NXT Cleveland LIVE!
(Cleveland Agora – Cleveland, Ohio – March 3, 2017 – 7:30 PM)
The video wall advertises a contest for those in attendance. There was a text survey to determine which WWE Network NXT match would be shown before the start of the show. Bayley v. Sasha Bank from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was the winner. It aired in an abbreviated form.
The venue appears to be sold out.
The show begins at precisely 7:24.
A video message from Triple H is shown on the video screen.
Chants of “NXT” fill the venue.
Kassius Ohno defeated Kona Reeves
Reeves arrogantly tosses his shirt at Ohno. He works a wristlock on his opponent.
Ohno retaliates with small digit manipulation that looks painful. He continues the punishment by working the arm.
Reeves botches a Samoan drop.
The crowd is noticeably chatty.
Ohno taunts Reeves, begging him to lay in with elbows. Ohno takes them all. He then destroys his opponent with a “roaring elbow.”
He fires off a boot to the face and a second “roaring elbow” before securing the pin.
It is really cool to see Chris Hero back in the WWE.
It seems a bit weird to start the show with a slower paced “body part” match. They definitely lost the crowd for a bit because of it.
Physically, Reeves reminds me a bit of Kazuchika Okada.
Aleister Black defeated Patrick Clark
A “Tommy End” chant erupts before the bell.
The two feel each other out before Black catches Clark with a knee strike.
Crowd chants “Purple Rain” to mock Clark.
Clark works a crisp abdominal stretch.
Black is in extended peril.
Clark throws a tantrum when he only manages to get a two-count.
Black hits a perfectly executed “Lionsault,” quickly followed by a capoeira kick. He strikes with another kick and gets the pin.
Clark is aces in the “Prince” character that he is playing. He has the look and mannerisms of the deceased pop star down pat.
Black has a cool, menacing entrance. His song and video package set a mood. And he is flush with aura.
Both guys feel like stars in the making.
Interview: No Way Jose
Jose is in the middle of a promo when “The Wanderer” interrupts him. (“The Wanderer” is clearly “The Drifter” Elias Samson under a mask. He is wearing a hood because he recently lost a televised “Loser Leaves Town” match.)
Fans: “Lu-cha drif-ter!”
The Wanderer announces that he has written a song for the Cleveland audience. It is about how badly they suck.
Fans chant “Si” to interrupt the song.
As Jose sings his own song, The Wanderer jumps him.
Fans chant for Jose.
Referee Drake Younger is out to break up the brawl.
The Wanderer is heading to the back as Jose calls him back to the ring. The bell sounds.
No Way Jose defeated “The Wanderer”
Jose fires off a big clothesline and hip toss. He hits a “Fastball Punch” and gets the pin.
The Wanderer is still sitting in the ring as Jose returns to the locker room.
The crowd really likes NWJ.
It is good to give these two experience working angles in front of a live audience.
Samson looks great. I suspect he is due for the call-up after WrestleMania.
Nikki Cross defeated Macey Estrella
Cross mugs Estrella.
Cross: “USA sucks!”
The two fighters trade strikes.
Cross slams hard into Estrella.
Estrella responds with punches, knees, and stomps. She also goes for two unsuccessful pin attempts.
Cross hits a swinging fisherman’s neckbreaker for the win.
Cross is way over.
Estrella feels oversized for the gimmick. (She is some sort of pin-up girl/socialite.)
The match was borderline boring.
#DIY video segment
A backstage promo with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa airs. Gargano points out that he is the “King of Cleveland.” He says that his parents are in attendance.
Gargano: “Cleveland, I’m home.”
This was a smart way to prime the pump for Gargano’s match later in the evening. The audio was difficult to hear…but the segment was effective.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas
Almas enters first.
Since it is early in the show, fans weren’t expecting Nakamura. The crowd explodes when his music hits.
Crowd: “This is awe-some!”
Crowd: “Shin-suke’s gon-na kill you!”
The match starts with quick exchanges.
Another “Nakamura” chant.
Nakamura works the arm. He capitalizes the advantage with knee strikes.
Almas fires back with a chop in the corner.
The crowd is firmly against Almas.
Almas slaps Nakamura in the face.
Nakamura: Single-leg dropkick and a pair of kicks.
The two trade strikes.
Almas hits a “Final Cut” for a 2 9/10th count.
Nakamura hits the “Kinshasa” for the win.
The air in the room changes when Nakamura enters the room. I got chills when his music struck. He has a rare type of charisma that only the biggest stars possess.
I am seated next to a son and his father. The boy is about 14-years-old. The kid informs his father that Nakamura “sucks” and is “just trying to be Tajiri.” I am a huge supporter of Tajiri but he is no Shinsuke Nakamura. I feel bad for this young man if this is what he actually believes.
Almas’ ring gear is slowly improving. He looks much better in black tights. Next thing to go: the fedora.Unless you are a detective and it’s 1942, don’t wear one.
The announcer hawks some merchandise before announcing the intermission.
The merch table does brisk business. Autographed posters of Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura ($10) are selling well.
DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) defeated SAnitY (Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe) w/ Eric Young
Crowd alternates between chanting “Johnny Wrestling” and “King of Cleveland.”
There is also an “A-I-Dub” chant for area super indie Absolute Intense Wrestling.
The audience goes berserk for DIY’s entrance. Gargano clearly feels the love.
Alexander Wolfe has a nervous, violent tension that he exhibits before the bell.
Gargano mocks his mannerisms.
Crowd chants “Psycho killer” at Ciampa.
Dain is the recipient of unkind chants. (“You look stupid” and “Shave your back.”)
Dain wrecks Ciampa with a shoulder block.
Gargano bulldogs Dain.
Ciampa doles out knees to Wolfe, then Dain.
Dain demolishes Ciampa with elbows and stomps.
Wolfe pulls Gargano from the apron before he is able to be tagged in the match.
Ciampa is in extended peril.
Gargano gets the “hot tag.”
Crowd chants, “You fucked up,” when the bell is rung after a two-count. Why wrestling fans still think this is funny, I don’t know.
Dain gets a couple two-counts on Ciampa.
Gargano finally puts down with superkicks and knee strikes.
Gargano bows to crowd as they cheer for the hometown hero. He attempts to head to the back but Ciampa grabs him and throws him back in the ring to get more love.
This was a really, really good match.
The reception for Gargano was nuclear.
One missing piece: DIY has a generic theme song. It’s time for the CFO$ to whip up something more substantial for them.
Asuka (c) defeated Liv Morgan to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Crowd: “Asuka’s gonna kill you!”
The champ fakes out Liv Morgan when she is offered her opponent’s hand.
Morgan clenches Asuka around the waist and rolls her around the ring a dozen times.
Fans around me are already chatty.
Asuka locks on a single-leg crab.
Morgan “matrixes” to avoid a kick, and flapjacks her opponent. She then locks her in a snug guillotine.
Asuka rallies and gets Morgan down for the pin. She picks her up at “two.” She then kicks her in the head and pins her.
Morgan screams a lot.
She never had a chance in this match.
Asuka was, well, “Asuka.” How much longer will she be forced to hang out in NXT. It’s ridiculous that she is still there. Maybe after Mania?
“Glorious” Bobby Roode (c) defeats Tye Dillinger to retain the NXT Championship
Gargantuan pop for Roode’s entrance.
The two slowly feel out each other.
The match is even and metered.
Roode chop blocks the challenger’s leg. He crunches Dillinger’s knee.
Both men are fighting outside the ring. They are spending a lot of time out there.
Dillinger chops Roode. He is selling the left knee.
Roode: Figure-four leglock.
Dillinger pushes off another figure-four. He cradles Roode during another stab at it.
Roode: Lung blower for two-count.
Audience: “This is awesome!”
Dillinger hits an “implant DDT” for a two.
Both are on their knees trading punches.
Dillinger locks the champion in a figure-four.
Roode: Implant DDT and pin attempt. A replacement referee runs in and Dillinger kicks out.
Dillinger goes for a pin. SAnitY’s music hits.
Eric Young makes his way to ringside.
Roode rocks Dillinger with low-blow and pins him to retain the championship.
The two begin to work over the challenger.
Nakamura runs out to make the save. He squares up with Roode.
Dillinger is down. He is selling the knee. Nakamura checks on him.
Dillinger gets on the mic. He calls out DIY.
There is a “Johnny Wrestling” chant.
Dillinger declares DIY the “future of tag team wrestling.”
He says that Nakamura is his “favorite wrestler on the planet.”
Dillinger: “We are NXT!”
What more is there to say about Roode’s entrance? It is big, important, and unquestionably special.
Cena/Roode will be outstanding.
The match has the pacing and feel of a WWE house show main event.
It was a little strange having Dillinger declare Gargano and Ciampa “the future.” However, I suppose that he has to until Nakamura’s English improves.