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NXT Thoughts- A Strong Return For The King

Guess who's back, back again? Well, there's me, doing NXT coverage, but also on this episode, the return of the former NXT Champion, the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura! NXT are (kinda) on the road here, at the University of Central Florida instead of Full Sail (still in Orlando though). Let's have a look at what went down.

-Tye Dillinger opens the show, followed by Sanity. Kinda quiet reaction on both ends of the scale. Don't be a shit crowd, UCF! The planned Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger match never takes place, as it transpires that Sanity destroyed Roderick Strong backstage, then laid waste to No Way Jose and the Perfect 10 in the ring. The quest to stop Sanity continues. Decent segment, although based on the dead crowd, it was like they were watching another Blissertation.

-Peyton Royce and Billie Kay were brilliantly obnoxious at the Performance Centre, showing off their Breakout Star of the Year Award and making fun of Ember Moon, who was working out in the weight room. The Aussie girls have really found themselves as characters, and this set the stage nicely for Ember vs. Billie tonight. The more they use the Performance Centre for angles, the happier I am. I'm pro anything that's away from the arena, it was one of the really cool staples of the Attitude Era that they can still use without harming their PG rating.

-Really nice/dark vignette for the soon to be debuting Alistair Black (Tommy End). Shades of a Game of Thrones character in the way that was all shot. End/Black showed he can go during his bonus match with Neville in the UK Tournament, so he'll be a great addition to the NXT roster post-Mania, particularly if we lose Nakamura as I'm assuming we will.

- Fucking Ho Ho Lun! I knew he was signed, and in reading the spoilers I knew he had a match here, I was just hoping with all my heart it was a dark match. Ho Ho is one of the worst wrestlers I have ever seen. At least the likes of Khali, Hornswoggle and Boogeyman had some kind of appeal with their unique looks. Ho Ho comes out, plays to the crowd and gets NO reaction. Not a small reaction, not boos, just dead silence. Good. If it wasn't for WWE trying to break into China, Ho Ho Lun wouldn't be allowed to be part of the ring crew, let alone have a televised match. Oh yeah, my rant aside, Andrade "Cien" Almas squashes him like the useless bug that he is. Double good.

-Billie Kay has some nice moments in facing Ember Moon, but ultimately the Eclipse does her in. And ooh, Billie looks legitimately hurt from it post match. She did seem a step or two out of position when she took the diving stunner. She holds her neck and takes a while to get up, but ultimately gets up and walks backstage of her own accord. Hope she's okay.

-Authors of Pain prevent the Revival from having a match with the twin Ealy brothers. Basic reinforcement of the tag title feud, as the AOP decimate the jobber team, and Revival wisely get the hell out of there. DIY nowhere to be found this week.

-Ember Moon vs. Asuka is made official for Takeover Orlando! I love it. Saw them face each other for the NXT Women's Championship at NXT Sydney, and it was just about tied with Revival vs. DIY as match of the night. I got the sense watching that live that the ladies were holding back for a bigger stage... well, Takeover is that bigger stage, and I'm fortunate enough to be there live again!

-The less said about Moon's "phase" pun, the better.

-Nice interview (again at the PC!) with Tom Phillips and Kassius Ohno. I continue to be disappointed that no one in WWE will even slightly allude to Phillips' "face fucking" controversy- besides the good men comprising the "Tom Phillips Section" on Smackdown this week- but oh well, it is what it is. Ohno comes across very sincere and humbled to be back. Interesting that he walks directly back into a title shot after being gone for 3 years, without a single warm up match. NXT bookers are relying on the good will of Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno's indy reputation, not opting to give the rest of us insight into what the man is all about in the ring.

-The crowd wakes up for Nakamura's entrance for his main event match, the big return against TJ Perkins, but don't give the match itself the respect it deserves. TV match of the week, and it plays out to a church crowd. Just a ball sack hair off the greatness of Neville vs. Jack Gallagher at Fastlane. Perkins shows a heelish but cerebral side in the way he targets the leg, and Shinsuke does a good job of selling the effects but also showing his knee is recovered from the injury. Highly technical battle that ends with the Kinshasa.

-Nigel McGuinness doesn't call the move half as well as Corey Graves.

-Right before the show signs off, William Regal announces that Nakamura will face the winner of next week's Ohno/Roode title match at Takeover Orlando.

So, top matches for Takeover basically set on an above average edition of NXT. The ladies were a highlight, but Nakamura and Perkins lived up to the main event billing. Probably the best match Nakamura has had on NXT TV since Finn Balor. Bring on Takeover, baby!

Until next time, take care,


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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