This week’s episode of NXT was a fine show which featured a highly-anticipated debut from NXT’s biggest new signing. This meant that for the first time in a while, the cold open to the show hyped a match. The signing was Japanese sensation Kushida, who took on Kassius Ohno in this week’s main event.
Forgotten Sons vs. Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch & Humberto Carrillo
Tensions between the Forgotten Sons and the Brit-Am Brawlers have been building ever since Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake dispatched Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch from the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic way back before NXT TakeOver: New York. The rivalry looked to come to a head here, as Cutler, Blake and their partner Jaxson Ryker took on Lorcan, Burch and Lorcan’s 205 Live brand-mate Humberto Carrillo. Carrillo became involved in the two teams’ feud when he faced Ryker last week and got, frankly, pulverised at the hands of the Sons. This caused Lorcan and Burch to intervene, armed with steel chairs, and they succeeded in running the Forgotten Sons off. The stage was now set for this big six-man tag team match to settle the score between the two teams.
In what was a decent contest which showcased both team’s brawling styles, mixed with a little high-flying from the Mexican Carrillo, the Forgotten Sons would emerge victorious. The turning point came when Carrillo attempted a tope to the outside on Cutler, but Ryker pushed his teammate out of harm’s way and Humberto crashed into Lorcan instead. This left Burch stranded in the ring facing a three-pronged onslaught, and the sight of the three Sons surrounding Burch, licking their lips in anticipation of feasting on their prey, was the scariest and most intimidating I have ever seen them. The finish soon came when Cutler and Blake both leapt off the top rope, assisting Ryker in hitting a reverse DDT on both Burch and Carrillo at once. This victory for the Forgotten Sons was in my eyes much expected, as they have been booked pretty strongly for months, reaching the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and since then winning every match that they have been involved in. Having defeated their current rivals in a big match and in a dominant fashion, I would expect the Sons to soon move on to face the Viking Raiders for the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Dominik Dijakovic vs. Mansoor
This match was a little more evenly balanced than Dominik Dijakovic’s previous outing on NXT, when he defeated Aaron Frye with a single kick. The upstart Mansoor certainly took it to Dijakovic, and mustered a good amount of offense throughout the contest. He eventually fell, however, to Dijakovic’s Feast Your Eyes knee strike.
The victory, though, was simply to set up an opportunity for NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream to make his presence felt. After Dijakovic called Dream out following his victory over Aaron Frye, Dream felt it necessary to respond, and was wheeled out onto the stage by two ladies in Dream merchandise, reclining on a purple chaise longue. Seeing as Dijakovic cited his foreign heritage in his previous promo, Dream took it on himself to sing (very badly) the American national anthem with, er, heavily edited lyrics, which appeared behind him on the TitanTron and which essentially amounted to the champ putting himself and his title reign over. When he finished, he clicked his fingers and the music instantly switched to his theme song. This was a goofy segment which worked thanks to the enraged Dijakovic selling Dream’s song excellently. Dream vs Dijakovic will presumably happen at the next NXT TakeOver and should be a great match. I’m looking forward to the rest of the build too, providing things don’t get too weird.
Kushida vs. Kassius Ohno
This match was set up last week thanks to Kassius Ohno visiting NXT General Manager William Regal in his office and declaring that he is fed up of all of Regal’s “shiny new toys”. Ohno was, of course, Matt Riddle’s first opponent when he arrived in NXT, and over in NXT UK he faced the WWE United Kingdom Champion WALTER when he first arrived in WWE. This match was an excellent showcase of everything Kushida can do. Outside of his ring work, his character seems to be a Japanese version of Marty McFly from Back To The Future. He wore a similar jacket to McFly’s during his entrance, was lit up by neon blue lighting both in the arena lights and on his Tron video, and Mauro Ranallo frequently told the viewer about NXT being transported Back To The Future with the Japanese star. I liked this get-up, and he is certainly being presented as a big deal.
As for the match itself, there was a nice story told throughout surrounding the issue of respect between the two competitors. At the beginning, Kushida extended his hand to his opponent, as any good babyface does. As any good heel does, Ohno kicked it away. But later, after absorbing some offense from Kushida, Ohno got down on one knee and told Kushida “you’re good!”, extending his own hand. Commentary wondered whether this was a ploy, and it indeed turned out to be, as Kushida took Ohno’s hand only for the Knockout Artist to hit a cheap shot. And later, once Kushida was in the ascendancy, he grabbed Ohno’s hand and shook it exaggeratedly, as if to sarcastically take part in that exchange, given it was clear Ohno wanted none of it.
As a first-time viewer of Kushida, I was thoroughly entertained by him, and I hope his WWE career goes from strength to strength. He of course won the match, as any big babyface debutant does in NXT, and he did it by targeting Ohno’s arm. First, he struck it with a big right-hand, then a big kick, then finally he made Ohno tap to the Hoverboard Lock (possibly the coolest finisher name in WWE today), his modified Kimura submission hold. I already cannot wait for Kushida’s next match and first feud proper in NXT.
Elsewhere on the show, two matches were set up for next week. Mia Yim will face Bianca Belair, and they were shown jacking jaws at each other earlier in the day at the Performance Center. As a Bianca mark, I am hoping she wins this one, and gets back on track for a return to the NXT Women’s Championship picture. Also, Adam Cole will face Matt Riddle next week, after Riddle got involved in Roderick Strong’s match with Johnny Gargano last week. This match was hyped in a backstage segment with the Undisputed Era which displayed the growing divisions within the stable. Cole was attempting to talk up the Era as a united front, but such is his brazen attitude that he also said that Strong dropped the ball last week against Gargano. Strong did not take kindly to this, and stormed out. Bobby Fish told Cole his timing was bad, and hurried after Strong. Kyle O’Reilly, however, took Cole’s side, claiming Cole’s remark was a joke. So, the Era seem firmly split down the middle, and I am eagerly awaiting the events of the Cole vs Riddle match.
Overall, this was a great episode of NXT, which did a brilliant job debuting its newest signee, and also built on stories for the Undisputed Era, Dominik Dijakovic and Velveteen Dream, and the Forgotten Sons.