Wow, it’s been a week. Let me preface the WWE NXT 06/21/17 Recap by saying that I’m going to be taking a considerably reduced role in the site going forward. This was something that was going to have to happen by the end of the Summer regardless, but the direction things are going on both WWE main roster brands isn’t really interesting me any longer. The main impetus behind all of this is that I’m taking on some new projects outside of my freelance writing. Obviously, that is going to take up a huge chunk of my time. On the average non-PPV week, I’m spending 14 – 16 hours watching content, writing, and promoting the site. Add 9 or 10 additional hours if it’s a PPV week (and even more if there is a TakeOver too). To not completely burn out, there is absolutely no way I could keep that up and take on the new projects. Over the past week, I had some things fall into my lap for later in the year that I cannot pass up. These are things that would make covering more than an hour or so of wrestling a week nearly impossible.
Originally, I figured wrapping up my “4 to 5 articles a week” run here at Turn Heel could wait until after SummerSlam weekend. However, after “Thumbs Down”-ing nearly everything on main roster WWE these days – I may as well call it now – especially after the Money In The Bank PPV and the resulting fall out. I never wanted this site to be a cliché “angry reviewer” site. There are plenty of those about literally every kind of reviewable media – and more than enough sites doing that sort of content about WWE. The compromise, because I do still want to write about wrestling, is that I’ll continue covering NXT & NXT TakeOvers as I’ve been doing here at Turn Heel. If time permits, I may dive into the archives of pro wrestling’s past, or even cover the one-off events like the Mae Young tournament or any future WWE UK events. But, the grind of Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live, and NXT each week was already killing me – and that was when I still enjoyed the product enough to not hate watch most of it.
So, why NXT? Well, on average, I feel NXT is the most forward-thinking content WWE is throwing out there right now. I’d like to continue to support that in the, possibly naïve, hope that eventually the main roster WWE programming will more closely mirror NXT somewhere down the line. It may never be that way, but for now, covering NXT is the best way I can continue contributing to this site without devolving into the “Angry Pro Wrestling Smark” in every single piece I write.
That said, tonight’s NXT’s episode is the final episode in the most recent batch of tapings (with new tapings happening this week). We’re getting Ember Moon vs. Peyton Royce and Kassius Ohno vs. Aleister Black is our main event. Let’s see how this all goes down.
WWE NXT 06/21/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a promo video hyping up tonight’s Kassius Ohno vs. Aleister Black main event. Standard NXT open and we’re taped (originally taped 05/25/17) from Full Sail.
Later tonight? We see exclusive footage of a backstage altercation between Bobby Roode and Roderick Strong.
Also later tonight? Kassius Ohno vs. Aleister Black.
Peyton Royce (w/ Billie Kay) is out first to open the show. Ember Moon enters next.
Match #1: Peyton Royce (w/ Billie Kay) vs. Ember Moon
OMG! A woman won a women’s wrestling match without help from a man! I kid, I kid. So, this is Moon’s TV return match so absolutely what you think will happen is what happens. Peyton Royce (and to a lesser extent Billie Kay) have settled into the “Tyler Breeze” role, where NXT calls on them to have competitive matches with people they’re pushing and they’ll occasionally let them win a match on TV. Peyton looks good here, Billie cheats to help her just the right amount, but alas, an Eclipse was always in Royce’s future. Moon looks great in her return.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Just the way this should have gone and Royce & Kay work as great foils for Moon while she’s outside of the title scene.
Later tonight? Black vs. Ohno.
Next, we see Ohno backstage. Itami appears, apologizes for his actions lately, and says his frustrations at NXT are the root of it all. Ohno understands and says he knows where Itami is coming from.
Later tonight? Roode vs. Strong throw down in some random room!
The Ealy Brothers are out next. SAnitY (minus Cross and Dain) enter second.
Match #2: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe vs. The Ealy Brothers
Essentially a squash match. The moment the Ealys get any sort of advantage, Young cheats from the outside, and SAnitY hit a double-team finisher to pick up the win. The only thing I can gather is this was a soft test to see if Young and Wolfe work as a tag team – with Dain and Cross seemingly getting solo pushes outside of the faction right now.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Solid enough for a squash tag team match with no build.
Next, we get to see highlights from the Asuka / Nikki Cross brawl from last week. Next week, Asuka will defend against Cross in a last woman standing match.
After that, we get the Sonya Deville hype video we saw last week. She’s in action next.
Rachel Evers (nice nod to Lance Storm!) is out first. Sonya Deville (w/ new entrance) is out last.
Match #3: Rachel Evers vs. Sonya Deville
I’m on board with Sonya Deville and have loved this build they’ve been doing with her. She backs it up in the ring and looks incredibly convincing here. After playing around with Evers a bit, Deville drops the MMA gloves, and tells Evers she “messed up”. What follows is a series of ungloved strikes and Evers tapping out to a double wristlock. I’m a fan.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – With the right build and positioning, Deville could become a major player in the women’s division.
Next, we see the Roode / Strong altercation. Roode is doing a photo shoot, Strong and his family arrive at the building, and Roode starts trash talking Strong. The final straw is when Roode hits on Strong’s wife, which causes Strong to attack him. We get a brief pull apart brawl.
After that, we learn that two weeks from now is “Episode 400” and we’re getting Bobby Roode vs. Roderick Strong for the NXT Championship.
Up next? Main event.
Back from break, next week? Last Woman Standing match.
Ohno is out first for the main, Black enters second.
Match #4: Kassius Ohno vs. Aleister Black
Wow, what a match! This is how you do something like this and at times this felt like a TakeOver match. Ohno and Black are both babyfaces (at least we don’t have a reason to brand Black a heel… yet) who are both around the same level on the card. Obviously, this is NXT so someone has to win as they don’t cop out to the DQ / count out / no contest as often as the main roster does. So, we get an evenly matched affair from two incredibly talented strikers. Even more fitting, the finish involves Ohno attempting to deliver his rolling elbow finisher to a nearly “out on his feet” Black. Of course, Black is able to counter the elbow at the last second with the Black Mass Kick. What this did is give Black his first “big” win at NXT and continues to establish Ohno as someone who can go (and more importantly still look good taking a loss). One of the best NXT main events we’ve seen this year.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A well executed match that was a lot of fun to watch play out.
We go off the air with Black sitting cross-legged in the ring.