NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 30, 2019): Pirates of the Sky

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NXT returned last night (Jan. 30) with their TakeOver fallout episode before things really pick up next week. You can find the results at the live blog here.

The Sky Pirates (Kairi Sane & Io Shirai) def. Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir

There were two reasons to pay attention to this match:

  1. To see how the greenest members of the Horsewomen are coming along
  2. The Sky Pirates are spectacularly fun

In regards to the first point, so far Duke & Shafir are doing well for where they are. They haven’t been asked to do too much, but this match didn’t suffer because of the fact they are novices.

Yes, there were times you could tell they were thinking about the next move. And not everything was smooth. But they acquitted themselves rather well.

The in-ring work will come with reps. The character aspect is where they’re doing very well. From their super obnoxious “Let’s Play”/”Let’s Fight” shirts (seriously, those are really annoying) to their overly cocky attitude, they’re playing their roles well.

Where they are now, they’re not too far off from being not asked to do much in a Horsewomen vs. Horsewomen feud with Ronda and Shayna doing the heavy lifting. In a year, they will probably be at a point they can really contribute.

As for point two: How fun are the Sky Pirates??

Both women have effusive personalities alone. Together, they’re oozing likability.

And they’re so good! Honestly, put them in the Elimination Chamber to give them more exposure. SmackDown isn’t going to be able to come up with three teams better than these two.


Johnny Gargano cuts a promo about how he said he was going to win and he did. And winning feels great.

Johnny TakeOver’s post match promo takes him further away from his good guy persona. And speaking about how he’s finally felt how good winning is pretty much means he’s buying further into the ways of his former arch-enemy Tommaso Ciampa.

Will he still be delusional about it? Or has he accepted he’s the villain?


Bianca Belair claims being undefeated is a mindset. Shayna knows she’s going to take that title from her one day. When asked about the Sam Roberts diatribe, she tells “Mr. Sam” he can kiss her ass.

Get him, Bianca!

It was smart claiming undefeated is a mindset since that catchphrase for Belair was getting over. This was as sharp promo that helped her get her heat right back. Her attitude was still there and she made it know that the title was in her grasps.

And telling Sam Roberts to kiss her ass will make all fans happy, even though I’m still convinced the entire Roberts rant was a work.


War Raiders talk about how they did what they said they would. Undisputed earned their respect but that era has ended. The War Raiders reign starts now.

Pretty standard post match promo from the Raiders. They’re talented, but they certainly don’t have the charisma of the ERA.

Going forward, we’ll see if they find another layer to the athletic hosses or if they’re just going to be big viking dudes. NXT sometimes doesn’t add those layers for popular, but one dimensional acts.


Matt Riddle says it wasn’t just about the victory as much as it was making Kassius Ohno tap out. And if anyone else comes at him like that, they’ve got the same thing coming.

I’d usually bemoan a three part series where one person wins all three. But this was very important in unlocking the dangerous side of Matt Riddle to the NXT crowd. We met his aloof, chill side. And then through being pushed by Ohno, we learned that he can be vicious if he needs be.

Having both at his disposal, the sky’s the limit.


Recap of the post TakeOver brawl leading to Halftime Heat

My man Sean Rueter pointed out something curious in the most recent Halftime Heat ad – they removed the name “Maroon 5” and the images of the band. Plus their old ad is taken down off YouTube. That smells of a cease & desist. Maybe you can make some merch out of it, WWE.

Story wise, the brawl felt a bit forced. Which it was. It was to get to this halftime match. But at the same time, it has the draw of finally seeing Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano on the same team interacting.

I won’t be watching it live. I’ll be too busy stressing out about the Rams. But this should be fun.


The Forgotten Sons def. the Street Profits

This was a solid match that ramped up towards the end, but I struggled getting into it.

Much of that was because I don’t have any investment in the Forgotten Sons. They’re a new team and not interesting enough. And without a good heel opposite them, the Profits don’t benefit as much. The Profits are a fun act but still lacking that feud that takes them up a notch. I’m not sure a feud with the Sons is going to be that.

Jaxson Ryker, who I have to actively work on not calling “Gunner,” wasn’t in the match again. Instead, he was the intimidating presence outside of the ring. Given the ending when he had a big stare down with Angelo Dawkins that the fans ate up, he’s likely being set up to be the standout of the group.

(When I bemused early on about Gunner not being in the match in the Cageside Offices, it broke down into a conversation about Gunner’s TNA feud with Sam Shaw – who is supposedly NXT bound. It consisted of Shaw being a stalker of Cristy Hemme and being committed by Ken Anderson. Then Gunner helped him get out of the institution but Santana Garrett corrupted Sam Shaw again. Maybe we get a replay of that in NXT?)

Overall, a solid outing but certainly didn’t have the excitement of the Sky Pirates. I’m also going to comment about the Profits’ Harlem Heat inspired outfits came up right beneath Dawkins’ pecs, which was not flattering.


There was a ton of video recaps and all those interviews were already on YouTube. The Sky Pirates were super fun and if you’re going to seek out one thing, it’ll should this one. (Honestly, it’s really the only one.) The men’s tag was fine, but you’ll likely see more of these teams as we go along.

Grade: C+

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