10 Thoughts on NXT – Johnny Gargano, Asuka, Kyle O’Reilly

1. It’s NXT time and our opening match tonight is Johnny Gargano vs someone you’ve probably never heard of! It’s Raul Mendoza who you might remember from the CWC if you were really paying attention.

2. Solid technical match to start as you’d expect from Johnny Wrestling, and Mendoza provides a competent lucha-style opponent without ever seeming like a legitimate threat. The finish comes when Mendoza misses a top rope move and Gargano rolls (sort of) into a chickenwing submission. Gargano is solid in the ring and the crowd love him but his size is always going to work against him in WWE.

3. Both Asuka and Bobby Roode will be here tonight, but neither of them are wrestling, which is part of the problem with NXT these days. Sooooo much filler.

4. Last week the Authors of Pain started feuding with Sanity, because why not. Paul Ellering cuts a promo in front of a spooky door while Akem and Rezar look menacing. So this is basically a hype show for Takeover Brooklyn III, which makes me want to watch that show rather than this one.

5. Asuka comes out and cuts a promo that around 30% of the audience seem to understand. Ember Moon interrupts and comes to the ring to tell Asuka that she’s ready, even though she’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Asuka slaps Ember and the brawl is on, leading to Moon hitting the Eclipse off the top rope. I can’t see Ember winning at Takeover, but hopefully it will be a good match with no injuries.

6. Our next bit of hype is an interview with Bobby Roode where he talks about being a better man than Drew McIntyre. The camera and mic work seems deliberately crappy, suggesting that an ambush is in the offing. Instead, Roddy Strong runs in and complains a bit, then walks off in a sulk.

7. Did you know that the Street Profits will be debuting on NXT next week? Do you care? While you ponder that question Sonia DeVille makes her way to the ring to face Jenna the Bionic Beast, a slightly overweight white woman. DeVille is still limited in the ring but has potential, picking up the win in short order with an arm bar. Not a great match, but better than another promo for Takeover.

8. Speaking of promos, Hideo Itami talks about Kassius Ohno, some of which is in English and some Japanese. He walks to the ring and demands respect, but Aleister Black comes out to make things more interesting. Itami tries to attack Black from behind but gets hit with the Black Mass and knocked out. Hideo Itami continues to be booked like a chump in WWE – how long before he takes an offer to return to New Japan for a title run?

9. Black is taking on a debuting Kyle O’Reilly tonight, joining former partner Bobby Fish in NXT. The pair exchange strikes and look for an advantage, moving into submissions as the match progresses. Strong MMA feel as O’Reilly takes Black to the limit, but Black finally hits the Black Mass for the hard-fought victory.

10. The final match saved this show from a below average rating, with O’Rielly making a strong debut and Black continuing to look good in the ring. Everything else… meh.

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