WWE NXT 08/02/17 features the return to action for Johnny Gargano. Also, WWE is hyping up that Aleister Black will be in action tonight as well. Not sure why they didn’t append a “next week” graphic to either of the two (!) hype vignettes that aired for him last week – but here we are. Let’s get to the recap!
WWE NXT 08/02/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Standard NXT credits and we’re taped (originally taped July 12) from Full Sail. DIY’s music hits and Mauro welcomes us to the show. Eventually, Johnny Gargano emerges and signals at the screen and his new music hits. I appreciate the subtle nod to the DIY theme in Gargano’s new theme. Definitely a nice evolution for the Gargano character. Raul Mendoza is out next and I’m reminded he was in the CWC (thanks to commentary) which I did finally get around to watching earlier this year.
Match #1: Johnny Gargano vs. Raul Mendoza
We could have gotten the standard “returning babyface squash” here, but I get the feeling WWE has at least some sort of a plan for Mendoza. So, instead, we get a competitive little affair to kick off the show this week. Gargano looks great, hits his “through the ropes” spear, and seals the deal by locking Mendoza into a crossface and making him tap. I get the feeling we’ll be looking back at this match however many months down the road as the genesis of Gargano’s successful single’s run – leading into a feud with the returning Ciampa.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A solid match and a great choice of an opponent for Gargano’s return to action.
Later tonight? Bobby Roode is here!
Up next? Asuka is here!
Back from break? Later tonight? Aleister Black is here!
Last week? SAnitY and AoP were here! And they faced off with AoP getting the better of SAnity! But wait, breaking news – Regal has booked AoP vs. SAnitY for TakeOver Brooklyn 3. Wow, I’m kind of surprised to see a straight heel vs. heel match for the NXT Tag Team Championship. If this was main roster, some token babyface team would get inserted and it’d be a triple threat. Also, EY is in the SAnitY graphic so not even sure which two members of SAnitY are working this match.
Next, Ellering (w/ Authors of Pain) cuts a promo on SAnitY from the shadows in some poorly lit area of backstage. The gist? Monsters are real!
After that, Asuka’s music hits and she’s out, wearing a suit, and entering as only Asuka can. She cuts a promo insinuating that Ember Moon isn’t ready to face her at TakeOver Brooklyn. Cue Ember Moon’s music. Ember is out in street clothes and flips the script claiming that it’s Asuka who is not ready to face Moon. Ember drops the mic, Asuka offers a hand shake, but pulls it away, and then slaps Moon in the face. Moon returns with a stiff shot that drops Asuka. A brawl breaks out, Moon gets tossed from the ring, and Asuka starts posing with the title. She turns around right into an Eclipse from Moon – which drops Asuka cold. Ember toys with grabbing the belt from the mat, but stops herself. Mauro emphasizes that in NHL lore, it’s bad luck to touch the title before you win it and perhaps that is why Moon stopped short tonight.
Meanwhile, we see Bobby Roode backstage getting miked up for an interview. The off camera interview begins by asking Roode about Strong. Bobby buries Strong as a loser who attempted to play the lottery and didn’t win – but we all know he’ll want to play it again soon. The talk shifts to Drew McIntyre who Roode accepts might be a “new man” but Roode isn’t sold just yet and suggests a sit down between himself and Drew next week.
The interview ends and Strong bursts onto the set. Roode flees like the cowardly heel is and Regal storms in scolding Strong. Roddy asks what Regal thinks he should do if this was unacceptable and Regal admonishes Strong saying he needs to remain professional. Strong says he’ll do “anything” Regal wants in order to get his hands on Roode again. Regal apologizes, says his hands are tied, and reminds Strong that McIntyre vs. Roode is already booked for TakeOver. Strong storms out and Regal looks upset.
Up next? Street Profits vignette. They debut on TV next week.
Meanwhile, Sonya Deville is out for a match. Her opponent? Already in the ring. Her name? Jenna van… Bebble? I don’t know. It gets no chyron and it’s hard to make out what Mauro is saying the few times he announces who she is.
Match #2: Sonya Deville vs. Jenna van (Bebble?)
I absolutely love them building up Deville as a complete badass. With Asuka eventually going away, a character like that in the women’s division would definitely have a home. We get more of Sonya Deville – MMA monster here. She literally toys with Jenna for a bit and then quickly puts her away with a triangle submission.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Absolute squash, but if you’re going to build Sonya up as a future Asuka-style monster these kinds of matches need to happen.
Meanwhile, Kayla is backstage with Hideo Itami. She asks what has prompted Hideo’s change in attitude. Itami claims that no one respects him, so he has no respect for anyone else. He starts ranting in Japanese and Kayla cuts in saying she’s being told he’s needed in the ring. Uh, okay. Hideo heads out into the arena, still ranting in Japanese, and Mike Rome and the ref look confused. I guess he wasn’t needed in the ring? Hideo switches to English and begins to demand respect from the fans.
Aleister Black’s music hits.
Oh man, we’re doing this? Black enters just like he would for a match. He gets in the ring, but instead of rolling into a cross-legged position he faces off with Itami. Hideo starts to leave, stops at the ropes, turns, and walks right into a Black Mass kick. Aleister sits down and stares at the fallen Itami and we head to break.
Back from break, we learn that Andrade Cien Almas faces No Way Jose next week.
Meanwhile, Aleister is still seated in the corner waiting for his opponent. Music hits and it’s… Kyle O’Reilly! First Bobby Fish, now Kyle O’Reilly. Okay, then!
Match #3: Aleister Black vs. Kyle O’Reilly
So, Tuesday on Twitter, Mauro casually told someone in my feed that tonight’s main event was great. He was not lying. Not only does the streak of insane NXT main events continue this week – but this match even eclipses Black vs. Fish from last month. O’Reilly makes Black work harder than anyone has on TV up to this point, this match runs nearly twenty minutes, and gets two (!) commercial breaks. O’Reilly has a counter for nearly everything Black tries and keeps wearing down Black’s arm to set up for a cross arm breaker. Black goes over, but just barely, with a Black Mass kick out of nowhere after absorbing the last of several ax kicks from O’Reilly. Easily one of the best non-TakeOver matches we’ve seen from NXT in 2017.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Wow, what a main event!
Post-match, Mauro puts over a potential Black / O’Reilly feud as one for the ages. We go off the air on Black sitting calmly in the ring reflecting on his victory.