Date: December 19, 2018
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Nigel McGuinness, Percy Watson, Mauro Ranallo
We’ve got a pair of big matches this week, starting with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke making their in-ring debuts against Io Shirai and Dakota Kai. Other than that though we have Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black inside of a steel cage. You don’t get these things very often in NXT and that alone makes it feel more special. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at Gargano vs. Black, which has certainly been built up well over the last few weeks
Marina Shafir/Jessamyn Duke vs. Io Shirai/Dakota Kai
Kai takes Duke down to start and gets in a quick double stomp to the chest. It’s off to Shafir for something close to an Eye of the Hurricane for two and it’s back to Duke for the neck crank. Kai finally scores with a scorpion kick to the head for a breather and that’s enough for the hot tag to Shirai. A 619 hits Shafir and a springboard dropkick keeps her in trouble. The running knees in the corner make it even worse and with Kai taking Duke off the apron, Shirai drops the moonsault for the pin at 4:27.
Rating: C-. Duke and Shafir didn’t get to show off that much but they weren’t in there long enough to embarrass themselves either. They’re not ready to beat a team like Shirai and Kai anyway so the ending is perfectly fine. This was perfectly fine and keeping it short was the absolutely right idea.
Dominik Dijakovic is coming tonight.
We look at Matt Riddle beating Punishment Martinez two weeks ago but getting jumped by Kassius Ohno.
Riddle can’t blame Ohno for jumping him from behind after Riddle knocked him out in seven seconds last time.
Aaron Mackey vs. Dominik Dijakovic
Dominik starts striking away with ease early on and a standing throw over his shoulder makes things even worse. Feast Your Eyes (a reverse AA into a knee to the face) finishes Mackey at 1:18. Total squash and rather intimidating performance from Dijakovic. I’m still not sure why they needed to change the name though.
Video on Heavy Machinery. They get a Tag Team Title shot next week in what sounds like a farewell match.
Shirai is now in the #1 contenders match.
Heavy Machinery vs. Danny Dacarto/Mike Howell
Otis throws Danny around to start and it’s off to Night to throw Danny onto his shoulders for one ram into the corner after another. Cue the Undisputed Era for a distraction but the Compactor connects anyway…for two. Another Compactor crushes Howell and it’s a double Compactor for the pin at 3:22.
Rating: D+. Literal squash here with the Compactor being a good finishing move. This worked perfectly well but I’m not sure how many teams Heavy Machinery is going to be able to do this to or with on the main roster. They seem almost destined to become cannon fodder in short order, which is about as much of a death sentence as you can get. As usual, enjoy them in NXT while you can.
Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black
Inside a cage with pinfall, submission or escape rules. Gargano runs out and jumps Black before he can get inside and they fight on the floor before the bell. Some kicks to the chest rock Gargano and Black throws him inside so we can officially get going. A dropkick to the knee takes Johnny down but Gargano sidesteps the standing Lionsault. Black kicks the cage by mistake but Gargano is smart enough to climb back down because he knows Black isn’t done yet.
Some left hands have Black in more trouble and even more rock him in the corner. Black comes back with more kicks and goes up top but, realizing that it’s too early to leave, moonsaults down onto Johnny in a good looking jump. Some whips into the cage have Gargano in more trouble and it’s time for the rapid fire kicks. Black goes all the way up and gets a leg over the top but comes back in instead, which sounds destined to cause him trouble later.
Gargano can’t get out either as Black pulls him back down so they’re both on the top. You don’t do that to Gargano, who jumps up for a heck of a sunset bomb (that looked sweet) and a near fall as the fans are impressed. Gargano actually wins a strike off until Black takes his head off with a jumping knee to the face. That’s almost enough to knock Gargano out of the cage but Black pulls him right back in. Black gets caught in the Gargano Escape though and the break only earns him a whip into the cage.
Johnny slaps it on again before going up, with Black charging up the ropes for the save. They’re on top again and Black shoves off what looked like a super cutter, setting up a Meteora instead. A German suplex gives Black two but Johnny sends him into the cage. Gargano says he absolves Black of his sins and loads up the superkick, only to charge into Black Mass.
After taking their time getting up, Black goes for the door and Johnny goes over the top but here’s Tommaso Ciampa to slam the door on Black’s head. Johnny climbs back in and, with chants of DIY, Gargano and Ciampa hit Meet in the Middle. Even though the fans cheered for it, they seem shocked when it actually happened. A smiling Ciampa leaves a confused Gargano to get the pin at 18:00.
Rating: A-. Heck of a match here but the ending is all that is going to matter. There are several ways to go with that finish as Gargano looked unsure of what he was doing but he certainly didn’t mind embracing the evil to take care of Black. Ciampa’s smile suggested that this was what he wanted all along and that leaves some very interesting options on the table. Black might even want to get some help against the possibly reunited team….and I have no idea who he might pick.
The match itself was a blast with both guys hitting some huge spots and trying to win but coming back for more violence. This was great all around, but the ending stole the show and leaves you wondering what we have next. Gargano being added to the title match in Phoenix wouldn’t shock me either and would make sense at this point.
Overall Rating: B+. The main event is more than enough to carry this but the rest left a bit to be desired. Dijakovic had a good debut and the Heavy Machinery squash was fun, but the tag match was pretty uneventful and felt like something they needed to get out of the way rather than anything that mattered. Still though, the twist ending is great and came after an awesome match and that’s more than enough to make things work for another week.
Io Shirai/Dakota Kai b. Marina Shafir/Jessamyn Duke – Moonsault to Shafir
Dominik Dijakovic b. Aaron Mackey – Feast Your Eyes
Heavy Machinery b. Danny Dacarto/Mike Howell – Double Compactor
Johnny Gargano b. Aleister Black – Meet in the Middle
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