WWE NXT 05/16/18 marks the beginning of a new batch of tapings from Full Sail University. The only match WWE has announced ahead of tonight’s show is Pete Dunne teaming up with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch to take on the Undisputed Era in some six man action. Other than that, we’re getting closer to next month’s TakeOver so I’m guessing that card for that will start coming together (fingers crossed for Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet!!!). Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 05/16/18 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Standard NXT opening credits and we’re taped (originally taped 05/09/18) from Full Sail. Cold open on Johnny Gargano’s music and Mauro welcomes us to the show.
The crowd is hype for Johnny Wrestling, but nah, it’s Ciampa – once again upping his stock to easily win “Heel of the Year – 2018”. Ciampa gets the boos, as expected, and cuts a promo saying that Johnny may have won a battle, but Ciampa will always win the war. That’s why he’s standing here and Gargano is sitting at home wearing a neck brace. Ciampa details how he’s broken down Gargano piece by piece and now he’s broken Johnny’s body. “Johnny Wrestling is gone. I win.” This brings out Candice LeRae who hits the ring and swipes the mic from Ciampa. Candice cuts a promo saying she thought she knew Ciampa but doesn’t recognize who he’s become. The only thing broken here is Ciampa. Tommaso mocks crying and Candice says she’s done shedding tears and trying to figure out why Ciampa is the way he is now. Candice says that Ciampa will always know that Gargano was better than him. Ciampa says that maybe he was, but they both know the “boy” she calls a husband isn’t half the man that Ciampa is. But, after living with them for years, Ciampa knows that Candice has always been more of a man than Johnny. This riles up the crowd and Ciampa mocks them and says “mess me up, Candice, mess me up”. Ciampa starts to cut a promo on Johnny and Candice’s wedding and Candice slaps him. Ciampa backs away, waves, and heads out of the ring. Candice heads to the back. Wow, this is some heavy stuff. I know it’ll never happen, but it almost feels like NXT putting their toe in the water for Candice vs. Ciampa and “wow” if that comes to pass in some form.
Back from break, we learn that Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream happens later tonight!
Also, later tonight? Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, & Danny Burch vs. Undisputed Era is our main event.
Next, Brandi Lauren is out. Lacey Evans is out next to her new music.
Match #1: Brandi Lauren vs. Lacey Evans
A squash match, but I think Lacey Evans needed something like this. It feels like Lacey had been lost in the shuffle for a while, but this program with Kairi Sane is starting to establish her as a credible heel. Lacey looks good here and does a nice spot where she salutes in the corner and hits a moonsault on Lauren. Evans puts away Lauren with a new finisher – a knock out punch called the “Women’s Right” (because she does it with her right hand… get it?)
Verdict: Thumbs Up – NXT is starting to stoke the flames of, at the very least, a new “bronze age” of the women’s division. Too early to really see if it gets as great as things were with Charlotte, Sasha, Becky, and Bayley – but building up a bunch of women at the same time is really helping me stay invested in the division.
Post-match, Evans showboats on the stage and gets taken out by Kairi Sane. Kairi brawls Lacey to the ring and sets her up for the elbow drop. Evans recovers, rolls out of the ring, and escapes to the back.
Last week? Ricochet and Velveteen Dream had words – tonight they fight!
Earlier tonight? Someone with a camera catches up with NXT Champion Aleister Black… who is outside… walking. Black has learned a few things since becoming champ. Especially that you have a bigger target on your back when you hold the title. As for Dream and Ricochet? Well, everyone has seen the history between Black and Dream. As for Ricochet? If he’s really the one and only – well, Black wants to find out for sure. Once either guy steps in the ring with Black, they become the target.
Up next? Dream vs. Ricochet.
Meanwhile, “earlier today”, Dakota Kai is doing another press conference outside. They want to know what is up with Nikki Cross. Dakota says she has no idea and that Nikki is crazy. Enter Nikki Cross with a smartphone attempting to interview Dakota by repetitively asking “when you gonna fight Shanya? For the gold?” Nikki tells Dakota she should face her fear and fight. Nikki laughs at her and leaves. Nikki Cross as some weird mentor character is something I didn’t know I wanted until I got it.
Next, Velveteen Dream’s music hits and he’s out wearing a pinstripe jacket. Ricochet is out next. Here we go!
Match #2: Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet
I was wondering how they’d get out of this match on regular NXT TV and that “out” came in the form of Lars Sullivan. Before Lars intervenes and decimates both guys – we get a taste of how a TakeOver match between Ricochet and Dream would go. And, wow, will it be awesome if they ever book it to happen. Dream showcases just how good he is as he matches Ricochet beat for beat during this match. Of course, Sullivan ruins everything and gets some good heel heat for doing so. The match is ruled a no contest.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed this for what it was. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream is a money match and it makes no sense to burn it on weekly TV – I mean this isn’t Raw or SmackDown Live. Getting Lars the heat just by denying us this match is a good choice as well. With Killian Dain gone, he needs something to do.
Post-match, Lars manhandles both guys and hits a Freak Accident on both of them. Lars declares himself the next NXT champ to end the segment.
Up next? Kona Reeves vs. Raul Mendoza.
Back from break, the announcers discuss Lars crashing the Ricochet vs. Dream match.
Raul Mendoza is out next. Kona Reeves follows, hands his jacket to someone at ring side, and tells them to not “scuff up” his jacket.
Match #3: Raul Mendoza vs. Kona Reeves
I’ve seen a lot of people down on the Kona Reeves character, but as far I’m concerned the verdict is still out. Kona feels like the next Velveteen Dream, where if he truly owns the character and his in ring work is up to snuff – he’ll get over. He looks okay here against Mendoza. But again, I feel like Mendoza is being wasted here putting people over in NXT. Raul does mount a modest comeback that is snuffed out by a big boot from Reeves. Kona follows this up with a Hawaiian Drop to get the three count.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I still haven’t seen enough of Reeves to really have a feeling about him either way. People automatically seem to want to dislike him – so he’s got that going for him as a heel.
Meanwhile, Cathy Kelley is nearby William Regal’s office. She sees Ricochet knocking on Regal’s door so she starts to ask him about the interference in his match tonight. Velveteen Dream appears and he also wants words with Regal. Dream and Ricochet realize they both want the same thing – Lars Sullivan – so they enter Regal’s office together.
Up next? The main event!
“Earlier today”? It’s not the main event, it’s Heavy Machinery wandering around backstage talking about eating rare steaks for Mother’s Day and how it’s “bulking season”. They find TM61 and have an exchange about TM61 being “cheaters”. The banter leads us into learning that TM61 vs. Heavy Machinery is on for next week.
Meanwhile, Lorcan and Burch are out (to Lorcan’s music) for the main event. Pete Dunne enters next. Finally, the Undisputed Era (w/out Bobby Fish) are out.
Match #4: Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, & Danny Burch vs. Undisputed Era
Match of the week. I fully expected the faces to win and Dunne to get the win. Instead, NXT went the less obvious route and had the finish come by way of Burch and Lorcan hitting a team finisher on O’Reilly. Nice. I wonder if this means they’ll bump up to the top of the line to face Undisputed Era for the tag titles at TakeOver. If this match is any indication how such a title match would go I’d be all for it. Undisputed Era hasn’t lost a step by swapping in Strong for Fish and it shows here. Despite a miscue by Strong to set up the finish, Strong works great with Cole & O’Reilly. Dunne gets some revenge on Strong and we get a fun spot where Dunne, Lorcan, and Burch all wrench the fingers of an Undisputed Era member in tandem. Dunne (the current WWE UK champ) and Cole (the NXT North American champ) aren’t the focus here – exemplified by them taking themselves out of the finish with a suplex to the outside spot that looked rough on Dunne’s neck. The focus here seemed to be on the tag teams and I’m excited to see where that goes.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I expected this to be a showcase for Dunne’s revenge on Strong but instead we got what could be the next program for the tag titles. Well done.
We go off the air on the Undisputed Era licking their wounds on the ramp.
Oh, and Mauro got word right after the finish that Regal has signed Lars Sullivan vs. Velveteen Dream & Ricochet in a handicap match for next week’s show. That should be something!