WWE NXT 04/18/18 is the first episode back at Full Sail following NXT TakeOver New Orleans. On tap is Johnny Gargano addressing Full Sail after getting his job back, most likely a promo from Aleister Black, and Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan – which could be Dain’s last match at NXT due to SAnitY (except Nikki Cross – I guess?) getting called up to SmackDown. The road to NXT TakeOver Chicago starts now, so let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 04/18/18 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever.
In Memory of Bruno Sammartino. R.I.P.
Updated NXT opening credits and we’re taped (originally taped 04/11/18) from Full Sail. Johnny Gargano’s music hits to open the show and he and Candice LeRae are out. Mauro welcomes us to the show while the crowd chants “Welcome Back” for Johnny. Gargano cuts a promo saying his match at TakeOver was 37 of the most intense minutes he’s spent in a ring, but he’s standing here saying that he got his life back. Johnny Wrestling is back in NXT. He turns to Candice and thanks her for the support she gave him during the past few months. They hug and then Candice gets on the mic and says she gets to put their “unfinished business” to rest tonight when she takes on Zelina Vega. Johnny mentions there is a new NXT champ and that Johnny Wrestling is going to be the first challenger.
Later tonight? Candice LeRae vs. Zelina Vega.
Also, later tonight? Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain in a No DQ match.
Up next? Ricochet!
Back from break, we get a promo from Killian Dain filmed outside somewhere. He claims he’s bringing the chaos alone tonight in his match with Lars Sullivan.
Ricochet is out next and he has a pretty cool Full Sail entrance. We learn that Nigel is home “learning how to change diapers” so that is why we have the two-man booth of Mauro and Percy Watson. Fabian Aichner is out next.
Match #1: Ricochet vs. Fabian Aichner
It’s Ricochet, so the match is fun to watch. Aichner is a solid opponent to toss at Ricochet since it ends up being more than a squash match. Aichner attacks Ricochet’s midsection for a while. But, the inevitable happens when Ricochet goes on a run and puts Aichner away with the 640.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – They could have just had Ricochet squash a developmental “no name” here, but instead we got a decently competitive “weekly show” debut for Ricochet.
Post-match, Kayla interviews Ricochet on the ramp. He puts over Full Sail as the place where Bayley, Sami Zayn, and Seth Rollins all made their name. But, now it’s his turn to do the same. He wants the entire NXT Universe to know that there is one and only Ricochet.
Meanwhile, we see War Raiders running in during last week’s main event.
Up next? The Full Sail debut of the War Raiders.
During the break? A hype video for EC3.
Back from break? Lars cuts a promo on Dain standing between two semi-trailers. They shoot this looking up at Lars and once again they make him look super creepy and intimidating. Well done.
Some music hits and the War Raiders are out for their Full Sail debut. Already in the ring? JC and Chris Metro. Good luck, Metros.
Match #2: War Raiders vs. JC & Chris Metro
An absolute squash. We get a nice sampling of the War Raiders offense and they win the match with Fallout.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Pretty much the only way they could debut these guys and make the impact that needed to be made. I’m mostly sad we’ll never get to see these guys against Authors of Pain – because that would be something to see at a TakeOver.
Post-match, War Raiders rock out in the ring.
Next, we get an “earlier this week” video at the Performance Center with Shayna Baszler. Shayna says she’s late to a meeting but she doesn’t really care. She interrupts the locker room meeting, cuts a promo on the women’s division, and takes over Ember Moon’s vacated locker. Dakota Kai stands up to leave and Baszler threatens her as she walks out the door. You get in line behind Shayna or she will run you over. The “earlier this week at the Performance Center” videos from the Iconic Duo were a LOT more fun than this!
Up next? No DQ Hoss Battle!
During the break, a hype video for Kona Reeves airs. He’s grown his hair out and now calls himself “the finest”. This will either be amazing or terrible – doesn’t really feel like there will be middle ground on this new character.
“Earlier today”, Pete Dunne is outside and he’s… walking. He’s asked about Roderick Strong and Dunne says he’ll be back at NXT in a few weeks and he will rip Roderick Strong’s head off.
Next, Lars is out for the No DQ match. Dain is out, alone, next.
Match #3: Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain (No DQ Match)
Match of the week, which I wasn’t expecting. These guys beat the crap out of each other and both are bleeding before the match is over. Dain gets a bloody nose early on and Lars gets a nasty cut on his arm towards the finish of the match. Considering Dain is now a SmackDown talent, Lars is the expected winner and, indeed, goes over here. But, not before a bunch of chair shots, a broken table, and Lars giving Dain the Freak Accident onto some chairs to get the win. You don’t typically get a match this savage outside of a TakeOver.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Brutal match that left both guys beaten and bloody. Considering Dain got called up, it was easily the right move to have Lars be the winner of this feud.
Next, Mauro and Percy send us to a video package on the history between Candice and Zelina.
Up next? Our main event of Candice LeRae vs. Zelina Vega.
Back from break, we see the Undisputed Era doing a photo shoot with the NXT North American Championship and the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Next week? The Undisputed Era will be here… live!
Also, next week? Adam Cole will defend the NXT North American Championship against Oney Lorcan.
After that, we see an ad for Make A Wish featuring John Cena.
Next, Candice is out alone to her own music. Zelina Vega is out next, alone, to Andrade’s music.
Match #4: Candice LeRae vs. Zelina Vega
Sigh. I was really excited about this match, but almost immediately Gargano and Almas are out and get involved in the match. I just wanted to see Zelina Vega work one wrestling match outside of the trappings of Almas at NXT. Was that so much to ask? At least there is still some semblance of a chance we’ll get to see Candice work some matches outside of her current character of “Johnny Gargano’s wife”. This felt like it could have been so much more, but instead, we just got an abbreviated version of the Gargano / LeRae vs. Vega / Almas tag matches that the NXT live events got a few times. The finish comes when Candice slaps on the Gargano Escape and Johnny cuts off Almas in the ring with the same move. Vega taps out.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Keeping it positive, at least they didn’t do something bonkers like have Zelina win when she’s leaving for SmackDown. But, I had way higher hopes for this match than what was delivered.
Post-match, Johnny gets on the mic and calls out Aleister Black by challenging him for the NXT Championship. Black’s music hits and he’s out. Black grants Johnny’s request… for next week.
We go off the air on Gargano and LeRae in the ring.