Well, it's a big show; a big, big show tonight, as we've got two main-event worthy title defenses. We start straight away with Pete Dunne defending the UK title against a departing Roderick Strong, who has recently been transferred over to 205 Live. Sure, he's 205, why not? Buddy Murphy, too, sure. Remember, it's not about weight limits; it's about perceived weight limits. Anyhoo, the match gets underway with a solid lockup, before moving into a bit of a standoff, as both wrestlers try to figure the other out. By the way, the announce team will not shut the hell up about how Strong would be the first ever US holder of the UK title, and like, guys? There have only been two holders of this title, which has itself only existed for a little over a year. Settle down, guys. Anyhoo, Dunne eventually gets a bit of an advantage, and starts working over the arm, as is his custom. He takes Strong to the outside and uses the stairs to his advantage, and then manages it a second time. When he tries a third time, though, Strong dodges out of the way, catches Dunne, and DROPS HIS BACK ACROSS THE STEEL STEPS. Holy shit! Strong is slow to recover, but throws Dunne back in the ring for a two count. He starts laying in some hard strikes on Dunne, and follows up with a pumphandle backbreaker for two. Dunne tries to fight back, but gets another backbreaker for his trouble. Strong continues to lay the boots in, but when he goes upstairs for an atomic Angle Slam, it gives Dunne an opening to go back to the arm and wrist, sending Strong down to the floor. Dunne immediately follows up with a missile dropkick, but once they're both back up on the apron, Strong hits a pair of enzuigiris and then drops Dunne out of a fireman's carry right across the apron. Dunne's been playing defense this whole match, but when the ref pulls Strong off him for a moment, Dunne rolls in with an enzuigiri of his own. Strong comes back and rings Dunne's bell with an elbow, but Dunne dodges the follow up, hits another enzuigiri, then an X-plex into a cross-armbreaker. He transitions that into a modified omoplate, then wrenches back with Strong's arm. Dunne goes upstairs, and Strong attempts to pull him off into a catch backbreaker, but Strong's arm gives out - it seems like it's pretty much useless right about now. Dunne capitalizes with a very nice sitout powerbomb for two. Announce team is talking about an American holding the UK title again, and apparently now all those great UK legends like Regal and Finlay are retroactive UK champions? It's...not a great line of commentary, here. Anyhoo, back to the action, because Strong tries for a jumping knee in the corner, only for Dunne to dodge and hit a German suplex. Dunne goes up for another missile dropkick, but Strong dropkicks him out of the air. Strong hits a running elbow and goes for something, but Dunne pops loose, and they go into a pin reversal sequence, ending with Strong landing a catch backbreaker for two. Strong wants to follow up with the Angle Slam, but Dunne counters with a half and half suplex and yet another enzuigiri. Dunne stomps away at Strong's arm and locks in a triangle choke, but Strong hoists him up and slingshots Dunne's neck into the top rope. Strong goes upstairs and nails the atomic Angle Slam! That should do it, but Strong is just a hair slow to cover, and Dunne kicks out at two! Dunne tries to go back to the hand, but Strong hits a pair of jumping knees and a bulldog for another two count. He wants End of Heartache, but Dunne counters right out with an X-plex, and looks for the Bitter End. Instead, he eats some elbow strikes from Strong, and then a Tiger Bomb for two more. Strong wants the Stronghold now, but he can't lock the hands, and Dunne Scurls him. Strong rolls out of the ring in pain, and when he comes back in, Dunne is waiting with the Bitter End. That's match. Match Rating: The Victim Of High Expectations.
I mean, it was a good match. But I went looking for a great match. I think I actually liked it a bit better on the rewatch, with my expectations more appropriately managed. But if you expected a MOTYC, this was, maybe, a little bit disappointing.
Johnny Gargano has his title match with Andrade Almas next week. Remember, if Johnny loses, he's out of NXT (and presumably moved to 205). We recap the promo exchange that got us to this point, and I still love how Johnny sells the idea that his mouth outran his brain on that one.
Velveteen Dream takes on NWJ next week, too. Ooh, which match will be better? Who can say? In any event, Dream's got some words, but mostly they're for Tyler Bate, evidently due to last week's promo where he name-dropped Dream. Now that's a match I can look forward to.
Oh no Aleister Black is out for a promo. Now that Strong has left, I can state confidently that Black is the worst promo in NXT. It takes him forever and a day to get to it, but it turns out that he wants a shot at the NXT title. He gets Damo instead. Damo makes it clear that if he wants a title shot, he's going to have to go through Damo to get it. For the record, Damo is actually a pretty strong promo himself, and this is another feud that I can get behind.
TM61 - apparently, they are still TM61, not TMDK - are out to squash Some Jobbers, this is legitimately not worth my time or yours. Thunder Valley. Match Rating: I Just Said, This Is Legitimately Not Worth My Time Or Yours.
You know what is, though? Our main event, as Ember Moon defends once more against Shayna Baszler. Moon's got her shoulder kinesio taped, but appears to have full range of motion again. Once the bell rings, surprisingly, it's ALL Moon. She hits a dropkick out of the gate, and then just peppers Baszler with kicks and punches. Baszler's on the mat and can barely cover up, let alone fight back. The ref backs Moon off and Baszler gets to her feet, only to have Moon send her back down with an enzuigiri, followed by a pump kick. Moon wants to end this in a hurry and heads upstairs, but Baszler sees the Eclipse coming and rolls out. So, seeing Baszler in the Danger Zone, Moon does the only logical thing and kills her with a monster tope suicida. I think Moon's probably got the best tope in all of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, though, Moon led that with her bad arm, and comes up screaming in pain. Baszler is slow to come around, but when she does, she takes full advantage of her disabled opponent. She locks in a quick double-wristlock, and then sets up for the big arm stomp. She doesn't quite get the full "arm breaker" on it, though, so she moves into the cross-armbreaker we saw her try at Takeover. This time, Moon goes straight for the rollup, but can only manage two without the full element of surprise. Baszler kicks out and goes right back to the armbreaker, only to have Moon manage another rollup for another two-count. Baszler decides that she might need to soften Moon up a bit more at this point, and sends her hard into the ringpost. Then, she maneuvers Moon over by the guardrail, and uses the posts to wrench at Moon's arm. You know, ref, that's a foreign object, and you'd be within your rights to call for the bell here. Well, he opts against that, and instead tries to reason with Baszler, who shoves him. You know, ref, that you are now obligated to call for the bell, right? He does not. It's moot, anyhoo, though, as Kairi Sane is out to make the save, and pick up some much desired revenge. That will get the bell. Match Rating: More Angle Than Match, But Pretty Good On Both Of Those Fronts. Sane is all over Baszler, who opts for a retreat. However, that's a fake-out. As soon as Sane turns to check on Moon, Baszler snakes back in to try to jump Sane from behind, but Sane sees her coming and nails a gorgeous spear to send her packing for reals. You know what? Dudes (and Roman Reigns, I am looking specifically at you here) should not be allowed to do the spear anymore. It just looks better when women do it. They are better at that move.
That'll do us for tonight. Next week is the big title vs. NXT career match, though, and if it's even half as good as their last outing it'll be the second best match of the year. You couldn't pay me to miss that one.
Not sure if it's too much to ask for a moty out of nowhere for this weekly show, but well I thought it was a great match. Having said that, yeah 5 more minutes (to really get into the end game build) would've been great.
I think Aleister's first promo (when eventually Dream interfered) was fine but this was just...I dunno it sounded off. Like he had to say all these sinister phrases but had no clue why. Damo however talks fine. The match will (should) be okay.
My friend and I were chuckling about Ember, how they should make it a gimmick that she always gets goaded into matches. I mean, I know that's how wrestling always works (see also Johnny Gargano) but Ember's wilingness to risk it all against Bazler was funny and now she just did it again. Loved the start of the match with Ember just destroying Baszler. I would've been okay with that being the match and Moon getting a dq. The end...I guess we're building to a triple threat at Take Over New Orleans?