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WWE NXT #435 (2.14.18) Play-by-Play and Review

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You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, Pete Dunne will defend the UK Championship against Roderick Strong and Ember Moon defends the Women’s Champion ship against Shayna Baszler in a rematch from TakeOver Philadelphia.

Match #1: United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne © v. Roderick Strong

Things start with an aggressive tie-up and break. Dunne tries for a cross arm breaker, but Strong gets away. Strong can’t hook in a Boston Crab as NXT already cuts to commercial. Back from break, Dunne is in control and working on Strong’s left arm. Dunne stomps Strong’s hand on the stairs and then smashes it again. A third attempt fails and Strong tosses Dunne back-first on the stairs. Back in the ring, Strong hits several stiff kicks to the face and then a pump handle backbreaker for a 2-count.

After trading strikes, Strong hits a pendulum backbreaker. Strong wants a superplex, but Dunne knocks him to the floor. On the apron, Strong hits two step-up enzuigiris and then a fireman’s carry results in Dunne getting dumped face-first on the apron. Back from another commercial, it’s Strong now eating a step-up enzuigiri. Strong fires back with a brutal forearm shot that levels Dunne. Dunne back flips over Strong and delivers another enzuigiri, followed by a vertical suplex into a cross arm breaker. Dunne quickly transitions into a hammerlock stretch before trying to break Strong’s hand.

Strong can’t deliver a backbreaker and gets caught in a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Strong misses a running knee in the corner and staggers into a release German suplex. Dunne jumps from the top rope, but Strong meets him with a dropkick. After a series of pin reversals, Strong nails another pendulum backbreaker for a near fall. Dunne escapes an Angle Slam and delivers a half-and-half suplex. Dunne locks in a triangle submission, but Strong deadlifts him and slingshots his neck into the ropes. The crowd has been pretty split throughout the match.

Strong delivers an Angle Slam off the top rope, but can only get a 2-count. Strong hits 2 jumping knees and then dumps Dunne on his face, but still only gets a 2-count. Dunne then surprises Strong with a release vertical suplex, but Strong comes back with multiple elbows to the jaw, another jumping knee, and then a Tiger Bomb for a near fall. He transitions into the Stronghold, but Dunne gets out by going after Strong’s fingers again. It finally pays off as Dunne drills Strong with the Bitter End and that’s it!

Winner: Pete Dunne via pinfall to RETAIN the UK Championship

Thoughts: This was a pretty good match. I didn’t particularly expect Dunne to lose since an American UK Champion doesn’t make a ton of sense. As for Strong, I’m wondering if he’s being phased out of NXT in favor of 205 Live (yikes) or the main roster. The other possibility is, once again, a Strong heel turn due to him losing the big matches over and over. Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Also, who is the next UK challenger for Dunne?

Backstage Promo: Velveteen Dream is informed that he will face No Way Jose next week. He says Jose brings the fiesta, but the Dream brings the experience. The Dream also calls out Tyler Bate.

In-Ring Promo: Aleister Black makes his way out in a black suit. He says this path has only led one way. He says there is now a devil on his back and that devil is the NXT Championship. Before he can go much further, Killian Dain’s music interrupts him. Dain says the devil isn’t on his back, Dain is. Dain says he wants the NXT Championship. Dain basically says he’s standing in Black’s way. Black says Dain will fade to black. On a side note, I really don’t like the Atlanta crowd. I hope they go back to Full Sail for the next tapings.

Match #2: TM-61 (Shane Thorne & Nick Miller) v. John Skyler & Andrew Duckworth

Nick Miller goes right after Skyler with chops and then tags in Shane Thorne. Miller gives Skyler a lariat and then a belly-to-back suplex to Duckworth. Skyler goes after Thorne’s knee, though. Thorne hits a high drop kick and tags in Miller. Miller hits a DDT on Skyler and a spinebuster on Duckworth. Thorne hits a corner cannonball and then TM-61 delivers Greetings from Thunder Valley for the win.

Winners: TM-61 via pinfall

Thoughts: Basic semi-squash match for TM-61. The Atlanta crowd is continuing to be terrible, so I’m not sure how TM-61 is being received elsewhere. I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see them challenge for the tag team titles before the summer.

Match #3/Main Event: NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon © v. Shayna Baszler

Ember Moon’s bad arm is taped up with a ridiculous amount of that kinesio crap. Moon immediately knocks Baszler down and kicks the hell out of her. Baszler absorbs a knee and more kicks and punches. Moon hits a step-up enzuigiri and another kick. Moon wants the Eclipse early, but Baszler rolls to the floor to avoid it. Moon dives through the ropes and smashes Baszler against the announcer’s table, but she’s injured her arm again in the process. They barely make it back into the ring before a double count out. Baszler locks in a double wristlock. She stomps Moon’s arm and tries for the cross arm breaker.

Moon reverses it to the same pin attempt that got her the win at TakeOver, but Baszler kicks out this time and motions that she won’t get caught in that again. Baszler locks in the arm bar again, but Moon gets her foot on the rope. Baszler launches Moon shoulder first into the post and all the way to the floor. Baszler puts Moon’s arm in the guardrail and wrenches on her arm. All the sudden, Kairi Sane shows up and hits Baszler and the referee calls for the bell. Sane beats Baszler around the ring and knocks her to the floor. Sane delivers a spear as Baszler tries to sneak up from behind.

Winner: Shayna Baszler via Disqualification (Moon retains the title)

Thoughts: This was a very rare DQ finish for an NXT title match. I thought the match was pretty well executed for what they wanted to do here. Moon has the out by competing with the clearly injured shoulder. Baszler clearly was destroying her and would have won the match and the title. My only gripe is that Moon is presented as the fighting champion, so her being sort of bailed out mid-match doesn’t seem to fit that role. We’ll see how they treat that moving forward (maybe Moon won’t be happy with Sane for doing that). This is obviously either headed toward a Triple Threat for the championship or a #1 Contender’s match between Sane and Baszler although Baszler now has this DQ win and technically shouldn’t need to qualify for another opportunity.

 TLDR

  • Pete Dunne beat Roderick Strong to retain the UK Championship
  • Aleister Black and Killian Dain teased a match
  • TM-61 beat John Skyler & Andrew Duckworth
  • Shayna Baszler beat Ember Moon by DQ after Kairi Sane attacked Baszler

Advertised for Next Week

  • NXT Championship (Gargano Leaves NXT If He Loses): Andrade Almas © v. Johnny Gargano
  • Velveteen Dream v. No Way Jose
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