Another timely recap! And if you like this, you'll love next week, when I pretty much guarantee there won't be a recap. After that, though, my schedule looks a lot more regular, so hopefully these'll start getting closer to on-time.
We start the episode with a recap of last week's main event, where we saw Johnny Gargano lose his NXT contract as a result of Tomasso Ciampa's interference. After the recap, we throw to the into. Point of interest, Gargano has been scrubbed from the intro, and all of his clips have been replaced with ones of Ciampa. So, this feud's probably done, yeah? Nothing more to see here.
We head to the ring, now, as the Velveteen Dream takes on Tyler Bate, having been personally offended that Bate even mentioned his name in passing. C'mon, man, that's like, your whole thing! I guess "cheaply won, valued little," right? Anyhoo, the match starts out with a little NXT main event style, graps-up a bit in the UK tradition. We haven't really seen Dream work the mat much, so it's cool to see he can do this kind of stuff, too. Bate gets an advantage with a dropkick, but they go back into another exchange, with Bate pulling out a standing switch only to have Dream counter into a side headlock, then Dream clocks him with a back elbow and starts hitting some knees. A big boot puts Bate down, and now Dream's just putting the boots to him. An elbow drop puts us into a rest hold, but Dream lets him out to hit some elbow drops and then a second rope double-axehandle. With Bate on the mat, Dream locks in a modified camel clutch, but Bate fights out and they start trading punches. Bate hits a knee to take the advantage, then a running European uppercut followed by two running knee strikes. Bate's feeling it, so he pops an exploder suplex for two and goes for the airplane spin, but Dream elbows his way out after a couple rotations. By the way, Dream is a big, lanky guy to put into a fireman's carry. Dream follows up with a boot, but he tosses Bate at the ropes, so you know his cool catch rebound clothesline is coming. That's a setup for the Tyler Driver, and he wants it, but Dream back bodydrops free and goes for a big superkick, but Bate catches it and comes right back with a European uppercut. Bate comes off the ropes, but Dream counters back with a spinebuster for two! Dream throws a big forearm in his face for kicking out, but Bate comes right back at him, and now they're just trading shots with one another. Bate gets the edge and throws a couple of European uppercuts, but when he goes for a running one in the corner, there's a trainwreck of a collision. It looks like they knocked heads legit. Dream recovers first and tries to go up for the elbow, but Bate dropkicks him from the mat(!) and follows him up. Dream is able to push him off, though, and Bate crotches himself on the way down. That leaves Dream in the perfect position for a big Purple Rainmaker, and that's game. Match Rating: A Glimpse Of The Future.
Seriously, in six or eight years, these guys are main-eventing WrestleMania. Make a note of it.
Hey, it's Paul Ellering! What's up, Paul? "Immortalized at the Dusty Classic...Stars in their eyes...UNDISPUTED ERA!" Good talk, Paul! Hey, the AoP are there to yell in furious Albanian as well! "War is our Peace." Good talk, everybody!
We've got footage of Regal signing Gargano's termination papers. Regal tells him that he's still got to honor some standing commitments, but he'll be finished up in a few weeks. About five or six, if I had to guess. Probably nothing interesting will happen to him in that time frame, though. Drake's there too, and he just wants to apologize for counting the fall, but Johnny don't hold it against him.
Cesar Bononi, the inexplicable NXT break out star of 2017, is taking on Adam Cole. Cole and Co. offer Bononi a spot in The Era, as he is obviously a future star, but of course it's a setup and Cole sucker punches him. Then he high fives everybody - it's pretty great. Anyhoo, there's not much here to write about after the bell. Cole nails a superkick off a distraction, then the running knee strike for three. Match Rating: Fun, But Honestly, Cole's Finisher Kind Of Low-Key Sucks.
We've got a quick recap of the bad blood between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler - remember, that's our main event this week. After that, the Street Profits have a segment where they pretend to be regular people (Pete from Alabama) getting interviewed about who will win the Dusty Classic. Their money is on the Street Profits. Who saw that one coming?
Main event's up next, as Baszler gets her rematch against Sane, who beat her in the MYC finals. Baszler starts by trying to get in Sane's face and intimidate her, but Sane just starts throwing hands. I don't think that Baszler anticipated that response. She does manage to bounce back with a shoulder tackle and a takedown, though. Sane demonstrates her mat credentials, however, and locks in a front chancery. I wouldn't go with grappling against Baszler, though, and she turns it into a headlock and grinds Sane down. Sane fights out, and posts Baszler shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. They do a quick exchange in the corner, then Sane comes off the top, only to have Baszler dodge. Sane surprises her by quickly going for a rollup that gets two, but when she tries to follow that with a sliding forearm, Baszler gets a boot up in Sane's face. Baszler takes the frills off at this point, working away at the shoulder and arm with simple, grinding offense. Baszler hits a gut-wrench suplex into a sitting position, then nails a big kick across the back and covers for two. Baszler is really impressing me with how far she's come in a short period of time. She follows up the two count with a double wristlock (with joint manipulation!), but Sane manages a quick rollup for two. That encourages Baszler to go back to a standing base, adnd she shoots Sane into the ropes. But Sane crosses her up, and nails a monster spear! It's gorgeous. I meant what I said before; women just do the spear better, guys shouldn't be allowed to use it anymore. Sane rallies, and hits her march sliding forearm, then goes up top and hits the flying forearm smash for another two. They tangle, and Baszler gets the better with a clubbing blow to Sane's back. She goes for a suplex (which I think we need to recognize as the prelude to her finisher), but Sane escapes and counters with a big spinning backfist. She goes up top, looking for the elbow, but Baszler stuns her with a kick and hoists her off the turnbuckle into a suplex. Up for the suplex, down into the Kirafuda clutch - that's the Kirafuda Driver, and Sane taps. Match Rating: How Long Do We Have To Wait For Their Fateful Third Encounter? HOW LONG?!
Great, great match. These two are natural adversaries. After the match, Baszler heads over to the commentary desk and calls Moon a coward again, and I'm shocked, shocked that Moon doesn't meet her on the ramp to accept her challenge for another title shot. Let it go, Moon!
So, great show and...I'm being told that there's actually more show. Uh, okay. I probably would have stopped there, but what do ya got? Ah, Almas and Vega are out to gloat a bit. Almas is the greatest NXT champion of all time (bet you a dollar?), Gargano is a four time, clean sweep loser. Gargano earns respect, Almas earns money and fame. Vega creates success - can't argue with her there. Call Gargano "Johnny Jobless," but call Almas the NXT champion!
Uh, okay, good enough I guess, but I did expect more than...hold on, I'm being told there's actually more show. Hey, it's Alaister Black! DO NOT LET HIM SPEAK! Oh, thank heaven, it's Damo! Damo tears into Black before he can get a word out, and lays him out with the Great Divide as Almas and Vega get the hell out of there.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the last segment well enough, but I wouldn't have closed this episode with it. Two strong, strong matches this week - I would have stuck the promo in the middle. In any event, this is probably the best episode in a long time, at least as far as seeing the "developmental system" doing the thing it ostensibly does, and build the stars of tomorrow. Everybody looked like a winner tonight. Well, except Cesar Bononi, but I guess they can't all be winners.
shinstrife: There's a goodly amount of the pee-sychology in the Smackdown half of WWE these days, with Angle, Benoit, and Eddy all wrestling weekly 15 minute matches, and more of a focus on body part work and submissions coming as an order from the top.