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WWE NXT #451 (5.30.18) Play-by-Play and Review



You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show. Tonight, Shayna Baszler will defend the NXT Women’s Championship against Dakota Kai. Also, Aleister Black will be here to address the audience. Hopefully we’ll get some concrete matches announced for TakeOver since it is only 3 weeks away.

Recap: Mauro recaps last week’s intense show-closing scene between Gargano, LeRae, and Ciampa. It is announced that, per William Regal, both Gargano and Ciampa are not going to be on TV due to safety concerns. Don’t fret, though! At TakeOver Chicago, Gargano and Ciampa will face off in a Chicago Street Fight. Later on, Candice LeRae’s tweet was shown saying she’s OK, but can’t watch her husband turn into what he despises…

In-Ring Promo: NXT Champion Aleister Black makes his way to the ring dressed to wrestle. He says there are some questions about his opponent at TakeOver… and Lars Sullivan’s music hits. Sullivan hits the ring and announces that he is facing Aleister Black at TakeOver. The crowd is mostly quiet. Sullivan says Black has never faced anyone like him and he’s the next NXT Champion. Sullivan grabs Black, but Black goes for a Black Mass. Sullivan catches the kick and flattens Black with the Freak Accident.

Thoughts: Look, it’s not an exciting match-up, but it’ll probably be a decent match. On the other hand, who else is there right now? It makes sense to feed a monster heel to the babyface champion. It is what it is, and Gargano versus Ciampa is headlining the card anyway.

Match #1: War Raiders v. George Hickson & Cody Vincent 

Hickson goes right at Rowe, but ends up hurting his arm trying to land a blow. Rowe levels him with a forearm and Hanson gets the tag.  A double-team move and a big hip toss sends Hickson back into his corner where Vincent tags himself in. Hanson dodges him with a cart-wheel and takes Vincent’s head off with a clothesline. Rowe tags back in to beat Vincent down in the corner.

Rowe launches Vincent with an overhead head-and-arm suplex followed by a running knee strike. Hanson then crushes Vincent with a charging Bronco Buster move. Hickson eats a knee to the face while Vincent lies dead in the corner. Hickson gets smashed with an elevated German suplex / springboard clothesline move. Someone stop the damn match. Vincent has some life, but he gets destroyed with Fallout and, mercifully, that is all. 

Winners: War Raiders via pinfall

Thoughts: That was one hell of a squash match. I’m not sure what else you can say about that. War Raiders continue rolling. 

Promo Video: A recap of the history between Dakota Kai and Shayna Baszler that has led to tonight’s title match.

Backstage: Lacey Evans is asked about her rematch with Kairi Sane next week. She says she’s going to win. 

Match #2: EC3 v. Fabian Aichner

EC3 continues to try to get over with the NXT crowd. After an early advantage, Aichner lands a back elbow and a suplex. Aichner goes for a springboard, but EC3 cuts him off and Aichner crashes to the floor. All the sudden, Johnny Gargano walks through the ringside area carrying a paper. He gets a microphone says this is the signed contract for the street fight. He’s a little out of his mind right now. Gargano leaves and EC3 isn’t impressed. Aichner uses the chance to fly to ringside with a huge cross body on EC3. Back in the ring, EC3 surprises Aichner with the STO variation and drills him with the TKO for the win.

Winner: EC3 via pinfall

Thoughts: Another so-so match from EC3, but the focus was on the mid-match Gargano interruption. If this was to set up a future EC3 / Gargano feud, that’s OK. Otherwise, you did no favors to EC3, who is struggling to connect right now. 

Promo Video: The continuation of Bianca Belair’s background. 

Match #3: Ricochet v. Chris Dijak

Ricochet tees off on Dijak and sends him to the floor with a rolling drop kick. Ricochet tries a dive, but Dijak catches him by the throat and choke slams him on the ring apron. Dijak springboards back into the ring with an elbow drop for a 2-count. Dijak (who is billed as 6’8) springboards to the top rope, but misses a moonsault. Ricochet delivers an axe kick and a suplex. Ricochet floats over and deadlifts Dijak for another suplex. Ricochet lands the 630 senton and that’s all for Dijak. 

Post-match, Ricochet compliments the Velveteen Dream. He then calls the Dream a punk for double-crossing him last week. Before he can say anything else, the Dream interrupts. Dream says that anything Ricochet can do, he can do better. Ricochet calls him a coward for not coming to the ring. Ricochet challenges him to come to the ring. Dream heads that way, but he stops. Dream says TakeOver Chicago is the only place with a spotlight big enough for them. Dream repeats the line about being better, so Ricochet runs and does a flip over the top and lands on his feet on the floor. A shocked Dream drops the microphone and slowly backs away. 

Winner: Ricochet via pinfall

Thoughts: Impressive debut for Dijak, but even more impressive by Ricochet. Ricochet and Velveteen Dream should be excellent at TakeOver. No argument from me about how this was built up. 

Match #4/Main Event: NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler © v. Dakota Kai

Baszler toys with Kai by kicking her leg out from under her a couple of times. Baszler throws Kai down and stomps her foot causing her knee to twist in what was a pretty good visual. Baszler continues to twist and kick Kai’s leg. Kai tries to kick her off, but gets her ankle stomped again in what was another nasty visual. Baszler taunts Kai, so Kai slaps her. Baszler comes back with a brutal body kick and an ankle lock. Kai gets to the ropes, but Baszler just drags her back. 

Kai finally stands up and connects with a step-up enzuigiri. She lands more strikes and a bicycle kick that levels Baszler. Kai charges with 2 huge boots to Baszler’s face in the corner. Kai goes for her finisher, but Baszler catches her on the way down with the Kirifuda Clutch. Kai has to tap out. Post-match, Baszler locks the Kirifuda Clutch in again. 

Nikki Cross hits the ring and pulls Baszler off of Kai. Cross challenges Baszler, but she slides out of the ring. Cross chases her down and takes the title belt. Cross goes back into the ring with the belt and tells Baszler to come and get it. Baszler does get in the ring, but Cross grabs the belt again. I’m not sure what the hell is going on, but Cross gives Kai the belt and tells her to hold it up. Baszler, of course, goes after Kai, but Cross uses that chance to flatten her with the Purge. Kai counts the 3 and Cross thinks she is the new champion. Cross leaves with the belt.

Winner: Shayna Baszler via submission to retain the NXT Women’s Championship

Thoughts: Well, here’s the thing. I thought the match was well executed and believable. I enjoyed it for what it was. I thought that Cross making the save was good. I thought her snatching the belt to bait Baszler back into the ring was good. That’s where it kind of fell apart. A more intriguing storyline would have been for Kai (who was behind Cross) to actually level Cross from behind. Almost like a Stockholm syndrome situation – not literally of course. Or you just have Cross get the better of Baszler without all the hijinks. Either way, Cross got a good crowd reaction, so that’s promising. The TakeOver match isn’t official, but it’s obvious who it’s going to be.


  • Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight was announced for TakeOver
  • Lars Sullivan beat down Aleister Black after announcing he would face Black at TakeOver
  • War Raiders beat George Hickson & Cody Vincent
  • EC3 beat Fabian Aichner
  • Ricochet beat Chris Dijak. Ricochet versus Velveteen Dream is official for TakeOver
  • Shayna Baszler beat Dakota Kai to retain the NXT Women’s Championship; Afterward, Nikki Cross dropped Baszler and stole the belt

 Advertised for Next Week

  • Lacey Evans v. Kairi Sane
  • Danny Burch v. Roderick Strong

 NXT TakeOver: Chicago Card

  • NXT Championship:Aleister Black © v. Lars Sullivan
  • NXT Tag Team Championship:Undisputed Era © v. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
  • NXT Women’s Championship:Shayna Baszler © v. Nikki Cross (Unconfirmed)
  • Chicago Street Fight:Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa
  • Ricochet v. Velveteen Dream
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