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WWE NXT #440 (3.21.18) Play-by-Play and Review

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You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, Roderick Strong and his mystery partner will face Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in the final first round match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Also, Adam Cole faces Kassius Ohno.

In-Ring Promo: Tommaso Ciampa heads out to the ring again hoping that the third time will be the charm. Once again, he is drowned out by booing and pro-Gargano chants. Ciampa finally yells that he’s (Gargano) gone. After more booing and chants, Ciampa drops the microphone. Ciampa grabs a Gargano emoji sign, rips it, and wipes his ass with it. He deliberately tears another sign up right in a woman’s face.

Ciampa tears up more signs. He grabs another huge sign and Johnny Gargano is behind it! Gargano jumps the barrier and mauls Ciampa. Security pulls Gargano off of Ciampa and drags him backstage and literally into the parking lot.

Backstage: Tyler Bate says he’s been informed that due to a knee injury, he’s not cleared to compete. Due to that, Mustache Mountain will have to withdraw from the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Roderick Strong appealed to William Regal and was given the green light to replace Mustache Mountain along with a mystery partner.

Backstage: Undisputed Era was backstage earlier mocking Roderick Strong getting a spot in the tag team tournament. Adam Cole says his match with Kassius Ohno will be such a walk in the park that he doesn’t need Fish and O’Reilly at ringside.

Match #1: Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Round 1: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch v. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne

Ok, now Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong are my new favorites to win this tournament. Lorcan and Strong start out with an aggressive tie-up and some mat wrestling. Lorcan gains control and gets a tag to Burch. Strong turns the tables and Pete Dunne gets a tag. Dunne starts to twist Burch’s wrist and fingers. Burch performs a series of counters and a flying drop toehold. Both teams have a standoff headed to commercial.

Back from break, Pete Dunne is back in control and trying to break Burch’s hand. Dunne slaps the hell out of Burch and he gets shoved awkwardly headfirst into the middle buckle. Wow. Strong tags in and delivers a pendulum backbreaker for a 2-count. Dunne tags in and they score with a double-team face buster and then a double chop. Dunne lights up Burch with another chop, but Burch catches Dunne charging into the corner with a boot. Burch hits a top rope flat-back drop kick and both guys get hot tags to Strong and Lorcan.

Lorcan and Strong trade shots until Lorcan connects with a running single leg drop kick and a European uppercut for a 2-count. Lorcan levels Strong with a lariat and a running Blockbuster for consecutive near falls. Burch tags back in, but Strong floats over a double suplex attempt. Strong causes Burch to collide with Lorcan, which knocks Lorcan to the floor. Strong connects with a step-up enzuigiri and tags in Dunne. Dunne curb stomps Burch’s elbow and drills him with the X-plex, but Lorcan breaks up the pin attempt.

Strong eats a European uppercut from Lorcan at ringside while Dunne slaps Burch across the face again. Burch has some receipts this time and Dunne ends up in a heap. Burch lands a release German suplex to Dunne and then Lorcan gives Strong a half-and-half suplex right onto Dunne, but Dunne still kicks out. Burch locks in the cross-face on Dunne while Strong gets stuck in a single leg Boston Crab. Strong kicks Lorcan off, who then lands on Burch. Burch shakes off a step-up enzuigiri by Dunne and destroys him with an exploder suplex. Strong manages to get a tag and Dunne tosses Burch right into a pendulum backbreaker. Strong nails Burch with the End of Heartache for the win!

Winners: Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne via pinfall to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

Thoughts: That was a pretty good and really physical match. Strong and Dunne challenging Undisputed Era makes sense based on the storyline they started a few weeks ago. We’ll see if that’s where they are headed. On another note, I feel like Lorcan and Burch could be headed for a split since they featured a few blatant miscommunication spots.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Updated match-ups are as follows:

  • Semi-Finals (3/28): Street Profits v. Authors of Pain
  • Semi Finals (3/28): Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne v. SAnitY

Promo Video: Ricochet is coming soon.

Match #2: Aliyah v. Ember Moon

Breaking news: Aliyah isn’t wearing her cat ears. Has she also gained the ability to wrestle? The two trade takedowns and counters until Aliyah throws Moon down by her hair. Shayna Baszler makes her way out to the announce desk to talk some trash about Ember Moon. In the meantime, Moon takes over and catches Aliyah coming off the second rope. Moon transitions into a Samoan Drop and a handspring clothesline in the corner. Moon drills the Eclipse and gets the win. Baszler and Moon trade words from afar after the match.

Winner: Ember Moon via pinfall

Thoughts: Well, Aliyah had no televised botches, so that’s progress. There wasn’t much to this match except to inch closer to the Women’s Championship match at TakeOver.

In-Ring Promo: Raul Mendoza is attacked on the entrance ramp as he makes his way out for a match by NXT Champion Andrade Almas, who appears to be in a bad mood. On the microphone, Almas calls Black a P.O.S. and calls him out to face him next week.

Promo Video: Lars Sullivan returns next week.

Backstage: William Regal says he has an announcement next week that will change NXT forever.

Match #3/Main Event: Adam Cole v. Kassius Ohno

Kassius Ohno has the early advantage, but Cole catches him with a knee to the stomach. Cole goes for a leap frog, but eats a big boot from Ohno. That was perfectly executed. Ohno crushes Cole with a senton and a huge chop. Cole responds with a jawbreaker, but gets flipped over the top rope and looked to twist his knee on the ring apron. The referee checks on him, but he was faking and uses the opportunity to nail Ohno with an enzuigiri through the ropes. Cole has Ohno in trouble headed to break.

Back from commercial, Cole is still in control and lands a back elbow and a bicycle kick for a near fall. Cole delivers a neckbreaker for another 2-count. Cole hits a back stabber for another near fall. Cole starts loudly talking trash to Ohno and wastes too much time. Ohno knocks Cole on his face with a big right hand. Cole walks into a high knee and then gets floored with a kick to the face. Ohno crushes Cole with a big leg drop for a 2-count.

Cole absorbs more strikes and a huge cyclone kick out of the corner for a near fall. Cole eats another shot, but fires up with rapid forearms strikes to Ohno as he asks if that’s all he’s got. It wasn’t all, because Ohno kills him with another kick to the face. Cole reverses a suplex and nails the Last Shot, but Ohno kicks out. Ohno blocks a Shining Wizard attempt and hangs Cole up on the top rope with a fall-away powerbomb. Cole staggers back into a nasty elbow that knocks him to the floor. Back in the ring, Cole surprises Ohno with 3 superkicks and another Last Shot. Cole nails a running knee strike to the back of the head for the win. Mauro called that the Last Shot, so now I’m confused.

Winner: Adam Cole via pinfall

Thoughts: That was a really good match. Kassius Ohno has had some dud matches, but when he’s in there with the right people, it’s great. Adam Cole really needed this match as well. He came across as a lot more legit and tough than he has previously. I feel like he’s definitely being positioned to challenge the next babyface champion.

TLDR

  • Johnny Gargano attacked Ciampa through the crowd after Ciampa tormented more pro-Johnny fans
  • Due to a Tyler Bate injury, Mustache Mountain was removed from the Tag Team Classic and replaced by Roderick Strong and a mystery partner
  • Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne beat Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch to advance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
  • Ember Moon beat Aliyah
  • Andrade Almas called out Aleister Black to face him next week
  • Adam Cole beat Kassius Ohno

Advertised for Next Week

  • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals: Authors of Pain v. Street Profits
  • Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals: Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne v. SAnitY
  • Lars Sullivan returns to NXT TV
  • Aleister Black will respond to Andrade Almas
  • William Regal has a huge announcement

NXT TakeOver New Orleans Card (as of 21 March 2018)

  • NXT Championship: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas © v. Aleister Black
  • NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon © v. Shayna Baszler
  • NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era © v. Dusty Rhodes Classic Winners
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