WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Dec. 27, 2017): Tears in his eyes, I guess

WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (Dec. 27, 2017): Tears in his eyes, I guess

For a more detailed recap, check our live results post here.

Street Profits def. Kris Starr & Riley Apex via pinfall following a frog splash by Montez Ford. Post-match, Ford and Angelo Dawkins head into the crowd with microphones and declare they’re coming for the tag titles in 2018.

Thank goodness the aftermath indicates the Profits will be doing something else in the new year, because these squashes aren’t nearly as fun as they were a couple months ago. The biggest grin I got from this two minute long version came during Ford’s shrug/shuffle before Dawkins suplex-splashed him onto the smaller of their two opponents.

“Street Talk” on YouTube hasn’t done much for me, either, outside of the subversive pleasure I get out of seeing Montez and Angelo give Florida youths “swag cups” for “swag juice” (as Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson call it).

So, we’ll see if they conquer in 2018, or disappear into the fun-at-house-shows zone Heavy Machinery now inhabit.

Ember Moon def. Sonya Deville via pinfall following an Eclipse, retaining her NXT Women’s title. Kairi Sane appears on stage to non-verbally challenge Moon for the championship, and Ember appears to accept. Shayna Baszler then appears behind Sane and applies a choke hold. She likewise stares down the champ and her belt before leaving. A pre-taped scene with Authors of Pain features Paul Ellering warning Undisputed ERA that Akam and Rezar want those belts back, and Christy St. Cloud catches up with Moon backstage. She says that if Baszler or Sane want a fight, they can find her in the ring.

Tough to get a read on this match since Full Sail was dead quiet for it. On the one hand, Deville’s chances of winning were non-existent (and, honestly, her qualifications for a title shot were barely there, either) so I wasn’t that excited about it either. On the other, it shows how much NXT has their work cut out for them in marketing Moon as a presence fans should be excited for on principle.

Her finisher still gets a pop, but it doesn’t appear I’m alone in mostly being befuddled by the backlit, translucent cape entrance. Uh… nice teeth, though, I guess?

What I do like is “if you want some, come get some” attitude we’ve seen from her, in taking this match and in welcoming her next challenger while letting Baszler and Sane’s issues play out. Being a fighting champion isn’t terribly original – heck, Drew McIntyre hit all these same story beats in the Fall – but it’s something. And after her rivalry with Asuka was hamstrung by management’s desire to play up their real-life friendship in the midst of a kayfabe grudge, I’ll take some cold-blooded pragmatism from the champ.

Dug Shayna’s no-nonsense debut, especially in contrast to The Pirate Princess’ theatrical challenge to Ember. You pretend you’re navigating a stormy sea to some treasure, I’ll walk up behind you and put you to sleep. Their Mae Young Classic final wasn’t a match that stuck with me, but there was enough there to start a feud. We’ll see if it ends up being as epic as Triple H and company hope it is.

The Women’s title scene is working to find its feet, but the tag championship picture remains exciting. This AoP vignette combined with the news SAnitY is exercising their rematch before TakeOver: Philadelphia could mean we’re getting Akam and Rezar vs. Undisputed ERA on Rumble weekend. And that sounds just fine to me.

After a video package recapping the #1 contender series, Mauro Ranallo informs us next week’s show is a two hour “Best of 2017” and the following week will feature SAnitY’s rematch against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly for the tag team championship. Johnny Gargano def. Lars Sullivan, Aleister Black and Killian Dain in a Fatal 4Way to become the #1 contender for Andrade “Cien” Almas’ NXT Championship at TakeOver: Philadelphia, using a slingshot DDT to pin Black after he was attacked by Adam Cole, Fish and O’Reilly.

Well, that was a blast.

Sure, it was a Fatal 4Way, but while there’s legitimate criticism to levy at the take-one-or-two-guys-out-for-a-stretch formula of those, I really don’t mind it provided I want to see the match-ups it leads to and they find exciting and/or innovative ways to get there. Plus, NXT knows how to use the stipulation to spin several angles out of one match.

As much as seeing “The Heart and Soul of NXT” face off with the undefeated dude was a big deal, the beef-on-beef battle was the crowd-pleaser, and those involved in putting this match together knew it. The two dives Dain landed on Lars both took them off the board for a time and teased their eventual in-ring showdown during the final act. That showdown was short-lived, leaving us wanting more of this hoss fight.

Black darn near knocked Sullivan’s head off his impressive shoulders with his finisher and was primed to pin the bigger man when Fish and O’Reilly grabbed him. It’s a noteworthy accomplishment that offsets his loss here, but it doesn’t completely balance the scales. And that’s great, because it allows Cole to gloat about not only denying Aleister a title shot, but being the reason he’s been pinned and can no longer claim to be unbeaten.

As much as I love the decision to put Gargano over here – it’s the logical next step in the arc he’s been given, his matches with Almas have been great and create the perfect backdrop for the biggest night of both men’s WWE careers, and ZOMGWILLTOMMASOBECLEAREDBYJAN27!?!?! – the lone “hmmm” moment this episode’s main event gave me came when Johnny reaped the benefits from Undisputed’s attack on Black. He did take out Cole to put a stop to the ERA’s interference, rolling Aleister back into the ring was a legal and honorable tactic, and time passed (and Johnny made a football move, so to speak) so it wasn’t like he just covered someone the heels just took out.

But I hope Gargano or Black have a conversation with General Manager William Regal at some point explaining that Johnny didn’t see Aleister hurt his knee. I’m very protective of my true-blue NXT babyfaces, and the new #1 contender is the best example of one we’ve had since Sami Zayn.

Anyway, really fun match. Not the instant classic we had last week, but another enjoyable main event that’s worth carving out time to watch.

This is almost entirely for the main event and the future possibilities it teases, but that ain’t a bad way to end a strong year.

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