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WWE NXT #445 (4.18.18) Play-by-Play and Review

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You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, Killian Dain faces Lars Sullivan in a No Disqualification match, Johnny Gargano returns to NXT, Candice LeRae faces Zelina Vega, and then War Raiders and Ricochet are both in action.

A quick note of all the talent that has gone to the main roster over the last few weeks: Authors of Pain, Ember Moon, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Andrade Almas, Zelina Vega, Drew McIntyre, Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain. I may have missed someone, but the point is – a lot of people are going to be gone. 

In-Ring Promo: Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae make their way to the ring. Gargano says it’s good to be home and, for too long, Tommaso Ciampa defined him. Gargano says after 37 minutes at TakeOver (The match length), he has his life back. There are like 5 people booing Gargano because they are too cool to boo the best heel in pro wrestling. Is there an emoji for my eyes rolling out of my head?

Gargano personally thanks LeRae for her support over the last few months. He says Johnny Wrestling and Candice Wrestling have one piece of unfinished business: Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega. LeRae says that she’s going one-on-one with Zelina Vega tonight. Gargano says after they’re done with Almas and Vega, he’s going to be Aleister Black’s first challenger.

Backstage: Killian Dain says he’s bringing the chaos to Lars Sullivan.

Match #1: Ricochet v. Fabian Aichner

Ricochet gets a head scissors takedown and a drop kick to start out. Aichner comes back with a loud chop and catches Ricochet in mid-air to deliver a gut buster. Aichner catches Ricochet with a tilt-a-whirl back breaker. Mauro is dropping lots of Bruno Sammartino references in here for Aichner (recorded prior to his passing). Aichner can’t connect with a powerbomb and Ricochet rebounds out of the corner with a big drop kick.

Ricochet fires up and delivers a 619 followed by a springboard European uppercut. A standing shooting star press gets a 2-count. Ricochet heads to the top rope, but takes too long and gets crotched. Aichner can’t connect with a superplex and gets knocked to the mat. Ricochet delivers a perfect 630 senton for the win!

Post-match, Ricochet gets interviewed and says it feels great to debut at Full Sail. He name-drops Bayley, Sami Zayn, and Seth Rollins. He says it’s time for him to make a name for himself.

Winner: Ricochet via pinfall

Thoughts: Solid TV match debut for Ricochet. He’s one of those guys who just has flawless, smooth execution of nearly everything he does, sort of like Adrian Neville. Also like Neville’s finisher, the 630 senton is a visually awesome move. I’m looking forward to seeing who he feuds with first.

Promo Video: An EC3 promo airs playing up his 1% character. 

Backstage: Lars Sullivan says Killian Dain will see why he’s a freak of nature.

Match #2: War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) v. The Metro Brothers (JC & Chris)

Rowe destroys JC with a running knee at the bell. Chris tentatively tags in and runs into a hip toss. Hanson tags in and lifts Chris out of his boots with some knees to the gut. Chris tries a chop, but hurts his own hand. Hanson does a cart-wheel and takes Chris’s head off with a lariat. Chris gets launched with a double team pop-up powerslam. JC comes back in and gets destroyed with another knee to the face. The Raiders hit Chris with the Fallout and Hanson gets the 3-count.

Winners: War Raiders via pinfall

Thoughts: That was a fun debut TV match for the Raiders. They are the replacement power team for the Authors of Pain, but they seem to have a lot more charisma. I was thinking they were going to be heels based on their debut, but it looks like they’re babyface after this match. I can’t see them wasting much time before they’re at the top of the tag team division.

Backstage: Shayna Baszler is at the Performance Center and she’s late for a meeting in the locker room. She tears off Ember Moon’s locker name tag. She tells all the women they all need to get in line. Dakota Kai walks out on her. Baszler plays up being a bully.

Promo Video: A repackaged Kona Reeves is coming back in 2 weeks and I did not recognize him at all. Wow.

Backstage/Outside: Pete Dunne is leaving, but will be back in a few weeks and then he’s going to rip Roderick Strong’s head off.

Match #3: No Disqualification Match: Lars Sullivan v. Killian Dain

Dain head butts Sullivan, but he doesn’t go down. They trade blows and then Dain clotheslines Sullivan to the floor. Dain sends Sullivan into the steps by reversing an Irish whip. Dain goes for a dive to the floor, but Sullivan catches him and slams him into the post. Sullivan lands a suplex to Dain on the floor. Back in the ring, Sullivan delivers a dozen cross face shots to Dain. Sullivan then delivers a German suplex to Dain and Dain rolls to the floor with a busted nose or mouth. Sullivan comes off the top rope with a flying clothesline to the floor. Sullivan landed really hard on the ramp. He seems OK, though. 

Sullivan delivers a flying head butt back in the ring for a 2-count. Sullivan throws a bunch of chairs into the ring. Sullivan jams a chair into Dain’s gut, but Dain explodes out of the corner with a drop kick. Dain and Sullivan trade blows until Dain connects with the Belfast Blitz senton. Dain delivers a Vader Bomb for a near fall. Dain goes under the ring and pulls out a table and slides it into the ring. Dain slams a chair into Sullivan’s back and sets up the table in the corner. Dain slams another chair across Sullivan’s back, but gets caught with a slam. Sullivan puts a chair on Dain’s chest and heads to the top rope. Sullivan misses a diving head butt and lands on the chair. 

Dain goes for the Divide, but Sullivan catches him and slams him down. Dain kicks out with authority at one and lands a bicycle kick. Dain then nails the Divide and crushes Sullivan through the table. Dain puts a chair on Sullivan in the corner and Dain is looking for a Van Terminator. Sullivan gets up before this can happen, but Dain punches a chair into his face. Sullivan comes back with chair shots to the gut and stomach. Sullivan lands the Freak Accident on a pile of chairs and that’s enough to get a very rare pinfall victory over Killian Dain. 

Winner: Lars Sullivan via pinfall

Thoughts: I thought this was actually a really good match. It was Dain’s swan song as he’s headed to SmackDown with the rest of SAnitY (minus Nikki Cross, I guess). Anyway, there were lots of great spots in here and both guys looked great. I’m not the biggest Lars Sullivan fan, but well done tonight. Best of luck to Killian Dain on SmackDown, too.

Backstage: Undisputed Era is strolling around with all of their gold and doing a photo shoot. Strong is carrying a tag belt. That could be interesting because I can already see the fracture coming when Bobby Fish returns from injury and takes offense to Strong replacing him. That’s just me brainstorming. 

Match #4/Main Event: Candice LeRae v. Zelina Vega

LeRae responds to some trash talk by shoving Vega to the mat. LeRae hits a sort of single knee face buster and heads to the top rope. All the sudden, Andrade Almas appears on the ring apron to distract her. Vega is able to flip LeRae off the top rope. Gargano shows up to even up the odds. LeRae counters out of a sleeper, but eats a kick to the face.

Vega hits the drive-through knees in the corner and gets a 2-count. Vega wants a Hammerlock DDT, but gets rolled up for a near fall. LeRae unloads with chops and strikes in the corner. LeRae hits a big missile dropkick, but Vega kicks out. LeRae slams Vega on her face with a spinning head scissors and locks in the Gargano Escape. Almas comes in, but Gargano locks him in the Gargano Escape as well. Vega taps out and we’ve likely seen the last of her and Almas in NXT.

Post-match, Gargano says that since Almas and Vega are taken care of… he challenges Aleister Black for the NXT Championship. Aleister Black’s music cuts him off and the new NXT Champion makes his way out on the stage. Black says that Gargano can have his title shot next week. Wow! The announcers act like it’s not official, but may be happening.

Winner: Candice LeRae via submission

Thoughts: It was a pretty short TV match, but not bad considering it was both Vega and LeRae’s NXT TV wrestling debut. It’s bittersweet to see people called up to the main roster like usual, but Almas is on the same roster as Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Shinsuke Nakamura, so the possibilities for him are pretty great. As for Gargano going after the NXT Championship so quickly, it seems a little rushed. Either he’s headed up to the main roster very soon or Ciampa isn’t quite done with him.

TLDR

  • Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae cut a promo and Gargano says he’s challenging Aleister Black
  • Ricochet beat Fabian Aichner
  • War Raiders beat the Metro Brothers
  • Lars Sullivan beat Killian Dain in a No DQ match
  • Candice LeRae beat Zelina Vega
  • Aleister Black says Gargano can have his match with him next week

Advertised for Next Week

  • Undisputed Era will address the Roddy Strong situation
  • NXT North American Championship:Adam Cole © v. Oney Lorcan
  • NXT Championship:Aleister Black © v. Johnny Gargano (?)

Advertised for 2 Weeks

  • Kona Reeves is repackaged and coming back
  • Pete Dunne addresses Roderick Strong
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