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WWE NXT 05/23/18 Recap - Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae
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WWE NXT 05/23/18 Recap

Lars takes on Ricochet and Velveteen Dream, TM61 take on Heavy Machinery, and the Ciampa vs. Gargano feud is turned up another notch.

WWE NXT 05/23/18 will feature a handicap match pitting Lars Sullivan against the unlikely team of Ricochet and Velveteen Dream. Also, we have Heavy Machinery taking on the newly heelish TM61. Beyond that, take your pick whether we see more between Kairi and Lacey, Dakota (w/ Nikki) and Shayna, or Bianca Belair tossing someone around the ring. That said, let’s get to the recap!

WWE NXT 05/23/18 Recap

WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Standard NXT opening credits and we’re taped (originally taped 05/09/18) from Full Sail. Mauro welcomes us to the show and many people have NX3 signs in the crowd.

Later tonight? Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet & The Velveteen Dream in a handicap match.

Heavy Machinery’s music hits and they’re out. Hey, Jonathan Coachman is in the crowd tonight. TM61’s music hits and they’re out next.

Match #1: Heavy Machinery vs. TM61

Even before this week’s episode started I knew TM61 would cheat to win. Hey, imagine that – TM61 cheated to win. This episode was rather predictable across the board since we’re getting close to the next TakeOver and pieces need to put into place. TM61 continued their “vaguely heelish” new style, which in this match felt a little reminiscent of the Revival as they isolated Tucker Knight for most of the match. Otis gets the hot tag, does the Worm, and goes on a big run.  The finish comes when Otis goes up for a Vader Bomb and takes forever so he can use TM61’s towel to wipe off his sweat. This allows Shane Thorne to kick him from the apron and Nick Miller to roll Otis up – and use the ropes for leverage. Of course, Shane pulls on Nick’s feet from the outside for even more leverage.

Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Super predictable outcome. I’m warming up to TM61 as an opportunistic heel tag team – I mean Otis lost this match himself with his antics and TM61 pounced on it.

Next, the announce team discusses TM61 new “win by any means necessary” ways. Mauro sends us to a Bianca Belair hype video.

Next week? A documentary video called “Who is Bianca Belair?”.

During the break? An EC3 hype video airs. He vows to rebrand NXT as NX3. I wonder if when he makes it to the main roster he says he’s going to rebrand WWE as WW3 because, yeah. It’s vaguely implied he’ll have a match on next week’s show.

Back from break, Kairi Sane’s music hits and she’s out. Lacey Evans is out next.

Match #2: Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans

NXT is working hard to make Lacey a thing with a slightly new look, new music, and new finisher. Kairi beat Evans the last time they met up – so WWE logic says that Evans is going over in this match. Guess what? Evans goes over. Sane does a great job selling for Evans’ offense in this match and still manages to get some of her signature spots in (Interceptor & a Kabuki elbow off the ring steps). The finish comes by way of Sane going for a Kabuki Elbow off the ropes and Evans catching her with the “Women’s Right” (aka – her new KO punch finish).

Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m glad they’re finally starting to tweak Evans’ character because I wasn’t a fan of her original presentation. I’ve never really liked the “KO punch” as a finish – but at least it’s something. I know some will be angry that Kairi lost here, but commentary implied there may be a “rubber match” in their future and I’ll be honestly surprised if Kairi doesn’t prevail in the series.

Meanwhile, Cathy Kelley is in the parking lot. She finds Johnny Gargano (w/ neck brace) and Candice LeRae. Gargano says he’s seen better days, but he’s here. He and Candice discussed the future and have come to a decision as a team. We’ll learn about that decision later tonight.

Up next? Lars vs. Ricochet & Dream!

Back from break, last week? Burch and Lorcan (w/ Pete Dunne) beat the Undisputed Era.

Last week? A blonde backstage interviewer I don’t remember ever seeing before is with Lorcan and Burch. They feel that since they beat Undisputed Era that they deserve a title shot at TakeOver.

Meanwhile, Undisputed Era are backstage hanging out. They banter about how Lorcan, Burch, and Dunne will hang their hat on last week’s victory for the rest of their careers. O’Reilly blames the whole thing on “Peter Dune” and says he’d never even heard of Oney Lorcan before last week. Strong says he’s going to take on Danny Burch to show everyone that last week’s victory was just a fluke. It’s implied Strong vs. Burch is next week and that Lorcan & Burch vs. Undisputed Era for the titles is all but set in stone for TakeOver.

Next, Lars is out for the handicap match. Ricochet is out next. Velveteen Dream enters last.

Match #3: Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet & Velveteen Dream (Handicap Match)

If “Dream turns on Ricochet” – take a shot. Once again on this week’s show, the predictable happens. Dream and Ricochet work well together for most of the match and get Lars reeling with some high-octane offense. The finish is weird because Dream hits a springboard senton, Ricochet tags in and hits a 450, and then Dream hits a DVD on Ricochet. Dream alleges that Ricochet “screwed him” so now he’s going to “screw” Ricochet. Dream slides out of the ring, Lars is up, and Ricochet eats a Freak Accident. 3 count.

Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – More booking you could seem coming for miles. It really was a question of when Velveteen Dream bailed on Ricochet. It seems that Ricochet and Dream are destined for a match at TakeOver and that Lars may find himself challenging Black for the title because I can’t really think of who else will.

Next week? Shayna Baszler defends the NXT Championship against Dakota Kai.

“Earlier today”? Cathy is with Dakota backstage. Dakota cuts a babyface promo about how it’s been her dream to be NXT Women’s Champion. Shayna enters and cuts a bully heel promo at Dakota telling her she doesn’t stand a chance next week. Dakota says “we’ll see about that” and leaves. No Nikki Cross hanging from the set in the background this week.

Next week? Aleister Black will be back at Full Sail.

Moments ago? Velveteen Dream turned on Ricochet in the handicap match.

Now? Johnny Gargano’s music hits and he’s out with Candice LeRae. Oh boy, I have some thoughts on this segment. So, what goes down is Johnny implies he and Candice decided he’s had too many injuries and it’s “not worth it” for him to continue wrestling. Then, Johnny pulls a swerve on Candice, rips off his neck brace, and calls out Ciampa. Tommaso appears and vows to “finish this” right now. Candice bails and comes back with refs that block Johnny from fighting with Ciampa. Candice pleads with Johnny on the ramp and he almost leaves – but then runs back to the apron. Ciampa bumps him on the apron and Gargano falls onto Candice – who sells the spot like she’s dead. We go off the air on Johnny freaking out over Candice, while some trainers attend to her.

So. Yeah. Recently it felt like we were building towards a Candice vs. Ciampa match. Now it’s WWE, and intergender stuff almost never happens so I figured they weren’t really going to give us that. Tonight, I figured that Candice would be in on Johnny’s “swerve” and they’d be out there as a unit to lure in Ciampa and beat him down together. Instead we got this. The “frail wife trope” might work on the main roster, but not at NXT where the vast majority of fans are aware of Candice history on the indies. She’s not the type who would be dead from taking a bump on the ramp. Not to mention the number of intergender matches she’s worked on the indies to boot. So, what had been a super hot angle up to this point really lost some steam as far as I’m concerned. There’s still a chance they can recover from this, but, even still – they’re really wasting a great talent in Candice LeRae by seemingly using her as a McGuffin in this feud.

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