EC3 returns to action on WWE NXT 10/03/18 and he faces Lars Sullivan (who took him out a few weeks back). Also on tap this week? The Forgotten Sons will be in action and Johnny Gargano takes on 205 Live’s Tony Nese. I’m sure more will develop between Nikki Cross and William Regal related to the Aleister Black attack and I am here for it! Let’s get to the recap.
WWE NXT 10/03/18 Recap
Then. Now. WWE Forever. Possibly the best cold open in NXT history happens (though I can’t remember if we had a Velveteen Dream cold open which would rival this potentially). Either way, it’s Nikki Cross in a smoky hallway talking about how “games are fun” and tearing at her hair. Eventually her ranting turns to Bianca Belair and wanting to “play” again. Nikki starts ramming herself against the walls of the hallway, before telling us that “she knows” and pulls the camera filming this into her face. Epic. I said it on this week’s “NXT Catch Up” that picking between Emma and Nikki Cross as my fave was a real “Sophie’s Choice” deal, but I’ll be damned if this open doesn’t push me to have to say “Nikki Cross is my favorite wrestler”.
Completely updated NXT opening credits (same song, but entirely new clips of NXT talent) and we’re taped (originally taped 09/20/18) from Full Sail. We open on the crowd chanting “NXT” and Mauro welcoming us to the show. We see footage of Lars Sullivan and EC3 getting ready and they’re our main event tonight.
Candice LeRae is out to some new music I like way better than her original music. Lacey Evans is out next.
Match #1: Candice LeRae vs. Lacey Evans
My complex feelings about Lacey Evans continue. She’s gotten really good as an annoying heel and has really improved in the ring to complement that. Case in point, her doing a headscissor takeover on Candice and then doing push ups on the mat while holding the headscissors. A really good combination of showing off her athleticism and garnering heat from the crowd. My big sticking point with being on board with her is I do not like her throwback “First Lady of NXT” gimmick. I mean, first off, I’ve seen the footage from five years ago of Summer Rae calling herself that very thing. And, I’m just not into a “I’ll pretend it’s the 1950s” character on my wrestling show. This hurts because Lacey is very consistent and one of the more improved talents on the roster 2018. What about Candice? Well, we almost got an entire match of her removed from the “I’m Johnny Wrestling’s wife” but then they had Lacey start berating Gargano to fire up Candice. Of course, Candice gets so fired up she channels Gargano and does something stupid by walking into a Women’s Right she should have seen coming from across the ring. And, loses. Again. Because someone said something mean about her husband. Sigh.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – The perfect match to define a “thumbs in the middle” rating. The action was fine, but the finish was contrived and I have issues with aspects of both wrestlers’ characters.
Next, the announcers hype up the announced triple threat match between Ricochet, Adam Cole, and Pete Dunne for the NXT North American Championship. We’re sent to a hype video for that very match.
Next week? A triple threat match for the North American Championship.
Next, a Forgotten Sons hype video airs. They’re up next.
Back from break, we get another self-shot promo from Ciampa. He focuses on Velveteen Dream accusing him of attacking Aleister Black. The champ warns Dream to be careful and stay out of Ciampa’s spotlight. If Dream doesn’t watch himself, Ciampa will be the guy who turns the “dream” into a “nightmare”.
Back in the arena, three dudes are out to generic music and a Titantron that says “Kirsh / Rise / Mixon”. The Forgotten Sons are out next.
Match #2: Cesar Rise, Torry Kirsh, & Vinny Mixon vs. Forgotten Sons
I like the idea that these three random dudes we’ve never seen before got together with NXT production staff and had them put together a Titantron. Like they must have some connections because usually these types of guys are “already in the ring” or standing at ringside. Anyway, this is a squash match. We’ve seen Forgotten Sons as a tag team, and we’ve seen Jaxson Ryker as a singles guy. So, here’s them as a trios team. It goes about how you’d expect and ends with Ryker hitting someone with a slingshot powerbomb.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – More squash fodder for the Sons. I’m on the fence until I see them actually involved in something that matters at NXT.
Next, we see footage from last week of Shayna Baszler & Kairi Sane. We’re then sent to a hype video on Baszler and her rematch at WWE Evolution against Sane.
After that, Cathy is backstage with Tony Nese. What brought Nese to NXT? He’s there for the competition (and likely to help get eyeballs on 205 “Live” that now airs before NXT on the Network). Nese cuts his typical promo putting over his athleticism and his abs.
Meanwhile, Gargano is backstage… walking! He’s up vs. Nese next!
Back from break, Cathy is with Ms. “Don’t Call Her Bianca” Belair. After correcting Cathy, she cuts a promo on Nikki Cross saying she’s not here to play, she’s still undefeated, and will now embarrass Nikki. Also, Ms. Belair is undefeated. Un-de-feat-ed.
Gargano’s music hits and he’s out. Nese’s music hits and he’s out next. He counts his abs and yep, there are still eight of them.
Match #3: Johnny Gargano vs. Tony Nese
Match of the week. Gargano doesn’t really ever delve too far into the “darkside” and doesn’t make any stupid “I’m too emotional” mistakes. I’m glad we appear to be gradually weaning him off the unlikable monster he became during the tail-end of the Ciampa feud. Nese is great and I forgot he has a 450 in his arsenal, which he hits on Gargano during a hot sequence that gets him a near fall. Incredible action here from two guys who can bring it. It’s not five years ago so the “main roster-ish” guy slumming it at NXT actually loses to a NXT guy. This would have never happened in 2013. Yep, Gargano makes Nese tap to the Gargano Escape and picks up a big win.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A great match and I’m glad to see Johnny slowly getting back to being the Gargano we know and love.
Post-match, Gargano holds up a sign from the crowd that says “Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling”.
Next, a Oney Lorcan / Danny Burch hype video airs.
Up next? EC3 vs. Lars Sullivan.
Back from break, in two weeks? Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair.
Next week? Keith Lee vs. Kona Reeves.
Also, next week? Ricochet defends the North American Championship in a triple threat.
Next, Lars is out for the main event. EC3 is out next and rushes the ring as soon as his music hits. He beats on Lars until Lars falls out of the ring. Lars is back up on the apron so the ref allows the match to start.
Match #4: EC3 vs. Lars Sullivan
Wow, so EC3 clearly was off the last tapings after getting a shiner in his TakeOver match with Velveteen Dream. So, we immediately book him with Lars Sullivan when he’s back and he ends this match with another cut above his eye and bleeding from the mouth. Ouch. EC3 brings it to Lars early and regularly – even getting Lars up for a body slam. But, we’re back to booking Lars as an unstoppable monster so eventually the action has spilled outside and Lars gives EC3 a Freak Accident on the apron. For whatever insane reason, Lars follows this up with a diving headbutt off the ropes for the win. Why guys are still allowed to do that move in 2018 is beyond me. We’ve had more than enough proof now that it is a very bad idea.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I did not care for this match and I hope EC3 didn’t get hurt too badly since that looked like shoot blood.
We go off the air on Lars Sullivan celebrating in the ring.