming next with the SAnitY/Undisputed Era stuff.