All the way back on October 9th, 2014, it started with this:
Okay, guys, it's time for an intervention. We all hate RAW right now. It's a bad show. Consistently and thoroughly. We all chime in on the RAW threads out of inertia, and a hope that the show will improve. It might! But it hasn't yet. So let's stop killing ourselves talking about how bad that show is, and talk about the best show on television - er, the internet (work with me here, people), NXT.
Almost four years later, we have reached my Ultimate recap, and honestly? I feel like I've mostly accomplished what I set out to do. I got to spend every week writing about a wrestling show I genuinely enjoyed, and I think (hope?) that some of you guys felt the same way. It's been a hell of a ride, and I'm super glad I did it, but now it's over, so let's get to it, one...last...time.
Our show starts with a quick In Memory of Jim Neidhardt, and I didn't chime in on that thread, but let me quickly say that I was always a huge fan of the Hart Foundation, and when Jim made his return in 1997 to help the reunited Harts fight Austin and Michaels, it was a huge mark-out moment for me.
Moving along, though, we recap what happened at the end of last week's show, along with the web stuff that covered the mysterious attack on Aleister Black. That means that the main event is now going to be Ciampa vs. Gargano in a Last Man Standing match, or, as you may recognize it better, the exact same match that they've now had twice. Here's an idea: Maybe see who's better when all the rules are in play? Like, who's the better wrestler?
Anyhoo, we get down to the ring so that the Street Profits can try to get some revenge against The Mighty. I'm really starting to think that The Mighty might actually amount to something here, and Montez Ford has superstar written all over him. As for Angelo Dawkins? Well, believe it or not, I'm actually really glad to see him tonight. Why? Because he is one of only two wrestlers who are still in NXT who were there when I started doing these recaps. So, shout out to the un-call-up-able Angelo Dawkins! Thanks for helping me bring this full circle. Anyhoo (again), Ford and Miller start out, but Miller gets a quick advantage and brings in Thorne. TM take control for a while here, but the Profits start busting out some tandem offense, including a "Wakanda Forever" backdrop splash that I'm worried is going to get someone sued, and their classic assisted leapfrog splash. TM come back, dodging Dawkins twisting corner splash and taking control. Highlights here include a cool double back suplex and a very nice spinebuster. Eventually, the Hot Tag is made to Ford, and he is suitably la hacienda en fuego. He hits a somersault clothesline and then a sunset flip for two. Miller tries for a rollup counter, but a handful of tights only gets two, as Ford reverses the rollup, gets his own handful, and steals a three. Match Rating: Honestly, I'm Just Glad That Dawkins Was On This Show. The Street Profits celebrate their victory out in the crowd, but I've got a feeling that this isn't quite over.
Backstage, Shayna Baszler is trying to give Aliyah some pointers for her match with Kairi Sane tonight, and look Shayna. Better teachers than you have tried, and it hasn't taken so far. I appreciate the effort, but I don't think it's going to work out.
The Era is on the scaffolding again. Every time I see it, all I can think of is Adam Cole with a broom trying to chase away Nikki Cross. This is their usual routine, but the highlight is definitely Cole saying that he doesn't hide behind anything, when he is literally standing behind three dudes.
Okay, next up is the Sane/Aliyah match. Aliyah hasn't actually been an NXT competitor the whole time I've been doing this (although she might have been in the PC the whole time). It does, however, feel like she's been here the whole time, and perhaps even before, even before the memory of man existed, from a time primordial, primeval, when dark things roamed the earth. Anyhoo, this is a total squash for Sane. Baszler comes out on commentary, only to watch Aliyah get destroyed. Aliyah, I'm pretty sure, botches what is supposed to be a headscissors takeover, so Sane rolls her up instead, then rolls through into a stretch muffler. Aliyah gets her only offense of the match by fighting her way out, but then Sane comes right back with a pair of running neckbreakers, followed by the interceptor and the march forearm. That's pretty much going to do it, so Sane goes up and hits the InSane elbow for...wait, no cover! She hits another elbow! And pulls Aliyah up at two! Another Elbow!!! And the Anchor! As she pulls back into the submission, Sane makes sure that she's facing Baszler, and points right at her as she draws the submission win. Match Rating: Sane Looks Like A Beast. This is fantastic. Baszler does the awesome thing where she makes like she doesn't care, but is clearly terrified. This match is going to be gangbusters, and it's the very first time that we've seen a defense set up where it looks like Baszler's at an actual disadvantage. I think that Sane takes the title here, although I wouldn't be opposed to Baszler winning it back down the line, becoming the first ever two-time NXT women's champ.
Quick hype package for the Cole/Ricochet match. I like Ricochet, but I think we need to keep the Era strong going into War Games, so they can lose there.
Velveteen Dream is out! You know, they want this guy to be a heel, but Full Sail just loves this guy so much. They're never going to boo him. Dream tries, but ultimately it's still a no-go on that front. Instead, he turns his attention to EC3, and says he's got Dream's attention now, which he doesn't want. This, of course, brings EC3 out, for the dynamite line, "I guess this is what it sounds like when doves cry." Got him, EC3! He also takes some low-hanging fruit by making fun of Dream's fanny pack, and goes on some kind of tangent where the metaphor well and truly gets away from him. That's okay, though, because the whole point is for them to come to blows, and eventually they do, where EC3 takes the final advantage and leaves Dream lying with a 1%.
Dream's lost almost all of his high-profile matches. He really needs this win, badly.
Next up is the really cool "who was in the parking lot" segment that got posted last week. This is a really fun bit, and I hope that post-Takeover we really spend some time trying to crack this mystery. Also, I hope that it's the same person who jumped Hideo Itami so that we finally get some resolution there.
Also, this package manages to get Westley Blake on TV, the other guy who's been here the whole time! In fact, he (and Murphy) were in a match in my second-ever recap! Shout out to the equally un-call-up-able Mr. Blake! I'm sorry that Buddy Murphy was always better than you!
Although, really I'm just sorry that they ever broke up the team with them and Bliss. They were always so much fun.
Now, a video package to give us the Hard Sell on Gargano/Ciampa, and look, I have to tell you that this isn't, strictly speaking, necessary. I am more excited for this match than I have been for almost any other match I can think of. In fact, you can check the record, I've ended almost every go-home recap talking about how excited I was for the upcoming Takeover, but I am more excited for this show than for any other show NXT has ever run - no exaggeration. This Saturday's Takeover is maybe the most excited I've ever been to watch wrestling, period.
That said, this is an amazing package. Gargano even points out that he lost the street fight because of the hatred in his heart, and that means we are halfway to him realizing that he needs to be a pure and noble babyface in order to beat Ciampa for that title, something that I hope happens Saturday. In fact, I genuinely want Gargano to hit Ciampa so hard that they become friends again, and if that happens I might actually cry about wrestling, I won't even pretend that's not a possibility. Anyhoo, go out of your way to catch this one, I think it might be important.
Finally, our main event is Tyler Bate against Roderick Strong, and damn if this isn't a fine way to go out. We've only got about 9 minutes left in the show, so I worry that maybe we're not going to get a finish here, but spoiler, this actually winds up being about the best under-ten-minute match I've ever seen. Bate starts strong with a big boot and a European uppercut. Strong tries to chop back, but eats a back body drop, some more European uppercuts, and a knee strike. Kylie Riley finally manages to make a distraction of himself, which allows Strong to pull Bate into a backbreaker. Strong mounts him and starts punching the shit out of Bate, and follows that up with even more strikes. Bate tries to punch back, but Strong locks in a chinlock, followed by another backbreaker and finally a cobra twist. Bate gets back to a standing position and pops Strong with a pair of headbutts and then a jawbreaker, and with both men on even footing for the moment, they start trading shots with each other. Strong get the advantage and tries to set up a superplex, but Bate fights him off and drops him off the turnbuckle, then comes flying off with a European uppercut! Man, these guys aren't even going for covers here! They trade some more shots, and Bate throws up Bop, but Strong is ready! But so is Bate! As Strong fires back, Bate block the punch, and lays Strong out with Bang! Bate's on a roll now, hitting the exploder suplex and a standing shooting star press for a two count (finally). He wants the airplane spin, but his back gives out on him, allowing Strong to go for the Angle Slam. But Bate counters out with a hurricanrana! He follows that up with a side suplex for two, then goes for his overhead rolling heel kick. But Strong catches it, and transitions into the Stronghold! But Bate counters out before he can get it locked in, pulling off a rollup for two, only to have Strong come out and nail an inverted urinage for two! Shit goes absolutely haywire at this point, and can not write the action down fast enough, so at this point I'm missing a couple things. Eventually, though, Strong gets sent outside into the Danger Zone, and we all know what that means - Bate flies out and clobbers him! He tosses Strong back inside, but before he can follow up, Riley makes another distraction of himself. Trent Seven cuts him off this time, but it's still enough for Strong to make a comeback, hitting a big enzuigiri to stun Bate. He wants the End of Heartache, but Bate flips out of it and lands on his feet! Holy shit, that is amazing! Bate lands his counter lariat off the ropes, and then goes for another overhead heel kick. This one connects, and that's the setup - and there it is, the Tyler Driver '97! One...Two...Three! Your winner, Tyler Bate. Match Rating: I Honestly, Literally, Could Not Have Asked For A Better Final Match.
And that, my friends, is that. We are finished, and there is no more to say.
Well, okay, maybe there's a little bit more to say. First, Takeover is this Saturday, and you're a monster if you don't watch it. Hey, I don't make the rules, it's just true. This card is super-duper-stacked, and it will most likely be the best show in a year where we've actually had a lot of great shows.
Next, I want to point out that, week to week, probably the best wrestling show that you can watch is 205 Live. I know a lot of people sleep on it, but it has really hit a stride, and if you love bell-to-bell action, you have got no reason to miss this. Stop watching RAW or something and watch this instead, you won't be sorry, I promise.
And finally, for actual finally, don't stop watching NXT. It's still great; that's not why I'm quitting. It's an amazing product, and if any of you feel like taking up my mantle, it'll be there any time. Keep watching good wrestling, keep watching shows that are enjoyable, and let RAW be the three hour mess we've all come to expect of it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the time you've put into reading these. It's made it all worthwhile. And so I take my final bow, and say goodbye.
Thanks a bunch man. I enjoyed your recaps. Hated your names for Gargano/Ciampa but enjoyed the recaps I usually watch the shows a few days later but if I get a chance I'll write some short recaps if important things happen.