WWE NXT 03/14/18 is the rare NXT episode where the entire docket of matches was announced on the previous week’s show. Last week, we learned about the following matches: Lacey Evans vs. Dakota Kai, two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament Round 1 matches (SAnitY vs. Moss & Sabbatelli / Heavy Machinery vs. Street Profits), and Pete Dunne defending the UK Championship against Adam Cole. Should be a stacked show this week, so let’s get the recap!
WWE NXT 03/14/18 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Standard NXT opening credits and we’re taped (originally taped in early February 2018) from Center Stage.
Mauro welcomes us to the show and we learn that in addition to everything I mentioned above, tonight will also be the Almas / Black contract singing for TakeOver New Orleans.
SAnitY’s music hits and the entire gang (yes, even Nikki Cross – finally!) are out for some Dusty Classic First Round action. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss are out next.
Match #1: SAnitY vs. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Round One Match)
They’re teasing a Tino / Riddick break up so they were the underdogs going in. Once I saw the entire SAnitY crew entering it was academic. As expected, this match is all Wolfe and Young. EY hits his big elbow drop on Tino but Moss breaks up the count by pulling EY out of the ring. Wolfe is in to protest, but the ref admonishes him. During this distraction, Nikki Cross dives off the apron and takes out Moss. From there, Young and Wolfe hit their team finisher and easily put away Tino.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Short but sweet. I was so excited to see SAnitY back as a unit and running on all cylinders.
Next, we see the updated Dusty Classic brackets.
Meanwhile, Ciampa is out to do “the thing” again. By “the thing” I mean “walk out, say nothing, and get booed and chanted at for more than five minutes”. Ciampa is probably the most over heel in all of WWE right now, so I hope they drag this out a big longer before he actually speaks. This time around, the crowd holds up signs with Gargano’s logo on them, but Ciampa, sadly, doesn’t destroy any of the signs. He’s out sans crutch, so I guess his insurance refuses to cover the cost of any more replacements. Anyway, another super fun segment to keep the nuclear heat going for Ciampa.
Later tonight? Pete Dunne vs. Adam Cole (bay bay) for the UK Title.
Back from break, Lacey Evans is out. Dakota Kai is out next.
Match #2: Lacey Evans vs. Dakota Kai
Wow, not much to this one. Kai goes for a kick and Evans dodges. From there, Evans attempts to work the arm, but Kai escapes and rolls Evans up for 3.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Not for the match, but the post-match brawl which was the main point here.
Post-match, Kai celebrates until Baszler’s music hits. Shayna heads to the ring and slowly backs the visibly freaked out Kai into the corner. Moon’s music hits and she rushes the ring to allow Kai to escape. Moon says it doesn’t matter if she has one arm or two arms – she wants to end it at TakeOver New Orleans. The expected brawl breaks out and two refs attempt to pull Moon and Baszler apart. They’re not very effective. Baszler drops Moon with a KO punch, but Moon is back up and able to dodge a charging Baszler. Moon counters with a kick and goes up for the Eclipse. Baszler recovers and kicks Moon to stop the Eclipse. Baszler tries to set up a corner spot, but Kai is back out of nowhere on the apron and drops Shayna with a kick. From there, Moon hits a one-armed Eclipse to Baszler and poses over her to end the segment.
Later tonight? Almas. Black. Documents.
Up next? Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery in more Dusty Classic First Round action.
Back from break, Mauro tells us it is official – Regal has booked Moon vs. Baszler 2 for TakeOver New Orleans.
Meanwhile, the Street Profits music hits and they’re out. Montez Ford dances with Nigel McGuinness at commentary before heading to the ring. Heavy Machinery’s music hits and they’re out last.
Match #3: Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic – Round One Match)
I really expected Heavy Machinery to go over here, but I guess Street Profits are the new flavor of the month in the NXT tag division. With two relatively over babyface tag teams facing off it’s always a delicate dance, but they pull it off well. Heavy Machinery overpowers Ford and Dawkins for most of the match. When Heavy Machinery go for their Compactor finish, Ford is able to pull down on the ropes so Knight goes flying to the outside instead of rebounding off the ropes. From there, Dawkins counters Otis into a DDT and Ford hits the Frog Splash for the Street Profits to advance in the tournament. Also of note, we get a fun light-hearted moment when Ford stops to drink out of his Street Profits Solo cup and slides over to offer some to Otis. Dozovic drinks from it, starts to shake, but then takes out Ford. A great “someone who doesn’t understand wrestling would have no idea what this means” moment.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Hey, I thought Heavy Machinery was going over so this was a surprise to me. I tend to like surprises on WWE programming since they don’t happen all too often.
Up next? Dunne vs. Cole for the UK Title.
Back from break, Undisputed Era’s music hits and all three guys are out. O’Reilly does the air guitar deal. Dunne is out next to an equally big reaction. Dunne displays his usual swagger and no sells the potential 3 on 1 situation.
Match #4: Pete Dunne (c) vs. Adam Cole (w/ Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) (WWE UK Championship Match)
An entertaining match. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if didn’t end in a DQ finish and didn’t feel compressed for time on such a packed show. Either way, I learned Dunne is 205 pounds (did you hear that, Drake Maverick?) and that he’s fearless. Dunne takes on all three members of Undisputed Era at various points in the match. The action is the typical “break his fingers” stuff from Dunne mixed in with insane spots like an X Plex to Cole on the apron and Cole and Dunne trading superkicks and enziguris in a wild sequence towards the finish of the match. Good stuff. You think we’re going home when Dunne sets up for the Bitter End but Fish and O’Reilly hop on the apron. Dunne slides out and dispatches them, but that allows Cole to hit the Last Shot for a two count. Dunne recovers and goes after the fingers again and has Cole dead to rights – but O’Reilly is in to prevent the Bitter End and earn Dunne a DQ victory.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I think I had higher hopes for this match, but the DQ finish to set up the shaky alliance between Dunne and Strong left me wanting. I wish they just let Cole and Dunne goes balls to the wall for 25 minutes with a decisive finish.
Post-match, we get a three-man beat down on Dunne from UE. Cole hits the coup de grace with a kick to Dunne’s face. This brings out Roderick Strong who also ends up receiving a three-man beat down. However, Dunne recovers and he and Strong clean house. Strong offers a handshake to Dunne, but Dunne just taps him on the shoulder and leaves.
Up next? Time to sign some paperwork!
Back from break, Regal’s weird Darth Vader music is playing and he’s in the ring with the contract signing table. He introduces Black first, who enters through the smokey bowels of Center Stage. Almas is introduced next, but Zelina Vega is out alone instead. Here’s where things get weird.
Zelina starts cutting a promo on Black saying that if Almas was here he’d destroy and humiliate Black. Aleister ignores her and starts looking around the table, under the table, and finally moves the table. He sits down cross-legged and tells Zelina he’s now on her level. The short puns continue as we see a weird, sassy side of Aleister Black we’ve yet to see. Black makes jokes to the point that Vega eventually hauls off and slaps him. Black signs, Vega signs (for Almas – I guess she has power of attorney?), and Black leaves. Before he completely goes, Aleister tells Zelina he didn’t come alone tonight and Candice LeRae’s music hits. Candice rushes the ring and beats Zelina down. They brawl around the ringside area – with Vega ending up on the announce table at one point – before Candice drops Zelina in the ring with a rope-assisted bulldog.
We go off the air on Aleister Black and Candice LeRae posing on the stage. The whole segment was fun for what it was, but just felt off. Black seemed out of character and it felt like something that would happen at a live event and not on weekly TV. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t have happened and Dunne vs. Cole would have gotten this time.
Next week? No previews but I think we’re going to be back at Full Sail for the final push heading into TakeOver New Orleans.