This week’s episode of NXT, #434, was broadcast from the Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 7th 2018. It was headlined by a six-man tornado tag match between Undisputed ERA and SAnitY, and Johnny Gargano addressed his title defeat at TakeOver: Philadelphia.
Brawls – you gotta love ‘em. That’s how this week’s episode of NXT #434 began, as SAnitY blindsided Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole as they made their way to the ring for their scheduled Tag Team Championship match. A pull-apart scrap always works. It’s scientific. The crowd was chanting, “Let them fight!” And General Manager William Regal agreed – just for later in the match. He scheduled a six-man tornado tag match for the show’s main event.
In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, my new favourite tag team.
Tag Team Match: Heavy Machinery vs. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
I’m totally sold on Heavy Machinery. I’m a sucker for the stout powerlifter aesthetic, and a move-set named after various bits of construction equipment carried out by beardy men in leotards? Yeah, all the makings of hilarity right there.
The in-ring action – which was distinctly average – was secondary to the gradual breakup of Moss and Sabbatelli. I like the idea of two cocky heels having too much arrogance to coexist, but I question if now’s the right time for a singles feud between them when NXT is already brimming with such talent.
Heavy Machinery secured the pinfall victory after their hilarious team finisher: an assisted powerslam called “The Compacter”. Glorious.
Result: Heavy Machinery win via pinfall.
Rating: (2 / 5)
Promo: Someone give Johnny Wrestling a championship so he can live a normal life.
Following a crushing defeat at the hands of NXT champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and a battering from his former partner Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano addressed the fans.
This guy is a glutton for punishment. He wanted another crack at Almas’ title, and he got it, but with the stipulation that if he doesn’t win, he leaves NXT.
What this means, I hope, is that Gargano is finally set to win the title. But let’s just take a look at this segment. During it, Almas and Zelina Vega got involved. So did Candice, Gargano’s wife. Ciampa got a mention, too.
The depth of writing here is what I want from a pro-wrestling promo all the time. It set a presumed end-date for Gargano’s rivalry with Almas, foreshadowed his presumed upcoming rivalry with Ciampa, and furthered the on-going issues with Candice and Vega. Excellent stuff.
Singles Match: Bianca Belair vs. Jessix Hill
It was a squash to put over Belair. Nothing to see here.
But let’s talk about Bianca Belair for a moment. Her confidence and charisma are off the charts. Strutting around, twirling that ponytail like a lasso – it’s a good look. And for a diminutive athlete, she’s freakishly strong. That fallaway powerbomb (or the Alley Oop, as its otherwise known) shows it off. Put those things together and you’ve got a potential star in the NXT Women’s Division.
Belair might not have the in-ring experience of Ember Moon or Kairi Sane, or the legitimate face-punching credentials of a Shayna Baszler, but that natural presence and the ability to muscle chicks will help her out considerably.
Result: Bianca Belair wins via pinfall.
Rating: (1 / 5)
Six-Man Tornado Tag Team Match: Undisputed ERA vs. SAnitY
This was a lot of fun. The tornado stipulation was smart, because it allowed for chaos. Chaos is always good. The fight spilled throughout Center Stage, incorporating furniture and weaponry and furniture used as weaponry. A great time was had by all.
Two ways to look at this. You can take the cynical viewpoint. Did Killian Dain really need to essentially squash all three members of Undisputed ERA to get over, when he has already been a stand-out in almost every match he has been involved in?
Or you can look at like this: Killian Dain is awesome.
Dain was the focal point, narratively. The story of the match was basically Undisputed ERA trying to contain him and being unable to. That’s fine if you ask me. The champions remain the champions, Dain gets majorly over, and all is well. Is this the end of the feud? Who knows? But if it is, it seems a fitting finale to me.
Result: SAnitY win via pinfall.
Rating: (4 / 5)
This was an episode mostly built around setting stuff up; backstage segments involved Shayna Baszler and Ember Moon, Johnny Gargano got himself suckered into another high-stakes match, and Bianca Belair did some squashing.
But the main event was worth waiting for, and seems a likely end (for now) to the rivalry between Undisputed ERA and SAnitY. Next week’s card looks pretty stacked, so I’ll see you then.