1) "O'Doyle Rules" – We kicked things off with Oney Lorcan looking to take down the bully, Andrade Almas, after he picked on poor Ho Ho Lun last week. Lorcan received some reactions, but Almas came out to complete silence from the crowd, again. Lorcan went to work almost instantly landing a number of stiff strikes (his opponent's chest was all red in a hurry), but Almas used his smarts and swagger to get the momentum back in his favor. Lorcan hit a slick looking running blockbuster part-way through the match with the crowd reacting nicely to pretty much everything Oney did. He has a smash-mouth style (along with the ability to go up top when needed) that people can't help but get into. A frantic ending, a couple false finishes, and this match suddenly became one of the better NXT matches I've seen as of late. Thought for sure Lorcan would get the win here, but Almas was able to get the clean 1-2-3.
2) DIY - After a fairly long review of their past year, have to say I enjoy Tommaso Ciampa promo work over Johnny Gargano, it has a natural grittiness that I can appreciate. There was a time when there were whispers of Ciampa turning on Gargano, wonder if that's something NXT would do at this point, you know, when people aren't really expecting it? With the main roster tag division in serious need of help, it's more likely these two will remain together.
3) Fade to Black – Hope you're hyped for Aleister Black, I am. His gimmick should bring a that creepy feeling to NXT. Last night, we found out he will debut at NXT TakeOver: Orlando and will take on Almas. I guess it was a good thing Cien got his win tonight, because he's going to get wrecked in that one.
4) The Champ Is Here! - "Ember Moon, this is your fate" and that's when Asuka nearly decapitated her opponent with a roundhouse kick. Honestly not sure how she even recovered from that, but the match was a fairly short one as Asuka did her usual thing, you know, complete destruction. When she clearly had the match won, she went for the pin, and pulled her opponent up at two for a little more punishment. Sending a message to Ember Moon, Asuka locked in the Asuka Lock and submitted her opponent with ease. Post-match she yelled in Japanese for a bit, something that just never gets old for me.
5) Top Guys - "We have brought the best of the past to the present, and made it better." Great promo by both Dash and Dawson who continued to push the theme of being the best tag team of all-time, can they win back titles? I hope so, as I enjoy them more as champions than challengers, but with the high probability of them getting moved to the main roster, it's doubtful they will get the titles again in NXT.
6) NXT Title Match – Knowing that Shinsuke Nakamura is going to be included in the UK NXT tour in June makes me think it's possible he could win the title back against Bobby Roode, but I'm still going to go with Roode. He's on such a roll right now, a loss would stunt his character development. Plus, (much like The Revival) Nakamura is already so over, a title isn't needed at this point and whenever WWE decides to pull the trigger, they would probably prefer he's freed up and ready to go.
7) That Escalated Quickly – Kassius Ohno was talking about losing his NXT Championship match and along came Elias Sampson to serenade him. Things jumped up in a hurry when Sampson said Ohno doesn't belong in NXT and in response, Ohno offered up a "Loser leaves NXT" match. What? It seems to be a bit much and out of the blue, but if Sampson is getting the call (I'm assuming this, as it would be really incredible if Ohno is already moving to the main roster), this is a unique way of sending him out of NXT.
8) Insanity - "You don't play the numbers game with a perfect ten," Tye Dillinger is the best. After weeks of Sanity wreaking havoc on Roderick Strong, No Way Jose, and Dillinger, the three teamed up to have a match against the crazy ones. I had expected this match would take place at NXT: TakeOver, but instead it was put on last night's show with a no contest ending. It's still possible that between now and next Saturday a rematch will be booked and I'm good with that. This was a gritty back and forth 6-man match that saw Rodderick Strong as one of the standouts. Killian Dain is a mountain of a man and not exactly the easiest guy to look at with all of that body hair and those massive black wrestling trunks. It's a good thing though; WWE needs to bring back more "ugly" wrestlers a la King Kong Bundy or George "The Animal" Steele.
Roddy! pic.twitter.com/9vLaVCTmdM— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) March 23, 2017
Roderick Strong – He's still finding his foothold in NXT, crowds haven't exactly lost their mind over him, but his wrestling talent can't be denied. We got to see more of it last night when he put on a show leaping to the outside and pulling out a variety of backbreakers on Sanity. Personally, I enjoyed Strong as a heel on the indies, but he'll win the crowd over in time.
Ruby Riot – The debut of the wrestler formerly known as Heidi Lovelace happened last night, as she ran out to even the odds once Nikki Cross got involved in the main event. She popped Nikki with a fancy kick to the face and was a nice wrinkle to the ending, making up for the no contest call which the live crowd booed. This is the benefit of WWE getting veteran indie talent, they can get to TV quicker and with call-up season right around the corner, it's smart to refill ranks right now.
Sanity – This was a solid show overall, so picking someone for this section wasn't so easy. I've considered putting Sanity here previously because they are one of the more despicable entities in NXT and yet, they still don't get much of a reaction from the crowd. While that can be said for a lot of the roster, WWE has put quite a bit into this group and you would think they would be one of the more hated people. Focusing more on the match, they didn't get the job done and were actually chased off once Ruby showed up.
This Week's MVP
Oney Lorcan – I will admit in the past two weeks, Lorcan has gone from someone who wasn't on my radar to being a wrestler I look forward to seeing again very much. His anti-bully promo from the previous week was solid enough, but this match against Almas was a surprisingly fantastic opener to this week's show. If you enjoy hard-hitting matches, this one is well worth your time.
Great show, highly recommended watching that opening match and checking out Ruby's debut at the end of the show. If you've been skipping NXT lately, this would be a good individual episode to watch and it will get you pretty much caught up on what will go down at NXT TakeOver: Orlando.
Grade (out of 10): 8 (Last Week: 6.5)